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Andrew Reid

Sony FS5 - why I bought one

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The Sony FS5 is a miniature version of the FS7 cinema camera and Sony's competitor to the Canon C100 Mk II.

It's also one of the most capable slow-mo cameras, with a 10bit 4:2:2 internal codec at 240fps.

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

Great review.  To bring it in-line with your DSLR reviews, the benefit of the Sony line is their professional and prosumer video equipment dovetails nicely into their consumer mirror-less line.  This is Canon's real problem, if you ask me. You buy a C100II as your main camera, then what would match it as a b-cam?

For example, I bought a PXW-X70 professional 1-inch sensor cam.  I decided I want a second camera to match, but I don't want to lay out another $1,700 (for another used X70), so found an RX10 used for $500.  I can see the difference between the cameras if I look REAL HARD, but few others would.  I end up getting the same image for 2 cameras where 1 can handle all the XLR audio, etc. and ergonomics, etc.  and the other can get different POVs.  

Yes, Canon has some great camcorders, but their image size is still small so won't match well with their DSLRs.  I love the feel of the Canon XC10, but what other camera does it match to, in the Canon line, sensor wise?

If I want to go real small and light, I can get an RX100.  If I want to get real cinema looking, the FS5 seems like a great value for the money, as you point out.  But then there's the A7S for full-frame shallow DOF if wanted.  In short, Canon has no consumer/young-filmmaker answer to the full-frame A7S or the 1-inch RX100.  

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Ha! Welcome to the darkside.

I own an FS7 and a GH4. They are my workhorses. I expect to replace both with an FS5 in 2016 for 80% of my work. I travel internationally to places where small kit is essential. 

Can't wait. 

*I also own an A7S II which has yet to earn my trust. 

** the GH4 is the best DSLR since the 5D2. The only reason I haven't already bought an FS5 is in case a GH5 suddenly appears on the horizon.....

 

 

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Great review.

Personally I find matching Canon Cine cameras quite painless. For example I work with C100s and GH4s quite often and they aren't difficult to match.

I've always struggled more with the Sony 'colour science'. So whilst I know that the FS cameras - particularly the FS5 and 7 are fantastic I'm always hesitant to use them in conjunction with other brands like Canon and Panasonic. I avoid the otherwise excellent Sony A7s and A7S Mk2 for the same reasons when having to use with other types of camera.

Plus I still love the Canon image - especially rendered from the Cine cameras.

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Don't forget this isn't really a review. The review is coming later once I have more time with it. Only got it yesterday.

I've always struggled more with the Sony 'colour science'. So whilst I know that the FS cameras - particularly the FS5 and 7 are fantastic I'm always hesitant to use them in conjunction with other brands like Canon and Panasonic. I avoid the otherwise excellent Sony A7s and A7S Mk2 for the same reasons when having to use with other types of camera.

They seem to have improved colour on the FS5.

Also the S-LOG 2 and 3 profiles are different - they are listed in the menus by colour temperature. Yet to fully understand why!

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Don't forget this isn't really a review. The review is coming later once I have more time with it. Only got it yesterday.

They seem to have improved colour on the FS5.

Also the S-LOG 2 and 3 profiles are different - they are listed in the menus by colour temperature. Yet to fully understand why!

Congratulations on your purchase! I also bought the FS5 shortly before Christmas for a really good price and I absolutely amazed by the possibilities. It bridges the gap between the really superb but artistically "crippling" S16 Canon XC10 and my larger Sony F5 (with 4K upgrade): Still lightweight enough for doc and news in a faster-paced environment and compatible with my smaller slider and crane from the 5D3-days. 

Color-wise the F5 / F55 and the FS5 are very similar (gamut is the biggest difference, the more you pay the more you get), and what's good enough for Netflix' Marco Polo and Big Bang Theory should also be good enough for us, shouldn't it ;) ? I think the SLog color temperature profiles originate from the CineEI mode of the larger models, kinda like choosing film stock. SLog is rarely used here, my dearest profile on the F5 will always be HyperGamma7 (CineGamma4 on the FS5 goes a bit into that direction). 

I personally think the best advantage in comparison to C100/300 etc. is the button layout, it is quite hard to hit the wrong button on the FS5 even without looking. 

Beware of third party batteries: I bought mine together with two SWIT S-8U63, and if you insert them fully charged, there is a high probability that the internal clock (including timecode on free run) will be reset. As long as the charge is not shown on the display, formatting SDXC cards is also not possible. Other users on the facebook group also reported other third party batteries to do the same thing. 

8bit UHD SLog will result in a lot of sky banding, so it's better to stick to CineGamma. XAVC-L has the same problems as on the FS7, especially at higher-than-base ISO settings. From my opinion, it's still usable.

