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October 30, 2012

Sony Gets Serious with F5 and F55 Digital Cinema Cameras: 4K, 240FPS, and Global Shutter Options

We had a few ideas about what might be coming on this day, but Sony has just dropped what seems like an infinite amount of technology in one announcement. Not only do we have two new cameras, the PMW-F5 (capable of 120fps max) and the PMW-F55 (capable of 240fps max), but we've got a new 4K RAW recorder, new media, new monitoring options, and new lenses. Pictured to the left is the Sony F55, which is actually identical in most ways to the F5, except for the higher frame rate options, and, oh yeah, this little thing called a global shutter. That's right, it seems like Sony engineers have figured out how to get rid of the dreaded rolling shutter artifacts without affecting the rest of the image, like dynamic range (but we won't know for sure until we see the camera in action). Click through for a rundown of the announcement.

The Cameras: Sony F5 and F55

Both cameras will look identical except for the silver ring on the interchangeable mount (click for larger views of most of the images below).

The Sensors

Both the F5 and the F55 feature a Super 35mm sized 4K sensor with 8.9 million effective pixels. The sensor in the F55 features a global shutter, a first for Sony, and both imaging pipelines are capable of 16-bit recording. The F55 also features a similar color filter array as the F65, which should allow for a higher color gamut.

The F5 sensor is reportedly ISO 2000, while the F55 is supposedly rated at ISO 1250. That compares to about ISO 800 on most current digital cinema cameras, like the Sony F3, Canon C300 (850 ISO), RED EPIC/SCARLET, Arri Alexa, and Sony F65. Here's Sony on the dynamic range, etc.:

Cinematographers paint their images with light and shadow. So the ability to render tones from deepest shadows to brightest highlights is a crucial test of any digital camera. The F5 [and F55] excels, with an impressive 14 stops of exposure latitude, extraordinary low-light sensitivity and extremely low noise in the blacks. The result? Graceful rendering of scene contrast, even in searing sunlight.

The Specs

It's unclear exactly what kind of frame rates we'll be getting in 4K RAW (unless I'm missing something), but it should be 60fps at a minimum for at least the F55, and likely the F5.

Sony PMW-F5:

  • 60 fps out of the box (XAVC HD).
  • 120 fps with a planned upgrade (XAVC 2K/HD). Unique to this process, there is no line skipping or sensor windowing. So there’s no crop factor, no loss in angle of view.
  • 120 fps 2K RAW, with the optional AXS-R5 outboard recorder and a planned upgrade, achieves high frame rates while retaining exceptional, 16-bit image quality. This not only exceeds 12-bit RAW with 16 times as many Red, Green and Blue gradations. By design, it exceeds the capabilities of human vision!

Sony PMW-F55:

  • 60 fps out of the box (XAVC HD at launch; XAVC 4K, QFHD and 2K with a planned upgrade)
  • 180 fps with a planned upgrade (XAVC 2K/HD). Unique to this process, there is no line skipping or sensor windowing. So there’s no crop factor, no loss in angle of view.
  • 240 fps 2K RAW, with the optional AXS-R5 outboard recorder and a planned upgrade, achieves the highest frame rates most productions will need, while retaining exceptional, 16-bit image quality. This not only exceeds 12-bit RAW with 16 times as many Red, Green and Blue gradations. By design, it exceeds the capabilities of human vision!

The Interface and Connections

AXS-R5 RAW Recorder

  • 4K or derived 2K RAW. Capture RAW at your choice of resolutions: the camera’s native 4K or beautiful, derived 2K. RAW recording preserves the greatest latitude for color correction and other post processes.
  • Incredible 16-bit precision. By design, Sony’s 16-bit recording captures more tonal values than the human eye can differentiate. Sony RAW retains 16 times as many Red, Green and Blue gradations as 12-bit RAW and 64 times as many tones per channel as 10-bit recording. Sony 16-bit linear RAW is also the ideal point of entry into the 16-bit linear Academy Color Encoding System (ACES) workflow.
  • Comprehensive production platform. More than an individual product, the AXS-R5 is the starting point for an efficient workflow. The AXS-R5 records onto sleek, optional AXSM™ memory cards, which are compatible with an affordable optional USB 3.0 reader, the AXS-CR1. Once on a PC, the RAW files can be screened using Sony’s free RAW Viewer software.

