Sony and RED have been playing an interesting back-and-forth over the last month or so. Sony announced brand new cameras, but didn't reveal pricing information. Then RED announced significant price drops for their cameras. After an event introducing the F5 and F55 in Los Angeles tonight, Sony has finally released the pricing information for both cameras and for all of the related accessories -- including the new PL lenses -- and interestingly, they closely match a Sony Japan leak we had earlier in the month.
Here are the details taken from their press release. [Update] In this context LIST and MSRP seem to be interchangeable, so final prices could certainly be lower by the time they get into stores:
- PMW-F5 CineAlta 4K Camera $19,400
- PMW-F55 CineAlta 4K Camera $34,900
- AXR-R5 RAW Recorder $6,300
- AXS-512S24 512Gb Memory Card $2,100
- AXS-CR1 card reader $660.00
- DVF -EL100 OLED Viewfinder $5,800
- DVF-F350 3.5” LCD Viewfinder $3,800
- DVF-L700 LCD viewfinder $5,000
- SCL-PK6/F PL mount six lens package $24,600
- SCL-PK3/F PL mount three lens package $13,600
Sony is also introducing a 30" 4K professional monitor in February along with the release of the rest of these items, but they have not yet announced pricing. If it's a professional monitor, though, I can't image it's going to be cheap. Here is a nice summary of the two cameras and what they are capable of from that same press release:
- Both cameras are equipped (with different) 4K Super35mm CMOS sensors. These state-of-the-art sensors capture 14-stops of exposure latitude with high resolution and fine tonal gradations
- The F55 can capture 4K and QFHD XAVC internally on SxS Pro+cards up to 60p. When using the optional AXS-R5, the F55 can record up to 60fps in 16Bit linear RAW
- The PMW-F5 & PMW-F55 camcorders can internally record high frame rate HD and 2K XAVC at up to 120fps (F5) or 180fps (F55). When recording 16-bit 2K RAW to the optional AXS‑R5, frame rates up to 120fps (F5) or 240fps (F55) are possible
- The F55 can output 4K HDMI, SDI using both the SDI(Main) and SDI(Sub) when in the 4K recording mode and can monitor 4K up to 30p
- The PMW-F5 & F55 both employ HDMI V1.4a for monitoring. Using the HDMI 1.4a, the F5 can output 2K and HD up to 60p. The F55 can additionally output 4K on HDMI up to 30p.
It looks like the F5 will be priced very near to where I predicted months ago, but it's going to cost over $30,000 to get a package shooting 4K. With RED's recent price drops, that's roughly twice the cost of a working SCARLET package, though when you consider that the F5 can record many different compressed codecs internally, has a relatively simple menu, ND filters, and a sensor that is more than twice as sensitive as the competition, it definitely puts the price into perspective.
While the F55 might be a little more expensive right now, by the time RED gets the Dragon sensor into the EPIC, they are going to be closer in price. Keep in mind that the Dragon pricing of $6,000 for a new sensor will be limited, so it's certainly possible that a new RED EPIC with Dragon will be over $30,000 by the time it's available as its own package (when that will happen is anyone's guess).
The rest of the accessories also look like they are a little more expensive than RED offerings, but we'll have to wait and see if any of the retailers end up selling these items for any cheaper than they are listed here. If you're looking for budget PL lenses, Sony's offering will be around $4,000-$4,500 per lens (depending on the package), which compares very favorably to the Zeiss CP.2 series -- except those lenses have interchangeable mounts. At the very least these may end up being a pretty good rental option considering the range is 20mm to 135 mm, and the fact that they open up to T/2.0 -- which at 20mm is actually a stop faster than the closest Zeiss lens in that range.
As for the FS700, no announcement has been made yet regarding the firmware update to 4K and whether that will cost money or not, but if you look at the pricing for the rest of the accessories and the already-announced module adapter, you're looking at well over $10,000 to actually shoot 4K (or at least more than 8-bit) with that camera -- which is more than the body currently costs. If you're wondering what that's going to look like, SonyProUSA posted this picture on their Twitter account showing a full FS700 and 4K recorder rig with the new battery:
I think if you look at all of this from a rental perspective, however, Sony's cameras have a real possibility of eating into Arri Alexa's marketshare. One of the big reasons that camera goes out so much (besides the image it produces) is because of its reliability and its unbelievably simple ProRes or DNxHD workflow. The same can be said of Canon's C300 -- which is constantly out of stock at rental houses. If Sony's new XAVC codec will already be compatible with a number of NLEs and other programs in the near future, Sony will also share in that simple, compressed workflow. The addition of ND filters adds the versatility that people look for when they rent something for a job, so this will certainly work in Sony's favor, especially since the interchangeable mount means tons of different lenses can be adapted.
If you missed it (and many did), Sony has launched their own forum not too dissimilar to REDUser (though they cover basically all of their products instead of just cameras). While it's still in its early stages, I'm sure we can expect a lot of Sony information and Q&As to come out of there in the near future.
What do all of you think about the pricing? If you're in the market for a new digital cinema camera, are these prices enticing based on the specs alone, or are you considering jumping over to RED? How about for rental purposes? Will you consider going Sony if the final image quality is there with the F5 or the F55? Let us know what you think below.