Streaming Media

Streaming Media on Facebook Streaming Media on Twitter Streaming Media on LinkedIn

NAB 2019: Panasonic Intros its 'Best New Camera in 15 Years'

Streaming Media Producer's Shawn Lam and Panasonic's Barry Green discuss the Panasonic AG-CX350, which Green contends is Panasonic's "best new camera in 15 years" in this interview from NAB 2019.


Shawn Lam: It's Shawn Lam here for Streaming Media Producer at NAB 2019, and I'm here with Barry from Panasonic, and we're going to be talking about this innovative new camera from Panasonic. What can you tell us, what is the model number, and what can you tell us about this one? This is their newest handheld camera. It's called the CX350. In my opinion, it's the best camera they've made in the last 15 years. It is a breakthrough in performance for a handheld camera. It's incredibly sharp. It's got tremendous features. It's got more image processing and control in it than they've ever had in any handheld camera, and the biggest thing that may be of interest to you folks is that it's the first camera, the handheld camera, that is able to be used in an NDI HX network, plus it has the ability to stream directly to an RTMP service, like YouTube Live or Facebook, and it can do so through either its own ethernet port, that's built into it, or you can get a WiFi adapter, and then be able to stream WiFi.

Barry Green: So, the interactivity, the connectivity is quite amazing on a camera like this. I mean, the applications, yes, you can go straight to the Cloud, but NDI allows you to hook this up to, you have some video switches that are NDI capable, and there are a lot of other third-party NDI-capable switching services, like vMix, and NewTek has their own as well. NDI is a NewTek protocol. I'm sure your viewers know all about that. This camera is, the name that they assigned to it, the CX350, it's kind of funny the way Japanese companies name products, but the CX is supposed to mean creativity, X, connectivity, so the high emphasis is on connectivity, and it's a big step forward for the handheld cameras, because over the last several years, as 4K has developed, compromises have been in play, too, when you reach a certain price point. So, in prior cameras, you could have maybe, the View Finder, or the LCD, but not both at the same time, or you could have SDI or HDMI, but not both. This camera, they've caught up with that, and it's all available, so you can actually be streaming live video, and have the SDI, and the HDMI, and the LCD, and the View Finder all active at once, and you can even control what goes out on each of those outputs. So, if you decide that you want all the camera data, all the aperture, and the focus range, and all the stuff that shows up on the LCD, you can decide to send that to one person's monitor, but not send it out to the other person. So, you can send a different feed to the client, you can have a different feed out on the stream, and you can have a different feed that the camera operator is looking at, so they can have all the detail. You can have a clean feed here, a clean feed on the stream, it's very powerful, and its connectivity is probably its major unique selling point.

Shawn Lam: You say connectivity, I'm thinking control. It puts a lot of control in the producer's hands to send what they want, and where they want, how they want it without saying, "Oh, I'm sorry, I have to turn that one off "to do that other one," so that's pretty cool.

Barry Green: That's exactly what I'm talking about. As far as control goes, you've got a number of ways to control the camera, and for the operator, you can control the menus through this wonderful pad that they've added, or through the touchscreen, or through a traditional way with the wheel and the button, but you also have the ability to remote-control it, so if you set up a number of these cameras in a studio environment, you can have an iPad, or an Android phone, or an Android tablet, or something like that, and the app that you can use with that has quite a bit of, I'm not going to say it's a full paint box, but it's kind close to a paint box, in that you can control the gain, the aperture, the shutter speed, all the user buttons on the camera, whatever pre-programmed functions you put on there, you can control those. You can control the red and blue gain, you can control the black level on the individual red, green, and blue channels, so it's got a lot of remote control capability that way, as well as using a wired remote control, or some control through NDI HX.

Shawn Lam: That's really good in a multi-camera situation, especially if you're needing to mix and match cameras, 'cause most cameras do not have that ability to, for the colorist to remotely do that. It's always up to the camera operator, until you get into the broadcast ones and proper paint boxes there.

