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Dual Native ISO Camera Technology for Cinematic Low-Light Video Production

what is varicam dual native iso 5000 2500 dual native iso panasonic eva1 cinema camera feature

Don't be Afraid of the Dark

Capture scenes lit with a single candle or just practical lights without any loss of dynamic range, resolution or color by using Panasonic Dual Native ISO technology.

What is Dual Native ISO?

Dual-Native ISO technology is a unique way of exploiting a camera’s sensor information to extend its dynamic range, and reduce the level of signal noise that is produced. The sensor will therefore be able to read two native ISOs on the sensor instead of one.

A diagram showing what is Dual Native ISO technology found in Panasonic varicam and eva1 cinema cameras

Cinema VariCam: Dual Native ISO Camera Technology

800 / 5000 Dual Native ISO

Dual Native ISO is a unique technology from Panasonic that can be found in the cameras that are part of the cinema camera lineup. The sensor of the VariCam camera has two native ISO settings, 800 & 5000. This means that, simply put, you can take advantage of having two film stocks in a single camera. This allows you to shoot ISO 800 for normal lighting situations, or to gain almost 3 stops with ISO 5000 to capture magic hour or candle-lit scenes; all without any loss of dynamic range, resolution, or color.

Any predispositions you have that correlate using a high ISO to shoot video in low-light situations and the noisy footage that may come as a result of that need to be checked at the door. Dual Native ISO technology makes noisy low-light footage a thing of the past.

In order to enable noise-free low-light video shooting, Panasonic cinema camera engineers implemented two dedicated analog circuits on each pixel of the VariCam sensor. Each of these circuits on each pixel of the sensor is essentially an individual native ISO before gain processing. This allows the camera to achieve a much higher sensitivity without the increased noise. Normally, noise is introduced in the gain process of rating ISO in digital cameras. 

When shooting with the Panasonic cinema cameras that feature Dual Native ISO technology, you can now save time and money with fewer lights and much faster set-ups.

Cinematic Low-Light Camera

Utilizing the game-changing native 5000 ISO, it's not just about shooting cinematic footage in the dark. There are other benefits that can help streamline video productions, whether they are happening on an organized video set, in a broadcast studio, for a low-budget indie film, or even on a run and gun documentary shoot where anything is possible. Dual Native ISO technology creates new opportunities for the video production crew to save time, cut budget spend and to bring their actual creative vision to the screen.

Here are just a few of the key benefits of shooting with native 5000 ISO: 

  • Capture with very low available light with rich colorimetry
  • Get depth-of-field even in dark situations
  • Eliminate large amounts of additional lighting
  • Decrease time needed to change lighting for slow motion
  • Extend magic hour shooting and save shoots that are running behind schedule



frank prinzi, asc with varicam 35 with dual native iso for best cinematic low-light video camera footage

Frank Prinzi, ASC

"One word to describe the Panasonic VariCam is WOW! This is the camera we've all been waiting for. There is no lighting situation it can't handle. It has two ISO's to choose from, ISO 800 and an incredible looking ISO 5000 (and all the ISO's in between). It has a real filmic look with all the textures, and dynamic range of the best film stocks available.

The VariCam is the most versatile camera out there. It fits so beautifully with all the new lighting technology and styles of today's shooting. My film "It's a Mess" could not have been shot nearly as well with the budget, crew and equipment that I had available without use of the VariCam. The film was shot using night exteriors exclusively, relying on existing light and small lighting gear. The icing on the cake is the impeccable service and attention Panasonic provides. I just love this camera!”

dado valentic on varicam HDR color grading high dynamic range footage with high ISO dual native ISO

Dado Valentic, Colorist & Color Scientist

“The sensor of the VariCam is very clean. There is very little noise even on a very high ISO setting, which is really important for HDR. Noise is one of the most challenging things in HDR, it becomes very visible quickly because of the increased dynamic range and increased brightness. On another note, this camera is so modern and advanced in terms of the color management implementation in camera. We can load look-up tables and CDLs in camera and it will create all necessary metadata. All of that work can be performed wirelessly. It just works exactly the way you would want it to work.”

William wages ASC talks about the panasonic varicam camera and dual native iso

William Wages, ASC

“The ability to use so much less light changes everything. I’ve always liked the VariCam color science – I think it looks the most like film but the 5000 ISO is absolutely staggering. It has changed my approach to how I light, and has cut my overall lighting package by about 2/3. Working with these latest generation VariCam suits my style of going for a natural look, not a ‘movie’ feel. I never have to worry about lighting for exposure. I can light for effect.”