February 2013

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Sony is celebrating two new additions to the historic CineAlta family. The PMW-F55 and PMW-F5 camcorders offer a healthy set of specifications that includes 16-bit RAW video recording and an electronic global shutter in the F55 to eliminate rolling shutter skew and flash band effects. The cameras feature newly constructed 4K Super 35mm image sensors (separate models for each camera), both sporting 4096×2160 resolution (11.6 megapixels). There’s multi-codec support, including the new XAVC MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 file format, the SR MPEG-4 SStP codec and the XDCAM 50 Mb/s 4:2:2 format. Both camcorders can record high-frame-rate HD and 2K XAVC internally to SxS PRO+ memory card media at up to 120 fps in the F5 and 180 fps in the F55, plus support of frame rates at up to 240 fps on the F55 when capturing 16-bit 2K RAW files to the optional Sony AXS-R5 RAW recorder.

The F55 also offers 4K HDMI output and monitoring at up to 30p, as well as a color filter inherited from the flagship Sony F65 camera for enhanced color gamut and tonal reproduction. (The F5 can output 2K and HD up to 60p via HDMI.) The cameras include 14 stops of exposure latitude, high light sensitivity and a swappable native FZ mount for using DSLR lenses or Sony’s FZ-mount lenses alongside a PL-mount for cinematic lenses and the new Sony PL-mount prime lenses in 20mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm and 135mm focal lengths. List Price: $34,900 (PMW-F55); $19,400 (PMW-F5); $6,300 (AXS-R5 RAW recorder). Contact: Sony, (800) 883-6817, pro.sony.com.


Schneider-Kreuznach has announced several new offerings for the large-sensor HDSLR space. Offering fast T2.1 apertures, optics capable of achieving up to 4K resolution, cine-style lens mechanics and a 14-blade aperture diaphragm for very smooth bokeh, three Video Xenon lenses provide full-frame coverage on Canon EOS and Nikon F-mount cameras: the Video Xenon T2.1/25, T2.1/50 and T2.1/75. Other new models include a Makro-Symmar 2,4/85 macro, PC-TS Super-Angulon 4,5/28 HM Aspheric, fast Xenon 1,4/35 wide-angle and Xenon 1,4/50. Each is available in bayonets for Canon EOS, Nikon F, Sony Alpha and Pentax K cameras. Three new lenses also were announced for Micro Four Thirds-based cameras and camcorders from Panasonic and Olympus: the extreme wide-angle Super-Angulon 2,8/14, the more moderate Xenon 1,4/30 medium-wide and the macro Makro-Symmar 2,4/60. Each includes internal focus, a high-quality aluminum casing and protection from dust and splashing, as well as a hydrophobic coating on the outer elements. A 4,5/28 Super-Angulon Aspheric tilt-shift lens with a lateral shift of 12mm also was unveiled. List Price: N/A. Contact: Schneider Optics, Inc., (800) 645-7239, www.schneideroptics.com.


Updating its groundbreaking large-sensor, interchangeable-lens predecessor, the Panasonic AG-AF100A revises the Micro Four Thirds-based camcorder with significant improvements, including enhanced 10-bit, 4:2:2 imaging quality over the 8-bit capabilities of the AF100 (when outputting to external recorders like the P2 HD recorder). This results in better tonal gradations, and the HD-SDI signal also now carries a sync signal for Rec Start/Stop. Panasonic has added a CinemaScope-aspect safety marker ratio of 2.39:1, as well, and Panasonic’s popular Expanded Focus Assist function has been included for checking critical focus on a magnified portion of the preview screen. The AF100A offers a high-quality PH recording mode for a maximum 24 Mb/s bit rate (21 Mb/s average), and it’s compliant with the AVCHD 2.0 Progressive standard with the new PS mode (28 Mb/s maximum/25 Mb/s average) in order to record, play and output files via HDMI in up to 1080/59.94p/50p. The PS and PH modes support uncompressed 16-bit LPCM 2-channel audio recording, and the AF100A also includes two-channel XLR input terminals for uncompressed sound. Cosmetically, the camcorder is the same as the AG-AF100. List Price: $4,595. Contact: Panasonic Solutions Company, (800) 211-PANA, www.panasonic.com.


Available in a Nikon F mount (ZF.2) or a Canon EF bayonet (ZE), Carl Zeiss has unveiled its longest medium telephoto lens for DSLR cameras, the new Apo Sonnar T* 2/135. Joining a line of 13 lenses with focal lengths that now cover a range from 15mm to 135mm, the lens offers the clarity of detail, high contrast and enhanced resolution for which the well-regarded optical company is known. The lens is compact for a medium telephoto and offers a scale of up to 1:4 magnification. With 11 elements in eight groups, the lens sports a floating elements design and a variable arrangement of elements for limiting aberration over the focusing range of 31.5 inches to infinity. The apochromatic lens corrects for chromatic aberration with transitions between bright and dark areas of the image showing limited color artifacts. The lens also utilizes Carl Zeiss’ T* anti-reflective coating alongside other treatments and a deep-black lacquer for resisting reflections and stray light. There’s a large rotation angle of 268º for precise focus. The barrel is all-metal for durability. Estimated Street Price: $2,000. Contact: Carl Zeiss Microscopy, LLC, (800) 543-1033, lenses.zeiss.com.


Supporting HDV camcorders and DSLR systems of up to 17 pounds, the Ready Rig is an upper body-mounted camera support system that will equalize camera weight, allowing hands-free operation and simultaneous focus pulls and zooms for single operators. The Ready Rig is comprised of two adjustable rods that are attached to a spring-loaded back support and a camera mount with nearly 180º of tilt. There are hand grips, monitor and accessory mounts, and an adjustable corset for evenly distributing the weight throughout the upper body. For achieving low shots or unusual angles, the monitor is mounted at eye level, independent of the camera’s position. The system weighs only 10 pounds itself with high-strength aluminum construction and setup assembly that can be performed in under two minutes. A custom backpack that houses the unit fully assembled is available separately or with the Ready Rig as a kit, as is a Ready Rig Accessory Plate for attaching audio recorders. Estimated Street Price: $1,999 (Ready Rig with Case); $200 (Custom Travel Case); $90 (Accessory Plate). Contact: Alba Camera Support Systems (International Supplies), (800) 999-1984, www.internationalsupplies.com.


The BP6000 and BP7000 V-Lock Baseplates from SHAPE offer pro camcorder setups like the new Sony PMW-F55 and F5 a sturdy, yet lightweight professional support camera system. The Double Quick Handle Rosette with quick-lock button offers two handles that will rotate individually on a 360º axis. Handles and arms can be rotated by pushing the buttons, which also will lock handles securely in place once released. The systems include 8-inch 15mm rods at the front for larger accessories like matte boxes alongside 4-inch rods on the back for counterweight and digital recorders. The plates are compatible with industry-standard 15mm rod systems, and there are also optional 15mm studio or 19mm brackets. A V-lock adapter is located at the bottom of the baseplate, which features hard-anodized aluminum construction with stainless-steel screws. The Velcro® shoulder pad is removable. Many interchangeable-lens camcorder systems are supported, literally, including the Sony F65, Canon C300, the RED series, the Sony F3, EX1, EX3 and Panasonic AF100/101/P2 cameras. List Price: Begins at $999 (BP7000 V-Lock Quick-Release Baseplate without handle). Contact: SHAPE WLB Inc., (888) 968-9810, www.shapewlb.com.