Sony is gearing up and presenting two new magnificent cameras, the F5 and the F55. The specs are everything we could wish for and they are tools perfect for film production, commercials and TV. I have become a Sony guy since I bought the FS700, a camera that created new jobs for me and enabled me to generate the kind of footage that aesthetically satisfies me. The 2 new cameras are in a much higher price category but still an amazing bang for the buck.
The F55 competes with the Epic and the Canon C500 while the F5 is probably more targeted in the realms of the C300 although it also can record raw which the C300 can’t. So yes, they are both recording raw onto an recorder you can just snap onto the end of the camera and then also record with Sony’s new high bandwidth, high color resolution codec XAVC onto SXS cards. The F55 records 4K internally while the F5 only manages 2K. The raw recording happens in 16bit which is absolutely amazing: “16-bit (216) color depth is 65,536 shades each of Red, Green, and Blue. That’s 16 times as many Red, Green and Blue gradations as 12-bit RAW and 64 times more than 10-bit recording.”
So the big question is: “Will they be as good as the Alexa?” Well – I think they are going to be a lot like the F65 when it comes to look and color science. But honestly, I think all of these cameras are and will be amazing. Period. They are different but what makes the real difference is always who is behind the camera anyway. When it comes down to the specs and how they translate onto the screen it’s all about what happens in the debayering process. The Alexa has been unbeaten in color science and that’s the reason why most TV shows are shot on the Alexa. What it does best is make actors look good and that’s probably the most important trait of a camera. So here is the question: Will the Sony F5 and F55 make actors look good? I’m very optimistic than from what I’m getting from the new cinegamma settings on the FS700 and from what the F3 is able to produce with S-Log.
It is clear that these cameras are some serious contenders in the market place for probably at least have the price of what you have to pay for the Alexa. Especially for TV it’s going to very interesting how the new XAVC codec will fair. The HD version will record 100 mbps at 10 bit 4:2:2 while the 4K version will run at 300 mbps (F55 only). There is a future upgrade to SR codec which will produce massive 880 mbps in 10 bit 4:4:4. That’s very impressive and only screen tests will tell the truth.
For me personally the most amazing fact is that I can attach the raw recorder to my FS700 and record in 4K 16bit raw. Seriously – this is awesome! I got it confirmed from Sony because I couldn’t believe it. The downsize is that only the adapter to connect to the recorder already costs $2000 and nobody knows how much the recorder is going to be. Sounds like a rental item to me.
Update: The recorder is $6000 and the recording media almost $2000. So for 10 Grand extra you get Raw 16 bit. That’s actually cheap.