View Full Version : Should I buy an FS700 right now?


Ryan Douthit
January 21st, 2015, 05:51 PM
I've been on the fence about what to replace my FS100 with. I already sold the FS100 after picking up an A7S (which is fully rigged for regular video shooting.) I had been considering an FS7, however, I'm starting to think I should consider an FS700. Here are the reasons:

- It will cost me $6000 if I get it new. I already have batteries, lenses, media and an external monitor. Whereas the FS7 is looking closer to $10-11k since I'd have to get new batteries, new multi-battery chargers and a lot of expensive media.
- I don't NEED 4k right now. Clients aren't asking for it. Probably won't unless I try to push it. And, if/when they do I can get an Odyssey for those particular shoots. Bonus: Odyssey will also unlock 4k for my A7S.
- One of the genres I shoot is motor sports. 280fps is better than 180. Also, I understand I can potentially shoot 120fps 4k with the FS700, but can't do that with the FS7. (Is this correct?)
- I travel a lot. The FS700 is lighter than the FS7.
- I don't mind the awkward body style of the FS700. Got used to it with the FS100.
- There are shoots coming up that would benefit from getting a new pro video body in the next couple weeks. I want to dedicate the A7S to other duties while on location. I may not be able to hold out and see what's coming from Sony.

Negatives:

- AVCHD. Yes, it's not bad on the FS700, I've worked with it and I don't really have a problem with it. That said, working with XAVCS from the A7S is so much better. Seems going backwards in this regard. (Seriously, if the FS700 had XAVCS this would be a no-brainer for me.)
- FS7 potentially has better weather sealing. I never had a problem with moisture or dust and the FS100... I just used weather bags. Of course better seals are always appreciated.
- As a stand-alone camera it won't hold value for as long as the FS7. Then again, I'm not spending as much up front.
- I'm pretty sure they'll have either a new FS700mk2 with XAVCS or something else that will sit in the $6k range with better codecs later this year.

What do current FS700 owners think? FS7 or FS700?

John Wiley
January 22nd, 2015, 01:03 AM
I just happily purchased a used FS700 after the FS7 came out and everyone started upgrading (it's currently en route to me so I haven't put it through its paces yet). I think the only thing that might disadvantage you is if you work solely as a cameraman and have people requesting a specific camera. Producers always want the latest 'buzz' cameras, and much like the Red Epic & Scarlet, this camera probably will be a frequent request. I edit more than I shoot, so I don't skew my camera preferences to other peoples needs, meaning the FS7 is not a necessity for me - your situation might be different though.

If you purchase used, you can probably get a great deal (though the spread may not be as great is the US as it is in Aus, where it sells new for $8500 or used for ~$5000). I'd bet you could buy a used one now and lose very little if you sell it again in 1-2 years.

I think the FS700 will be a viable option for a quite a few more years - especially with a 4K/ProRes recorder which you can always add later on if you need it.

Ryan Douthit
January 22nd, 2015, 01:24 AM
I've been lucky that a client has never once asked me to shoot with a specific camera. I'm my own worst client in that regard.

Gabe Strong
January 22nd, 2015, 01:55 AM
That's a hard one. I personally own a FS700. The FS7 looks nice and if I was buying now
and didn't own a FS700, I'm not sure what I'd do. The FS7 has internal 4K with a better codec.
Plus it seems as if it would be a little more R&G friendly. But the FS700 has higher frame rates
(240 vs. 180) plus the 480fps in the FS700 isn't bad.....I have certainly used in in my HD productions
plenty of times. And the internal AVCHD, although it gets a ton of bad publicity going on about it, is actually
good sometimes. I think it looks just fine, and for archiving purposes it's nice to have.....I can store more than
4 1/2 hours of native AVCHD on one 50 gig Blue Ray disk as a data file, which is really nice. But I sure wouldn't
mind being able to bump up (10 instead of 8 bit) to a better codec WITHOUT an external recorder for more demanding
shoots. Since I already have a FS700, I'll probably end up adding another camera to it, instead of selling it, I see lots of
people wanting to buy a FS700 for $3500 or so, and I certainly would keep mine before selling it for that. Not sure I am
going to jump on the FS7 just yet though, since I have a cam, I think I may wait and see what new stuff is revealed at NAB.

It's kind of pick your poison I guess. I certainly haven't reached the limits of the FS700 yet, it's a better camera than
I am a cinematographer!!

Shaun Roemich
January 22nd, 2015, 12:32 PM
FS7 media costs more - right now, a LOT more (although still cheap by previous Pro Media standards - SxS, P2). Bitrates are higher needing more storage UNLESS you use the XAVC-L HD 25.

Which makes you the larger return on investment?

If you can buy an FS700 today new at $7k (or used for cheaper...) and make that back in 20 - 30 shooting days and then sell off the camera and buy the FS7 (or its inevitable successor) without compromising your deliverables, go for it!

