Media Production Show 2017
Yesterday our production and marketing team went down to London for the Media Production Show at the Olympia. It was our first time at the show and it was a novel experience. The talks were interesting, at least the ones where the panel weren’t shamelessly self promoting, and the stands were pretty hands on. There was a raft of camera manufacturers such as RED, Canon, JVC and Panasonic, the latter being the headline act with the recent announcement of the AU-EVA1. (I’ve no idea why everyone insists on a complex series of number, letters and dashes for the model. RED have it right with their nomenclature)
I got speaking to Ben Arlow, the project sales manager for Pro AV, someone who is definitely in the know about this new beast of a camera. Before I get into the nitty gritty of what details he revealed, I’ll do a quick run-through of the specs and how it stacks up to its nearest rivals in the Super 35 camcorder category.
The prototype of the Panasonic AU-EVA1.
A scan of the official flyer given at the show with the specification.
Comparison Chart of EVA1 v FS5 v FS7 v C200 v URSA Mini Pro
Highlight Tech Specs Review
The above chart gives a nice side by side comparison of the £5k – £10k super 35 cameras available at the moment, I left off the FS7 Mk 2 as there was little relevance of the upgrades in this comparison.
From what has been announced already, its clear to see that the EVA1 is going to sit firmly in the ‘serious competition’ bracket for the FS7. With so many production companies using the FS7, its a large segment of the Super 35 market to go after. On paper it looks like it could improve on the frame rate offering and the bit rate, all the while coming in at a lower price point. (spoiler alert – I was given a hint at the UK price, I’ll get to that later).
With 4K60 and 2K240 internal at 10bit 4:2:2 pretty much confirmed, the camera packs a serious punch even without an external recorder bolted on. For those looking for a run and gun camera, the EVA1 with a lens pairing will be lighter and smaller than the FS7, while getting higher frame rates at the same 10bit 4:2:2 colour. This will make mounting on a gimbal much easier.
Dual Native ISO is somewhat of a unknown to us Canon/Sony users but it has been around in the Varicam line for a while. It allows the sensor to be read at different gain settings while avoiding the increase in noise. Essentially, you get the same noise at the low or high native ISO settings. You can then add gain to each setting to boost the ISO further. In the EVA1’s big brother, the Varicam 35, there is a dual native ISO of 800 and 5000. From talks with Ben at the MPS, he indicated that the DNI on the EVA1 will be Low 800 and High somewhere between 3200 and 3600. While not as powerful as the Varicam 35, its still pretty respectable and may put the EVA1’s low light capabilities on a better footing than the FS5 and FS7.
Another interesting development on the EVA1 is the brand new 5.7k sensor. Although the recording output will be limited to 4k initially, the full 5.7k sensor will be used and down-sampled. This should allow for a richer and crisper image as well as facilitating the EVA’s new electronic stabilisation. Again, not everything is known about the stabiliser yet, but it will essentially move the image around the larger sensor to remove vibrations and bumps. I quizzed Ben about how it would stack up against the 5 axis stabiliser on the Sony A7Sii and he said he ‘hoped’ it would be on par, if not better.
Appearance and Physical Features
Overall the body looks smart and sleek, almost identical in form to the Sony FS5/7 series and size wise, it sits between the two. The red detailing adds a nice touch and breaks up the monotony of black. The obvious missing element is the Electronic View Finder (EVF) which may people have quizzed. I don’t EVF on the FS5 much unless in bright sunlight and it actually gets in the way while mounting on the Ronin-M, the EVF catches on the back of the gimbal preventing quick tilts up or down. However this may not be an issue on larger gimbals.
The EF mount is also an interesting feature. There are pros and cons to this, the chief con being the inability to use a speed booster to widen the field of view and gain that all important stop of light. The pros however are, on balance, more useful. We can use native canon glass and they are working on supporting autofocus. Additionally, the lack of need for an adaptor will reduce the weight and also shift the centre of gravity rearwards, again good for gimbal mounting and tripods.
The side handle looks like a similar copy of the FS5/7 although it does seem to be lacking in a few buttons. I quite liked being able to customise all the buttons on the FS5 so we shall see how it compares when a working prototype is available.
Inside Info (AU-EVA1 Rumours)
So, I’ve alluded to a few bit of info above which Ben told me and hasn’t been in the national press so far. These include:
- Future support for up to 440p at HD
- Free firmware updates (unlike Sony) – They’re pushing the mantra of upgrade rather than replace
- Dual Native ISO of 800 & 3200/3600
- Future unknown updates to the camera, they packed in 4x as much memory as needed currently in order to future-proof it
- Electronic stabiliser on par with Sony A7Sii
- Price… <£6000
The Price is a big one. The official line currently is that the price will be sub €8000. Ben confirmed that the actual UK price would be well below that and you may be able to get your hands on one for below £6000! That is bang on the money and would really put pressure on the other manufacturers.
Ben has offered to bring one of the first working prototypes to Nottingham in July for us to have a go and do a road test on some of the features. We’ll do a side by side comparison again the Sony FS5 and a stabiliser test against the Sony A7Sii. Watch this space!
The Varicam stand at the Media Production Show in London