Sharp 8K Micro Four Thirds Camera – Prototype First Look and Footage

April 7th, 2019

During the be beginning of the year, Sharp Corporation came up with a surprising, small handheld Micro Four Thirds 8K camera – but back then we had very few details about it. Now, just before NAB 2019 is about to begin, we had the opportunity to talk to Kaino-san from Sharp, who was kind enough to answer our questions and also let us have a short spin with it.

PLEASE NOTE: The camera is currently at a very early stage of development and the footage it creates is in NO WAY final! For now, this new Micro 4/3 sensor camera can record 8K/30p in H264, Long GOP, 8Bit 4:2:0, 200Mbps wrapped in an mp4 container to an internal SD card. More details below.

Sharp 8K camera

Patiently, we were waiting for the opportunity to  talk to Kaino-san and find out more about the new Sharp 8K camera. During the above interview, Kaino-san was very clear about the status of development of this video centric new camera. The Sharp engineering team is working hard to bring it to the market, but there is still A LOT to do, before the camera officially sees the day of light. In fact, the unit I got to shoot with was the first to be handed to anyone, and although in an early development stage, Sharp allowed me to shoot with it. In return, Sharp is asking for our (the filming community) support by letting them know what we really want and need in order to make it a useful tool for creative work. But, first things first, let’s see what it has already, and what might be missing.

Sharp 8K Micro Four Thirds camera – Current specifications (Subject to change as development continues)

Sharp chose to use THEIR OWN 33 Mega Pixels Micro Four Thirds sensor and have built the camera around it. As we might imagine, focusing can be crucial when filming in 8K, so in Sharp’s mind(s), this sensor size provides an ideal balance between usability (user experience) and sensor performance (they are perfectly aware that by using such sensor size, Dynamic Range, lowlight performance and picture noise in general might be compromised). Yet, the decision was to go ahead and aim for greater usability. (By The Way, Sharp has just officially joined the Micro Four Thirds system standard group, next to Olympus and Panasonic).

Watch some footage below we’ve shot here in Las Vegas with this Sharp 8K micro four thirds camera (Mind you, this video is heavily processed and compressed by YouTube – That’s why we uploaded three unaltered clips straight from the camera to a different location which you can download here plus you can download the original 8K version of the video).

The camera I shot with was locked on 8K/30p 200Mbps, but Sharp is planning to allow Full HD recording, 2K, 4K (up to 60p) and 8K/30, all in H264 and H265, Long GOP, 8 Bit, 4:2:0, 200Mbps wrapped in a mp4 container. Future HDR recording will be in 10Bit as this is part of the HDR standard). Sharp is considering replacing the existing mini 2.1 HDMI connector with a full-size one. Clean 8K output is guaranteed, so also the connection to Sharp’s own TV sets will be seamless. How this output file will look like is still being discussed at Sharp. The 5.5 inch Full HD touch screen is bright, but not very responsive (YET) on this un-finished camera (in fact, the actual camera menu is not yet ready and camera power management is not really implemented). Speaking of which, the new up coming Sharp camera will use Canon’s LP-E6 batteries. If you are into gimbal work, please note that there is no internal body stabilization system, but fast continuous Auto Focus is expected to make it to the final camera . The current body I was shooting with had a single tap autofocus, only.

Sharp 8K Camera connectivity

Sharp 8K Micro Four Thirds Camera – Connectivity and Button Layout

We already mentioned the full 2.1 HDMI connector. On top, it will enjoy a USB type 3 interface, headphone jack, 3.5 audio input, and a single mini XLR connector for better, more professional audio connectivity. When it comes to camera control buttons, the layout is simple: On/Off button, RECORD button, 3 Fn buttons (Controlling ISO, Shutter speed and White Balance), AEL and DISPLAY buttons, and a cold shoe for attaching some accessories, like a small light or a microphone. That’s it. I’m curious to see how the actual camera menu will look like and if it can help with its operation. (Peaking and Zebra among other features will be welcomed)

Who is this camera for?

