Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions at DVinfo.net

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Sony XDCAM PXW-FS7 / FS5
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Old November 22nd, 2015, 08:37 AM   #1
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Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions

As some of you know my FS5 arrived Friday afternoon. After the concerns that emerged late last week about limited recording/monitoring capabilities in QFHD (with the initial release firmware - and still some restrictions down the road) I had deliberately stalled my purchase for 24hrs whilst I learnt more/thought it through.

I decided to go ahead and purchase the cam and the first thing I did was a quick test. I posted a comment on another thread - here: FS5 - Sony confirms monitor/output cripple? (and on twitter) confirming that it will indeed pass out Full HD to an external recorder (in my case Atomos Ninja Blade) whilst allowing 1080p50 internal recording to SDXC cards - and importantly whilst doing this the LCD remains active. For someone who will primarily use the cam, at least initially, in 422 10-bit 50Mbps Full HD this was a relief!

You can study the FS5 specs elsewhere - and no doubt a plethora of reviews and initial FS5 test videos will hit the web in the next few days...So, below, I'll just concentrate on a few of MY personal first impressions, focussing on some of the things others may not major on. I hope to add info as and when I can - and I'm sure other FS5 owners will be willing share their thoughts on how they find the cam here on DVinfo too!

Build quality is really, really good. It's small and light - as we all know by now. It is a joy to hold - most things are where I'd want them. I really like the side hand grip and (at least for my medium sized hands) the various button placements seem perfect. I love the way you can adjust it's angle of rotation in a couple of seconds - from full horizontal (grip effectively facing down - say if you wanted to shoot something overhead) to 3/4 facing up (if you want to video your toe nails...). It's a definite improvement on the grip on my beloved Canon C100 in terms of flexibility/functionality. The angle you can set it at is in steps - nine in all including either extreme. On my FS5 there is very slight rotational play when locked in any of these positions - about a mm or so. I would have liked it to be rock solid but nothing I feel I should worry about - anyone else on the new owners list have this?

EVF is so-so quality - better than the one on my C100 (for sure!) but I guess I've been spoilt with the PMW-300 arrangement! It's adequate and certainly usable.

LCD seems reasonably good - robust and well designed in terms of it's almost infinite position options. It's as clear and bright as you'd expect for a screen of it's size and spec. Still half-wish it was a touch screen with a few options (spot focus etc.) but that's more of a consumer cam feature anyway. Plugging it's lead into the body is a bit tricky/not something I'd want to do often or in a hurry! I suspect I'll rarely need to detach it anyway.

Tripod mounting area under the cam is nice and flat (no rounded bottom like my EX3 had!) and looks very rugged with it's two different standard sized mounting screw holes, and a smaller unthreaded hole between them.

The two XLR positions are brilliant and each has their feed controls (Line/Mic/Mic +48v) switches next to them. However, on the camera body XLR, this switch could be difficult to reach/check depending on side grip position - but no matter as it takes seconds to move that if needed.

The audio control area (on the side of the cam) has a drop-down flap - to make it easier to adjust the dials and Auto/Man options. It's possible to use a finger/thumb to adjust the dials through the round cut-outs in this flap with it up (it's normal position) but the Auto/Man AGC switches require the flap to be opened to change. This is good - as that'll stop me accidentally knocking one into Auto! The flap is more robust/better designed than the one on my PMW-300. However, at least on my FS5, it seems quite a loose fit - the flap might easily drop down, especially after some use/wear (it does not drop open at the moment) as there is no 'click/latching' mechanism to hold it up. If this becomes a problem I've already though of a very simple way to make it a tighter, friction fit and so ensure it stays up and closed when needed - no not just with tape! No worries.

The top handle is robust and easy/quick to detach. One thing I think Sony could have done better was to design a recess into the camera's top, adjacent to the socket for the handle's interface plug. This would have allowed a captive flap to be provided, it simply being hinged out of the way but still remain attached to the main body of the camera when attaching the handle (albeit underneath and hidden when the handle is in position). The cam has captive covers on all it's other main ports - but for this one they just give you a pull out piece of black plastic. I can see lots of those getting lost on location if people frequently mount and dismount the handle!

