With High Definition becoming more common, the introduction of new and sophisticated equipment to cater for this format has increased dramatically. None more so perhaps than the

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Phantom 4k digital camera
HD camera and specifically the specialised units designed to compete with, or better, the image quality available from a 35mm film camera.

Two names come immediately to mind: the RED ONE camera, described as the Lamborghini of cameras, and The Phantom HD CMOS colour digital high speed video camera, manufactured by Vision Research, Inc. in the United States.

In this article we will focus on the Phantom camera and we quote from Vision Research's Rick Robinson.

"Vision Research has been around for a long time, through its parent company. The company sold its last film camera in 2002  the children of the parent company did fundamental research into digital imaging as they had grown up in the analogue domain. They brought the first digital camera to the market in early 2000 and it's been an explosion since then.

"The Phantom is great for digital cinema as well as high speed. Although first and foremost it is a high speed device, if you have to have the high speed camera on set, the director will say " well can we use it to shoot 24p? - and the answer is yes, we can use the camera at normal frame rates."

Robinson says it may still be wise to have a Phantom technician on set with the camera, as it is radical new technology but it's getting easier every day.

"Remember it's not a video camera, it's a digital cinema camera. You put a 35mm or zoom lens on it and you shoot. It has an electronic view finder and can be used hand held or whatever. There are very few electronics on the camera in fact one knob and two buttons. Also remember that the higher the frame rate, the more stops it goes down just like a film camera.

You get a dynamic range very similar to film and the way you work with it on set is very much like shooting on film. You can do tests to see how it reacts. The magazine pops right on top of the camera. It's the size of a Betacam tape and holds over two hours of material when shooting 1920 X 1080.  The Phantom weighs around 5,5kg, the size of a 16mm camera, but it takes 35mm lenses  "it's comfortable and easy to use."

Robinson explains that you can download the material from the camera and you can get software to use to load it right into Final Cut, so you are using it like any other material. The original files are un-compressed RAW so it is the equivalent of negative.

"The right way to think of this camera is a digital still camera that can shoot lots of very high quality images one after the other. It can shoot 1,000 frames per second.   Most people in the production world are shooting either 1080 or 720. At 1080 you can do a little over 1,000 frames in HD and at 720 you can do 1,500 frames per second.