The Countdown is On! (Part I): NAB 2017 to Highlight New Gear, Refined Delivery

Published on in Industry Announcements / Events

By Mark Foley, Technology Editor, ProductionHUB

As I looked out of my office window this morning at the raging snowstorm currently hammering New England, it occurred to me that NAB 2017 is right around the corner! I hope you will have your best walking/running shoes ready because this year's NAB is shaping up to be a real whopper of a show. All preliminary indications tell me that this could be the year of some exciting new breakout products and as always the continued refinement of existing products. Someone who knows me asked, “Are you excited about NAB?” Guess I couldn’t hold back my enthusiasm for one of the greatest technology showcases going when I said “Heck ya!"

So with that said, let's take a quick spin around the block and look at some key products and areas that I would circle on my must see list. Ready?

Cameras and Lens
Right out of the gate I would say that there are a two or three cameras that would go to the top of the “go see camera” list. That's not to say I am not going to try and see every last new or updated camera but this are the ones that we know about right now. So I am sure this list will get updated a lot as we get closer to the show. 

Blackmagic Design Ursa 4.6K Mini Pro: Booth SL216/SL5816
(List Price $5995)

With considerable panache and fanfare Blackmagic Design has announced the Ursa Mini Pro with considerable upgrades from the previous model. Of considerable note is the ability to record both on SD and CFast Cards, a plethora of onboard controls and the ability to easily switch out lens mounts as demonstrated via the Blackmagic Design online press conference.(Go Watch It) The other interesting thing about the Ursa 4.6K Mini Pro is that it is being shown as a digital cinema camera, a broadcast field camera, and as a studio camera with optional studio viewfinder.  This might be a very enticing thought for those on tight budget constraints. That being said, check out some of these other features that make a visit to the Blackmagic booth a must.

Ursa 4.6K Mini Pro Features to check out include:
Super 35mm 4.6K sensor with 15 stops of dynamic range 
Built-in ND filters
User changeable lens mount
RAW and ProRes format recording to dual media CFast or SD card
Recording Formats
Lossless Cinema DNG RAW, RAW 3:1 and RAW 4:1 with film dynamic range at 4608 x 2592, 4608 x 1920, 4096 x 2304, 4096 x 2160, 3072 x 2560, 2048 x 1152, 2048 x 1080 and 1920 x 1080. Apple ProRes 4608 x 2592, 4608 x 1920, 4096 x 2304, 4096 x 2160, 3072 x 2560, 2048 x 1152, 2048 x 1080 and 1920 x 1080 with either film or video dynamic range. 
These are just a couple of the outstanding tech specs for the Ursa 4.6k Mini Pro. For more info go to the Blackmagic Design site for the full run down.    

Sony FS7 II: Booth C11001
(List Price $8499)    

One of the great things about Sony is the constant grind to constantly improve their camera line. Versatility and dependability have been two of many positive Sony camera traits for as long as I can remember. Kind of important when you are shooting live sports with little to no room for error. The folks I talked to are almost evangelical when talking up the FS7ll. It was going to to be this or another Sony or nothing at all. So check this out. 

Sony is expanding its FS Series Super 35mm professional family with the addition of the new FS7 II camcorder. The new model builds on the original FS7’s strengths by adding advanced features including Electronic Variable ND technology, a lever lock type E-mount, and a new mechanical design for faster and easier set-up. The new FS7 II camcorder also supports Sony’s α Mount System, which includes more than 70 lenses. The new FS7 II camcorder is designed for long-form shooting and production applications, especially documentaries and independent filmmaking. Sony is also introducing an FS7 II kit model which includes a new E-mount, Super 35mm lens, model SELP18110G, covering Super35mm and APSC sensors.

“The FS7 II features state of the art, Sony variable ND and a robust locking E‑Mount,” said Juan Martinez, senior product manager, professional digital imaging, Sony Electronics. “Extensive enhancements to the VF support system enables fast and secure viewfinder while retaining the simplicity, and comfort of the FS7’s ‘multi-award winning’ industrial design.” The camcorder’s Electronic Variable ND Filter system, combined with its large sensor, delivers greater exposure control, with the option of preset or variable operation modes. Variable ND mode (seamless ND attenuation within the camera’s 2-7 stop range) allows the user to vary the density of the ND filter during shooting and to transition seamlessly between steps.

