NAB 2019: The Current Crop of Large-Format Digital Cinema Cameras

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Indicators for 8K are spread all over the floor at NAB 2019, but even better than that is the current crop of large-format digital cinema cameras and lenses. Bigger and better sensors are becoming easier to produce and the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages—though price is still a factor. It's also exciting to see the latest cameras, so here's a roundup of five top large-format cinema systems you can get today that were on display at the show.

ARRI ALEXA Mini LF

The newest release is certainly the most exciting. The ARRI ALEXA Mini LF gives many cinematographers exactly what they asked for, specifically a large-format ARRI camera in a smaller form factor without any compromises to image quality or usability. ARRI is unique in that it didn't push the resolution of its full-frame sensor, providing 4.5K resolution that is just enough for today's productions. This means that ARRI can push image quality to an even greater point.

It isn't simply image quality for the Mini LF, because it opens the door for using the camera in many previously impossible spots or systems. Take drones, for example. No compromises need to be made to image quality now that the Mini LF can be squeezed in there. You can find much more about the ALEXA Mini LF right here on B&H Explora.

Sony VENICE

We have been looking at the Sony VENICE 6K for a while now, but you can finally get it at B&H! It's also a spectacular camera and Sony's roadmap of firmware updates makes a great camera even better. The VENICE boasts a 6K full-frame sensor and the footage is incredible, partially because it doesn't hurt to check it out on Sony's gigantic 8K Crystal LED screen here at NAB. One cool feature is the CBK-3610XS Rialto Extension System, which lets you detach the sensor block to use in advanced setups where size and weight are important concerns.

Firmware 3.0 unlocked lots of new resolution and frame-rate options, but the coming version 4.0 does even more. This will enable 120 fps in 4K (2.39:1), 60 fps in 6K (3:2), 110 fps in 4K (17:9), and 75 fps for 4K (4:3) anamorphic. Support for Cooke's /i Technology and ZEISS eXtended Data is also on its way. It's an exciting camera and is a very appealing choice if you are looking to go large format.

RED DIGITAL CINEMA DSMC2 with MONTRO 8K VV Sensor

A list of high-end digital cinema cameras would not be complete without RED. Nothing ultra-new was on display at NAB but you could find the MONSTRO 8K everywhere. Sporting an 8K full-frame sensor and 8192 x 4320 recording at 60 fps, it has some of the most impressive specs on this list. REDCODE RAW, 17 stops of dynamic range, and a relatively compact form factor separate this from the rest. If you want to start getting into 8K there aren't many with this feature set, so definitely check it out.

Canon C700 Full-Frame and Sumire Primes

Sitting at the heart of the Canon C700 Full-Frame is a beautiful 5.9K CMOS sensor with Dual Pixel AF. This is a separating feature of Canon's cinema cameras and will provide brilliant autofocus when you pick up the Canon EF version and EF-mount AF lenses. But while I do want to talk about the C700FF, I think the Sumire primes are the bigger story at NAB. Pronounced "soo-mee-ray," these primes aim to capture the spirit of classic lenses with a unique look that flatters subjects as you move wide open. They are also PL mount, so you can use them on any camera on this list with ease. These are full-frame optics and the set includes 14, 20, 24, 35, 50, 85, and 135mm focal lengths. Be sure to check out our article and hands-on video to learn more about these beautiful lenses.

Z CAM E2-F6 and E2-F8

Lastly, we have some interesting and exciting new releases from Z CAM. Building on the E2, Z CAM is managing to fit some full-frame sensors in there and will offer both 6K and 8K varieties. Details are very scarce, though a launch closer to the end of 2019 is promised. For productions requiring specific programming for their cameras or something nice and small, the E2 has always been a great choice. Read more about the cameras here.

These cameras are the top dogs in the world of digital cinema, so you should go have a look if you happen to be at NAB this year or are able to stop by the B&H SuperStore. Do you think large-format digital cinema is the future of professional capture? Let us know what you think in the Comments section, below, and follow B&H Explora for the latest news from NAB 2019.

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