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Mini Review - FS5 + Shogun Inferno


Oliver Daniel

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I've had this kit for nearly a year now, so it's time to review it. 

Thought I'd share a mini review from some notes I've written down. 

Intro

I've been mostly a Sony shooter since 2012 when the FS700 came out. Got the FS5 as an A-cam all rounder, and soon updated it with the raw update and Inferno. Mostly shoot in Slog2 alongside other Sony alphas like the A6500 and A7SII. 

Best Bits

  • Electronic ND!!
  • Nice ergonomics.
  • Lots of HFR options. 
  • Internal XAVC-L HD holds up really well. 
  • Really nice monitor (Inferno) - easy to use and quality screen. 
  • Continuous slow motion is useful for longer scenes. 
  • 4k 100fps - looks great!
  • Raw images look very thick and tasty. 

Worst Bits

  • Menus are complicated. 
  • Internal 4k is nothing to shout about. 
  • White Balance, especially in Slog, never looks right (Colour can either be too cool or greenish yellow. )
  • Often difficult to grade images (but can get great results). 
  • Inferno monitor battery life is very poor. 
  • Camera is heavier, bigger and harder to use with the Inferno.
  • Continuous slow motion is very noisy. 
  • Raw to ProRes 4k is only incrementally better than the Internal XAVC-L HD. 
  • EVF viewfinder seems a bit too small. 

 

Perspective

The idea behind FS-RAW and the external recorder is very attractive, however some users may end up being disappointed with the experience. This is a very stable and reliable camera setup, however if you like to move fast and have a lot of freedom with your tools, this is likely not the right setup for you. 

To use the FS-RAW update is expensive, and I've found that if you don't plan to shoot RAW but ProRes instead - the difference isn't worth the extra money. It might be to some for special purposes, however I didn't feel the benefit enough. 

The A6500 beats the FS5 raw to ProRes ProRes image in 4k. Not so much in 1080p. 

A lot of us think that the more lucrative the setup, the better our images will be. It's definitely possible. But as our smaller, cheaper camera have limitations - the bigger boys also come with significant limitations too. You need more crew, more hard drives, more muscles, bigger tripods, bigger gimbals, bigger sliders, bigger batteries, and a much bigger wallet. 

If you're thinking of "upgrading" from your mirrorless, be prepared for a much different experience. ;)

For me, I do find purpose in using this setup. For some shoots, there's not a better option. But for the majority - being more compact is definitely more favoured. 

Here's a video I produced on the FS5 with the Inferno:

 

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Thanks for your review! If you don't mind, I'd like contribute my experience:

I'd add to the pros list:

  • S-Log view assist
  • "proper audio" (I think this gets overlooked a lot when comparing to mirrorless)
  • Easy to break down/put together (esp. compared to its big brother)
  • Battery life
  • Dual card slots
  • "Clear image" zoom can be used with the zoom rockers.

And I'd add to the cons list:

  • Can't adjust jack-shit once you turn on super slomo. And no histogram during slomo- wtf, Sony?
  • No waveform
  • Low res EVF (in addition to being small)
  • Shutter speed changes seem random when going between frame rates/resolutions. It needs the ability to set angle!!
  • Seriously, why no shutter angle option? I think this is worth two bullet points :P
  • Controls for XLR2 get covered by the handle. (Or maybe it's XLR1-can't remember)

And, to me, I don't find the footage difficult to grade (maybe because I use S-Log 3 and SGamut3.Cine instead of 2/SGamut?), and I've been exposing +1.5EV and haven't had an issue with noise even in HFR.

Curious what lenses you use. Since you were getting marginally better resolution in 4K out, my first thought was maybe you're reaching the resolving limit of the lenses, but the fact that the a6500 is getting better results (with the same lenses, presumably) counters that idea. Great video, btw!! Is that 4K/100?

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14 minutes ago, EthanAlexander said:

And, to me, I don't find the footage difficult to grade (maybe because I use S-Log 3 and SGamut3.Cine instead of 2/SGamut?), and I've been exposing +1.5EV and haven't had an issue with noise even in HFR.

Curious what lenses you use. Since you were getting marginally better resolution in 4K out, my first thought was maybe you're reaching the resolving limit of the lenses, but the fact that the a6500 is getting better results (with the same lenses, presumably) counters that idea. Great video, btw!! Is that 4K/100?

 

Cheers for your points. 

I don't find it that difficult to grade, but that's 5 years of dealings with Slog. Those who are new to the format may find it tricky, certainly with the bizarre white balance results that never seems truly balanced. 

The lenses I've used are Sigma ART's. Granted, when I've used a Helios 58mm or something, I expect the image not to resolve to it's prime performance. 

The A6500 with the same lenses has a better image than the Inferno's 4k with FS5 - we know the A6500 has special 4k voodoo anyway. 

Also, I'm selling my Inferno. I like it but I'm trying to get more compact and portable for future shoots. 

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On 8/2/2017 at 11:31 AM, Oliver Daniel said:

 

 

The A6500 beats the FS5 raw to ProRes ProRes image in 4k. Not so much in 1080p. 

 

 

would you care to expand on this. I'm a bit shocked by this. is the FS5 4k really that inferior?!

and so in your opinion the 4K raw to Prores via inferno isn't worth the hassle versus the internal XAVC codec?

also how would you compare the 4K image to the A7SII?

 

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3 minutes ago, Django said:

would you care to expand on this. I'm a bit shocked by this. is the FS5 4k really that inferior?!

also how would you compare the 4K image to the A7SII?

 

The A6500 has a special 4k mojo. 

