Sony has officially announced its previously rumoured VENICE, a new top-of-the line CineAlta full frame digital cinema system.
We’re used to Sony using a somewhat inconsistent combination of letters and numbers for its camera naming (the F65, for instance, doesn’t have a 65mm sensor, and the F5 and F55 and FS7 don’t line up in a tidy row like one might hope), but the company has broken with tradition for its latest and greatest, which it has announced today will be called VENICE. With VENICE, Sony has developed a brand new full frame 36x24mm sensor as the centrepiece for the camera system, larger than the Super35mm sensor from the previous flagship the F65.
The other key feature is the lens mount, which is PL-mount standard but can be swapped out for an E-mount. While there are a wide variety of PL mount full frame lenses available, this is a smart move for Sony, taking advantage of its tremendous selection of full frame E-mount lenses to broaden the available lens supply on launch. Support for /i lens data has been announced for the P- mount, with no indication of whether the E-mount will be smart and support lens data or auto focus yet. However, there are connector pins in the press images, which is a good sign.
VENICE (Sony appears to be pushing all caps and no definite article, like Concorde) works around existing and established CineAlta workflows, which means 10bit internal XAVC recording to SxS cards or 16-bit RAW X-OCN via an external recorder. Building on established workflows, lenses and accessories is a smart move while continuing to expand the sensor size and imager capabilities since it makes transition and integration easier for existing customers.
In a throwback to the old days of working with Panavision behind the lens filters, VENICE is a digital cinema camera that has an internal 8 stage ND filter. Considering the high sensitivity of digital sensors, this is a great system to give filmmakers more control over aperture. It unfortunately is not the same continuous ND that the FS7 Mark II launched last year, but that system created a way to seamlessly ramp ND without color shift that would be interested in a digital cinema platform. However, any internal ND will help tremendously, especially when the camera is rigged to a gimbal, drone or crane and can’t be easily reached for a filter swap.
The assistant display is now exceptionally similar to the Panasonic Varicam and Arri ALEXA interfaces (originally developed by Arri), which should make it easier for crews switching from platform to platform, with only RED continuing to push its own menu system at the high end. No price announced as yet, though it’ll likely be expensive and generally a rental item. That being said, the flexibility of E-mount could make it an attractive reach purchase item for filmmakers depending on the budget. Some features will be licensed, meaning you’ll need to pay extra to open up Anamorphic and 6K modes in the camera, but Sony will be offering those licenses in a variety of timeframes, as short as a week, which should make them affordable and perhaps an expense that can be covered for the production looking for those special formats.