Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor


The race is on…”How many cameras can we produce in one year” well it seems like this as once again we have been presented with 16 cameras mainly from Japan.

April the month of NAB was the start of the new camcorders…Sony NEX-FS700, JVC GY-HM600, GY-HM650, Canon C500 and the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.

The NEX-FS700 was the latest Super 35mm camcorder from Sony to take the world by storm having Full HD 200 fps slow motion via a 9 second burst, everyone wanted one of these camcorders but delivery was slow and the backorders diminished as other equally interesting cameras were announced.

The FS700 also added three positions of ND a new more robust carry handle and a very unexpected 4K ready CMOS sensor, the price was another bone of contention at £2500 more than the FS100 it was a fair hike that many decided to see how the competition would react.


Canon also announced the 4K C500 but spoiled it by taking off the hand grip one of the best features when using the Canon C300. Canon also decided to make the C500 2K recordable internally leaving you the expense of having to buy an external 4K recorder, this in my opinion is the sole reason for the C500 sluggish sales.

Lastly during April we also got a sniff of a new camera from a manufacturer famous for low cost fantastic value for money known for its computer IO cards…Blackmagic Design.

The 2.5K Blackmagic Cinema Camera was to set the heather alight but was soon extinguished with poor sensors leading to a January 2013 proposed delivery, 6 months from the scheduled delivery date.

At just over £2000 a camera this has to be the snip of the decade with a 2.5K sensor, 5″ touchsceen, SSD memory slot and cinematic pictures to die for. Having the ability to record RAW or to ProRes is adding to the giant pre order list. 13 stops of dynamic range in RAW mode also helps with a FREE copy of Blackmagics Resolve LE to boot.


Panasonic were to announce their 2/3″ HPX-600 shoulder mount camcorder and a new micro P2 card system allowing cameramen and women to finally rid themselves of expensive P2 cards but sadly the micro P2 adapters were still over a year away playing havoc with dwindling sales of the fantastic HPX-250 and the HPX-600 camcorders.

Sony were also to announce a further two camcorders in April, the PMW-100 and the HXR-NX30.

The Sony PMW-100 was Sony’s first hand held camcorder to achieve 50Mbps but the single sensor and general malaise like the hanging plastic lens cap did nothing to warm people to this camcorder.


The Sony HXR-NX30 was strange in looks but having a floating gyroscopic lens that really acts as good as any professional steady-cam gave this camera a sales boost and word of mouth soon spread. Not having any control over the gain was a major minus but the ability to view your rushes on any white wall via the inbuilt micro projector was it’s saving grace.

April was a month full of new camcorders in fact 8 at the last count, three models stood out for me and that was the Sony FS700 the Blackmagic camera and the JVC GY-HM650.


Not a hoot till June then Sony were forced to announce the PMW-200 a three chip version of the dwindling 100. The PMW-200 was a different animal altogether having a 14x constant aperture lens, 4:2:2 50Mbps recording to SxS a far better spec camcorder all round.


Basically this was an EX1r in a new body plus 4:2:2 50Mbps, sadly the camera also sported a new recording format called XQD and at 125Mbps was certainly up to reading and writing anything the 200 was to throw at it but Sony’s message was clear “Only use XQD cards in 50Mbps mode in an emergency situation”. This was in my opinion a marketing ploy to make sure you always bought into the SxS card system which apart from expensive works fine.

Over the last two years Sony have lost a ton of sales to the Australian MxR adapter system allowing XDCAM EX users to enjoy Full HD 35Mbps onto a £25 SDHC card so Sony were gunning for a way to stop the sales haemorrhage of SxS cards and 50Mbps clinched it.


We had three new cameras during August, the Canon C100 the Sony NEX-EA50 and the Panasonic AC90.

The Canon C100 was very much a cut down C300 but with many of the bells and whistles removed, not having 720 50p was in my opinion a step too far and the included viewfinder is far to small to be of any use.

One of the C100s endearing features is the carry handle with the XLRs and built in microphone, many C300 users would swap this at the drop of a hat as the C300 has the LCD attached onto the handle making it very cumbersome to use.

Fortunately Canon kept the hand grip on the C100 which for technical reasons has been left off the C500, you also get the lesser 4:2:0 AVCHD recording onto SDHC cards but if you add an external HDMI recorder you can get the full 4:2:2 signal making it equal in quality to the C300 but not in frame rates.


The Sony NEX-EA50 is the one stranger to me, I have seen very little footage from this camcorder though I did get a glance at on during BVE North to see it was a slim longish camcorder, a shoulder mount with some beef taken off.

