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Panasonic AU-EVA1 hands-on review

  • 422 Intra 200 Mbps (VBR) 59.94 50p (Firmware Update)
  • 422 Intra 100Mbps (VBR) 29.97p, 24p, 25, 23.98p (Firmware Update)
  • 422 LongGOP 100Mbps (VBR) 59.94p, 50p
  • 422 LongGOP 50M (VBR) 29.97p, 25p, 23.98p
  • 420 LongGOP 100M (VBR) 59.94p, 50p
  • 420 LongGOP 50M (VBR) 29.97p, 25p, 23.98p

The only downside when it comes to the internal recording on the EVA1 is that you are limited to capturing up to 29.97p in 4:2:2 10-bit when recording in UHD or 4K DCI. If you want to record 59.94 or 50p in UHD or 4K DCI you can only do so in 4:2:0 8-bit.

External RAW recording

Panasonic EVA1
Unlike the Canon C200, the EVA1 can’t record RAW internally and to do so you need a third part external recorder. Both Convergent Design[1] and Atomos[2] are going to support this once it becomes available.

The EVA1 will be able to output a 10-bit 5760 x 3072 signal at frame rates up to 29.97p and a 4096 x 2160 signal at up to 59.94p. From my perspective, I would rather have the RAW recording be external and have good onboard recording codecs, which is exactly what Panasonic has chosen to do. Putting an internal RAW recording option on board would have required a different media solution to be used, and given that the Varicam LT can’t record RAW internally, it wouldn’t have made any sense for Panasonic to have done it.

Realistically the majority of shooters using sub £10,000US cameras are not going to be shooting RAW for the majority of the paid work they do.

What does it output over HDMI and SDI?

Panasonic EVA1
The EVA1 can output 4:2:2 10-bit up to 29.97p in 4K and UHD, and up to 59.94p in HD over SDI. If you use HDMI you can output in 4:2:2 10-bit at up to 59.94p in 4K, UHD, and HD. Panasonic gives you lots of options for what you can send over HDMI and SDI.

In a nice touch, you can actually have the EVA1 send the signal directly from the cameras LCD screen over SDI. This is very handy if you are using a monitor or EVF as you can completely replicate exactly what information is on the LCD screen. This is quite different from just choosing to send the overlay information over SDI or HDMI as it lets you see a lot of extra information such as the focus assist boxes and peaking etc.

A major function of the EVA1 when it comes to outputs is is the ability to individually address the different video outputs and use them all even while recording. Resolution can be separately set on SDI & HDMI, as can choosing to show the heads up info displays. When shooting V-Log/V-Gamut, the LCD, SDI & HDMI can individually be set to Log or Rec709 (easy to do in HOME menu).

Think of it this way: SDI in 4K/Log/clean to a recorder, HDMI in HD/709/info (info to show timecode) to a producer-client (maybe via a transmitter), and LCD toggling between V-Log & Rec709 (set a User Button to toggle the LCD image). Plus the waveform in the LCD will always show what internal recording is set to, so the LCD could remain in 709 with the waveform indicating the recorded exposure. Unlike some other cameras, all of these outputs are always available simultaneously, even while recording.

As far as the external RAW recording is concerned the camera can output 10-bit 5760 x 3072 at frame rates up to 29.97p and in 4096 x 2160 up to 59.94p. The RAW recording output will eventually be made available through a firmware update. SDI
4K (6G), HD (3G/1.5G) Output format (4:2:2 10-bit):
o 4096 x 2160: 29.97p, 25p, 24p, 23.98p
o 3840 x 2160: 29.97p, 25p, 24p, 23.98p
o 1920 x 1080: 29.97p, 25p, 24p, 23.98p, 59.94p, 50p, 59.94i, 50i, 29.97p, 29.97PsF, 25p, 25PsF, 24p, 24PsF, 23.98p, 23.98PsF
o 1280 x 720p: 59.94p, 50p

