Monday, 17 June 2013

JVC 4K Camcorder - Why take one card to the shoot when you can take four?

JVC have just announced they are going to launch the 4K camera the previewed at CES the JY-HMQ30 based on the JY-HMQ10 that they launched earlier this year. So what are the differences? Well the  10 has a lens but the 30 doesn't so that will make it cheaper right? Uh, no. The 10 is costing about $5,000 and the 30 will be $18,000 based on the yen price (prices from Photography Bay by the way)!

Here are some nice pictures of the pair:

The JY-HMQ10

The new JY-HMQ30
That lens mount in the 30 is a bit unusual because it takes Nikon lenses. Yes, Nikon lenses on a video camera. Now this could be because JVC and Nikon have a good working relationship (although only Nikon is part of the Mitsubishi Corporation), but I think it is more down to smart thinking by JVC. 

Photographers tend to upgrade their camera bodies as soon as a digit or letter changes (or even a Roman numeral on the Canon 5D) but hold on to their lenses forever - if you don't believe me have a look at Philip Bloom's lens cupboard. So Nikon users are likely to have a great set of glass that they can't use on a video camera... until this JVC came along.

Nikon cameras generally prefer SD cards over compact flash which means the Nikonista will have a wallet full of them which will be very useful if you want to use these cameras to shoot 4K as it uses four of them at the same time to shoot four quadrants of the 4K signal. One of the reasons I prefer using CF cards to SD is that I can usually tell that a CF card is lurking in my trouser pocket before I put it in the wash. SD cards have made it through the fast spin cycle on my washing machine and survived though so it might not be a disaster.

But I can't entertain the idea of plugging in four cards to shoot one image, the chances of things going wrong are multiplied. With memory advancing as fast as any technology why not get your boffins to develop a cheap CF card like KomputerBay have managed. It may not use up any more storage to shoot on four cards but it is going to quadruple the amount of files.

When you get those four files you need to convert them to ProRes422 before you start editing and JVC provide a programme called JVC 4K Clip Manager which does the job for you. Unfortunately it is only available for Macs (OS 10.6.8 or newer) so doesn't work as a useful ProRes converter for PC's (I am still trying to find one).

I haven't seen any footage from either camera yet but it is recording H.264 so I imagine the compression will be pretty heavy with a data rate of 144 Mb/s for the whole 4K stream. 

I am a great supporter of innovation and coming up with different solutions, but these JVC cameras tick very few boxes for me and while the multi-card system might work for an enthusiast or wedding videographer, for most it would be a pain in the chassis.

And if you do have a cabinet full of Nikon lenses, you CAN use them on any camera that takes a Canon lens with an adapter, but you may lose some functionality. Canon lenses, with their larger mount won't fit on a Nikon body.

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