The Sony NEX-5 Mirrorless Has Been Hacked with Higher Bitrates, is the FS100 Next?
While the hacking of a camera that can't shoot 24p wouldn't normally be cause for excitement, in this case it may actually mean quite a bit. Sony has traditionally kept bitrates low on their lower-end cameras, and even on some of their higher-end cameras (like the F3). We've all seen how much higher bitrates have helped cameras like the Panasonic GH2, and while increasing the bitrate is no magic bullet for image quality, being able to do it on a camera like the FS100 or even the NEX-5N or NEX-7 would certainly be helpful, and it might even be possible to add new features to any of those cameras. With what Magic Lantern has incorporated into their own hack, it's pretty obvious why this might be exciting.
Here is the video showing the new hack in action:
This is what Andrew had to say on EOSHD:
Sources say that this hack can allow 46Mbit on the older NEX 5 without too much trouble and it is still early days yet, so we could see stuff like intra-frame recording and improvements to HDMI out, or even 4:2:2 colour in MP4 mode and higher resolutions. (Please note this is just my speculation and nothing is confirmed yet).
You'll never get back resolution, as that is dependent on the sensor and the way the processors handle downscaling, but you could get back a lot of what might normally be lost in the shadows. As video compression tends to work a lot more on darker areas, by hacking your camera, you might be able to recover that lost detail. One of the first major breakthroughs for the camera hacking community came with Vitaliy Kiselev and the Panasonic GH1. The hack did wonders for the image quality (and fixed the strange way it recorded 24p). Then when Panasonic released the GH1 successor, the GH2, it wasn't long before that camera was also hacked with extremely high bitrates.
If you've been following the site, the Panasonic GH2 was actually ranked #1 in a poll conducted on the site when we asked readers which scene they liked best in the new Zacuto shootout. Would that camera have been picked first without the hack? Possibly, but there is no doubt that the hacked allowed a lot more to be done in post without the image falling apart. DSLR footage is already highly compressed, and the more that is done to manipulate the image, the greater the chance that compression artifacts will begin to show up.
So even though the NEX-5 isn't really useful as a filmmaking camera (at least not yet), the fact that a lower-end Sony camera has been hacked could mean that more cameras in their line are actually hackable. A camera like the FS100, which already resolves a tremendous amount of detail and is better than most DSLRs at handling aliasing and moire, could really benefit during color correction by having higher bitrates. Even if the FS100 proves to be impossible to hack, seeing higher bitrates and possibly more features on some of the lower-end Sony cameras would mean more competition in a space that is already becoming overcrowded (by impressive offerings like the Blackmagic Cinema Camera).
What do you guys think? Would the 5N or 7 become more appealing if they could benefit from higher bitrates, and maybe even added features?