September 12, 2014

Sony F5 Getting Optional Internal 4K Upgrade in Response to Hack, But It Will Cost $1K

Aside from the brand new FS7 E-mount camera, Sony had a bunch of other news, including prices and availability for their ProRes/DNxHD Upgrade, Shoulder Mount ENG Dock, and likely as a response to the recent 4K hack, a new upgrade option for Sony F5 owners to get 4K XAVC internally. 

First, here's a look at the 4K option for F5 owners, which will cost $1,000 and ship in December (all courtesy of Peter Crithary in the Sony forum):

As you may be aware, some users are able to modify the All File of the F5 to enable 4K XAVC internal recording. This modification is not authorized by Sony and may cause unforeseen operating conditions as a result of the F5 not being programmed by Sony to perform the 4K recording properly.

Due to the widespread adoption of 4K in the marketplace, and to further protect customers’ investments in the F5, Sony is implementing 4K internal recording and 4K output capabilities by way of an optional upgrade program.

Sony F5 4K Upgrade License

It may be tough as an F5 owner to know that 4K can be easily enabled in the camera with a simple hack, but Sony will be charging $1,000 for it by the time December rolls around. If you're trying to shoot 4K for any serious projects, you're probably going to want the Sony option, because it will be fully supported, and should theoretically work as intended without any issues — something that's usually a requirement when your job and reputation are on the line. 

It's safe to say that firmware v5.0 will probably disable the 4K hack, so if you're trying to keep your camera up-to-date with the newest features, and you really want internal 4K, you may have to upgrade eventually. The upgrade now brings the F5 in line with the F55 in most ways, which means the price difference between the models would be just for the global shutter sensor in the F55.

We also now know that the ProRes & DNxHD hardware upgrade will cost $2,250 and will be available in December:

Sony Apple ProRes Avid DNxHD F5 F55 Upgrade Codec

In addition, they showed off the new Shoulder Mount ENG dock, the B4 to Super16mm adapter, and what's coming in the free v5.0 firmware update:

Sony F5 F55 V5.0 Firmware Upgrade
Sony ENG Shoulder Mount Dock
Sony B4-Super 16mm Adapter

Sony has also done some work to their RAW Viewer and Content Browser, which should hopefully simplify workflows:

Sony’s applications, RAW Viewer and Content Browser are being merged into a single platform. Debuting as two applications are Catalyst Browse and Catalyst Prepare. The development of Catalyst Browse follows industry momentum around the XAVC codec to place it alongside RAW as a major recording format. The new software platform combines the capabilities of conventional RAW Viewer and Content Browser, in addition to new features. Going beyond upcoming support for a wide range of formats, including RAW, MPEG4 SStP (HDCAM SR), XAVC, MPEG2, AVCHD, Apple® ProRes, and Avid® DNxHD®,Catalyst Browse will work with Sony CineAlta and XDCAM camera lineups, among others.

The new Catalyst Prepare software package enables secure and efficient management of recorded assets, enabling smooth workflows from shooting through editing. This package includes Catalyst Browse capabilities, and adds verifiable copying, file conversion, storyboarding, and EDL output support, among other powerful features.

Catalyst Browse: Free
Catalyst Prepare: $199.95
Planned availability: September 2014

For more on these updates, check out the Sony forum    

Your Comment

19 Comments

Oh, Sony...

September 12, 2014 at 11:23PM

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When you pay the $1000, Sony North America will send you an extra large tube of "preparation H" to ease the pain.

Thanks Sony!

September 12, 2014 at 11:30PM

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treykaiza@gmail.com
Cat Herder
262

The F5 upgrade makes sense if you already own it. But is going to be hard to justify it against the FS7. If the camera is as good as it promises... Sony won't be able to make them fast enough!

For me 4K XAVC 10bit works for weddings and at least to me why not shoot in 4K even if the final client don't have a 4k TV yet you are future proofing the whole thing, I imagine those wedding videos shot with dSLR with compressed codecs and upscaled to UHD looking like crap in a couple of years even though the manufacturers are most likely to include some kind of technology (gimmick) claiming the 1080p videos will look amazing in UHD.

September 12, 2014 at 11:59PM

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Isaac Alonzo
Photographer / Cinematographer
300

The article says the only other difference between the F5 and F55 is the global shutter. This isn't true as the F55 has a significantly larger colour gamut. This is very important if you're doing high end TV drama or features. This is why the F55 is still the better choice in certain circumstances than the F5.