Cameras are a lousy place to be on the "bleeding" edge if you are paying for them out of your own pocket...

Shaun Roemich
January 22nd, 2015, 12:34 PM
I've been lucky that a client has never once asked me to shoot with a specific camera.

Here in Vancouver, we are OFTEN asked for a specific camera by clients who may not have any idea what they are in fact asking for... someone told them they NEEDED a Canon 5Dmk3 so the Alexa I show up with couldn't POSSIBLY be as good... I mean seriously... who has ever heard of ARRI?!?!? <tongue planted only somewhat in cheek...>

Dmitri Zigany
January 22nd, 2015, 12:46 PM
I had just sold my EA50 when the FS7 came out. And was considering selling the FS700 as well to buy the FS7. I could just about afford it but realised than when you added the cost of batteries, media and the larger files it would be too expensive for me to make that jump. So I bought an A7s instead.
And I agree, if the FS700 got an upgrade to XAVC, it would be all I really needed. Even if it was the 8bit XAVC-S that the A7s has it would be a nice improvement.

Ryan Douthit
January 22nd, 2015, 01:34 PM
If you can buy an FS700 today new at $7k (or used for cheaper...) and make that back in 20 - 30 shooting days and then sell off the camera and buy the FS7 (or its inevitable successor) without compromising your deliverables, go for it!


B&H is currently at $6k. I'm not a fan of buying used when I can help it. Either camera would pay for itself with work currently booked for February. So it's really a matter of how much $$ I can manage to keep in my pocket.

I'd totally just buy an Arri, but I've never heard of them and don't trust unknown brands. ;)

Some of the reports of "quirkiness" with the FS7 are putting me off a bit. (Such as the review on the front of DVInfo right now.) I'm also not a fan of having to jump to menus to engage high FPS modes. When necessary, I'd likely need to switch to high FPS modes quite quickly (not really want to shoot everything at 180, I don't think...)

John Wiley
January 26th, 2015, 12:11 AM
If you're worried about quirkiness or minor quibbles with the FS7, then why not rent one for a day and try it out for yourself? Every new camera has quirks and sometimes it's a case of the user adjusting over time, other times a firmware fix comes pretty quickly to rectify it.

If it's a straight-up question of economics though, the FS700 will keep much more money in your pocket while still achieving 90% of what the FS7 can for HD shooting (or even outdoing it in some cases, if you add an O7Q+).

Ryan Douthit
January 26th, 2015, 12:40 AM
Another benefit of the FS700 and O7Q+ is that I would also be able to use the Odyssey with my A7S. Still going back and forth. Will make a final decision in about a week, most likely, as I have a shoot coming up mid-Feb I'd like to use it for.

Mike Watson
January 26th, 2015, 01:02 AM
B&H is currently at $6k. I'm not a fan of buying used when I can help it.
The bleeding edge crowd is selling their FS700s in droves and the used price is way down. Profit on their loss.

Look for a camera that has been babied. It will be hard to tell by looking at the photos, but look for stuff like the original box, the packing material, the lens caps, the original manual. Anybody who squirrled away their receipt and box for 3 years took care of their camera.

If you buy the 700 used today and decide next month to get the FS7 - the 700 will be worth almost exactly what you paid for it. Not the case at all if you buy new.

John Wiley
January 26th, 2015, 01:40 AM
I totally agree with everything Mike said - usually I like to buy my primary work cameras new so I've got warranty & peace of mind, but the FS700's are going for crazy low prices right now, and I doubt they can lose much more value at all - even over the next few years - given there is no other camera with it's features in the price range. If you buy used and decide to upgrade later, your cost of ownership for 1-2 years could be as little as a few hundred dollars (which is what is costs to rent one for a day!).

Still, sometimes it's hard to silence that voice in the back of your head which swears pre-owned gear is a product of the devil.

Ray Lee
January 26th, 2015, 12:13 PM
The bleeding edge crowd is selling their FS700s in droves and the used price is way down. Profit on their loss.

Look for a camera that has been babied. It will be hard to tell by looking at the photos, but look for stuff like the original box, the packing material, the lens caps, the original manual. Anybody who squirrled away their receipt and box for 3 years took care of their camera.

If you buy the 700 used today and decide next month to get the FS7 - the 700 will be worth almost exactly what you paid for it. Not the case at all if you buy new.

have to agree, just got a used/demo FS700 (no 4k upgrade) for $4000 no tax free shipping.

Bstock Sony NEX FS700U Super 35 Camcorder Body Only 12 Months 0 Apr | eBay (http://www.ebay.com/itm/281511240615?_trksid=p2059210.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT)

Ryan Douthit
January 28th, 2015, 07:00 PM
With NAB around the corner, I decided to wait. (Though I did come really close to bidding on a FS700 on eBay yesterday.) Instead, I picked up an Odyssey 7Q+ to add 4K to my A7S. When I do get an FS7, FS700 or some other camera the Odyssey will still be something I'd want for ProRes if nothing else. I'm hoping that Sony comes out with an XAVC-based FS700 replacement around $6k.

