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Sony FS700 4K Firmware Upgrade Could Be Weeks Away, Priced Similar to F3 S-Log Update

09.4.12 @ 5:36PM Tags : , , , ,

Speaking of 4K, what seemed like a long ways off, the 4K update for the FS700 may be coming sooner rather than later. According to sources at the recent IFA show, the upgrade that will allow 4K RAW recording from the 3G HD-SDI port of the Sony FS700 may actually be weeks away, and not months as originally thought. Even better news, it looks like it will work with third party recorders like the soon-to-be-released AJA Ki Pro Quad. Pricing information for the upgrade is a little more unclear, however.

From EOSHD:

Asking about the 4K update – I was told that by Sony insider (not a sales rep) there are two external recorders already on the market that will work with the camera in 4K mode by Aja and Sony. Sony have no plans to restrict 4K output to their own external recorder(s), and that is the first bit of good news…Encouragingly this 4K firmware update is ‘weeks away’ according to Sony, unless that strategy changes or any unforeseen consequences occur. I asked about pricing and I am told it will be similar to the S-LOG upgrade for the Sony F3 which currently retails for £500 + VAT at CVP in the UK. It is just a firmware update.


Since this information isn’t coming from a press conference, it must be taken with a grain of salt, but if true, it means that Sony is gunning straight for RED SCARLET territory. Since the FS700 only has one 3G HD-SDI port, bandwidth will be limited to a theoretical maximum of about 380 Megabytes per second, and if you do the calculation, that bumps right up against 30fps at 12-bit 4K RAW. We’ll see what framerate the camera will be able to record at, but you can be sure we’ll get at least 24fps (25fps also seems likely).

The cost of the upgrade is a little more unclear, however. The S-Log update for the Sony F3 saw a number of price reductions, and even a free update that allowed an S-LOG profile at 4:2:2. The original upgrade for 4:4:4 S-LOG cost $3,000, and now it’s hovering right under $900. If you buy a new F3, however, 4:4:4 is included in the camera. I’m sure there would be a ton of buyers even at $3,000, but for a simple firmware update, it would be a bit kinder on the consumer if they choose to aim closer to the current S-LOG pricing.

The other big hurdle to shooting in 4K is the recorder. The only Sony recorder I can think of at the moment would be the $20,000 Sony recorder for the F65. That’s definitely not an option for anyone buying the FS700, but it could be a rental option for certain projects that need 4K. The only budget option at the moment is the $4,000 Ki Pro Quad. It’s likely we’ll see many more 4K RAW recorders in the coming months/years, especially if Blackmagic starts a trend of ProRes/DNxHD for 1080p being included in-camera. Here is a video from NAB showing off the Ki Pro Quad:

Either way, it’s clear that Sony is gunning straight for the SCARLET at around $13,000-$15,000 for a 4K RAW 24p shooting camera package.

What do you guys think? Is a $5,000-$6,000 investment worth it for 4K RAW on the FS700, or would you rather have 4K RAW as a rental only for certain projects?

Link: IFA show report – Sony FS700 4K firmware due in a few weeks for same price as F3 S-LOG upgrade? — EOSHD

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  • Is the AJA recording 4:4:4 @ 4k or something else happening in there?

    • Joe Marine on 09.4.12 @ 5:58PM

      Well the 4K RAW doesn’t actually really have any color sampling until it’s debayered later and converted to something. So the Ki Pro Quad is doing 4K RAW, but I don’t see why it couldn’t do 4K at 4:4:4 if a camera were to output that.

  • Great news, thanks for sharing. Because of the source, though, taken with a grain of salt as you note…

  • If both cameras cost the same I would go for a Scarlet. Better mount options and all around more professional features plus no external recorded is needed. In a year Sony will make all the FS700 owners mad by offering the upgrade for free.

    • Joe Marine on 09.4.12 @ 6:22PM

      Well everything is a give and take really, if you choose SCARLET you have to use RED’s very high-priced media, if you choose FS700 you can use whatever off-the-shelf SSDs the external recorder might allow. RED’s 4K is compressed, FS700′s is uncompressed. RED offers a native Canon mount, and will sooner offer a native Nikon mount with automatic control, Sony requires third party adapters. I think it really comes down to personal workflow and what features you need, as image quality will most likely be comparable (though RED is doing 16-bit with SCARLET, a bit better than the 12-bit RAW of Sony and Canon).

