Weisscam HS-2 initial impressions


Weisscam HS-2 initial impressions

I was just trained on this thing and I've got to say, it's pretty amazing. The first point that comes to mind is that I learned the entire camera and accessory operation as well as the workflow in a single morning session. It's an incredibly intuitive system unlike another very popular High Speed Camera. As of now there are really only two practical high framerate video cameras available so you can't discuss the Weisscam without drawing comparisons to the Phantom. Being a trained Phantom operator who works with the camera often, I will readily admit that the system isn't without its problems. It produces amazingly rich images though and once you wrap your head around it and are aware of the shortcomings, it's actually fairly simple to operate. The point of this post is not to compare the Weisscam to the Phantom tit for tat though, I just want to share with you my first impressions. Newly available to the east coast through Tamberelli Digital, Weisscam HS-2 powered by P+S Technik.

It's big. It's boxy. It's ugly. It also makes some very pretty pictures and in 1080p can shoot 2000 frames per second which is already twice as fast as the Phantom HD. It's also incredibly light sensitive. The camera has 2 workflows, HD video and RAW. I'll get more into that in a moment but the exposure index rating for HD Mode is 400 ASA. In RAW it's 600 ASA. I was shocked we were able to do table top work at 2000 fps using only 2 - 2k watt HMI's and at a stop of T5.6. Absolutely incredible technology.

Here's the Specs from their site. My revisions are in quotes.

• 1.500 fps in 2K (RAW)

• 2.000 fps in 1080p

• 4.000 fps in 720p (not available yet)

• Super 35mm format

• Single CMOS sensor

• Interchangeable lens mount

• 12 bit RAW uncompressed

• 10 bit YCbCr 4:2:2 & RGB 4:4:4 (not available yet)

• Output: HD SDI single, dual link & Gig E (camera interface)

• 600 ASA sensitivity (400 ASA for SDI workflow)

• 10 F-stops dynamic range (more like 8)

• 16GB / 32GB onboard memory

The camera is designed to output it's captured frames in 2 ways - HD-SDI and RAW. The HD workflow is very well tested and seems to be the preferred method for dealing with Weisscam footage. Basically you record to the camera's on-board 32GB buffer, you then very quickly and easily mark your in's and out's on the wireless touch screen hand set, you can then use the same hand set to paint a  look on the video or tweak the blacks, gamma, etc.

Once your ready to capture, via HD-SDI you play the corrected video out in real time to a 10 bit 422 recorder like Sony SRW-1 HDCAM SR Deck or Panasonic AJ HPM-100 P2 Deck where it's recorded on the fly. This is a very straightforward and rock solid way of dealing with the footage. The only real downside is that you're baking the video and everyone on set has to be patient while the frames are recorded in real time. If you have a good eye and know how to read your scopes, you can record a very robust image using this method and because it's 10 bit 422, you have plenty of latitude in post production. Tamberelli sends their Weisscam out with the Panasonic 110 P2 deck (with the AVC-I board) and have recommended this workflow if you don't have the intention of shooting RAW. The RAW workflow involves the Weisscam DM-2 DigiMag.

Just like the Video Workflow, the first portion of the capture process is identical. You record the event and then trim the clip, instead of playing the frames out of HD-SDI you play them out to the DigiMag via the RAW Link connections (BNC) where the RAW 422 12 bit picture data is recorded in real time with Standard RAW Mode or twice as fast in Fast RAW Mode. The DigiMag is really not like the CineMag on the Phantom HD at all which transfers huge amounts of data in a few seconds. Whatever workflow you decide on for the Weisscam, there is a bit of downtime involved in between takes. Also the DigiMag takes a very long time to download its 2 TB of data over USB. It's an overnight process. Not a quite yet a practical workflow for rigorous production in my opinion. 

First impressions were very positive and as I work with the camera more, I'll be sharing my thoughts here as always so please check back for updates.

Everyone have a great weekend!