Simultaneous RAW + Onboard SxS recording. Instead of requiring you to patch together a science project, Sony provides a coordinated “off-line, on-line” workflow with simultaneous recording to internal SxS cards and the optional AXS-R5 RAW recorder. For seamless conforming in post, you get matching time code, start frame, stop frame, file names and other metadata. The camera supports the following RAW + Onboard combinations:

  • 4K/2K RAW + XAVC 2K*/HD
  • 4K/2K RAW + MPEG-2 HD42

Monitoring

  • Amazing OLED: optional DVF-EL100. Don’t let the small size fool you. This 0.7-inch* viewfinder has the incredible clarity of 1280 x 720 High Definition. And resolution is just the beginning. Thanks to OLED technology, you get superb brightness, contrast and response.
  • Higher resolution, higher contrast: optional DVF-L350. Take a major step forward in operating with the incredible image of this 3.5-inch* LCD viewfinder. Compared to previous Sony finders, this one has higher resolution (960 x 540) plus ten times the contrast. And the eyepiece flips up for direct monitoring.
  • Full HD: optional DVF-L700. This compact 7-inch* LCD viewfinder enables high resolution when shooting in 2K and 4K, not to mention pixel-for-pixel 1920 x 1080 representation of your HD images.

Lenses and Lens Mount Options

With the F5, Sony introduces our second generation of cost-effective PL mount prime lenses, featuring a dramatic improvement in build quality. Thanks to refined glass, all are certified for 4K capture, while minimizing geometric distortion, vignetting and breathing. A 9-blade iris delivers beautiful bokehs. The focus rings rotate 240°. The series includes focal lengths of 20, 25, 35, 50, 85 and 135 mm. For easy lens changes, all have the same T2.0 aperture, the same external diameter, matte box diameter, and gear locations for follow focus and aperture. All are the same size except for the 135 mm.

In addition to their own new PL lenses, the F5/F55 will offer various lens mount options:

  • PL-Mount Lenses. Take advantage of acclaimed cine optics from Angénieux®, Canon®, Carl Zeiss®, Cooke®, FUJIFILM®, Leica® and more.
  • Still Lenses. Slip off the supplied PL-mount adaptor to reveal the native FZ mount with 18 mm flange focal distance. It’s perfect for accepting commercially available adaptors for still lenses, including Canon® EF, Canon FD, Nikon® DX, Nikon G, Leica® M and even 2/3-inch broadcast B4 lenses.
  • FZ-Mount Lenses. There’s also Sony’s game-changing FZ-mount auto focus servo zoom: the SCL-Z18X140.

Recording Media

The AXSM 512GB module will be required for 4K RAW recording, and is a completely different media from the two SxS slots that is included internally on both Sony cameras.

The F5 is a next-generation camera, which will feature high-data-rate on-board XAVC 2K/HD recording at 120 fps with a free planned upgrade. This requires next-generation SxS recording media—Sony’s 64 and 128 GB* SxS PRO+ memory cards—and a next-generation USB card reader, the SBAC-US20.

The F55 is a next-generation camera, featuring high-data-rate on-board recording of XAVC 4K today and 180 fps XAVC 2K/HD with a free planned upgrade. This requires next-generation SxS recording media—Sony’s 64 and 128 GB* SxS PRO+ memory cards—and a next-generation USB card reader, the SBAC-US20.

Sony has been vague on pricing so far, but the cameras should be arriving sometime in February next year, with the firmware upgrades for higher frame rates coming sometime after. They also announced a new battery which is pictured above, and it fits right in with their new modular system. If you haven't noticed, both cameras also include ND filters, which have three options: clear, 3-stop, and 6-stop filters.

As for the FS700 4K upgrade, no pricing yet, but it looks like it will need a $2,000 module to allow it to interface with the new AXS-R5 recorder. Lots more to talk about, but we'll get to more of the details and what this means in the next post.

Links:

[via Engadget & Creative Cow & FDTimes]

Your Comment

93 Comments

Awesome. Your move red???

October 30, 2012

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Now this is called an announcement, seems like Sony Is damn serious about the business unlike canon,
Let's see in few hours what red has to offer.

October 30, 2012

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Auri

I guess it will be still much more expensive than red? how much are they?

October 30, 2012

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ben

Still waiting on pricing information for most of these products.

October 30, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director
189

what if Red will slash their prices are still going buy Sony? Red already has their product, they don't need to come up with anything else, they can just give a better pricing... and gain a better market share.

October 30, 2012

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Peter

Sony is very reliable and if something goes wrong with it the service centers can be found easily on most of the major cities world wide. Those who bought any RED camera when they came out probably discovered they had to wait for upgrades (like essential real-time playback) when with Sony's history you get a tested and working product pretty much out of the box.