Christopher Young
January 28th, 2015, 09:47 PM
When you look at some of the material that has been shot on FS700s over the last couple of years they represent really good value today for what you can squeeze out of them. You are only limited by your imagination.

Admittedly a Sony promo but shot by some well know identities on the release of the 700 but it gives you an idea of what is achievable from what is a very cheap camera, using cheap media.

Sony Professional: Introducing the Sony NEX-FS700 on Vimeo

A good FS700 example with a good mix of action and slo-mo shot and cut by Alan Brazzell, one of DVInfo's posters.

http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/sony-nxcam-nex-fs700/512588-marching-band-video-fs700.html

and some nice slo-mo FS700 examples by Richard Prendergast on his showreel.

Richard Prendergast DOP Reel 2015 - SubMotion.net on Vimeo

and with the following sorts of developments in the pipeline from Atomos there's plenty to look forward to:

"Sony FS700 outputs 4K only in RAW format. FS700 does not output 4K as a video signal which is needed for recording. FS RAW to Apple ProRes 4K UHD recording is planned for end of March, while Shogun support for RAW recording is planned Q2 2015."

All in all there is still life left in the FS700.

In the meantime a little performance tip. If you want full 10-bit out of the FS700 we've found taking the Raw Component video output to a Decklink Analogue to SDI Mini Converter then to a 10-bit external recorder, Samurai Blade, gives us a true 10-bit 1080 HD video that stands up to much more pulling and pushing in the grade. The FS700's SDI out is 8-bit so you end up with two padded bits when recording to a 10-bit recorder.

For most of my corporate work the internal 8-bit AVCHD stands up fine and I love the cheap media which in some cases I just give to the client if they are doing there own post. For the sake of security I always have everything backed up by running the internal dockable 128GB Flash memory. This is a great addition to the FS700.

Chris Young
CYV Productions
Sydney

Ryan Douthit
January 29th, 2015, 12:13 AM
Thanks Chris, some good info there. Nice samples, too. I am very familiar with excellent work out of the FS700. I own a network that runs a number of shows filmed with it, I've also edited a bunch of footage shot with that camera. I just don't own one personally and that's my conundrum. After spending several years with AVCHD on my NX5U and then the FS100, getting XAVCS on the A7S has really appreciate the greater grading flexibility of a more modern internal codec. (As nice as ProRes is, I wouldn't use it for everything or my investment in NAS backups will be through the roof.)

CRC 2014 Series, shot on FS700:
CRC 2014: Rocky Mountain Rally - Driving Sports TV (http://www.drivingsports.com/crc-2014-rocky-mountain-rally/)

Steven Reid
February 2nd, 2015, 09:45 AM
In the meantime a little performance tip. If you want full 10-bit out of the FS700 we've found taking the Raw Component video output to a Decklink Analogue to SDI Mini Converter then to a 10-bit external recorder, Samurai Blade, gives us a true 10-bit 1080 HD video that stands up to much more pulling and pushing in the grade. The FS700's SDI out is 8-bit so you end up with two padded bits when recording to a 10-bit recorder.

Chris, where did you learn that component out is 10 bit raw? And must the FS700 have the 4k firmware upgrade to enable this?

Gary Huff
February 2nd, 2015, 12:06 PM
Chris, where did you learn that component out is 10 bit raw?

Component Out is not 10-bit raw. He's getting a padded signal as well, just doesn't realize it (and it's undoubtedly worse quality than just plugging the Blade into the FS700 directly).

Steven Reid
February 2nd, 2015, 12:38 PM
Component Out is not 10-bit raw. He's getting a padded signal as well, just doesn't realize it (and it's undoubtedly worse quality than just plugging the Blade into the FS700 directly).

And how do you know that (the complement to my question to Chris)? I've not seen any documentation, official or otherwise, discussing bit depth from the component out.

Thomas Ruberto
February 2nd, 2015, 01:22 PM
I too am agonizing over a similar decision. Within the next month, I will require UHD capabilities for a number of customers. I've only had the FS700 for a short time - I own a small travel magazine and shoot videos for advertisers. It paid for itself within hours of use. To jump to UHD, I either need to buy the Odyssey 7Q+ (between $6-7,000 with two 1TB drives, case, cables, battery plate, Zacuto mounts, etc.), or use that money plus the proceeds from selling the FS700 (it has less than 10 hours on it, plus the newer Sony 18-200mm, and the Zacuto Shooter) to upgrade to the FS7. I cannot justify (for now) the FS7 plus the adapter and an Odyssey 7Q+. So many options with the FS700 + the 7Q+ versus the newer FS7 and it's ergonomics. For the travel and attractions videos I shoot, I'm almost always on a tripod and/or slider and can drive my equipment to the site. However, my mid-life crisis has me trying to document climate change in Arizona, which I would also like to shoot in UHD. I've never shot with an external monitor - is it practical to rig the FS700 plus a 7Q+ and hike and shoot with it? Uuuugghh... wish someone would just tell me what to do.

