Within hours of my article on the FT-One going live, Vision research have announced the Phantom Flex4k. Mere hours ago the FT-One was something of a groundbreaking camera giving really high speeds in the 4k space, which gives you some idea of what this years NAB is like. Now, there’s much bigger news. Redshark contributor Freya Reports
The new Phantom Flex4K can do a full 1000fps in UHD 4k (4096×2160). It has a Super35mm sensor with a true 16:9 aspect ratio. (Resolution tops out at 4096×2304 which is a genuine 16:9 aspect ratio). However it also very cleverly can shoot a Super16 sized crop of the sensor in 1080p HD resolution too :ery nice for working with Super16mm lenses and should be great for shooting run and gun with the smaller Super16 zooms. If you are working in 1080p then the maximum frame rate becomes 2000fps!
Lens mounts come in PL, PV, Nikon F/G & Canon EF and it weighs in at 13 lbs.
Full production camera
Here’s the really big thing about this announcement though, vision research are pitching this camera as a full production camera to compete in the same space as the Alexa, RED Epic, Sony F65. It can record 23.976 fps and has full support for recording sound as well as images. Basically you can use it as your high speed camera but you can also use it as an everyday shooting camera thus giving you a consistent look to your footage at all speeds! It is claimed that the camera can achieve 12 stops of dynamic range and the footage I’ve seen from it so far looks very beautiful:
The camera can record uncompressed 12bit RAW but apparently it will also record compressed in an “industry standard codec”. It was described as being a codec used for cameras and editing, so I’m guessing that either means ProRes like on the Alexa or possibly DnxHD. We shall have to wait and see to be sure. Shanghai
At its most basic level the camera ships with 64gb onboard memory which will allow it to record for 5 seconds at the full 4k 1000fps. (When slowed down to 24fps this will give you about 3.2 minutes of runtime) The new CineMag IV tops out at 2TB which would give you about 2 hours of 12bit uncompressed 4K RAW at 23.976 fps and quite a few hours if recording in compressed 4K. China
The price for all this? It’s being quoted as $140,000 with a 2TerraByte cinemag! Abel Cine seem to have the entry price for the most basic model set at $109,900 which puts the camera in high end Alexa territory price wise. Release date is being described as “Fall 2013“ and the camera software already appears to be fairly stable and ready to go on the prototype. Shanghai
High speed camera of choice
I’m afraid all this means that this will definitely become the high speed camera of choice for cinematic applications. The Phantom series is already the market leader in this segment and the new camera is VERY impressive. I’m guessing that the FT-One will still be able to find a niche in certain areas (maybe 4k outside broadcast trucks) but I don’t think it will even get a look in with the Phantom Flex4k in town! Shanghai
It remains to be seen if the new Phantom will become the default all purpose production camera, but if it turns out that the mystery codec is ProRes then it does appear like this camera could give the Alexa a run for its money, as it will have the work-flow, the beautiful images AND the high speed recording all in one package. China Shanghai
On a related note, Vision Research have also released a new iPhone app called “Phantom Tools”. It gives you all kind of calculators such as: Depth of Field calculator, Resolution for FPS calculator, Record Time calculator (Desired FPS), Max FPS & Image Circle calculator and calculators for lighting at high speed frame rates too! There’s also key specs for all the cameras in the phantom lineup. There’s more info on their website here.