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Sony XDCAM PXW-FS7 / FS5
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Old April 17th, 2017, 09:23 PM   #1
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So what's the consensus?

Now that these camera's have been out for awhile, what do people think?

I really loved the fs-100/fs-700 cameras, so I am assuming that these are going to be just as satisfying, if not better.

With that said I have heard some people complain of it's "video" look vs. a Canon's "more cinematic" look, but I am thinking those statements are more tinted by brand loyalty than anything.

Thanks for any input.
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Old April 18th, 2017, 09:19 PM   #2
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Re: So what's the consensus?

Re the FS7. Pretty good once we were able to tone down the tendency of the FS7 to lean towards magenta. We have developed a very workable Custom Matrix setting that works well in Standard, Hypergamma and even under S-LOG2 in Custom mode. Colorimetry is a subjective matter as it can be discussed up hill and down dale all day. Suffice to say that the main matrix we have developed seems to keep most clients pretty happy.

The FS7 also tended to show this magenta flavour in LOG. This was a personal hate of mine so we spent some time developing a LUT that we could use on set to give clients a pretty good idea of what they might end up with when shooting LOG. Some clients have liked it enough to use it as their preferred LUT in post. Obviously using your own camera LUTs means you have to remember your exposure levels on the WFM are reflecting the true LOG levels unlike the built in Sony 709-800 viewfinder LUT where the WFM levels in the viewfinder are basically normal 709 exposure levels as per any normal 709 type camera.

Reliability? So far after 18 months of pretty solid work no problems. I use the FS7 with a mixture of Sony E-Mount lenses, 35mm Nikon mount prime lenses, Sigma 24-105mm and a Metabones Speed Booster Ultra. Along with these I have the MTF Services B4 to S16 adapter that enables me to use regular 2/3” B4 glass with the HD S16 centre crop mode on the FS7. This unit has about .8 of a stop light loss. Very surprised by the results out of this adapter considering it is working in crop mode. Nice having a parfocal, constant aperture servo zoom for some jobs.

I’ve added a few ergonomic creature comforts like the Shape arm extension unit a Vocas viewfinder bracket plus a shoulder mount that accommodates a Sony VCT plate to make the camera a bit easier to use. The FS7 shoulder mount with a VCT toe and heel then makes the camera compatible with our tripods that all run the standard Sony VCT plates. The Vocas viewfinder bracket eliminates the viewfinder droop the FS7 Mk I suffered from. Add on a ‘V’ Lock battery mount then the FS7 can run virtually all day on one 160 watt hour battery.

Not the perfect camera but overall for the price it does a pretty workman like job. I’ve just come back from a three week HD doco shoot in the UK and the client, the Aussie Government, are very happy with what we have brought back. One of my pet hates is the audio monitoring and headphone volume adjustment... all menu based, why I ask? It is a pain to work with. At least the FS700 had manual switch selection and level for these functions.

The main reason I went for the FS7 was at that price there was nothing else in S35 that was offering 4:2:2 at 50/60p with a decent I-Frame codec in both HD and UHD/4K. The slow-mo over cranking is also a nice feature to have if and when you need it. To sum up bang for the $$$’s the FS7 is pretty good value. Once the traditional Sony ‘colours’ were beaten into something we liked it has proven to be a pretty satisfying and importantly a very reliable camera to work with... so far :))

Chris Young
CYV Productions
Sydney
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Old April 20th, 2017, 07:57 AM   #3
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Re: So what's the consensus?

As a hardcore Canon user (own the C100 MKI/C300 MKI and a dozen EOS lenses) and rent the C300 MKII on occasion, I think Sony is killing it with the FS7. I really dislike the Sony skin tones, they look really unappealing to me, they are not warm and friendly like the Canon skin tones but as Chris alludes to, I have seen some FS7 footage lately that looks decent with non-magenta skin tones from users who have figured out a production and post workflow that neutralizes the "Sony skin tones". The camera is super sharp if you like that look, it is very much reminds me of when I used to shoot my HPX170 versus the EX1, I used to shoot both. The Sony had a detailed video-like super clean look while the HPX170 had a S16, grainy, lower res looked that I happened to prefer, not that the Canons look grainy and low res in comparison, but the Sonys tend to have a very sharp, clean, detailed look that many associate with TV and that's fine if that's what you are looking for.

