As IBC 2015 kicked off, Sony got the ball rolling with the new gear announcements with a host of announcements.
The first major release was a new, Super35 4K Camera- The FS5
The camera is a “younger brother” to the FS7 in Sony’s current Super 35mm large sensor line up. Effectively it can also be seen as a replacement to the FS700 and FS100 cameras. Just like the other FS line of cameras, it features an E-Mount and can take in a large range of lenses via adapters.
It is considerably smaller and lighter than the FS7 with a weight of just under a kilo (0.8KG) without the grip and handle attached as designed as a quick, run and gun machine for fast paced environments. Sony India in their email press letter highlighted 3 main areas for this camera, Corporate, Documentary and Wedding.
Undoubtedly the formfactor, ergonomics and recording formats will be a huge plus for all these three areas of use, but as Sony India also highlighted in the same email, the camera has limitless possibilities and would easily lend it self to use in other also. The camera features a modular design, similar to the bigger FS7 and has a detachable side handgrip, LCD and top handle (with XLR input). It also has a built-in EVF at the back of the body and the whole package has been designed keeping handheld operation in mind. Sony says, attention has been paid to how the camera balances in the hand. The smaller body also makes it perfect camera to be used on jobs, cranes, gimbals and smaller Steadicams.
It has the same 12 mega pixel sensor as the FS7 and is capable of delivering the same 14 stops of dynamic range. The base ISO has been increased to 3200 ISO, higher than the FS7 and the ISO range now goes up to 32,000. The start up time of the camera has been improved to less than five seconds, which would impress news and documentary shooters.The major inclusion is the electronic neutral density (ND) filter system. This is the first time that it has been included in a Super 35mm sensor line of cameras, though it has been implemented before on the smaller XDCam camcorders by Sony. The cameras has both a conventional filter knob and a continuously rotateable wheel for the neutral density. The 3 values for the ND can be can custom set the knob to your liking, from 1/4 to 1/128 stop ND.
The electronic ND allows shooters to set the ISO, shutter speed and aperture in bright light and then use the auto ND feature to keep the exposure constant. This allows the depth of field, noise and motion blur to remain the same as the light varies and shifts.
Sony says that the camera has improved autofocus with the native E mount lenses and now has face detection. More over the focus magnification point can moved around the screen to check accurate focus.
Borrowing from the much smaller Sony Pxw X70 camera, the FS5 also has digital zoom, what Sony chooses to call as Clear Image Zoom. With this you can zoom the image up to 2X when in HD or 1.5X in 4K (UHD 3840×2160 mode). Sony claims minimal image quality loss. The digital zoom can be activated via the zoom rocker on the hand grip to smoothly zoom even with a prime lens. With zoomlenses, there will be a smooth transition from the optical zoom to the digital zoom, just like on smaller consumer camcorders. With the Sony 18-105mm kit lens attached, the PXW-FS5 is a surprisingly compact package with more reach than expected for must uses. See the whole package as pictured below.
Most surprisingly Sony has added the very useful center scan mode (found on the bigger F5 and 55 models) which allows a HD image to be recorded from the center portion of the sensor. When the camera is switched over to this mode Super16 and broadcast B4 mount lenses can be used with the appropriate adapter. With the Digital Zoom and the center scan, news,documentary, wildlife and wedding shooters had a very wide range of lenses to choose from if shooting in HD.
As far as frame rates are concerned, both PAL and NTSC regions are catered for. The camera records up to 100 Mb/s 4K XAVC internally to SDXC cards in 8 bit 4:2:0 colour space, at 24,25 or 30 fps. Importantly the camera records HD 1080 at 10 bit 4:2:2 space internally at up to 60 fps. Proxy AVCHD recording is also available if needed it.
The camera has two card slots that can be used for relay recording (switch over when the first card is full) or can be used for simultaneous recording (back up recording). As always a full resolution file can be recorded on one card and at a low res proxy on the other for fast editing and transfer workflows. A table is supplied below for convenient reading-
The FS5 is well stocked in the HD recording quality formats and beats the comparable offerings from competitors such as Canon and Sony. The option to record on SD cards makes it more attractive than the FS7. Recording externally to a recorder is also enabled via HDMI or 3G SDI outputs (the SDI output is HD-only at this time.) In the future Sony says the camera will be capable of outputting a RAW signal to an external recorder. They haven’t given a timeline or a price for this upgrade as of yet on this issue.
Sony has slow motion well catered for. The camera will record eight seconds of footage 240fps in HD, or nineteen seconds of footage at 960fps in 720P. This is a welcome feature as it provides upto 8-9 times (depending on PAL or NTSC) of slow motion effect when played back in real time. The quality should be similar to the FS7. The time limit has been added by Sony to differentiate it from the more expensive offering.
In terms of picture profiles, it features the usual set of hyper gammas as well as the Log gammas of Slog 2 and Slog3.
Interestingly, the camera gains white balancing bias as a feature. If you prefer warmer or cooler or less or more green or magenta in the recorded images, you have the ability to bias your white balance in the menus.
Sony also released a short video shot on the new camera to demo the image quality. Shot by Den Lennie and Mick Jones-
The handgrip of the camera is very similar to the one on the FS7 except there is no extension included with the camera. It instead locks directly onto the body. There is however the option to buy extension arms or the arm from the FS7 to this camera.
For people looking to buy and/or use the FS7 and the FS5 side by side there is a big advantage, you can also use the FS7 grip and EVF on the FS5.
The only slight downside to the FS5 seems to be the slightly limited audio section. The FS5 has only 2 channels of audio as compared to the FS7’s 4 chanels. More importantly it has a single XLR connector on the top handle and another on the side of the camera. There is a stereo mic for ambient audio built into the top handle, but that gets taken away once the handle is removed.
The EVF on the back of the camera is a 1.44 million dot OLED and has diopters for use by people who wear eye glasses.
The LCD on the camera is a 3.5 inch 1.56million dot display with the same connector as the FS7 the only difference being that it does not have the finder/ loupe attachment to turn it into an EVF. The LCD can however be mounted in several different positions on the camera.
The camera runs on the popular BP-U type batteries, the same as the FS7 and PMW-F3. On the smallest BP-U30 battery, Sony claim it can run for about two hours.
The camera also has other features such as GPS metadata and the ability to stream video via WiFi and send clips via FTP file transfer. There camera also sports an Ethernet socket for fast download the video from the camera. This can be used if the camera is installed in a remote location at an event. The WiFi is built into the body – no dongle needed and users have the ability to control some camera functions over your smartphone. The camera also has the ability to connect to devices via NFC.
All in all, the FS5 seems set to be a solid offering from Sony for shooters looking for tighter and smaller packages or or working on smaller budgets. Sharing similar features and internals as many other cameras in Sony’s line up, it ideal to be used as a secondary camera on large sets or as a primary camera with smaller cameras playing second fiddle.
There is no news on Indian prices and availability yet. Though one can guess that the availability would be in time for the festive season and just before the wedding season kicks off in mid November. So watch this space for more updates!
internationally the camera starts shipping in mid-November, at a price of USD 6,699/- (INR 4.46Laks approx.) for the body only.
For complete info and spec sheet visit Sony India page.
Images via- Sony India and Sony Global Press releases.