Panasonic 4K Varicam 35

Panasonic has announced the immediate availability of their highly anticipated PL-mount VariCam 35 4K camera module, the high-speed VariCam HS camera module and the recording module for both.

Based on the number of times the word ‘module’ appeared in the last paragraph, it’s safe to say that the third generation interchangeable-lens VariCams use a modular system consisting of separate camera and recorder modules.

The VariCam 35 puts a newly-developed super 35mm MOS sensor to the test, shooting variable frame rates up to 120 fps in formats including 4K and UHD in AVC-ULTRA 4K, and 2K and 1080p HD in AVC-Intra 100.Varicam 35 - 4K 35mm sensor, PL-Mount

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According to Panasonic, future firmware upgrades will allow HD recording with Apple ProRes and V-RAW recording with a Codex V-RAW Recorder, giving shooters a wider array of file formats to work with and a faster workflow, given that the recorder module allows for simultaneous recording in multiple formats.

The second VariCam camera head module is the 2/3" type VaricCm HS. With high speed 1080p capture at up to 240 fps, the Varicam HS camera is aimed at the production of high-end, high-def footage, as Panasonic puts it: “for the most demanding documentaries, sports or SFX slow-motion applications.”

Andre Meterian, Director of Panasonic’s Professional Camera division, said, “Inherited from original VariCam, the VariCam 35 features a V-Log gamma to cover a wide latitude — an impressive 14+ stops.

“What is more, the ability to simultaneously record in two different formats and codecs together with its in-camera colour grading function means, for instance, that it is possible to record 4K master and HD simultaneously and begin colour grading on site. This will greatly help production companies to streamline their workflows.”Varicam HS - 2/3" sensor, PL-Mount

He continues, "VariCam HS will provide smooth slow motion effects, by recording in 240fps HD, without a cache memory."

Panasonic has also created a next generation of P2 solid-state recording for VariCam series products. Designed to capture 4K or high speed HD images, the expressP2 card and drive offers fast transfer speeds (up to 2.4Gbps). The expressP2 card (AU-XP0256A) provides 72 minutes recording time in 4K/25p mode with high data reliability using a flash memory error correction system, equivalent to a RAID system, to recover from a failure in a sector, page, or entire block.

A cool feature of the cameras, is that the camera head and recorder need not be connected directly. For situations when space is limited, the head can be mounted and the recorder can be kept somewhere else, connected by a cable. Handy for crane shots! It should be pointed out that the camera heads cannot be used without the recorder, and the recorder can only be used with the VariCam camera modules.  Varicam P2 Recorder Unit

Pricing for the VariCam components and kits is as follows:
VariCam 35 complete package with AU-V35C1 4K camera module, AU-VREC1 recording / control module, AU-VCVF1 color viewfinder, AU-VSHL1 shoulder mount module: $55,000
VariCam HS complete package with AU-V23HS1 2/3 camera module, AU-VREC1 recording / control module, AU-VCVF1 color viewfinder, AU-VSHL1 shoulder mount module: $46,000
VariCam 35 s35mm 4K camera head, PL mount – $29,000
VariCam HS 2/3″ 1080p camera head, B4 mount – $20,000
VariCam common recording module / control unit – $17,000
Shoulder mount module – $2,000
Color viewfinder $7,000
ExpressP2 drive $495
ExpressP2 card, 256GB $2,000

While shipping is to start immediately, it doesn't appear that retailers have units in hand. Stay tuned for more! In the meantime, check out first-look footage for the 35mm VariCam 35 4K:

Photos by Kunihiko Miyagi, Director of Panasonic Professional Imaging – via his Tumblr account

Russ Fairley is a producer, editor and motion graphic designer who enjoys writing for Videomaker. He has also written for About.com (Lifewire.com), RedShark News, Modern Drummer Magazine, and others. He is an Adobe Certified Expert, Adobe Community Leader, and co-founder of After Effects Toronto, Canada's largest motion graphic user group. Fairley is the creator and editor of ProductionWorld.net, a popular production news website.