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Sony NXCAM NEX-FS700 CineAlta
4K EXMOR sensor with SDI, slow-motion recording.


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Old April 10th, 2012, 10:31 PM   #1
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FS700 or used F3?

Hi guys,

I was pretty much set on the FS700 as soon as I heard the details about it, but looking around there are some very good deals going on used F3s at the moment, which has me umming and ahhing over which route to take.

- Super slow-motion and 4K upgradability with the FS700
or
- Creamy filmic latitude with an SLOGged F3

Both offer unique advantages over the other, so it's a tough call. Is 4K likely to be a greater draw to clients than SLOG down the road? It's hard to say.

I do mostly commercials and corporate marketing/promotional videos at the moment (though I'm starting to get more music video and other creative work coming in). I've never had the budget for high-speed cameras before, so slow-motion has never really factored into my work before, but I can certainly see a place for it if the option were there.

What do you think guys? Which option would you take?
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Old April 11th, 2012, 12:04 AM   #2
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Re: FS700 or used F3?

i will always go for a newer one... which comes with newer technology

high speed is very useful for commercial....
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Old April 11th, 2012, 06:19 AM   #3
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Re: FS700 or used F3?

A colleague has a couple of EX1s and an EX3, is very happy with the XDCAM workflow, has lots of spare batteries, and so on. He's just not interested in the FS700 because it's a whole new system, and he's seen my experience of the post side where footage MUST be transcoded to ProRes, blowing the storage requirements up by four or five times, with knock-on effects with the need for RAID, the extra time in backups and the heavier Archive requirements.

Despite the trend for 4:2:2 and 50 Mbits, an FS700 is just the same as an FS100 - you're getting 25 Mbit per second originals, and adding to that 150 Mbit per second edit masters. FW800 can deal just fine with 35 Mbit XDCAM, but things bog down if you try to do the same with ProRes.

Having said that, he's been painfully aware of just how expensive it can be living with a big pro camera, and in these enlightened times, few clients seem to want to pay for the difference. The jump from Z1 to EX1 was pretty phenomenal. The jump from FS700 to F3 is not going to be visible to most clients, and in some ways is a retrograde step (in terms of slomo).

So it's whether you'll accept the slightly wonky AVCHD/ProRes or DNxHD workflow with its higher overheads or go with 'good enough' XDCAM.
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Old April 11th, 2012, 09:01 AM   #4
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Re: FS700 or used F3?

Thanks for your thoughts Matt. Regardless of which camera I went with, a ProRes workflow would be the way I'd go anyway. Storage has become too cheap these days to let storage requirements get in the way of the wonderful speed that a ProRes shoot-edit workflow offers for me.

It's a good point on how obvious the difference between FS700 and F3 would be to clients.
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Old April 16th, 2012, 07:37 AM   #5
 
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Re: FS700 or used F3?

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Originally Posted by Mark Kenfield View Post
Hi guys,

I was pretty much set on the FS700 as soon as I heard the details about it, but looking around there are some very good deals going on used F3s at the moment, which has me umming and ahhing over which route to take.

- Super slow-motion and 4K upgradability with the FS700
or
- Creamy filmic latitude with an SLOGged F3

Both offer unique advantages over the other, so it's a tough call. Is 4K likely to be a greater draw to clients than SLOG down the road? It's hard to say.

I do mostly commercials and corporate marketing/promotional videos at the moment (though I'm starting to get more music video and other creative work coming in). I've never had the budget for high-speed cameras before, so slow-motion has never really factored into my work before, but I can certainly see a place for it if the option were there.

What do you think guys? Which option would you take?
Where are these good deals in Aus, Mark?
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Old April 16th, 2012, 10:20 AM   #6
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Re: FS700 or used F3?

Isn't there an F5 or something in the works? That is probably going to contain the best of both worlds... Maybe it's worth the wait, but there's no way of knowing at the moment as to when or if it's going to be released.

It is probably going to retail for 30% more than the F3 though.
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Old April 25th, 2012, 03:45 AM   #7
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Re: FS700 or used F3?