As it is hard NOT to compare this camera to Blackmagic’s Pocket Cinema Camera 4k, of course I was curious to find out who Sharp are actually targeting, as I don’t really know so many productions that are requesting 8K delivery – or filmmakers who are suggesting 8K master to their clients. Kaino-san was clear that at this stage of development, Sharp is not really targeting the filmmaking community and this camera might be useful within Sharp’s 8K ecosystem. On top, 8K productions are slowly but surely expected to gain momentum towards 2020, when the Olympic games will take place in Japan, so when that happens, Sharp will have a camera to offer for small and medium sized production houses. According to Sharp, another way of benefiting from such a high-resolution sensor is when pairing that camera with a drone.

Sharp 8K – Pre Production screen layout

What is currently missing

Sharp will equip the camera with REC709 and BT.2020 picture profiles. Log Gamma picture profile is currently only being considered and its implementation is greatly dependent on audience request! (A small hint, the comment section is just below and Sharp will be watching…)

Another missing option is the ability to record any sort of (Compressed) RAW. Hopefully, by hearing our community, Sharp will consider to adopt ProRes RAW or the Blackmagic equivalent.

Sharp 8K – Buttons layout

Pricing and availability

A bit of a painful point here… Sharp is aiming to offer their 8K camera for somewhere between US$3.000 to US$5.000. In my opinion, it is a bit too much to ask. 8K might not be the selling point Sharp is hoping it to be, as consumers are NOT after resolution only (we are still learning to master 4K…) So, humble words of advice for Sharp – get to know your customers, see what the competition is offering, give as much as you can with this first camera of yours and sell it for a reasonable, fair price if you want people to get it. In terms of availability, there is no definite time yet, though Sharp is targeting the release within 2019. I can witness first-hand that it will still take a while until that new 8K camera is ready for prime time.

Sharp 8K camera

This is a grab from our original Sharp 8K footage (downscaled to HD)

Sharp 8K camera

And this is a 400% crop into the above grab (again, downscaled to HD). Note the amount of detail!

Picture quality

As this is NOT one of my camera reviews, I will not touch the subject of picture quality, since it is not a final product yet. Most of the clips in the above video were shot in between ISO 200 to 450, and White balance was factory locked on Auto. (The camera can go all the way to ISO 10,ooo but Sharp is still looking for that picture quality/lower picture noise”sweet spot”).  If you are looking for a lowlight monster or even just a good lowlight performer, look elsewhere (at this stage, it is a daylight or well-lit-places camera, only).  The B-roll images in my interview were all scaled down to HD (to match the rest of the interview with Kaino-san).

Would you buy a camera just because it offers 8K resolution? Let us know in the comment section below what Sharp should offer on top of resolution. 

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 Christopher O'Toole
Christopher O'Toole
Member
December 13th, 2019

Does this record in 4k as well? If so, at what frame rates?

Conor
Guest
October 15th, 2019

It’s a smart move to build the ecosystem for the Japanese consumer market. The flip out screen will be compelling for vloggers as well, and the form factor and ample audio inputs could make it great for wedding photography. Aggressive pricing and a few critical cinematography features could be a great way to undercut Sony and some of the other players right now who seem to be taking baby steps for video in this form factor. I’d love to see a log HDR profile; sufficient manual controls for white balance, etc.; highest possible data rate on SD cards; and maybe even cinema DNG to an external drive.

 Ronald Evans
Ronald Evans
Member
August 29th, 2019

I use my GH5’s UHD for acquisition but always edit in HD and also SD for DVD. This 8K camera would give me even more capability to crop and pan which would be my only interest. Look forward to it coming out. It would be used always on a tripod fixed so no need for stabilization or even continuous autofocus as it would be set and left to record the full scene wide.

I always shoot UHD 60P HLG with my GH5’s ( to Atomos Ninja V ) so would like that too with this 8K camera. 30P internal HLG is OK but external 10 bit 60P would be what I would like.

Jerry
Jerry
Guest
July 21st, 2019

Is this camera going to be video-centric similar to BMD’s Pocket Cinema Camera 4K? Or, will it have level of controls for photography as well? With BMD’s PCC4, it pretty much has only a single button functioning as a shutter for snapshots. No other controls. Thanks.