Barry Green: That's exactly true, and one thing, one differentiating factor here is that a lot of the industry has gone to this idea of wanting to shoot RAW and worrying about processing in post. Well, there's an entire world of videography that has nothing to do with posts. There's live, and streaming, and all that. This camera has tremendous image-painting capabilities inside it. It's got a 16-pool color matrix. It's got more advanced image processing features than any Panasonic handheld has ever had. It looks to me like what they basically did is they took the processing engine out their cinema camera, the Panasonic EVA1, and put that directly inside this camera, so, again, the point is it's supposed to be able to serve all purposes, whether it's news, whether it's ENG, whether it's live production, whether it's a one-man band shooting a stage production, a school play, weddings, whatever, it can handle anything, all the way up to, basically, cinema aspects.

Shawn Lam: Okay. Let's talk about some of the specs. I mean, we talked about the connectivity, but on its own as a camcorder, 1080, 60p in 4K, UHD, 4K.

Barry Green: 10-bit, 60p, 422 in 4K, including variable frame rates. So, slow motion and fast motion. It;s got a choice of codecs, because right now, you can choose file formats of AVCHD, which is a legacy, your standard format. Very low bandwidth, or the QuickTime movie format, which lets you go to 4K, or variable frame rates, or 1080, and then shortly, in June, they're going to introduce a new file format. Well, it's an old file format, because it's their existing MXF format from all their P2 cameras. Not only are you going to have the QuickTime movie formats and the H.264, and intraframe, and longGOP, and H.265, HEVC, in 10-bit or 8-bit, 422 and 420, but then they're going to add the P2 formats also, so you're going to have the MXF formats, AVC, long G, or the AVC Intra formats.

Shawn Lam: All right, let's touch briefly on the timecode in and out, the applications for that, and the amazing zoom range. It's very wide, what it has, an amazing zoom range on this lens.

Barry Green: The main thing about this camera is usability. That's what I love about it. So, as far as timecode in and out, it's got a regular LTC timecode port, so you can sync with a timecode slate, or multiple cameras, or a switcher, or whatever, it doesn't have a GenLock capability, but then again, at the price point, it's got a lot of power for the price point. The zoom range is phenomenal, not only because it's a 20x optical zoom that resolves incredibly sharp images, it's a full 2,000 TV lines of resolution when you're shooting 4K, so it's extraordinarily sharp, it's 20x, but it's 20x starting at the widest lens that I know of. I mean, unless new some camera's been introduced to show that I haven't heard about, this has the widest field of view of any type of handheld camera in its class. So, it's basically the equivalent on a still camera, of a 24 millimeter lens, so a lot of these types of cameras have like a 28 or even a 30 millimeter equivalent.

Shawn Lam: Yeah, that tends to be what I find as typical, 30 or so. Yeah. 24 is wide.

Barry Green: Usually, when you're in the field, there's only so far you can back up, and then you hit the wall. Well, this camera can effectively keep backing up, because it can go wider and wider. It's about 20% wider than most other cameras can do, but then you get 20x optical on there, so you get the equivalent of basically a 500 millimeter lens in 35 millimeter terms. Which, frequently, I mean, you go to a mirror lens to get that. Because a 500 millimeter lens would be ridiculous, so you have to a mirror. So, this almost has the equivalent of a mirror lens, but then on top of that, it's a very oversampling censor. The censor is an 8K censor, so it's got 15 million pixels in it. You only need 8 million pixels to make a 4K image, so it's over-sampling. Because of that, they have a feature called iZoom, which lets you extend the zoom range. Once you've run out of optical, you can keep going. You get another 20%, because it starts cropping in on the censor, but only some, and there's so much resolution there that you get a fully resolved image. You don't lose any detail. If using it as a high-def camera instead of ultra high-def, that zoom range extends to 32x effectively. So, Panasonic would not let me say that it has a 30x optical zoom. But, what I will say is, you couldn't tell the difference of whether it was truly purely optical, or with this iZoom feature, so having a 32 times zoom with a wide angle lens on a camera that weighs four pounds, that does 4K, 60, 10-bit, 4:2:2, including streaming. It's really a very complete package.

