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

10.30.12 @ 4:29AM Tags : , , , ,

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


  • 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.


[via Engadget & Creative Cow & FDTimes]


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Description image 109 COMMENTS

  • Awesome. Your move red???

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Soosan Khanoom on 10.30.12 @ 5:30AM


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

  • 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 ;-)

  • 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.

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

    • 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”

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

    • 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.”

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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

  • Wow … price please ?

    And that will be the determining factor

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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • RED now has a serious competition to EPIC and Scarlet…

  • There used to be a company called ‘Canot’.

  • 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.

  • “Awww snap! Let’s automatically assume that RED and Canon are dead based on specs alone!! YEAH!!!”
    -Typical NoFilmSchool Commenter Logic

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

  • Impressive specs, looks ergonomic and even has the understated Darth Vader aesthetics too. Nice going Sony!

  • While this is going to put huge pressure on Canon, RED, etc, it’s all going to come down to price. If Sony can bring this thing to market at a price that competes with the C300, then other manufacturers will have no choice but to step things up considerably. Unfortunately, this thing looks like it costs a million dollars.

    Also, let’s hope other companies follow suit with the global shutter and ND filters. These are two things I’d definitely like to have on my next camera.

    • I don’t think it’s unfortunate, at all, that it looks like a million dollars. I’m already on the list to pre-order.
      and at around 17K and 42K respectively street price, Canon and Red… stock up on the Vaseline.

  • I have a feeling this camera is gonna be more expensive than people think

  • I love everything about these cameras, although they dont a price yet, in principle they have everything everyone has been asking for online in the last two years and I never had an interest in Sony stuff before this. I love the look, the only thing is this camera is gonna need a rig, I do most of best work off a monopod on doc work, events and even business videos…I wonder if they’d work off a monopod.

  • Jorge Cayon on 10.30.12 @ 3:22PM

    I noticed that on the “Dumb” side of the camera there is what looks like an HDMI port. It’s labeled VF and most probably for a an EVF. Does anyone know if this will only work for Sony goods or can another HDMI capable EVF or monitoring solution be attached? Would be great on Sony’s part if they left it open and not a proprietary thing.

    • You can put there any EVF you want, no need to use just Sony. Just like you can use any standard batteries with that v-mount thing.

  • This is everything I want in a camera, I will be selling my scarlet to get this. Sony would be crazy to price this under 20k in the current market.

    • just in THEY ARE SAYING THAT PRICE FOR F5 $15,000
      F55 $25,000

      This makes things interesting, but people still need to calm down, because the real question is what will be the price of the recorder. Also im reading several sites that say that you only need recorder for 4k , but not for 2k that will be ready when camera is shipped, but some conflicting reports state that you need recorder for both 2k and 4k. Also this is just on paper, until we see evidence of real footage, however having a price competetive camera from a Big reliable Giant company may have a new fan, considering the recorder is not too crazy price wise.

      • You do not need recorder for either camera. Of course they work without it !

        • Actually you may indeed need a recorder if you want to shoot RAW video, it has yet to be explained if they will allow third party recorders or if its proprietary for capturing raw video in 2k or 4k.

          • From:


            I just heard from my buddy Den Lennie who’s attending the London Sony event that it WILL indeed be possible to use third party 4K recorders to extract a 4K signal from HD-SDI, so the F5 will indeed be a direct competitor to the C500, being able to handle less expensive external recorders as well! Thanks Den !”

      • The recorder is for 2K & 4K RAW.
        If you want to record 4K on the F5 then yes, you need the recorder, but HD and 2K (compressed) are internal.
        On the F55 you also get 4K and quad HD (compressed) internally. So for the F55 the recorder is only required if you need RAW.

      • If this cam comes in at no more than $5,000 more to record in RAW than a C500+kiProQuad, I’m sold. Hopefully the recording media is not too expensive. The design of this thing is beautiful. Modular is the way to go.

  • It’s very easy to take shots at RED, Jannard basically tells us all our DSLR footage is technically crap all the time. I respect what he has done but with the competition now so fierce RED’s mantra may cost them a big slice of the market.

    The F5 will be around 16k, close enough to compete with a Scarlet. Which one are you going to choose?

    At that price point even if the Scarlet is 20% cheaper and the image 20% better [they will be comparable] I’ll still choose the F5 because I’ll get a more dependable camera with much better support than from RED plus I won’t have to deal with the bullshit that comes from being a RED owner.

    RED will survive as a niche camera manufacturer.

  • I wonder if Sony is holding off on announcing price points so they can let Red set the benchmark, and then they can respond appropriately?

  • Chris Larsen on 10.30.12 @ 10:09PM

    Anybody have a guess on how much one of these 4k equipped units will weigh?

  • completely and kinda of the subject, not really relative to functions, but not only does the on paper specs look nice, but the actual cameras them selves look very nice, loving the modular design.

  • I wonder how much will these planned upgrades cost?..

  • starcentral on 10.31.12 @ 10:20PM

    Oh man it doesn’t shoot in interlaced mode from what I can see? Rip off, rip off !!! lol

    Anyone know if the ISO ratings are in SLOG/RAW mode? In regular mode wouldn’t they be HALF of what Sony is actually claiming?

  • This brings Digital Cinema to a new plateau. I am really sad that even
    the biggest supporters of Kodak film stock will see that. Thanks to the
    Nofilmschool team and specially Marine. You do a great job in informing
    us about technical develoments.

  • Where are the microphone XLR inputs?? I see the window has 4 audio bars (I think that is what they are) but what about the sound? Any ideas?

    Take 5

  • These both look impressive. The horizon of video cameras is constantly changing. I love how competition is motivating all the companies to bring up the game to another level.

  • This is great! So when is the 700 4K box gonna come out?! Our austin video production company
    is looking to purchase a new SONY or RED soon because we can’t get enough of that 4K!

  • First there was the Red One which brought the cost of 4K capture down from Dalsa’s etc. Now we have The canon C500,Sony FS700, Sony PMW F5 and F55, JVC 4 K, Panasonic’s coming out with one very much looking like the Sony F55. I’m sure theres others as well. It dosen’t matter if one prefers the Epic and the other a C500 or this or that. These are all good cameras and are leaps and bounds above full HD. What was the top end stuff a few years ago. With all this competition and upping ante’s. You know who are the winners. All of us reading this now. Costs have come down including The Red Epic,because of competition. I’d say most of us here will have some sort of 4Kayer within the next couple of years at which point it will be even more affordable.
    All our work will look so much better. Lets not complain and put each other down. Or the cameras for that matter. 4K is here to stay, Full HD 1080P Is on it’s way out. Like Analog,SD before it.

  • Hats off the Sony for rolling out a camera with a future AND have features people want and the promise of future expansion of capabilities. You can’t deny that they’ve been working late into the night to roll out these cameras. But while those are engineers work into the night, I’m dreaming of a cinema camera with the 24 x 36mm, full-size Canon sensor outputting 4K in a camera called the C1000! It would be a “Vistavision” Digital Cinema camera. Yeah, baby! And you could select a Super 35 size piece of the sensor if you didn’t need the vistavision-sized files.

  • after all this price and tech spec states and fights…
    if i look at the picture, the camera records… it looks really well – but i did not see any reels showing real nice “sexy” film look. of course there is a lot to do in post. but still: aint it all about the picture quality? i love the specs of this camera !! i don’t fall in love with the picture yet.

  • What is the price of the camera and how can I get one?

  • i like sony want camera for my flim

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