October 30, 2012

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ts

Such a great time to be shooting. Can't wait to see what coming from Red tomorrow... November is becoming the new Christmas for filmmakers.

At this point it comes down to price and how the Sony footage holds up to its specs.

The potential for an F5 coming in around the Scarlet (15k currently) will be big competition for many would be Scarlet customers and even many Epic customers I imagine--given it could perform much like a mini Alexa with the SxS option, and has ability to add 4k.

The F55 is almost surely big competition for Epic anywhere in the 20-30k range. Assuming the image is in line with F65 in many ways, could be a much more rounded iteration.

So what is RED to do but reveal some more of their roadmap and pricing and hope people will stick around/join them for the ride.

I will say, will 5k 120fps and 16 stops @ ISO2000 sounds amazing, it seems like having some easily acquired, non cropped, lower bite rate files will become an industry standard soon enough.

I also believe this should work both ways. Sony should eventually be able to deliver this without an additional module. Though theirs seems to be better I refracted and smaller than reds now all purpose meizler module.

I will say one of the most beautiful parts of the Reds are how they react to sudden and drastic changes in light value. Something I've seen mixed results from some of the recent lower end Sony models. Assuming these much higher end models will not have these, or any of the highlight falloff issues of the FS's and these cameras are attractive at roughly the 15k, 25k slots

October 30, 2012

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Steve

The tech and specs are dazzling, but the lack of price info is very telling. Could Sony be waiting to see what Red do before settling on a final price? My guess for the new Epic price will be around the $25k mark so we will have to wait and see.

Of course you will need to compare the RTS prices on both cams kitted out but things are definitely getting interesting. Alexa will be the big looser here IMO unless they follow with a price cut.

October 30, 2012

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Paul

Wow.

October 30, 2012

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Hmm...

October 30, 2012

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Soosan Khanoom

This is great, you can get a lot out of these cameras, but it is all about the price.

October 30, 2012

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Daniel

Yeah it'll be interesting to see what RED do tomorrow considering no prices were announced by Sony... Or would they have already decided... Now Sony can decide after RED. I guess RED could always lower prices again if need be ;-)

October 30, 2012

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If I was Sony I play RED at its own game. I would not release the price for the next two days and see how red reacts when all there fanboys are going to ask for the rebate. I would even be meaner, I would wait a week and send all sort of contradictory unofficial numbers to let RED in a guessing game. Or even send a high-up MSRP and just put a minus 30% street price when RED releases their rebate price.

October 30, 2012

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Danyyyel

massive lol...hahahahahahahaha

October 30, 2012

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Davinci

Jeez, amazing. I just can't stop LOLzing at all recent C300/1DC defenders/apologists. Pointing and LOLzing!!

October 30, 2012

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Marcello

Seriously, in an exciting press release about amazing looking gear you are taking the opportunity to look negatively at another brand. Have you ever used/seen a C300

Don't know which is worse, the negative outlook on this or the use of the word "lolzing"

October 30, 2012

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Actually was taking the opportunity say I think these new cameras from Sony are AMAZEBALLS! And also to poke fun at canon! LOLZING!

October 30, 2012

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Marcello

Lolzing!

October 30, 2012

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Johnny

I second Marcello's opinion that these cameras are AMAZEBALLS!

October 30, 2012

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Robert

These camera look incredible but am I missing something: where are the audio inputs?

October 30, 2012

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Marcos

Answer in the official sony website :
"a removable XLR audio module and a removable time code/genlock module. The XLR inputs accept balanced analog signals, provide 48-Volt phantom power and will accept four channels of AES/EBU digital audio with an expected firmware upgrade."

October 30, 2012

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mother of god

October 30, 2012

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Global shutter? Now THAT's a kick right in the square you know where. This is the hi-end thing that will now eliminate all kinds of rolling shutterness. This time it's serious!

October 30, 2012

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Natt

Not sure why, but decided to hop on reduser just to see what they had to say.

Typical stuff, and I'm sure as the day goes it will get more ridiculous, but I was actually surprised to see a number of red guys tipping their hat to Sony. Sony really didn't lie when they said they had a major anonuncement!

October 30, 2012

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red said they would announce their new pricing 1 day after sony's annoucement, so the 31st (tomorrow)
sony has not announced their prices yet
humm, weird don't you think?!
someone's gonna have a problem

October 30, 2012

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john malk

Wow ... price please ?

