Move Over RED, JVC’s Affordable 4K Camera

That’s right, JVC announced the small, handheld professional 4K camera, GY-HMQ10, at CES in January 2012, and it’s going to cost $5,000. It has a 1/2.3-inch backlit CMOS sensor with 8.3 million active pixels shooting in 3840 x 2160, at 60p, 50p and 24p. The HMQ10 uses the Falconbrid picture processing technology to handle 4K acquisition and image processing without needing sn external device for storage. with that workflow, you would need to process the 4K clips in your NLE or other software. It also ships with a fixed, high resolution lens made for 4K resolution, at F2.8, plus the ability to record up to two hours on four 32GB SDHC cards (you need all four SDHC cards to shoot in 4K), full 1920 x 1080 HD resolution (only 1 card needed), a high resolution touchscreen LCD (920,000 pixels) and a quality viewfinder (260,000 pixels). And a whole heckuva lot more. You should check out JVC’s page on the GY-HMQ10, and read the press release here. It should be available in the spring, either March or April 2012.

The 4K sensor powering the JVC GY-HMQ10.

I’m very excited about this affordable 4K camera, and it’s fitting that JVC is introducing the world’s first sub-$20,000 (or so) 4K cinema camera. While 2003’s JVC HD10 wasn’t the greatest camera (I bought one that summer — here’s a film I directed shot on it, featured in a few film festivals), it launched HDV which contributed many of the HD compression techniques we know and use, such as those for Sony, JVC, Panasonic and Canon HD camcorders, along with HDSLRs like the Nikon D5100 or the legendary Canon 5D Mark II. I have a feeling the quality will be excellent, and I’m looking forward to cutting the 4K footage with Final Cut Pro X, which can handle 4K editing without a problem. It captures via MP4/H.264, and JVC includes a software program for Mac to make it easier to import and convert the footage via a single USB cable. Cool!

JVC compares 4K to 1080p

It’s interesting how the 4K video is captured onto the required four 32GB SDHC cards, which JVC explains (and more) on the GY-HMQ10’s technical page. Essentially, it shoots 144 Mbps (Megabits per second), variable bit rate, and the 4K image is actually split into 4 separate pieces, if you will. Each one goes to a different card, as illustrated below:

How the JVC GY-HMQ10 records 4K video to four 32GB SDHC cards.

JVC’s Archive and Merge Utility software that ships with the HMQ10 4K camera (Mac and Windows) will combine the four video images into one for cutting, though JVC promises near real-time 4K playback from the camera via four HDMI ports and cables. With Mac, it will turn it into a single 4K ProRes video clip, of all your 4K camera footage.

JVC's software will merge the four images together into one 4K image.

It’s making me think also about shooting with the JVC in 24p and converting it in FCP X to 48p, or shooting 50p and converting to 48p. The legendary Douglas Trumbull, James Cameron (for Avatar 2 and 3 at 60p), Peter Jackson (The Hobbit is shooting in 48p) and others see higher frame rates as the next evolution in filmmaking. The higher the frame rate, the more ‘realistic’ the image becomes. Of course, digital projectors will need a special upgrade, but a lot of theaters have gone digital, something I’ve been hoping for since the mid-90s and early 2000s.

So basically, we’re getting a 4K camera for $5000, around the price RED said the original Scarlet was going to run, at 3K resolution, back at NAB 2008. This is in no way any sort of disrespect to RED — the Scarlet has become much better than they originally planned, and the current price is right for those changes. By the way, 4K editing with the RED isn’t hard with their Red Rocket with Thunderbolt and a Sonnet Chassis, a MacBook Air, Windows via Bootcamp (or OX Lion) and Premiere Pro CS5.5, as demonstrated by Dave Helmy via Gizmodo. JVC just makes it easier.

Images courtesy JVC.

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  • Comments (3)
    • John Smith
    • February 16th, 2012 7:25pm

    “Move Over RED”??? Are you actually serious?
    You apparently don’t understand what you are attempting to ‘blog’ about.
    This $5000 fixed-lens does not even belong in the same category as RED… Have you even shot with any RED camera before?
    … yeah, I didn’t think so.
    Where did you come from?
    Who’s paying you?

    • hmcknight
    • February 16th, 2012 7:51pm

    Wait a second, who are you? Are you one of those rabid RED fanboys? The ones that accuse anyone of dissing RED (which I’m not) as being bought off? As to where I’ve come from, I have over 14 years professional film and video experience, I personally know people who work at RED, Silicon Imaging, JVC, Sony, Panasonic, etc. I’ve co-written or contributed to two best-selling HD production books, I’ve spent the past 8 years writing about digital film and video technology and more. That’s where I come from. And thanks for posting! Oh, and yes, I’ve shot with RED ONE before, great camera, takes a while to boot up, images with a great DP and gaffer come out fantastic.

    • Robert Rogoz
    • February 18th, 2012 11:56pm

    JVC makes crappy cameras, I know I owned 2 of them. HD100 was in the shop 3 times, twice due to crappy design (like the tape door, which was braking so frequently JVC should have recalled all the cameras with that design, but did not). Customer service has to have check box “asshole” on the job application.
    HD100 was so bad I don’t know where to start. To call it a pro camera was a bad joke, which cost me a lot of money. Zoom you could not use, lens you could not screw filters on, iris control that would make adjustment just jump to name a few. It had 720/60p, but no 1/120 shutter! For crying out loud, anybody who shot some video knows that the shutter speed should be 180 degrees for 95% of the shooting. And response of JVC- zero! Several bb posters asked to have fixes through firmware (like the 1/120 shutter), and they were possible, but Mr. Yanagi responded that he heard our concerns and it will get fixed in the next…. model, because JVC wants more money from us users.
    No thanks! There are some good choices for now and I will wait for the next Canon release. At least I won’t have to deal with total assholes on the phone if my camera brakes at some point.

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