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Sony XDCAM PXW-FS7 / FS5
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Old December 19th, 2015, 02:07 PM   #1
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FS5 - Macro blocking codec issue in 4k??

So it looks like NewsShooter.com has introduced the idea that the FS5 is suffering some codec breakdown?


New tests show Sony FS5 macro-blocking and noise issues when recording 4K internally


Has anybody else seen this yet on their FS5?. It seems that NewsShooter has reported this to Sony.

Is it possible that Sony is only using a one pass XAVC-L encoder on the FS5 instead of the usual two pass encoding process that is supposed to exist on other Sony XAVC-L/S cameras?

I hope we can all dive deeper into this and either debunk and disprove it or get Sony to investigate a solution to it.

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Old December 19th, 2015, 03:46 PM   #2
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Re: FS5 - Macro blocking codec issue in 4k??

One of their senior design engineers is on record (and on camera) stating clearly that FS5 uses two-pass encoding.

To me this is simply that the XAVC codec, when used at a lowly 100Mbps and in Long GoP format is bound to stress as soon as things "get challenging" (low light plus fast movement). Why the big surprise?

To me this is simply the price we pay with having it record at a lowly bit-rate so it can use relatively cheap media, SDXC. Sure, I would have loved it if the FS5 offered a higher bit-rate option (and better All I encoding etc...) but it is what it is.

I have always regarded the FS5 as having what I call "entry level 4K" (actually, technically QFHD until a future firmware update). We all know its only 4.2.0 8-bit so you are not going to be doing serious 4K work for National Geographica channel with a FS5, especially at 100Mbps!

I bought it primarily to use as as a highly flexible, small and lightweight yet highly ergonomic 10-Bit 4.2.2 FullHD cam with some lovely features including HFR and its variable ND. It is also ideal for manageable hand-held gimbal work. So far, it seems that the FullHD 50Mbps two-pass encoding is "sufficient" as image quality is comparable (or better) than my Canon C100 with its lowly 4.2.0 8-bit AVCHD codec at 24Mbps.

Sure, it will be interesting to see how this story pans out but I for one won't be loosing any sleep over it.
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Old December 19th, 2015, 05:33 PM   #3
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Re: FS5 - Macro blocking codec issue in 4k??

I can show you some absolutely horrendous macro blocking from the FS7 as well, this was before I figured out how to shoot with it.

All cameras are a compromise one way or another. Any cam that uses CF cards are stuck with a low bit rate. I loved my C100 but sold it when I got my A7s. Yes I missed it, but the A7s is so nice in low light. The FS7 blow them both out of the water.

I see the FS5as a replacement for my C100 and IMHO it produces better quality then the C100. But the C100 PPs included were much better than the Sony included PPs. However that is the beauty of these new cams and modern NLEs, you can make them all look good. These days all the cams $5,000.00 and up (some less even) can produce wonderful results, but it is up to the operator and editor/colorist to make it really shine.

So far I like Cine1 and Cine4 with a few tweaks to sharpening (reduce) and black point (lower) with a bit of sat (increase), and I also use Cine 2 and 3 with some tweaks in custom mode in the 5. This works well for me and I think iso 3200 is the max I want to shoot at with the 5. Low light I use my A7s it blows everything out of the water. Mostly I use iso 1000 in the 5 and in Slog I over expose so my LumaPro is set to iso1200 and exposure is perfect for what I do.

Know what I need to keep my clients happy and myself as well and the 5 makes my life easy hiking or skiing around the back woods as I am getting older. It is also nice to be able to shoot some UHD internally, though I did not buy the 5 to be my 4K main cam, that is why I have the 7.

All this said if Sony can improve on the higher iso shaky cam style of shooting great (not part of my style), but so far I have not found anything objectionable in my style of shooting from the FS5. I believe in the 7 second rule and good lighting even if it is just good use of bouncing and flags.
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Old December 20th, 2015, 04:05 PM   #4
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Re: FS5 - Macro blocking codec issue in 4k??

If the A7Rii can record (consumer-grade) 4:2:0 8bit XAVC-S 100Mbit 4K *without* any noticeable macro blocking (even at higher ISOs) then the FS5 *should* be able to record (theoretically superior) 4:2:0 8bit XAVC-L 100Mbit 4K without it becoming unusable.

But it can get so bad in low light that at 6400ISO it's like a mush of blocky noise in the shadows, that stays fixed on the screen and doesn't move with the camera!

So REGARDLESS of the technical limitations of the camera relative to the FS7... If the A7Sii and A7Rii can do it, why can't the (theoretically superior) FS5 do it?
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Old December 21st, 2015, 01:10 PM   #5
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Re: FS5 - Macro blocking codec issue in 4k??

I haven't got the blocky mushy stuff on my fs5 in UHD, do you have samples? I would like to see if I can recreate it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Leith View Post
If the A7Rii can record (consumer-grade) 4:2:0 8bit XAVC-S 100Mbit 4K *without* any noticeable macro blocking (even at higher ISOs) then the FS5 *should* be able to record (theoretically superior) 4:2:0 8bit XAVC-L 100Mbit 4K without it becoming unusable.

But it can get so bad in low light that at 6400ISO it's like a mush of blocky noise in the shadows, that stays fixed on the screen and doesn't move with the camera!

