Just before NAB this year, there were plenty of rumors that Sony would be introducing a higher-end Sony F3 with the potential for 4K. That camera, dubbed the F5 by many, never materialized, quite possibly because they wanted some space for their newly announced FS700, which took everything the FS100 already did, and added ND filters, slow motion, and a 4K upgrade path. Now it looks like Sony will be announcing a brand new camera on October 30th according to some recent Tweets and a Facebook posting.
This is the photo that was posted on the page:
Their wording is interesting, almost a mix between an Apple announcement and a RED announcement. It seems "ahead of schedule" is a play on the future being here now, but if this announcement day is just about 4K, and you're RED, the future is already in the past, right...or something? It looks like Sony Europe has scheduled a webinar to talk about 4K projection (among other things):
So what's really coming on this announcement day? There is no question it seems like a new camera, as the designation "TheNewF" would most likely refer to the F in their digital cinema cameras -- like the FS100, FS700, F3, and F65. The F3 might still compare favorably to the Canon C300, but with the new Canon C500 4K camera being released in the next few months, Sony doesn't really have anything that can match that quality under the F65 -- and not too many people can afford to buy those.
I think we'll see a Sony F5 announced slotted right above the F3, somewhere around $20,000, and capable of 12-bit 4K recording just like the Canon C500. The internal codec on this new camera has to be a minimum of 50mbps, but if they really wanted to catch Canon where it hurts, they would put a 100mbps 4:2:2 intraframe codec internally or higher into the camera. RAW takes up quite a bit of disk space, so having a good internal codec when you don't need the advantages of RAW is helpful. Specs aren't everything, of course, and you can do a lot with the 50mbps 8-bit codec inside the C300, but you could definitely push a better codec a lot harder in grading, pulling up shadows without any macro blocking and avoiding the artifacts that come from lots of motion within a frame.
If Sony does release this 4K capable F5 camera, how exactly will it record 4K? They've talked about a 4K recorder in the past, and I think that they will come up with a solution that will work with all of their future cameras for the next few years. The FS700 firmware upgrade could also be coming that day (though it could come sooner), and both that camera and the F5 would benefit from having a Sony approved recorder with Sony media, ensuring performance and consistency. If they want to price it competitively, it would likely be around $4-$6,000.
It's also likely the F5 would share the same interchangeable PL mounting system (which I actually like), as opposed to the fixed system that Canon has chosen. Either way we'll know in two weeks what Sony has up their sleeve. You can sign up for that Sony Europe webinar by going to the link below.