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Sony F5 hack unlocks 4K XAVC recording


Andrew Reid

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It already does 4K internal, it comes off the sensor as 4K and is debayered, all the hard work done and sent to HDMI rather than compressed and sent to the card. 4K compression is trivial. Mobile phon

Just like the previous post from Ben said. Do you have any idea how much time was spent developing your product? If you feel it's unethical to differentiate products solely based on software, then

View the Sony F5 'out of the box' specs at B&H here (and add 4K for free) Paul Ream (Twitter) has spoken about his simple unlocking technique for the F5 to unlock 4K XAVC recording. &#1

This is equally true of the Sony RX10 -- it samples natively at 4Kp60. It then sends the image to the Bionz X processor.

It may or may not be, the wording from the RX 10 is "Sony brings out the full potential of Full High Definition (Full HD) movie recording... by utilising every pixel from the image sensor at accelerated speed".   

 

For the A7s they say this about the video: The world’s first full-frame sensor capable of full pixel readout*1 without pixel binning for movies and 4K*2HDMI video output 

 

If the RX10 were generating video the same way the A7s did I think they'd be bragging about it, but they're not. I think they're just using every pixel in the binning process on the RX10.

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In a free world Sony can sell whatever they want at whatever the price. And we buyers should decide what to buy or not. Nobody argues that.

 

But as Andrew and others say, if a multi-thousand euros difference is just a couple lines of code, owners will probably be favorable to the hack, so the cat vs mouse situation starts and never ends!

 

It takes balls to test a hack on a 16K$ camera too!!!

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I don't think its unethical. Just look at Software. Companies will make LITE versions, or PRO versions. Obviously there are features disabled in LITE for a lower price. You could say the same about Cameras, and hardware.

 

It's not the right analogy at all. "Lite" versions of software are generally free or very cheap, the F5 is not a free version of the F55, it's a $16k camera. You're paying a lot for hardware that's capable of 4K. F5 owners will be upset that they had a camera all along that could shoot 4K and they have been shooting 1080p for budgetary reasons unnessessarily.

 

Equally in the case of F55 owners, who paid an extra $12,000 mainly for 4K, only for it to appear for free due to a text file change on the $12k cheaper model - that's annoying. There's no other way to describe it.

 

Customers lose out from this kind of strategy. Canon could and should have put 4K on the 1D X but they disabled it in software, denying a whole host of talents access to it due to price reasons.

 

I don't know of any software packages where the price difference is $12k between the lite and full versions.

 

This is like hacking the lite version to get the full version, it shouldn't be allowed. If a company is going to take this strategy they at least need to protect their customers from hacks. Thing is, there are always going to be hacks and circumnavigation of barriers when features are disabled in software. The most responsible solution is to differentiate the cameras based on how much they cost to manufacture.

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Just like the previous post from Ben said. Do you have any idea how much time was spent developing your product?

If you feel it's unethical to differentiate products solely based on software, then that means you feel that software has no value. Software is intellectual property that breathes life into the silicon your camera is made up of.

Also look at it this way, do you have any idea how expensive it would be to bring a product to market without the substantial leveraging of previous hardware? The price of the F55 was set at is based off of the quantity of F5 units they hope to sell so they can leverage quantity buying power (+20 points of cream for their troubles).

In other words, if they couldn't make the low end camera off of the high end one, they would have never made the high end one, because there's just not enough buyers to get an ROI.

Companies do this all the time, they just aren't stupid enough to leave the workaround accessible in cleartext!

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It may or may not be, the wording from the RX 10 is "Sony brings out the full potential of Full High Definition (Full HD) movie recording... by utilising every pixel from the image sensor at accelerated speed".   

 

For the A7s they say this about the video: The world’s first full-frame sensor capable of full pixel readout*1 without pixel binning for movies and 4K*2HDMI video output 

 

If the RX10 were generating video the same way the A7s did I think they'd be bragging about it, but they're not. I think they're just using every pixel in the binning process on the RX10.

 

I actually misspoke. As reported by EOSHD, on the RX10 the entire 5,472 x 3,080 sensor is read out at 60 fps then downsampled by the Bionz X processor to HD. To me, that means no binning or line skipping. Maybe the RX10 couldn't handle 4K recording or output without overheatng.

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In Sony's defence, other companies are doing it. Most prominent example, is Arri with their Amira. They sell the same camera in three different firmware packages, one does 1080p, the other enables 2K, third enables 200fps, etc. And the difference in price is 10-20k also. Same camera, same hardware, they even give you the option of renting the higher-end package for a period of time.

Convergent Design does the same, you can buy their external recorder Q7, and then you have to buy an extra expensive (1-2K) software license to enable recording the signal from certain cameras, if you don't, you get a watermark on the footage overlayed. Same hardware, different prices for software.

The F5 is actually an even a better situation compared to those as "some" hardware is different from the F55, as it has a global shutter and a different sensor circuitry and other differences.

I still don't enjoy the idea of paying money for physical hardware for its ability to do certain tasks, and then have it disabled for any reason.

Imho there is quite a difference here. Your other examples are absolutely clear about this. You can not only decide before buying but - even better - one year later when needed to unlock a feature or two you didn't need before. You could even do this on a project base. And this is a huge difference to the f5/f55 they are telling f5 can't do 4k internally you gotta buy another color science and a global shutter to get 4k internally. If they'd offered a 4k update for 4k before any camera was sold you wouldn't have a horde of pissed f55 owners right now. Because they are the problem for Sony now, not the f5 owners or new buyers.
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Well the F5 can't actually playback the 4k file natively (so you can't check what you're shooting) so the difference is more than a line of code.

