Sony, If You’re Listening…

In DPReview’s interview with Kenji Tanaka, VP and senior manager of Sony’s Business Unit 1, Digital Imaging Group, the executive candidly name-drops the now-legendary Blackmagic Pocket 4K (the ultimate expression of Grant Petty’s lifelong quest to bring filmmaking to the masses), which in itself is a bit extraordinary in a setting like this: and a ray of hope for the handful of budding auteurs pining for RAW video in the next Sony full frame mirrorless camera.

Sure, the Pocket’s a stupendous budget cinema camera with dazzling image quality and colors; with a gorgeous menu system second-to-none; and a stunning 5” touch LCD – modestly priced too – that is, if you discount the $2,000 it takes to transform it into a usable camera. But even hardcore BMD lovers would be fibbing if they said they wouldn’t want one or more of the following for Christmas: a weather-resistant magnesium alloy body rather than a cheap plastic body with chintzy feeling buttons that twists when mounting genuine cinema glass (we’re not talking Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake lenses here – those are for novices!); an APS-C or larger sensor (Super35 is the norm for filmmaking, not baby duck sized micro four-thirds); a more friendly form factor; IBIS; longer battery life (three hours, anyone?); a tilting LCD; or how about autofocus continuous?

While none of the preceding appears outrageously controversial to reasonable minds, it goes without saying that so much as uttering any of this would’ve gotten you banned on their forums last year – or at the very least, earned you a tongue-lashing from guard dog John Brawley: but now that owners have had a chance to work with the P4K a bit, their passions have cooled off. Just the same, when someone was foolhardy enough to begin a new topic earlier this year entitled ‘Your Wish List for 2019’ (or something to that effect, I don’t recall and can’t be bothered to fact-check), the thread remained chillingly silent, at least where the Pocket was concerned. Fortunately for the Sony community, it’s not yet forbidden to formulate wish lists – and RAW video is at the top of mine.

The advantages of RAW are widely known: greater flexibility in post and the ability to extract as much as a full extra stop of dynamic range out of the sensor. In the case of the Pocket, that translates into something resembling thirteen eye-searing stops or thereabouts. But as most of us aren’t entering film festivals or witnessing our masterpieces adorning silver screens around the globe, but rather sharing on YouTube (or Vimeo if you’re a bona fide auteur), even in the year 2019 – on the very cusp of the digital cinema revolution! – must we be content seeing our timeless works of art mercilessly butchered on SDR displays? So my second wish for the year is an HDR grading monitor costing less than $30,000.

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