Sony BURANO compact CineAlta cinema camera packs a full-frame 8.6K sensor

Sep 12, 2023

John Aldred

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.

Sony BURANO compact CineAlta cinema camera packs a full-frame 8.6K sensor

Sep 12, 2023

John Aldred

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.

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Sony has announced the new Sony Burano (buy here), a compact CineAlta cinema camera designed for solo shooters. It bridges the gap between Sony’s Alpha series cinema series like the FX3 (buy here) and its high-end Venice (buy here) cameras.

The compact, lightweight camera features a fast hybrid AF system with built-in IBIS for smooth, steady, and sharp shots. It also sports a built-in ND filter, and its full-frame 8.6K sensor offers dual-base ISO for 16 stops of dynamic range.

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Sony Burano – 8.6K Full-Frame Magic

The Sony Burano features a full-frame 8.6K CMOS sensor that’s colour-matched with the Sony Venice camera. This means that for those whose needs are a bit higher-end, it should make for an excellent B or C camera to a Venice as your main camera.

It should also help to make the load a little lighter for things like vehicle rigs and gimbals versus the larger Sony Venice camera. Whatever your needs, you should be able to cut it into your Venice footage without worrying about inconsistent colour.

While it can work alongside the Sony Venice in a support role, it seems Sony is primarily marketing the camera as a compact and lightweight camera for solo shooters. Runners and gunners who want a little more than the likes of the FX3 (buy here), FX6 (buy here) or even the FX9 (buy here) can offer.

The Sony Burano has a dual base ISO that provides a massive 16 stops of dynamic range. This gives you a lot of control when shooting high-contrast and backlit scenes to keep detail in both the highlights and the shadows.

It shoots 8K at up to 30 frames per second. This is a little disappointing for what the camera costs. That being said, most people shooting 8K aren’t going to need super high frame rates at 8K unless they’re shooting VR. And if you want high frame rates, it shoots Super35 cropped 4K at up to 120fps – in RAW!

X-OCN LT Raw Video Recording

X-OCN stands for “eXtended tonal range Original Camera Negative”. It’s Sony’s proprietary raw video codec, developed by Sony. The “LT” part means that it’s the “Lite” version of the codec (Like ProRes LT), which attempts to maintain a high level of quality while keeping the file sizes down.

Uncompressed RAW is extremely large, and when you’re dealing with 8K footage, those files add up really quickly. That’s without even mentioning the amount of bandwidth you’d need on your storage devices to be able to edit it in real-time without proxies – and you may still need proxies depending on your setup.

So, compression is required to make the footage more manageable. I expect that with this camera sitting in Sony’s CineAlta line of cameras, it probably won’t be an issue for the vast majority of customers who’d choose to buy one.

X-OCN LT is designed to capture the full tonal range of a scene, preserving both highlight and shadow details. This lets it make the most of those 16 stops of dynamic range from the sensor’s dual ISO capability.

Lens Flexibility: E-Mount and PL-Mount

The Sony Burano features an interchangeable lens mount allowing you to attach either Arri PL mount or Sony E mount lenses. This provides you with a wide range of lens options, including those from Arri or Sony, and a wealth of lenses from third-party manufacturers.

Most cinema cameras on the market that feature interchangeable mounts tend to favour either PL or Canon EF, but as this is a Sony camera, you’ll have to adapt your EF lenses to Sony E if you want to use them with the Burano.

Fast Hybrid Autofocus

Sony has included its hybrid AF system in the Sony Burano, which utilises both contrast and phase detection autofocus systems. This lets the camera quickly lock onto a subject using phase detection and fine-tunes it using contrast AF.

It also features Sony’s Eye AF capabilities, although it’s currently limited to humans only. So, if you’re planning to film sports and wildlife and want to rely on the camera’s autofocus system, you might have to wait for a future firmware update.

Sony hasn’t promised that the Burano will get the full Eye AF capabilities of its smaller Alpha series FX and mirrorless cameras, but I think it’s logical to assume it may receive them at some point. Don’t assume that in your purchasing decision, though.

If you need it, wait until the camera does it. Because this is an expensive investment if it turns out that Sony never adds animal Eye AF or vehicle AF tracking to the camera.

Variable ND: A Solo Operator’s Best Friend

Neutral density (ND) filters are a lot more common for video shooters than they are for photographers. Your framerate often limits your shutter speed, and you must reduce the amount of light entering your lens.

This is where ND filters come into play. These days, a lot of people use a matte box with industry-standard 4×5.65″ filters or a screw-on variable ND, if the lens supports screw-on filters.

The Sony Burano, however, features a built-in electronic variable ND filter that offers up to 7 stops of light-stopping control. So, no external filters are required. No missed shots because you were fiddling about in your bag, looking for just the right one.

Overall, this camera’s a bit of a beast, designed for serious shooters, whether you’re solo or not. It has a magnesium alloy body, providing it with a lot of durability. It’s weather-sealed, letting you shoot in all kinds of conditions, which is great if you’re out shooting solo.

Price and Availability

The Sony Burano 8K Cinema Camera is available to pre-order now for $25,000.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

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.

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