Sony Goes on the Offensive Against Canon and RED with Final Pricing for the F5 and F55
Sony gave us some official prices back in November — which was a part of the RED back-and-forth — and it looks like we’ve finally got real street pricing for both cameras, the F5 and the F55, and some of the accessories. I’ve talked a bit about where I expected them to be, and the F5 is priced even more aggressively than I thought it would be. Sony is serious about taking back marketshare in the medium to high-end digital cinema arena, and it also shows just how far technology has come in a short time — because really — the F3/FS100 were just stopgap solutions in the meantime while they prepared for their real 4K sensor and true cinema cameras. Click through to check out the pricing.
Here are the street prices for the cameras and some of the accessories:
- Sony F5: $16,500
- Sony F55: $29,000
- AXS-R5 Recorder: $5,350
- DVF-EL100 OLED Viewfinder (1280 x 720): $4,930
- DVF-L350 LCD Viewfinder (960 x 540): $3,230
- DVF-L700 7″ Full HD Monitor (1920 x 1080): $5,000
- Sony 512GB Card: $1,800
- AXS-CR1 USB 3.0 Card Reader: $550
- Sony 3 Lens PL Kit: $11,500
- Sony 6 Lens PL Kit: $20,900
If you’re looking at the price of the F5, realistically, that’s about what it’s going to cost people to put together a SCARLET. The Sony will wind up being a few thousand more expensive, since at the moment the $16,500 is just the body only, but they are far more comparable at the new price than at the MSRP of almost $20,000 reported before. If you want 4K with the F5, the SCARLET has the advantage, because at these prices, the lowest you can go with a body and recording media is above $23,000 — though again, the internal options are so good, many won’t need to go this route. The EPIC is also a cheaper option than the F55, but when it comes down to it, the F55 is a more fully featured camera and has ND filters, tons of internal recording options, and a simpler menu system that should make for less headaches on set.
Keep in mind that you don’t actually have to buy any of Sony’s monitoring accessories, but as far as I know all of them will still leave your HDMI/HD-SDI free because they have their own special connector. This is not dissimilar to RED and Arri’s solution, so it’s a welcome addition to allow other monitors to be attached. For example, you could have a 7″ 1080p Sony monitor for your 1st AC and a second cheap monitor or EVF to let your operator frame the shot (since there is no onboard LCD).
I know a lot of people are going to be excited about that lens kit, especially if they are that much better than the previous lenses Sony sold with the F3. Under $4,000 per lens will hopefully lead the way for cheaper PL lenses all around, as this is really the one piece of film gear that still doesn’t really have a budget alternative (PL lenses that is). Regardless, for being all T2.0, these compare favorably at least in speed to the competition, and certainly they would be part of a longer term purchasing scenario, as they should outlive the camera if they are treated well and they are actually built with maintenance in mind (unlike Sony’s previous lenses).
Specs aren’t everything, of course, but Canon is missing a camera that can compete with what the F5 can do. You may not need 4K recording, but having 10-bit 4:4:4 recording internally is a big deal, especially as rigs begin to get unwieldy in a real-world shooting scenario. The only option right now that can match what the F5 can do internally is to use an external recorder with the Canon C500. The Sony also has a bit of a slow motion advantage, though the C500 is much more capable than the C300. This is a serious camera system from Sony, and they are bringing them in at serious prices, especially for rental, which is where I really see the F55. If I were renting a camera for a production and I’ve got a choice between Canon and Sony, the only way I’m not choosing the F55 over the C500 is if we need a tiny rig and we’ve got a case full of professional Canon lenses already, though even then, those are the last lenses I would want to use on a big production — and there are options to mount the EF lenses on Sony’s interchangeable mount.
I’m aware that may upset a few Canon folks out there, but I will choose the camera that’s going to limit me the least if I can help it, and also be the simplest rig if I want it that way. The C100, C300, and C500 are all great options, but Canon thus far has been afraid to not only disrupt the market, but their own product line. That could be because they are doing just fine financially, but up until this point there hasn’t been as much competition in the $10,000-$20,000 budget range when you want good compressed codecs internally. Now we’ve got unbelievably good professional compressed codecs internally. It will be interesting to see Sony’s next camera, because a budget option well under $10,000 with the same body capable of log 10-bit 4:2:2 internally would go a long way towards upsetting the market even more.
Both cameras are available for pre-order right now, with an expected availability of February — so we’ll have to wait and see how quickly we start seeing them in action.
What do you guys think of the pricing? Does this put pricing within reach for you? Is your mind changing about Sony based on some of the samples we’ve seen so far from their cameras?