The broadcast camera market is very high on innovation, technology upgradation, and creativity. However, demand is not keeping pace with the enthusiasm of the vendors.

With increased resolution, cameras continue to become more powerful, albeit more compact. The latest cameras are now producing 4K and UHD images, yet the studios are getting smaller. And even though studios are getting smaller, the production value is increasing.

Digital broadcast cameras are the professional cameras that in order to capture high-quality motion pictures have special lenses of different focal lengths and high-density sensors. They may be segmented as ENG cameras, cinema cameras, EFP cameras, and studio cameras. Each of them has a different application. For instance, EFP (electronic field production) cameras are preferred by production houses for recording short films, live shows, and sporting events, as these cameras are equipped with supportive gears and the person handling the camera has time to set up the entire unit.

ENG cameras are used by news broadcasters, as these cameras have a minimal setup time. Studio cameras are used by broadcasters in a controlled lighting setup. The content shot here can be either broadcasted live or transmitted to a recording center for distribution at a later time.

The total digital broadcast camera market is in a mature phase. This, as well as global economic recession has stifled growth for most vendors in the market. Also prices have rapidly fallen. These trends have disrupted the market. Sustaining product development while growing business and securing profits is tough for individual vendors.

Industry Speak
New Capture Technology Addresses Changing Broadcast Needs

Today's broadcasters and production professionals demand integrated camera solutions that enable them to deliver the higher-quality programming viewers have come to expect. That means capturing in 4K/UHD as needed, but with uncompromised performance in HD and 3G for most of what is produced today.

In fact, image acquisition for live broadcast applications faces many challenges. The increase in spatial resolution for 4K/UHD, in combination with additional requirements of the UHD standards, such as an increase in temporal resolution, higher dynamic range, and the need to achieve all of this with good sensitivity and signal-to-noise ratio, requires some compromises and design decisions.

Some of these new requirements, especially the increased resolution, have a negative impact on other important image parameters, such as the sensitivity, noise performance, and dynamic range. Multiple flexible solutions can address these challenges, including native format switching.

But image acquisition with a higher pixel count on any given imager size leads to smaller pixels. Smaller pixels deliver lower sensitivity with a linear relation between the pixel size and sensitivity. This means if the same technology is used for 4K imagers with 4X smaller pixels than a 2K imager, they will have 4X lower sensitivity.

No technology available today offers native 4K imaging delivering the same performance level in terms of sensitivity as do the best HD cameras on the market. In addition, native 4K acquisition with 2/3-inch imagers does not offer the global shutter operation that is required in many of the more demanding applications.

The LDX 86N Series, from Grass Valley, a Belden Brand, is the ideal choice for those who need the highest possible resolution in all acquisition formats combined with flexibility, affordability, and proven performance. With the unique DPM functionality, the cameras allow switching the pixel size between native 4K and native HD pixels to deliver native HD, 3G, and 4K images for the highest-possible resolution and image clarity in any format supported.

Not all applications will require native 4K resolution and for those applications, the LDX 86 series offers an integrated alternate solution for 4K acquisition deriving the 4K images from a bi-cubic interpolating process of the RGB images from native HD imagers. Together the LDX 86N and LDX 86 families of cameras deliver the best results possible and are designed to help customers easily grow into the formats they will need in the future with daily, weekly, or perpetual GV-eLicense upgrades for each model.

Klaus Weber
Senior Product Marketing Manager, Cameras,
Grass Valley

Replacements are likely to be driven by features supporting convenience, such as triax and wireless support, but there is no must-have requirement among customers to consider total inventory overhaul.

Content creators across the region are shifting toward 4K cameras in order to capture 4K video. This is being supported by sales of 4K UHD television that has gained momentum due to rising disposable income in the region. This would ultimately impact product pipeline, but mass adoption and application of this technology will take at least a decade to materialize. CTOs are acquiring shows on 4K. They want 4K because the longevity of the archives is greater, and higher
the resolution a show is captured in. Episodic production has already shifted. For distribution, it is already happening on Netflix. It will be the first time the broadcasters will be last, rather than first, with a major new technology. It is still in the early days, though.

Broadcasters have begun to experiment with 360, VR. It is still early days for sure, but some broadcasters are beginning to stream over-the-top virtual reality and 360-degree coverage of news and sports to viewers equipped with VR headsets or touch screens like smartphones and tablets. The goal is twofold – immerse viewers in an experience in a way that is simply not possible with conventional television and get a jump on the next wave in consumer viewing.

3-D, on the other hand, lies in a dormant state. Though a considerable number of 3-D TV sets are entering consumer homes, there has been little advancement in product development in this direction and
few broadcasters are willing to invest in the technology.

The end-user base has widened, encompassing thousands of professionals, unlike in the past where the market comprised an elitist community. Channels have multiplied in every country, and there are avenues beyond television that allow one to distribute content in a simple manner. This has opened up opportunities for some vendors while restraining growth for the others.

Indian Market

The Indian broadcast camera market in 2015-16 heaved a sigh of relief. Doordarshan placed orders for its requirement of 2015-16 and also finalized the pending 2014-15 tenders. The industry was awarded orders for 59 crore in the current fiscal. Apart from camcorders and studio camera chains, this included camera support systems and zoom lenses.

The Indian buyer is spoilt for choice. World-class products are available at competitive prices. The popular brands for broadcast cameras are Sony, represented by Sun Broadcast, Telerad, and the importers Pooja Electronics and Expandore; Grass Valley, Hitachi and Panasonic by Visual Technologies India Pvt. Limited; Ikegami by AGIV India, JVC by Mhatre, and Blackmagic Design. The lens market, estimated at 250 units for non-government buyers in 2015-16, is almost equally divided between Canon, represented by AGIV India and Fujinon represented by Conquest, Visual Technologies, Advanced Telemedia, and Telerad.

The tripods market for private channels and studios estimated at 475 units in 2015-16 is catered to by Cartoni, marketed by Hytech; Manfrotto, marketed by Royal Broadcast; Sachtler and Vinten marketed by Shashi Enterprises and Perlink; Sachtler also marketed by Sun Broadcast; and Libec marketed by Visual Technologies.

Some of the large buyers in 2015-16 included Zoom Communications, Real Impact, and Prime Focus, Eenadu, Zee TV, ABP, Network 18, and Aaj Tak.

Broadcasters are always looking for more creativity and innovation to make the difference. They need to upgrade to a solution supporting next-generation technology such as 4K, high dynamic range (HDR) and high frame rate (HFR) shooting. They also need to use a single camera platform that will enable to enhance the efficiency of their operations, increasing the synergies between subsidiaries. In the meantime, from a technological point of view, the market is changing quickly.

Doordarshan Procurement-Cameras

The challenge is to select one solution, offering on one hand the high-quality images and the innovative features requested by the market; and, on the other, bringing additional operational efficiency with a reliable, scalable, and future-proof solution. The brand that delivers on this, and also promises with increasingly innovative solutions ahead, will be the preferred brand.