      • If I’m not mistaken, the continuous auto-focus/face-detection and auto-iris are not possible on Scarlet, and neither are built-in ND filters. Few may care in a studio environment, but for run n gun shooting the Sony plus RAW would be hard to beat.

        • Joe Marine on 09.4.12 @ 6:33PM

          Yeah I was just referring to automatic meaning the mount is a smart mount, not a dumb/manual mount.

        • Agreed WTX, although I’m not sure how many run-and-gun situations truly call for RAW. Certainly if you’re shooting a doc with hours and hours of footage it can be beneficial to bite the bullet and go with a compressed codec that will save a lot of space, not to mention on the FS700 not needing an external recorder.

          Definitely an advantage to have built-in ND on the Sony. Also definitely an advantage on the RED to be able to spring for a new sensor in a year (but still being able to shoot and get a return on your investment in the meantime). Then again with the 4K upgrade the FS700 is pretty future-proof and you could alway sell it.

          Nice to have options!

          • The new red sensor will be 6500 for epic if I am not mistaken and said to be higher for scarlet. So it could be higher than the price of an fs700 camera. The argument about upgradability is a bit moot in this type of case.

            • True, but then again to get 4K out of an FS700 you will also be spending roughly that same amount, $6K-ish, on a firmware upgrade and external recorder…

              I’m not a huge proponent of 4K for most productions these days, and the FS700 is absolutely a cheaper camera. But Sony has configured it so at if you want 4K RAW you’ll absolutely be spending SCARLET money with no future sensor upgrades. Then again the FS700 Exmor sensor is much newer technology than the venerable MX chip currently in REDs.

              Anyway, as I was saying, great to have options!

          • I know Red’s whole philosophy is not needing to buy a new camera everything something cool comes out but if your going to be dropping more then $6k on a upgrade every couple years, and with technology becoming cheaper and cheaper every month it seems, its going to be cheaper to just buy a new camera then upgrade the sensors.

            Look at it like a car. you can replace the motor (sensor) indefinitely, but eventually something else its going to wear out. like buttons, plugs, other components other then the sensor. Then what? You buy a new camera and you’ll be back in the same predicament, although with a lot less money in the bank.

            • Every couple of years? The MX sensor debuted in 2007. Dragon is 2013 (they say 2012, but for most if not all of us it’s realistically 2013). That’s a new sensor tech after 6 years — an eternity as far as cameras are concerned these days.

              You could grumble about buying an EPIC in 2010 with an “old” sensor but it is not “every couple of years” by any measure. People are still shooting on Red One MX’s from 5 years ago… Say what you will about Red but they’ve certainly lasted longer than others thanks to the RAW approach and upgradable color science. I’m no fan boy but what other HD cameras are still being used from 2007 on serious productions? Varicams?

              If I were buying today, the FS700 would be a serious consideration… As would the BMCC. But I’m just clarifying — it’s by no means every couple of years.

          • Hi Koo, not argumentating, but was it not the first 4k redone sensor in 2007, then the 2010 MX 4.5k for original redone and then 5k in the Epic camera and the 6k one in 2013.

      • I know I’m always the eternal optimist but I have both a Ninja and Samurai out board recorders and I honestly think there will be at some point down the road, firmware upgrades from Atomos that would allow 4k recording without buying a new wonderbox from Sony.

    • Well technically the Side SSD Module is external and does not come with the base Scarlet Model.

      And once you kit out both the Scarlet and the FS700, the FS700 will be considerably cheaper once you factor the Battery and Media costs for the Scarlet.

      10 RedVolts (@ 30-40 minutes per battery) costing almost $2000 to equate the stock battery that’s included with the FS700 which lasts about 5 hours. Ouch!

      • Ouch is right…after the looking at the prices for Red’s batteries and media..it hurts.
        Everyone else is going the other way with DNG.