Apart from that, enjoy the FS5, waiting for your review,

Happy New Year, 

Martin

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Checked out the FS5 at B&H, it seems pretty interesting and 240fps is great, but once equipped as one would for a normal shoot, I concluded it's just too big for my style of shooting. And I'm not talking with a full rig, just lens, handgrip, top handle and viewfinder. It quickly turns this cool little camera into a permit camera. With the A7Rii I can be discreet. Even taking it into the movie theater when I'm out on the weekend. No one bats an eye, because it looks like a stills camera. Mind you I wasn't up to anything, I just didn't feel like going back to my car to put it away. With the FS5 it would have been a different story.

Not that it doesn't have it's place... But it's not the kind of camera you can take anywhere, and due to it's size, more often than not it will get left behind in favor of something more portable. In any case, that's been my experience with this format.

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Only other "con" for this compared to the C100 Mark II is Canon's (dare I say these words) "color science"  / skin tones.  If you still have the 1dc, find someone and shoot both of them side by side if you feel like it.

I seriously looked into this FS5 as I love the UHD internal, the smaller, modular body and the weight.  However, my FS700 is normally sitting on a tripod and I'm quite sure the IQ is basically the same.  I don't think Sony has really changed the S35 sensor itself that much, and having a FS700 with the 4k upgrade firmware gives me Slog2 and will also work with the 7q+.

I am very interested to hear about this Super16 crop mode though.  4k too?  Line skipping?  HFR also?

Does it do the full 8-9 second 240FPS start/end trigger and not just a 4 second 240FPS?

Damn you Andrew you're making me want to upgrade.

 

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The ergonomics and features-set of this camera are near perfect for my kind of work. 

I cancelled my Ursa Mini 4.6k not only because of a change in working preferences, but because I wouldn't be able to use the camera with ANY of my grip equipment. (I still want it though! Haha). 

The FS5 seems like a great cousin to the A7S II and A7R II. Although I've used the FS7 many times this year, the bulk of the camera and the compatible grip equipment really does hurt to the point I now have to properly exercise my back. Not that the FS7 is particularly heavy, after a few hours you really start to feel it. Hard.

My setup is much more portable now. Got some Lupolux Dual LEDs (v-lock powered) and a Scorpion Light Kit (which I fully recommend. Amazing kit!). Smaller cameras are a much better fit as its much more liberating. Loving the A7SII in particular.

Andrew highlighted this in the review regarding the macro blocking issues in XAVC-L. When using it on the FS7, the issues are very very severe: 

- Heavy macro blocking, above the mids in particular. 

- Macro blocking in skin tones under mixed lighting. Blotchy/ugly. (Fine under controlled lighting). 

- Terrible blocky quality with fine textures (hair) or moving particles (steam/smoke).

- Tearing/smearing of fine edges and reflective items. Purple fringey smudge look. 

-Colour blotches/pixelation in when lighting colour is mixed. (Such as tungsten with a blue kick on the edge of the face. Anything stylised is problematic). 

- Exceptionally noisey in Slog, especially when using HFR. Noise is INSANE in slo-mo Slog! 

- Captures audio 4 frames out of sync with footage. (Doesn't happen in XAVC-I). 

- Some very heavy aliasing on thin, fine details. (Like a steel fence). 

 

I'm not sure if these issues are as strong on the FS5, but as it stands it's a deal breaker. XAVC-L, in my experience, is absolute garbage. 

I'd like to see how the camera footage performs with external recording. The RAW upgrade sounds cool. But having a 7Q+ on top of the FS5 kinda defeats the object doesn't it? It would be ace to have a smaller version, like Atomos do with the Ninja Star. 

I'm looking forward to your review and seeing how this camera progresses. If XAVC-L is fixed/bypassed efficiently - I'm a confirmed customer! 

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Only other "con" for this compared to the C100 Mark II is Canon's (dare I say these words) "color science"  / skin tones.  If you still have the 1dc, find someone and shoot both of them side by side if you feel like it.

 

People want a stronger codec and a higher bit rate so they can "grade" their footage. 95 percent of people end up with worse looking footage than the canon even after spending the time grading. If the color is bad, the whole image is kind of shot. It doesn't matter how clean or noiseless the footage is at that point. 

I don't think Andrew would argue the fact that the 1DC looks better than the FS5...

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People want a stronger codec and a higher bit rate so they can "grade" their footage. 95 percent of people end up with worse looking footage than the canon even after spending the time grading. If the color is bad, the whole image is kind of shot. It doesn't matter how clean or noiseless the footage is at that point. 

I don't think Andrew would argue the fact that the 1DC looks better than the FS5...

Sure, but for the regular Joe wanting 1080p24 and "right in camera" the C100 might be a better choice.

Thanks Oliver Daniel for helping me stick with my FS700.  :)

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The ergonomics and features-set of this camera are near perfect for my kind of work. 

