August 30, 2014

Sony Officially Responds to F5 4K Hack

Sony F5 4K Hack Close-Up Control Panel
A new hack for the Sony F5 has allowed it to shoot 4K XAVC internally just like its bigger and more expensive brother, the F55. 

While there are other differences between the two cameras, like a global shutter and 4K outputs on the F55, this hack shows that the over-$12,000 price difference between the two models may be more superficial than at first glance. Sony is aware of the hack, and has now given an official response.

Peter Crithary, who is a marketing manager in Sony's digital cinema division, had this to say in the Sony forum:

Sony is aware of the All File modification that was done by some F5 owners to enable 4K XAVC recording in the camera head. As a matter of policy Sony cannot approve any modifications that are not part of an official firmware release. All firmware updates from Sony come with quality assurances that guarantee high quality performance. Furthermore, unauthorized modifications to the product are not covered by, and may void, Sony's product warranty. 

This is a standard corporate response, and at this point there isn't much else for them to say as they explore their options. It's pretty likely that the next firmware update for the F5 will disable this modification — though maybe Sony did intend to give F5 users internal 4K at some point down the road.

Paul Ream 4K for F5 Hack

Paul Ream, who found the modification, responded later in the same thread and said much of what he already did on the podcast just a few days ago, but added some interesting questions:

Yes, I think Sony now need to offer 4K on the F5 officially - even at a reasonable fee. They know it’s what their customers are crying out for, and we all know it’s now possible.  To do anything else would be petty.  Trying to sell us a £10K upgrade for items we didn’t want was when the long term plans for the F5 went wrong… now’s the chance to put that right.

What I am pleased about is the fact we’re all now discussing how these professional items are sold to professional users.

So two questions:

If Sony had produced one camera with different options that could be purchased and added when required, would any of us have felt as cheated?

What if it was one camera with paid options, and they failed to protect the keys to turn those options on?  Who would be to blame if someone stumbled on the switch?

Even though it might void the warranty, it's unclear whether there is any way for Sony to know you've actually enabled 4K (it seems unlikely based on the way the modification works, but certainly we don't know everything going on internally in the camera). The biggest thing with this hack is that it's not a perfect implementation since it wasn't intended to be made available at this point in the camera. There is no playback of the 4K material in the camera, and there have been some reports of gamma/clipping issues that are not happening in 2K/1080p. Your own mileage may vary, but if you have an F5 and the 4K modification, let us know if you've seen any issues with it. The longer it is out there, the more we'll know about how stable it is and if there are any problems.

We'll have to wait and see what Sony does from here on out.

Your Comment

46 Comments

This is what I love about our community: we solve problems by outsmarting even the producers of the tools we use. Magic Lantern, AE hacks and scripts, and now this.

Sony's response is nothing less than saying "Ah crap! They figured it out!!"

I'll trade my 'warranty' for a $10-12K instant upgrade anyday.

August 30, 2014 at 11:03AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Most of you don't even deliver 4k, or 2k for that matter. That is to say, deliver what ever you want but internet compression (which is where 90 percent of video goes) pretty much means really good HD at the most. So at least for the time being the a black magic or a 5D hacked is really all you need. So in essence getting this hack means - "Oh neat you hacked something!" You didn't beat the man, sony makes money if you do or don't buy their cameras, they have done the math for both scenarios. The time to buy is never right, just buy something when you actually need it.

September 1, 2014 at 7:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ignacio Genzon

Don't forget that 4k and even 2k allow for reframing before down-rezzing to boring old 1080. ; )

September 2, 2014 at 5:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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"Don’t forget that 4k and even 2k allow for reframing before down-rezzing "

This is not a good way to shoot, in MY opinion. You can see the difference in grain, even if it's very fine. And some shooters cause problems when always thinking "oh it's 4K, I can reframe later."

I can't stand finishing footage from the 'fix it in post' shooters. It's the worst stuff, always.

September 2, 2014 at 5:34PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ron I

While, the snarky answer would be "have fun with that"...

