Sony FS5: First Look

by Hugh Brownstone8 Comments

While we were in New York City last week to get some shooting experience with the just-announced a7s Mark II, we were also fortunate to get our hands on a Sony FS5 – the FS7’s little brother — and to chat briefly with Sony Senior Product Manager Juan Martinez. Below, just a couple of nuggets from our conversation, though we look forward to an in-depth review of the camera soon!

The FS5 just might become THE dedicated video camera for people moving up from DSLRs and ILCs.

Why?

It’s got much of the FS7’s goodness NOT available in the a7s II (including internal 4K – UHD — recording at 10-bit 4:2:2 beyond 30 minutes using the same sensor as the FS7; long-lasting batteries including a V-mount option; XLR inputs; and an SDI output), yet at $5,499 comes in at $2,400 and just about 2 _ lbs. less than its bigger brother.

[CORRECTION: Much as we wish the FS5 recorded 10 bit, a sharp-eyed reader has shown us the error of our ways: the FS5 in fact records 8-bit 4:2:0 at 4K (UHD). We apologize for the error.]

This also means the FS5 is the same price as its nearest competitor and likely inspiration the Canon Cinema EOS 100 Mark II but the Canon does not record in 4K and is between _ and _ a pound heavier than the FS5.

Still, people love Canon’s color, and the C100 Mark II not only boasts dual pixel auto-focus, but on first blush appears to have outstanding ergonomics.

The FS5 also boasts a couple of firsts, as Sony Senior Product Manager Juan Martinez shared with us.

We’ll know much more once we have one in-house, but for now, let’s look at just two of those new capabilities.

First Sony Camera with 802.11N

Juan re FS5

planet5D: You’re making more of a push to integrate smart devices on the FS5. Can you tell us a bit more?

Juan Martinez: The FS5 is our first camera with N WiFi capability. It is possible to interface with the camera using a tablet, a smartphone or a computer, and even use near-field communication to program the parameters directly on these devices…you don’t need to enter them manually [into the camera]. We have a content browser app that allows you to access the functionality of the camera. You have limited remote control capabilities, including streaming to the phone [author’s note: 802.11N specifications call for transfer rates up to 300mbps with two antennae and up to 450mps with three, operating at 2.4 and 5Ghz bands – though 130mbps is said to be a more practical expectation].

S-Gamut3.Cine and S-Gamut 3

Sony Gamut 3 chart 2

planet5D: Can you tell us about the color space and bit depth of the FS5?

Juan Martinez: The FS5 has has very high dynamic range and a very wide color range. Sony created a color space for this camera which is larger than the color space for print film! It’s called S-Gamut3.Cine. It is slightly bigger than DCI digital cinema and bigger than broadcast. And then we made a color correction to make it easier to grade where we rotate the axis that gives us S-Gamut-3 – this is what is used for feature film production. It gives us a much wider color response than is possible with a regular color gamut for our other product cameras. This one is immense!

New Sony gamuts

What We Don’t Know

In the end, we can tell you that the FS5 is small and well-priced, but we really don’t know how these new gamuts will manifest themselves in the actual footage nor what it will take to grade them; we don’t know if the menus will get in our way (we’re betting they’re closer to FS7 to a7, and the FS7 is much more complex); and we don’t know what the FS5 is like in hand for extended periods of time.

Which is simply a long way of writing: we’re excited to find out!

Big shout-out to Ryan Mense of fstoppers for humoring me and recording us by handholding my iphone 6 for entirely too long — and apologies to both Juan and Ryan for giving me incontrovertible proof that I DO need to mic up for situations like this in the future.

Sony PXW-FS5 XDCAM Super 35 Camera System

Via B&H:

Product Highlights

  • Super 35-Sized CMOS Sensor
  • Sony E-Mount
  • UHD at 24/30 FPS, HD Up to 240 FPS
  • XAVC Long, AVCHD Recording Codecs

Sony PXW-FS5

Bringing a smaller, handheld form factor to Sony's line of digital cinema cameras, the PXW-FS5 XDCAM Super 35 Camera System captures UHD video using a Super 35mm-sized sensor for cinematic imagery. Though small in size, it incorporates professional features that differentiate it from consumer and DSLR/mirrorless cameras and make it suitable for use on productions as diverse as cinéma vérité-style documentaries, reality TV, and commercial and corporate applications.

Sony PXW-FS5 3

Sony PXW-FS5 2

The camera's E-mount is machined from stainless steel and allows you to use E-mount lenses or accept most 35mm lenses with the use of adapters, including PL, EF, Leica, and Nikon lenses. The camera records in your choice of XAVC-L or AVCHD. It incorporates two SD media card slots that support simultaneous or relay recording. Outputs include both HDMI and SDI and Sony's proprietary Multi-Terminal. The body also incorporates an Ethernet connector, headphone jack, and XLR audio inputs. All connectors and card slots are covered to protect from dust incursion. The camera supports Wi-Fi and NFC functionality, allowing you live stream from the camera, or control it from a wireless device.

Learn more about the Sony PXW-FS5 XDCAM Super 35 Camera System.

(cover photo credit: snap from B&H)

Hugh Brownstone

Hugh Brownstone

Hugh is the founder of Three Blind Men and An Elephant Productions. He and the team write, direct, shoot, score, and edit web-centric films; conduct photo shoots; and write copy, white papers and blog posts. Hugh also writes screenplays (he recently optioned a TV pilot) and just published his first eBook (Apple's iPhone: The Next Video Revolution). If it's about telling stories, it's in their wheelhouse.

And always with the ambition of authenticity, humanity and wit.
Hugh Brownstone

Comments

  1. In this sentence are you saying the FS5 shoots 4k UHD at 422 10 bit?
    “including internal 4K – UHD — recording at 10-bit 4:2:2 beyond 30 minutes using the same sensor as the http://blog.planet5d.com/fs7”

    Because it only shoots 4k  UHD at 420 8bit which is a huge shame. 
    It will shoot 1080 at 422 10 bit but the goal of this camera is to shoot 4k.

    Jake

  2. kk5hy Jake, that was my understanding. I’m double-checking with Sony.

  3. HughBrownstone kk5hy I truly hope I’m wrong but I read that on a few sites. It would be a great camera if it did shoot 422 10bit at 4k
    Thanks,
    Jake

  4. kk5hy HughBrownstone Jake, we owe you one.  YOU WERE RIGHT. My bad. And this makes the FS5 a more interesting study in…compromise.  More to follow when we have it! Thank you again.

  5. Sony just doesn’t get it. No serious documentary will EVER  shoot with cameras that have such shitty viewfinders. I tried the Fs7 and couldn’t see anything. Put a real viewfinder. Like the one on the F55 for example. Then it will be fun to shoot. I don’t care about all the features if i can’t see what i’m shooting.

    Sylvestre Guidi
    DOP
    Montreal

  6. HughBrownstone kk5hy So when are you going to fix this error in the article?  It’s still there.

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