Did you know that FREEFLY makes cameras? You know, the company famous for high-end gimbals and drones?
They make the Ember S5K – a compact camera optimized for drone and gimbal work that can shoot 5K at up to an insane 600 fps.
That’s an awesome spec for any camera these days and this one even has a Super 35mm Global Shutter sensor.
The Ember may have flown under the radar but it is time we took a closer look. CVP is just right for a detailed analysis and they have a video covering all the key specs.
Even though this is a relatively pricey camera most of us won’t ever use, it is always fun checking out slow motion.
Out for a few months now, the Ember is still an early model and FREEFLY is giving it updates over time. It’s main goal is to capture high-quality slow-motion footage easily.
For that, it seems like it does the job very well. It’ll even give you on-camera playback.
You can quickly record a lot of footage with these frame rates. In a few hours, the CVP team recorded 3TB worth of footage that had a runtime of 25 hours when set in a normal timeline. No pre-record function did result in a lot more takes.
Sensor and Resolutions
Compared to something like the V-RAPTOR you will see that things like dynamic range are more limited in the Ember. The new S35 global shutter sensor is likely the reason.
The sensor itself appears to be of high quality, though it is a bit odd with a 5:4 aspect ratio and 5120 x 4096 resolution. Global shutter is a huge advantage for slow-motion recording as it eliminates any of those rolling shutter artifacts.
Plus, it’ll actually record open gate 5:4 footage at up to 436 fps. Lower the resolution and you’ll get even higher frame rates.
Moving down even to just 5120 x 3840 you’ll get 464 fps. Perfect for anamorphic. Moving to 16:9 will go above 600 fps. It just gos up and up and for 4K in 2.35:1 you can hit over 1000 fps.
The Ember records in ProRes LT to an internal 4TB SSD. This ensures no issues with media speed or limits to record times. The max bitrate is 2GB/s, which is a lot so be careful.
Even at these settings you will get 36 minutes of record time. Offloading footage can take a while though and the camera will be unusable during the process.
Audio isn’t available with the Ember, which isn’t a big issue since most slow motion needs different sound design to work. This could come in the future. Other potential updates are the ability to record in ProRes 422 and 422 HQ.
Currently, you can record in 709 or a beta HLG profile. That HLG is going to be the closest to log you can get and it is a slightly custom implementation of the HDR profile.
There is no low pass filter here, resulting in very sharp footage. The downside would be moire showing up with certain subjects. CVP did see this in some of their own footage.
Base ISO is 300, though the camera doesn’t actually offer that as an option. Only ISOs 100, 200, and 400 are available.
They all look good though you might need to use some noise reduction in post as darker areas can get noisy and there are instances where fixed-pattern noise shows up.
It is an expensive camera at around $17,000. Comparable cameras include the RED V-RAPTOR. When put up against other cinema cameras you can see the Ember hit its limits long before the other cameras.
You’ll have to be more careful with exposure as you won’t have as much flexibility as you might be used to.
Compared to the older Wave, the Ember is a very much improved design. It is compact, has some well thought out controls, and even has a slick Cerakote green finish.
That ceramic coating will keep the camera protected. Though, after the first 100 units this will change to a standard anodized aluminum.
It is super lightweight at 852 g without any extras. That makes it perfect for flying on a gimbal or drone. It is also IP52 rated for handling light rain and splashes without worry.
The top of the camera has some mounting point. This is going to be necessary for getting things like a monitor hooked up.
The bottom has a few other threads for getting things connected to a tripod or support. Locating pin holes will keep it from rotating.
On the front is a 3.5mm mic in and a 3.5mm mic output.
For lenses there is a removable Sony E mount. This isn’t an electronic mount, it is simply a mechanical mount so you can’t use any powered lenses.
You can replace the mount with plenty of other options or just use adapters. The recommendation is getting a hard mount replacement.
Looking at the side of the camera you’ll find a special connector for future accessories. Along with various threads. The opposite side then has some of your key controls. There are some fans to keep it cool.
The back has a few connectors, including an expansion port that doesn’t function just yet. There is a 4-pin molex connector for power and a D-tap cable is included.
There is then an Ethernet port for future camera control options, a full-size HDMI port for monitoring, a USB-C port, and a 6-pin connector for control.
Menu and Operation
The menu is fairly bare bones. You can control most of your settings very easily using the rear display. You can pick resolution, control the fan, turn on the Wi-Fi, and plenty more.
Firmware updates have been helpful to improving the camera’s functionality and more are on the way. The mobile app is currently in beta but it is very clean and nice to use. It’ll even do playback and trimming of your recorded clips.
There are also plenty of accessories to rig it up as you need.
This is a very interesting camera and if you need to get some slow-motion footage this is an enticing offer.
It is pricey and compared to high-end slow-mo cameras the Ember is potentially good competition at a relatively lower price point.
What do you think about the FREEFLY Ember?
- Freefly Ember S5K Camera (B&H)
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