I might not send this one back. Ok, I know I say that a lot (like all the time) but in this might be the case this time, not kidding. After shooting with the Panasonic AU-EVA1 over the last several weeks I have come to the not so modest conclusion that this is one heck of a camera. I say that in the midst of a stream of new or updated cameras from a bunch of manufacturers that started in mid-2017 and haven’t stopped yet. So what makes the Panasonic EVA1 stand out? Thought you would never ask.
Checking it All Out/It’s in the Genes
There is no doubt in my mind that when Panasonic started thinking about this camera that they had a really solid foundation to start with. Beginning with the original Varicam, then the Varicam LT, The EVA1 had a running start. When I got the AU-Panasonic EVA1, the first thing that got my attention was how everything was very easy to find on the camera. Just like it’s older siblings. Having reviewed the LT a few years back I can say that with confidence.
So, if you are an experienced shooter, I’m pretty sure you could be up and running in a few minutes if you needed to be and feel pretty confident about it. To me, that is always a big plus. What is there not to love about smart details like the location of the XLR inputs, (smart) the very easy to deal with and find SD Card slots, (very smart)?
Another big plus is the location(s) of the tactile controls. These simple, yet well-located controls on the exterior of the Panasonic EVA1 really sold me. Honestly, the less I have to futz with menu items, the better. Maybe some of you are more comfortable with menu driven cameras, I get it. But the Panasonic EVA1 is just the right size, so they (Panasonic) could place a lot of these common functions on the camera body - the Varian LT. Additionally, I also really liked how the battery mount was recessed into the body of the camera, totally out of the way. I might not be so streamlined, but I do like cameras that are. The Panasonic EVA1 is very clean and neat. A simple release made it easy to switch out the batteries. The supplied Zacuto viewfinder (list $565) was one of the clearest and cleanest viewing eyepiece/monitors I have used in recent memory.
Yes, I fell in love with this particular viewfinder. A quick example - the audio metering was spot on. I liked it. I know because I was pretty close to a lot of birds on one of the shoots. It was pretty loud. When I went to play back the recording, what I recorded using the supplied shotgun microphone and my pre-calibrated levels were nearly identical. There were other settings but it's good to know things such as which SD card I was on and how much recording time I had left. So the bottom line is that I had a bunch of information available, but it was not intrusive at all. Yes, I know I keep going back to that word easy. Because good features help make for good shooting. But let's hit pause (pun intended) and get to the good stuff. Ah yes, one more thing. The supplied Sigma lenses? A great match for this camera.
Let's talk about the phenomenal 5.7k sensor and some other cool stuff that makes you want to shoot with this camera. Because a lot of cameras can have a great physical set up yet fall short when it comes to doing what they are supposed to do, mainly making pretty pictures, right?
The Belly of the Beast
Call it what you will but sooner or later it boils down to the sensor and what you can do with it. Here is where the Panasonic EVA1 shines. The Beast (my words, not Panasonics) 5.7K Sensor is great.
But before you go off the 8K and the beyond, hear me out. I do love 8K (or more) I won’t lie. Who doesn’t? But I don’t have 8K money yet. Yes, I said not yet. I have 5.7K money. Yes, I have heard every argument there is for future proofing. Bigger, better image gathering. I get all that. But if you can produce very nice looking work in 5.7K and not go broke why not? But I dare you to tell me that this beast doesn’t make great images. So, of course, it starts with the sensor. It has been said that dynamite comes in small packages. I think that statement fits pretty well with this camera. Panasonic's 5.7K sensor is very solid. Its higher resolution allows for oversampled 4K footage, resulting in imaging with reduced aliasing and increased color fidelity. Like I said, pretty pictures.
Dual Native ISO
Utilizing a process that allows the sensor to be read in a fundamentally different way, Dual Native ISO extracts more information from the sensor without affecting the image in the same way as increasing the gain or shifting the gamma.
V-Log and V-Gamut Capture
Panasonic did their own thing here, combining V-Log and V-Gamut. The EVA1 can capture a wide exposure latitude and represent a wide color palette. V-Log has exposure curve characteristics that are a throwback to negative film while V-Gamut delivers a color space even larger than film. Having both of these tools enables the EVA1 to be used in production workflows for both HDR and SDR production.
Native EF Lens Mount
The EF lens mount to enable shooters to natively use the broad EF lens ecosystem, encompassing many brands of lenses. The lens mount features electronic contacts for communication with compatible lenses as well as enabling one-push autofocus.
Electronic Image Stabilization
The EVA1 can electronically compensate for vibrations induced by shooting handheld or shoulder-mounted. This feature is especially useful for documentarians and other shooters.
Integrated Motorized Filters
Honestly, another no fuss, no muss feature that I fell hard for. Available in 2, 4 and 6 stops, the built-in ND filter wheel enables the camera operator to have precise control over their image. The IR-cut filter can also be actuated electronically, allowing for night-vision.
Panasonic AU-EVA1 by the Numbers (pretty impressive)
Size: Super 35
Exposure Latitude: 14 stops
Lens Mount: EF
ISO: 200-2000 (base 800), 1000-25,600 (base 2500)
dB: -12 to 8 (normal sensitivity), -8 to 20 (high sensitivity)
4096 x 2160
3840 x 2160
2048 x 1080
1 x HDMI Type A (record start/stop supported)
Format:: 10-bit, 4:2:2
4096 x 2160 23.98/24/25/29.97/50/59.94
3840 x 2160 23.98/24/25/29.97/50/59.94
Other Not So Random Observations
That handle. Loved it, didn’t love it. On one hand (no pun intended) I really could dig the locking mechanism that made it impossible to move the handle, period. The locking mechanism also means that you don’t have to worry about a pressure fitting wearing out or loosening up in the middle of the shot. Nice touch. Now let me drop the other shoe. With that said I had a really hard time getting used to how the tight the fit was for my hand.
In a perfect world, I would have used(which I liked)the supplied handle with an outrigger arm. Not a gimble, an extended arm.Maybe there is an outrigger or I need my arms shortened already and I missed it? But I got over it pretty fast. I also didn't get to try the Panasonic AJ-WM50P Wireless System ($159.99). It uses Wi-Fi to allow wireless metadata input/display and proxy playback on iPads, iPhones, and PCs. Using the AJ-SFU3100 software, the wireless system can be paired with a camera to allow smooth transfer of important camera information between the camera and your Wi-Fi device. Next time!
If you are in the market for a mid-range cinematic camera that won’t kill your budget you need to look at this camera and put it in the consideration mix. The beautiful pictures along with the versatility of the EVA1 makes for a strong case. As I have said before, everyone has his or her own preferences about how a camera shoots or looks. Normally I don’t tell people what to do but you owe it to yourself to take a long look at this camera.