  • and don’t forget that fs700 have a servo zoom too, so soon we will see the new 18-200mm from sony and many other lenses for event style, run n gun, studio and cinema style. So the fs700 is a most usefull tool than scarlet. You can put almost any kind of lenses in front of fs700 including C-mount lenses (with vigneting), with scarlet that is imposible. With fs700 you can record internally in a very cheap way with SD cards at 240fps 1080p; so you can use fs700 for your child birthday and for your big screen cinema production, and that is a very good tool for us.

  • The big question for me is how much more dynamic range will raw unlock for the fs700?

    • The sony exmor tend to be in the 13.5 to 14.5 stop range in there photo and video side. As you are getting raw so you will get all of the DR,

  • Jon Mercer on 09.4.12 @ 8:45PM

    Let’s not forget sensor cropping, the Sony will be using the whole of it’s super 35 sensor on the other hand crops it to do 4K.

    • Not sure what you’re saying but if you meant the Scarlet is cropping down from Super35 to do 4K… Not really. It’s APS-C at 4K, which is virtually the same as Super35 when we’re talking about widescreen applications. See here:

      http://prolost.com/storage/post-images/sensorSizes_11_APSC.jpg

      The EPIC is larger than Super35 (APS-H) which is why people think the SCARLET is cropping — but for all intents and purposes, both the SCARLET and FS700 are Super35.

      The Sony’s 11.6 MP sensor will be interesting though — if you’re outputting RAW will this be after oversampling to give a 4K image? That could certainly be an advantage as it would be a true 4K even after accounting for debayering loss.

  • I just looked at one over at Able Cine in Burbank. I’d love to have it but, I’m scared of these manufacturers now. As soon as I get home with it, I’ll be reading a post from Joe on the FS700R. Or whatever they decide to call the new and improved version. I suppose, for the very near future, the ‘new and improved’ will be the 4K upgrade but, you know what I mean? They release the upgrade for $XXX then, a couple of months later, the FS800 comes out with 4K installed for the same $. It never ends. Maybe that’s why they have rentals.

  • Lol. This more they give us, the more we know their able to give us, the more we wait for that and end up waiting for ever. Even if they came out with a super 35 cam that does 12bit RAW internally to ssd’s at 1080, 2k, 4k, up to 120fps with nd filters and all the bells a whistles for $15,000….. a lot of people would probably still “wait” for the price to drop or something better to come out lol.

  • Hi, what do you think they means by 4k RAW? an clean uncompress 4K output or a real RAW with all the info to change White Balance, Exposure, ETC

  • I used to love Red but their buggy products (and arrogant attitude) has turned me off. So basically, they don’t exist anymore for me. I think Sony will be the first serious player capable of bringing 4K to the mainstream at a reasonable price. Can’t wait to see how the 700 looks at 4K !

  • Jon Mercer on 09.5.12 @ 6:27PM

    Not sure what happened to my post. What I was trying to say was that the Sony uses it’s whole sensor no matter what. The RED continues to crop it’s image more and more as you step down from 4k. 1080p being a pretty awful crop factor (and only 60fps) The low cost of batteries, media, etc. on the Sony make up for the still very respectable 12bit and admittedly cheap body as far as I’m concerned.

  • Your data-rate calculations are for uncompressed raw. RedCode is compressed, and as far as I understand it, 380 MBps is a far higher rate than Epic is capable of (which I believe tops out at 250 MBps). CineForm RAW 4K is generally around 50 MBps. I can envision a 4K Hyperdeck Shuttle costing not much more than the current model (after all, as a data-recording device, why would it care about the frame resolution?). Sony should resist the impulse to control the format and go with a mature, proven technology like CineForm RAW.

    • Joe Marine on 09.6.12 @ 4:48PM

      I’m using those numbers because the FS700 by itself cannot output any other data rate – it’s not designed to. It can only give fully uncompressed RAW. This is also what the C500 will be doing.

      • I haven’t seen any official details about the 4K upgrade, so I was unaware of that the FS700 can output raw only in an uncompressed form. Do you have a link to that information?

        • Joe Marine on 09.6.12 @ 6:23PM

          There aren’t any details other than 12-bit 4K RAW. The only way that works without an internal upgrade is by sending out uncompressed. If it could do compressed inside the camera there would be no need for a recorder.

