Meet Sony’s extreme low-light UMC-S3C 4K video camera with astonishingly high ISO

by on April 6, 2016

Stephan Jukic – April 06, 2016

Sony has something of a reputation for creating compact cameras that can handle low light shooting extremely well. From the A7S II mirrorless to the even more powerful A7R II and finally to the newest, Alpha 6300 4K mirrorless camera, all of the company’s main mirrorless 4K video and high resolution photo shooters offer high ISO and some superb low light photo capture capacities.

Now however, the company has taken things to a new extreme that should impress almost anyone. Their latest consumer development, the UMC S3C is a 4K video recorder with the ability to manage low light capacity up to a whopping ISO of 409,600. The camera is absolute built with low light, remote shooting in mind and its robust, compact body also offers a 35m sensor, long duration recording and 12 megapixel still shooting.

Currently, this little shooter is the absolute highest sensitivity camera of any kind in Sony’s lineup, to say nothing of the company’s 4K cameras of any type. Furthermore, Sony has done a fine job of adding in features like internal recording, remote functionality and 4K video into the UMC-S3C, which is considered by some to be a competitor to the Canon ME20F-SH, another powerful low light compact shooter which however only offers HD resolution.

Given its overall specs and features, the UMC-S3C is designed particularly for night time wildlife shooting, POV video and live-action filming.

And as for that 4K video recording capacity, it is remarkably robust considering the data loads of ultra HD resolution. Sony is claiming that the UMC-S3C can manage up to 125 minutes of 4K footage at a 60Mbps bitrate on a 64GB memory card. Furthermore, the little camera offers an HDMI port for linkage to external remote monitors, recorders and other devices. Sony hasn’t mentioned SDI, gunlock or networking connections, meaning that if these specs are absent, the UMC-S3C isn’t quite an ideal broadcast production shooter for the field.

The extreme low-light video of the Sony SNC-VB770 gives some idea of what we can expect from the UMC-S3C

The extreme low-light video of the Sony SNC-VB770 gives some idea of what we can expect from the UMC-S3C

In many ways, in terms of its low light capacity in particular, the new Sony UMC-S3C is quite similar to the company’s SNC-VB770 4K ultra HD network camera, which also delivers 4K video recording and some truly stunning low light shooting capacity along with intelligent tracking and cropping technologies which make it ideal as a night surveillance device. However, while the UMC-S3C is definitely designed for field videography, the SNC-VB770 is a definite network video surveillance recorder, meant for stationary work in a secured installation. Both cameras do however deliver some of the best low light video we’ve seen or heard of from any manufacturer.

Sony's other extreme low light shooter, the surveillance-purpose SNC-VB770 4K recorder

Sony’s other extreme low light shooter, the surveillance-purpose SNC-VB770 4K recorder

Now, as for some more detailed specs in the UMC-S3C. They are as follows:

  • Image capture at under 0.004Lx, ISO from 50 to 409600.
  • Full Frame 35mm Exmor sensor.
  • High light condensing efficiency and an image processing engine to enhance noise reduction.
  • Sony E-mount for high lens change flexibility
  • Camera control via multi-terminal and micro-USB compatible devices, remote control or compatible software.
  • Compact and very light, at 0.88 lbs
  • Memory card slot.
  • 4K UHD at 30fps/60 Mbps.
  • XAVC-S codec expanding 4K recording to 100 Mbps.

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