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Choosing a 4K Camera for Live Events

When discussing the current state of UHD/4K, "current" is a fast-moving target in mid-2016. This article will introduce you to what you need to know to get into 4K for live production and online video, from codecs to cameras.

Fixed-Lens Pro Camcorders

Sony’s PXW-Z150 ($3,595) offers a 12x optical (24x “Clear Image” Zoom) lens on its 4K pro camcorder. This compact camera features 4:2:0/8-bit XAVC Long-GOP recording at 100Mbps in 4K and 50Mbps in HD. A cold-shoe mount offers space for larger monitors or other accessories to be added.

Panasonic offers the AG-DVX200PJ (Figure 3, below, $4,695) with a 13x zoom that will record in DCI 4K at 4096x2160 resolution. Oddly, the 4K output from this camera is available only with HDMI. The SDI output is limited to 1080p. (See Anthony Burokas’ review of the AG-DVX200.)

Figure 3. The Panasonic AG-DVX200PJ. Click the image to see it at full size.

PTZ

Blackmagic’s Micro Studio Camera 4K ($1,295 without lens) would qualify as an interchangeable-lens camera also, but this miniature camera offers full PTZ control via an expansion port, setting it apart from many other 4K cams. While the lens mount is Micro 4:3, it can be adapted to PL, EF, or B4 lenses; the latter is also capable of full remote control via the expansion port. Plus, this diminutive camera, barely 3" square, can be mounted and remotely operated just as well as any action camera, but with many more broadcast-friendly capabilities.

Panasonic offers a traditional dome-style 4K PTZ with its AW-UE70 ($5,250). The AW-UE70 paired with one of Panasonic’s controllers, such as the AW-RP120, allows for a simple 4K capture/broadcast workflow. There are no additional lenses, rackmount devices, or camera accessories to worry about since everything flows across a few cables back to a control room. Because the camera is 100% remote-controlled, all production personnel can be with the technical director and the rest of the crew in one room.

Wi-Fi-Equipped Cameras

This category has the fewest options because it is designed primarily for single-camera/single-operator productions. Several manufacturers offer Wi-Fi capabilities in their cameras, but most of these are constrained to camera operation or local monitoring. However, JVC offers the GY-HM200U (Figure 4, below, $2,495) and GY-LS300 ($3,995 without lens) camcorders that can broadcast to various content deliver networks (CDNs) straight from the camera.

Figure 4. The JVC GY-HM200U. Click the image to see it at full size.

The key difference between these two models is that the HM200U is a 1 and 2/3" sensor, and the LS300 is Super 35. Additionally, the HM200 is a fixed 12x lens, while the LS300 accepts Super 35, Micro 4:3, and Super 16 lenses. While these cameras can record in 4K resolutions up to 4096x2160, the live-streaming-from-camera option only offers HD resolutions or lower.

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