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Sony XDCAM PXW-FS7 / FS5
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Old March 29th, 2016, 04:08 PM   #1
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PXW-FS5 - "old" image sensor?

Just got my FS5 last week and so far, I'm LOVING it overall. However,.....

It has been said that the FS5 uses the same sensor that is also in the F5, FS7 and FS700. If this is true, this sensor is between 4-5 years old today. Why is Sony still using this,...OK, I'll say it,..."old" sensor?

Look at Sony's consumer division. They are using Sony's most advanced sensor technology today. They are using:

Copper wiring instead of the traditional aluminum conductors.
Back illuminated and stacked sensors
Sensors with integrated RAM.
Sensors with exceptional high ISO performance and high signal to noise ratio.
Extremely detailed, 6k+ over sampled down to 4k video with no pixel binning.
All this while maintaining 12-14 stops of dynamic range.

It just seems to me that Sony's consumer division is being very aggressive with it's sensor tech. Meanwhile the Pro business just keeps recycling older generation technology.

Why didn't the FS5 employ sensors form Sony's latest or newest technology? Yes, I know rolling shutter is a problem in Sony's consumer cameras. But, all those camera bodies use passive cooling. So, Sony has to clock the column readout much slower to control heat. However, the FS5 has active (fan) cooling. Couldn't they use an A6300 sensor on the FS5's cooling fan and clock the read out faster to reduce the roll?

This could have produced an FS5 that would resolve much more than it's current 1:1 readout image. Two million+ more pixels compensates for the Bayer pattern resolution loss VERY nicely!! The FS5 would have also been a significantly better low light camera than it is today.

I think I know the answer though. The F5 was given this sensor several years ago. Because of this, Sony Pro was "married" to this sensor for the FS7 and FS5. It is CRITICAL that the FS7 and FS5 NOT out perform the F5 image quality in most ways. To accomplish this marketing requirement, they "had" to install the same sensor in these cheaper cameras. They just couldn't hurt the F5 in that way.

Yes, I get the importance of ANY camera company trying to not cannibalize it's higher profit margin models. Yes, I know Sony wont cut it's own legs off by doing that.

So yeah, in the end, I guess I answered my own question. I just think its very ironic to see what is going on in the Pro side vs. what is being released on the consumer division. One is a grumpy hibernating bear while the other is a raging stampeding bull. (yeah,...like bull and bears in the stock market..lol)

I must commend those Sony Alpha and RX development teams. They truly are extremely aggressive and the images that they produce are jaw dropping. I also LOVE how they easily give out SLOG-2/3 on everything they make with no consideration for price point! The pro division is FAR more stingy and protective of SLOG-2/3. They refuse to put that on anything priced below an FS5.

Sometimes, I wish that Sony Pro was as aggressive as Sony's consumer division.

Yes,...generally speaking I do like my FS5 and it IS DEfINETELY a keeper. Waiting on FS raw upgrade now.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your attack!

CT ;-)

Last edited by Cliff Totten; March 29th, 2016 at 06:42 PM.
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Old March 29th, 2016, 09:03 PM   #2
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Re: PXW-FS5 - "old" image sensor?

Yup... why i've never liked Sony...
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Old March 29th, 2016, 10:34 PM   #3
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Re: PXW-FS5 - "old" image sensor?

Old or new, I think what the sensor and cameras have proved to achieve is quite clear. The overall IQ is still superior to any of what put out by the seemingly more high tech sensors inside Sony's own consumer hybrid cameras. And "hybrid" is the key word here since as good as those consumer cams are, there remain downsides such as high rolling shutter artifacts compared to any of the true professional video cameras.

The fact that Sony professional video cameras, like other true video cameras, don't have to be able to take still pictures is what really separates the cameras like the FS5 or FS7 from the A7xx.
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Old March 30th, 2016, 09:01 AM   #4
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Re: PXW-FS5 - "old" image sensor?

Alpha cameras can out resolve the FS700, FS5, FS7 and F5 today in 4k video. (even the RX series) They are building a 4k image from a considerably higher sample. Think about it. In "theory",....take in a 6k or more image, noise reduce it in that 6k or higher space and then down scale that result down to 4k. Even the noise becomes finer and less "spotchy". The grain gets smaller less intrusive or noticeable.

If the FS5 does a 1:1 sample of about 8 megapixels for it's UHD. That's only 4 million green, 2 million red and only 2 million blue pixels. The red and green channels are roughly equivalent to an "HD" 1080 resolution!!! The Sony EX1 and other 3 chip cameras use about that same resolution for each of their red, blue and green channels.

And dynamic range? I used to believe that a 4 micron photosite could NEVER match the dynamic range of an 8 micron photosite. Sony alpha cameras are beginning to prove this wrong. Their higher density sensors are now coming very close to their lower density sensors today in terms of dynamic range. I dont know how they do this!

They ONLY thing that is a problem is rolling shutter. These new sensors are placed into very small bodies that just can wick heat away efficiently. Read out speeds MUST be slowed down to control heat and that brings in the skew/jello that we all hate. But place them into a large, advanced active cooling body with a fan and you can speed up the sensor scan.

Imagine a full frame "PXW-FS1" with the A7s-II sensor in an FS5 body. If they could scan fast, keep it cool and add the FS protocal for 12 bit raw output? (like the FS700 and future FS5 upgrade) Wow,..getting "real" 10 ProRes and a 10megapixel scale down to 4k with very little rolling shutter?...WITH all that high gain/ISO goodness?

That would be devastating to the sales of FS5, FS7 and F5/F55.

And that is why Sony wont do it.

CT
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Old March 31st, 2016, 11:42 AM   #5
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Re: PXW-FS5 - "old" image sensor?

Yikes!

News Shooter has a lab test of the A6300. The results were pretty bad but I gotta say that the A6300 looks pretty damn good in "real world" shooting. So, these results are contrary to what many of us have seen from posted image samples.

This is a GREAT article!

Newsshooter Sony a6300 EBU lab test by Alan Roberts: Surprising results ‘not suitable for use in general broadcasting’
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Old March 31st, 2016, 09:32 PM   #6
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Re: PXW-FS5 - "old" image sensor?

Cliff, that partly, albeit a hard way to, explains why the cameras like the FS5, FS7 or F5 and the dedicated video sensors inside them always have their places.
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