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The Sony NEX-5 Mirrorless Has Been Hacked with Higher Bitrates, is the FS100 Next?

08.12.12 @ 10:00AM Tags : , , , , , , ,

Sony NEX 5 Firmware HackedWhile 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?

[via EOSHD]

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  • Antoine Bordeleau on 08.12.12 @ 10:26AM

    I just can’t wait to see someone come up with a hack for the SLT-A57. With the capacities it already has and a hack like Magic Lantern or the one on the GH2, it’d really be a killer camera for video and filmmaking(which it already is, BTW)!

  • 4:2:2 chroma subsampling won’t give you more luma resolution but it will double your chroma resolution vs. 4:2:0. Better especially for green screen work. However, this will probably require the hacker know how to work with video unless Sony built the capability in already and just decided to cripple the camera in the interest of selling future product.

    If they can’t get it to do 24p (and this may have something to do with the AVCHD 2.0 standard I understand?), cameras stuck at 60p aren’t the end of the world, as I’ve learned with my handy little RX100. Apart from allowing decent (though not dramatic) slow motion via 40% speed retiming (shoot at 172 degree i.e. 1/125 sec shutter), getting to 24p is just a matter of shooting with no shutter (1/60th second) and dropping all but the “nearest neighbor” frames when conforming to 24p. You will end up with a net shutter angle of 144 degrees, which isn’t the cinema standard 180, but isn’t going to strobe very terribly either. Conforming to nearest neighbor also won’t be perfectly fluid motion but it won’t be so bothersome either. Web-delivered video can be conformed to 30p if you are concerned about those things, just dropping every other frame for smooth motion and a net shutter angle of the standard 180.

  • I’m always shocked and amused when people continue linking to, and paying attention to, Andred Reid at GH2HD (aka EOSHD). His blog post as usual is full of inaccuracies, at first failing to distinguish between the NEX-5 and NEX-5N, then saying simplistically that the NEX-FS100′s Super35mm sensor is “the same size as” the NEX-5N’s APS-C sensor, as if a glance at it has all the meaning. (To start with, a huge difference is the aspect ratio; and “size” has more to do with photosite density of course.)

    The ONLY thing that his unattributed video posting shows is that someone can access the Linux-based internals. That’s it. Millions of products are similiarly accessible.

    But you all went for it, so…

    • I’m with you. The guy seems, to be polite, a bit of a ranting idiot. But he gets coverage.

    • Mr. Reid is yes, way too inaccurate and sloppy to be considered an authority. And is still very sore that he named his blog after Canon’s cameras, but somehow can’t will himself to change the name.

      But he gets the gist right much of the time and I like the fact he has an angle. He also isn’t corrupted enough to feel a need to litter every post with alternating endorsements and ethics statement links. And he puts his neck up on the block with example footage for his reviews, and it’s not bad considering he clearly thinks more about the camera business than the art of filmmaking.

      Imbalance is entertaining as is humanity. Consider EOSHD edutainment. It’s a must-read for me even though I shake my head as often as nod.

      • Why condescend someone who offers free reviews, opinions, test footage and articles is beyond me… If people from the industry share some of EOSHD’s posts wouldn’t that mean that there are some valuable elements to get from the information he gives out, regardless of possible inaccuracies? (which are present on most filmmaking blogs as far as I know…). We have access to and read all of this content for free. Personally, I think it’s a huge resource, and many filmmaking blogs such as NFS and EOSHD have been quite informative and interesting for me and many others. I truly thank them for sharing their experiences and opinions like they do.

        • All of this demonstrates that the bar is very low, and better alternatives can’t come soon enough. Let’s stop making excuses for sloppy bloggers, and build an alternative community of accuracy and intelligence. NoFilmSchool.com is solid, as are many others, whereas rather like The Drudge Report, GH2HD (aka EOSHD) jumps at speculation with shallow insight, poor accuracy, and thrift-store sensibility.

    • john jeffreys on 08.13.12 @ 11:19PM

      Yeah eosHD is such a joke. The things he says are hilarious, but its also scary that people actually take his opinions seriously.

    • Haters hate.

      • Andrew Reid on 08.26.12 @ 6:09PM

        I’m disappointed at the lack of moderation and level headed comments here. Why is the site admin seemingly happy to let my name be dragged through the mud without any moderation at all?

