Panasonic first announced the VariCam LT in February 2016. NAB 2016 was likely the first place many shooters had the opportunity to get their hands on the camera and test it out. First, Panasonic seems to be building on the VariCam 35 legacy and it’s great dual native ISOs of 800/5000, 14+ stops of dynamic range, and VLog color. Second, the big take-away, from talking to Paul McAniff from Panasonic is “there is nothing 8-bit in the VariCam.” Nope, this camera is 10-bit color all the way. In many ways, the LT brand and the new AVC Intra-LT 4K Codec suggest something less than 10-bit color, but the truth is this camera is all 10-bit.
I’ve been lucky and able to shoot with the Varicam LT on a few occasions. I can say the dual native ISOs are clutch when shooting days go long or you’re faced with challenging lighting situations. Panasonic has made one of the easiest cameras to operate handheld: from the focus assist, to the hand grip, and the EVF capable of controlling some camera functions. You are going to love shouldering this camera. It’s where the camera feels the most natural.
And… at NAB I got a little luckier. During the NAB 2016 craziness my buddies and were able to take out the Varicam LT with P+S Technik’s 35-70mm 1.5x anamorphic zoom for a night. We shot with this combo for as long as our single battery would let us. Truth is we were so excited to shoot we shot way more driving footage than necessary. Now, a much better editor than I is currently cutting the short film together as I write this article. Expect the full short film to be included in both a deeper Varicam LT camera review as well as an article high-lighting P+S Technik’s anamorphic zooms.
For me, the Varicam LT is a camera capable of delivering a great cinematic image easily. The highlight roll-off, the color, and a certain “je ne sais quoi” make shooting extremely enjoyable. I fully expect this camera to take off.
Thanks to Blue Shape for the battery and Convergent Design for the Odyssey Monitor/Recorder. The Odyssey was the only monitor available to use which could do a 1.5x de-squeeze. This made framing much easier. Thanks Mitch and Allen for the help.
VariCam LT’s Key Features:
- Utilizes the same Super 35mm 4K native sensor and superb imaging capabilities as the VariCam 35, but with significant reductions in size, weight and price.
- 14+ stops of dynamic range in V-Log, plus the renowned VariCam image quality and color science.
- Dual native 800/5000 ISO imager. With ISO5000, you see more detail than the human eye at low light levels (without adding noise).
- Image handling in multiple formats ranging from 4K, UHD, 2K, HD and HD ProRes, all fully capable of High Dynamic Range (HDR) capture.
- New Codecs: AVC-Intra2K-LT and AVC-Intra-LT for capturing frame rates up to 240fps.
- EF mount accommodates a wide choice of lenses for smaller cameras; can be switched out to a robust standard 35mm PL mount.
- XpressP2 card slot recording for all formats including high frame rate and HD/2K/UHD and 4K recording; SD slot for high-resolution proxy recording as well ad proxy files for offline edit/color grading.