Panasonic AU-EVA1; my next cinema camera?

Petite, smart, strong, and sexy. Panasonic’s newest cinema camera, seated comfortably between Varicam LT and GH5, is a winner.

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The big preview of Panasonic’s newest cinema camera, seated comfortably between Varicam LT and GH5, happened at Cine Gear Expo in Los Angeles Friday afternoon. Introducing the Panasonic AU-EVA1. I am astounded at how many of my needs EVA1 checks off my list for a cinema camera upgrade. She also added a few things to the list I couldn’t have imagined I’d be able to personally afford in a new cinema camera. EVA1 winds up being a miniature Varicam LT, without the Varicam badge, price, or weight. The specs previewed so far are jaw-dropping.

EVA1 will feature Varicam colorimetry, proper V-Log and V-Gamut. It’s DCI 4K will be subsampled from a bran-new 5.7K Super 35 sensor, recording to an internal 10-bit 4:2:2 Intra codec at up to 400Mbps on SDXC cards (I will probably want to invest in the new V-class). It will also, eventually, output 5.7K raw over SDI and/or HDMI. It will work with DVX200 batteries. It will do 4K up to 60fps, as well as 2K up to 240fps. Still being tweaked, EVA1 will have some flavor of dual native ISO, probably close to Varicam LT’s settings of 800 and 5000. It has built-in ND, EIS, and a swing-away IR cut filter. The top handle, LCD, and side grip, are removable and repositionable. It also sports an active EF lens mount that most likely will be able to communicate with most fly-by-wire EF lenses and be able to control them with buttons on the camera body for iris and auto focus, if you’re into that sort of thing. Also, EVA1 is not bad to look at. The button layout is nice and the black-with-red-trim motif is sexy.

My teeny-tiny complaint is that the EF mount is not a positive-locking one. Would that keep me from favoring EVA1 over, say, Blackmagic’s Ursa Mini Pro? Nope. Not at all. In fact, the only thing BMUMP has going for it now is it’s interchangeable mount system. That’s about it. Every other tick goes in EVA1’s favor. With the EF-mount, I will be able to utilize my set of SLR Magic APO Hyperprime Cine T2.1 25/50/85mm PL-mount lenses as I have a lovely EF-PL adapter that works extremely well. As I am also a stills photographer who uses Canon equipment, EVA1 should work beautifully with my little collection of medium-fast EOS “L” zoom lenses.

EVA1’s price, which Panasonic says will be ‘under $8,000’, is enticing. Ursa Mini Pro’s price ($5,995), plus Shoulder Mount Kit ($395), 256GB Cfast2 card ($580), V-mount battery plate ($95), and a 14.8V 95Wh battery ($247), comes in at a bit more than $7,311 as a working system. “Under $8,000” could literally mean “$7,999,” but everything in the box is what I’d need. All I have to buy at that point is a few V90 SDXC cards which are far less expensive than Cfast2 cards. The batteries I already use with DVX200 will work for EVA1, as will my custom shoulder mount kit I slapped together with components from SmallRig and Zacuto.

Speaking of “competition”, Canon recently announced it’s new EOS C200. Basically an 8-bit 4:2:0 35Mbps camcorder that primarily shoots 4K in a compressed version of Canon’s proprietary raw format, utilizing the EOS C700 sensor, at a measly 150Mbps. The lackluster announcement was, for me, a momentary diversion for a product which I don’t find appealing. Later, Sony announced they had a thousand personnel working on a new 135-format (“full frame”) sensor CineAlta that’ll come out at some point in a few years, be really expensive, and will prove to be a PITA to pull focus on.

No thanks.

It’s also no small thing that EVA1 is petite: less than 7″ long, and less than 6″ wide and tall. She also weighs less than 3lbs. She’s pretty much perfect for jib and stabilizer work, as well as being outfitted for heavier rig work, but with a total rig weight of “not very much” since EVA1 already is light as a feather. A few extra pounds won’t make a lot of difference, I don’t think. I’m sure she’ll be quite strong as I’ve always been impressed with Panasonic’s build quality. To put it bluntly (and to echo a joke from the movie “Airplane”), I like my cameras the way I like my women: petite, smart, strong, and black…with red trim. Joking aside, I think EVA1 is an absolute winner.

A few niggles: it’s unclear at this point what the exact dual native ISO specs will be. We also have no idea what the new sensor’s dynamic range will be, or if AU-EVA1’s image quality will be anywhere near par to the AU’s sister Varicam line. We also don’t know what the actual MSRP or street price will be. Some other people are very interested in EVA1’s ability to auto focus with EF lenses, as well as what it’s OIS compatibility will be. I’m not personally interested in either of these functions, so it’s not really a thing, but some people are concerned so, for them, it’s worth mentioning. What is of concern to me is how the internal codecs will all play with each other, as well as what sort of sensor cropping are we looking at depending on codec, recording format, frame rates, etc. But, these are all little things that Panasonic is tweaking and will disclose in full before the camera ships this fall. Again, I’d prefer a locking EF mount, but having a bayonet version is not a deal breaker.

Is the Panasonic AU-EVA1 my next cinema camera? I believe EVA1 could be a stellar addition to my small family of motion picture cameras, partially retiring my Blackmagic Cinema Camera, and allowing my Panasonic AG-DVX200 to focus on what it does best: reality/ENG work. It would be my intent for EVA1 to handle the TVCs, music videos, shorts, and feature films that come my way. I can’t wait to see what EVA1’s official specs will be when they are announced later this year. Panasonic says EVA1 is on track to be released by the end of 2017. I still need to see footage to be sure, but I’m looking forward to holding her in my hands soon and seeing what she’s made of. That’s when I’ll really know.


By Jason R. Johnston

Jason is an award-winning cinematographer, and director of commercials, branding films, native content, music videos, documentaries, and narrative films. As a full-time freelancer, he can be hired to DP or direct almost any project you have in mind. He is based in Sparta, Tennessee, and ready to travel for any gig.

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