I will say this. I have lost nearly $1000 in top speed 128GIG CF cards because someone rented my 6 cards for a ML hacked 5DmkIII. I got the cards back and my MkII wouldnt recognize them, nor would my computer. Dont know what happened, but i got them replaced. Messing with firmwares can have consequences.

That said , i hacked my HVX200 back in the day for all the extra framerates, like 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 50 FPS etc... And had no problems.

Just be careful, and test fully. Record a few dozen card fulls, and make sure every frame is there. do it again when its hot (while its still hot out), cold (in the freezer), run / stop the camera a few hundred times, at varying intervals. see what happens if you "double click" the run/stop button. If it passed all those tests, i'd use it. But i wouldn't do it to my camera, not at $15,000 for the body.

September 2, 2014 at 6:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I stopped buying Sony products years ago because (from where i stand) of their tendency to overprice their products which have standard features available in much lower end products. That said i do think they make great quality products. Im particularly impressed with the FS700/R which i think is VERY well priced, Its the only camera i think they have fairly priced.

The good thing is that in todays world, there are Soooo many other options out there ill just face in a different direction.

August 30, 2014 at 11:22AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Nigel

A brief history of Sony:

Hey everyone! You won't BELIEVE it. We are going to revolutionize cinematic digital filmmaking. The F35 is the latest and greatest in digital cinema technology. Everybody buy it!

8 months later...

Hey everyone! You won't BELIEVE it. We are going to revolutionize cinematic digital filmmaking. The F65 is the latest and greatest in digital cinema technology Everybody buy it! And for those of you who bought the F35... sorry we didn't tell you ;)

8 months later...

Hey everyone! You won't BELIEVE it. We are going to revolutionize cinematic digital filmmaking. The F55 (and its little brother) are the latest and greatest in digital cinema technology. Everybody buy it! And for those of you who bought the F65... sorry we didn't tell you ;)

And GOD HELP YOU if you had an F3 and thought THAT was the be-all end-all camera. This 4K hack is yet another reason for me to just not trust Sony as a company. Seems like things never change.

August 30, 2014 at 12:28PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ha! Well said.
But now -
Hey everyone! You won’t BELIEVE it. We are going to revolutionize cinematic digital filmmaking. The A7S (are the latest and greatest in digital cinema technology. Everybody buy it! And for those of you who bought the F65… sorry we didn’t tell you ;) And check out this video shot on the A7S - unbelievable. $2500 and you can make this: https://vimeo.com/104549696

August 30, 2014 at 1:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I'm counting on Sony coming up with an A7s successor with bigger body and internal 4K in 6-8 months given their history. :)

August 31, 2014 at 8:35AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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AdRath

f- 65 is way different to F 55 in so many ways - and produces more film like images than any other digital cam I have used - although it's not suited to anas which is a shame I love the neutrality and the film like density of a good negative film stock feel of it especially when used with long zooms - f55 doesn't give the feel even when used as b cam so no compare really - in tests my f65 beat Reds hands down, time and time again - I love it, but also also love the user friendliness of Alexa and especially the Studio with anas - aahhhh can't have everything I suppose....

September 2, 2014 at 6:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Simon J

I would be worried about overheating the camera and physically damaging the chip by doing this hack. Yes I hacked my GH2, but ended up reverting to the stock settings after having some major issues on set, camera locking itself down. Also GH2 is a smaller loss if it breaks.

August 30, 2014 at 12:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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This is so obvious, yet no one considers it. None of the bloggers or complainers has even considered the potential damage from hacking.

August 30, 2014 at 2:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Charlie

Well, you just didn't do it correctly. Ptool for the GH2 matured to a 100% reliable hack! The point to remember is that it wasn't just ONE hack. The trick was to read the forums and experiment with all the different flavors of the hack...i.e. parameter combinations. It was virtually impossible to brick a GH2 by applying Ptool correctly.

This "hack" for the Sony isn't even a hack...simply an unlocking of what it was designed to do by the engineers in the first place.

It's the Corporate Marketing shysters who limited the camera's capability...and are now squirming and spouting "Corporate Speak" to cover their embarrassed arses...

August 30, 2014 at 3:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Skeptikal

People still use Sony? I mean the F3 was great but most have moved on to Arri, Red or Canon.

