The $4500 Sony PMW-100: a Sign of Codecs to Come on the 4k Sony F5 (And Why Canon Should Be Worried)
The powerhouse FS700 wasn't the only new camera that Sony recently announced. Another camera was quietly (at least to this community) introduced that packs a punch and has its sights square on Canon's event/doc cameras: the XF100 and XF300 series. The real announcement behind the announcement is the way that Sony is positioning its separate camera models and features. Sony has a clear idea about where specific cameras should stand in terms of features and price, and it seems we might get a more powerful F3 sooner rather than later.
First, here are the big specs, from Cinescopophilia:
- 1/3" Sensor
- 50 Mbps MXF MPEG HD422 Long GOP
- MPEG HD420 35/25Mbps & DVCAM 25Mbps
- Compatible with SxS, SD, XQD, Memory Stick Media
- 3.5-inch WVGA (852×480) LCD
- Slow/Fast motion: 1 fps to 60 fps in 720p & 1 fps to 30 fps in 1080p mode.
- HD/SD-SDI output, Composite Out, Genlock input, time code in/out, i.LINK (HDV/DV) in/out, and A/V Out.
So what's the big deal here? For one thing it
destroys compares very, very favorably with the Canon XF series of cameras in features and price. The fact that this camera has a better internal codec than the three times more expensive Sony F3 is not something to take lightly. It's also arguably better than the internal codec on the FS700, but that's more of an apples to oranges comparison since it's MPEG-2 vs MPEG-4. Regardless, it's certainly telling of things to come. The FS700 is an extremely powerful camera with a 4K downscaled sensor to 1080p (4K RAW will be available as an upgrade with a proprietary external hardware recorder). At just under $10,000, it still doesn't have the internal codec and the SxS card compatibility of the $13,000 F3. That leaves some interesting gaps in hardware compatibility:
- $5,000 Sony FS100 - 4:2:0 28mbps H.264 internal (No ND/4:2:2 HDMI)
- $8,000 Canon C-Series DSLR 4:2:0 28mbps + ALL-I 90mbps (No ND/4:2:2 HDMI/4K MJPEG internal)
- $10,000 Sony FS700 - 4:2:0 28mbps H.264 internal (ND Filters/8-bit HD-SDI/4K output)
- $13,000 Sony F3 - 4:2:0 35mbps MPEG-2 internal (ND Filters/10-bit 4:4:4 HD-SDI)
- $16,000 Canon C300 4:2:2 50mbps MPEG-2 internal (ND Filters/8-bit 4:2:2 HD-SDI)
- $16-$20K Sony F5 - 4:2:2 50mbps MPEG-2 internal (ND Filters/10-bit 4:4:4 HD-SDI/1080p internal, 4K output)
The bold lettering are my guesses, but I've heard rumors of that name being the replacement to the F3. If you look at that pricing structure it creates clear differences and all of the cameras can actually co-exist peacefully together. I'm not sure if that is Sony's plan, but if they were to keep producing all of these cameras, the next camera down would not have significantly better features without spending some serious money on extras. Sony wants to move to 4K sooner rather than later, but they are setting the users up for a nice transition. They've got Canon in their sights at all price levels. At NAB Canon will probably announce their own $10,000 or less 4K camera. Sony is trying to beat them to it and take some steam away by positioning the FS700 right there - in possibly a better form factor as well.
If Sony does release an F5 camera, it would have to be way below the F65 in features. That's about the only place I could see Sony really cannibalizing themselves - but they seem to be much more willing to do so than Canon. If Canon doesn't have another high-end camera up their sleeves, the C300 is going to look even more overpriced than it already does compared to the F3, which now has S-Log 4:4:4 standard in all new cameras. The only hope that Canon has is that their 4K DSLR will have the performance people are looking for. At the price point it will probably be released at, it's going to be crippled in a lot of areas as compared to the FS700. We'll just have to wait and see what happens at NAB in a few weeks.
Here are some more photos of the PMW-100: