Sony Just Announced the Full-Frame 6K Cinema Body We've Been Waiting For: The 'Venice'

Sony Just Announced the Full-Frame 6K Cinema Body We've Been Waiting For: The 'Venice'

It may have taken much longer than originally foreseen, but Sony finally announced the highly anticipated addition to its CineAlta series — The Venice.

First things first: what an interesting name “Venice” is. It’s pretty plain to me that this new name is in an effort to distance, or rather to differentiate, the Venice from other cameras in the Sony line. And why not? The Venice features a variety of options and design choices that place it in a different stratosphere than the other cameras in the Sony Cinema line.

The biggest deal — the thing that’s going to sell the Venice to eager Sony shooters — is the addition of an entirely new 36mm x 24mm full-frame sensor capable of shooting 6K (16-bit) raw or, if you’re feeling less crazy, 10-bit 4L via XAVC Class480. All of this data is processed and written through a pipeline designed by the same people that made the impeccable F65 and F55.

The sensor touts 15 stops of dynamic range, which is more latitude than you’ll probably ever need (no less important, though). What remains to be seen is how this sensor performs in the real world. But if Sony’s sensor contributions in the past are any indicator, the Venice should have a sensor that rivals any in its class.

But we all knew the Venice would look great, so here’s what has me excited.

In a major break from the cameras that fall below it in price point, the Venice has incredible, simple design in its menu system. Taking a number of queues from the Alexa and other Arri cameras, the Venice uses the Assistant/Operator display design, showing you exactly what you need to know and nothing more. Simple is good, and this design choice shows a real focus on giving customers what they want instead of arbitrarily innovating where there’s no need.

The Venice also has an internal eight-step mechanical ND filter. This is huge because it makes the Venice that much more usable and flexible on location. It may seem like an arbitrary, expected decision, but don’t take it for granted. This gives the operator an amazing amount of control and speed as opposed to swapping out individual filters on the fly or using an internal ND with less steps. The eight-step decision again puts the operator in a position to focus on the image.

If I'm totally honest, the Venice is definitely the cinema body that we all wanted from Sony. It has all of the updates that I actually desire, with an eye trained on design and function. But there’s one caveat. Most of the camera's exciting resolution-related functions are only available after additional licensing.

I’m not going to drone on about this because I understand that the price of this camera makes such licensing issues rather small and unimportant. But I think there’s an interesting question to be asked here: Why even include these licensing updates?

The Venice is marketed as a full-frame-sensor Sony cinema body because that’s what makes it so interesting and, indeed, powerful. Then why is that function — the function that is so integral to the success of the camera — not sold with those updates already included? If you’re buying a 6K, full-frame sensor camera, shouldn’t you be able to shoot 6K, full-frame right out of the box?

The Venice is bound to be a huge success because of Sony’s incredible pedigree in the cinema world, but I think that these questions should still be on our minds. Will this ethic migrate down to the FS7 Mk II? We’ll have to see. I personally hope not.

Also, I would have loved to see global shutter, but the older I get, the more I’m realizing how much of an ask this actually is. And I believe it’s for one huge reason: global shutter doesn’t sell cameras. Sony seems to have considered this with the Venice, though.

Jello effect is something that we don’t need when filming. VENICE has a high speed readout sensor which minimizes the jello effect that is typical in the CMOS sensors.

Obviously, we won’t know how this actually functions until the full release, but maybe we can take some heart in their recognition of this issue.

And finally, there are no anamorphic resolutions above 4K, and even that 4K anamorphic requires yet another license. These quibbles are fairly irrelevant, but I think they speak to a brand that’s more focused on design and delivering a beautiful, solid image than on all of the bells and whistles.

In the end, this is the version of Sony that we actually want to see — not trying to compete in the resolution wars and the race to 10K, giving us what truly matters in a cinema body and not just what looks good in a headline. The Venice is here and is poised to run the game for a while.

[via Sony]

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Michael Aubrey's picture

24fsp 6K 3:2. Hmmm.

Kind of smells like a variation on the A9 sensor (20fps 6K 3:2).

Bret Hoy's picture

It's not too unconventional for a cinema camera to include a 3:2 aspect ratio and based on the dynamic range itself, I don't believe this sensor and the a9 sensor can be too similar. And if they are, we're going to have a lot of disappointed pixel-peepers!

Bret Hoy's picture

Because the dynamic range on the a9 is around 12.5-13 and the Venice is advertised at being capable of 15.

Usman Dawood's picture

16 bit RAW wow, that's better colour rendition than full frame DSLRs

Bret Hoy's picture

Yes, sir. The processing power of these cinema cameras is insane! That's why people pay such a high premium for cinema bodies from manufacturers that have the least compressed data pipelines. It's all about the processing.