September 13, 2014 at 1:04AM

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Jonathon Sendall
Stories
1736

Yes, it does have a wider color gamut, but in practice, what does that really mean? Is there a noticeable difference for most applications?

September 13, 2014 at 1:34AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

The F55's sensor comes in handy when shooting scenes artificially lit with colored lights approaching or exceeding the gamut capabilities of lesser camera/sensors. A post on the Sony forums mentioned shooting concerts where intense color, particularly blue, lighting is used and causes problems with clipped color channels. It's similar to shooting glowing red tail lights on automobiles where, on lesser cameras, it is difficult to hold detail or render that naturally.

September 13, 2014 at 10:40AM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
1538

Its not significantly better. I'm yet to see any footage shot on the F55 that I don't believe would have looked exactly the same on the F5.

Sony have never published the actual colour gamut of the F5 because they don't want people seeing how close they are.

They may even be exactly the same...

September 13, 2014 at 8:44AM

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Jonathon, what you said is right, but your example made you wrong. The f55 does have an expanded color gamut, but rec 709 TVs can't see it, they can only see the truncated color space that fits into a rec 709 bucket. What fits in that bucket is the exact output of the F5. So for rec 709 viewing they will be identical. So the expanded color gamut is only really visible and significant for theatrical projection.

September 13, 2014 at 12:20PM

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Indie Guy
1319

The choice for a colourist of what he/she can pull into 709 space from the original gamut is greater than the F5.

October 17, 2014 at 8:00AM

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Jonathon Sendall
Stories
1736

I doubt that this upgrade is a response to the hack. They literally just today announced an entirely new camera for less than $10k that can record 4k internally. Sony's not so stupid that it wouldn't occur to them that current F5 owners would be rather upset with this news so I am sure this upgrade has been in the pipeline for some time.

I believe the timing of the hack is just a coincidence.

September 13, 2014 at 1:45AM

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Yeah, I was wondering about that myself. That the firmware was so easily manipulated to allow for 4k recording makes me think that they actually had this seeds of this idea planted back in product engineering.

September 13, 2014 at 8:39AM

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Kevin Erhard
Content Strategy
234

I included more of the text, and while I do think it's possible this was in the works, I think the hack pushed their timeline. The way the text from Peter reads above, he basically prefaces the announcement with saying that the hack isn't supported, so here's our true 4K option. I don't think he even needs to mention it for the announcement if that wasn't part of their discussion for announcing it now.

September 13, 2014 at 9:34AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

There are no such things as coincidences, the timing lined up too perfectly. ;)

September 15, 2014 at 11:11PM

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Namar Burton
Writer-Director-Cinematographer
166

These are BAD and SAD news, because they should remind us three simple things:
1. How responsible (literally days!!!!) can manufactures be when it comes down to money and not losing a bit of their margin profits, in opposition to how many years it can take them to implement any user request.
2. These corporations ultimately care for their shareholders and not for their customers.
3. This “easy-hack” is probably the last one to ever happen since they realized people are not dumb, but inquisitive and creative; therefore they will try to prevent such thing from happening again on any other future model.
( It’d be interesting if someone writes an eye-opening article about all of that! -and more!- )

September 13, 2014 at 3:58AM

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Jupiter de la Bâtardise
writer/filmmaker
223

All the big companies have the technology and capability to provide the perfect camera at an affordable price .. But they still playing in the minds and pockets of Beginners film-makers

Black Magic is the only company that offers a respectable cameras at a reasonable price ... But inexperience caused some errors such as the bad highlight clipping and fixed pattern noise in 4k camera

I mean .. in the past printers cost more than $ 1000 ... but now sold at 50 dollars

September 13, 2014 at 4:02AM, Edited September 13, 4:02AM

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Arthur
174

Hack much cheaper :-)

September 13, 2014 at 7:05AM

3
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Come on Canon, lets do something with the C300!

September 13, 2014 at 10:40AM, Edited September 13, 10:40AM

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Scott Wild
Director
163

I wonder if their response in this situation is perhaps an acknowledgment that the way of the future is upgrading the bodies rather than fully replacing them, such as RED has done with the sensor upgrades.

September 13, 2014 at 3:42PM, Edited September 13, 3:42PM

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Matt Simon
Director, Director of Photography, Editor
175

The bigger news/announcement here is the shoulder mount. That really extends the usage of these cameras.

September 24, 2014 at 10:48PM

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Daniel Mimura
DP, cam op, steadicam op
2255