As with all my blog posts, I’m happy to introduce you to yet another camera that’s being called “The Next Big Thing!” I’ve talked at length about the Panasonic GH4, the Sony a7s, and other it cameras that seemed to stir up buzz this past year. 2014 was a great year for new technology to find its way to lower price point cameras, and the culmination of that may be the new Sony FS7.
The FS7 was touted as being designed by Sony from “listening,” and I can’t argue with that. Professionals have been asking for an ergonomic, easy to use, high frame rate, 4K camera with built-in ND filters and all the bells and whistles one would come to expect from a professional camera. A large chip, easily adaptable mount – and a high quality internal codec. This list seems long and perhaps unattainable for a sub $10K camera, but all of those features have been delivered and met in the FS7.
First and foremost, some specs. The Sony FS7 has a s35 sized sensor, that seems to be almost identical to that of the Sony F5. In my book, this may be the best selling point of the camera. With this sensor, the FS7 is able to not only record UHD 4k to 2 different flavors of XAVC, but it can also shoot up to 180fps in HD. For low light, the sensor has a base ISO of 2000 – with some built-in ND filters to help you out. Standard XLR inputs, and even a nice arri style rosette for the very comfortable and easy to use side handle. This camera will most be compared to the wildly successful Canon C300 – but truth be told, the FS7’s got it beat in features. SLOG3 is available, as well as the highly gradable and precise Cine EI mode. This camera fits in line much closer to the F55 and F5 than it’s namesake, the FS700.
Unlike the FS700, the FS7 does not have a 3G SDI output on its standard body. Instead, a rear add-on unit is required to pass RAW out to something like the Odyssey 7Q. While this is sort of a bummer, the rear RAW unit also provides the ability to record ProRes directly to the cards internally – though XAVC is a very high bitrate codec itself.
After using the FS7 for a few weeks, all I can really say is that it more or less works as advertised. All the promises Sony made are delivered, and the camera works great. It’s comfortable, but could stand to use an additional shoulder pad to add some comfort. The battery times are very long, and the buttons on the camera are familiar and easy to find. The big credit most users gave to the Canon C300 was it’s ease of use, and good image. The FS7 meets that, and goes beyond. High frame rates are going to be the next big camera battleground in the next 5 years, and Canon’s 60FPS at 720p isn’t holding a candle to the FS7’s 60FPS at 4k, or 180FPS in HD.
I’ve run into a few small issues when adapting Canon lenses with the metabones speed boosters and smart adapters – but they are usable. Metabones released a firmware update for the speed booster ultra that seems to have helped it out – though operation still seems sluggish. These are nitpicking details, however.
If you’re curious about image quality, you can find plenty of beautiful examples all over the net as the camera is finding it’s way to shooters. And keep in mind, the image quality will be near identical to the Sony F5!
Here’s a really great video from vimeo user Joe Simon Films showcasing some of the FS7 abilities.
And here is a beautiful spot shot on the F5 from vimeo user Overseasfilms.com – pretty amazing that this image can now be captured by a camera that costs around 8 grand!
Check out this review from Anticipate Media: http://vimeo.com/anticipatemedia/review/113330848/9d76c28504.
We have the FS7 here at Rule to buy or rent, so be sure to come check it out.
-Alex Enman, Engineer, firstname.lastname@example.org