RAW* output format (10-bit):
o 5760 x 3072: 29.97p, 25p, 24p, 23.98p
o 4096 x 2160: 59.94p, 50p, 29.97p, 25p, 24p, 23.98p HDMI
Output format (4:2:2 10-bit):
o 4096 x 2160: 59.94p, 50p, 29.97p, 25p, 24p, 23.98p
o 3840 x 2160: 59.94p, 50p, 29.97p, 25p, 24p, 23.98p
o 1920 x 1080: 59.94p, 50p, 59.94i, 50i, 29.97p, 25p, 24p, 23.98p
o 1280 x 720: 59.94p, 50p
o 720 x 480: 59.94p
o 720 x 576: 50p
Output format (4:2:0 8-bit):
o 4096 x 2160: 59.94p, 50p
o 3840 x 2160: 59.94p, 50p

High frame rates

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For high-speed capture, the EVA1 offers up to 59.94fps/50fps for 4K/UHD, up to 120fps/100fps for 2K/Full HD, or 240fps/200fps (cropped area). All internally recorded.

  • 2K/VFR Mode with Intra Codec will come later in a firmware update.
  • S35: 4K/UHD 60 fps/50 fps 2K/HD 120 fps/100 fps
  • Cropped Mode (4/3?) 2K/HD 240 fps/200 fps

A lot of people are going to be disappointed that the camera can’t capture 50/60P UHD internally in 10-bit 4:2:2.

I’m personally not that surprised by this as Panasonic needs to differentiate the camera from the VariCam LT. Having a cropped (4/3?) 2K/HD mode for 240 fps/200 fps shooting is also something people are bound to frown at. It is not uncommon for manufacturers to do this as it often results in improved quality.

Most of the cameras I have used that don’t do a sensor crop for 200/240fps recording tend to do so with a compromise in image quality. Changing the camera to shoot in the VFR (variable frame rate) mode requires you to go into the menu, again this is another function you can’t assign to a USER button. You don’t have to just use the cropped (4/3?) 2K/HD mode for 240 fps/200 fps recording, you can also use it at normal frame rates.

Unfortunately, you can’t use it as a pseudo doubler in the same way you can do a 2K center crop on say a Sony F5. The EVA1 also has a Digital Zoom (1.4x magnification) that can be set to a User Button. This extra reach is handy when you need a little bit more magnification.

It takes about five seconds for the camera to change from using the 5.7K sensor mode to the (4/3?) 2K/HD mode and vice versa. You need to be aware that when you are shooting in the 2.2K 4/3? crop mode that due to reciprocity failure at high frame rates the native ISO of the EVA1 drops to 400/1250. The dynamic range also drops from a claimed 14 stops to 13.

The cropped (4/3?) 2K/HD mode is definitely noisier and you have to be careful when using it. I found that at up to 800 & 1250 ISO it is still reasonably clean, but if you try using it at 2500 ISO for example, there is significant noise and image artifacts. Overall I found the 240fps recording in this crop mode to be ok.

As I said earlier, you just have to be careful not to push the ISO too hard. I also tried out the 4K 60p mode, and despite it only recording in 4:2:0 8-bit, I found the quality to be good. I didn’t get a chance to test out the 120fps/100fps 2K/Full HD non-sensor crop.

Colours

This is where I think the EVA1 excels.

It replicates colours beautifully, and if there is one thing Panasonic do tend to get right, it’s accurate colour rendition. Skin tones look really nice and the camera handles mixed lighting conditions a lot better than some of its competition. In my personal view (feel free to disagree with me in the comments!) the EVA1 has the most accurate colour rendition of any of the sub £10K cameras that are out there.

The colours are very reminiscent of the Varicam LT and you would struggle to tell the two apart. For news, documentary and event shooters who need to turn material around quickly and can’t shoot in a Log profile or grade the image at all, the EVA1 is very good choice. I found that I didn’t have to do anything to the images for them to look pleasing to the eye.

Resolution

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There has been much debate about increased resolutions and whether we actually need them.

The EVA1 uses a native 5.7K sensor as opposed to a native 4K sensor. Due to loss of resolution to Bayer pattern math, 5.7K is needed to deliver proper 4K RGB. It’s the same reason ARRI uses 2.8K to deliver 2K.

The EVA1, in theory, should out-resolve any 4K Native camera, as it can clearly delineate 2000 line pairs while most others max out at about 1600. The camera allows you to change the sensor mode between 5.7K, 2.8K, and 4/3? Crop.

