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seanstiller

Sony FS5: Low-light improved with external recorder?

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My apologies if this question has been addressed in another thread. I'm particularly curious about this in the context of Firmware 1.11 addressing macro blocking/tearing.

From what I've seen (to be fair most of the footage is probably pre 1.11) the FS5 struggles past ISO 3200 in darkly lit situations. There's one clip floating around filmed at night at a train station and even at ISO 3200 it looks quite terrible to my eye.

I'm wondering if an external recorder would help address the issue of low-light situations? I'm looking at the PIX-E5 because of its size, so I suppose thinking about ProRes specifically. I'm also not too interested in 4K at the moment, so 1080p footage in particular.

Has anyone had experience with this and noticed an improvement?

If this is the case I'm considering ditching the LCD and recording exclusively (or most of the time anyways) to the PIX-E5.

Thanks!

Sean

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Thanks for the reply Noah! It's a real shame. The FS5 is pretty much everything I need, and I've seen a handful of good footage to know Sony colour can be handled well with enough patience. The low-light though, that's pretty well a deal breaker.

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Most often video shot with high gain looks bad not because of the noise at the pixel level but because of the shitty noise reduction that is applied in camera. So while internal recording might have less noise because of heavy noise reduction, the RAW files will still look better because the noise is at the pixel level and "organic" (random) and not the ugly macroblocks that internal codecs with low bitrates produce. Moreover, the noise reduction that you can apply on the RAW file will be far far better than any internal noise reduction any video camera has. In short, external recording will indeed help make the footage look better. I don't know with FS5 but with the BMPCC there was at least 1 stop advantage relative to the prores footage. 

Now, if you want 1080p at the end you have 2 options:

shoot at 4K recorded externaly and downsample after you apply noise reduction in post.

shoot at 1080p and use a cheaper external recorder such as the atomos ninja star. 

Additionally, for if large DoF is not necessary, you can get a speedbooster to gain another stop right there. 

Also I don't know what footage you saw, but after the recent firmware update there are reports of better quality with high gain (https://vimeo.com/149383051)

I bet Andrew will soon have more information on the low light abilities of FS5 with the external recorder :) 

 

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1 hour ago, Don Kotlos said:

Most often video shot with high gain looks bad not because of the noise at the pixel level but because of the shitty noise reduction that is applied in camera. So while internal recording might have less noise because of heavy noise reduction, the RAW files will still look better because the noise is at the pixel level and "organic" (random) and not the ugly macroblocks that internal codecs with low bitrates produce. Moreover, the noise reduction that you can apply on the RAW file will be far far better than any internal noise reduction any video camera has. In short, external recording will indeed help make the footage look better. I don't know with FS5 but with the BMPCC there was at least 1 stop advantage relative to the prores footage. 

Now, if you want 1080p at the end you have 2 options:

shoot at 4K recorded externaly and downsample after you apply noise reduction in post.

shoot at 1080p and use a cheaper external recorder such as the atomos ninja star. 

Additionally, for if large DoF is not necessary, you can get a speedbooster to gain another stop right there. 

Also I don't know what footage you saw, but after the recent firmware update there are reports of better quality with high gain (https://vimeo.com/149383051)

I bet Andrew will soon have more information on the low light abilities of FS5 with the external recorder :) 

 

Thanks for the thoughts Don, that makes sense. I wonder if that might be the case in this situation. The culprit of all that terrible macro blocking was internal noise reduction I believe. Although it's clearly been improved I wonder if it could still be made better with external recording. I guess someone will need to test!

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