The World On Your Shoulder

While ENG camera users have been experiencing fairly incremental product life cycles over the past few years, with small, yet significant updates to their camera platform of choice, colleagues who shoot with cinema-style cameras have been enjoying a wild roller coaster-like journey of innovation. That ride began with the introduction of the RED ONE, followed by the DSLR revolution, then the introduction of the ARRI ALEXA, while at the same time, Sony’s line of large-sensor CineAlta cameras was gaining market share.

Contrasting that breakneck change with the more sedate recent evolution in ENG cameras, it usually goes something like this: Manufacturer A breaks ground and introduces a feature, media or specification that’s somewhat groundbreaking. Manufacturers B and C, who have up until this point been happily and profitably innovating in small, incremental steps in their ENG camera lines, feel the heat from the announcement of manufacturer A’s new product/feature/technology and have to react to "keep up with the neighbors." Unlike recent years, 2013 is shaping up to be one of the years where ENG camera technology kicks into high gear.

Let’s take a look at what Panasonic, Sony and JVC have just introduced for the ENG camera class of 2013. All three entries are feature- and market-segment diverse, an unusual occurrence when compared to the days of just a decade ago when all three manufacturers’ cameras were close to interchangeable other than tape format. These new models indicate three separate and distinct approaches to the ENG camera market.

PANASONIC AJ-PX5000G: NEW TECHNOLOGY COMES TO FRUITION

We’ve all been hearing about new Panasonic technology like AVC-ULTRA, MicroP2 and "future-proofing" for quite a while now. The AJ-PX5000G is the first camera that actually puts all of these innovations into a single package. In early March of 2013, a few weeks before NAB, Panasonic announced the AJ-PX5000G, its first P2 HD camcorder with native AVC-ULTRA recording (the next evolution of Panasonic’s current AVC-Intra codec) and built-in microP2 card slots. AVC-ULTRA is a family of recording codecs that Panasonic says will offer lower operational cost by achieving high picture quality with a lower bit rate compared to Sony’s MPEG-2 Long GOP.

Panasonic states that AVC-ULTRA achieves:

AVC-Intra—Higher picture quality for creative work of production; 4Kx2K and 1080 p50/60, Class 4:4:4, Class 200
AVC-Intra—Class 100, 50
AVC-LongG—Lower data rate with higher picture quality; LongG50, LongG25
AVC-LongG/AVC-PROXY—Extremely low data rate for network-based workflow; LongG12, LongG6

The PX5000G is the first P2 HD camcorder with built-in slots for Panasonic’s new microP2 cards, which have a very small SD card form factor and a lower media cost than traditional P2 cards. The PX5000G has two microP2 slots and two standard P2 card slots as well as an SD card slot for proxy/metadata recording.

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