I did a small test to compare what all these resolutions looked like when you put them on a HD timeline. I was interested to see if shooting in 4K or HD, especially when using the 5.7K sensor mode made much of a difference if you plan on delivering in HD. Given the cameras large sensor, I was interested to see if there was a massive difference in perceived resolution between shooting in 4K as opposed to HD if everything is going on a 1080 timeline.

Yes, there are obvious benefits with shooting in 4K or UHD when it comes to reframing etc. but resolution wise I couldn’t see much of a difference. Even a 300% crop of the images didn’t reveal vast differences. The differences were however apparent if you used the 2.8K sensor mode or the 4/3?

Crop mode. Both of these had noticeably less perceived resolution and once you blew up the images 300% you could really tell the difference.

Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS)

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Panasonic has incorporated Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) into the camera body itself. This can be turned on or off and when it is engaged, it compensates for camera shake and blurring of the image.

This is the first time to my knowledge that a proper professional digital cinema camera has featured EIS. There have been plenty of consumer-grade camcorders that have had anti-shake technology built in, but not professional digital cinema cameras. For run and gun and documentary shooters using a camera with built-in image stabilisation makes a lot of sense.

I tried out the EIS and also compared it directly against using the IS system on Canon lenses. Just a word of warning, you can’t use EIS when you have the IS turned on with a Canon lens. The EIS works reasonably well, and although it doesn’t perform as well as using IS on a Canon lens, it certainly makes a big enough difference that you should consider using it when shooting handheld.

While the Canon IS is noticeably better, the benefit of Panasonic’s EIS is that it works with any lens you put on the camera. This makes the system very versatile and allows users of Canon lenses without IS to get reasonable results. Panasonic EVA1

One of the things you need to be mindful of when using the EIS is that it does crop in quite a lot on your image (the crop in is about 13%). This crop allows a smaller box to float around in a 5% larger area of the sensor that is normally seen (the sensor is actually 6K). This gives EIS greater range to smooth out motion, almost 20% of the recorded frame size.

The EIS mode works regardless of whether you are in shooting in HD, 2K, UHD or 4K.

Boot-up time


If you are a documentary, news or event shooter the time it takes for a camera to boot-up is a big deal. There is nothing worse than missing a shot because you are waiting for your camera to fire up. Unlike it’s older sibling the Varicam LT, the EVA1 boots up very quickly.

I timed it as being around four seconds from the time you turn it on till you get an image and can press record.

White balance

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The camera lets you store up to 12 white balance presets that you can recall, which is a handy feature. However, the actual white balance process is a little confusing on the EVA1 and if you are using a white balance preset setting that you have saved, say for example 5600k 0.0CC, and you press the white balance button, all you get is a message saying INVALID. The only way I initially found to white balance the camera is if you go into the menu and set the white balance to AWB Memory, only then will it allow you to do a white balance.

Not only do you have to choose AWB memory, but you then have to press set and get back out of the menu. This system is totally unintuitive and you should be able to white balance regardless of what you have selected.

If you need to white balance in a hurry then it’s not that easy to do. NOTE: I didn’t have any access to a manual at the time of testing and I subsequently have found out that there is another way to do white balancing. According to Panasonic, you can flip the toggle switch to WB.

Now the menu wheel will scroll through any preset WB settings. To change the AWB, scroll to the Auto setting (in the LCD an “A” appears before the WB number). Now you can push the AWB button.

The problem for me is that you still need to put the camera in the AWB position to be able to use the AWB button. I would have preferred to just be able to do a white balance anytime I like without having to worry what position it is set in. As well as saving white balance preset values in the menu you can also dial in your own white balance.

The CC (correlated colour) adjustment is a nice feature to have and it lets you dial in more magenta or green if you need to. In a rather nice touch, Panasonic brings up a small vectorscope when you are in the white balance selection menu so you can see what effect your adjustments have.

Audio

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The camera has two balanced XLR inputs (LINE/MIC/MIC +48V menu switchable) that are located on the back of the camera. The physical audio controls are on the side of the camera in a similar position to where they are located on the DVX200.