Gary Huff
February 2nd, 2015, 02:07 PM
I've not seen any documentation, official or otherwise, discussing bit depth from the component out.

Component out is an analog signal, bit-depth basically has no meaning except as an analogy. I highly doubt the Component Out signal is being processed in the chain before the SDI and HDMI outs. That's what would be required, otherwise it's taking the same signal it's putting out of the SDI and HDMI ports and turning it analog (for compatibility's sake) out of the Component output.

Steven Reid
February 2nd, 2015, 02:37 PM
Component out is an analog signal, bit-depth basically has no meaning except as an analogy. I highly doubt the Component Out signal is being processed in the chain before the SDI and HDMI outs. That's what would be required, otherwise it's taking the same signal it's putting out of the SDI and HDMI ports and turning it analog (for compatibility's sake) out of the Component output.

Thanks. That is what I suspected and, hence, why I pressed Chris to elaborate. When I owned a Canon XH-A1, similar discussions arose from time to time, and the conclusion always was that you just couldn't get a better image from any analog out. At best, it was the same (quality) as the digital out.

Christopher Young
February 3rd, 2015, 08:13 AM
Chris, where did you learn that component out is 10 bit raw? And must the FS700 have the 4k firmware upgrade to enable this?

Steven ~

Sorry. Just to be clear I meant uncompressed full 4:2:2 bandwidth. I should have explained myself a little bit better. Sorry if I'm teaching Grandma to suck eggs but what I meant was that the analogue component you capture is not coming off at any bit rate. It is a pure analogue HD video stream that has been encoded to full HD 4:2:2 bandwidth meeting the BT.709 HDTV standards of 74.25MHz for the luminance channel and 37.125MHz for the two chroma channels (i.e. the 4:2:2 designation as the chroma channels are sampled at half the rate of the luminance channel). If you measure said component signal this is what you will see, refer to the screen shot measurement. You will see its frequency is measured at 74.25MHz which is the specified maximum.

Now look at table #1 graphic and look to the bottom of it and you will see that for both 60Hz and 50Hz video the maximum frequency for 1920 HD Progressive video is 74.25MHz. This in other words is a full bandwidth analogue stream.

If this full bandwidth 4:2:2 analogue video stream is fed into a high quality (10 to 12-bit path) component to HD-SDI converter, Decklink, AJA etc it will encode that analogue stream to a 10-bit HD-SDI output. Which if fed into an external recorder such as an Atomos ProRes recorder will be recorded as a true 10-bit HD-SDI signal. Alternatively you can take this full bandwidth 4:2:2 analogue stream and feed it straight into an AJA KiPro’s HD analogue inputs and it will transcode it and record it as a 10bit HD ProRes file for you.

Re your question as to whether the camera needs to have the 4k upgrade the answer is no if you are working HD only. That upgrade has no effect on the full bandwidth RGB component streams from the sensor that get encoded to the 4:2:2 analogue output. The sensor analogue RGB streams also run through A to D converters and once they are in the digital domain they get encoded to an 8-bit 4:2:2 SDI stream that runs out of the SDI BNC. The FS700 also outputs an 8-bit 4:2:2 HDMI signal.

If you want a RAW output from the FS700 to encode to either 2K or 4K then yes you have to have the 4K upgrade installed. An overview of what is required and what is happening and how the RAW output gets deBayered and converted is outlined here by Dan Keaton I think. There are other useful links on this page for further info.

https://convergent-design.com/products/recording-options/sony-fs700.html

Again a lot of this is moot because it assumes you have a camera with a signal to noise ratio of at least 60dB to be able to get the maximum out of a 10-bit 60dB encode.

The mathematical representation of SNR for an image is defined as the ratio of the light detected on the sensor (signal e) to the sum of the noise in reading the signal through (noise e). SNR is expressed in units of power or decibels (dB).

SNR (dB) = 20log (Signal e- / Noise e-)

Quantified examples: 8-bit with a ratio of 256:1 has a dynamic range of 48dB.
10-bit with a ratio of 1024:1 (a 4x increase over 8-bit) has a dynamic range of 60dB.
Let’s now take this through to something many more of us would be familiar with, the humble CD. The CD is how many bits? It is 16-bit encode with a ratio of 65,536, (a 256 x increase in information over the 8-bit system) and it supports a dynamic range of 96dB.

Ergo. Unless you have a camera giving you better that 60dB SNR there is not a lot to be gained in 10-bit encoding from the noise point of view. In spite of the extra noise I find 10-bit encoded files do handle heavier grading better as they are less likely to start banding given the extra levels to work with. The physiology of the human eye tolerates noise in an image far better than banding artefacts.

