Panavision: Lenses for Drones, New Filter Tech, 8K Workflow

Panavision made its Cine Gear Expo debut of the Millennium DXL2 8K camera, 8K workflow improvements, a customized optics system for specific use with drones and gimbals, four new large-format lenses and a technology demonstration of a major advance in filter technology. The new products, said Panavision chief executive Kim Snyder, are intended to evolve the ecosystem surrounding the Millennium DXL2. “We’re building a bridge between products and processes,” said senior vice president of innovation Michael Cioni.

The DXL2, which debuted early in 2018, incorporates “technological advancements based on professional input” from cinematographers, camera assistants and post-production groups. The original DXL camera, launched in 2016, was based on the RED Digital Cinema Weapon platform. DXL2 “offers 16 stops of dynamic range with unmatched shadow detail, a native ISO setting of 1600, and 12-bit ProRes XQ up to 120fps.”

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To improve the 8K workflow, Panavision also introduced a firmware update of its D2E 1.0 workflow. Director of DXL technology Aaron Kroger reports that the firmware provides for wireless CDL (color decision list) and LUT look control, recording all color metadata into camera-generated proxy files for render-free dailies. “It’s a very powerful feature for cinematographers and DITs,” he said.

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Cioni added that other manufacuturers including Sony and Arri are bringing out cameras with higher data rates. “Debayering time, color pipeline glitches and turn-around times will only become more challenging,” he said. “Post has to change, and D2E 1.0 is only the beginning of what will be many iterations.”

Director of new product development Haluki Sadahiro introduced the Primo X series of lenses that were created for use with drones and gimbals. Cioni pointed out that, up until now, drones have had to rely on existing lenses that “don’t have the right focal length” and also have problems with dirt or “prop wash” when the drone lands and kicks up dust.

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Sadahiro listed the benefits of the new Primo X lenses: fully sealed, weather proof and counterbalanced to be aerodynamic and maintain a proper center of gravity. The lenses are also completely internally motorized. Primo X lenses, which will be available in 2019, come in two primes — 14mm (T3.1) and 24mm (T1.6) — and one 24-70mm zoom (T2.8).

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Sadahiro also introduced another new Panavision product: the first dynamically adjustable liquid crystal neutral density (LCND) filters, which “instantly adjusts up to six individual stops with a single click or ramp.” “Front of lens filters have lots of problems,” said Cioni, who noted that it requires carrying a set and manually swapping individual NDs based on changing light. “But behind the lens filtration has been too large for large sensors.”

The LCND filters — which will be available in 2019 — enable the camera operator to change the ND filter on the fly, even during a shot. LCND starts at 0.3 and goes through 0.6, 0.9, 1.2, 1.5, to 1.8.