If you want to use the camera on a gimbal without a top mic the EVA1 has a built-in stereo microphone. There is also a 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack headphone output as well as a small 20mm diameter speaker. Panasonic EVA1

As I mentioned earlier, physical audio controls on the side of the EVA 1 are limited to just letting you adjust the input levels and for changing the inputs from Auto to Manual. In a strange move, if you want to turn +48 phantom power on, or switch the input from line to mic, you have to do it in the menu, or from the HOME screen. The HOME screen allows you to switch between inputs and Mic or Line levels.

The Toggle switch (located under Iris Wheel) has a center position marked USER. In this position, you can preselect it to control the monitor out (headphone level). So you do have fairly quick access to most controls without menu diving.

Despite these abilities, for a solo operator it’s not ideal. I would have preferred to have physical controls on the camera body itself for making more audio related adjustments. The preamps on the camera seem to do a good job and the audio I recorded was nice and clean.

The onboard stereo microphone actually does a pretty reasonable job if you don’t want to use an external on-camera microphone. Just be aware that if you are using the built-in stereo microphone it sits just above the lens and certain lenses are going to make noise when you are adjusting the iris or using the One Touch Auto Focus.

Dynamic range

The Varicam LT has a claimed 14.5 stops (8 under to 6.5+ over). Panasonic claims that the EVA1 has 14 stops of dynamic range (8 under and 6 over).

From my experience using other cameras, that claim may not be far off. In comparison at 800 ISO the Arri Alexa has 7 stops under and 7.5+ stops over. Dynamic range numbers are very often misunderstood.

The important factor is not how many stops of DR a camera has, but where those stops are allocated. Most cameras such as the Sony FS7, Canon C200, Canon C300 Mark II and Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro allocate more stops under middle grey and not above. I found the camera responded really well to tough, challenging lighting conditions.

I’m not overly concerned by claimed dynamic range numbers, I’m more interested in how the camera handles highlights. To me, the best way to test dynamic range is to see what the camera does in real-world conditions. I shot material in very challenging lighting conditions where a lot of dynamic range was required.

I was very happy with how the camera performed in these conditions. It certainly has significantly more dynamic range than the GH5, and looks to be very close, if not the same, as the Varicam LT.

Highlight Roll-off

Having a lot of dynamic range is all well and good. Personally, the most import thing is how it handles highlight roll off.

In my opinion the EVA1 rolls highlights off in a similar way to the Varicam LT. It deals with bright conditions quite well and the roll-off isn’t too harsh.

Dual native ISO

Panasonic EVA1
The EVA1 has a dual native ISO of 800 and 2500. The way dual native ISO works is that there are two analog circuits right after each pixel before the gain amp, one for each ISO value.

This allows for two “native,” very clean settings. For example, on the Varicam 35 and LT, in one mode there is a native ISO of 800 and when you switch to another setting the camera clicks over to its other native ISO of 5000. This keeps the signal-to-noise ratio the same and allows you to shoot remarkably clean images in low light conditions.

The noise present at 5000 ISO is nearly identical to that at 800. It’s coming directly from the sensor, so it’s not simply a case of boosting the gain and erasing the noise. One of the reasons Panasonic has done this is to allow for high framerate capture in lower ambient lighting.

Is the EVA 1’s 2500 ISO as clean as the 800? I’m not convinced. While it does a pretty good job and it’s impressive technology, I don’t think it’s the same at 2500 as it is at 800.

Again this is my personal opinion from the testing I did.

ISO range

Panasonic EVA1
When the EVA1 is set to its 800 native ISO, the ISO setting can be set anywhere from 200 to 2000ISO. When you are using the camera at its 2500 base you can select anywhere between 1000 to 25600ISO. For those of you who prefer to have your ISO displayed as gain instead, this is also possible.

Panasonic EVA1 While there are no dedicated buttons on the camera to change the ISO, all you need to do is flick the switch that is labeled WB/USER/ISO/GAIN on the side of the camera down to the ISO/GAIN position. Once it is in this position you can use the scroll dial to change your ISO.

Unfortunately, you can’t do this via the handgrip. You do need to remember to move the switch back to the WB position to be able to do a white balance. Panasonic EVA1

Another way to change the ISO is to hit the HOME button on the side of the camera which brings up a lot of the key information about the cameras current operational settings. From there you can press on the ISO value and make changes. If you aren’t using the touch LCD screen then you need to either use the scroll wheel on the camera or handgrip to navigate the HOME screen, or go into MENU- CAMERA SETTINGS, then press EI (Panasonic labels ISO as EI in the menu) and then make an adjustment.