 

Also, when we go right into it, how do we know for example that Scarlets aren't just "software disabled" Epics?

 

And is there a difference between software disabling and cutting parts out from a gpu with a laser (highend gpu/cpu chips are usually the same parts, but some parts of the core are disabled by laser in the consumer versions). Think about that when you buy your new Intel/AMD/Nvidia processor/gpu. Are you gonna boycott them all?

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Well I'm pretty sure playback is only software disabled as well, as it can playback 4k from the external rec. If interested Sony could very well make the f5 a full 4k internal camera via firmware.
The comparison with GPU or CPU chips is a bit wrong at least in the beginning of the lifespan of the chips. Most of the time when producing a new chip on a new manufacturing process not every chip is 100% usable but before thrashing them they get sold as a cheaper version with for example 2 non working cores disabled. As manufacturing matures the yield gets better and then you get nearly 100% working chips. And then they keep selling the cheap version. Therefore the "hack" of re-enabling disabled cores via software, soldering or something else doesn't always work. But on the F5 its pure marketing decisions. I hope they just sell a 4k upgrade option, they are lucky at the moment that enabling of 4k playback of 4k isn't yet working so they have a chance of selling it. Otherwise v5 must be really good to convince people to forget about 4k recording and upgrade their firmware to v5.

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This kind of practice is standard in many industries. Is it anti-consumer? Maybe, but at least let me present an argument that hasn't been talked about yet - you're an electronics manufacturer, you have designed a range of products. Because your design team are competent, they have designed them to share as many components as possible.

 

Now you have two products in particular in that range, they perform the same function, but one does it with 4 times as much precision as the other. You talk to your quality control team and ask, what grade of components does each need. The more precise product needs grade 1 components, say your QC team, otherwise we hit a 7.5% failure rate after 6 months of use which breaches our internal quality. The less precise does not exhibit a breach in quality failure if we use grade 2 components.

 

So the manufacturing process begins. You specify a batch of whatsits which are the component in question and you manufacture them. It costs you £1000 for the batch and you get 20 grade 1's and 80 grade 2's. You send the grade 1's to the machine assembling the more precise product, the grade 2's to the other assembly line. Products get made and you talk to your marketing department. What can we sell these for, you ask. Well, how much do they cost to produce they reply - well, how do you price the whatsits? Are they all £10 each or should you skew the cost of production to represent the different grades? As you get 4 times as many grade 2's, maybe you should charge 4 times as much for the grade 1's, giving you a cost of £25 ish for the grade 1's and £6ish for the grade 2's. 

 

Now imagine you have 3 such components in your product, your precise product has a manufacturing cost of £75 vs £18 for the less precise version. Cost at retail £300 for the precise one, £72 for the less precise one.

 

What happens if a canny customer works out how to unlock the precise settings on your cheaper, but "identical" less precise product. They get the £300 version for £75, but 7.5% of people who do this are going to break their devices in 6 months, an unacceptable failure rate to you.

 

I'm not saying this is what is happening, but if you put yourself in the shoes of a manufacturer, you can see how decisions such as these are made and you can understand that the true reasons for them are a little more complex that pure profiteering.

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guys, this applies to engines, whiskey, amplifiers, blu-ray players, vfx, lenses, monitor panels.. it's your job as DIY'ers, to find these imbalances, take the labels off, solder off the capacitors, hack the firmware, de-restrict the exhaust, snap the aperture rings... and keep it a secret: it's a good thing.

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F5 owners will be upset that they had a camera all along that could shoot 4K and they have been shooting 1080p for budgetary reasons unnessessarily.

 

Nope, F5 owners knew what they were buying when they purchased and Sony delivered on the agreed terms. They knew that they had to spend a lot more if they wanted 4K, either via the recorder or buying an F55. If anything, they have received some unexpected "gift", but they deserve no explanation/compensation from Sony.

 

 

Equally in the case of F55 owners, who paid an extra $12,000 mainly for 4K, only for it to appear for free due to a text file change on the $12k cheaper model - that's annoying. There's no other way to describe it.

 

They should be really pissed. Sony's fuckup is not the pricing policy -though it could be argued if it was right-, but failing to protect their customer's investment. They can charge whatever they deem reasonable for their cameras, and they are right because their cameras DO sell. One of the main reasons to pay a premium the we all know is not hardware/feature-justified is the fact that having the most advanced and expensive tool adds a certain "exclusivity" that can be charged to the client. This amortization takes some time and usually product cycles in higher end models are a lot longer.

 

"Annoying" is the fact that the a5100 gets full pixel readout and XAVC-S and the higher a6000 released four months earlier is stuck with AVCHD, not to mention higher end cameras like the FS700. So essentially, the low end consumer a5100 probably has better video than pro cameras such as the FS100 or FS700 which are not that old.

 

In the case of the F55, Sony's failure does some serious financial damage to the people who trusted their business to them and opted for the bigger and better investment.

 

We have to keep in mind that this guy has done nothing to void his warranty (unlike ML). He has not modified the camera nor the firmware, and has managed to add around 8.000$ of value to his camera. So he's not to be blamed and Sony should start looking for a way to compensate F55 owners.

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My message is clear to the manufacturers and always has been... Give us 100% of the capabilities of the hardware we pay for and don't disable stuff with a line of code.

 

Exactly, I bought the hardware and I can do whatever I want with it. If its capable of doing something and I can open that up I will. I will always apply a hack if the manufacturer is pulling this crap and crippling the camera...

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