Perhaps one of the most important and crucial piece of equipment launched earlier this year at the NAB Show is the Sony HDC 4300 camera.
Image courtesy Sony on Twitter
The Sony HDC 4300 is a 4K camera with 3(three) 2/3rd inch sensors. This is why it is so special. It is a confluence of two technologies that have till now existed separately- broadcast technology and 4K technology.
Technology for broadcast (ENG/EFP) and cinema/film making grew together from Standard Definition to High Definition. The evolution from HD to 4K has not been so synchronous. Till now, 4K was effectively being addressed only in the production and film making side of things. The Super 35mm size sensor was touted as the only way possible of taking UHD/4K forward. No doubt such a large sensor does deliver an image that is very beautiful to look at, however, in terms of lenses and broadcast transmission wise, these are not very convenient.
Existing, top of the line 4K super 35mm sensor cameras from Sony such as the F5/55 and the venerable F65 have been used in a broadcast/live situation, however, their size and form factor is a huge deterrent. Moreover designing an over all, all in one, responsive and convenient lens for fast use such as in a sports, News studio and live broadcast situations is just not possible. Further addressing things such as auto focus, which is very necessary for a sports is almost impossible. Lenses for 2/3rd inch cameras can be upto 100x zoom and still aid auto focus. These are the large “box” lenses most popularly seen at sports events such as F1, soccer, golf or any other sporting even for that matter. The lens with the biggest magnification for Super 35mm is the Canon 50-1000mm Cine Servo but its relatively slow aperture of T 5.0-8.9 does not lend itself to practical usage in fast and quickly changing environments such as News and Sports. More over, it does not facilitate auto focus.
The F65 rigged up in a live/studio environment with the Fujinon Cabrio 19-90mm lens. Image from Sony Europe website.
Therefore a 4K camera with 2/3rd inch sensors is such a vital and necessary invention. It is what any forward thinking broadcaster and camera operator would want.
Moreover, with the Tokyo Olympics earmarked to deliver 4K/8K broadcast, this announcement comes at the correct time.
The Japan Ministry of Internal Affairs & Communications (MIC) launched a roadmap showing that, test broadcasts of 4K/8K via BS satellite television will begin next year 2016 in time for the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games, followed by on-air 8K broadcasting which is scheduled to start by 2018 in Japan. The MIC anticipates that 4K/8K broadcasting should be accessible to users in public viewing spaces in Japan for Tokyo 2020 games and 4K/8K-resolution television sets should be widespread and popular with consumers by that time. 4K UHD transmission has already begun in India on the 4k UHD TataSky and Videocon D2H 4K platform.
The Sony HDC – 4300 is a solution that works straight out of the box. It is ready for immediate implementation in the field. The camera is fully compatible with wide range of existing B4 mount lenses and editing and broadcasting workflows, as well as viewfinders, adaptors and camera control units. It does 4K, HD and 8x super slow motion. It is a dream come true for broadcasters that are eying switching to 4k in the future. It integrates seamlessly with present HD infrastructure of most television channels. More importantly, the camera is available by May this year, and already in uses some broadcasters in the USA as early as June.
All in all, it is a very welcome step by Sony, ensuring familiarity and continuation. This takes the next logical step in the complete evolution to 4K; and it also brings the 2/3rd inch broadcast platform to the next generation of broadcasting.