The camera’s expanded ND operations also fine exposure adjustment by relegating iris to set of the field, prevents soft focus caused by diffraction and prevents color shift caused by stacking multiple external ND filters.Preset mode lets users assign three ND settings to the filter turret, useful in selecting the most appropriate filtration range for changing light conditions. Auto ND mode is also available allowing exposure to stay at a fixed level while adjusting the depth of field with iris control.

E-mount (Lever Lock type) for professional shooting
The FS7 II’s new E-mount (lever lock type) gives users the ability to change lenses by rotating the locking collar rather than the lens itself, which means that in most cases lens support rigs don’t need to be removed, which saves time during a production. It also enables super-fast and secure viewfinder while retaining the simplicity, and comfort of the FS7’s ‘multi-award winning’ industrial design.”

Mechanical Design Enhancements
Like its counterparts in the FS Series family – the FS7 and FS5 models – the new FS7 II features and ergonomic updates for comfortable and functional use in the field. The FS7 II’s “tool-less” mechanical design lets users make on-the-fly changes to the camera’s set-up and operation. For example, no tools are required to adjust the Smart Grip or viewfinder positions. The viewfinder eyepiece provides a third stabilizing contact point when shooting handheld. Durable square section rods and lever-clamps on the LCD and camera body provide simple and precise front-to-back VF adjustment while retaining level positioning.

New Sony 18-110mm Sony G lens
Sony is also introducing an FS7 II kit model including a new E-mount, Super 35mm lens. The new lens, model SELP18110G, covers Super35mm and APSC sensors. Compact and lightweight — 2.4 lbs (1.1Kg) — with an 18 to 110 focal range (6x zoom) it uses a new fully mechanical/servo zoom switchable system, capable of snap zooms and entirely devoid of lag. The focal range is optimized for Super 35 and APS-C sensors. The lens is compatible with Sony α Mount System cameras, including the α7 series interchangeable-lens cameras and professional Super 35mm 4K camcorders like Sony’s FS7 or FS5. I imagine there is going to be some mighty long lines(including me) to see this bad boy. 

Ikegami: Booth C7217

If memory serves me correctly, some of my first(and maybe yours) broadcast gigs I ever shot were with Ikegami cameras. They looked great and you could beat on them (as in sports productions) I’ll spare you that model number since that would give away my age, so humor me. But if you track me down I’ll whisper it in your ear. These are some of the latest offerings that will be at the Ikegami booth at NAB. The show will see the debut of the HDK-73 camera, the latest addition to Ikegami's Unicam HD camera series, featuring F12 high sensitivity 2/3-inch CMOS sensors with exceptional picture quality in either 1080i or 720p in a cost-effective camera system. Ikegami will display the UHK-430 4K camera from the company's Unicam XE camera series.

Designed for use in the studio and field, the UHK-430 in true 4K. It features three 2/3-inch 4K (3840x2160) CMOS sensors with RGB prism optics, for “Real 4K” resolution from 24 million pixels (8 million per sensor). The UHK-430 is switchable between 4K and 2K formats. The CCU can output simultaneous 4K and 2K, with a 2K cutout from the 4K picture. The SHK-810 8K ultra high-definition television (UHDTV) camera will be at NAB Show 2017. Developed in collaboration with Japan Broadcast Corporation (NHK), the SHK-810 is a breakthrough camera notable for the significant size reduction and lightweight design that it brings to field and live production, which can be operated in the same manner as current broadcast cameras.

The SHK-810 employs a 33 million pixel Super 35mm CMOS sensor with PL lens mount, achieving a limiting horizontal resolution of 4000 TV lines. This portable camera utilizes standard SMPTE hybrid camera cable between head and CCU with available portable and studio viewfinders. Pictures from the SHK-810 can be viewed on a prototype Ikegami designed 55-inch full 8K resolution LCD monitor.

Sigma Corporation of America Lens: Booth C11525

Sigma’s extensive background in optics and highly compact lens architecture appeals to cinematographers across all genres of filmmaking,” states Sigma Corporation of America President Mark Amir-Hamzeh. “NAB 2017 will serve as the platform to introduce new Sigma Cine lens models that, like its siblings, appeal to the vast and varying needs of cinematographers.”  The Sigma Cine lens lineup at NAB 2017 will include The Cine Super 35 Zoom Line: 18-35mm T2 and 50-100mm T2. The Zoom line offers the constant aperture of T2 throughout the zoom range with optical performance that is capable of high-resolution 6K-8K shooting. Delivering the highest image quality in its class, the Zoom Line is ergonomically compact and designed for E, and PL camera system mounts. 

