Sony Announces New 6K Venice Flagship Cinema Camera

By Bryant Frazer / September 6, 2017

After a five-year run for the F55 and F65 as its flagship cameras for motion picture and television capture, Sony today announced Venice, a new full-frame cinema camera with a 36mm x 24mm sensor and an integrated eight-step mechanical glass ND system.

Venice will be the new “flagship” in Sony’s CineAlta line-up, but current CineAlta cameras will continue to receive supports and updates, according to Peter Crithary, Sony’s marketing and production manager for media solutions and production technology. The camera is expected to ship next February at an MSRP of $42,000 for the camera body only.

Resolution and Recording Formats

The newly developed sensor’s native resolution is 6048×4032 — around 6K — but that doesn’t tell the whole story since the Venice is designed to support a wide variety of shooting ratios, including 4×3 anamorphic at 4096×3024 (24.3mm x 18.3mm), and a broad range of lenses including Super 24, spherical, full-frame and 2x anamorphic.

“We wanted to support large-format moving forward,” Crithary said at a press briefing introducing the new camera. “That’s where we feel the industry is going — for filmmakers to be able to express their vision in formats larger than 35mm.”

Sony rates the new sensor at greater than 15 stops of latitude and says its color range is wider than both Rec. 2020 and P3 color space when using S-Gamut3 grading. The color-filter array is borrowed from the F65 but the color science has been refined, Crithary said. Increased sensor read speeds have largely eliminated the visibility of rolling-shutter artifacts or the so-called jello effect, he noted.

When attached to Sony’s AXS-R7 raw recorder, the Venice will be able to record 6K to Sony’s recently introduced 16-bit X-OCN, which the company has claimed is visually indistinguishable from raw with about a 30 percent space savings thanks to compression. The camera will also support recording to 16-bit linear raw, as well as to XAVC Class480 4:2:2 10-bit intraframe on internal SxS cards, along with simultaneous recording to edit-friendly 10-bit 4:2:2 Apple ProRes HD files to kickstart post-production workflow.

Crithary said Venice workflow will be very similar to established F55/F5 processes, but vendors including Filmlight, Colorfront, Blackmagic Design and Adobe are preparing their tools — via “minor updates” to the existing X-OCN and Sony raw SDKs — to be ready for Venice at launch.

Designed for 2018

Aside from the recording specs, there’s a lot that’s new in the Venice camera design. For one thing, there’s that built-in eight-step ND filter, which Sony says is a first. The camera incorporates two servo-controlled ND turrets, allowing eight different settings from 0.3 to 2.4 to be dialed in during a shoot — including via remote-control when the camera is mounted on a crane or drone.

The Sony Venice camera has a built-in eight-step ND filter

It’s also the first Sony camera to have been developed with an additional OLED display with camera controls on the assistant side of the camera. Crithary said the company has been careful to develop the camera using “film language,” making it easy and intuitive for experienced operators and assistants to quickly change settings. Extra HD and 4K SDI outputs are built-in for on-set monitoring.

Sony flirted with modular design for the F5 and F55, which can be fitted with on-board recorders as optional components. The concept goes to the next level with Venice, which features a user-changeable sensor block. That means that future hardware updates, like higher-resolution or high-frame-rate sensor options, can be changed out in the field as required.

“We believe we’re the first to do it like this,” Crithary said. “It’s easy for the user. You don’t need a clean room for service. You just remove the sensor block and put another one on there.”