The EA50 suffers from having an APS-C sensor which is known for its moire and severe rolling shutter not to mention the lack of ND filters, records onto MPEG-4 AVCHD 2.0 format and sadly only one SDHC card slot.

The plus points are the side mounted LCD with loupe, shoulder mount extendable pad and an 18-200mm servo zoom very useful for those looking to use this camcorder for weddings.


Lastly the Panasonic AG-AC90 once again I saw this camcorder at BVE North and was pleasently surprised by the picture quality using three (RGB) backside illuminated 1/4.7 type MOS image sensors.

Many people think Panasonic reverse engineered the HDC-Z10000 3D camcorder but I am reliably informed that the AC90 was built from the ground up recording onto 2 card slots using cheap SDHC cards with AVCHD and 1080 50p.

The AC90 has a 12x optical zoom with manual aperture ring on the lens, 2 channel XLR connectors and full remote functions of both lens, iris and camera start/stop functions at just over £1300 it has to be the snip of 2012.


September brought us two camcorders the Sony VG900 and the Sony PMW-150.

The Sony VG900 is the first Sony camcorder to include a full frame 36x24mm sensor its a bit of a dark horse as I have not seen one and little footage online. Once again recording onto AVCHD at 1080 50p, one card slot offering Memory stick duo or SDHC.

Choosing the right lens a SELP-18-200 E PZ 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 Power Zoom lens you have the facility for servo zoom on the VG900, at £3,500 body only this full frame camcorder is not cheap.


Also in September Sony decided we must have a camcorder to fit in between the PMW-100 and the 200…enter the PMW-150 a further 50Mbps camcorder with 1/3″ CMOS chips once again a bit of a dark horse but noisy compared to the Panasonic AC90 or the JVC GY-HM600.

With a 20x Fujinon lens and recording onto two SxS card slots once again Sony have restricted the 50Mbps recording to SxS and 35Mbps to SDHC via the Sony MEAD adapter.


October 2012 was to be the last month this year for a major camera announcement and for many Sony’s best.

Enter not one but two camcorders the PMW-F5 and the PMW-F55 both cracking Super 35mm camcorders but very individual when it came to specifications.

The PMW-F5 is basically a 4K camcorder with the ability to record 2K internally onto SxS cards while the PMW-F55 has the capability to record 4K onto special SxS cards internally and has that all important global shutter.

Having a global shutter means a large sensor camera that does not suffer from rolling shutter or as they call it the Jello effect.


Both cameras use the same optional viewfinders the DVF-L350 £2,400 or a higher resolution DVF-EL100 £3,300 as you can see these cameras are not a cheap option as the body’s alone cost F55 £22,800 and F5 £12,300 respectively but at a serious 16bit 4:2:2 RAW output these cameras are the best within their price range as you can get.

So there you have it 16 cameras in one year two more than 2011 the question is are we getting camera-overdosing, can you suffer too much of a good thing ? What about 2013 what have the manufacturers got in store for us next year ?

I think things will settle down a wee bit next year, Panasonic will have their micro P2 card allowing a few of us to enjoy P2 without the ongoing expense of £500 a pop for a 64G card, I think Panasonic will also show a new P2 Super 35mm large sensor camera.

Sony have had a fair run this year with 9 camcorders, one for every conceivable pocket but I hope they can review their policy of giving us 50Mbps camcorders that only use SxS cards.

JVC have had a great year with their HM600 range of CMOS camcorders and I predict this will now evolve into the shoulder mount 700 series next year.

Canon must update their XF300 camcorders this year as their getting long in the tooth and a tad dated, as for the EOS Super 35mm range a re-design of the camera would finally see the XLRs on the body of the cameras and a move over to 10bit.

Blackmagic have enough on their plate getting their camera out and delivered by January but as all good manufacturers they will have version 2 on the drawing board ready for an August announcement.


Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

4 thoughts on “16 Cameras in 2012 “Two more than last year”

  1. There are rumors about a 2013 release of a 4K gear from Arri and something like “Digital 70mm” from Panavision…

  2. Where do you get your information from it looks like a lot of speculation rather than facts. If you plan on commenting on sales performance it makes sense to include hard numbers.

    HDW : Don’t talk nonsense this is a rundown of 16 cameras not a sales conference, this has been an exceptionally lean year for all retailers and manufacturers have not helped one bit by showing off cameras and then bringing them in in dribs and drabs.

  3. These are exciting time to be a video cameraman,camera wise. think about those HDV days yucks haha.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *