Panasonic VariCam LT

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Feb 10. INT. DGA THEATRE HOLLYWOOD – NIGHT

Panasonic launched the VariCam LT  — LT as in Lite (Bud Lite, Arricam LT…) It’s a lighter, smaller, lower-priced version of the VariCam 35. Same 4K sensor, same dual native 800/5000 ISO, smaller body. It looks like Mr. Miyagi’s Panasonic team, with Taka Mitsui and Barry Russo and many others, came up with a very appealing camera.

See photos and story about the LA Launch.

The Panasonic VariCam LT (official model number AU-V35LT1G) weighs a little under 6 lb. It will be at home on Steadicams, rigs, gimbals, drones, cranes, remote heads, handheld or shoulder-resting. It could be an indie A camera or big budget B camera. Actually, with cameras multiplying on big shows, I can imagine it being part of an arsenal of 10-20 cameras ready to roll.

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VariCam LT comes standard with an EF (Canon style) mount. So, you can use any of the 100,000 million+ Canon EF still lenses out there. A PL mount is optional. To swap mounts, loosen two Allen lock-screws and turn the lens mount ring counter-clockwise to remove it from the camera body. The new mount attaches by turning the ring clockwise and locking with the Allen screws. Flange depth should be pre-calibrated by the metal mount to metal body flanges. I expect a brisk business in aftermarket mounts for other lens systems: Leica M, R, S, Nikon, Panavision PV, and so on.

 

 

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The VariCam LT is a one-piece, small camcorder. In comparison, the VariCam 35 comes in two parts that dock: camera head plus recorder. Unlike the VariCam 35, the LT does not do parallel sub-recording (recording different formats simultaneously). However, it does have an SD slot to record AVC-ULTRA 6 megabit/sec Long GOP H.264 full rez HD 1920×1080 proxies that are helpful for immediate editing. Proxy files can be wirelessly uploaded via FTP—good for wireless color grading.

There is one expressP2 card for all formats including high frame rate and HD/2K/UHD/4K recording. The 256 GB expressP2 card can record up to 90 minutes of 4K/4:2:2/23.98p).

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Regular 4K 10-bit 422 at 24 fps is 320 megabits/sec. – 10:1 compression. H.264.

4K LT for 30-60  fps – uses less processing, lower bit rates: 170 megabits to 800 megabits/secs at 60 — with a 2 to 1 increase in efficiency.

External RAW recording is planned to be supported by a firmware upgrade in early summer 2016. RAW outputs via 2 SDI connectors at rear of camera up to 60 fps – uncompressed. UNCOMPRESSED! That’s a big deal. Data rate math: 4096 x 2160 x 24 x 10 bit = 2,123 Gbps.

Convergent Design just emailed that Odyssey monitor/recorders will support the Panasonic VariCam LT digital cinema camera’s RAW file format V-RAW when the camera’s firmware upgrade comes from Panasonic this summer.

Whereas the VarCam35 shoots up to 120 fps in all formats, the LT goes to 60 fps in 4K. New codecs introduced in the VariCam LT include AVC-Intra LT and AVC-Intra 2K-LT — to shoot up to 240 fps in imager crop mode.

The VariCam LT can do in-camera color grading. It can record an ungraded 4K master along with all on-set grading metadata.

The new “V-LOOK” is like a blend of V-Log and video for situations that will not require heavy color grading. Panasonic’s Stpehen Mahrer described V-Look as “something like an in-camera grade with the look baked in, with a nice toe and shoulder, that you can later tweak in post if you like.”

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The camera’s control panel can be separated from the camera body for easy menu access.

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The optional EVF for VariCam LT’ uses the same OLED, with the same dot pitch and terrific resolution and quality as the VariCam 35. It’s much less expensive, just as good, has different mounting brackets, gets video and metadata from an HD-SDI Output at the rear of the camera.

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Panasonic has made a new adjustable shoulder Mount with industry standard height to center of lens. The new handgrip has a dial to electronically control the apertures of  EF lenses.

 

Price and Availability

The VariCam LT will be available at the end of March.

Suggested list price: $18,000 (body only)

$24,000 (body + AU-VCVF10G viewfinder)

 

For more information about the VariCam LT, visit www.us.panasonic.com/varicam

 

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VariCam LT Image Area, like the VariCam 35

  • Active 4K active pixel area is 24.576 mm wide x 12.960 mm high (4096 x 2160)
  • 4K Image diagonal: 27.784 mm
  • UHD area: 23.040 mm x 12.960 mm high (3840 x 2160)
  • UHD image diagonal: 26.435 mm

VariCam LT Specs

  • 14+ stops of dynamic range with V-Log.
  • Dual native 800/5000 ISO
  • Weight: under 6 lb.
  • Formats: 4K, UHD, 2K and HD.
  • Apple ProRes 4444 (up to 30p), ProRes 422 HQ (up to 60p), HD, Panasonic’s AVC-ULTRA family of video codecs.
  • Support for the Academy Color Encoding System (ACES)
  • ND filters: CLEAR, 0.6, 1.2, 1.8
  • Optional OLED EVF with optical zoom
  • 24-bit LPCM audio in-camera
  • Focus Assist
  • Hot swap for power (on-board and external power)
  • IR (for scenes even darker than ISO 5000 can handle).
  • Anamorphic lens de-squeeze
  • Special REC functions (PreRec, interval, one-shot)
  • IP control via Panasonic’s AK-HRP200 camera remote controller
  • Built-in GPS
  • 3G-HD-SDI x 3 (SDI-OUT X 2 and VF)
  • LAN
  • Genlock in
  • timecode in/out
  • USB2.0 Host and USB2.0 Device (mini B)
  • three XLR inputs (one 5-pin, two 3-pin) for four channels of 24-bit, 48KHz audio
  • tough magnesium body

Additional information from Panasonic

Sample footage with VariCam LT

“To Each His Dulcinea” by Dejan Georgevich, ASC

“Africa” by Sandesh Kadur

 

Additional views

 

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Leave a Comment

5 Responses:

  1. Jiri Vrozina:

    Very,very nice Panasonic.
    I just wish they use CF Fast cards instead of P2.

  2. However with only compressed 60p at 4K, it isn’t a variation which is supposed to be its usp.

    A crowded marketplace here and will heavily be determined by what Canon may bring.

    Interesting that they are following Canon’s lead with native EF mount though.

  3. Looks like a very interesting camera. Would like to see its fps/codec capabilities in HD/2k which is what people shot the most (or project/broadcast). Really don’t care for 4k at this point. Rather buy a new camera when/if 4k become the standard in 10 years. Also if Panasonic, Canon and Sony are aiming for the cinema market, why not come up with a 4:3 sensor ?.

  4. Well done Panasonic, beautiful images, terrific form factor. I would like to have this as a replacement for my F55, but $2K for media? Mmmm…
    We are seeing media costs drop in price…exponentially. Especially SSD. To shoot a full day(if you had to) 6 cards=$12k US. This needed to be CF Fast. It’s too bad the cost of media may dictate a camera purchase. We’ll see if Panasonic adjusts this.
    As far as an external recorder, the real estate on the camera itself may be limited with the control panel. The panel doesn’t appear to attach on the side, as far as I can tell.
    I think Panasonic could have real winner here, but remember it is not a $18K working camera…it is really a $28-30K working camera…

  5. Horace:

    Panasonic, please release new firmware and allow this camera to overcrank higher than 60p with a SCALED 1080p image instead of a cropped sensor! 120FPS 1080P SCALED!!!!! PLEASE!!!

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