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Sony FS5 - why I bought one


Andrew Reid
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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. 

You like the C100. Got it. Godspeed to you sir. 
I didn't want to like the FS5, then worked with some footage and saw what some first adopters did with it shooting doco. Was 99.9% convinced. 

Try it yourself. 
*I never shoot anything over 1000iso. I know, apparently I'm a freak :-) 
**At least Sony actually fix their issues? (Couldn't resist). 

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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.

Ah this is a good sign.

Our resident Canon fan is upset!!

I do enjoy our little battles, Ebrahim - but you will soon be shooting on a Sony and here's why.

The ergonomics are the main reason I bought it. They rock.

The deal breaking issues are nothing of the sort.

Your Oscar is in the post Ebrahim!

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.

Yes 10bit vs 8bit!!!

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.

We'll see about that.

4K 100bit to 1080p in post is far superior to 36Mbit/s AVCHD on the crappy C100.

Effectively it is a 10bit 1080p 4:4:4 camera in that mode.

Plus compared to the C100II it falls apart after 3200 ISO while the C100II is one of the best lowlight performers out there.

Falls apart? 3200 as clean as on the FS7 and A7S II

I will be showing this in due course.

There have been some very dodgy early tests put out.

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.

I want adapters.

I have PL adapters

Novoflex

Speed Booster for full frame

A lot of very innovative and quality stuff that is completely out of the question on EF 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.

It's not!

The C100 has an LCD always attached to the main body

A mega disadvantage for drone users then!

that's fully flexible and has a higher quality EVF, it also has a waveform monitor.

Who the hell wants to be spending attention on a shoot in this way... for every 1 second you do engrossed in a waveform monitor is 1 second wasted directing or using your eye.

Man, there are so many waveform monitors out there with the SDI / HDMI devices. Hardly a unique feature.

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

EH? 240 is very high quality, similar to the 24p.

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.

It ain't coming!

The C300 II is 4K and $16,000 is what Canon want for it.

Do you think the will undermine that model by adding pretty much it's only selling point to a lower end C100 model for $5k?

NOPE

(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.

What about the variable ND. It's a biggy for real world practicality!

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.

There's very little difference between the FS5's image and the FS7.

And when raw comes FS5 owners will be laughing.

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. 

Canon don't warrant the attention at the moment.

They're pathetic.

@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. 

Well considering how I already have the 1D C and that betters the C100 II's image in EVERY RESPECT you can use that as a benchmark in future articles.

I won't be touching the $1500 camera sold for $5000 or contributing to Canon's stupidly high margins any time soon.

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

You like the C100. Got it. Godspeed to you sir. I didn't want to like the FS5, then worked with some footage and saw what some first adopters did with it shooting doco. Was 99.9% convinced. 
Try it yourself. 
*I never shoot anything over 1000iso. I know, apparently I'm a freak :-) 
**At least Sony actually fix their issues? (Couldn't resist). 

yes I love the C100II. From my experience it's the best video camera out there unless you need 4K/raw, in which case I choose the FS7 as the best. The C100 MKII advantages must be mentioned here so I did. As I said, playing the devil's advocate is very important in this conversation for readers to make informed decisions. Nothing is as useful as hearing two people arguing for each camera. 

*then you won't have much issues with the FS5 codec/noise problems, it's pretty well controlled at that sensitivity. 

**Shouldn't they release their professional cameras without issues to fix in the first place? Many issues come with their cameras that they don't fix, and many they fix. I don't like the fact that their cameras are not reliable to work with all the features from day one, it makes me never buy one of their cameras early, while with Canon I happily pre-order and it works better than advertised from day 1.

And by the way, I have a history with shooting years on Sony professional PMW, ex1, 3 chip camcorders, etc, and they used to be as reliable as Canon, complete workehorse bricks, it's only just lately they started having this philosophy of under-delivering. 

Also, It's gambling right now to buy an FS5 for 4K hoping for an image fix of the defects seen in XAVC-L or relying on how they will implement their raw feature. It can be anything from FS7-raw ability and 240p 2K internally with free firmware out the body's sdi ouput, to a 2000$ hardware module with a single UHD 30p mode and needs a Q7+ and Raw licence. No one knows. 