The Cine FF Zoom Lens: 24-35mm T2.2 FF 
Compatible with a full-frame image sensor, the FF Zoom’s outstanding optical performance also supports 6K-8K shooting. Because so few lenses cater to the requirements of the latest digital cinema cameras’ image sensors, this line provides a rare option for cinematographers. The FF Zoom is designed for E and EF camera system mounts. 

The Cine FF Prime Line: 20mm T1.5 FF, 24mm T1.5 FF, 35mm T1.5 FF, 50mm T1.5 FF and 85mm T1.5 FF 
The Cine Prime lineup features lenses ranging from 20mm to 85mm, with all five touting an aperture of T1.5. Highly compact and compatible with full-frame sensors, these lenses offer a resolution. They bring a consistent level of light to the production, offering greater consistency to any film’s color, and overall look before it enters post-production. The FF Prime line is designed for E, EF and PL camera system mounts.  For more about lens also go to my recent story here.

ARRI: Booth C7925

So many great cameras and gear but so little time… Instead of conjecture with projecting products for release lets pause for a moment instead and acknowledge moment for ARRI, In case you were living under a rock and missed it, ARRI was just awarded AMPAS Scientific and Engineering Award that recognizes the development of the ALEXA digital camera system. 

On February 11, 2017, in the ballroom of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles (USA), the 89th annual Scientific and Technical Awards presentation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) took place. With its Sci-Tech Awards, the organization recognizes outstanding achievements within the motion picture industry.

This year’s prize winners list includes the German company ARRI. The manufacturer of technology for the film industry was honored with a Scientific and Engineering Award for the forward-looking concept and innovative technology of its Super 35 format ALEXA digital camera system. This prestigious accolade is the 19th Scientific and Technical Award presented to ARRI over the course of its history. ALEXA was introduced to the market in 2010, quickly becoming the most trusted and widely used digital camera system for professional film and television production worldwide. With highly upgradeable system architecture, ALEXA has evolved through software updates and hardware upgrades to keep pace with the industry's rapidly changing needs. For the last five years, every film to win the Academy Award® for “Best Cinematography” has been captured with ALEXA.

The Academy citation states: "With an intuitive design and appealing image reproduction, achieved through close collaboration with filmmakers, ARRI's ALEXA cameras were among the first digital cameras widely adopted by cinematographers." Stephan Schenk, Managing Director – alongside Walter – of ARRI Cine Technik GmbH & Co. Betriebs KG and responsible for the Business Unit Camera Systems, says: “We are thankful for all the feedback that we received from cinematographers and other members of the film industry globally. This helped us tremendously with constantly improving the ALEXA range over the last seven years. We are very pleased that, besides the technological aspects, our close cooperation with the industry and the resulting high market penetration have been honored by the Academy.”

Ray Feeney, chair of the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee, comments: “This year we are particularly pleased to be able to honor not only a wide range of new but also the pioneering digital cinema cameras that helped facilitate the widespread conversion to electronic image capture for motion picture production. With their outstanding, innovative work, these technologists, engineers and inventors have significantly expanded filmmakers' creative choices for moving image storytelling.”

Unlike the televised Academy Awards®, achievements receiving Scientific and Technical Awards do not need to have been developed and introduced during the previous year. Rather, they must demonstrate a proven record of contributing significant value to the whole film industry.

So that is just a little taste of what is coming down the road for cameras and lens at NAB for 2017. Here are a few others we are keeping our eye on as the NAB pre-show warms up. Look for news in the camera world from GoPro, Panasonic, Kodak, and Canon, and JVCKENWOOD. 

In the field recording/monitor, we are looking at Atomos, SmallHD, Video Devices, and Blackmagic Design to make some noise. But these guys hold their cards really close to the vest so keep checking back for more information on them.

The Next Big Thing?
Hmmm. What WILL the next big thing be? Well if I was a betting type of person (wait it’s Vegas) I would wager that Live Streaming, VR 360, and Drones all in a variety of flavors will continue to dominate the 2017 production buzz. 

Coming Up in Part II
The ProductionHUB editorial team is working hard to get the latest and greatest news and breaking production stories. In NAB Part ll you know we are going to get to monitors for field and studio, audio, gfx, post, workflows, lighting and more. Plus we will hear from you the production guys and gals about what you want to see at the show. Stay Tuned!

About Mark Foley 

Mark Foley is the Technology Editor for ProductionHUB. Currently, he is binge watching the NCAAs trying to break his own record of watching 7 games in a row. 

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