Atomos 8K sensor
Image courtesy: Atomos

Last month, Atomos announced that it had developed a new 8K video sensor. Unfortunately, the company’s press release didn’t reveal much about the sensor’s features. However, in a recent interview with PetaPixel, Atomos CEO Trevor Elbourne explained what we can expect from the new sensor.

The background

Atomos announced that it had completed the development of an 8K ultra high-definition video sensor. The company said that it had acquired the intellectual property rights and technical team to develop the sensor when it took over broadcast equipment firm Grass Valley five years ago. Other than the resolution, however, there were no details of the sensor’s specifications.

Sapphire F8

One month on, and thanks to the interview with Trevor Elbourne, we can now fill in a lot of the blanks. The new sensor is to be called the Sapphire F8 and has a resolution of 8192 by 4320 pixels. This means it has a 17:9 DCI aspect ratio.

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Global shutter

Image courtesy: Atomos

One of the most exciting features of the Sapphire F8 sensor is that it features a global shutter. A global shutter captures the information from all of its pixels simultaneously. This creates footage that has a much more filmlike appearance to the motion. It also eliminates the rolling shutter issues that cause straight lines to bend during quick pans.

Dynamic range

The Sapphire F8 sensor has an impressive 15 stops of dynamic range. This should give you a more cinematic image and increased flexibility during the color grading process. In addition, the sensor can shoot HDR video using line-by-line dual exposure. This means that it captures short and long exposures of alternate lines to produce HDR images.

Frame rates

The Sapphire F8 sensor can shoot full-frame 8K video at up to 60 fps. If you drop the resolution to 4K, you can record up to 240 fps or up to 360 fps in 1080 HD.

Low power

Elbourne also revealed that the Sapphire F8 only draws two watts of power when shooting in 8K. As a result, the camera should produce much less heat than current cameras. This also means that the sensor might not need cooling with the fans that most cinema cameras have. In addition, manufacturers could fit the new sensor into much smaller camera bodies.

Final thoughts

At the moment, Atomos doesn’t have any plans to start building their own cameras. Therefore, the company is now looking to partner with other manufacturers. In addition, developing a new camera can take several years, so we might need to be patient for a while longer. However, with the increasing sales of 8K televisions, it’s clear that there is a need for more cameras capable of creating 8K content. With the Sapphire F8 sensor ready to go, the future of cinema cameras looks very exciting.

Pete Tomkies is a freelance cinematographer and camera operator from Manchester, UK. He also produces and directs short films as Duck66 Films. Pete's latest short Once Bitten... won 15 awards and was selected for 105 film festivals around the world.