I've bought a Metabones MkIV (Sony E-mount to Canon EF) but have yet to find time to try it with any of my Canon glass on the FS5. I also bought the Sony G 18-105 F4 lens. I will put that through it's paces first to learn it's strengths and weaknesses. Image stabilisation seems pretty good and autofocus seems to work pretty well most of the time. Manual focus is tricky as it's such a short throw.

The Clear Image Zoom feature works very well (but I've yet to pixel peep footage on my monitors).

I'll try and add more info as and when I get time to test the camera fully - which won't be much this coming week as I have a lot of client filming work going on which I'll only do with the cams I know inside out. I don't like to be learning a new cam and risk a "screw up" in front of any paying clients!

For now I'll just post a snap of the FS5, C100 and PMW-300 side by side to give you an impression of the (lack of) bulk of the FS5. For sure, the ergonomics are better than the C100 so assuming everything else lives up to expectations this one's going to be a winner.

Feeling tempted to sort out how to balance the FS5 on my new Letus Helix Jr. next...If I get time I'll post a snap/impressions of how that goes soon - not sure that'll be today though.
Attached Thumbnails
Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions-pmw300-c100-fs5-2000x1333-.jpg  
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Last edited by Andy Wilkinson; November 22nd, 2015 at 10:01 AM.
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Old November 22nd, 2015, 08:48 AM   #2
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Re: Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions

Looking good. You don't happen to have a PDF user manual from a CD or something that you could upload for the group? I haven't found one inline anywhere just yet.
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Old November 22nd, 2015, 08:59 AM   #3
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Re: Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions

Nate, yes I have a disc with the manual on in various languages - will try and do that now for the English one. (I am surprised this is not available as a download on the various Sony Pro sites already).

Mods, I'm not sure if there are any copyright issues about doing this - but if there are please just remove.

UPDATE: In the Manage Attachments Menu you can upload PDFs (up to about 64MB). I've just tried to upload the Sony FS5 English Manual PDF...but after a few seconds I keep getting an "Upload Failed" message in the DVinfo upload window. Not sure why yet as the manual is about 4.8MB.
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Old November 22nd, 2015, 05:46 PM   #4
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Re: Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions

Thanks for the write-up. Let us know how it goes with the Metabones adapter.
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Old November 23rd, 2015, 12:59 AM   #5
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Re: Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions

Vocas in The Netherlands have kindly put the manual online.

http://www.vocas.nl/webfm_send/1239
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Old November 23rd, 2015, 01:14 AM   #6
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Re: Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions

As a C100 owner who is looking very closely at the FS5, I'll be following your thoughts with interest. I'm especially interested to know how you find the image quality vs the C100, as well as OIS and how well the lens adapter works with your Canon glass.

Thanks for the write up :)
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Old November 23rd, 2015, 04:50 AM   #7
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Re: Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions

Can anyone confirm the file format of 120fps mode? Is it saved as 60i?
Or better yet, post a file of a few seconds of footage.

Thanks,
Mark
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Old November 24th, 2015, 09:49 AM   #8
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Re: Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions

Have not had time to test that yet - but I think the high frame rate bursts are indeed saved in a 50/60i wrapper...I wonder what did the FS700 use? (Note: it's not clear, at least to me, from my quick read of the manual via the link above - screen shot of page 58 also attached - I will try and find time to test this later this week).

