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Shifting from DSLR/Mirrorless to Pro Video Cam (FS5/C100/LS300/URSA?)


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Hey folks, longtime lurker here.. I'm in the market for a new camera.. like many video/film folks i got a feeling there is a strong shift away from DSLRs (and even mirrorless) back to proper camcorders as the features/form factors are getting better and the prices coming down. But there still aren't that many options under $5K for my requirements.. FWIW i'm coming from a 5DIII and now D750 with manual lens background (which i'm still planning to keep for lowlight / B-cam / FF look and stills obviously).

Having recently done a few shoots with a BMPC4K & URSA, BM has really opened me up to what kind of IQ and post/grading is possible with +12 DR, 10-bit 422/444/RAW on s35 sensor. Amazing night & day difference. Plus I'm in desperate need of video assist features. URSA mini with the new OS looks amazing. Only thing holding me back is their cams have so many quirks/issues aside from the fact they are more cine cam oriented and hence not the most versatile especially for a one man band such as myself (doable but just not ideal).

I mainly shoot indoor/studio interviews/docus/corporate gigs with recurrent artsy cine/docu series (where i'll usually rent/hire gear/DOP) and very occasional wedding/big event. So yeah I'm basically all over the place but whatever the case, once you get a touch of that RAW or really high ProRes 4K (even 1080 downgraded) IQ it is really really hard to be satisfied with crappy 8-bit 420 compressed DSLR IQ. I have also tried the A7S2 and although very impressive for a mirrorless, I hate the ergonomics and overheating is a no-go.

Proper XLR audio is also a major factor. DSLR/Mirrorless audio is a nightmare and syncing in post is a PITA for most gigs.

So yeah, I want a proper pro video cam! the step up would be FS5 which is still 8-bit 420/422 but manages excellent IQ, E-mount means i can easily use my Nikkor glass and it just seems a workhorse, C100 mk1/2 love the form factor and assist features but no 4K and just slightly above 5DIII as far as IQ. doesn't seem like a really smart investment in 2016. JVC LS300. now i just found out about this cam, it has crazy cool features for lens junkies and it ticks many boxes.. just not sure yet on the IQ (seems kinda too video-ish ungraded), assist features and EVF seem weak. and can't get over the palmcorder ergonomics (silly i know) and heard JVC has terrible support.. and then the aforementioned BM URSA mini (4K as 4.6K has too many issues imo) downside for the 4K model being native 400ISO, no ND's (although i don't shoot outdoors much), CFAST only & rather bulky..

I know there is no perfect camera and I apologise for bringing yet another what cam should i buy thread but you know it's a big investment and no return/rental possibilities in my area/country atm :(

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EOSHD Pro Color 5 for Sony cameras EOSHD Z LOG for Nikon CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

I own an FS5 and love it. I upgraded for many of the same reasons you did - I do all kinds of work and wanted a proper video camera. I love my GH4, but I absolutely hate rigging audio and monitors to DSLR-style cameras. I still use a 5-inch monitor (and v-mounts occasionally), but it fits the camera much better.

I'm usually shooting the FS5 in 1080 for the 10-bit 422, but very happy to have the 4k available. Clear-image zoom is amazing, especially in 1080 where you can use the zoom rocker to smoothly punch in. Turns my 18-35 into an 18-70.

The codec is a good and bad thing as I'm sure you've read. Of course I'd love an all-i option, but it's also incredible to only need two 128gb SD cards for a FULL day of shooting.

Vari-ND is amazing. That is all.

Low-light is not going to blow an A7s user away, but I've shot at ISO8000 in slog 2 and 3 with usable results after NR. The noise isn't ugly, sometimes I don't notice it's there until I look for it. It does get worse in slo-mo, but still manageable if you shoot right.

Raw option is coming. I know it's another $2.2k (Shogun Flame route), but it's great that it will be available.

There's also the typical Sony annoyances, like no ECS shutter (so so useful for dialing out LED banding), and limited shutter options otherwise. Pressing 'menu' will take you out of S&Q mode. Audio input 1 can't record to both channels, but input 2 can. No Hypergammas. No IBIS. Monitor and EVF are just OK. 


It's definitely not the camera for everyone, but it hits a very nice sweet spot for versatile shooters who lean towards the doco/corporate side.


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Thanks for the honest rundown! I've actually had a chance to try out in store all the cameras i mentioned and have come to similar conclusion: FS5 is the one!

I do have a few questions/concerns though.. first the codec.. no all-i does suck.. could you expand further on why it's a good/bad thing? i know it's only 8-bit 420 in 4K (will SDI out give you better?) but i'm more interested in the 10-bit 422 HD. I keep hearing XAVC-L needs a beefy computer..? I'm also not familiar with the workflow of these Sony codecs.. I read you need to use a Sony app to extract/transcode the files if you wanna preview on mac?  that extra step sounds annoying..

also about S&Q... still can't figure out how exactly that works.. is it possible to record at let's say 24p and then trigger (super) slow-mo when the action happens with the button combo? i heard super slow-mo records file to a 8 sec max buffer? a bit confused by that..

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7 hours ago, Django said:

...I keep hearing XAVC-L needs a beefy computer..? I'm also not familiar with the workflow of these Sony codecs.. I read you need to use a Sony app to extract/transcode the files if you wanna preview on mac?

You need a fairly beefy computer anytime you edit H264 4k. XAVC-S from cameras like the Sony A7RII uses the .mp4 wrapper format and can be played/previewed in the Mac Finder. However XAVC-L uses the MXF wrapper format which cannot be (using Quick Look, Preview or Quicktime Player 10). However they both can be rapidly imported into FCPX with "leave files in place" and skimmed there. The skimmer in FCPX is so fast it's generally more effective to just import everything and do the initial evaluation there. If you are using another editor you'll have to decide based on its characteristics.

It is possible to directly play XAVC-L files using VLC or Quicktime 7 Pro. You might need the Apple Pro Video Formats download in addition: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204322

If you want to use Quick Look (ie pressing the space bar) or Preview in Finder to play the XAVC-L video files you will probably need to transcode or re-wrap those a Sony utility or a 3rd party tool like EditReady: http://www.divergentmedia.com/editready

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