        Trolls.

        • I was fair to you Andrew. Keep on keepin on. Thanks for your blog I read every word you write.

          Your putting yourself forward as an authority figure (by virtue of your popular blog, even if it’s opinion it’s presented as authoritative) renders you fair game for criticism. You can always return to private life by shutting down the blog, but I for one hope you don’t.

          And you are, to be fair, utterly scathing to Canon, which is made up of individuals who may find you not exactly level headed. And I hope you continue to do that, when even vaguely merited, too.

  • Very interesting, although Sony historically (outside the camera department anyway) has a very dim view on firmware hacking. Panasonic have been clever enough to let it slide, and even go as far as to potentially knowingly leave the same vulnerabilities in their newer firmwares/cameras. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a “mandatory update” that closes this avenue for hacking if it gains enough traction.

    • I don’t really think there is a way to mandait that kind of thing though. There isn’t an over the air delivery system to force people in to upgrade the firmware.

  • Dear God please let someone figure out how to hack the FS100 firmware! It is already a stellar camera!

  • I see the value in a hack for a low end Sony, but for an FS-100 why not just add a Blackmagic Hyperdeck Shuttle if you want the Raw from an FS-100? Doesn’t the Hyperdeck allow for HDMI an SDI uncompressed Quicktime?

  • Yes it does shane…if you want higher quality codec, better just get an external recorder and do proress direct to ssd on the fs100. Its internal avchd codec is already as good as a compressed codec can get.

    • That’s what I thought. So Black Magic looks like a good option for uncompressed on FS-100/700 I would say.

  • Outboard recorder. End of story. They’re so cheap these days, why bother fannying about with your camera for the sake of marginal gains? With a DSLR the gains are much higher, but the FS100 is already a very good cam just the way it is. As for handling moiré and aliasing better than most DSLRs, I’d venture to say it handles it better than all of them. Not a perfect camera by any stretch, but it’s let me do this:

    https://vimeo.com/46357480

  • Chris Barcellos on 08.15.12 @ 3:55PM

    I had been hoping to see this work done on the Sony VG20, which already has a video camera format, but was crippled by Sony so it wouldn’t compete with the FS100. I was involved in initial testing of the 5D Mark II, and saw the possibilities with the Nex line right away. My experience with the VG20 is that it is a great camera that needs basic saturation, contrast and sharpness controls added, and this bit rate enhancement. The 5N actually has those controls, but form factor is an issue for me.

    • One advantage of the NEX 5N is that it is incredibly light and small.
      Equipped with a small Zeiss prime and high bitrate intraframe codec it would be awesome just because it would be the smallest and lightest APS-C sensor professional video camera.
      You would be able to use it like a gopro, but with Zeiss glass and 100Mbit Intraframe 4:2:2 – imagine the possibilities! :)

    • Lets update VG10 ? only 1080 50 p its enought nothing at all , the camcoder has brightness and contrasts & saqturation settings :)

  • Speaking of added features: What about a touch autofocus for the fs100?

  • Jonny Pedersen on 08.20.12 @ 11:28AM

    Does any one know something about hack for NEX-VG20..??
    Or have any one heard anything about update for this camera..??

  • Please someone hack the DRM for the batteries!!!! It is so frustrating to lose a nearly new battery to an accidentaly complete discharge. Now my camera doesn’t work and requires I buy another originaly Sony battery for nearly $100! Seriously???!!! NO wonder they took a 5.8 billion dollar loss last quarter. That is over 10% of my camera’s cost for replacing a battery that is still perfectly good if the charger and camera would simply allow it to function normally.
    I am really stuck and can’t get to a shop to even consider buying a replacement. It all started after my last firmware upgrade. The only problem is that I can’t even hook it to my computer without a working battery!!!! This is so incredibly ridiculous. Its like putting a expiration code into a high end security software and not telling the customers who paid top dollar for it. Absolutely stupid idea. I bought my camera, and battery. So why the hell does Sony claim it with a DRM????? I bought it, therefore it is mine. The customer is supposed to be catered to, not ripped off.

  • I would like to see a Sony Nex 5R hack that would allow taking bracketed pictures using IR remote thus enabling the possibility of making high quality HDR timelapses.

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