All the inside details on Sony’s radical new Super35 camcorder for shooting on the go

What's the planning background of this product?

The FS5 was designed around a new concept – a ‘grab and shoot’ compact, lightweight but robust and fully featured Super35 Large Format Sensor (LFS) camcorder.

Conventional handy models are mostly used on a tripod or shoulder-mounted, but with the FS5 we aimed to provide a camcorder that is easy and comfortable to use handheld for long periods of time by any user. Moreover, to meet the requirements of shooting with a drone and gimbal, the FS5 has a modular design so that the handle and grip can be easily detached (without any special tools) to make the body even smaller and lighter.

As a key part of this concept, the FS5 is the world’s first Super35mm camcorder with a built-in electronic variable Neutral Density (ND) filter, further expanding the depth of field capability of its large format sensor. 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. Further flexibility is provided by Clear Image Zoom, which expands the zoom ratio in conjunction with lenses with a small zoom ratio or even fixed lenses.

Another key feature to the FS5 LFS concept is, of course, the Alpha Mount Lens System which makes it exceptionally easy to use third-party lenses as well as those from Sony. The FS5’s E-Mount can take cinema lenses and SLR lenses with a third party adaptor, as well as Sony’s E-mount and A-mount lenses. So whether buying new lenses, or making use of lenses you’ve already purchased, the FS5 makes it easy.

What applications is the FS5 suitable for?

Typical applications for Large Format Sensor camcorders such as the FS5 include music promotional videos, short movies and high quality web content, as well as wedding, event and documentary applications.

Due to its compact and lightweight body, all kinds of handheld shooting and drone / gimbal scenarios are made easier with much greater creative flexibility.

The FS5 is also a perfect B-camera to be used alongside the FS7 or as a step-up model for DSLR users.

Is this model a successor of a certain model?

This model is not positioned as a successor of any existing models. It uses new technical innovations to provide a new and exciting creative proposition to the market, particularly for DSLR users looking to step-up their professional and creative capabilities for shooting video. The FS5’s advanced feature set also make it a compelling option for those looking to upgrade from an existing camcorder to enjoy the benefits of a large format sensor in a lightweight, compact chassis with 100Mbps 4K (3840 x 2160), 240fps slow motion etc. For both sets of users, the unsurpassed flexibility of the Alpha mount system in working with third-party and Sony lenses is a significant benefit.

What's FS5's positioning within XDCAM line-up?

As a Large Format Sensor camcorder, its principal applications are similar to PXW-FS7, however its compact size and lightweight make handheld, drone and shooting in confined spaces much easier.

What's the positioning difference between FS5 and FS7?

FS5 was designed to be the ultimate lightweight handheld Large Format Sensor camcorder for on-the-go shooting. FS5 offers unique features such as HFR 240fps shooting (8 sec limited) and built-in electronic variable ND filter as part of that concept.

The FS7 was developed as a larger, more fully featured model which uses an innovative telescoping arm and Smart Grip to support a different shooting style. It offers in-body 4K 60p recording, XAVC Intra format, DCI 4K (4096×2160) as well as continuous HFR (high frame rate) 180fps shooting.

What's the positioning difference between FS5 and A7 series?

A7 series cameras are mainly for still image shooting with a chassis, accessories and UI primarily optimised for that function – although still capable of excellent video acquisition. The FS5 is designed to be the ultimate lightweight handheld LFS camcorder for shooting video while on the move or from gimbal/drone mounting. The camcorder’s UI and the positioning of all the controls, including rotatable handgrip and flexible LCD, is carefully thought through for shooting video. To support continuous long shooting times, the chassis has an innovative heatsink to support thermal management, while dual media slots support simultaneous and back-up recording. Video can also be exported using professional standard video interfaces such as 3G SDI while RAW output will be supported by future firmware update.

What kind of technologies make possible the lightweight of its camera body?

One of the most important factors in the FS5’s lightweight 830g body is adopting magnesium, which while more expensive and harder to engineer, results in a chassis which is lighter, more rigid and robust than conventional camcorders. Other key technologies in achieving the FS5’s light weight are confidential at this time and cannot be disclosed.

Why is the on-screen display of variable ND not linear?

The on-screen display is by 1/4 step. But the density change of ND filter itself is continuous.

How does the Variable ND work?

The FS5’s variable ND filter uses a new, specially developed optical device which has a LC layer mixed with a light absorbing material. The transmission factor of light can be controlled by changing the applied voltage to the device.

