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Panasonic Varicam 3700


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#1 Joe Walker

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 10:39 AM

Hi all,

So I read on Panasonic's website that the new Varicam 3700 is basically a full raster 3 2/3" chip 1080 camera with support for 4:4:4 dual link HD-SDI recording to P2 cards in AVC Intra and can do between 1 and 30fps variable frame rates, with the estimated price tag at about $60,000 for the body. This all sounds good, but a colleague and I got into a deep discussion about this and we have to ask this burning question:

Why just 1-30fps? Is it a limitation of the codec, the camera, etc.? In my opinion thats pretty limited for what they bill as a "variable frame rate cinema camera". I know we've all gotten by with far less for a while now in the HD realm but it just seems to me that they ought to be able to go higher than that. To me, and this is just my humble little opinion, but wouldn't this camera be a heck of a lot more competitive in the 2/3" HD camera market if it was not only full raster 1080 native but could do something like 1-75fps? You know, put it somewhere on par with what the latest super 16mm cameras from Arri and Aaton can do. I know not everybody needs that degree of slow motion but the option alone to me would seem more worth the price that they have projected. Again, just my opinion.
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#2 Mitch Gross

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 09:01 PM

As I understand it, the high performance they get out of their current chipset sensor would suffer if they went beyond 30fps. Up to that point the imaging is magnificent.
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#3 Joe Walker

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 02:45 PM

As I understand it, the high performance they get out of their current chipset sensor would suffer if they went beyond 30fps. Up to that point the imaging is magnificent.


Would you say its on par with an F900R image-wise?

Edited by Joe Walker, 26 May 2008 - 02:46 PM.

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#4 Walter Graff

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 06:38 PM

"So I read on Panasonic's website that the new Varicam 3700 is basically a full raster 3 2/3" chip 1080 camera with support for 4:4:4 dual link HD-SDI recording to P2 cards in AVC Intra"

Actually I think it's 4:2:2 10 bit recorded to P2 and has the ability at 4:4:4 output via SDI. As for 60fps, it's such a special feature that I don't see many needing it for general cinematogrpahy needs. If Panasonic can cut the right deals, you may see more of Panasonic cameras for feature use, but historically Sony owns those rights over Panasonic so it will be tough to say if this camera will break through more. And now with all the too many choices, the field it big. Truth is most cameras get their intro to saturation in the real wolrd not because of anything but politics and outright deals either under the table or in equipment trade and promises. And P2 is not everyones best friend so that may be another sticking point with using it.
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#5 Gus Sacks

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 07:08 PM

The only thing that made the HPX3000 not the best 4:2:2 camera ever was the inability to change frame rates... If this camera can do 4:4:4 via SDI and record on P2 cards in AVCIntra100... it seems like a great piece of equipment.
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#6 Mitch Gross

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 09:00 PM

Would you say its on par with an F900R image-wise?

I would say that it exceeds the image quality of the F900R and approaches that of the F23. It is an incredibly quiet camera; the noise floor is very low so that one can really dig into the shadows. Very, very clean.
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#7 Michael Nash

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 11:38 PM

As for 60fps, it's such a special feature that I don't see many needing it for general cinematogrpahy needs.


Speak for yourself! ;) Every time I've used a Varicam or HVX it's been specifically for overcranking, and usually at 60fps. And rarely if ever for undercranking. 30 fps is "neither fish nor fowl" when it comes to slowmo.
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#8 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 12:02 AM

Speak for yourself! ;) Every time I've used a Varicam or HVX it's been specifically for overcranking, and usually at 60fps. And rarely if ever for undercranking. 30 fps is "neither fish nor fowl" when it comes to slowmo.


Agree. If I am considering using a serious film/ video camera and it can't shoot 60 fps, I rather get one that does. There is always one shot (at least!) that can benefit from undercranking in any given project. At the end of the month I am doing a HDX900 and a HPX2000 shoot and . . . I wish they ran at native 60 fps! So we may use a HPX500 for a couple of days for that purpose alone.
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#9 Walter Graff

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 05:31 AM

Speak for yourself! ;) Every time I've used a Varicam or HVX it's been specifically for overcranking, and usually at 60fps. And rarely if ever for undercranking. 30 fps is "neither fish nor fowl" when it comes to slowmo.