 Say Effect
Say Effect
Member
May 4th, 2019

in our line of work (ie corporate/event videos, and videos streaming to tv displays) there is hardly need of such a large resolution, because unless there are two huge tvs side by side a common user is unable to distinguish between UHD and 4K.

Member
April 11th, 2019

Most people don’t know wtf a K is. At this point, it’s pure marketing.

Mher
Guest
April 11th, 2019

My offered specification for this camera and for any new 8K camera
8K – 24-25-30-50-60 fps
6K – up to 100-120 fps
4K – up to 200-300 fps
3K – up to 400 fps
2K – up to 600 fps
—————-
10, 12, 14 and 16 bit color depth
———————–
FULL Frame and medium format, or 65-70mm sensor
———————————————–
up to 1 mln ISO
—————————
price range 5000-7000-10.000$ USD

Renny Hurst
Renny Hurst
Guest
April 11th, 2019

8K?, WHY? Im good with 4K thank you.

Boris Treffert
Guest
April 10th, 2019

Most stupid invention ever. As soon as the camera is moving, paring or someone is moving ion wont of the camera you won’t see a difference between HD and 8K. And 8K on a MFT size sensor means tiny photocells which weans not very low light sensitive. How stupid can one be to buy such a camera?

Member
April 10th, 2019

Useless.

Narek Avetisyan
Narek Avetisyan
Member
April 9th, 2019

Really appreciate Sharp not being afraid and showing off their early prototype camera.

I would like to recommend a list of features in oder of priority for this camera. And hopefully Sharp will consider implementing it.

#1 Global Shutter
#2 Implement the Blackmagic RAW format for 12Bit RAW internal Recording.
#3 Use the Sony NP-FZ100 Battery
#4 Dual ISO mode like the Pocket 4K, for working in low light conditions
#5 Higher than 13 Stop Dynamic Range
#6 300 fps at least in 1080p
#7 External recording via USB-C

I choose to go for the optimistic spec wishlist ;)
And please do keep that awesome flip screen!

Gearie
Gearie
Guest
April 9th, 2019

1. Speak with Atomos and Apple about Prores Raw output up to 60fps.

2. Battery Grip because that small battery is not going to cut it.

3. 5 axis sensor stabilization

4. 4K 120fps

5. 8K at 24 and 30fps

6. 4K up to 60fps

 Mike Yeung
Mike Yeung
Member
April 8th, 2019

Form my point of view as a videophotographer, resloution isn’t the king, 8K in current market has no advantages, therefore I hope the camera has more features such as

1) video recording spec
-10bit recording in 4K 60p and Full HD 60p
-240fps unlimited or higher rate with limited buffer

2) Storage option
– Just like BMPCC4k can connect SSD from Type-c

3) Cinema camera feature
– Waveform
– false color
– Log gamma
– WB value on liveview
– All customable buttons
– Wireless monitor and control apps
– crop mode for supporting B4 mount lens

 Chivas Mc
Chivas Mc
Member
April 8th, 2019

If they could get it at 3k with 10bit raw or 3500 with in body stabilization plus all.the above…???

 Chivas Mc
Chivas Mc
Member
April 8th, 2019

Came back.to say a couple of built in color profiles like eterna and the likes for people who didn’t want to grade would be great. Being able to use singma lenses would go a long way.

 Chivas Mc
Chivas Mc
Member
April 8th, 2019

Autofocus should be #2 then 8k h.265 pro res raw and Black magics raw codec. Gimbals are cheap enough these days but 5 axis stable would be great if it was included. This shouldn’t be aimed at filmakers. YouTubers and documentaries is the market. They will blow this camera up. So called “filmakers” online these days always cry about resolution and bokeh. And not having g enough dynamic range. And complain about “nobody needs 8k”. So this is clearly not for them. People that want to.shoot city life, nature documentaries, sports stuff and general YouTubers, would eat this up. People making films can stick with the pocket cinema cam or Fuji tx-3. Or rent a Red or Arri ??‍♂️

William Koehler
Member
April 8th, 2019
Reply to  Chivas Mc

1. ProRes RAW: Have you really thought through the required data rate and that you either can’t buy media that fast or how expensive it would be? It certainly isn’t happening with the SDXC cards they talked about being in this camera.
2. ProRes: The same.
3. BlackMagic RAW: More of the same. And the likelihood of Sharp including a recently created proprietary codec from another manufacturer is zero.