I think you have to decide what it is you want from your camera. The FS700 is tailored for 4k, so at HD there will be more aliasing and other artefacts. The FS700 when in conventional HD mode only has an 8 bit output and more importantly does not have the 12/14 bit internal processing that the F3 has. This is why the FS100 does not handle highlights so well, lack of bits in the DSP. So as an HD camcorder the F3 will outperform the FS700.

But if 4k is you goal, then it's different. The FS700's 4k RAW output will bypass the DSP, so image quality should be extremely good. The FS700 is only marginally less sensitive than F3/FS100 so that should not be an issue. But there is no free lunch. You will need an external recorder, which adds cost. How much? We don't know yet, but I would expect it to be at least $2k USD, maybe a lot more. Then there is the significantly increased media costs, 4k RAW data will use a lot more very fast media per minute than the F3's Mpeg or the FS100's AVCHD. maybe 10 times as much. Finally there is the RAW workflow. Don't forget that raw is not instant, there will be a lot of rendering and image processing for all of your RAW material, the workflow will be more complex and slower.

If your producing and delivering in HD then the F3 will continue to be a great camera for a long time yet. If you want to move up to 4k then maybe the FS700 is the better choice. But how many people have 4k monitors, edit suites that don't choke at 4k plus a 4k delivery requirement.
4k is still in it's early days. When I look back at some of the first generations of HD camcorders and then look at whats available today, there is a night and day difference. If you want or need 4k now then assuming Sony don't drag their heels with the 4k output, then the FS700 looks to be a great choice. If your not really sure, then I would wait a little while longer.

Of course if you need to shoot in super slow mo..........
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Old April 26th, 2012, 08:04 AM   #8
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Re: FS700 or used F3?

Thanks for your thoughts Alister.

I'd pretty much settled on the F3 in the end, I decided the greater latitude makes the difference to me in the end - but then I heard about the Blackmagic Camera offering 13 stops of DR with 10-bit ProRes recording (the two primary appeals of the F3 for me) and, well, that sealed the deal for me. I put in a pre-order for one. And by some kind twist of fate doing so has allowed me to invest in a full set of Zeiss CP.2s (which I hadn't even contemplated before). So this whole thing's taken a strange but very pleasing twist for the better.
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Old April 28th, 2012, 04:21 AM   #9
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Re: FS700 or used F3?

Hmm, I hope you've looked beyond the BMD hype. No more DR than the F3 in log, no idea of noise levels, much less sensitive, similar resolution, huge crop factor so wide shots may be hard. Just consider that generally you get what you pay for. The key component in a video camera is the sensor. Even BMD admit that one of the key things about the camera was that the sensor had to be cheap and that ruled out all of the s35 sensors and many dedicated video sensors. To make the sensor they are using work they are having to fan cool it.

I guess we won't really know how good or bad it is until the dust settles and a few production units get into the wild, but I don't think it's in the same class as the F3 or FS700.
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Old May 3rd, 2012, 11:47 PM   #10
 
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Re: FS700 or used F3?

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Originally Posted by Mark Kenfield View Post
Thanks for your thoughts Alister.

I'd pretty much settled on the F3 in the end, I decided the greater latitude makes the difference to me in the end - but then I heard about the Blackmagic Camera offering 13 stops of DR with 10-bit ProRes recording (the two primary appeals of the F3 for me) and, well, that sealed the deal for me. I put in a pre-order for one. And by some kind twist of fate doing so has allowed me to invest in a full set of Zeiss CP.2s (which I hadn't even contemplated before). So this whole thing's taken a strange but very pleasing twist for the better.

Where are these deals on F3's in Australia Mark you mentioned??
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Old May 4th, 2012, 02:22 AM   #11
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Re: FS700 or used F3?

Jalan, there aren't any in Australia (that I could find). The deals I came across were for cameras from the States.
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Old May 6th, 2012, 08:15 PM   #12
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Re: FS700 or used F3?

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Originally Posted by Alister Chapman View Post
Of course if you need to shoot in super slow mo..........
Alister, after just watching your super-impressive F3 S-LOG presentation at NAB on the Sony site, I'd really value your opinion on this.

