Phantom Flex4K

What are the main differences between the Phantom Flex and Flex4K?
The most obvious difference is the pixel resolution: The original Phantom Flex (aka Flex 2K), has a 2.5K sensor and the Flex4K has a full 4K sensor. There are many other differences, which we have tried to capture here:

Recording media

The Flex (2K) uses the CineMag or CineMag II non-volatile magazines. These are available in 144, 256 and 512GB sizes, and mount to the top of the camera using a pogo-pin array (also referred to as the magmate' board).

The Flex4K uses a new CineMag design, called the Phantom CineMag IV. The CineMag IV is available in 1TB and 2TB memory sizes. They mount in the side camera enclosure of the Flex4K, and are not compatible with the earlier cameras.

In both cases, Raw Cine files are transferred from RAM (or recorded directly) at speeds over 800 Mpx/second. The Flex4K will also support compressed recording to the CineMag IV in early 2014.

Image properties

The Flex (2K) has a maximum resolution of 2560 x 1600 on a super 35mm CMOS sensor. The pixel size is 10 microns. The Flex4K is also super-35mm but with a full resolution of 4096 x 2304 and with 6.75 micron pixels.

The dynamic range is higher, and the overall noise level of the Flex4K is significantly lower than the Flex (2K).

The base sensitivity of the Flex4K is ISO 250T, and the exposure index can extend the image up to over 1000 (ISO equivalent) without significant loss of image quality. The Flex (2K) has a base sensitivity of ISO 1000T, but we don't recommend pushing the exposure index on that camera in order to maintain the optimum image quality.

Another difference is that the Flex4K has a progressive scan shutter (with less than 1ms scan time), and the Flex (2K) has a global shutter.

Regarding color processing, the Flex4K operates from the newer Phantom protocol, which lets you set the white balance in degrees Kelvin as opposed to RGB gains like previous Phantom cameras. Powerful image processing controls like tone curves and color matrix are also possible with the Flex4K.

On-camera controls

The Flex (2K) has basic controls on the left side of the camera. The camera needs to be connected to a viewfinder or monitor to see the menu and settings change.

The Flex4K has similar controls on the left side, but on the right side there is a new full menu system that lets you control every setup and control parameter of the camera, including user settable buttons that let you adjust your favorite settings quickly. This full menu is displayed on a built-in LCD menu.

Power & battery control

The Flex (2K) has two 24-volt power inputs. One can be used as the main AC power (220 watt power supply), and the other can be connected to a stand battery to use as a battery backup. OR, power the camera with a stand battery (like the Anton Bauer VCLX series)

The Flex4K has one 24-volt power input, and the option for one built-in battery back to accommodate either 24v Hawk Woods batteries or 2x 12V Anton Bauer batteries. More info about the battery types and specs are coming soon.

Video features

The Flex (2K) has two 1.5G HD-SDI outputs and one component video signal, and they all output an identical scaled 1080p or 720p output. The two outputs can work together to provide a 4:4:4 1080p signal.

Each of the Flex4K's 4x main HDSDI outputs can switch between 3G and 1.5G, and two of them can be used together for a dual-link 4K signal. The camera can be set to continuously monitor the live feed where 2 of the outputs play back what was captured to camera RAM or the CineMag IV. Also, the Monitor/VF and Record outputs can be independently switched between Rec709 and 2x pre-defined Log modes.

Tell me more about the Phantom viewfinder.
The new viewfinder offered by Vision Research has a full HD OLED screen. The viewfinder is manufactured by Astrodesign, however the version that we sell is custom to Phantom cameras as it incorporates the ancillary data from the camera to switch on and off various display features, like production areas, zoom controls, and text overlays. The viewfinder connects with HDSDI and is powered from the camera. The viewfinder comes with the cables needed and also includes a mounting bracket for the Flex4K.
What formats are saved on the Phantom CineMag IV? Does the camera do any compression?
At the time of introduction and first shipments the Flex4K will only save Cine Raw files to the Phantom CineMag IV. Vision Research has announced plans to offer the option for in-camera compression into the Phantom CineMag IV. This will be available early 2014.
How do you get the files off the CineMag IV?
Files in the CineMag IV can be downloaded through the Flex4K camera body or (more likely) through the Phantom CineStation IV. The camera has 1Gb Ethernet only, where the CineStation IV offers both 1Gb Ethernet and 10Gb Ethernet connections.