I cancelled my Ursa Mini 4.6k not only because of a change in working preferences, but because I wouldn't be able to use the camera with ANY of my grip equipment. (I still want it though! Haha). 

The FS5 seems like a great cousin to the A7S II and A7R II. Although I've used the FS7 many times this year, the bulk of the camera and the compatible grip equipment really does hurt to the point I now have to properly exercise my back. Not that the FS7 is particularly heavy, after a few hours you really start to feel it. Hard.

My setup is much more portable now. Got some Lupolux Dual LEDs (v-lock powered) and a Scorpion Light Kit (which I fully recommend. Amazing kit!). Smaller cameras are a much better fit as its much more liberating. Loving the A7SII in particular.

Andrew highlighted this in the review regarding the macro blocking issues in XAVC-L. When using it on the FS7, the issues are very very severe: 

- Heavy macro blocking, above the mids in particular. 

- Macro blocking in skin tones under mixed lighting. Blotchy/ugly. (Fine under controlled lighting). 

- Terrible blocky quality with fine textures (hair) or moving particles (steam/smoke).

- Tearing/smearing of fine edges and reflective items. Purple fringey smudge look. 

-Colour blotches/pixelation in when lighting colour is mixed. (Such as tungsten with a blue kick on the edge of the face. Anything stylised is problematic). 

- Exceptionally noisey in Slog, especially when using HFR. Noise is INSANE in slo-mo Slog! 

- Captures audio 4 frames out of sync with footage. (Doesn't happen in XAVC-I). 

- Some very heavy aliasing on thin, fine details. (Like a steel fence). 

 

I'm not sure if these issues are as strong on the FS5, but as it stands it's a deal breaker. XAVC-L, in my experience, is absolute garbage. 

I'd like to see how the camera footage performs with external recording. The RAW upgrade sounds cool. But having a 7Q+ on top of the FS5 kinda defeats the object doesn't it? It would be ace to have a smaller version, like Atomos do with the Ninja Star. 

I'm looking forward to your review and seeing how this camera progresses. If XAVC-L is fixed/bypassed efficiently - I'm a confirmed customer! 

Why would anyone with an FS7 use XAVC-L? I don't think i've ever even explored it.....:-) 
And we're ALL waiting for the 4K Atomos Ninja Star. I'll take 3 thanks. 

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

I hope you tried the camera before buying just for the specs. The FS5 has real dealbreaking issues, the edge tearing makes the 4K mode on this camera useless to almost everyone not willing to produce an image with horrible errors. Plus the raw update doesn't exist yet, and when it does it will be an expensive intermediate module plus an expensive license/firmware code. 

So it's really a 1080p camera effectively. And when you compare it to the C100II side by side you'll notice how specs tell a very different story than reality.

For example the higher 1080p codec on the fs5 is actually visually worse than the lower end codec on the C100II, it contains macroblocking and noise and fringing, just a worse performing codec algorithm for aome reason. Plus compared to the C100II it falls apart after 3200 ISO while the C100II is one of the best lowlight performers out there. Many professionals do NOT want to use lens adapters behind their glass, and definitelty don't want to deal with adapter bugs vs a native mount. The C100II when you hold both is a better built quality camera and certainly feels to be able to take a lot more beating. The C100 has an LCD always attached to the main body that's fully flexible and has a higher quality EVF, it also has a waveform monitor. The Canon has a 4K sensor, and the sensor is capable of 240p, but as we see with the FS5, enabling the 4K recording would result in not ideal 4K and bad aliased 240 with a small burst time and huge buffer wait, so they only do what the camera will produce perfectly, 1080p and 60p maximum. The Canon Log and colour rendition plus the Dual pixel AF is a major beating point. That's all with the C100 neing an older model so a newer model with UHD and a continuous high quality 120p mode (100% invetible) would crush some competetion.

(I am purposely playing the devil's advocate just to give prespective to readers) 

The FS5 has a few pluses the C100II doesn't (disregarding specs, just real world use), which is the very important SDI output, the availability of a super slo mo for specialitt shots when very high IQ, and the super brilliant clear zoomon the rocker especially for broadcast/news work. I loved the feature. 

Until Sony fixes the defected UHD mode, the C100II will keep being a very strong contender in real world usage and a better choice for many users. Having an FS7 quality 4K ability however would make the C100II obselete simply even for future proofing customera purchases even if they prefer the C100 they'll go for the FS5. 

To be honest, I am tired of hearing about a groundbreaking Sony camera and start getting flooded with bug and defect reports in real world use (FS5 dvxuser section), while see Canon making boring cameras with zero defect reports. 

 

@Andrew Reid Make some contacts and find someone with a C100II in your area and use them side by side alternating between the bodies and the image and you'll be surprised. It would be a very needed blog post too. 

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