Dr. Dominik Muench's picture

Nice processing power and surely a lovely image but 24fps in 6K full only, anamorphic mode upgrade costs extra, full frame mode costs extra, the 6K 16 bit option needs an external recorder...thanks....staying with my RED.....18 months ago this would have been exiting. Kudos for the internal ND options and the 3:2 full output though, that's really handy to have.

Bret Hoy's picture

Yeah, the full-frame licensing is a bit of a head scratcher, but I will say, if this rivals the look of the F55, I'll be paying attention. Also, really really interested to see the price point. Good points, though for sure. I've gotten so used to getting 16bit out of the Dragon.

Dr. Dominik Muench's picture

I've never been a fan of sony cameras. the f65 was a heavy as heck beast with way too many cameras always have buttons...everywhere and the displays are full with icons, symbols and status read outs. Im sure it will have a great chip though.

Bret Hoy's picture

I think it's funny how even menu systems divide the group so much. Personally, I like buttons over touch screens just because of moisture issues, but it's not a deal breaker by any means. You're not going to hear me say much good about Sony menu systems. There's just no such thing as a, "perfect" camera.

Dr. Dominik Muench's picture

true that, I guess it comes down to people's individual shooting styles. I know so many people who hate the RED menus, personally I find them extremely quick and logic to navigate. same with the Alexa, super fast and self explanatory

Chris K.'s picture

I've been waiting Since NAB 2015 for the Red VV though, gave up and probably sticking with Helium :(

Back to the "Venice" it looks like it cannot record the 6k internally without the raw recorder, which if that's the case is quite a let down, very disappointed with the frame rates in 6k and 4K (my old fs700 does 4K 60p or 120fps in a burst and that's like a 6 year old camera), 3:2 seems weird especially for 2x anamorphic lenses, and really don't like them mirroring Arri's licensing "keys".

I do like the internal NDs, interchangeable sensor, access to internals/fans for maintenance, the simplistic design of buttons and menus which is much needed after what Sony gave us for years, the price seems fair (compared to the $250k f35 when that came out. A step in the right direction, really wish it would have the same mechanical shutter of the f65. Would definitely like to do tests, but we'll see...

Bret Hoy's picture

For what it's worth, a Sony Venice with the raw recorder, FF and Anamorphic licenses will still be cheaper than a barebones Helium purchase. I understand the frame rate issue but I think we should keep in mind that 6k at 24p will definitely keep this camera competitive. High frame rate recording is fantastic, but isn't conventionally what makes a cinema body successful. RED is the outlier here because they really like to sell incredibly spec heavy bodies. But, there's a reason Arri's selling a load of Minis and it's not 120fps or 8k. Like I was saying in the other thread, there's absolutely a camera for everyone.

Chris K.'s picture

From what people are speculating, the Venice's price with the licenses/accessories would be in the $62k ballpark so its close to a fully loaded Weapon's price. Maybe since the Venic's sensor will be interchangeable (like what Red is on the verge of offering) there will be a higher speed option in the future?
I can only speak for myself, but high speed options these days are a must, and the Alexa Mini can do 200fps ;)

Bret Hoy's picture

I don't think the sensor is what's limiting the Venice though, just the processing. So it might be closer to fully echoing the Mini's spec sheet than it initially looks. It already echoes the Mini pretty closely at 4k, we just don't know what it can do sub-4k. Down the road I would expect higher frame rates at lower bit rates on the Venice, but at this point who really knows?

Personally, I discount the frame rates like the Arri Minis 200fps simply because it comes with a substantial drop in bit rate and resolution. Obviously, it still works great but won't be that flattering in a 4k workflow. Really project dependent. In a perfect world, the Venice and Mini would have 96fps at 4k, but honestly I can't remember the last time I've had the inclination to crank faster than 60fps. I actually think shooting with the FS700 for so long turned me off to super Slow Motion hah! Sometimes I feel like an old man.

Bret Hoy's picture

Also, I miscalculated euros to dollars before. A licensed Venice with the recorder will most likely be more than a barebones Helium. It seems like it would be most effective around the $35k range. The price that I've read (around $44k) does seem high, considering the licensing.

Chris K.'s picture

lol it's the opposite for me! The older I get the more I want to shoot slow motion-that path for me also started with the fs700! Guess since I primarily shoot commercials for me the need for higher frame rates takes precedence over most other capabilities of any camera I'd purchase. Which is the only reason why I upgraded to the Weapon Helium over the Epic W-much rather would've used that extra money elsewhere.
Regardless 16 bit at 6k even at 30p is an insane amount of data! I'd hope that future updates would unlock higher framerates-even if that would sacrifice bit/color depth. Like the Sony F23 did (up to 30fps in 4:4:4 or 60fps in 4:2:2)-gives them another excuse to add another "license"

John Sammonds's picture

I wonder how many of us that have been waiting for this can afford it..........