@Andrew Reid 

Just test the C100II ''crappy' codec and image and crippled specs versus your FS5. Also test the FS5 HFR quality carefully in noise, macroblocking and aliasing/moire, and speed Test the UHD image, and the supposedly awesome 10bit codec, it's no where near the FS7 or A7sII 4K, If you were expecting that I am sorry but you're in for a disappointment. Of course test and don't take my word for it. I hope you could find a C100II in the area to test along side your FS5 to see how these cameras compare in the real world. I would love your resulting conclusios.

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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. 

For these reasons: 

- To see the difference compared to XAVC-I. 

- When there hasn't been enough card space for XAVC-I. 

On the Ebrahim vs Andrew debate:  

- Canon C cameras are awesome. They are popular for a reason. The focus peaking and usability is BY FAR the best I've used on any camera. 

- Sony have more bang for buck such as HFR/10bit.  Great to see them innovating. 

- Canon cameras are underwhelming but work amazingly well. Sony's are spec monsters but need a year to mature. Depends what's important to you? 

- The FS5 is not a cinema camera (yet). 

- No camera makers are crappy or garbage etc. Just different. It's great to have choice and see what works for your style. :) 

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Happy new Year Andrew!

Sony, Canon, Samsung, it does not matter to me.  Cameras are tools.

The FS5 sure looks like a winner to me.  However, being an amateur looking to upgrade from a DSLR, I am having a hard time justifying the expense (5600$ usd plus shipping).

I just stumbled upon a slightly used, mint condition C100 for 2000$ usd here in Canada.  True, the original C100 is strictly a 1080p camera with no slow motion capabilities and a crippled codec that does not grade well, but I'll couple it to a Blackmagic Video assist monitor / Prores recorder.  For my needs, that`s going to be good enough for now.  I'll rent an FS7 when I will need slow motion.

I wish you a lot of creative fun with your new FS5, and all the best for 2016!

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Horses for courses, but one thing for certain is FS5 will get better when Sony fixed most of the flaws and add more feature,  The colour on slog3 is definitely more pleasing, no weird greenish tint of slog2.

 

I do love the ergonomics of FS5, my handheld video is much more stable now especially when I zoom in compare to DSLR way, and I can power my camera, monitor/external recorder and my phone with just one battery lol.

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Until Canon ditch the ef mount and give us an adaptable mount the real cinematographers will never take to the canon c series no matter how good the image is.  It's about the glass.  Anyone happy with shooting a movie on L series lenses doesn;t put enough attention to detail into the overall image.  The number of wedding videos I;ve seen falling fowl to Canon C series cameras and L lenses is amazing.  This little fs5 will allow a full set of oct18 lenses to be used and regardless of the codec it'll look great.

 

The Sony FS7 and now the FS5 offer the most comprehensive optical options for cinematographers.  The e-mount - ef  metabones allows the normallows to shoot with the L Series glass they acquired before moving from 'still photography to video', and the fun adaptors from e-mount to Leica, PL, Oct-18, etc etc etc etc etc allow the cinematographers the ability to shape their image with the nice glass.     

 

 

 

 

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For these reasons: 

- To see the difference compared to XAVC-I. 

- When there hasn't been enough card space for XAVC-I. 

On the Ebrahim vs Andrew debate:  

- Canon C cameras are awesome. They are popular for a reason. The focus peaking and usability is BY FAR the best I've used on any camera. 

- Sony have more bang for buck such as HFR/10bit.  Great to see them innovating. 

- Canon cameras are underwhelming but work amazingly well. Sony's are spec monsters but need a year to mature. Depends what's important to you? 

- The FS5 is not a cinema camera (yet). 

- No camera makers are crappy or garbage etc. Just different. It's great to have choice and see what works for your style. :) 

For these reasons: 

- To see the difference compared to XAVC-I. 

- When there hasn't been enough card space for XAVC-I.

Never had the second issue. I do own a lot of cards though. 
And assumed it wasn't as good as the I (why would it be?) so didn't bother testing. Was I right?* :-) 

I understand you were exploring using a more data light solution. I just never had any reason to on an FS7 gig. 
Just on the codec issue generally: My GH4 4k has a TON of codec issues. Scared the crap out of me initially. Then I learnt to shoot around them. It's paid me back spectacularly. Going through the same process with my A7S II. Initially the noise frightened the hell out of me. 2 months in, I'm more sanguine about it. 

