Panasonic PanaTrack is a big bendy motorised camera slider
Panasonic has announced PanaTrack, an interesting and somewhat unique motorised camera slider/dolly track system. It’s essentially a big bendy track along which you can run your camera. How big? Well, the minimum length is 2 metres. The maximum length is 50 metres, with travel speeds of up to 1.4 metres per second. PanaTrack is targeted to events, concerts, corporate, conferences, cinema and TV shows running on a low budget.
PanaTrack appears to have been developed by Panasonic in conjunction with Waterbird Systems. Exactly how much of a role each company played in the device’s development is unknown, but Waterbird has a pretty solid reputation for flexible camera tracks. Panasonic describes it as a “highly flexible camera track system by Waterbird” So, it may be that it’s been developed by Waterbird and is simply being branded and sold by Panasonic.
According to Panasonic, the key features of the PanaTrack include its ease of setup and compact portability. You can see in the video above that the track can be broken down into segments of pretty much any length you desire. This lets you pack it up into whatever space you have available for transport or storage. Its design also allows for customisable shapes. You’re not limited to just a straight line or a simple, single curve. You’re able to bend it into all kinds of curved shapes.
It’s compatible with Panasonic’s RP150 (buy here) rocker, joystick and presets. This means you get full remote control through a familiar device with a large touchscreen display and one-handed joystick operation. It also provides speed (iris) and ramp (focus) control, too. Combining the PanaTrack with a PTZ camera should also offer more movement axes and camera movement options.
As well as the speed of setup, Panasonic also touts the device’s speed of reconfiguration. According to the company’s website, you can switch from linear to curved at any desired radius in just a few seconds. And with lengths from 2 metres up to 50 metres, that provides a lot of possibilities. With maximum speeds of 1.4 metres per second, you’d be able to get from one end of that track to the other in only 35.7 seconds. This creates a lot of opportunities for large events and even tracking moving subjects.
Panasonic says that PanaTrack provides quiet and smooth operation with loads of up to 15kg. This means it should handle some pretty hefty and advanced cameras and rigs, including Panasonic’s own PTZ cameras. It will be interesting to see exactly what people film with this once it starts getting into the hands of real users.
Price and Availability
So far, a price has not yet been announced for the Panasonic PanaTrack system, although Newsshooter reports that it should cost less than €10,000 (~$10,700). There’s no word yet on when it will become available.
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.