But from a big picture, the only way to get into 4K with Canon is to spend $12k for the C300 MKII, which is a great camera but $12k once you add in lots of extra CF cards and batteries, easily shoots you up to $15 to $20k, depending on how much media and battery you need. I have seen barely used FS7s for a little over $6k. Even when you kit it all out with the extras, you are still probably under $12k with the accessories, enough media and batteries. That's tempting since Canon neglected to even include 4K 60p while the FS7 has true slow motion frame rates, decent ergonomics although Sony's typical terrible menus. No camera is perfect, the FS7 is a compromise just like the C300 MKII but the Sony offers what many feel is superior value, if you can live with the Sony colors and workflow to get around them. Canon will supposedly offer something with 4k, possibly decent slow motion at least in HD, under $10k in the Fall. If they don't, I think you'll see a good amount of Canon owners jump ship to Sony. I may consider unless this camera from Canon comes out or the C300 MKII prices take a big dive. If I was starting from scratch today, I would be very tempted by the Sony, I may rent one and play with skin tones to see what I can get, all of the other shortcomings I could live with for the money. Have seen some nice footage coming from the FS7 lately.

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Old April 24th, 2017, 03:28 PM   #4
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Re: So what's the consensus?

I have no personal experience with Film Convert but I read on Philip Bloom's website that he uses it to "match" footage from Canons (1D-X ii, for instance) and Sonys.
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Old June 6th, 2017, 08:44 AM   #5
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Re: So what's the consensus?

I really like the skin tones from the FS7. I cannot see a difference from the clog when I Shoot with my XC10 or C300 mark II. I never noticed a lean towards magenta in my FS7 footage. I shoot slog 3 most of the time and grade with Magic Bullet Film.




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Old June 13th, 2017, 06:56 PM   #6
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Re: So what's the consensus?

I loved MANY things about the FS5. The form factor, ergonomics and ND filter.

However, for me the two things that made me sell it were;

1.) Noisy image - Just way nosier that it needed to be at every ISO level. The A6300/6500 image sensor destroys the FS5 in low light. It's a really sad site to see in an A/B side by side test.

2.) Image was too soft - the FS5 uses a basic 1:1 readout and they all just look very "soft". I think even the FS700 is slightly more detailed. I wonder if Sony placed a very strong low pass filter over that FS5 sensor so that it would be softer than the more expensive FS7 bigger brother.

The FS7 and FS5 and FS700 all share the same sensor, readout engine and raw sensor data protocol. I think this sensor is just very "old" by Sony standards today. Sony Silicon SemiConductor division is throwing all of it's latest cutting edge CMOS senors over to the Sony Alpha division. Alphas get 5k to 6k oversampling, BSI architecture, fully stacked layering all with copper conductors instead of the older aluminium-type design. They even use gapless micro lenses today. On the XDCAM side? the FS700, FS5 and FS7 are using an almost 5 year old design. Sony sensor designs have come a VERY LONG way in 5 years.

I think it's time to retire the FS700 sensor and retire the 1:1 readout and original FS raw protocol. Sony needs to move into a modern 6k readout, 6k raw protocol and 6k to 4k internal video recording. The way Alphas do it.

The Lumix GH5 (5k) and Panasonic EVA-1 (5.7k) do it and I highly suspect that they purchased this from Sony anyway. (both sensors and readout/scaling tech)...just a suspicion.

Anyway. Sony has milked their current 8bit chipsets for a long time now. How many Sony cameras have the exact same limitation of not being able show the LCD image while sending 4k video over HDMI and recording internally? I count 8 Sony cameras that have this identical problem. Is it because they all share the same basic image processing chipsets with the exact same hardware and processing limitations? Maybe. We know it's cheaper to share a common chip design across many models to keep costs down.

It's time that they move to more new 10bit internal recording models and less playing around with CODEC crippling games.. The GH5 is leading the way for everybody on this. (Panasonic EVA-1 too) It's time for Sony to stop over protecting it's FS7 sales.

I dunno....what do I know? Nothing, really! lol

CT ;-)
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Old June 13th, 2017, 08:49 PM   #7
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Re: So what's the consensus?

:)) Cliff

Tell that to ARRI with its seven year old ALEV III sensor with its 2880 x 1620 readout which is used for ARRIRAW 16:9. Even in Open Gate mode it only goes to 3414 x 2198. Quite a few up-scaled 4K DCI productions have been produced from these old ARRI sensors. Age and pixel count are not the whole story let's face it.

Chris Young
CYV Productions
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Old June 13th, 2017, 09:01 PM   #8
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Re: So what's the consensus?

Yeah, they got something like 2.7k sensors? If you have 4.6+ megapixels to make an 8+ megapixel 16x9 UHD image?...the highest resolution channel (green) is only 2.3 megapixels? The best resolution channel is near 1/4 the resolution needed for UHD? Yeah,...that sucks, big time.

But, nobody chooses ARRI for it's resolution. They are chosen for their pretty damn good dynamic range. So yeah, people will trade allot to get that much latitude. Plus it says "ARRI" on the side and that alone is an important "status" thing for your shoots. ;-)

CT
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