Sony F5 hack unlocks 4K XAVC recording

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View the Sony F5 ‘out of the box’ specs at B&H here (and add 4K for free)

Paul Ream (Twitter) has spoken about his simple unlocking technique for the F5 to unlock 4K XAVC recording.

It doesn’t even require a firmware update.

Via Philip Bloom on Facebook and Paul Ream on the ExtraShot Podcast

First of all very important – F5 owners should assume this voids the warranty and carries other risks, so the disclaimer is clear – do this at your own risk! Paul won’t be held responsible if anything fails.

The F5 and F55 are essentially similar hardware, but the cheaper F5 has a few key features such as 4K disabled by software.

In the menus all the camera settings are saved and can be accessed by the user in text files. These files can be saved on the SD card so settings can be shared between cameras.

Amazingly Sony have not considered a loop hole where the camera settings file can be edited and 4K enabled with a few lines of plain text.

The settings files are basic text documents with no encryption or protection at all. It seems Sony did not anticipate the hack.

  • Stored in the PRIVATE/Sony/PRO/CAMERA/PMWF5 folder
  • Filename is – 001.ALL
  • To enable 4K at 23.98 enter:  150=4096,2160,1001,24000,1,1,0,8,0,0,0,1,1,1,6

This is quite different to a hack of consumer hardware, like the Panasonic GH2 because there’s a $12,000 price difference between the $16k Sony F5 and $28k Sony F55, with 4K XAVC internal recording being one of the key differentiating features! I can’t imagine F55 owners will be happy about this at all.

Paul’s instructions for the unlock are here

I am sure Sony will urgently need to respond and close the loop-hole to protect their higher margin on the F55 and their customers investment in it.

It’s a similar situation to the difference between the Canon 1D X and the 4K recording 1D C.

Sometimes the high end gear is very similar to the mid-range stuff (just look at the C300 and C500 also) and the business side makes sense because of the large margins on the higher end models and the lower manufacturing and R&D cost of designing just one core piece of hardware and differentiating it with a few extra ports and software.

But I have never been 100% happy with differentiating features based on software not hardware. When we buy a camera we pay for the hardware and if the hardware we bought is crippled by a single line in a text file and that is the difference between shooting 1080p and 4K, is this fair? Of course Canon and Sony can charge whatever they like for different models but food for thought on both sides of the argument I think!

Big thanks to Paul (a professional video shooter) for such an innovative and exciting tweak of the F5 and don’t forget to hear his views on the subject in the ExtraShot Podcast.

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British filmmaker and editor of EOSHD, Andrew works in Berlin on his own self funded filmmaking and video projects.

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