Shawn Lam: All right, let's talk about the dynamic range, because it's not just an SDR camera. This supports HDR. What flavors do we have in here?

Barry Green: The camera, the actual dynamic range is pretty wide. I don't know the exact spec on that, because I haven't tested that portion of it. But I'm going to say, by my estimation, in excess of 12 stops, and I think close to 14 stops, but I do have to verify that, depending on the noise level, as where it goes. You can shoot high dynamic range or standard dynamic range, obviously. There are eight gamma curves in the camera you can choose from. The two of them that are interest for HDR shooting is, first of all, it has the full-fledge V-Log. I said that wrong, I apologize. Full-fledged film REC. Film REC, the gamma that made the VariCam famous, made it one of the most popular cinema cameras of digital cams. So, it's got full-fledged film REC, and that can be extended in dynamic range up to 600%, so you can choose between 200, up to 600%, and then it also has the new hybrid log gamma, H-log, which can take it up to 12,000% dynamic range, and H-log, your viewers probably already know, But it's a fantastic gamma, especially for live production, because it's designed to be able to be viewed properly on a standard dynamic range TV or a high dynamic range TV. It knows. The TVs know how to interpret that, so if you have a high dynamic range TV out there, you'll be seeing all the detail, all the shading, all the incredible ranges, it's been added at the top. If you only have a standard dynamic range TV, it'll still look right, it'll still look prop. You won't see all that detail, because your TV can't show it, but you don't have to grade it and mix and match. It's ready to be used in a live environment.

Shawn Lam: All right, pricing and availability.

Barry Green: Availability is it hit the market about two weeks ago. As far as I understand, as I've had a lot of people ask me, "Where can I get it?" And I say, "It's available in retailers everywhere," and they're just like, "No, where can I actually get it, "because they're all sold out." Not trying to be marketing, to speak, that's what the people are telling me. Somebody said that it's the number one trending camera on B&H right now, so I recommend, for availability, try your smaller dealers. Because everybody in the world always runs to the big mega-dealers and gets their pre-order in. Well, they can only sell so many cameras, And the smaller dealers might have them, so they're available now. Pricing is $3,995 MSRP. As far as street price goes, what you'll actually pay, it seems to be about $3,695.

Shawn Lam: That's an amazing price.

Barry Green: Yeah, for all the camera does. Seriously. Panasonic's handhelds have, the way I say, they've steadily increased in quality, and power, and capability, but this one just leaped straight up out of the mold. It's really like a full-fledged, powerful cinema camera, and ENG camera, just repackaged in a small form factor, at a very affordable price.

Shawn Lam: All right, thank you very much, Barry.

Barry Green: Absolutely, thank you.

Shawn Lam: This has been Shawn Lam for Streaming Media Producer at NAB 2019.

Related Articles
PTZOptics' Paul Richards wraps up Shawn Lam's Almost Live from NAB video series with a walkthrough of PTZOptics' multicast-ready NDI-PTZ offerings.
Streaming Media Producer's Shawn Lam and Magewell's Mike Nann discuss Magewell's new NDI ProConvert encoders and decoders in the Magewell booth at NAB 2019.
Streaming Media Producer's Shawn Lam and Blackmagic Design's Dan May discuss new features and workflow changes in DaVinci Resolve 16 in this interview from the show floor at NAB 2019.
Streaming Media Producer's Shawn Lam and BirdDog's Eamon Drew discuss BirdDog's new 4K Quad on the show floor at NAB 2019.
Streaming Media Producer's Shawn Lam and Martin Sinclair of vMix discuss the new GT Title Designer in vMix 22 in this interview from the show floor at NAB 2019.
Streaming Media Producer's Shawn Lam and AJA's Bryce Button discuss AJA's new Ki Pro Go multichannel H.264 recorder/player at NAB 2019.
Shawn Lam recaps the top trends, new gear, and cutting-edge tech from NAB 2019, featuring new offerings from Panasonic, AJA, BirdDog, Datavideo, vMix, and more. Stay tuned for Shawn's in-depth exhibit hall interviews in the weeks to come.