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Sony’s half-price mini Venice

Posted on Nov 24, 2023 by Samara Husbands

The new Sony Burano cinema camera has a sensor that matches the colour science of the flagship Venice 2, but is designed for small crews and costs half as much

It’s the world’s first digital cine camera with a PL mount to feature in-body image stabilisation. And by removing the PL lens mount, the camera can be used with Sony E-mount optics, which support fast hybrid AF and subject recognition AF. A super-thin electronically variable ND filter structure comes alongside the optical image stabilisation system.

At £25,791/$25,000, it’s not exactly cheap, but is half the price of the Sony Venice 2 which has established itself as one of the go-to cameras for high-budget, multi-crew productions.

The Burano has an 8.6K full-frame sensor that shares most of the Venice 2’s specifications, enabling it to work alongside the pricier camera. Its sensor features dual base ISO of 800 and 3200, and 16 stops of dynamic range. 

Like all cameras in Sony’s full-frame Cinema Line, the Burano can shoot in full-frame or Super 35, and has a de-squeeze function for anamorphic lenses. It records up to 8K at 30p, 6K at 60p or 4K at 120p.

The relatively compact and lightweight body is 32mm shorter and 1.4kg lighter than the Venice 2, but is still housed in a rugged magnesium chassis.

Thanks to a recently developed image stabilisation mechanism and control algorithm using technology from the Alpha mirrorless series, the Burano cuts out the shakes when using an E or PL mount lens.

An electronic variable ND filter ranges from 0.6 to 2.1, allowing control of depth-of-field with a set iris while the camera adjusts the ND.

Using an E-mount lens allows use of Fast Hybrid AF, which combines the benefits of phase and contrast detection. It’s also compatible with subject recognition AF using AI, and an E-mount lens will further reduce the weight and size of the camera.

All the Burano’s menu buttons are positioned on the camera operator’s side, with tally lamps in three locations to make it easier for a crew to check shooting status. The 3.5-inch multi-function LCD monitor may be used as a viewfinder for touch focus or menu control. The Burano also comes equipped with optional T-handle, viewfinder arm, two three-pin XLR audio inputs and a headphone terminal.

The camera supports multiple internal recording formats, like the new XAVC H for 8K, which uses the MPEG-H HEVC/H.265 high-compression efficiency codec. Other recording formats include XAVC and X-OCN LT. X-OCN is Sony’s original compressed Raw format which captures information shot with 16-bit linear data, giving more freedom for colour grading. X-OCN LT reduces file transfer time and storage size load, making post-production workflows more efficient than standard Raw.

Files are recorded to two CFexpress Type B memory card slots and supports VPG400, which can sustain high-bit-rate writing of video data, including X-OCN LT 8K. Sony will release compatible CFexpress Type B memory cards, in 1920 and 960GB sizes.

Log recording modes include S-Gamut3 and S-Gamut.Cine, which exceed BT.2020 and DCI-P3 gammas, and there’s genlock.

Four new cinematic looks feature: Warm, Cool, Vintage and Teal and Orange, in addition to supporting standard S709 and 709 (800%) LUTs.

Sony will soon be releasing the optional GP-VR100 Grip Remote Control to control the zoom lever and recording start/stop button, particularly useful in solo set-ups.

Support for the S700 protocol over Ethernet is coming, plus a 1.5x de-squeeze display function with an anamorphic lens. It works with the just-launched Monitor & Control app, part of Sony Creators’ Cloud. This can be used with other Sony cinema cameras like the FX3 and FX30.

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