Ten months ago Sony dropped the (4K) bomb with their PXW-FS7 at last year’s IBC trade show in Amsterdam, by introducing an extremely powerful 4K machine for less than $10K. It was, and still is a ground-breaking achievement, not only from a value standpoint, but also from the standpoint of a company going all-guns-blazing after a large market share, which was severely underserved at that point by cameras that were either lacking in features, or too expensive for what they had. The Sony PXW-FS7 was an evolution in terms of camera design from previous Sony attempts like the predecessor NEX-FS700, to which the FS7 owes a significant amount of features, but also a shrunk down, more one-man-band type sub-F5/F55 camera, with all of whom it supposedly shares a sensor and a lot of features.
The FS7 combines lightweight optics, efficient compression with high-performance 4K, excellent colour, wide dynamic range, a multitude of in-camera codecs, Log modes, shooting modes (CineEI/Custom) in a minimalist, rig-less, ergonomic package optimised for cinéma vérité type production. Recently, Sony invited Award winning cinematographer Andrew Young takes a critical look at the camera and workflow while by lending him a Sony FS7 to use for a documentary in the Middle East.
He recently gave a 50 minutes long presentation on his recent experience with the Sony FS7.
Things he liked about the FS7:
- Ergonomic, Scalable Design easy to transport on airplanes
- Best value for money in its class
- 4K on-board, flexible on-board codec options
- 4 Channel audio
- High Frame Rates & Variety of lens options
- High Dynamic range, Log and Raw recording options
Things he would like to see improved on the FS7:
- Needs flat bottom grip mounting option
- Needs rubberised menu wheel
- Needs movable magnification area
- Eyepiece should maintain horizon while adjusting
- Waveform not always visible
- S&Q needs direct access to dial in frame rates
If you are unfamiliar with the FS7 specs and features, here’s a brief rundown from B&H below.
- Super 35 Sized 4K CMOS Sensor
- Sony E-Mount
- 4K/UHD Up to 60 FPS, HD Up to 180 FPS
- 4096 x 2160 Raw Via External Recorder
- XAVC-I, XAVC-L, MPEG-2
- XAVC-I Up to 600 Mb/s
- Dual XQD Memory Card Slots
- Dual HD/3G-SDI & HDMI Output
- Ergonomic Handgrip with Camera Controls
While, the camera is a solid grab-and-go type of solution for documentary work, it does lend itself to extensive rigging for studio work, whether it be a corporate job, commercial (where that slow-motion comes in really handy) or a narrative project like a short or even a feature film.
The FS7 has enough gusto and horsepower to satisfy most projects with robust in-camera 4K 10bit 422 XAVC codec and 12bit Raw out of the (XDCA-FS7 ($1,999 at B&H) attachment unit) to a compliant external recorder like a Convergent Design Odyssey7Q+ and soon (after a future firmware update) Atomos Shogun, for more VFX heavy or colour grading intensive work. At $8K, you’re getting a whole lotta 4K for your buck in my book. B&H are even throwing in a free EF to E-mount Metabones adapter when you buy an FS7 or the now super-cheap FS700. Use the links below.
Sony NEX-FS700R Super 35 Camcorder (Body Only) – $4,999
Sony PXW-FS7 XDCAM Super 35 Camera System – $7,999
Sony PXW-FS7 4K XDCAM Super35 Camcorder Kit with 28 to 135mm Zoom Lens – $10,499