*just being a dick. 

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For these reasons: 

- To see the difference compared to XAVC-I. 

- When there hasn't been enough card space for XAVC-I.

Never had the second issue. I do own a lot of cards though. 
And assumed it wasn't as good as the I (why would it be?) so didn't bother testing. Was I right?* :-) 

I understand you were exploring using a more data light solution. I just never had any reason to on an FS7 gig. 
Just on the codec issue generally: My GH4 4k has a TON of codec issues. Scared the crap out of me initially. Then I learnt to shoot around them. It's paid me back spectacularly. Going through the same process with my A7S II. Initially the noise frightened the hell out of me. 2 months in, I'm more sanguine about it. 

*just being a dick. 

The codec is the single reason why the FS7 has much better performance. I rent it and on a few occasions I got 2 64gb cards in situations where data dumping was nigh on impossible. 

That said, I've had some great results with XAVC-L. Just not enough, unless Tetris style highlights is your thing! ;) 

Until Canon ditch the ef mount and give us an adaptable mount the real cinematographers will never take to the canon c series no matter how good the image is.  It's about the glass.  Anyone happy with shooting a movie on L series lenses doesn;t put enough attention to detail into the overall image.  The number of wedding videos I;ve seen falling fowl to Canon C series cameras and L lenses is amazing.  This little fs5 will allow a full set of oct18 lenses to be used and regardless of the codec it'll look great.

 

The Sony FS7 and now the FS5 offer the most comprehensive optical options for cinematographers.  The e-mount - ef  metabones allows the normallows to shoot with the L Series glass they acquired before moving from 'still photography to video', and the fun adaptors from e-mount to Leica, PL, Oct-18, etc etc etc etc etc allow the cinematographers the ability to shape their image with the nice glass.     

That's what I love about the E-mount.

Whipping out all sorts of glass and observing all those different looks. It's absolutely staggering how much the lenses affect the image quality and characteristics. It's the main reason I hated the RX10 II - the lens (expectedly sterile as hell). 

Helios 40-2 85mm f1.5 + A7SII is a favourite right now. Love it. 

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I believe you've got to look ahead when buying a camera like this. It isn't something I'm going to use for a week then chuck away

The macro blocking bug doesn't bother me in the slightest.

Two reasons - one it is a bug, and bugs get fixed. Two, it is getting a RAW output

On the older sensor in the FS700, that raw output to an external recorder was one of the best images around. Users will testify.

On the FS7 it will be even better and what's more you don't have to fight the ergonomics.

By comparison the C100 II bores the crap out of me. Yeah I know it's a solid option. But the creativity of 240fps and RAW trumps peaking. Sorry but it does.

I see the C100 is a lot of people's unicorn camera, it can do no wrong?!

I'm quite familiar with the C300 and C100 II images. I once did a direct comparison with the 1D C.

Well the 1D C walks all over it. The NX1 is better looking than the C100 II as well.

If you want to know what an image free of compression looks like and 14bit colour then shoot raw on the 5D Mark III, it's no mystery. Done it, seen it.

I know for a fact the C100 II's image does not look as good as raw from a camera half the price.

So using it as some kind of magic imaging benchmark for the far superior FS5 isn't a good idea.

5D2 / 5D3 raw would be a better one if we're talking colour.

The codec is the single reason why the FS7 has much better performance. I rent it and on a few occasions I got 2 64gb cards in situations where data dumping was nigh on impossible. 

That said, I've had some great results with XAVC-L. Just not enough, unless Tetris style highlights is your thing!

The FS7 though is a big beast. I'd take the small size of the FS5 and variable ND filter any day.

XAVC-L or XAVC-I are kind of a moot point when you're shooting 10bit ProRes from a RAW output, not to mention Cinema DNG.

Dear Sony - Take my money

Let's see how the internal codec pans out in the real world beyond the 200% magnified tests on Vimeo which probably highlight a bug rather than the actual potential of the camera.

I rather like 100Mbit/s 8bit 4:2:0 on the A7S II, not many people complaining about that is there? There's no reason the FS5's codec should be any worse.

