Sony Has Plans for Next-Gen Full-frame CineAlta Camera

Sony announces that it is developing a full frame (36 x 24mm) cinematography camera. Details are scant, but the camera will use a new image sensor and will be compatible with existing Sony workflows.

Details released so far:

  • Full Frame 36 x 24mm sensor exclusively designed for this digital motion picture camera
  • Aspect ratio-agnostic – including full frame, super 35 4K 4-perf 4:3 anamorphic, and 4K spherical 3-perf 17:9
  • New image sensor enabling exceptional picture quality
  • Maintains the workflow established with Sony’s 16-bit RAW/X-OCN and XAVC
  • Compatible with current and upcoming hardware accessories for CineAlta cameras (DVF-EL200 Viewfinder, AXS-R7 recorder, AXS-CR1 and AR1 card reader, AXS and SxS memory cards).

Although the super 35 format dominates cinematography, large format cameras like the ARRI 65 and the Panavision Millenium DXL 8K demonstrate that there is a requirement in filmmaking for larger sensors.

Sony's existing super 35 sensor measures 24 x 12.7mm with a diagonal of 27.1mm. Most super 35 cameras use the PL mount with lens image circle exceeding 30mm. 

A new larger sensor is going to call for glass with a wider image circle. The full frame of the still SLR cameras measures 36 x 24 mm, a diagonal of 43.3mm. There is of course a vast range of full-frame glass from Canon, Nikon, Zeiss and many more, with some designed for the different requirements of cinematography (T-stops, geared focus, para-focal, low breathing).

The two large format cameras have different mounts from the conventional PL. The ARRI 65 uses the LDS XPL mount, and is offered with ARRI Lenses based on medium-format Hasselblad glass.

The Millenial DXL has a 40.96mm x 21.60mm sensor (diagonal: 46.31mm) and uses Panavision 65 and 70mm glass with the Panavision 70 mount.

8K Production

The Super HiVision program is driving development for 8K sensors and lenses with the resolution to match. There is a definite demand for 8k imaging for blockbuster movie production and for special effects work, but it should be remembered that the ARRI Alexa with a sub-4K sensor remains a very popular choice for film and television production.

The new market for AR/VR is one driver for very high horizontal resolutions, but even for conventional production, higher resolutions allow for cropping and stabilization in post, and the super-sampled capture produces sharper looking pictures.

A full frame sensor, all things being equal, has a larger light gathering area than super-35mm, so should be more sensitive / quieter.

Until we hear more from Sony everything about this new camera will be conjecture.

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