So REGARDLESS of the technical limitations of the camera relative to the FS7... If the A7Sii and A7Rii can do it, why can't the (theoretically superior) FS5 do it?
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Old December 23rd, 2015, 09:50 AM   #6
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Re: FS5 - Macro blocking codec issue in 4k??

So this is one example of the sort of breakup you get with the codec. This is ISO 3200 @100bit UHD. As you can see there's barely any movement in the frame... I really don't think it should be showing signs of struggling to handle the image. But edges show weird blocky nonsense.

This was with Firmware 1.1.

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Old December 23rd, 2015, 09:57 AM   #7
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Re: FS5 - Macro blocking codec issue in 4k??

Damn! This is much worse than I'd feared - but you've posted a very good example to demo the problem (Note: I had to go to Vimeo to get it in HD but it's still obvious in low res).

Sony, we have a problem...
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Old December 23rd, 2015, 10:51 AM   #8
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Re: FS5 - Macro blocking codec issue in 4k??

That looks like bad CABAC encoding. Might be similar to how Sony AVC in Sony Vegas almost never looks as good as Handbrake. Edge smearing is usually prominent in misconfigured H.264 encoders.

If the chips really are from the A7s II, it just might not be advanced enough for the XAVC extensions in the pro XAVC-L vs XAVC-S. This also does not bode well for the PXW-X70 100mbps update.
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Old December 23rd, 2015, 12:21 PM   #9
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Re: FS5 - Macro blocking codec issue in 4k??

I just can't get mine to do this, could it be the way you import the footage?... I use EditReady to ProRes and bring that into FCPX... also the sample seems underexposed a little maybe, could that cause it? Could certain PP gamma setting be better or worse?, I want to replicate it so I can avoid it... its a small 8 bit codec, I never expected it would cut into F65 sales :)

This is one of maybe the several attempts at getting mine to do it
first 15 sec out of camera
next 15 corrected to what I feel looked real
next raised the levels like crazy, the exact opposite of what you should ever do
last 15 seconds raised levels a little and tossed a bunch of looks on it then tweaked color again

Once on YouTube it has the issue

Download a compressed H264 version but without YouTube artifacts here (514MB)
http://TheSBimage.com/2015/514mbFS5UHDh264mov.zip
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Old December 23rd, 2015, 12:24 PM   #10
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Re: FS5 - Macro blocking codec issue in 4k??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Leith View Post
So this is one example of the sort of breakup you get with the codec. This is ISO 3200 @100bit UHD. As you can see there's barely any movement in the frame... I really don't think it should be showing signs of struggling to handle the image. But edges show weird blocky nonsense.

This was with Firmware 1.1.

FS5 Codec Issues on Vimeo
Is this your footage? would be helpful to know all your settings, thanks
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Old December 23rd, 2015, 12:29 PM   #11
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Re: FS5 - Macro blocking codec issue in 4k??

Yes indeedy that's my footage.

PP5, UHD, 25p, 100Mbit, ISO3200, F8.0, No ND, 35mm e-mount lens (also tried with Canon 24-105mm and metabones speed booster )

It shows up when there's (even a little) movement in the frame, and it's especially visible on edges. Can you try again, just gently moving the camera?

I know my shot was a little underexposed (although not terribly) but I wouldn't expect that to cause that kind of break-up in the image.

I tried EditReady too... Colours looked very slightly more vibrant, but the result was more or less the same.

One more thing can you try focus mag at 8.0x in UHD... then switch to HD and try focus mag again. The view seems to be the same size, but on mine it looks really blurry in UHD but relatively sharp in HD.
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Old December 23rd, 2015, 12:33 PM   #12
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Re: FS5 - Macro blocking codec issue in 4k??

This doesn't have anything to do with AUTO knee settings or something like that, does it?

I haven't seen this same behavior yet in my UHD footage. It definitely breaks up on movement, and creates sort of strange horizontal 'lines' in the picture, but at 100mbps, I was prepared for that when I bought it. Attached photo is mid whip-pan, obviously terrible in my living room, but shows how the XAVC-L breaks up when stressed.
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FS5 - Macro blocking codec issue in 4k??-blocking.jpg  
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Old December 23rd, 2015, 12:37 PM   #13
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Re: FS5 - Macro blocking codec issue in 4k??

No change with manual knee... but interesting everything gets a lot better if I switch to SLOG3... Edge artefacts disappear completely. Unfortunately, SLOG3 grades HORRIBLY in 8bit... :-(
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Old December 23rd, 2015, 12:42 PM   #14
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Re: FS5 - Macro blocking codec issue in 4k??

Alister Chapman said at his seminar to use S-Log2 with S-Gamut3.cine in UHD - just throwing out ideas right now but it couldn't be a color thing?
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Old December 23rd, 2015, 12:48 PM   #15
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Re: FS5 - Macro blocking codec issue in 4k??

"One more thing can you try focus mag at 8.0x in UHD... then switch to HD and try focus mag again. The view seems to be the same size, but on mine it looks really blurry in UHD but relatively sharp in HD"

I noticed that, I actually switched to 4x because it did not really help me at 8x with it so soft... OT but this is the first camera I have ever owned or used that I did not turn the sharpness down, I think I may actually raise it up a click or two in UHD? (turned it down in HD like normal like every other camera aI have owned)


Did you download my clip? I had a good deal of underexposed out of focus background and did not have the issues.
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