Unfortunately you can’t assign a USER button to adjust the EI (ISO).

Low light performance

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Perhaps I should have had this category up higher in the article as a lot of people were disappointed with the low light performance they saw from the EVA1 launch videos. I did quite a few low light tests recording in both V-LOG and a normal scene profile to see just how much noise there was. For me, the camera’s low light performance was more than acceptable for the levels of ISO I would normally shoot with, but in my personal opinion, I wouldn’t claim that the EVA1 is a low light beast.

I didn’t have any other cameras to compare it to that I would consider its direct competition, but from previous experience, I don’t think it is as good as some of the offerings from Canon and Sony. Despite having the dual native ISO of 800 and 2500, I found that the images were only really usable up to around 5000 ISO, but in saying that, other people may feel differently. It really depends on what you deem is an acceptable amount of noise.

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The camera is only capable of going up to 25,600 ISO, which is quite low when compared to some of the other competition. To be fair though (depending on the type of work you do), if you are shooting at ISO levels of over 5000 then noise is probably the least of your problems!

In saying that there are occasions in news and documentary shooting where you just have to get the shot and it doesn’t matter how much noise there is. Being able to go up to 100,000 ISO is all well and good, but I’m more concerned with how it performs at 3200 ISO and below. Panasonic EVA1

The EVA1 does have Noise Reduction settings, and it does make a bit of a difference to the images, so you should maybe think about using it at higher ISOs. Using third-party noise reduction software also works quite well if you do have to record at those larger ISO numbers.

Auto Iris

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The EVA1 has an Auto Iris function that you can set in the menu to be activated when you press the Iris Dial button on the camera body. This allows a compatible EF lens to function in an automatic iris mode.

Panasonic EVA1 You can make adjustments to the Auto Iris function including whether it works on a center measurement system or a broader picture area. Adjustments to the level can be made if you want to over expose or under expose your image slightly.

Similar to how exposure compensation works in stills cameras. The system works fairly well, but you do have to be careful if you are using it in the center setting and your subject moves to the left or right. If they do do that, the auto iris will start adjusting for whatever the background happens to be.

For run and gun shooting, as long as the light is fairly even, the Auto Iris mode can be very handy to use.

Iris FA (Full Aperture)

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Another feature the camera has is an Iris FA (Full Aperture) mode. You can set this in the menu to an assignable button, or to the push function on the iris dial, and by pressing that button the iris on your lens will open all the way up to its maximum setting. So say for example you were using a Canon 24-70 F2.8 lens[3] and you had the aperture at F8, as soon as you press Iris FA your lens will open up to F2.8.

Panasonic EVA1 This is a handy option to have for run and gun shooters. The ability to go from say outside to inside and just press a button that will very quickly open up your iris all the way is a nice feature.

This function opens up your iris a lot quicker than trying to use the dial on the camera body or the control grip.

The competition

The sub £10,000 US digital cinema camera market is already crowded and the EVA1 faces some very stiff competition from cameras that have already been on the market for quite some time as well as some newcomers. The competition ranges from cameras costing as little as £4,750 US all the way up to £9,999 US. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time or the access to the cameras from the competition to do any direct head-to-head comparisons.

Because of what the EVA1 can do, in my view these are its competitors: Now all of these cameras have their own set of strengths and weaknesses and depending on what your requirements and tastes are, one of them is sure to meet your needs. If I start to list all the pros and cons of all these cameras we will be here all day.

I can’t compare everything, but here are the basics on a handy PDF[4]. Notes: ^ Only in Cinema RAW Light
– Up to 10 stops
+ Electronic Variable ND
~ Up to six stops
*UHD and 4K are only 4:2:0 8-bit at 50 and 59.94p
{ 120p with no sensor crop
} 240p with sensor crop
4KDCI -Refers to internal recording
UHD – Refers to internal recording
At least 4:2:2 10-Bit internal – Refers to the camera’s ability to record at a minimum 4:2:2 10-bit internally
HFR in HD – Highest frame rate possible for internal recording in full HD.
RAW – Whether the camera can record RAW internally or externally.
MEDIA – What media slots are available on the camera
ND – Does the camera have internal ND
DP Autofocus – Does the camera feature Dual Pixel Autofocus
Price – Current prices listed on B&H as of 11 August 2017.