To give this a bit of a point of reference let’s look at a few cameras out there today with their listed “typical” SNRs. The PMW-400 is claiming 56dB, The new PDW-850 (CCD) is claiming 62dB, this is getting good! The PXW-FS7 is claiming 57dB.

But there again it cannot all be defined by objective empirical data alone. Take the Sony A7s for example, quote “Signal to noise ratio drops from 45dB at ISO 100 to 31.4dB at ISO 3200—clean images throughout. It dips slightly below 30 at ISO 6400 but can still produce good quality images at that setting.” Any of us who have used the A7s can attest to the fact that the picture noise out of this camera is far from objectionable even at reasonably high ISOs. If this camera was recording 10-bit depth one hell of a lot of it would be noise with these sorts of SNR figures.

http://goo.gl/A0UeWC

I can only report my experience. With the FS700 encoding the analogue 4:2:2 through a good quality 10-bit A to D gives us a full 10-bit file that handles grading better than the 8-bit output that gets padded to 10-bit via the Samurai Blade's input. Especially when using Cinegamma 3 as it is by far the quietest on the FS700. You will trade off a little bit of the high end dynamic handling but if it is lower noise you want the Cinegamma 3 analogue output is quieter than Cinegamma 3 out of the SDI port and once encoded through a Decklink mini converter to SDI is still quieter... plus it is now 10-bit. In reality though 95% of my work doesn't require this nature of encoding and mucking around. If I'm not shooting XDCam disc I'm shooting AVCHD and it does a great job especially for anything going to the web in 8-bit 4:2:0 MP4s. Shoot in it, cut in it and carefully encode in it and my clients are happy. To me that is the proof of the pudding and that's what I get paid for.

Chris Young
CYV Productions
Sydney

Gary Huff
February 3rd, 2015, 09:16 AM
I can only report my experience. With the FS700 encoding the analogue 4:2:2 through a good quality 10-bit A to D gives us a full 10-bit file that handles grading better than the 8-bit output that gets padded to 10-bit via the Samurai Blade's input.

And you do have video examples to support this claim, correct? What kind of grading can you do specifically with this method that falls apart with files recorded straight to the Samurai?

Steven Reid
February 3rd, 2015, 09:33 AM
And you do have video examples to support this claim, correct? What kind of grading can you do specifically with this method that falls apart with files recorded straight to the Samurai?

Chris, you get props for one the most thoughtful posts I've read in awhile. I took Gary's question as asking for the "proof of the pudding", as you put it, perhaps by comparing shots of a blue sky or 8-bit vs. 10-bit frame grabs from pushing a grade pretty far.

Stepping back for a moment, I'm a little baffled (and perhaps really naive, too) as to why Sony wouldn't have simply included a relatively inexpensive 10-bit AD converter in the camera in the first place. I already record straight to a Samurai, so I'm curious, like Gary, to see a few examples of the benefits from this alternative signal path and processing.

John Nantz
February 3rd, 2015, 03:28 PM
+1 for Chris

Chris, you get props for one the most thoughtful posts I've read in awhile.

Or maybe Professor Christopher.
All this and no pop quiz or homework assignment?

Talk about information overload - there's a lot of it here. I think if my brain were a computer it would freeze.

Thanks for the great educational post, Chris.

Christopher Young
February 5th, 2015, 10:03 AM
or 8-bit vs. 10-bit frame grabs from pushing a grade pretty far.

Points taken re samples. Yes I had a think about this and at the moment I donít have time to run around to set up specific shots where we are comparing apples with apples so to speak. After a bit of thought though I recall it was quite some years back that I first became aware of certain grading limitations when I was working on a clip that had color bars and pluge ramps at its head.

Trying to work out the quickest way to demonstrate what I was trying to say about the 8-bit digital capture compared to 10-bit analogue capture plus the nature of 8-bit banding and 10-bit analogue banding / noise levels I thought the quickest way to demonstrate this was to use Bars and Ramps as examples. A setup that others can very quickly replicate with their FS700s and Atomos recorders should they wish to. Using the color bars and ramps gives us a control test where there are no external influences like light and exposure so I thought that this would be a fairly acceptable place to start.

Obviously using a static subject like bars and ramps of course gives us no indication as to how movement can also effect grading. Thatís a topic for another discussion which covers Spatial and Temporal Resolution.

Anyhow back to our bars and ramps. If you look at the attached pix you will see I have three sets of bars on an 8-bit timeline. All these were acquired at 1080 50i. I could have used a full 32-bit floating point timeline but for this exercise I stuck with 8-bit as this is the level most editors seem to work in.

In pix #1 the cursor is sitting on the AVCHD bars. The waveform and vector below show that the FS700 was putting out 16-235 level bars in 8-bit which equates to 0-100 IRE on the WFM. You will notice the vectors of the bars land in their correct boxes on the Vectorscope as one would hope.

