I/O Flare 2K SDI Camera


Today I got the opportunity to check out the I/O Flare 2K SDI camera in person at Rule Boston Camera.  I saw the I/O camera line at Cinegear and thought it was interesting as I have always been keen to compact cameras that do not require CCU controls.  What sets the camera apart right off the bat is that the camera will do 4:2:2, 4:4:4 or RAW (Bayer).  The Iconix 2k and Toshiba lipstick cameras in the past had dominated in the broadcast market when you needed a compact head to fit in a crash housing, covert, etc applications.

There are several features outside of RAW that stands out about the I/O line.  First is that the camera does not require a separate CCU to operate it.  It also features a pipelined Global Shutter so skew is non existent on this camera. That couple with a double sampling makes for a very clean image.  De-Bayer is done in camera rather than in post.  Also the camera is strictly progressive. Not PSF but straight up.  If you need interlace or PSF then you can use a Decimator to get what you need from it. They did this to keep the cameras power draw at a minimum.  It was a smart plan as the camera can has the ability to have the power resistors swapped out to go as low as 7 volts up to 18 volts.  This allows one to run the camera off a Canon LP6 battery if needed or an Anton Bauer HCX.  The camera has genlock which is important if you want to lock two up for 3D applications.  Genlock sync is only achievable via a tri-level sync.  Black burst will not work.  Most devices these days use tri-level so this is not much of an issue these days. Also unique is that the camera has a on screen menu output as well as clean feed out.  The menu out HD-SDI or 3G SDI connections shows not only menus but also format and histogram.  The clean feed out can go ideally to a Sound Devices Pix 240 or AJA Ki Pro, etc which both keep the kit compact and feature rich.  The camera has a special connection that allows for a hand remote to be used which is for menu navigation.  Everything you can do with a CCU you can do in camera as it has a complete and robust set of on board painting tools and controls. You can also user the camera at long distances via Lemo to USB and other options.  This allows for laptop or hand controller remote use up to 200 meters.

A  great feature of the camera is that it can use the Birger Engineering EF mount.  I know what you are going to say….but this is different.  I/O has managed to make the Birger C-Mount to EF mount adapter work with their technology via a special connector.  You can control Canon EF lenses via the camera’s controller and menu.  This is huge.  It actually is frustrating to see a company like I/O using the Birger successfully because it makes us realize that the mount is actually a great product when its focused and the engineering is complete. Part of the reason for this is that the Birger mount was originally designed for C-Mount for NASA and other government agencies.  I/O has taken it a step further by providing built in protocols that communicate with the mount and Canon lenses.  And it does this flawlessly.  Other mount options are C-Mount to PL, Nikon, K, B4 mount.  Canon and C-Mount seem to be the most popular.

The 2K flare we looked at features a 2/3″ sensor which is 2048 x 1088 and can go up to 60fps in 1080p. The camera does do higher frame rates but this involves using the I/O DVR (which they OEM for other companies as well) and a post workflow that uses CoaXpress.  This mode is called CXP and allows for up to 283fps.  This feature isn’t for everyone and looks intimidating at first but once you learn the process and workflow you can capture long periods of high-speed action in a fairly portable system.  Mind you this does require post processes to extract and use the footage.

I don’t think anyone would buy the I/O as a high-speed camera but for 3D applications and for car rigging etc the cameras provide interesting and good alternatives.  There is a 4K I/O in the works that has my eye.  The details are still in the works but what I know of it so far has peaked my interest.

Mike Sutton

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Jared Abrams
Jared Abrams is a cinematographer based in Hollywood, California. After many years as a professional camera assistant he switched over to still photography. About two years ago a new Canon camera changed the way the world sees both motion and still photography. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.