Panasonic EVA1: Final thoughts


In a real-world shooting scenario, I found the EVA1 a real pleasure to use.

The image and colours the camera produces are beautiful. For the most part operational-wise, I found it to be a pretty efficient camera to use. In saying that it’s not without its problems.

Performing a white balance can be confusing, the onboard LCD screen is horrible to use as a monitor, and the autofocus is disappointing. Zacuto Gratical I shot everything using a Zacuto Gratical EVF[5] as I found it was the only way to accurately judge exposure, colour and focus.

In my honest opinion, you really do need a third party EVF or at the bare minimum, a high-bright screen, if you are going to buy this camera. The size and weight of the camera are great, but if you need to shoulder mount you are going to have to spend a fair bit of extra cash on third-party accessories. The battery life is great and you can get long recording times on SD cards.

If I had of had more time with the camera I think I would have felt even more comfortable operating it and using the controls. Panasonic EVA1 If you are looking for a camera with good autofocus performance this isn’t it.

The one push autofocus is average at best, and if you really want to use a camera with good autofocus you are going to have to look at a Canon. In real-world shooting scenarios, I found the low light performance to be good. No, it’s not a low light beast, but then again, how often do you shoot anything above 3200 ISO?

For me personally, this is almost never. Again if you really need a camera that can shoot at 20,000 ISO and still look “ok” then this isn’t the camera for you.

For documentary, news, event, or indie filmmakers the EVA1 is a very good camera. Having shot with most of the Sony, Canon, and Blackmagic cameras I would have to honestly say that I prefer the EVA1. For me the camera’s “look” (whatever you want to classify that as) is appealing.

It is very easy to shoot high-quality images and turn them around quickly without having to make any adjustments. This is key for news, documentary and event shooters who often have to hand off their material straight away and can’t shoot in a Log profile. The camera performs really well in mixed lighting conditions, which is something I found that the sub £10k Sony, Canon and Blackmagic cameras struggle with.

Again this is just my personal opinion and I know some people like the Sony look, some the Canon, and so on and so on. Having shot a lot of major projects on the Varicam LT, I found the EVA1 has a very similar looking image. While I don’t think its identical, it’s pretty close.

Panasonic EVA1 All of the EVA1’s competition are good cameras in their own right, and you can’t really go wrong with any of them. If the onboard RAW recording is what you want then the Canon C200 or Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro are probably the way to go.

If you want great autofocus performance then the C200 or C300 Mark II is what you should be looking at. If you want to be able to record in high frame rates without a sensor crop and need a versatile lens mount then you should look at a Sony FS7. My point is, there is no such thing as the perfect camera, it’s just a case of finding one that works best for you.

It has taken Panasonic seven years to get back into the affordable digital cinema camera market, and I think they have done a good job with the EVA1. It’s not without its flaws, and it’s far from the perfect camera. I do however think Panasonic have struck a good balance with what the EVA1 offers.

If you are in the market for a sub £10k digital cinema camera then the EVA1 is definitely a camera you should be seriously considering. Panasonic EVA1 Thanks to Angenieux[6] and NAC Rental[7] for providing lenses for this review.

I would have liked to have more time with the camera to test everything, but there was only so much I could do in three days. If there is anything I haven’t covered in the article please feel free to ask a question and I’ll do my best to get you an answer. Please be aware that I didn’t have access to a manual at the time of testing and there may be small workarounds that allow certain functions of the camera to be used in different ways.

What are your thoughts about the EVA1 based on what you now know and have seen?

Let us know in the comments section below.

References

  1. ^ Convergent Design (www.abelcine.com)
  2. ^ Atomos (www.abelcine.com)
  3. ^ Canon 24-70 F2.8 lens (www.abelcine.com)
  4. ^ here are the basics on a handy PDF (www.newsshooter.com)
  5. ^ Zacuto Gratical EVF (www.abelcine.com)
  6. ^ Angenieux (www.abelcine.com)
  7. ^ NAC Rental (www.nacinc.jp)

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