Pix #2 Shows the bars captured by the Samurai Blade via the 8-bit SDI output. The ProRes capture is not 16-235. The Atomos recorders capture everything as full swing 0-255. As you can see from the pix itís not quite there regarding the levels. The other thing to note is the non linear nature of the slope from black to white. It has a distinct curve which is incorrect. I will put these non compliant level anomalies down to this particular Samurai Bladeís state of adjustment. The output from the FS700 when measured externally on a hardware scope is spot on the correct values like they are on in pix #1. Iíve included no screen grab of the scopes on the 422 analogue bars capture as those levels were also full swing and intrinsically the same levels as pix #2.

Pix #3 shows a rather dramatic Color Curves plugin. For this test I called it the ĎTorture S Curveí as it is pretty extreme. The reason it is extreme is to show the effect extreme gamma level adjustments can have. This exact S Curve was applied to all three clips. That was all that was applied. The extended ProRes capture levels would obviously need to be brought back to 16-235 to meet broadcast delivery standards. This could be easily accomplished with a ĎLevelsí plugin or similar.

Now we can pixel peep to our hearts content. Something the average viewer never does. We are our own worst enemies when it comes to these sorts of topics I am sure of it.

Pix #4 This shows a screen grab of the XAVC 24-mbit MTS clipís greyscale. Note the transition from black to white. Itís not bad considering the extreme nature of the S curve that has been applied.

Pix # 5 This shows a screen grab of the 8-bit SDI to Samurai ProRes HQ clipís greyscale. Note that in spite all we expect from ProRes HQ it is starting to show quite distinct banding in the greyscale but less noise as one would expect of an 8-bit 48dB dynamic range capture .

Pix #6 This shows the analogue 4:2:2 via an Analogue Component to SDI converter with its 10-bit capture. It also shows banding but less than in the 8-bit capture due to the fact it contains more noise which has dithered the banding. More noise is captured and this is to be expected as the SNR of the cameraís output electronics is incapable of meeting the 60dB SNR required by the 10-bit capture. In subjective general viewing though this increase in noise level and minimised banding is to my eye much more tolerable than the more distinct steps of the banding as is exhibited in the 8-bit ProRes example. I know most of us can tolerate a push up in ISO noise to certain levels and still consider it acceptable. I donít know anyone though who considers banding even at its lowest levels to be acceptable.

Every case of vision capture is influenced by many factors, detail, movement, dynamic range, codec, bit rate and in more extreme cases vibration to the sensor. This static bar and ramp test can only give one a small indication of the complexities of capturing images but I hope it helps in the understanding of the issues involved. All in all in this example I think the much maligned AVCHD codec handles the extreme Gamma S Curve better than either of the ProRes examples. Go figure.

A while back I came across this clip that some may find of some interest. Done by someone who is pretty through and who was really trying to find out just how good ProRes is in detail retention, noise and color depth compared to the humble AVCHD codec. I think you will be surprised at some of his findings. Apart from his mistake of taking ProRes 422 to be an 8-bit codec. A mistake on his part that he later acknowledges. His experiments were carried out using a Canon C100 but I think one would draw similar conclusions had they been carried out with an FS700 or any number of other cameras for that matter.

AVCHD better than Prores? - YouTube

Chris Young
CYV Productions
Sydney

Gary Huff
February 5th, 2015, 05:21 PM
Why did you not submit an actual frame grab from footage you have shot? I'm sorry but none of this convinces me in the slightest that you are not taking an 8-bit 4:2:2 analogue converted signal in as 10-bit and converting it back to digital. You need to show actual footage, not just a screen grab with this "torture" curve applied from footage shot internally, out to the Blade, and out to your convoluted Component analog capture setup. It needs to have motion and it needs to demonstrate where the Blade captured footage breaks down where the Component footage does not. All you have done so far is given information that I don't think you are interpreting correctly. Your bars at the bottom demonstrate nothing more than banding being hidden by extra color noise introduced by the analog conversion process, which is what I feel is confusing you.

Steven Reid
February 5th, 2015, 07:10 PM
Chris, thanks for taking the time to reply. I'm not eager to lodge a churlish reply. Still, I have to admit that you lost me on the applicability of your color bars and pluge ramp test. Those images aren't coming off the sensor, are they? If not, then I have to join Gary in wondering why you bothered with them.

The video that you linked was excellent and provided the information that, if shot on the FS700, would likely put our questions to rest. I'm sure you're busy like the rest of us, but since you put forth the notion in this thread that a couple hundred bucks for a 10-bit A/D converter could elevate the image quality, I think we're still looking to you to prove up your point.

Gary Huff
February 6th, 2015, 07:51 AM
The video that you linked was excellent and provided the information that, if shot on the FS700, would likely put our questions to rest.

