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Sony FS5: A little brother to the FS7 that packs a lot of the same punch

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As if there weren't enough options for great cameras, Sony has just dropped the FS5 on us. Sitting between the FS700 and FS7, this lightweight small bodie'd camera packs a lot of the FS7 punch, but with some tradeoffs that keep the FS7 the big brother. Let's get into it:

Size wise it's a significant bit smaller than the FS7, it's closer to a C100. You can also remove the top handle and side grip to notch it just under 2lbs, that's light! The form factor is geared towards handholding, and thus far considering the features and price i would have a hard time picking up a c100 mark 2 over this. 

Spec wise, in traditional Sony fashion, is long, here are some of the more interesting specs:

  • Sensor: Super35 Exmor® CMOS,14 stops dynamic range
  • Codec: 4K 3840 x 2160 at 100mbit XAVC 4:2:0, 1080 does 10bit 4:2:2
  • Log: S-Log3, S-Log2, and S-Gamut3.Cine 
  • Handle: rotating, detachable Smart Grip
  • Slow motion: Up to 240fps in full 1080, up to 960fps in lower resolutions.
  • External RAW recording: Future, probably paid upgrade
  • 3.5-inch LCD monitor (viewable area, measured diagonally) flexibly adapts to shooting style and angle; mounts on three locations on the handle and six locations on the camera body
  • Electronic ND: Some new voodoo that's a continuously variable ND, but electronic, if it works, it's brilliant!
  • Traditional ND: Yep, 3 of those as well. As it turns out, the normal looking ND wheel are just presets for the Variable ND 
  • Clear Image Zoom: Gives you a 2x zoom on your lens with little quality loss
  • Center Scan mode: Crops the sensor which is great for s16 lens use
  • EVF: 0.39-inch OLED
  • Battery: BP-U30 
  • Media: Two SD card slots
  • Connections: 3G-SDI, HDMI, two XLR, LANC, USB, MI Shoe, DC input and RJ-45 Lan
  • Price:  $5600

The big one a lot of folks will take issue with is the 8bit 4:20 4K codec, which is a big step down from the FS7's 10bit 4:2:2. Even the HDMI out is just 8bit 4:2:2, so it's clear they were very careful not to undermine the FS7. But all that considered, if you wanted higher quality in the future, there will be an external raw option. The big question then becomes, why not just get an FS7? The obvious answer is size and weight. You can always build the FS5 up, you can't hacksaw the FS7 down.

100mbit 8bit 4:2:0 is also not a bad codec, just ask any GH4 shooter, or ax100, or x70, or any of the other numerous cameras that utilize a similar codec. It's not that it's bad, it's that it can be limiting. High motion is the big killer of lower bit-rates, and subtle gradations of color and light is the killer of 8 bit. But again, the image is still very nice, especially when showing it to the average person, not one of us pixel peepers!

Price wise, it's in the territory of the C100 mark 2 and the Ursa mini 4.6k. All very different beasts. The FS5 however really packs in a lot more camera for your dollar over the C100/2, which has no 4k option at all! The big consideration there comes down to brand preference: A lot of folks are in love with 1 look over the other. Some love canon and dislike sony images, and vice versa. I've shot both, love them in different ways. For me it comes down to which is more versatile for my shooting needs. 

On the side there is a wonderful mess of buttons. I love me some buttons. A proper tilting EVF is always welcome (C100 mark 1 owner here, i give appreciation to any DECENT EVF!) And what's interesting is they kept the fully modular style LCD, which can be yoga'd into numerous positions.

One thing im happy about is the use of SD cards over the newer CFAST. It makes perfect sense too: the max bitrate is 100mbit, easily handled by many of the UHS level cards which are quite inexpensive.

Probably the most interesting new feature is the variable electronic ND. This is pure mystery and magic: it's some sort of electronic process for cutting down the light like an ND filter, and it's smooth and continuous in operation. I'm eager to learn just how they are achieving it. Sounds like a vari-ND which is basically two polarizers, but it's specifically not this, and something electronic. They also added in some traditional NDs for good measure.

As always, time will tell just how well it performs, as well liked as the FS7 is, it had a rocky start. I do like what i am seeing so far, and i'll be watching this little fella closely.

Added on 2015-09-11 by
Darren Levine

Darren Levine

Stimulus Video

DP/Videographer, Video/Film Editor
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