Understanding the Sony VENICE 2

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Understanding the Sony VENICE 2

The Sony VENICE 2 Cinema Camera has made waves in the global cinematography community with its exhaustive features, incredible specs, and impressive imaging capabilities. Borrowing many elements from the original VENICE, the VENICE 2 is a compact, pragmatic, and supercharged package. We are going to take a closer look at the VENICE 2, highlighting its many uses and how it can revolutionize one's workflow from pre- to post-production.

Sony VENICE 2
Sony VENICE 2

Resolution Capabilities

Sony improved upon the original VENICE's 6K 24.8MP sensor with an 8.6K 50-Megapixel sensor exclusively designed for the VENICE 2. This new sensor comes with a bevy of features, two of which are its expansive full-frame and Super 35 recording formats. This affords filmmakers the ability to select from a variety of high resolutions and crop ratios in-body, six of which are full-frame, five of which are Super 35.

Full-Frame

Super 35

8.6K 3:2 (29.97 max fps) 5.8k 6:5 (47.95 max fps)
8.6k 17:9 (47.95 max fps) 5.8k 4:3 (59.94 max fps)
8.2k 17:9 (59.94 max fps) 5.8k 17:9 (90 max fps)
8.2k 2.39:1 (72 max fps) 5.5k 2.39:1 (120 max fps)
8.1k 16:9 (48 max fps) 5.4k 16:9 (90 max fps)
7.6k 16:9 (59.94 max fps)  

Having such large resolution grants filmmakers access to a wide variety of aspect ratios, which in turn enables them to avoid making compromises on their creative imaging requirements. It is also handy in post-production, where they can crop and reframe shots without sacrificing image quality.

Of course, this feature has its downside. Enormous quantities of visual information can easily lead to exceedingly large file sizes, especially when paired with something like 16-bit imagery. However, if you can compress such high-resolution files successfully, this is a great tool to employ.

X-OCN Recording

Professional filmmakers are likely no strangers to Sony's powerful and flexible codec, X-OCN. Designed to yield files with RAW-level quality at a fraction of the size, this codec enables users to take full advantage of their camera's capabilities without the massive space requirements.

Whereas the VENICE 1 could only record X-OCN files with Sony's AXS-R7 external recorder, the VENICE 2 can record directly onto a memory card, internally. This enables the VENICE 2 to retain its compact form factor and makes handheld work significantly more convenient. Without the burden of an external recorder, filmmakers can take the VENICE 2 into cramped environments to capture 16-bit footage. This technological feat has enormous implications for future productions working in confined spaces.

To implement internal X-OCN recording into the VENICE 2 successfully, Sony developed the AXS S66 memory card alongside the camera. This card boasts a guaranteed 6.6 Gbps write speed that can easily handle the VENICE 2's 8.6K X-OCN XT files, and is an absolute must have for users of this system. It even features backward compatibility and can be used in a variety of Sony's external recorders, such as the AXS-R7, AXS-R5, and AXS-R3, among others. 

Sony AXS S66
Sony AXS S66

ProRes Recording

The VENICE 2 is also capable of recording ProRes internally, giving users the option to switch between a range of featured aspect ratios, including ProRes 4444 XQ, ProRes 4444, ProRes 422HQ, and ProRes 422. It should be noted that the ProRes recording functions are locked in a resolution of 4K and will not provide a higher resolution, such as 8.6K.

Dynamic Range

For filmmakers, shooting a scene with diverse lighting can be tricky. The VENICE was able to remedy this with its extensive 15+ stops of dynamic range, but the VENICE 2 eclipses this with 16 full stops. Because of this, users can shoot in the extremes of exposure without worrying about blown-out highlights, noisy shadows, or having to sacrifice the exposure values of one part of the image over another.

Low-Light Performance

Dynamic range will only go so far to address variable lighting conditions, especially low light. The VENICE 2's powerful 8.6K sensor's dual base ISO allows the camera to capture a dark environment without sacrificing image quality. Whereas the VENICE 1's original 6K 24.8MP sensor had a dual base of 500 and 2500, the VENICE 2's bases are 800 and 3200―which is quite impressive for the 50MP sensor. Sony has been able to address this shortcoming with the 8.6K sensor by engineering it with a higher Dual Base ISO compared to its 6K predecessor, despite sharing the same color science.

Internal Neutral Density Filtering

Nailing exposure on the VENICE 2 is an absolute breeze with its addition of a series of servo-controlled neutral density filters. This is an eight-step mechanism that allows you to alternate from 1 to 8 stops of ND. Unlike the electronic internal variable ND systems that are found in Sony's FX9 and FX6, the ND system in the VENICE 2 is a fully mechanical system with hard stops that you can see.

Sony chose to implement a non-variable system to ensure good quality, with filters that are designed and rated for a certain stop of light.

Users can switch between stops of ND with the VENICE 2's intuitive display. This is also where one can access controls such as frame rate, exposure index, white balance, look, and shutter angle.

Lens Diversity

As many filmmakers know, investing in a camera system also means committing to specific lens mounts and formats. For cinematographers who prefer to have several lenses in rotation, the VENICE 2 might be an appealing option because of its modularity.

The VENICE 2 comes equipped with the industry-standard PL mount, allowing users to make use of lenses from manufacturers like ZEISS and Cooke, among others. If you were inclined, you could take Cooke’s 75mm Anamorphic/i 1.8x lens to introduce unique aberrations, oval bokeh, and heavy hitting flares that would leave anamorphic lovers swooning. Or implement the 18mm ZEISS Supreme Prime to enjoy a rich and creamy bokeh while maximizing the camera sensors light intake.This mount can be removed to reveal a locking E-mount, affording users the ability to take advantage of the entire E-mount library securely and easily.