Hey Steven, that video was shot on the C100.

Steven Reid
February 6th, 2015, 08:24 AM
Hey Steven, that video was shot on the C100.

Yes, I was perfectly clear on that fact. Evidently not so clear was my statement, which I should have written to say that if a video like that had been shot on an FS700 utilizing the signal paths that Chris has promoted, even though it wasn't, then the comparisons therein would have answered some of our questions here. ;)

Gary Huff
February 6th, 2015, 08:38 AM
Ah, thanks for clarifying.

Christopher Young
February 7th, 2015, 06:54 AM
I think we're still looking to you to prove up your point.

The HD component YUV output of the FS700 complies fully with the SMPTE analogue YPbPr SMPTE-274 standard. That’s my belief so guys please convince me if I’m wrong.

If I understand you correctly Gary I think what you are suggesting is that the analogue output is derived from an 8 -bit conversion somewhere in the chain. Do you have any data to support that hypothesis? I can't see this being the situation with the FS700. I could be wrong but I do not believe so. If so this would be first Sony camera I have come across that does this.

On all previous Sony cameras that I have worked with back to the earliest CCD days in the '80s the analogue component output was derived directly from the analogue RGB off the sensor. This was then sampled and converted to 422 YPbPr. This 422 YPbPr was then available as a 422 analogue output or went straight through as it was in those days to an SP recorder that then recorded that signal as a CTDM color difference signal in a format most of us know as SP Beta.

With later developments like the Sony Exmor R CMOS sensors in the FS700 the electrical charge received at the sensor is converted to an analogue voltage that then goes through stages #1 and #2 of an analogue noise reduction process. After stage #2 the sensor's full uncompressed analogue signal is then converted via an A/D converter.

This full sensor digital stream then goes through to Sony's proprietary BIONZ X image processor where the HD image de-Bayering and processing is done in 444. At this point an HD image from the full sensor's now processed raw digital data is extracted. This extracted HD image is not a down sampled HD image in the case of the FS 700. Hence the appeal of the Odyssey’s 4K for a down sampled HD signal. This BIONZ X processor then out puts both analogue and digital HD streams. The 444 analogue stream is encoded to the full SMPTE -274 component standard and output. This output has to comply with the SMPTE 4:2:2 HD component standard as this is the output required for integration of analogue HD devices into the broadcast world. Is the FS700 considered a broadcast camera?? I don’t think so so things may be different.

Internally the BIONZ X samples the data stream and outputs a compliant 8-bit 420 stream for recording as an H.264 file in a MTS container. It also encodes this to an 8-bit SDI stream for output.

I can only guess that as this camera was designed and built around the 8-bit AVCHD HD format there was no perceived benefit to having a 10-bit SDI output as the processors digital output was configured in hardware for 8-bit.

The FS700 4K upgrade became a service centre job as new firmware AND a chipset had to be installed to open up the RAW path get around the inbuilt 8-bit digital limitation.

From the information I have been given the new 4K chip set accesses the raw digital data after the initial A/D stage and introduces the new PP7 with its RAW S-LOG and 709 800% options so has no involvement with the YPbPr output from the BIONZ X. This new chipset then feeds back to the existing processor so the new options are available for onboard recording as well. When RAW recording is selected the 8-bit SDI output is disabled and switched to Sony's propriety compressed 12-bit RAW stream from the new chipset.

With the advent of the PXW-S7 with its onboard 10-bit recording it makes sense to have 10-bit SDI outputs which it does x 2.


That's all by the bye anyhow. It is still firmly my belief that the output is not an up-converted YPbPr signal from an 8-bit digital encode. This belief is admittedly based on hearsay information received from the Sony techs who did my 4K upgrade, and my own past experience with Sony YPbPr outputs which we have used extensively over the years.

A number of you suggested vision samples for comparison. As Steven suggested I included some blue sky. Rather than using just frame grabs I’ve uploaded two quickly grabbed clips. You can download them from here for your own experiments if you wish:

https://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/wleh9s (About 600MB)

They are both ProRes HQ and clearly labelled as to which is which

Using the blue sky in the scene I dropped a chroma key on track FX so everything on that track would get the same treatment. Chroma keying is one of the places I see the worst effects of digital blocking and breakup for any codec. The frame grabs below show you the original clips plus the clips with the chroma key applied and the key mask turned on. This chroma key was just applied, no adjustments made to it. Please look at the blocking artefacts between the two. Specifically at the roof of the building on the right and the roof of the car bottom right. I know which one I prefer.

Frame grab examples at the bottom. These were from 50i as most of our work is for broadcast where 50i is the required standard down here.

So Gary and anyone else please download these two clips and have a good push around grade with them and let me know what your conclusions are. I know what my conclusions are. If anyone feels they can demonstrate a different set of outcomes please feel free to show me. I’m always on the ‘learn more’ path. It would be good to see some of you demonstrate your techniques and do similar experiments with some of your own footage, captured both via 8-bit SDI and by analogue component to a Samurai. It would be really good to see someone else’s results. Upload them and let us all have a look. I'm sure there will be a few interested observers.

