We were at IBC 2015 this year and just like last year, when the PXW-FS7 pretty much stole the show, Sony ensured this year would be no different. This time around, the much hyped and rumoured "mini FS7" was introduced, which without a doubt was the key product announcement at IBC.
The PXW-FS5 is the latest entry into the XDCAM range featuring the 4K Super 35 Exmor CMOS sensor from the FS7 and F5/F55, but in a much smaller body and with a few surprises up its sleeve. However, the new Sony 4K camera is a lot more than just a miniaturized version of the PXW-FS7.
Despite sharing the same Super 35 sensor, the internal recording format is different. The FS5 can only do 4K in XAVC Long GOP (XAVC-L), which is an 8bit 4:2:0 codec, however don't let this fool you - it is still a very capable codec, albeit requiring more processing power to edit. The good news is that popular editing software packages like Final Cut X and Premiere Pro CC 2015 support native editing for the codec.
In addition, the Sony FS5 records now onto SDXC media cards, which cost substantially less than the XQD cards the FS7 uses, allow you to save money and spend them on more accessories for example. The 240fps slow-motion is limited to an 8 second burst (80 seconds in real time) just like in the NEX-FS700, giving video producers even more ways to be creative in their ventures.
There are 2 XLR inputs, one on the top handle and one on the back of the camera, so you can still have a professional audio connection even if you strip the camera to just body and a lens for drone or stabiliser use. And this is where this camera will excel - it is small enough (weighing less than 1 kg) to be used in just about any situation - handheld, for low-angles, tucked somewhere in a corner, or flown on a bigger drone or a 3-axis stabiliser like the DJI Ronin for example.
See more of the feature of FS5 below to get a better idea of what it can do.
11.6 Megapixel 4K Super 35 Exmor Sensor
The FS5 is built around a high-sensitivity 4K Super35 "Exmor" CMOS Sensor that offers all the benefits of a large format sensor in combination with the exceptional image readout speeds required for 4K motion-picture shooting and Super Slow Motion. 4K resolution 11.6 million total pixels and 8.8 million effective pixels deliver 4K resolution. Even if you’re delivering in HD, your recordings will capture detail and image texture that HD sensors simply cannot see. The Super 35 size sensor offers "bokeh," the defocused backgrounds made possible by shallow depth of field, as well as excellent low-light sensitivity and an expansive field of view.
14 stops of exposure latitude deliver powerful grayscale rendition without crushing shadow detail or blowing out highlight detail. Exceptional sensitivity enables you to shoot well after sunset, without tons of lighting and grip. Sony’s Exmor CMOS design provides high-speed full-pixel read- out capability (without pixel binning) and sophisticated camera processing to ensure aliasing and moiré are minimized.
Super-Slow Motion up to 240 frames per second in Full HD 10bit 4:2:2
The FS5 offers High Frame Rate (HFR) cache recording at Full HD 10bit 4:2:2 image quality and a frame rate of up to 240 fps. The 8-second cache recording means no more mistimed shots leading to extra takes. It also lets you pick out footage at exactly the point that you want. It is also possible to record 120 fps with up to 16-second cache recording. Higher frame rates of 480 fps and 960 fps are also possible a specific resolution.
Flexibility to adapt any lens thanks to the Sony E-Mount system
FS5 belongs to Sony’s α mount system family of cameras with interchangeable lenses, offering unsurpassed compatibility with third-party lenses as well as Sony products. The FS5’s E-mount can take both cinema lenses used in cinematography and SLR lenses from stills photography, as well as Sony’s E-mount and A-mount lenses.
Lightweight but robust
Despite its amazingly light 0.8kg body, the FS5 is more than tough enough for the rigors of real-world shooting. The main frame is magnesium, for high rigidity and light weight. Cooling is an urgent requirement in a 4K camera, all the more so in a camera as compact as the FS5.
An advanced cooling system design features a vertical heat sink placed directly beside the image sensor and main circuit board to maximise its effectiveness. An air duct cools the heat sink while isolating the electrical components from exposure to dust.
Built-in electronic Variable ND Filters
The FS5 utilises a built-in electronic variable Neutral Density (ND) filter, further expanding the depth of field capability of its large format sensor. This style ND filter is very similar to the one in the PXW-X180 camcorder.
Unlike conventional optical ND filters, the electronic ND filter on the FS5 can be controlled from 1/4ND to 1/128ND linearly. This makes the FS5 ideal for fast-moving shoots in changeable environments - there’s no need to change filters as lighting conditions change and variable control makes it easy to keep depth of field under control.
Clear Image Zoom
This proprietary Sony technology significantly extends your ability to get closer to a remote scene while preserving image quality. Once you’ve zoomed in at maximum optical magnification, By Pixel Super Resolution Technology can enlarge the image by additional 200%. It is also compatible with fixed focal length lenses, so you can zoom into a scene while using a prime lens.
Centre Scan Mode
To support traditional Super 16mm cinema lenses, the FS5 has a Centre Scan Mode which selectively outputs 2160x1080 from the sensor’s centre. This gives the FS5 all the characteristics of a Super 16mm film camera and avoids any vignetting. It also offers a 2X Digital Extender zoom – effectively doubling your range for HD content.
Here's a short video we did at IBC on the differences between the new FS5 and the bigger PXW-FS7 camera.
The camera is expected to be available in November in a body only configuration priced at £4,100 + VAT and in a kit with a 18-105mm f4.0 G Lens priced at £4,550 + VAT. To place your pre-order head over to our website here. Or alternatively, give us a bell at 0208 977 1222.
We are currently taking a small, fully refundable deposit to secure your place in the pre-order queue. We strongly urge you to place your order today as expect this product to be in very high demand and initially available in limited quantities.