What I expect at NAB 2015

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That National Association of Broadcasters annual meet and greet is coming up soon, so I set about trawling the Internet for the best rumours and what to expect from NAB in April 2015. In the case anyone here doesn’t know what NAB is, it’s where people passionate about film and broadcast get together and coo and drool over the latest usually awesome products. Simply put, what can we expect from NAB 2015? (Editors note: Confirmed products will be in bold, but few are. Jacob tells me no one really knows exactly what is coming at NAB, so take what Jacob has written/is writing with a pinch of salt.)

It’s actually very hard to confirm new products. You can almost predict exactly what a new iPhone will be called and do, but with pro level cameras this is harder, as many manufactures unveil products at events like NAB to get media attention.

  1. Several new cameras from Canon with 4K recording. These may come as DSLR’s, or Cinema style cameras. However, I think the rumoured 5DMKIV will come at Photokina in Q3 of 2015. What I would like to see is a new C300 (C300MKII) and a new C500 (C500MKII), both with better (onboard) 4K amongst other improvements. Whilst the XC-10 failed to emerge at CES, it could still arrive at some point later this year, perhaps at NAB. Thanks to the latest massive price cuts in the C500, it seems a refresh is coming soon. The C300MKII has been ‘confirmed’ by many rumour articles, but not by Canon. Canon Rumours said earlier that a C300 MKII would be announced before NAB and would have a price point to challenge the FS7, so perhaps in late March? I give a 4K C300MKII 3/4 for probability.CanonC300_Jan2013
  2. Much lower price interchangeable lens video cameras, like the JVC -GY-LS300, but from a wide range of manufactures. I also give this 3/4. NB a new C300 MKII counts here.
  3. Something new from Blackmagic. At the rate they’ve been churning out products, this much is pretty much guaranteed. It’s unlikely it will be a new URSA, but I expect a new BMPCC or BMPC (or both!). Almost definitely. 4/4.
  4. Many more 4K ENG (Electronic News Gathering) cameras from all manufactures, like the PXW-X70, FS7 and Z100 from Sony. The Z100 should be coming up for a replacement. 3/4 (Can I do that?!)
  5. Upgrades to existing cameras. Many cameras, but most specifically Blackmagic’s URSA is designed with upgradeability in mind. Across the board many products already have replaceable sensors, large FGPAs and hardware acceleration capability. Perhaps we shall see a new sensor, as well as higher frame rates in 4K and HD unleashed thanks to firmware upgrades. I’d also really like to see 4K ProRes internal on the F5 and F55, but I doubt this will happen, as Sony wants to protect its XAVC codec. Again, a 3/4.
  6. Something new from Red. Not sure what it will be, but I remain hopeful. Perhaps an 8K 65MM Dragon? There are many rumours about what Red is doing at the moment, and the last thing it did was the Red Epic Dragon, so in many ways were a due something new. Red has also been rather quiet recently, especially on the new camera front. This was previously in the section below but with the rumours of the “RED Weapon” (which I think sounds like a rubbish name). RED is, as usual, being deliberately secretive about the new camera, but good money is on it having a new, or at least slightly redesigned sensor, possibly either full frame or even 65mm. If you want to hear more I refer you to here. I’ve had to bump this up to pretty probable, a 3/4.
  7. The new Arri Alexa Mini. That thing looks awesome
  8. This probable disaster. That form factor + a fixed lens doesn’t do it for me. We also have very few news apart form the fact it has a 1″ sensor. This is more of an AX100 competitor than anything else. 1

I would also like to see a few extra things at NAB 2015,

  1. A 4K super 35 sensor Arri Alexa. I think this is the thing missing the most from Arri’s otherwise excellent line up, however Arri has made its opinion very clear in the past, and it doesn’t seem likely to back down. The Alexa was again the go to digital cinema camera last year, and the lack of higher quality options might be upsetting some directors and cinematographers who want all the benefits of 4K, but with S35 depth of field.
  2. An 8K video camera. This could come from anyone, but I think this could come as a prototype from Sony, and could form the basis of an entirely new Canon style cinema line. Alternatively, we may get an actual ready for production camera. Astro Design in their partnership with NHK have made an 8K broadcast camera, but it is my understanding that it is still in the prototype stage. Maybe something from RED?
  3. Not really cameras as such but more Stabilisers, like the DJI Ronin. DJI and Movi have not said what new products they will be releasing this year.
  4. A 1DC with 10bit 4:2:2 or better. The lack of 10bit on the original 1DC was a turn off for many people, especially considering its already massive $12,000 price tag. I have no evidence this will happen, and it seems unlikely thanks to the fact the the 1DX (which the 1DC is based on)  isn’t due a replacement until 2016. 1/4.
  5. A Sony A7S II (Though this might come at CES or Photokina given the A7S would only be a year old). 1/4.

However, NAB is a world of surprises. We’ve been surprised many times before. The 4K Dalsa Origin back in 2003, the Red One, the C500, everything from Blackmagic Design. There have also been some exciting times along the way, and I’m sure 2015’s NAB will be the year that 4K is no longer the future, and manufactures are now firmly looking at the 8K and 6K cameras, and I think solid results and prototypes should come around 2016.

It’s still all up in the air, and we still have some months to go, and it is hard to say what might be coming, and when. I’ll update this page as and when stuff happens/more rumours/confirmations are made in the run up to NAB 2015. I won’t be going to NAB 2015 so there won’t be any first hand coverage, but I will be doing a bit of market analysis.

Last updated 20/03/15


Write a variety of articles, when I get the time. Usually do more longform and analysis than I probably should. Also an editor.

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