The Panasonic Varicam 35 - A Low-Light Monster for All Your Filmmaking Needs

The Panasonic Varicam 35 was announced earlier this year along with what feels like a million other 4K cameras claiming to better than one another. With this much competition it is hard to stay a head of the pack. RED has been attempting to do this for years with the resolution game, but recently there has been a shift towards low-light performance. This is where the Varicam 35 shines.

Last week the Digital Cinema Society posted a video on their Vimeo page showcasing some of the features of the new Varicam. One of the things that is catching people's attention is their new Dual Base ISO. Essentially what they are claiming is that the camera has 2 base ISO's in which it performs its best. In this case, it is 800 and 5000 respectively. A base level ISO of 800 really isn't all that impressive anymore as it has become pretty much standard on all new cinema cameras, but the addition of a second base ISO of 5000 is somewhat of a game changer.

One of the problems with raising the native/base ISO of a camera is that shooting outdoors requires a lot of ND filtration. With the base ISO of 800, you sometimes need 10+ stops of ND filtration to get the exposure that you would like while maintaining a particular F-stop. Having a constant base ISO of 5000 would raise the amount of ND needed by another 2.5 stops, which would increase the likelihood of artifacts and problems such as IR pollution. Having 2 base levels of ISO really is the best of both worlds. You get the standard 800 for regular shooting conditions, and the 5000 for when you need to dig deep into the shadows.

While it is hard to tell for sure in the video, it does appear as though there is more noise when shooting at ISO 5000, but I think this is a trade off many are going to be willing to make. I myself am never going to be able to afford such a wonderful looking machine, but I take a great deal of comfort in knowing that this tech is going to eventually trickle down to more affordable options. Maybe we will see it make an appearance in the GH6?

VariCam 35's Key Features:

  • S35MM 4096 X 2160 Advanced MOS Imager
  • 14+ Stops of Latitude
  • Variable Frame Rate — 1 to 120 fps in 4K
  • Records simultaneous 4K/ 2K/Proxy, or UHD/HD/Proxy + Raw to Codex (option)
  • Apple ProRes 4:4:4:4 and ProRes HQ Built-in
  • AVC-Intra Codecs -- Class 100 / Class 200 / Class 4:4:4
  • 2-piece Modular Design (docks to AU-VREC1G recording module)


[via No Film School]

Adam McKay's picture

Adam J McKay is a Photographer and Cinematographer currently based in Timmins, Ontario Canada.

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Your point is spot on Adam! This technology is being integrated into prosumer and consumer cameras and a high budget look is becoming attainable for all levels of filmmakers. It is fantastic! Just brings everyone's game up.

Way too cheap! I don't buy cheap stuff!! Is it there any 1M€ camera around?! Hehehehe