It beats the FS5 4k ProRes recording with: 

  • Better resolution image - more detailed. 
  • Better colour rendition - much more pleasing and easier to grade. 
  • Better "motion cadence" - the FS5 misses that cinematic, progressive feel. The A6500 does too - but not as much. 
  • Comparable dynamic range - the A6500 really holds up. (Slog2). 

The FS5 holds shadows a little teeny bit better. Also 1080p and rolling shutter is superior to the A6500. 

The rolling shutter in the A6500 in 4k nearly ruins the camera. it's a little beast on a gimbal, but a disaster above 50mm when handheld.

The clear statement here is that the FS5 4k ProRes from a recorder is nothing special, barely any better than the internal recording and beaten by the A6500 & A7SII at 4k. 

The A7SII 4k is really nice and  a totally different look in full frame. Hard to say what's "better" compared to the A6500. 

The FS5 external recordings for me are very disappointing considering the price and additional hard drive space required. 

The 4k 100fps burst though looks awesome compared to the HD 100fps. That's a plus!!

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Thanks for your input. Yeah it's quite a shame about the horrible rolling shutter on A6500. totally ruins it for me.

 Color science and white balance is definitely tricky with all these Sony's.

On the A7S I had, found myself always having to adjust RGB values in post to get normal colours back from footage, really annoying process compared to my Canons & XT2 that nail it SOOC.

Now about motion cadence, so you feel the FS5 isn't very cinematic?  does it offer 23.976 / 24p? very odd that there is no shutter angle option either.. that's just plain goofy on a pro video cam of that level..

I'm still interested in the FS5 though as a few are starting to pop up on second hand market and I'm starting to get cold feet about the C200 (lack of midrange codec is super disappointing at that price point and super slow mo seems super soft)

Important question I never hear about, how is the FS5's AF with native Sony lenses?  

 

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2 hours ago, Django said:

Now about motion cadence, so you feel the FS5 isn't very cinematic?  does it offer 23.976 / 24p? very odd that there is no shutter angle option either.. that's just plain goofy on a pro video cam of that level..

I'm not sure I agree with Oliver on this one. The camera has 23.976 and actually has 1/48th shutter unlike a6500's 1/50th. I owned an a6500 for about a month and it was certainly super detailed 4K due to the 24MP over-sampling, but I wouldn't say it has better motion cadence than the FS5. And the rolling shutter really is just. the. absolute. worst. FS5 rolling shutter is quite good. Not Alexa good, but it's really only noticeable in whip-pans, and it's perceptibly better than any full-frame Sony mirrorless, too.

2 hours ago, Django said:

Color science and white balance is definitely tricky with all these Sony's.

True. But, FS5 has better auto WB than any other sony I've used, and I've used pretty much anything FS7 and cheaper. I'd also like to add that the 10Bit HD is REALLY robust, so getting great skin tones and pleasing colors is not a problem. Even in 4K it's got enough latitude. If you don't have time to grade, though, it's pretty much impossible to beat the Canon C line SOOC. 

2 hours ago, Django said:

Important question I never hear about, how is the FS5's AF with native Sony lenses?  

Nothing like Canon's DPAF, and not as good as the a6500's touch phase detect, either. BUT, it's pretty good for anything but super fast subjects, and it actually looks pretty smooth and controlled. It's slow, but it doesn't hunt and give itself away as being autofocus. I've had instances where I start in manual focus on one subject, and use "one touch auto" to pull focus to the next subject, and it's not a bad result.

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2 hours ago, Django said:

Thanks for your input. Yeah it's quite a shame about the horrible rolling shutter on A6500. totally ruins it for me.

 Color science and white balance is definitely tricky with all these Sony's.

On the A7S I had, found myself always having to adjust RGB values in post to get normal colours back from footage, really annoying process compared to my Canons & XT2 that nail it SOOC.

Now about motion cadence, so you feel the FS5 isn't very cinematic?  does it offer 23.976 / 24p? very odd that there is no shutter angle option either.. that's just plain goofy on a pro video cam of that level..

I'm still interested in the FS5 though as a few are starting to pop up on second hand market and I'm starting to get cold feet about the C200 (lack of midrange codec is super disappointing at that price point and super slow mo seems super soft)

Important question I never hear about, how is the FS5's AF with native Sony lenses?  

 

 

To get nice Sony footage, you have to grade to the death. I enjoy it so it doesn't bother me much. 

I do like the FS5 though - it's a very robust camera with loads of options. Very modular. Electronic ND. Hard to top wrong with it. 

I'm just disappointed in the very very minor quality jump of the external Raw to ProRes 4k, other than that, there's not many cameras that can beat the FS5 on value. 

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1 hour ago, Oliver Daniel said:

To get nice Sony footage, you have to grade to the death. I enjoy it so it doesn't bother me much. 

I'm going to write a post about this and share the it with everyone here, but I figured for @Django 's sake I'd put it here since he's considering an FS5: I accidentally (long story) created a LUT that works WAY better than the official Sony LUTs and gives great contrast and saturation without blowing out highlights or crushing blacks. It's for S-Log 3 with S.Gamut3.Cine exposed +1.5 EV. I'm going to make some tweaks to it, but I just processed 60 clips I shot outdoors in an uncontrolled environment and I only made exposure adjustments for 5 shots. I think I'll make a "real life" version and "filmic color" version and then share it with everyone. Maybe a "starting point" LC one and "final grade" one, too.

I also wanted to mention to Django that the reason I was able to get all these sports shots was because of the electronic variable ND, and that if your work will involve anything in uncontrolled lighting this feature can't really be overestimated. That and S Log. 

Can you tell I love my FS5? LOL

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