In the midst of some tension and even some quite literal (and legal) contention, Sony's RED/Alexa-aimed F55 and its less feature-rich sibling the F5 are in-stock at B&H and shipping out order to order. We've previously mentioned the comprehensive firmware update timeline released by Sony for the F5/F55 family, which also sees eldest little brother the FS700 rejuvenated with RAW support using Sony's R5 recorder in July. Meanwhile, Sony is urging F5/F55 owners to update their cameras to firmware release 1.03, a previously unscheduled update which corrects a "black edge on highlights issue" in S-Log2 or HyperGamma modes.

Being off-timeline means firmware v1.03 precedes the actually-scheduled release v1.1. Here's Sony's forum announcement of v1.03:

We are releasing an important update PRIOR to v1.1. All owners of the F5, F55 should download and update their cameras [to the] new F5 & F55 Firmware release Ver. 1.03.

This firmware is not part of a scheduled release. It is an interim release to provide immediate correction to the “black edge on highlights” issue reported by some users. This issue rarely occurs with Ver. 1.02 only when shooting with S-Log2 or HyperGamma selected; it is not present in RAW or Standard Gamma recordings. Future scheduled releases will also contain this improvement.

Download F5 Firmware v1.03 [.zip] -- Download F55 Firmware v1.03 [.zip]

The problem with blown-out artifacting doesn't seem to have been limited to 'black' edges alone, either. One Vimeo video displays several issues screen-capped below (courtesy photobucket user hingsberg):



Sony adds that "If you do not feel confident to perform the firmware update, you can bring or ship the camera to a Sony Professional Service Depot. There is no charge for the firmware itself, but labor chargers will apply." Thus far F-Users have positive things to say regarding v1.03 beyond the highlight-edge fix, calling it an overall improvement. More specifically, one user states the following:

Edge enhancement is dramatically improved, 1.0.3 removes the subtle artifacting that was present in firmware 1.00.  This update made the image even cleaner and smoother. Menu seems just slightly more responsive as well.

AXSM Drive Utility & Manual Now Available

It's good to hear Sony's taking these problems very seriously, enough to already push a significant firmware fix immediately out to new owners. It's worth noting at this time the F5/F55 manual is, as of quite recently, available for download [.pdf] -- as are some utilities for the AXS-CR1 card reader:

This software utility includes several functions for use with the AXS Memory Card Reader (AXS-CR1) including:

  • Displaying the status of an AXS-CR1 drive and AXS Memory Card
  • Fully formatting an AXS Memory Card
  • Saving AXS-R5 firmware data onto an AXS Memory Card (for firmware update)
  • Retrieving log data from an AXS Memory Card
  • Updating the Firmware of AXS Memory Card

Some diametric opposition (or "side-taking") will inevitably arise regarding shooters more loyal to either Sony or RED, for one reason or another. Whatever the outcome of this uncertain situation, it's clear Sony will continue to treat the mean time like the 'lean time' and carry right on tweaking and expanding the F5/F55 camera lines.