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New 4K Ultra HD Cameras Come Into View

LAS VEGAS – The recent National Association of Broadcasters convention here proved to be a showcase for professional and new-generation semi-professional 4K Ultra HD video and still camera products.

From the interchangeable-lens camera (ILC) area, Sony used to the show to introduce its pro-level video-centric A7S mirrorless ILC that includes a full-frame sensor capable of recording up to 4K Ultra HD resolution video.

Meanwhile, JVC Kenwood showed two prototype Ultra HD camcorders that use Micro Four Thirds-format lens mounts.

The company recently joined the open Micro Four Thirds standard, and the new camcorders can be used with lenses for other Micro Four Thirds camera systems, including Olympus, Panasonic, Sigma and Voigtlander, among others.

Sony’s A7S camera, which looks like the previous A7 and A7r mirrorless ILCs, differs by the addition of up to QFHD-level (3,840 by 2160 pixels) video capture, in addition to offering an expanded 50 to 409,600 ISO range.

Using a full-frame 12.2-megapixel 35mm Exmor CMOS sensor and new Bionz X image processor, the A7S is billed as “the world’s first camera to utilize the entire width of a full-frame image sensor in 4K video acquisition, and does this without cropping or line skipping as it can read and process data from every one of the sensor’s pixels,” according to a Sony statement. “This allows 4K video shooters to utilize all of the artistic and creative benefits provided by the unique sensor.”

Sony said the new sensor is designed to collect more light than traditional cameras for highly detailed, low-noise images, “even the darkest environments.”

Pricing on the camera is to be announced later.

The A7S will output 4K Ultra HD video in the XAVC S recording format. The camera also supports AVCHD and MP4 codecs.

The A7S will also support FullHD at 60p, 60i, 30p and 24p frame rates.

The camera allows switching between Full-Frame and APS-C crop mode, which also provides support for 720/120p recording and slowmotion playback.

The camera will also accept professional XLR microphones and video/audio controls.

Meanwhile, although JVC Kenwood’s prototype Ultra HD camcorders accept Micro Four Thirds lenses, the company elected to place an oversized Super 35mm sensor behind that Micro Four Thirds mount.

The Super 35mm format is slightly larger than the sensor in regular Micro Four Thirds cameras.

The shoulder-mounted model GY-LSX2, and is capable of recording 4K Ultra HD at both 24p and 30p frame rates. It will also simultaneously output HD and standard definition video signals, and uses SDHC and SDXC recording media.

The smaller GW-SPLS1 is a two-piece configuration including a unit containing the mount and sensor that can be attached to a gimbal, and an external recorder with built-in monitor.

The Super 35mm format sensor size is an established standard for cinematographers, and simplifies determining the angle-of-view a lens will yield on the camcorder.

The Micro Four Thirds mount, meanwhile, is adaptable for many different lenses from various systems, including full cine lenses designed for the Super 35mm format.


Professional camera makers are paving the road for Ultra HD consumer video cameras with new production tools based on consumer-level lens-mounting systems adapted to the new state-of-the-art resolution format.