A rigged Venice 2 camera system with a 150mm Zeiss Supreme Prime attached. Click to enlarge.

Sony has unveiled the Venice 2, its newest flagship cinema camera capable of recording 8.6K full-frame video with up to 16 stops of dynamic range.

The new Venice 2 cinema camera features a similar design to its predecessor, but comes in a slightly more compact form factor and is available with two different sensor blocks: a new full-frame 8.6K (8640 x 5760 pixel) 50MP 3:2 sensor or the original 6K 24.8MP Venice sensor.

Illustration showing the different shooting modes available on the 6K and 8.6K sensors.

Sony says the new 8K sensor can capture up to 16 stops of dynamic range (the 6K model tops out at 15 stops) and includes the same color science found in the original Venice camera. Also inherited from its predecessor is the dual base ISO (although it’s now 800/3200, compared to the 500/2500 on the original Venice) and its ability to support various resolutions and crop ratios, including full-frame 4K anamorphic, 4K Super35 and more.

DPReview has contacted Sony to confirm whether or not the 24.8MP and 50MP sensors inside the 6K and 8.6K sensor modules are the same used in the company’s a9 II and a1 camera systems, respectively. Sony doesn’t divulge this information in any of its materials, but the specifications a very closely related for the 6K sensor (compared to the Sony a9 II) and identical for the 8.6K sensor (compared to the a1).

Click to enlarge.

If you want to change the image sensor inside the Venice 2, you can do so thanks to the interchangeable sensor block, which makes it possible to swap the 6K sensor, which is capable of higher frame-rates, with the new 8.6K sensor using only a few tools. Sony says no firmware updates or re-installs are required, meaning as soon as the new sensor is attached, you’re ready to get shooting.

Click to enlarge.

Sony says it’s added a collection of ‘user-influenced’ upgrades, including the more compact design and internal recording options for X-OCN, Apple 4K ProRes 4444 and Apple 4K ProRes 422 HQ. Below are the maximum recording modes when shooting with the 8.6K version of the Venice 2 (you can see the full list of capture modes on Sony’s website):

  • 8.6K | 3:2 | 30FPS | Full Frame
  • 8.2K | 17:9 | 60FPS | Full Frame
  • 5.8K | 6.5 Anamorphic | 48FPS | Super35
  • 5.8K | 17:9 | 90FPS | Super35

The Venice 2 uses Sony’s new AXS memory cards, which can transfer data at up to 6.6Gbps—more than enough for 8K/60p recording. Sony says existing AXS memory card readers will will work with the updated memory cards. Sony says the Venice 2 uses the same interface as the original Venice, but includes a number of improvements for more intuitive operation. Other features include 4K output with LUT applied, improved 3D LUT processing, LUT/ASC-CDL control over Ethernet and Wi-Fi, the addition of a Lemo 2pin 12V output connector, an internal microphone and more.

The Venice 2 camera with the new 8.6K sensor is set to ship in February 2022, while the 6K version is set to ship in March 2022. The cameras will be available with PL and Sony E lens mount options.a No pricing information has been made available at this time. Sony says the Venice 2 6K will work with all of the existing Venice Extension System accessories and says a next-generation Extension System for the 8K Venice 2 ‘is planned to be released by early 2023.’

You can find out more information about the Sony Venice 2 cinema camera on Sony’s dedicated product page.

Sony Unveils Flagship VENICE 2 Digital Cinema Camera

LOS ANGELES, CA – November 15,2021 – Today, Sony Electronics Inc. introduces the VENICE 2, the new flagship model and latest addition to its lineup of high-end digital cinema cameras. The VENICE 2 builds upon the strength of the original VENICE with new features including a compact design, internal recording and the option for two different sensors: the newly developed full-frame 8.6K sensor or the original 6K VENICE sensor.  The VENICE 2 also inherits popular features from the original VENICE including color science, Dual Base ISO and 8-stops of built-in ND filters.

New Sensor Translates into Extraordinary Image Quality and Incredible Low-light Sensitivity

Paired with a newly-developed 8.6 K (8640 x 5760) full-frame CMOS image sensor, the VENICE 2 offers excellent image quality with 16 stops of total latitude[i] to capture beautiful images with excellent color separation and shadow detail. The camera also inherits its color science from the original VENICE which is highly regarded for its natural skin tones. The VENICE 2 8K CineAlta camera has a unique dual base ISO of 800/3200 which allows filmmakers to capture incredibly clean, film-like images under a wide range of lighting conditions. It supports everything from full-frame, full-frame anamorphic[ii] to Super35 all at a minimum of 4K resolution, resulting in an outstanding and versatile camera system for cinematographers and productions.

To illustrate the strength of the VENICE 2 and its new 8.6K sensor, Sony worked with the industry’s top cinematographers to test the camera’s image quality on a few separate film shoots without using any professional movie lighting.  

Award-winning cinematographer Robert McLachlan ASC, CSC, who has worked on highly acclaimedproductions including Game of Thrones (for which he received two Emmy nominations), Westworld, and Lovecraft Country. McLachlan tested and filmed with the new 8.6K full-frame VENICE 2 in two countries and offered his reaction. 

“I really wish we’d had a large format, 8.6K sensor like Sony VENICE 2 on my past work. It would have made it feel even more epic and, at the same time, more engaging, thanks to the increased resolution, richness, and dimensionality. The increased speed, cleaner highlights, and shadows together with the potential for super-shallow depth of field would have been a huge asset.” 