          This is the same way the C500 works. It takes the least processing power to send out RAW uncompressed.

          • Not necessarily. We know nothing about the camera’s internal processing capability. We do know that it lacks the ability to record any format internally other than AVCHD, so it would need an external recorder for any data rate above 28 Mbps. But since it was designed to output raw, it may very well have the processing capability to compressed raw.

            • If the camera had the ability to compress internally it would have been advertised as such – and for Sony to go through all that trouble to not include some way of recording that signal on-board would have been a complete waste. That’s not something you can add over firmware, it would have to be built in. That’s like adding ProRes to a camera that previously only recorded AVCHD – it’s just not possible unless the hardware is there. Sony has been so unclear on the details that it’s pretty obvious they haven’t done anything internal regarding RAW, it’s just going to send out the signal.

              Basically what that would mean is that they would have had to take this technology: http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/cat-srmemory/cat-memory/product-SRR4/ – which currently costs $20,000, and put it into an $8,000 camera body. Yes, you’re absolutely right, we don’t know yet, but if I’m wrong you can be the first person to call me out.

  • Joe I’d rather pay say an extra 5000-6000 and have an all in one 4K camera.Than have this ridiculous system of you buy a HD camera then pay lord knows what for a firmware upgrade.Then 1000′s more for an external recorder.But if you do all that and pay the extras and then find out after a few months the firmware is included
    for all new purchases after you’ve bought yours.I’d think most people would see red.
    It’s 2012 there should be a 4K 35mm sensor able to record either 12 bit raw or a codec setting 4:4:4 with 24 bit
    uncompressed sound.I payed $8,000 for my DVCAM then $6000 for a P2 HD camera some years later. So a 4K should be the same or a little more.But I’d pay up to $15,000 if the unit had a good side mounted CRT viewfinder and PL or Canon mount.

  • The primary reason I would love to have 4k is to crop to 1920×1080. I primarily do nature documentaries and to be able to instantly turn my Canon 600mm f4 into a 2400mm f4 would be awesome. I wouldn’t use the 4k capability routinely, but to capture those shots that are just not possible without cropping would be a HUGE boon to me.

    • I think you’ll only get 1200mm by cropping the centre of a 4k 600mm image. Cropping so drastically isn’t going to give you the best image either I think.

      • Yes, you are correct on the crop factor (2x versus 4x). Thanks for the correction. However, even a 2X gain in relative focal length is a huge advantage. I cannot see a disadvantage to the crop factor when it may be the only way to get the shot. The alternative is to own a 1200mm lens (around $100,000 last time I looked). I used to shoot with a Sony EX3, and often shot at an equivalent focal length of 9,000mm (sometimes 12,000). The footage look really good at times, and the only problem was the lack of image stabilization for the lens. Not so with the FS700. I’ve been using the Metabones adapter with full IS. The possibilities are exciting with 4k.

  • So with the external recorder you can film 4k only at 30fps, Slow motion wont be possible?? Thats a bummer!
    Right now it’s 400fps at 1280/720 and 800fps at SD-format. So i hoped that with an external recorder it would have become possible to film 800fps at 1280/720…. disapointed.. :(

  • Prasenjit Chandra on 01.9.13 @ 11:18PM

    Can I use AJA Ki Pro quad or aja kipro mini with FS700 ?

  • Joe. Thanks a lot for the insight and the side-by-side comparison of the RED Scarlet vs. the Sony FS700. When we were upgrading our cameras, we had a serious debate about going RED or going Sony. This discussion thread helped seal the deal and prevent any future buyer’s remorse. I think the FS700 will be a more versitile unit, and ultimately less expensive to operate.

    Now, does anyone know what the deal is with the non-existent, constantly soon-to-be-released servo zoom functionality? This camera is wonderful, but for our event work it is useless since it can’t smoothly zoom with the rocker zoom. What’s up with that? I have checked in with Sony, retailers, the FS700 user’s group, and it appears to still be “coming”. It’s like owning a sports car that can’t turn left. If I missed something, someone here please let me know. Thanks.

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