August 30, 2014 at 12:56PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Michael Hawk

Or Panasonic...

August 30, 2014 at 3:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Skeptikal

Michael Hawk, you're pretty cute. I think an Arri is considerably more expensive, A comparable Red is considerably more expensive. Canon can't compete with the F5 on any level. You're right about one thing, though... the F3 WAS and IS a great camera.

September 2, 2014 at 12:33AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I don't see what the big deal about this is. You buy a camera, you own it. Do what you want with it. Replace the software on it, hang it from the ceiling, eat a plate of BBQ ribs over it, use it to shoot home videos, who cares?

If there's a software hack out there that unlocks a feature and you want to try it, then put it on there and use it at your own risk. I'm fine with Sony voiding warranties, but I hear a lot of people talking about how it's wrong for people to hack cameras, that it violates whatever. BS. You buy it, you do what you want with it. If you can't hack it you don't own it.

August 30, 2014 at 1:34PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Marcelo

Tell that to Canon back when people were wondering if Magic Lantern would hack the 1DX to shoot 4K.

August 30, 2014 at 1:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ben Cooper

I agree, Marcelo. When purchasing a camera doesn't it become your personal property? If you want to run over it with a car, that's completely up to you. What you do with it is your prerogative, even if that means "hacking" to increase it's usefulness as a tool. Sony included technology that makes it possible to get 4K. It was only a matter of time before some clever bloque figured it out. That being said, it's the companies job to market products to stay competitive in an industry that is moving too fast for its own good (my opinion of course). What's the difference in modifying a car for better performance or a camera? Bravo, to the folks who figure these things out.

September 1, 2014 at 4:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Javi

Is this any different than what Arri did with Amira? A $40k camera with only limited prores and 709 color space... Or you can pay $10/20k more for the ability to actually record in a useable format...

August 30, 2014 at 1:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Nope. The same. Only Arri is being open about it, therefore their users don't feel cheated. Arri sells 3 versions of the Amira with identical hardware, and unlocks features with software for an additional cost.
Convergent Design do the same with the 7Q, they sell you the same hardware, unlock features for an extra cost.

Even Sony's situation is a bit better as the hardware is marginally different.

August 30, 2014 at 2:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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ahmed

I'm not an Amira owner but I did feel cheated when Arri revealed their pricing structure. An extra 10k to "unlock'' the ability to go from 1080 to 2048 or do frame rates announced at launch. God knows how much they will ask for this supposed 4k mode.

August 30, 2014 at 8:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Moose

I think this is a great idea. THEN I discovered the cost of the proprietary memory cards. Did I see right when 128 gig costs £900? If so, then it's still totally out of my price range.

August 30, 2014 at 2:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Nick Layton

August 30, 2014 at 2:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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dembek

so 4k is still being talked about, people give it up, who cares if you can hack it to enable it.

August 30, 2014 at 2:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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vladimir

I agree. Feels like 4K is fading and I can't see the networks picking it up. I have an F5 and I've tried 4K on the F5 and it works fine. It should since its a 4K camera at its heart. But I'm not interested in 4K. When HD was coming I couldn't wait but this is different. I might use the 4K mode to punch in on interviews occasionally but thats it.

August 30, 2014 at 11:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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The US TV is heavily into - image acquisition if not yet streaming - 4K these days. That's why Amira was updated. Sony has an egg on its face with this though. But that's why there's room for GH4 and BMPC4K and then maybe Cion and URSA and what not. Like Jobs said, if you aren't going to cannibalize your sales, then someone else will. Had Sony enabled 4K and charged a few grand more for F5, it could have been a huge seller for them. As it is, they were afraid to scupper the F55 sales. At the end, they were the ones getting screwed.
.
BTW, Amazon Prime is promising 4K in a couple of months while Netflix is already doing 4K on some shows. The manufacturers badly want it in time for the Christmas shopping season.

August 31, 2014 at 2:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

Youtube already offers UHD.

September 2, 2014 at 8:49AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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JWCarney

You like to still hand crank fillum, comrade?

August 30, 2014 at 3:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Skeptikal

you very funny

August 30, 2014 at 9:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Moviemaker Mike

Sony dones'nt realize how the world moves today. The Rideley Scott 1984 Apple commercial is appropriate for nowadays for them...

August 31, 2014 at 5:35AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Bill Maher Summed it up

" Big business is about eliminating the competition and buying off the regulators so you can concentrate on the real enemy: your customers"

August 31, 2014 at 11:13AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Greg Greenhaw

Bill Maher's an idiot.

August 31, 2014 at 12:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

With a capital "I"

September 1, 2014 at 7:33AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Anthony Marino

All hardware can be pushed further. The question is does it work in a professional environment where you can't have it go down. As an example, I would gladly pay 8K for a mac pro instead of a Hackintosh, because when something was wrong with my new mac pro and I had a deadline, Apple told the nearest Apple Store to lend me their floor model so I can get it done until mine was replaced, which was shipped to me 2 days later.

So what you are paying for is quality of service. My F55 had issues. They fixed and sent it back to me all under a week and offered to pay for rentals during that week if I had a shoot. Same with Zeiss.

For professionals that is more important. I would never want to hack my F55 at the expense of possibly messing it up on a client shoot.

August 31, 2014 at 1:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Terry

Wonder why F55 owners -like P. Bloom- are not in favor of this jack...? Why can't they just be glad for those who do not have enough money to fatten big Sony shareholders to the point they should soon explode with nevrotic cupidity?!

August 31, 2014 at 2:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Boumba

I personally didn't buy the F55 for it's 4K capabilities. I bought it for the Global Shutter, which I can't stand when I watch movies and shows during whip pans. I'm happy for people who can get 4k out of the F5. My point is that I wouldn't trust it on professional shoots. It would suck if you shoot with it and for some reason there is something wrong with the file. Try telling your client their footage is messed up because you hacked your camera

September 1, 2014 at 12:45AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Terry

Everybody will always defend their own choices.

September 1, 2014 at 2:26AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Especially those who care about their clients files.

September 1, 2014 at 2:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Terry

This hack is great for the same people who chose to buy a F5 because they couldn't understand paying for the added features of a F55. The thing is, it still doesn't turn the F5 into a F55 with regard to color space and global shutter.... so what's the point? If the F5 owners implementing this hack wanted to record 4K then why did you buy a camera that doesn't shoot 4K?

August 31, 2014 at 5:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DPTW

Simple, really... we didn't need global shutter, F65 color gamut and we wanted to save $12,000.
Any more questions?

September 2, 2014 at 12:49AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Why is everyone so bitter? The F55's global shutter and richer color are huge steps up, worth a healthy bump in price. Either way, ya got 4K. Be happy.

September 1, 2014 at 6:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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September 2, 2014 at 3:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I remember a sound system my bought 2 decades ago. I was curious and, along with a friend, we found out its circuit board had about 15 % of its space free, but full of marks, so we realized that model was just a "crippled" version of the model above. I guess it's a common practice. The more componentes shared, the more profitable it'll be. That means, in Sony's case, they make a lot more profit with the F55 than the difference in price might suggest.

September 2, 2014 at 5:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Richard de Andrade

Sony are the kings of selling you a product then wanting more money to unlock capabilities. They've exploited users for years. For instance, when paying a mint for an HDCAM deck, you'd have to pay thousands more to allow something that should be included (such as ability to play back legacy formats).

So, Sony, SUCK it.

September 2, 2014 at 5:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ron I

The F5 is a brilliant camera, totally fits the gap between the fully cinematic F55 and broadcast video cams. Sxs media also works well with what are pretty high data rates. The firmware 'unlocks' have been good and added useful functionality. In short I am avery happy customer and believe I invested my hard earned cash in the right tool for my business.

BUT.... I am going to need to offer my clients 4k in the near future, I was only ever going to rent the 4k recorder and cards unless there was a price cut, or look at other recorders.

It would be brilliant to offer 4k to clients and really dumb for Sony to try an lock down this hack, just makes no business sense to not respond. Even with 4k internally it will not equal an F55.

September 3, 2014 at 3:07AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Chris jones