Your best hope is someone coming out with an external recorder equipped with RAIDED SSDs to handle the data rate & volume. Are you really ready for that + the backup requirements?

Jeff Jones
Jeff Jones
Guest
April 11th, 2019

I haven’t thought it through. What would those rates need to be?

 Jared Ba
Jared Ba
Member
April 8th, 2019

1) Love that flip-out screen! 2) Must have log and prores raw 3) Strange that 4/3s was picked for focus since AF has always been the Achilles Heel of every 4/3s camera in the world 4) Can’t imagine any well-off video enthusiast (presumably the target customer) buying this camera without internal stabilization. If you buy a camera for it’s ease of use you aren’t going to want to be locked down to a tripod or deal with the cumbersome and maddening to set up gimbals. Hand held vacation footage, home movies, short films, etc. are just going to look too shaky.

PS Did I mention must have LOG and ProRes?

Markus Stark
Markus Stark
Guest
April 8th, 2019

I just uploaded footage from your Sample clips (http://nino.macbay.de/cinema5D/Sharp8K_Vegas_Raw_footage.zip) on YT zoomed in to show the original IQ. I assume, this is o.K. Unfortunatly the 2nd clip is not in Focus.
I can not understand, how you can upload 8K Sample footage to YT at 10 Mbit only.

Markus Stark
Markus Stark
Guest
April 8th, 2019
Reply to  Markus Stark

I will delete my video on YT, I did this vid spontaniously, after I realized the terrible compression of the vid by cinema5d. But I was in a hurry, had no time to work it out. It is not worth making a new version, spending more time, because original footage is not satisfactory (too short clips, not in focus …) Anyway, the original footage looks not bad, considering, it is just in development.

 Mthelisi Dlamini
Member
April 8th, 2019

I’m so excited after the review of the prototype. But I think on the price range they are a bit overboard. They should consider their closest competition which is the BMPCC 4k that has already secured a market. They shouldn’t sit mostly on the fact that it’s 8k, most countries are still on HD, so they would rather buy a 4k camera at a lower price than 8k which they don’t necessarily need. Another thing, please please please consider cinematography needs. It’s a promising product. Let it come out with a standard lens. There’s nothing more boring than buying a camera that you can only use after another hussle to buy a lens.

Craig
Craig
Guest
April 8th, 2019

It only a matter of time before others start showing/releasing their 8k examples.. While that sounds exciting, I can’t see much of a market for such resolution unless it is accompanied by a reasonable codec/recording spec, colour science, and respectable dynamic range. Sharp would do well to take a leaf out of Nikons book. Load an acceptable package in camera but concentrate on allowing as high as absolutely possible readout to external recorder. Like Nikon they have no higher spec camera to protect, Atomos are you in?

John Smith
John Smith
Guest
April 8th, 2019
Reply to  Craig

I read on the news shooter article that right now a proxy workflow is required to work with the HEVC files. I’m betting they go the route you described above with external recorders but then…that sort of defeats the purpose of the giant flip screen. It seems like a camera that doesn’t know what it is or who it’s for yet.

Gearie
Gearie
Guest
April 9th, 2019
Reply to  John Smith

I’m leaning towards green screen work. The GH5 was an awesome image to key when lit correctly. MFT does deliver a deeper depth of field for sure and at 8k every hair follicle should be apparent.

 Mthelisi Dlamini
Member
April 8th, 2019
Reply to  Craig

Replied by mistake. There’s no delete option

John Smith
John Smith
Guest
April 8th, 2019

No thanks. Low end feature set (8k is nice but what is the noise going to be like?!) with a prosumer pricing. It’s a new sensor development to boot. I’ll let others beta test this thing for me.

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