One other thing I noticed that I forgot to mention in my opening post. It seems a bit strange that the grill for the handle's stereo microphones is on the TOP surface. Seems an ideal place to capture the operators breathing! Wonder why they are not more front facing (like on my C100 and PMW-300 - not that I rely on in-built microphones much, although the C100's handle mics are surprisingly good).
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Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions-fs5-manual-p58.png  
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Last edited by Andy Wilkinson; November 24th, 2015 at 12:21 PM. Reason: Adding FS5 Manual p58 Screen Shot
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Old November 24th, 2015, 02:32 PM   #9
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Re: Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions

In the manual, I feel like Sony uses the terms "60i" and "50i" in place of NTSC and PAL. Check out page 141:
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Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions-screen-shot-2015-11-24-2.31.08-pm.png  
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Old November 25th, 2015, 10:08 AM   #10
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Re: Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions

Nate,

Let's hope that's the case. I would like to see a HFR sample file just to be sure. If they aren't saving it as 50i/60i, then I would hope it's saved at the actual frame rate it's recorded at; 120p, 240p, etc. But that is not how the FS7 does it. On the FS7 you choose 24p, 30p or 60p (NTSC) and that's what your 120p recording gets rolled into. (Note: I couldn't download the manual nor even open the single page shot Andy posted. Slow connection here I guess...)


Mark

Last edited by Mark Watson; November 25th, 2015 at 10:19 AM. Reason: Total re-write upon further reading...
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Old November 25th, 2015, 01:27 PM   #11
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Re: Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions

Just got in from filming and had a VERY quick play around with my FS5 set at 200 fps (nothing elaborate, just me waving it around at my studio monitors!)...I have a cat but he don't move too fast!

Dumped the card contents onto a G-RAID Studio R and imported it into CC2014 (running on my new Mac Pro, with Mavericks OS).

Premier Pro displayed it no problems in the timeline. I tried looking at 'Media Properties' but still can't tell if it's interlaced or progressive...

One thing I will say is that the HFR options need a lot more light for correct exposure. Also, since it's dark here in the UK right now I had the lights on - and of course (as expected) you get some flickering in the footage which looks horrible - the flickering that is! When I get time I need to investigate what kind of lighting I might need for commercial work at HFR in indoor, lit environments.
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Old November 26th, 2015, 04:59 AM   #12
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Re: Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions

Had a spare hour before a client visits the Studio this morning so I whipped the Sony FS5's top handle and side grip off and put it on my new Letus Helix Jr.

Managed to balance it very quickly - will need a little work using the iOS App to get the Letus settings "just right" (via the Letus WiFi link) but I'm mighty impressed by just how light and usable this rig's going to be for even extended periods. Very happy about this!

Took some quick snaps to share the joy!
Attached Thumbnails
Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions-sony-fs5-letus-helix-jr-.jpg   Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions-sony-fs5-letus-helix-jr-b-.jpg  

Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions-sony-fs5-letus-helix-jr-c-.jpg  
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Old November 26th, 2015, 05:12 AM   #13
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Re: Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions

And a couple more snaps - thought it would be useful to show both the top and back views of the set-up.
Attached Thumbnails
Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions-sony-fs5-letus-helix-jr-d-top-view.jpg   Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions-sony-fs5-letus-helix-jr-d-back-view.jpg  

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Old November 26th, 2015, 06:07 AM   #14
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Re: Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions

Andy, thanks very much for the info. The one thing I'm most curious about though - how do you find the general image quality compared to your C100?

I realise that "image quality" is a very broad term, but I'm a C100 owner and am very tempted to buy the FS5... so I'm very interested in the differences.

Any info that you can provide would be greatly appreciated :)

Cheers.
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Old November 26th, 2015, 07:22 AM   #15
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Re: Sony PXW-FS5 - Initial User Impressions

Just on a quick break whilst my client makes a call....It's a Sony so don't expect such good skin tones as we get with our C100s "straight out of the box" - ducking as I write this in anticipation of stuff being thrown at me ;-)

It's far too early for me to say Jody. Images look absolutely lovely on my big studio monitors BUT I've yet to shoot any people with it/only had time for some very quick tests since I got it late last week.

I expect the Picture Profiles etc. section of the Manual (Page 81 onwards) is going to get a lot of attention in the next few weeks.
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