Sony FS7 4K camera: an overviewThursday, October 15, 2015 12:00 AM
WTS production specialist and seasoned freelance cameraman Patrick van Weeren presents a video overview of the Sony FS7 4K camera, which has proved hugely popular with cameramen since it hit the shelves in late 2014.
The Sony FS7 4K camera has proven to be one of the best-selling Sony cameras ever in the 10 months since it hit the market, following its show-stopping launch at IBC 2014.
At WTS, we’ve seen unprecedented interest in the Sony FS7, especially in the workshop days we’ve run in partnership with Sony at the DMPCE at Pinewood Studios. So after one of those workshops, I took the chance to shoot the short introduction video above, explaining some of the key features of the Sony FS7.
Sony FS7 – what should I use it for?
The Sony FS7 is a very versatile 4K camera, and also shoots in HD up to 120fps, giving you plenty of options to shoot documentary-style, film-style or simply for using in an ENG broadcast set-up.
Sony FS7 sensor
The Sony FS7 has the same sensor as the Sony F5, a Super 35mm sensor giving you the nice shallow depth of field which has really gained popularity since the advent of DSLR filming. With a native ISO of 2000, the FS7 will give you good performance in low-light conditions.
What lenses should I use with the Sony FS7?
The Sony FS7 is an E-mount camera, but for those of you wanting to use DSLR or PL lenses, you can get adaptors, so that you can use your existing glass and open the camera up to a huge range of lenses.
For buyers choosing the Sony FS7K option, a lens is included in the box (that’s the only difference between the FS7 and the FS7K). It’s a 28-135mm lens, but with the Super 35mm sensor, that ends up being about a 42-200mm lens – so it’s a tripod-based lens.
Sony FS7 media cards and recording options
The Sony FS7’s internal recording on XQD cards gives several options: XAVC intra, XAVC long GOP or MPEG HD 4:2:2. There are two XQD card slots, so dual recording, or continuous recording from card to card is possible. The FS7 also has HDMI and HDSDI outputs, so it is very easy to use an external recorder.
The XDCA-FS7 extension unit gives you additional recording options for the Sony FS7. It allows Apple ProRes 4:2:2 internal recording in HD and 12-bit RAW external recording with an external recorder such as the Odyssey 7Q, Atomos Shogun or Atomos Assassin.
Other functions of the XDCA-FS7 extension unit
The XDCA-FS7 has Genlock in/out, Ref out and Timecode connectors if you need to synchronise multi-camera recording or audio recorders.
It also expands your power options significantly – it has a V-Lock battery mount, meaning you can use your original batteries (without the extension unit, the camera uses BP-U30/60/90 batteries). There is also a four-pin XLR power input for use with an external power supply, and a Hirose power output to power one of the many accessories you can buy for the Sony FS7.
The Sony FS7 has three ND filters settings (plus a clear setting), to adjust the amount of light and allows you to shoot with a shallow depth of field without having to stop down the iris, even under bright conditions. The ND filters are manual, so a lot faster than some of the electronic versions used in other cameras.
Assignable buttons and dials
The Sony FS7 has six assignable buttons – three on the camera body and three on the handgrip. There is a wide range of tools which you can choose to assign to these buttons, including markers, zebras, magnifiers, exposure and white balance. There are also two assignable dials, one on the camera body and one on the handgrip. These can be assigned to control the iris, ISO/gain/EI and focus (depending on the lens you’re using), or to adjust the audio level.
Handgrip control unit
The Sony FS7 comes with a handgrip which is adjustable in rotation and length. It’s not just great for holding the camera, it also acts as a control unit via the iLink cable (and can be detached from the arm). The handgrip features a zoom rocker for use with dedicated zoom lenses, a start/stop recording button, a joystick for menu selection, three assignable buttons, and one assignable dial.
Slow and quick motion
Slow and quick motion will be available in the camera’s high frame rate mode in full scan or centre scan with the new firmware update that is due out before the end of 2015. This will enable the Sony FS7 to shoot at up to 150fps in HD for the PAL region.
LOG and LUTS: Using high dynamic range and wider colour gamut
To widen the dynamic range of the Sony FS7 4K camera, we’ve got S-Log2 and S-Log3 on board. Apart from the classic custom modes that we’ve already seen on Sony models such as the F5, F55 and F65, you can also use Cine EI custom modes with wider colour space, such as S-Gamut3.Cine, and expand your dynamic range by using SLog3 or SLog2.
Using SLog will record the footage in log mode, and with the use of a look-up table (LUT) and/or colour grading in post, you can achieve a more flexible and better result for your footage.
One of the major tools for Sony FS7 users filming in S-Log is the high/low key tool – this allows you to check the highlights and blacks for video artefacts.