The files can be downloaded using windows-based Phantom PCC software or with Mac-based Glue Tools Séance software. One license of Séance comes with the camera purchase, and is otherwise available for sale at

Will the original CineMag or CineMag II Work with the Phantom Flex4K?
No. The Flex4K has a completely new CineMag interface and will be compatible exclusively with the CineMag IV. It mounts in the side enclosure of the camera as opposed to the earlier CineMags, which mounts on top with a pogo-pin connection.
There are a lot of video outputs and options. How do the different video modes work?
The camera has three main 3G HD-SDI outputs at the back, one additional 3G HD-SDI output and one component video output at the front for viewfinders, and one 3G HD-SDI return. The camera supports:

  • 4:2:2 1.5G 1080p/psf at 23.9, 24, 25, 29.9 Hz; 720p at 50, 59.9 Hz
  • 4:2:2 3G 1080p 50 and 59.9 Hz
  • 4:4:4 3G 1080p/psf at 23.9, 24, 25, 29.9 Hz; 720p at 50, 59.9 Hz
  • Dual-link 4:4:4 3G 2160p 23.9, 24, 25 and 29.9 signals

The three main outputs are separated as 1x monitor (MON) output, and 2x recording (REC) outputs. The 2x REC outputs can be configured as individual 1080p outputs or used together to provide a dual-link 4K video output. All outputs must be on the same video system, and the 4K/2160p signal is determined by the settings of the other outputs / and vice versa.

The Component and HD-SDI viewfinder outputs (VF) at the front always work together, and provide the same image, with the same overlays, zoom modes, etc. The MON output can also mirror the VF output - this should be a common setup.

Versatile HD-SDI: The VF outputs and MON output can be set to always show a live signal, where the REC outputs are a clean feed that will switch between live and playback. This allows the DP & camera operator to always monitor the live action while the camera is playing back the last shot, or reviewing CineMag IV takes through the REC outputs.

Video scaling: When capturing at 4K resolution and outputting at 1080p (for example) the camera will always scale the video to 1080p.

Monitoring & Log outputs: The Flex4K video outputs can be switched between Rec709, Log1 and Log2 curves. These can be set for the VF/MON pipeline and the REC pipeline independently. Various zoom ratios can be set from the camera body to help set focus. Production area rectangles and threshold mode are also available for the VF and MON outputs to help judge framing and exposure.

What are some of the pros and cons of in-camera compression?
A raw workflow provides the ultimate in image quality and fastest high-speed workflow in camera. In-camera compression limits the possible frame rate and save time to the CineMag. However, saving compressed files has advantages when it comes to simplifying the workflow right out of the camera. Files are rendered and ready for edit. Saving compressed files also allow you to record for longer durations and you end up with smaller file sizes.
What kind of compressed formats will the camera support?
Vision Research can not release those details while the feature is in development.
How long can you record?
The record time is completely dependent on the camera's resolution, frame rate, and the size of memory that is being recorded to. At the camera's maximum resolution and frame rate the camera will capture 5 seconds of video to 64GB. If recording directly to a 1TB CineMag at 100 FPS you can record for about 13 minutes. At 24FPS you can record for about 56 minutes.
What is the size and weight of the camera?
The camera body weighs in at 14 lbs (6.3kg) and the size is 11.5 x 5. x 7.9 in (LxWxH); 29.2 x 14 x 20cm. It is roughly the size of the original Flex