The super fast frame rates is the prime reason I want the FS700. The fact it's 4K ready doesn't interest me - At least not for the moment. However, I'm clearly concerned that the HD picture out of the FS700 is inferior to the F3 because of the 8-bit limitations (in part) and because the sensor is geared primarily for 4K output. I'm looking at that footage you took at NAB and I'm not liking the artefacting and noise. There's another video online somewhere with a ballloon bursting where most of the comments are celebrating the majestic nature of it... am I the only one grumbling at the soft picture and artefacting on the hand and knife? In fact the only true footage I've seen that I've been pleased about (which I must add has been taken in good lighting conditions) is Andrew Young's efforts here

I know the camera isn't even out yet and I'm aware that the pre-production models will be (somewhat) improved upon by the time production lines chug them out. But if you were in my shoes and desperately want faster frame rates, but also want best HD picture quality (without too much care for 4K), would you go for the FS700 or wait it out a bit longer to see what else comes out?

The picture I need has to be broadcast quality. The beeb demand 50mbps and as it is, will need an external recorder to output more than the 28 internal recording limitation. 7.5K is a lot for us and we need to be sure this is the camera for us! Any advice truly welcomed!
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Old May 7th, 2012, 02:10 PM   #13
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Re: FS700 or used F3?

Your first problem is that the only way to record above 60fps is internally, so the slow-mo will fall outside of the 50Mb/s rule, but you are allowed up to 20% of a programme to be outside the 50mb/s rule so your slow-mo could be used that way.
The footage I shot was at 1600 or 3200 ISO, so there is a little bit of noise. At 800 ISO it's damn near to the FS100, I would not be too concerned about noise levels unless you shoot at high gain levels on a regular basis, the FS700 appears to be about half to 3/4 of a stop less sensitive than the FS100.

The internal 8 bit processing is going to limit the image quality. In HD it will never be as good as an F3, much in the same way as the FS100 comes very, very close to the F3 but it's still just not quite an F3. I am confident that we will see some reduction in the image artefacts prior to launch. Also once we get a chance to spend more time with the camera people like me will figure out how to dial in the detail settings etc to best advantage. There will almost certainly be more aliasing at HD from the FS700 as it is 4K optimised.

Unless you have a crystal ball it's impossible to know when or if we will see another camera with the slow-mo capabilities of the FS700. With the big drive from the manufacturers towards 4K, I suspect that many of the high end future camera releases will also be 4K, possibly with many of the same issues when used for HD. I'm buying a FS700 purely for it's slow mo capabilities as I'm confident it will pay for itself quite quickly. Slow-mo is likely to become the new Timelapse and as it becomes easier to do, more of my clients are likely to ask for it. Just don't loose sight of the fact that good slow-mo will need lots of light, you won't be able to just roll up and shoot everything at 240fps without either lighting it or suffering a noise penalty.

It's a tough one. Do you need a new camera right now, will the new camera or new functions pay for themselves If not, my advice would always be to wait until you need to replace your existing camera. But when that day does come, no matter how long you put it off, 6 months later there will be another camera that replaces the one you just got.
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Old May 9th, 2012, 05:13 PM   #14
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Re: FS700 or used F3?

Alister,

I'm really grateful for your response, thank you.

I suspected the internal 8-bit processing would limit the machine. I realise we're still getting a lot of camera for the money, but even if we went with an F3, it won't do 240fps at 'full' HD.

If I'm honest, we really want the camera for those high framerates too. We had a Casio Exilim EX-F1 a few years back. Whilst it gave us a look into the future of what's possible for low cost high speed framerates, the aliasing was so poor, it was unusable for many pro projects without careful use and a lot of post work... (Although it did end up paying for itself many times over with a Sigur Ros music promo)

We already upgraded to the 5D Mark III, so buying another camera like the FS700 is going to push the budget for this year but I will be happy with it so long as the quality is broadcast safe. I think we can get enough work in for it to pay for itself - But I just wanted to make sure broadcasters won't snub us for producing material with it.

It would definitely be helpful to have a list of settings to get the best broadcast quality footage from it. We found the detail from Stu Maschwitz for 'Prolost' settings very informative for dealing with the 5D mark III's shortcomings. Similarly, I'm sure there will be a cookbook out for the FS700 pretty soon after it's in your hands.
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