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In case you wanna see them, here's a quicker waver test: https://vimeo.com/150138698

Note problem is the noise disguised as macroblocking

This has nothing to do with compression.

It's an early firmware bug and is visible on the uncompressed HDMI output to an external recorder as well.

I don't think it even occurs in S-LOG

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This has nothing to do with compression.

It's an early firmware bug and is visible on the uncompressed HDMI output to an external recorder as well.

I don't think it even occurs in S-LOG

It occurs in SLog, but, of course, not at base ISO, I already stated that earlier. If you want to get a higher sensitivity in SLog, just choose GAIN instead of ISO, boost it and see for yourself. Hopefully it can be fixed by a firmware update. See, there's a lot of different processing between the different cameras, that's why you get different ISO ratings on the F55, F5 + FS7 and FS5. A 200% crop of a UHD file on a HD timeline is basicaly 1:1 pixels, by the way. I also stated that it's noise disguised as macroblocking, not true macroblocking from the codec. It doesn't appear in any of the base ISO settings of whatever gamma curve you choose. 

And don't get me wrong, just because I pinpoint things I discovered for myself doesn't mean I don't like the camera. I purchased it for my business and I am very happy that I finally found a portable little beast that shoots in broadcast-compatible quality (HD). As mentioned earlier, the button layout is really superb, features like Clear Image Zoom, VariND and Auto Lens Correction (on Sony E-mounts only at the moment) are unique in this class plus the audio quality is really good too. 

 

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The FS7 though is a big beast. I'd take the small size of the FS5 and variable ND filter any day.

XAVC-L or XAVC-I are kind of a moot point when you're shooting 10bit ProRes from a RAW output, not to mention Cinema DNG.

Dear Sony - Take my money

Let's see how the internal codec pans out in the real world beyond the 200% magnified tests on Vimeo which probably highlight a bug rather than the actual potential of the camera.

I rather like 100Mbit/s 8bit 4:2:0 on the A7S II, not many people complaining about that is there? There's no reason the FS5's codec should be any worse.

The FS5 is actually more appealing to me than the FS7 because of the brilliant ergonomics and vari-ND. 

The issues with the image I raised regarding with XAVC-L is on the FS7. Sometimes these reported issues are very very severe, no magnification required. I hope it's different on the FS5. (and I'm one of those shooters who doesn't give much of a crap about people peeping my pixels). 

The RAW output isn't here yet, it's like an unreleased camera, so nothing to judge from yet. I hope it's marvellous so I can buy one. 

The only major issues I've found with the A7S II is that Slog3 sucks in XAVC-S 8 bit 4:2:0. So I don't shoot with it. Life is good. 

 

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Two reasons - one it is a bug, and bugs get fixed. Two, it is getting a RAW output

On the older sensor in the FS700, that raw output to an external recorder was one of the best images around. Users will testify.

On the FS7 it will be even better 

Not sure if you mean fs7 or fs5, but, since you mention raw output: On another thread in another forum there is a discussion about Sonys implementation of 12 bit raw from the fs700 and the fs7.  Mitch from cd, Alistair Chapman,  and some others in the industry weigh in. In short, it appears that unlike the fs700, the raw from the fs7 is worse quality than the internal video.  Not sure how the raw of the fs5 will be implemented, but in the case of the fs7 it is at best questionable.

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Sony and Red push tech boundaries while Canon and Arri are very conservative.

We saw how this played out on the dSLR field: Canon is losing marketshare to Sony. But Canon can hold higher margins and get away with it nevertheless. 

I'm very intrigued by the FS5. I mostly shoot content that I don't have the resources to grade properly and need a simple workflow for so Canon works extremely well. Arri works well, too, and lets you shoot log properly. Sony requires more inventiveness. But also a more flexible image for a lot less money.

One pound and 240fps. Damn. With the right grade and right firmware updates you can do a lot. You'll also have to, unfortunately. For those who just want to tell their story–either hire a colorist or shoot Canon. For those who like engaging with the technical experience for a superior result... Sony is making leaps and bounds, especially with the A7SII. If the FS5 has fixed its bugs, likely that, too.

I'm still a Canon/Arri guy, but hey, I work in post, and when I shoot, my ratios are really lush. FS5 and A7SII are very very tempting. But I'm broke.

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