Sony has announced plans for their next-gen full frame cinema camera


posted Monday, June 5, 2017 at 12:45 AM EDT


Over the weekend, Sony announced what amounts to a "teaser" on their next project, but it's definitely worth taking note. Their cinema camera division announced that they are working on their next-generation CineAlta digital motion picture camera system, which will feature a full frame 36x24 sensor exclusively designed for this camera. For the most part, professional cinema cameras have been running the super35 sensor format, which is great but doesn't quite offer the "look" that full frame does. That said, larger sensors are not new and are currently in use by the cinema industry. This piece at Cinema 5D does an excellent job covering what's out there right now. You'll notice that at the bottom of that piece, they only cameras with the 36x24 sensor size are DSLRs or the Sony A7R II. The whole snafu (general unhappiness by filmmakers) regarding the lack of full frame uncropped 4K capture on the Canon 5D Mark IV revolves around the idea of capturing a full frame "look" and that camera's inability to do so. What Sony is saying here is that they understand this desire for the "look" of a still camera full frame high resolution video shot, and want to produce it for cinematic filmmakers. 

By doing this, Sony is becoming the first company to fully embrace that full frame look in cinema, and fulfilling the wishes of those who became hooked on the look when they first realized they could shoot video on their Canon 5D Mark II cameras. 

Though details are rather scant, Sony did provide a short "highlights and key benefits" list for the upcoming system:

  • Full Frame 36x24mm sensor exclusively designed for this Digital Motion Picture Camera
  • Aspect ratio-agnostic  – including Full Frame, Super35 4K 4-perf 4:3 Anamorphic and 4K spherical 3-perf 17:9
  • New image sensor enabling exceptional picture quality
  • Maintains the workflow established with Sony’s 16bit RAW/X-OCN and XAVC
  • Compatible with current and upcoming hardware accessories for CineAlta cameras (DVF-EL200 Full HD OLED Viewfinder, AXS-R7 recorder, AXS-CR1 and AR1 card reader, AXS and SxS memory cards).

Sony says that this latest addition to the CineAlta family is being developed "through careful research and close collaboration with creative professionals including Directors, Cinematographers and Digital Imaging Technicians," and that through "the implementation of features demanded by the industry, Sony is demonstrating its commitment to innovation and the creative freedom needed for feature filmmaking and production."

For now, this is more of a "wait and see" for those who might purchase the camera, but Cinema 5D makes a good point as to why Sony would announce this now: "This move will put renewed pressure on the lens manufacturers to develop cinema glass that covers full frame sensors – something that manufacturers like ZEISS have focused on with some of their lines for years, others have neglected. And of course, this move will also put pressure on their competition to move into the same direction."

The development of tech like this moves the industry in a particular direction, and therefore development of other cinema cameras. Sony is trying to drive the market and demand, and how everyone else responds to it will shape the direction of the industry for some time.