Getting the picture

A look at new camera innovations at this year's NAB
March 1, 2009

In some ways, NAB 2009 may be a mirror of the apoplectic global economy, with some major players conspicuous by their absence, including Apple, Red Digital Camera, and Quantel among others. On the other hand, Avid and others will be back after a hiatus.

Don’t expect NAB 2009 to be paradigm-breaking in terms of new cameras, lenses and support gear either. Instead, look for incremental changes which enhance capture quality and improve workflow. Solid state recording options are worth scrutinizing after major introductions during the past two years. Also, many cameras and lenses introduced last year, in anticipation of massive buying during the final phase of the DTV transition, will actually be for sale. As always, there will be some great new tools well worth a closer look.

Convergent Design’s dockable flash recorder, the Flash XDR, won awards at NAB ’08 as a concept. Now it’s a product with Master Quality I frame recording at up to 160 Mbps and 4:2:2 color sampling. It captures 720p, 1080i and 1080p sf (segmented frame) and long GOP MPEG 2 at up to 100 Mbps, with four slots for low-cost, compact flash cards.

A newer, more compact version, the Nano, holds two cards, but shares most of Flash XDR’s features except for XLR audio and a headphone jack, and has one HD SDI I/O vs. the two of Flash XDR, but also has HDMI.

From Panasonic, the biggest news may be that 124 GB P2 cards are coming soon. Each can record up to 10 hours of DVCPRO HD at 24p or four hours at the highest quality using the AVC Intra codec. P2 camcorders with four slots could capture up to 40 hours DVCPRO HD (24p) before having to download.

Also new is the AG-HPX300 P2 HD camcorder with native 2.2-MP (megapixel) 3-MOS imagers, 20-bit DSP and 10-bit, 4:2:2, individual frame recording. It is designed for on-the-shoulder use and comes with a 17X Fujinon HD lens, all for under US $10K.

To its AVCCAM line of pro solid state HD products, Panasonic will add the handheld, AG-HMR10 field recorder/player and the AG-HCK10 compact, multi-purpose camera head which record with the MPEG-4/AVC High-Profile codec. They’re ideal for sports, surveillance, or remote operation.

JVC will showcase the world’s first solid state camcorders, which capture and record Quicktime files, ready to edit in Apple’s Final Cut Pro. Unlike most competitors, the GY-HM700 captures and records video to standard, inexpensive SDHC cards at 35 Mbps along with uncompressed audio.

Ikegami will demonstrate additions to its GF Series like the HDS-V10, a 2.5 MP tapeless camcorder which records video to a 64 GB flash GFPak. Ikegami will also debut the HDK-79EC, a multi-format HD camera system, with three 2/3′ 2.5 mega-pixel CMOS sensors that are switchable between interlace and progressive. The high speed version, HDK-79EC/HS, captures slow-mo at up to 120 fps in 720p mode and up to 60 fps in 1080p.

Grass Valley will exhibit its Infinity Digital Media Camcorder, which records to compact flash or to its Rev Pro media, and can now be integrated with its Telecast Fiber Copperhead transmission system. It will also exhibit two slow-mo cameras, the LDK8300 3X HD Super SloMo camera, and the LDK8000 SportElite multiformat 2X HD SloMo camera.

Sony adds a new high-def field recorder, the PDW-HR1, along with its newest XDCAM HD422 optical camcorder which records XDCAM HD plus legacy formats including MPEG IMX, DVCAM, and 4:2:0 HD 24P.

There’s also the HXR-MC1 camera/recorder combo, a lipstick-style camera umbilicled to a compact CCU/ recorder, which records six hours of AVCHD to a 16GB Memory Stick.

Sony always saves a few big surprises until NAB and one of this year’s may be a new high end camcorder which records the HDCAM SR format, 1080p 60 video with 4:4:4 color sampling, on ½’ videotape. Lately, there’s been a lot of talk and speculation about this highly streamlined answer to the pricy F23/SRW1 recorder combo.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.