The Genesis has been in circulation for some time now, but it’s still a remarkable camera. Its 35mm-sized CCD sensor delivers a 12.4-megapixel image in true RGB (a non-Bayer-pattern sensor), with each 1920x1080 frame recorded with 10 bits of information per pixel. The sensor’s pixel size and format are considered the “sweet spot” by Panavision. If the sensor had been designed with more pixels, e.g., 4K, it would have been less sensitive and, in many ways, less desirable. The Genesis’ official sensitivity is attractive (EI 400), but many rate the camera higher due to the sensor’s increased shadow detail compared to similarly rated emulsions.
After extensive camera research, the CSI: Miami team decided to stay with Panavision. “There was talk of the RED ONE when we started the HD tests, but ultimately we stayed with Panavision because of our familiarity using its products on the show,” explains cinematographer Ken Glassing, a veteran with more than 100 episodes of CSI: Miami under his belt.
Most of the standard Panavision 35mm accessories are currently used on the Genesis, including the same follow-focus, matte box, filters and heads. Other positives by staying with Panavision include options for the crew to use film-menu terms on the menu of the camera, e.g., using “stop” rather than “dB.”
“You also have access to the respected service department of Panavision,” adds Glassing. “They offer great support on several different levels. If it’s late on a Friday, and the camera goes down, you know you’ll have another one delivered within an hour. With RED in the same situation, there’s absolutely no guarantee, which unfortunately took them out of the picture.”
Another attractive element is the Genesis design, shaped specifically to work comfortably within the established practices of film crews. “Camera assistants became accustomed to the Genesis very quickly,” says Glassing. “We’ve experienced a minimal amount of disruption, so it’s definitely been a good leap.”