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Camera Time at NAB 2010

Mar 19, 2010 12:00 PM, By Trevor Boyer

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Panasonic AG-3DA1

Panasonic AG-3DA1

If you're headed out to Las Vegas in a few short weeks, cameras are probably high on your list of gear to check out, whether or not you're a shooter/ cinematographer. NAB 2010 promises a lot of innovation, especially in two areas: HDSLR video and stereoscopic 3D image capture.

Panasonic had the flashiest pre-NAB camera announcement out of the major camera manufacturers; I covered its new single-body stereoscopic 3D camera when the company announced details about the $21,000 AG-3DA1 in February. Still, there's a lot more to learn at NAB about the 3DA1, such as literally everything about those two integrated lenses. And, of course, the company will undoubtedly be keeping a few products under wraps until its press conference on the Sunday before the show.

Canon has had quite a week, and it seems to be getting its cinematic ducks in a row well before the NAB 2010. First came the release of its new 2.0.3 firmware for its EOS 5D Mark II HDSLR camera, which added 24p and 29.97 recording as well as manual audio metering. Then came the news that there was a bug in the firmware; audio would not be recorded if the camera lost power while in certain modes, and Canon quickly yanked the firmware update. Finally on Friday, Canon quickly posted firmware update 2.0.4, which fixes the bug. Not done yet, the company also posted its free Apple Final Cut Pro log and transfer utility, EOS MOVIE Plugin-E1 that it had announced in February.

Canon prototype

Canon prototype

Expect to see a lot of HDSLR action in the Canon booth, as well as a prototype of the company's new professional camcorder line that records 4:2:2 video as 50Mbps MPEG-2 (the XF codec). Company reps told me that it wasn't definite that an actual working product would make it to NAB 2010.

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Will JVC show successors to its GY-HM100 and GY-HM700 cameras? The company will certainly be bringing new 4K projectors and stereo 3D monitors to the show, but so far it hasn't announced anything in terms of new cameras.

Arri and Red Digital Cinemaface-off; Red's Jim Jannard has offered his competitor some kind words as ARRI introduced its new Alexa prototype in advance of NAB 2010. The digital camera weighs 5.8 kilograms; comparable to a 16mm camera. ARRI claims Alexa's LF3 sensor has a latitude of 13 stops and basic sensitivity of 800 ASA. It's a PL-mount camera, and simplicity is the key; most buttons have a single function only.

Red, of course, recently has introduced its Mysterium-X sensor, which effectively makes the Red One a whole new model. The company is sponsoring a REDucation event in advance of NAB 2010, April 8 through 12.

Sony 3D camera prototype

Sony 3D camera prototype

Sony hasn't announced anything specific in advance of the show, but the NXCAM line of professional AVCHD cameras that the company announced in November should figure prominently. Sunday's Sony press conference will of course reveal more. Will Sony be showing off its single-lens 3D technology in any form? We'll find out. The technology relies on a single "main lens "and a gauntlet of four mirrors, which divert two portions of the single image to two separate "imaging lenses," which are then captured by two separate sensors. This technology, which was introduced in prototype form at CEATEC 2009 in Japan, also comprises high-speed image capture up to 240fps, for super-slow-motion recording.

For-A VFC-7000

For-A VFC-7000

Speaking of high-speed cameras, at NAB 2010 Vision Research will be showing its Phantom HD Gold camera that it introduced last summer. The company has a new camera to show as well, but as of yet there are no details available. For-A will be displaying its new lightweight variable frame rate camera, the VFC-7000, that shoots up to 700fps at 1280x720. Also, a source tells me Scitech/IDT will be at the show with Redlake high-speed cameras, which have been used in prominent Hollywood productions from the past year.

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