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.
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?