Sony NEX-FS700 in the Raw

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At NAB 2013, Sony announced the raw upgrade for the NEX-FS700, allowing this $7500 camera to send raw 2K and 4K video to external recorders. In the middle of May, Sony sent me a prototype raw-enabled FS700 camera, an IFR5 raw adapter, and an AXS-R5 recorder.

Art Adams and I worked with this gear for about ten days leading up to Cine Gear Expo LA; we shot camera tests, a bunch of 4K beauty shots, and a simulated car commercial—not that we had the wherewithal to produce a real car commercial (which would have involved about $100,000 more in the budget than we had available), mind you.

After ten days of frantic shooting, grading, and editing, Art and I presented “FS700 in the Raw” at Cine Gear Expo. Most of what Art discussed he’s written about here; what follows is my part of the presentation.

Full disclosure: Sony hired us to shoot these tests and prep the talk for Cine Gear Expo. Sony requested that we focus on the raw workflow and 2K as well as 4K work, but aside from that Sony did not control the content of our presentation, or have any influence over what we said (indeed, Sony themselves didn’t know what we were going to say until we said it in public… but as Art and I were reworking our talks up to the last minute, neither did we).

Just a basic overview of what the FS700 is—and does—with the new stuff in bold italics.

The 512 GB memory cards cost about $1500. Per Gig, that’s cheaper than SxS cards are.

No two ways about it: you’re dealing with a separate recording deck. You can stick it on rails, making for a rather elongated rig, or just let the deck hang out on the end of its cable, which we did for our tests.

Since the 3G-SDI link is a one-way data transmission, the camera knows nothing about the state of the recorder. The camera will happily buffer a 4K slo-mo clip and then play it out even if the deck is off, hasn’t changed modes yet, or the BNC cable has fallen off (which happened to us once, when I didn’t quite get it locked down properly). You do have to keep an eye on the deck to make sure it’s ready before you roll.

The Convergent Design Odyssey7Q will be a lot lighter and cheaper than the Sony interface/recorder, and it has its own monitor. Plans are afoot to record the 2K and 4K not only to raw and DPX files, but to compressed codecs as well. I should note that though the Odyssey will be $5k cheaper, it won’t handle 4K at frame rates above 30fps, including 4K Super Slow Mo (all subject to change, as the Convergent Design folks develop things further).

I saw an FS700 2K CinemaDNG file recorded by the Odyssey7Q just the Tuesday before our Saturday presentation… and Convergent Design had only managed to get that working one day before! So it’s early days yet, but at least there’s proof of concept; the darned thing will work.

One of the pleasures of the Odyssey7Q is its enhanced focus-assist mode—when shooting 4K, focus is critical, and the Odyssey’s focus assist is the best I’ve seen to date:

The normal picture view.

Enhanced focus assist, focused on the sign. Color and (I think) intensity are adjustable.

Enhanced focus assist, focused on the far wall.

 

Next: quality, speeds ‘n’ feeds, etc…

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About Author

Adam Wilt is a software developer, engineering consultant, and freelance film & video tech. He’s had small jobs on big productions (PA, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”, Dir. Robert Wise), big jobs on small productions (DP, “Maelstrom”, Dir. Rob Nilsson), and has worked camera, sound, vfx, and editing gigs on shorts, PSAs, docs, music vids, and indie features. He started his website on the DV format, adamwilt.com/DV.html, about the same time Chris Hurd created the XL1 Watchdog, and participated in DVInfo.net‘s 2006 “Texas Shootout.” He has written for DV Magazine and ProVideoCoalition.com, taught courses at DV Expo, and given presentations at NAB, IBC, and Cine Gear Expo. When he’s not doing contract engineering or working on apps like www.adamwilt.com/cinemeter, he’s probably exploring new cameras, just because cameras are fun.

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