I guess you're right and it prooves the point. It's such a rarely used feature that there is only one pro camera and one prosumer camera that folks turn to to do it for the most part.
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#10 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 08:28 AM

Agree. If I am considering using a serious film/ video camera and it can't shoot 60 fps, I rather get one that does. There is always one shot (at least!) that can benefit from undercranking in any given project. At the end of the month I am doing a HDX900 and a HPX2000 shoot and . . . I wish they ran at native 60 fps! So we may use a HPX500 for a couple of days for that purpose alone.


Correction: Looking at the specs the HDX records at 1080 59.94i . . . And the HPX 2000 may as well . . .
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#11 Michael Nash

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 09:32 AM

I guess you're right and it prooves the point. It's such a rarely used feature that there is only one pro camera and one prosumer camera that folks turn to to do it for the most part.


I guess what I'm saying is that there's almost no such thing as "general purpose cinematography." Lots of 35mm productions like music videos and commercials wouldn't show up on set without a high speed-capable camera like the Arri 435. Horses for courses.

In some regards the 720/1080 choice here is not unlike having the dedicated MOS camera for high-speed and the "mild" overcrank synch-sound A-camera like you do with film. You still can't have everything in one camera (with these Panasonic models).
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#12 Michael Nash

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 09:36 AM

Correction: Looking at the specs the HDX records at 1080 59.94i . . . And the HPX 2000 may as well . . .


I'm finishing up gaffing a feature with the HDX900. We're shooting 1080/24pA, and 720/60p for slomo shots.
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#13 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 10:41 AM

I'm finishing up gaffing a feature with the HDX900. We're shooting 1080/24pA, and 720/60p for slomo shots.


I may want to do that myself, thanks!
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#14 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 11:50 AM

I hate to be the harbinger of doom but you can call it 4:4:4 all you like, it's not actually going to have that much chroma detail left in it once it's been compressed.

P
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#15 Mitch Gross

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 02:27 PM

I hate to be the harbinger of doom ....

P

Really? You do?

Sorry, couldn't resist.
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#16 Andre Labous

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 05:07 PM

Doesn't the dual link 4:4:4 refer to an output only to say a SRW1 deck. Is is 4:4:4 at the head?
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#17 Mitch Gross

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 07:15 PM

Andre, you are correct and Phil is incorrect. One could record to an SRW-1, a Wafian, a Codex, a GVS9000, a ColorSpace, etc. and the result would be 4:4:4 video of very high quality.
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#18 John Sprung

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 07:55 PM

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Ah, but this time it's Panasonic. Our Phil's an equal opportunity harbinger.... ;-)



-- J.S.
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#19 Joe Walker

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 09:28 PM

I guess you're right and it prooves the point. It's such a rarely used feature that there is only one pro camera and one prosumer camera that folks turn to to do it for the most part.



I wouldn't call it a rarely used feature. At least, not in my line of work, which is primarily music videos and commercials. That last music video I worked on we shot at frame rates all over the place... 6fps, 22fps, 24fps, 48, 60, 70, 75 (Aaton XTR Prod). My original intention of starting this post I guess was to comment on the relative lack of "variable" (i.e. from very high to very low) frame rates in a 1080 native solid state high def camcorder, excluding the Phantom HD of course (beat you to it Mitch). I don't know, maybe I'm asking too much :huh:
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#20 Walter Graff

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 05:32 AM

I wouldn't call it a rarely used feature. At least, not in my line of work, which is primarily music videos and commercials.



If you look at the industry as a whole, it is less a necessary feature, than one widly used. That is all I am saying. Panasonic does a disservice to themselves by not having it as they are one of the few who do, and have built it up in teh past as a big part of their marketing. As Mitch says, this camera simply can't have it due to design, but that might be a detracter since so many folks have associated Panasonic with having the slo mo feature. So shoot at a higher shutter and you'll get near the same effect. :)
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