Sony F5 and F55 - Are these Sony's sucker punch to RED and the Canon C300/500?
I spent this morning at the Sony London roadshow where I got my hands on the Sony F5. There are two models. The F5 is a 2K camera capable of up to 16bit RAW 4.4.4 recording internally and the F55 is the 4K cinema version with a whole host of internal and external recording options. Both cameras record 14 stops of dynamic range. While Sony are yet to release any official pricing we can at least get a good feel for where these camcorders will sit ande what they'll do out of the box.
In this interview I asked Sebastian Leske an F5 product specialist to fill me in on the details.
Here's a handy comparison table to help you figure out the key differences:
The module choices
Ten cool features of these camcorders that caught my eye:
- The F55 has a global shutter meaning the eradication of 'Rolling shutter skew'
- 120fps at 2k on F5 and 240fps at 2K on F55
- 16 Bit recording at 4.4.4....that's 16 x more information than 12 bit
- Solid metal construction and reassuringly heavy....weight is good for hand held
- Two options of VF, LCD and OLED, with the third option of plugging in a Zacuto (or other brand) EVF into the HDMI out.
- New Olivine battery system, charges twice as fast and lasts twice as long as standard Lithium Ion
- Simple User interface - no deep menus, fast and intuitive
- Sony FZ mount allowing for 3rd party adaptors and a Pl mount- huge versatility
- 14 stops of dynamic range and improved SLog 2 (Slog was pretty amazing- this one goes to 11!)
- 4 x HD-SDI outputs, 2 clean and 2 Sub (for on screen data)
As with any new camera announcement , all we have to go on at the moment is specs. As yet there are no actual films that have been shot on this camera although I'm pleased to here that Steve laws DOP ( featured on Behind the Lens episode 2) is going to be shooting with the F55 on a short film next week and so we'll be seeing some pictures very soon.
No pricing has been announced yet either and so it's difficult to really form an opinion until we know this for certain. However if the F5 is priced in the region that the F3 was then I think this will be hard to beat. At 14 stops of dynamic range the F5 is getting into Alexa territory.
The truth is we have never had it so good as film makers. There are a truly incredible range of tools now from all the major manufacturers. We win on all fronts. I don;t see the F55 as a camera I'd ever own but rent for sure. The F5 may be one to invest in but until we know pricing who knows.
Lets not forget that just because these new camera exists does not make the F3 with SLog and less of a beast and the FS700 and FS100 are still incredibly powerful visual tools. It always comes down to what you do with them...
I'm running some small group film making workshops in the US in late November so if you want to maximise the results you can get with your existing camera the check out the schedule. There are a few places left in NYC and LA. http://www.fstopacademy.com/workshops/
[3 Reports Grey]
Here's the full Sony Press release
Basingstoke, 30 October 2012 – Sony is unveiling two new CineAlta™ 4K cameras, complemented by a full line-up of new accessories. The new cameras, the PMW-F55 and PMW-F5, fill a critical gap in large-sensor acquisition between Sony’s PMW-F3 camcorder and its F65 CineAlta Premium 4K camera, giving content creators new levels of flexibility and creative options for HD, 2K or 4K acquisition and production.
With a modular and compact design for easy configuration, each camera features a new type of 4K Super 35mm image sensor with a 4096 x 2160 resolution (11.6M total pixels).
The 20 megapixel F65 remains the flagship of Sony’s large sensor camera family. The 8K sensor-equipped F65 continues to evolve, with new features designed for the most demanding high-end imaging applications. These features include a new high frame rate mode for 4K RAW recording at 120P to deliver stunning 4K images with super smooth slow motion capabilities, and image capture using the SR codec at 12-bits. Future updates to the F65 will deliver 6K de-mosaicing, along with other major new features.
New PMW-F55 and PMW-F5 Cameras
The new PMW-F55 and PMW-F5 CineAlta 4K cameras deliver unprecedented creative options for HD/2K*/QFHD*/4K (PMW- F55) and 2K*/HD (PMW-F5) production. Both offer multi-codec support featuring Sony’s new XAVC MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 format, the SR codec (MPEG4 SStP) and the industry-standard High Definition XDCAM 50Mbps 4:2:2 codec. In-camera recording is on Sony’s New SxS media, SxS PRO+ (Plus ) – which can be used to record XAVC in HD High Frame Rate and in 4K at up to 60fps (in the PMW-PMW-F55), and XAVC HD High Frame Rate in the PMW-F5.
In addition to on-board recording onto SxS PRO+, the PMW-F55 and PMW- F5 can also be connected to the new AXS-R5 RAW recorder. Slow-motion imagery at up to 240fps** (PMW- F55) and up to 120fps** (PMW- F5) can be captured as 4K RAW files on newly developed AXS memory.