Steven. Referring to an earlier post of yours you are correct the bars are not off the sensor. What I was talking about was the 8-bit SDI out quality. The bars still come have to come out of the SDI port.

Hey look anyone if there is a shorter way to China show all of us. I guess most of us would be interested in seeing if we can get better images out of the FS700's 8-bit SDI.

BTW one thing that hasn't been considered in this discussion is the quality of the A/D converter used. The quality of these can obviously influence what is going into the Samurai. Cobalt, AJA, Decklink and a host of other companies make these so I guess without checking numerous different makes and models it's probably a bit hard to come up with a definitive answer but it's always interesting to look at different ways to improve output quality. It’s something many of us never stop chasing. The converter used in this example was a Focus Enhancements MCSDI-1 Analogue to 10-bit SDI unit of which we have six. They were very useful in transitioning us from analogue to digital over a number of years.

Yes Steven I am pretty busy and today ducking up the road to grab some shots and coming back and mucking around with them and writing this has blown the best part of a couple of hours. Really can’t spend too much time on these interesting but non paying topics so it’s over to you guys for some examples to change my mind :)

Chris Young
CYV Productions
Sydney

Ryan Douthit
August 16th, 2015, 04:27 PM
Even with IBC just a month away, I really couldn't delay any more: I just ordered a FS700R. I already have an Odyssey 7Q+ and figure that 4k/120p will have to do for now.;)

Even if something to replace this camera is announced next month, availability could still be several months off. And, chances are, it will still not be any better than this combo.

Gabe Strong
August 16th, 2015, 04:54 PM
I wouldn't worry too much about it. The FS700 isn't going to suddenly become
a worse camera because something new is announced. I think it will become
one of those 'classic' cameras. As in I think Sony kind of 'accidentally' gave us
more than they meant to with this camera. They were hoping to get everyone
to buy the big, bulky Sony 4K recorder.....but when that wasn't happening they
let the Odyssey and Shogun record the 4K out of the FS700. It's just such a
versatile camera. And despite what you hear from everyone, the internal
stuff looks pretty good....the 4K chip downsampled to HD makes it look nice.
I actually like the fact I can record 3 hours of full HD video on a $30 SDHC card
and archive it as a data file onto a $1 Blu Ray disk.

Mark Koha
August 17th, 2015, 12:50 PM
Ryan, speaking of your network, do you know what the Formula Photographic guys are using to shoot Launch Control? That show looks amazing.

Ryan Douthit
August 17th, 2015, 04:55 PM
Speaking of... they actually use FS700s almost exclusively. A 5D Mk II was a second camera in the first season but now serves mostly for backup or tight spaces. They also have a DJI quad copter and a Movi M5 (iirc) that are used in production.

Their experiences with the FS700 was one of the reasons I bought one. They shoot in really poor conditions with regularity and both the FS700 and Odyssey 7Q have held up well.

Mark Koha
August 18th, 2015, 03:39 PM
Well that pretty much sells me on the idea of getting one. I've long been a fan of Canon and had myself pretty well convinced I was going to get a c100 mk 2 but the slow motion of the 700's would be so money for what I do. And for the prices they are going for it's hard to pass up.

Ryan Douthit
August 18th, 2015, 04:38 PM
One thing that pushed me over the edge was the latest high-speed update on the Odyssey. The features this combo will bring is untouchable at this price.

Ryan Douthit
August 31st, 2015, 10:20 PM
Been playing with the setup for a week now. Just have to say that shooting 4k at 120fps (ProRes) is going to kill my HDD storage budget.

Mark Koha
September 1st, 2015, 12:55 PM
That's a good problem to have though, right?

Ryan Douthit
September 2nd, 2015, 08:24 AM
Price on the FS700 just dropped AGAIN. Now down to $3999 at B+H. A successor is eminent, I believe. That said, B&H confirmed this morning they'll be crediting me the extra $1000 (I buy a LOT of stuff there and I picked this one up only 2 weeks ago) when I asked about it. :) This camera is killer at that price.

David Peterson
September 2nd, 2015, 11:06 PM
Hope that leads to a big drop on the second hand market!

Still believe the PMW-F3 was a better buy for me personally :-)

Newshooter just blogged about it:
News Shooter | Fancy a S35 sensor camera with a great image, XLR audio, SDI and HDMI outputs, 4:4:4 colour, PL mount and built-in ND filters for under $4K? Read on? (http://www.newsshooter.com/2015/09/02/fancy-a-s35-sensor-camera-with-a-great-image-xlr-audio-sdi-and-hdmi-outputs-444-colour-pl-mount-and-built-in-nd-filters-for-under-4k-read-on/)