What's the difference between the normally captured video and video shot with variable ND filter for Super35 sensor?

With variable ND filter, you can control DoF (depth of field) and adjust exposure without needing to manually change the iris setting. Shooting conventionally, you need to change iris setting when adjusting the exposure level and that changes depth of field. With electronic variable ND filter, you can change the ND setting only and keep the beautiful bokeh (background defocus), so we think this is a really significant advantage for the FS5.

What's the advantage of XAVC format?

The XAVC Long format adopted in FS5 achieves high image quality with highly efficient storage requirements by adopting MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 codec. Its 4:2:2 10bit (Full HD mode) sampling process ensures granular gradation representation and high colour reproducibility. The file wrapper is professional standard MXF so that it’s easy to use in any professional workflow, from working alone with a single NLE to being part of a networked broadcast production operation.

What's the difference between S-Log3 and S-Log2?

Both are gamma curves that achieve 1300% dynamic range – presuming appropriate grading after shooting.

S-Log3 is a gamma curve with similar characteristics to film, providing more gradation in the low-intensity part than S-Log2.

S-Log2 is assigned for more gradation in the high-intensity part than S-Log3.

What's the difference between S-Gamut and S-Gamut3.Cine?

S-Gamut is for S-Log2 gamma while S-Gamut3.Cine is for S-Log3.

S-Gamut3.Cine suppresses the colour gamut in the practical range and set with an emphasis on ease of use.

How many stops is there in S-Log2, S-Log3 Gamut?

14 stops.

In which kind of scene shall we use S-Gamut, S-Gamut3, S-Gamut3.Cine?

Gamut is about the colour space, while S-Log is about dynamic range or brightness. So S-Log2 / S-Log3 and S-Gamut / S-Gamut3.Cine / S-Gamut3 can be combined freely. You should choose the S-Gamut according to the specific colour range you wish to retain. However, If you want to focus on compatibility with S-Log2 / S-Log3 of CineEI mode in FS5, we recommend you use the combinations offered in the preset picture profile.

Does S-Gamut3 support mean FS5 covers the same colour gamut as F55 and F65?

No. S-Gamut, S-Gamut3.Cine, S-Gamut3 are Sony’s propriety colour space. S-Gamut setting of FS5 does not cover all the colour gamut of S-Gamut, but corresponds as closely as is possible given the capabilities of the FS5’s sensor. The F65 and F55 have unique sensor designs which mean they can easily exceed out the full S-Gamut.

When will HDMI/SDI output during 4K recording be supported?

It will be supported from Firmware V1.10.

What is are the differences between Firmware V1.10 and V1.11?

Image artefacts, including block noise, that only happen in special picture patterns and ripping edge noise, are improved.

Block noise is reduced by adjusting and optimising compression parameters and other related settings. Ripping edge noise can be reduced by re-optimising parameter settings for noise reduction.

Why can’t I reduce the ISO below 3200?

In order to get the best performance from the camera, the minimum ISO sensitivity number is set individually for each camera model. We have concluded that minimum ISO 3200 is the best balance for FS5 when S-log2/3 gamma curve is applied. Please note, ISO sensitivity is not the only factor that influences SNR or the overall picture quality.

Will RAW external recording eliminate the issue?

Macro block noise and ripping edge noise issue does not appear in FS RAW.

Do you plan on having more lenses?

On 3rd February, we launched our new flagship G Master™ Brand of Interchangeable Lenses including 24-70mm F2.8 Zoom (model SEL2470GM), FE 85mm F1.4 GM telephoto prime lens (model SEL85F14GM) and FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS telephoto zoom lens (model SEL70200GM). These are designed to offer the ultimate blend of high resolution and beautiful bokeh, with Sony’s innovative optical element technology, design and calibration. Sony is committed to providing world-leading imaging technology and we will continue to expand our lens line-up.

Is there any plan to add 60P recording in 4K resolution?

Yes. We’re planning to support 4K 60p external recording with FS RAW output in the future.

Is there any plan to add intra frame?

No plan for FS5. It will be planned for future model according to the needs of customers and the market.

Will you ever be able to record 4K HDMI and have a picture both on external monitor and on the VF at the same time?

No plan for FS5. It will be planned for future model according to the needs of customers and the market.

Can I use Center Crop function in QFHD mode?

Center Crop function is only available in HD mode, not in QFHD mode. No plan to support this function in QFHD mode for FS5. It will be planned for future model according to the needs of customers and the market.

Contact your local Sony specialist