Sony's NAB Camera Lineup: Sensors Sell the Image

Studio Monthly by Beth Merchant

An 8K-Sensor CineAlta that Records 4K, a Modular Super35 mm Alternative to HDSLR and More Ways to Rig the F3 for 3D

Sony is set to display at NAB a suite of targeted, feature-rich cameras based on its latest CMOS imaging technology. New HDCAM-SR decks and OLED monitors complete this high-res picture. I saw most of this new gear earlier this month during demos for a small group of press at Sony's engineering and manufacturing plants outside Tokyo and farther south on the island of Kyushu. I can tell you that the company's product story for this year's show is exceptionally strong. It's one of tremendous pixel density, image quality and product breadth. But will it be enough to challenge the newer comers in the market that are still chipping away at Sony's core customers? It all begins with the sensors.

An 8K x 2K CineAlta
The boldest piece of Sony's sensor narrative is about size. On the heels of the Super35mm-sized single CMOS sensor the compnay developed for the F3, Sony has announced another CMOS single-sensor milestone: Its newest CineAlta camera featuring an 8K x 2K chip. That gives the new 8K CMOS inside a total pixel count of 20.4 million pixels, far more than the roughly 8.8 million pixels of the current 4K x 2K sensors in other existing cameras on the market. The new sensor size obviously also brings with it higher color reproduction and resolution than can be captured by those other 4K sensors. But don't confuse sensor size, pixel density and resolution with the recording format. The images are still recorded and output in 16-bit RAW 4K (16:8:8). During our demo at Sony's Atsugi Technology Center in a suburb of Tokyo, however, those images were noticeably crisper, brighter and cleaner as a result of the extra pixels. Blacks were deep and rich, too. No shades of gray here, though if you were shooting a mountain climber against a textured, marbled slab of granite, this imager would certainly pick up every bit of uncompressed detail. I'm told the camera will shoot from 1 through 72 fps. Crank that up to a High Frame Rate mode and you can go all the way up to 120 fps.

When we first got a look at this camera under wraps at Atsugi, it was unofficially called the "F65." We were told the official name would be released at NAB, where Sony will be showing a prototype along with a 1 TB SR memory card that can hold up to 60 minutes of content shot at 24 fps (more on that new card below, in the HDCAM-SR section). At the time, executives estimated the camera would begin shipping in early summer. I can't show you any pictures of this large-sensor wonder, but you will be able to see for yourself at NAB. read more...

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