And that will be the determining factor

October 30, 2012

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Nigel

I dont know why people are treating this so called "price announcement" as a doomsday for one company or for another

October 30, 2012

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Mauricio

Sony is filling every slot with better and cheaper technology, i wonder where RED is gong to hide now, the resolution and DR game is capped, looks like the only option is to lower price in BMCC range or cry like a baby...lol

October 30, 2012

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kirubel

Exxxxxcellent.

Red makes cheaper high end cinema cameras.

Other companies are forced to respond, making cameras cheaper and better than ever before.

RED is in turn forced to respond and lower the prices of their already impressive cameras that they will soon also be upgrading via Dragon.

A battle for better and better quality at a price level more and more favourable to creatives.

Happy days people. Happy days.

October 30, 2012

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Lliam

Global shutter is incredible achievement, more than anything RED has done, ever. Sony has basically done what was thought to be impossible. They have very high DR + low noise + global shutter in 4K sensor.

They also released new 30 inch monitor with full 4K resolution, this is also one of the first in industry.

October 30, 2012

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Juhan-i

Doesn't the f65 already have a global shutter?

October 30, 2012

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Edge

No from what I understand the F65 has a rotary shutter (rotating blades) to prevent rolling shutter artifacts.

October 30, 2012

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I must say, well done Sony! Wasn't sure they had it in them, but with the FS700 and now the F5 and F55, I really have to give them some major kudos.

Especially global shutter...that's something they took initiative on.

Also nice to finally see on board 2k recording...it's such a small difference in resolution from 1080p, but it removes a really awkward issue if going to 2k projection. Oh, and 10-bit instead of 8-bit...their 10-bit 4:2:2 100mbs XAVC codec sounds essentially the same as Panasonic's AVC-I, which is a fantastic codec.

October 30, 2012

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Gabe

Price will be more likely around 20k mark... just imagine what if it is 10k... it will be not possible.... and it can't be 5k either... so 20k and onwards...

October 30, 2012

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Peter

The new Sony F5 and F55 look like really nice camera's, but they will be expensive. No prices known at this point.

I think the market position of the black magic cinema camera only got better because of this.

Compared to all the high level C300, C500, RED, F5 , F55 and other camera's, the BMCC offers most bang for the buck with it's 2.5K, 14 bit raw etc. specifications. At it's price point of 3000 US$ it has found a very good niche in the market. Now let's hope it will be available soon!

October 30, 2012

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Erwin

at redsharknews they say the price will be anounced onlyy in 2013
http://www.redsharknews.com/production/item/180-breaking-news-all-you-ne...

October 30, 2012

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guto novo

Some nice kit. Honestly, nothing here that will significantly impact our company in the next 12 months, except maybe the lenses. Be very interested in seeing the quality and price on those.
But nice to see Sony get off its large technical butt.

October 30, 2012

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marklondon

Did you notice how these two cameas appear to be designed for handheld shooting ? Finally they seem to have found a design that's both simple and compact (cubic, nice for car rigs and stuff) and convenient. All the HDSDI ins and outs are there. The side LCD menu panel seems to have been inspired by the Alexa which it is a very good thing. Did you notice the EVF ? Great for handheld.
Looks like Sony really cared about the DP's needs.
Bottom line : these cameras will be big sellers.

October 30, 2012

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William

October 30, 2012

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Davinci

Did you ever, for one second, think that, if Sony wanted to, with all their might and resources of titanic proportion, they couldn't crush Red, Canon and every other camera manufacturer out there?

Bring the Sony haters to the arena and unleash the lions, ha ha!

October 30, 2012

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dixter

RED now has a serious competition to EPIC and Scarlet...

October 30, 2012

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Alex Mand

This is competition to a two year old camera... so I'd say RED will be ok.

October 30, 2012

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carlos

There used to be a company called 'Canot'.

October 30, 2012

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VillageBoi

I wonder what this means for the c500 now. in terms of price and competitivity. i like the image from it but have only seen online. and believe its only 10 bit raw... i dont think specs are everything at all but food for thought.

October 30, 2012

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"Awww snap! Let's automatically assume that RED and Canon are dead based on specs alone!! YEAH!!!"
-Typical NoFilmSchool Commenter Logic

October 30, 2012

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TehRandax

you sound like a red/canon owner.

October 30, 2012

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You sound like a non-owner.

October 30, 2012

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Natt

don't be mad dude. sell your red/canon at a loss...LOL!

October 31, 2012

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I tend to think 'pending real-world footage evaluation' is pretty much the general unspoken consensus behind peoples' posts on here

October 30, 2012

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I just noticed this was posted at 4:30am. Thanks for doing such a great job, Joe

October 30, 2012

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Marko

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