Academy Award winning cinematographer[iii] Claudio Miranda ASC, ACC used the original VENICE and tested the VENICE 2 against the original in the pitch darkness of the California desert. He offered this assessment:   

“The 3200 ASA is incredible. I think how clean it is – is definitely a big deal,” said Miranda. “In the film, there is still fidelity in the shadows, and the wide shots are pretty spectacular. There were no film lights on this shoot at all. There were just headlights of the car, the fire, and that was the point. It was to go to the middle of nowhere and put a big fire and see how far the new sensor could light up the mountain, without noise.” 

Rob Hardy, BSC, ASC, the British cinematographer known for his ground-breaking work on Mission Impossible: Fallout, Ex-Machina and DEVS and winner of the BAFTA for cinematography for Boy A, amongst others also commented:

“I’m used to using the original VENICE and I would say, I am a pretty much an advocate of that camera. The opportunity to use VENICE 2 is actually a really fantastic one. This is the first time I’ve ever used that larger sensor, the 8.6K and we were lucky enough to get some anamorphic lenses that really set for the full cinematic effect and really utilized the whole sensor. The ISOs have been bumped up so that enables me to shoot at a higher speed in the low light levels which is something that wasn’t really an option before, and that’s the big gain for me.”

With the 8.6K sensor providing ample oversampling, images shot on VENICE 2 will benefit from less noise and enriched information in a 2K or 4K production. It also means the camera is well suited for VR, in camera VFX and Virtual Production setups, delivering an immersive experience and realistic images especially in combination with Sony’s high-contrast and large-scale Crystal LED displays.

The Success of the Original VENICE

Since its launch in 2017, VENICE has been used to shoot more than 300 theatrical, broadcast, cable, and streaming releases, including the Emmy award-winning series “The Crown”. Regular firmware and hardware updates to meet the latest creative needs have been key to the wide adoption of VENICE.  

“We are so pleased to have seen the success of the original VENICE over the last four years. Based on our conversations with cinematographers and production companies around the world, we recognized an opportunity to improve by leveraging many of our latest imaging and sensor technologies. By doing so, we are taking the VENICE image quality to a new level. We also made the camera smaller and are offering internal recording to enable more creative freedom: whether that means using the camera on drones, Steadicams, aerial gimbals- or underwater housings,” said Neal Manowitz, President and COO, Sony Electronics Inc. 

User-influenced Upgrades

The VENICE 2 maintains many of the features which made the original VENICE a success including Dual Base ISO, 8-stops of built-in ND filters, compatibility with a wide range of lenses, including all PL mount and Sony’s native E-mount which enables adapters for a multitude of lenses.

Thanks to direct feedback from the production community, the VENICE 2 was designed with a smaller and more lightweight body than the original VENICE while keeping its intuitive operability. Despite being 44 mm smaller and approximately 10% lighter[iv], the VENICE 2 chassis allows internal recording of X-OCN and Apple 4K ProRes 4444 and 422 HQ without the AXS-R7 recorder, offering advanced usability in a compact and lightweight body. 

User-selectable capture resolution of the 8.6K image sensor allow shooting in various modes including:

  • 8.6K | 3:2 | 30FPS | Full Frame
  • 8.2K | 17:9 | 60FPS | Full Frame
  • 5.8K | 6.5 Anamorphic | 48FPS | Super35
  • 5.8K | 17:9 | 90FPS | Super35

Interchangeable Sensor Design

For even more flexibility on-site, the VENICE 2 chassis adds the unique feature to interchange the image sensor block. The camera can be used with the 8.6K sensor as well as the original 6K sensor block. [v] The camera body automatically recognizes the change and will start-up without any firmware exchanges or re-installs, adding more flexibility on-site. The original 6K sensor will allow higher frame rates.

Enhanced Usability with Internal Recording and Smaller Size

Small and lightweight but solidly built, the VENICE 2 body leverages new high-speed 6.6 Gbps AXS card AXS-A1TS66 for 8K 60p recording. Existing AXS Memory Card Readers including AXS-AR3 via Thunderbolt™3[vi] interface are compatible with the new media.

Additionally, the VENICE 2 user interface is the same as the original VENICE but incorporates improvements to make it easier and even more intuitive to use. The camera offers an evolved product design while being compatible with almost all original VENICE accessories.   

Other updates to the VENICE 2, based on the feedback from current VENICE users to enhance usability, include:

4K output with LUT applied Improved 3D LUT processing to improve picture quality  EI changes directly applied to S-Log3 outputs LUT/ASC-CDL control via Ethernet/Wi-Fi  Zoom to Fit (Full-Frame recording with 17:9/16:9 monitoring) operation  Ethernet connector position changed to Camera Assistant side  Lemo 2pin 12V output connector  Internal microphone installed  Availability

The VENICE 2 camera with 8.6K image sensor is scheduled to start shipping in February 2022 and VENICE 2 camera with 6K image sensor in March 2022. 

In addition, the VENICE 2 6K can be used with the existing VENICE Extension System and a next-generation Extension System for VENICE 2 8K is planned to be released by early 2023. 

Exclusive stories and exciting new content shot with the new VENICE 2 and Sony’s other imaging products can be found at www.sonycine.com, a site created to educate and inspire all fans and customers of Sony’s Cinema Line.

NOTES

[i] 15+ stops for 6K model

[ii] Need optional license for full-frame and anamorphic shooting.

[iii] 2012 Academy Award for Best Cinematography “Life of Pi”

[iv] Compared with VENICE using with AXS-R7 external recorder

[v] The 8.6K image sensor block of VENICE 2 cannot be attached to VENICE.

[vi] Thunderbolt and the Thunderbolt logo are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and/or other countries.

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