Ever since it was announced back in April 2012, the Sony NEX-FS700 has been somewhat of a unique camera.
The camera was announced as “4K Ready”, which left many people wandering at the time what that actually meant.
According to Sony it meant – the most cost efficient way to get 4K Raw from a Sony large sensor camcorder with the promise of a future Sony 4K external recorder, to be announced/revealed at a later time and date.
It kind of came out of nowhere and quickly made a big impression on the filmmaking community upon announcement based on the spec sheet alone. No other camera in that price range could shoot such high frame rates, albeit in few second bursts.
By itself the Sony FS700 packs some serious horsepower under the hood. Its Super 35mm EXMOR can crank out unbelievable high-frame rates up to 240fps, boasts a decent dynamic range, standard connectivity such as audio XLR inputs, and 3G HD-SDI output for 4K recording, all packed in the awkward body of its predecessor, the FS100.
Still, compared to the FS100, the FS700 is a more robust, beefier, and “user-friendly” camera with built-in ND filters, sturdier handle and the ability to be upgraded to 4K external recording via firmware.
With the 12-bit 4K raw capability as a (paid) firmware upgrade, Sony put the FS700 in the line-sight of higher-end digital cinema cameras like the Canon EOS C500, Red Scarlet, and even the Red Epic.
However, the camera really becomes a different animal when “supercharged” with the AXS-R5 recorder/docking station, which makes the 4K Raw recording possible.
Chicago-based production & rental house Magnanimous Media did a fantastic overview and setup video for their newly upgraded 4K capable Sony FS700 and the Sony AXS-R5 4K external recorder, which can be also used with the higher-end PMW-F5 and F55.
With the 4K update for the FS700, the camera can record slow-motion continuously up to 240 frames per second in 2K Raw maximum resolution externally via the Sony proprietary AXS-R5 recorder. The update makes it possible for the FS700 to also record in 4K Raw up to 120fps in bursts of 4-5 seconds via the same recorder.
Sure, the AXS-R5 is not cheap by any means, it retails for around $5K and change, plus the cost of the HXR-IFR5 (another $2,500), which is the docking station sitting between the FS700 and the AXS-R5. It is required in order for both units to mesh, and the camera to send the 4K signal to the recorder. In addition, the Sony 4K Raw solution is quite bulky in terms of size and weight, and it requires 15mm rod support as pointed out in the video above by Magnanimous Media.
For more of their work and tutorials check out Magnanimous Media on YouTube / Vimeo and follow them on Twitter.
For most shooters the AXS-R5 remains a rental option only depending on project, but for those out there who shoot with multiple cameras such as the Canon EOS C500 or the ARRI Alexa, the Odyssey 7Q from Convergent Design is an alternative option for 4K Raw recording. Costing half as much as the Sony recorder, the Odyssey 7Q serves as a very nice monitor solution as well.
Keep in mind, just like the Sony AXS-R5 recorder, which uses expensive proprietary media (AXS Cards) the Odyssey 7Q requires Convergent Design branded SSD’s in 256GB and 512GB sizes, which have been tested by CD to ensure performance and reliability. The SSD media from Convergent Design runs for about $400/$800 respectively.
Current models of the FS700 with the R and RH (this one includes the kit lens) designations already come upgraded with the 4K option. The older FS700EK designation in Europe, at least, comes without the 4K firmware upgrade out of the box, and needs to be sent to Sony for the upgrade, which unfortunately isn’t free.