Lens options expand again with Super 35 shooting. However, to make full use of S35 lenses, users will need to choose among the many high-quality S35 crop modes available on the VENICE 2. With a vast catalogue of lenses to choose from, filmmakers can enjoy more flexible shooting with minimal effort and time consumption.

Full Modularity

Sony went beyond just lenses to guarantee modularity and customizability. The VENICE 2 notably features the ability to interchange sensors, namely between the camera's own 8.6K 50MP sensor and its predecessor's 6K 24.8MP sensor.

You may be asking, why would you want to switch to the 6K sensor if you already have the 8.6K sensor? The reasoning behind this choice essentially boils down to frame rate. Because the 6K sensor requires less processing power, it can capture in frame rates up to 120 fps. By contrast, the 8.6K sensor tops out at 90 fps. So, for those shoots that require that extra slow-mo oomph that was featured in the original VENICE, filmmakers can have it all while maintaining the upgrades of the VENICE 2.


The process of swapping the sensors is not as complicated as it sounds; you simply remove six screws that keep the sensor block in place, exchange sensors, and replace the screws. You will have a whole new sensor faster than you can say, "Where's my lens cap?"

Mounting Points

For those who are keen on customizability and are looking to accessorize, the VENICE 2 has plenty of mounting points to satisfy all your jury-rigging needs. There are eight 1/4"-20 and ten 3/8"-16 screw holes spread across the camera body, meaning a total of 18 different possible mounting points for your gear, not including the two 1/4"-20 and four 3/8"-16 tripod plate attachment holes.

If you're not planning on using a tripod, you have up to 24 different possible mounting points on the camera. Sure, it might not be the prettiest, but you can totally mount an accessory beneath the camera. Just be careful when you are setting it down.

The Rialto 2

Fans of the VENICE camera will recall the Rialto extension system for improving the camera's mobility. For the VENICE 2, Sony designed the Rialto 2, which connects to the camera via either a 9.8-foot or 39-foot tether.

Sony Rialto 2
Sony Rialto 2

This accessory enables users to size-down the VENICE 2 with no degradation in image quality. With it, filmmakers can enjoy improved maneuverability and creative freedom in one's composition. It also makes setting up for cranes, jibs, car rigs, and gimbals much easier.

The Rialto 2 has received two notable upgrades over its predecessor. It now features a gyro sensor that transmits gyroscopic metadata such as tilt and roll from the camera's SDI output. It also features four assignable buttons over the original Rialto's two. Those keen on using this nifty accessory might consider Tilta's specialized Cage & Backpack System to distribute the weight across your back comfortably.

Tilta Cage & Backpack System for Sony VENICE Rialto Extension
Tilta Cage & Backpack System for Sony VENICE Rialto Extension

Viewfinder

For those shooters who prefer to operate with a viewfinder, Sony offers the DVF-EL200 Full HD OLED Viewfinder. It has a brightness of 200 cd/m2, an adjustable diopter ring for varying eye strengths, dust and splash resistance, and a rotary encoder that allows you to access settings such as brightness, contrast, and peaking.

Sony DVF-EL200 Full HD OLED Viewfinder
Sony DVF-EL200 Full HD OLED Viewfinder

Inputs/Outputs

As a filmmaker, you can never have too many inputs or outputs. The VENICE 2 boasts four BNC SDI outputs, two of which will provide a 4K feed while the other two will provide a FHD feed. This allows users to output to four different recorders with a variety of file formats simultaneously.

There is also an additional fifth BNC SDI that is solely dedicated to providing an HD monitor out signal. This signal can carry your LUT, CDL, or ART signals to improve your monitoring experience. ART, which is Sony's proprietary file, is designed to utilize the VENICE 2's internal processing capabilities to ensure the highest quality of on-set monitoring and imaging.

With a cinema camera of this caliber it's no surprise to see Genlock and Timecode functionality featured. For synchronization between the VENICE 2 and other video/audio recording devices, a BNC Genlock port can be found on the back of the camera. Sitting snugly underneath is a timecode-in BNC, ensuring that precise timecode is written into your files. Appropriately placed below the timecode-in is an auxiliary output, which essentially acts as a timecode-out.

The 12-pin LENS connector toward the front of the camera allows for some nifty functionality over your lens's basic parameters over network. For instance, with any network-connected computer, smartphone, or tablet, you can control your iris, focus, and zoom controls via this port.

On the camera you can find three different power outputs, allowing you to connect and power accessories of your choosing, such as external monitors, recording devices, and more. There is one 12V LEMO 2-pin output on the back of the camera, and two 24V Fischer 3-pin outputs, one of which resides on the back of the camera right above the 12V LEMO out, and one that resides on the front of the camera right above the 12-pin LENS connector.

The RJ45 Lan connector on the back of the VENICE 2 allows for remote control of the camera. Unlike the original VENICE, this connector now also has the added functionality of allowing users to import LUTs, CDLs, and ART files directly into the camera via ethernet. In the original VENICE, this was only possible via SD card.

An 8-pin Remote connection allows you to connect a remote-control unit directly to the camera. The 12V/24V DC power input connects an external power supply directly to the VENICE 2. The VENICE 2 also now features the addition of an internal microphone, which is perfect for capturing scratch audio, increasing efficiency in the realm of post-production.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that the VENICE 2 has been engineered to satisfy the needs of filmmakers in the most demanding of production environments. With its exceptional imaging capabilities, thoughtful ergonomics and modularity, and seemingly endless list of professional video features, cinematographers now have a powerful tool to bring their artistic visions to fruition.

For specs and more detailed information, click through to the product pages via the above hyperlinks. Post questions or comments in the dedicated section just below.

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