Atlanta’s Sharaf Photography Adds Two Panasonic VariCam 35 4K Cameras

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Fri, 01/30/2015 - 12:00 -- Nick Dager

John SharafCinematographer John Sharaf, principal of Atlanta digital production facility John Sharaf Photography, has purchased two Panasonic VariCam 35 4K camera/recorders that are immediately available to the region’s burgeoning production community.

Sharaf is a veteran cameraman who has specialized in documentary and news production throughout a lengthy career. He has been behind the camera on two Academy Award-winning documentary shorts (Gravity is My Enemy, Number Our Days), and his reception of the Edward R. Murrow Brotherhood Award for Outstanding Broadcast Feature (CBS News-60 Minutes).

Sharaf will host a VariCam 35 open house/workshop on Saturday, January 31, 1-5 p.m. at his West Midtown, Atlanta studio; RSVP [email protected].

The VariCam 35 is equipped with a super 35mm format full-size, single-chip MOS sensor that offers 4K (4096 x 2160) and UHD (3480 x 2160) resolution, and boasts high sensitivity, low noise, wide dynamic range and cinematic depth of field. The camera offers a choice of codecs and has 14+ stops of dynamic range to provide full control over the widest lighting conditions. With native ISOs of 800 and 5000, DPs can realize incredible image quality in extremely low light situations.

Sharaf terms the native 5000 ISO a “new paradigm that sets a high bar for any other manufacturer.”

“The Dual Native ISO sensor means that at both 800 and 5000 ISO there is no gain applied, and the noise level is within 1DB between the two native sensitivities.” he said. “This opens up all kinds of possibilities for shooting in low light and available light situations, and even when lighting in practical locations and at night, being able to use very tiny amounts of artificial light to balance foregrounds to available light in the backgrounds. This is a game changer for cinematography, and elevates even further the practical and creative advantages of digital cinema vs. film. It likely will be very liberating for cinematographers once they get over the initial shock of the camera ‘seeing’ better in the dark than their own eyes.”

Sharaf anticipates that the VariCam 35 will gain traction in Atlanta during the city’s upcoming spring pilot season. “Episodic TV moves very quickly, and with the 800/5000 ISOs, we’re talking about fewer and smaller lights, and potentially smaller crews, all stretching production dollars,” he said.

“The low light capability is also crucial for documentary production,” Sharaf added, who said he will shoot his own next documentary project with the VariCam 35.  “Even at 800 ISO, you still have to light a scene, which is disruptive. At 5000 ISO, you can sneak in, with minimal or no lighting, and capture events without influencing them.”

“Another valuable feature is dual recording of both a master recorder (with two expressP2 slots) and a sub-master recorder (with two microP2 cards), which allows simultaneous recordings of a 4K/UHD or 2K/HD master in V-Log (Panasonic's new log curve that that maps the 14+ stops of image data to the recorded file) and a 2K or HD high-quality sub-master plus a proxy with a LUT or CDL burned in.  The sub-master recorder also records at project speed with audio when the master recoding is doing variable frame rate (up to 120FPS),” Sharaf said. “Any color (Log or LUT) and/or any of the available codecs can be routed to either recorder and also to the outboard recorder and monitor outputs (selectively); very flexible.”

For more about John Sharaf Photography, visit