Among the many new or improved digital cinematography cameras showcased at the NABShow 2010 in Las Vegas, I have to bring your attention to the Aaton Penelope Delta, a 35mm film camera and a RAW uncompressed  DPX/compressed DNxHD digital cinematography camera all rolled into one camera body. (The only camera in the motion picture industry switchable from Super35mm/2-3 perfs to DPX recording digiback in less than half an hour).
The camera was announced earlier this year by veteran camera maker and Aaton's founder Jean Beuviala at the AFC Micro Salon 2010 in Paris and since then I was waiting to see the camera up close and personal and I have to say that Aaton has done it again (Aaton die-hards agreed with me).

Aaton has created with the Penelope Delta, the first digital cinematography  camera with the best ergonomic design for hand held operation to date. In the past, I have chose to work with Aaton cameras, from the original LTR/Origin C  to the 35III, due in part to the same reason, ergonomics and much more, such as overall easiness of operation, specially for an one-man-band documentary camera crew. 

With more of 40 years of groundbreaking camera making, since the implementation of coaxial magazines in the Eclair NPR and ACL, Beuviala and his team have combined the best features of an already superb 35mm film camera to develop a top of the line digital cinematography camera without sacrificing the sleek original design, Aaton cameras are known for. It is not a boxy awkward looking camera with hard edges, and it new digital untethered features are rather imperceptible to the untrained eye. 
 The slide-in lightweight (360 gr) 2.5" SSD Aaton DeltaPack®  (compressed dailies -on SD cards- are simultaneously recorded) and electronic innards are housed in the "digital coaxial magazine" and it is capable to  ingest uncompressed RAW DPX files of 4K+(plus) at up to 800MB/sec.(actual resolution of the image is not yet disclosed).  The DNxHD format  (10 bit hi rez)compressed dailies are a work-flow time saver, ready for edit, just import the files to your Avid or Premiere CS4 (with Adobe Media Encoder) system.

In the gate of the body of the camera sits the Aaton specific, Dalsa® CCD sensor with 13 stops dynamic range. One interesting feature is the that the 800 ISO basic sensitivity can be reduced to 100 ISO to virtually eliminate the use of ND filters (obscuring picture in the viewfinder)  with close to 100% pixel-fill allowing for lenses with short exit-pupil distance, complemented with the original large and bright optical viewfinder from the Penelope camera.

Other features are, 4second boot time from zero power to REC-ready with three to six hour autonomy from 2 on-board  Li-Ion batteries. Main selector accessible from both Operator’s and Assistant’s side for simple access to digiback commands, without sub-menus. The Assistant’s side screen displays essential shooting parameters: timecode, ISO, battery voltage, fps and remaining ‘footage’ (also visible on Operator’s side). 19dBA noise level in REC and PAUSE thanks to low power electronics and low speed air flow through large vents. HD422 (with view outside frame), and power socket for on-board HDSDI monitors. 19dBA noise level in REC and PAUSE thanks to low power electronics and low speed air flow through large vents located in the "coaxial digital magazine". Two outputs: HD422 (1.5GHz), HD444 (3GHz). One input: sync for 3D twins.
It is an Aaton switchable 2/3 perf. 35mm Penelope
or an Aaton Delta? The new design and digital features are
so integrated into the camera body that are almost imperceptible
to see from this angle.Answer: It is a 35mm Penelope

In conclusion and a at first look, the Aaton Penelope Delta gives the impression to be as good as the French gastronomic cuisine... C'est Magnifique!. But let's wait for the development and follow through of all its features into the production model to market to test it in a real environment and to compete with the existent HD digital cinematography cameras out there.  

The camera will be available next summer at a competitive industry price. For more info, visit Aaton or Abel CineTech. Also, learn more by watching  Mitch Gross from Abel Cine Tech giving you the run down at NABShow 2010 of the Aaton Penelope Delta in our VOD video window. Click in our playlist and choose Penelope Delta.
 by George Leon


bunkofurko said...

This is a real-life Arri Alexa Blue beater. The specs on the Aaton are far superior anything Arri can throw at it. Question will be the final price of the Penelope w. the digital Delta option here in the US. CCD sensors and traditional shutter -- thank you very much, Aaton. No more jello-skew rolling shutter crap a la CMOS. Gotcha there, CMOS + rolling shutter Alexa.

Re. the price of €125K for the whole nine yards, Arri and Sony and Panavision are going to be left behind in the dust, big time. 2010 will be a watershed year for AATON -- the year knock Arri out of first place. I even liked the old Eclairs, and loved Aaton from their very first S16 camera. The Penelope Delta is a magnificient concept. But why the long wait until June 2011?

Anonymous said...

Pénélope est une caméra française et il n'est même pas possible d'en trouver une vidéo de démo en Français...

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