The PMW-F55 features a global shutter to eliminate rolling shutter skew and flash band, and features a wider colour gamut for exceptional colour reproduction. The cameras are further distinguished by wide (14 stops) exposure latitude, high sensitivity, and low noise.
New Options for Monitoring
The PMW-F55 can connect to the new 4K 30-inch LCD monitor, PVM-X300 using four 3G-SDI interfaces to monitor pictures at 4096x2160 resolution at up to 60p while recording and playing back XAVC 4K images. Similarly, it is also possible to connect directly to the 84” BRAVIA 4K LED TV for large-screen monitoring of the camera’s 4K 60P images (at resized horizontal resolution of 3860 pixels).
PL Lens System – The Second Generation
The PMW--F55 and PMW-F5 cameras continue Sony’s efforts to offer the most flexible lens options. A PL-mount lets users choose cinematic lenses from suppliers such as Angénieux, ARRI, Canon, Carl Zeiss, Cooke, FUJIFILM and Leica.
Sony is also launching a second generation of cost-effective PL mount prime lenses. Each is certified for 4K capture, and is designed to minimize geometric distortion, vignetting and breathing. A 9-blade iris delivers beautiful bokehs and the focus rings rotate 240°. The new lens series includes focal lengths of 20, 25, 35, 50, 85 and 135 mm. For easy lens changes, each has the same T2.0 aperture, the same external diameter, matte box diameter, and gear locations for follow focus and aperture. All are the same height except for the 135 mm lens.
Shooters can use stills lenses by removing the supplied PL-mount adaptor to reveal the native FZ mount. This makes it easy to accept commercially available adaptors for third-party lenses, including Canon® EF, Canon FD, Nikon® DX, Nikon G, Leica® M and even 2/3-inch B4 lenses. A third option is the use of Sony FZ-Mount lenses with auto focus servo zoom (model SCL-Z18X140.)
Using a new digital interface, PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 users can take advantage of a new series of high-quality OLED and LCD viewfinders. The DVF-EL100 OLED viewfinder measures 0.7-inches with 1280 x 720 HD resolution, superb brightness, contrast and response. The DVF-L350 3.5-inch LCD viewfinder offers 10 times the contrast of previous Sony LCD viewfinders, with a flip-up eyepiece for direct monitoring. A third option is the full HD DVF-L700. This compact 7-inch LCD viewfinder enables high resolution when shooting in 2K and 4K, with pixel-to-pixel 1920 x 1080 representation of HD images.
New RAW Recording System
Sony is also unveiling the AXSM™ Access Memory System for 2K*/4K RAW recording, based on Sony’s unique recording technology. Optimised for this new platform is the AXSM memory card (512 GB capacity, model AXS-512S24), using the generic file system exFAT. Users can record 4K RAW data up to 60 fps and 2K RAW up to 240 fps**, with a 300MB/s sustained transfer speed. PC-friendly operation is enabled through use of the AXS-CR1 card reader, offering a USB 3.0 interface for high speed transfer.
Additionally, the new AXS-R5 RAW recorder directly docks onto the PMW-F5 and PMW-F55, for an extremely elegant and compact recording system for 2K** and 4K RAW recording.
New Recording Media
The cameras support Sony’s new high-speed, enhanced versions of its SxS PRO memory cards: the “SxS PRO+(PLUS)” series (in 128 and 64 GB capacities, models SBP-128B and SBP-64B). Based on the format long used in Sony’s XDCAM EX camcorders, the cards support XAVC 4K and XAVC HD high frame rate recording, and can be directly inserted into the cameras.
New Battery and Charger
The PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 cameras take advantage of Sony’s new BP-FL75 battery pack, which uses Olivine—Lithium Iron Phosphate—instead of conventional Lithium Ion cathodes. The result is a substantial increase in charge-discharge cycles, compared to previous Sony batteries. The Olivine battery works with Sony’s BC-L90 quick charger. The new battery supports outstanding mobility for on-set shooting enabling two times higher speed charging than current chargers and a maximum 150 minutes of consecutive shooting.
The PMW-F5 and PMW-PMW-F55 cameras are also compatible with Sony’s BP-GL95A, GL65A, L80S and L60S batteries, which use the BC-L70 and L160 chargers.
Delivering advances in ergonomics specifically requested by cinematographers, the PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 feature Sony’s newest shoulder rig for extra stability and comfort. The rig is sturdy, lightweight and uses industry-standard rosettes on both sides for quick and easy attachment of third-party hand grips and other accessories.
Pricing and Availability
The new cameras are scheduled to be available in February 2013, with suggested list pricing to be announced. More information can be found on www.pro.sony.eu/pro/product/f55 or www.pro.sony.eu/pro/product/f5.
* 2K/QFHD for PMW-PMW-F55 and 2K for PMW-F5 will be available with firmware version up.
**High frame rate higher than 60fps will be available with firmware version up.