When the fully-featured Sony FS7 was announced back in September, we knew it was going to be incredibly popular.
Now that it is starting to make its way out into the world, what are people saying about the FS7, and what are they shooting with it? NY-based cinematographer Ed David recently got his hands on an FS7 for a day, and he made the most of that day, putting together two short pieces that showcase the features and overall image quality of this new camera.
First up is a fun video profile of one of NYC's preeminent "sidewalk artists," a furry little fella named Charlie Chicken:
Video is no longer available: vimeo.com/112062119
And a video that showcases the internal 1080p/180fps footage:
I asked Ed to give us the technical lowdown on how he shot the above clips, as well as his overall impressions of the FS7, including what he liked about it and what he didn't. Here's what he had to say:
Shot on FS7 to internal media - XQD 32gb card. Camera was donated by Omega Broadcast. Shot s-log 3 with S gamut.cine gamma. Recorded to AVC-Intra codec. 4k recording up to 60fps. For 1080p/180fps shots - went with the same AVC-Intra. Used 2 lenses - Leica-R 50mm f1.4 and Leica 24mm f2.0. Set the ISO to 1600 and for the 180fps shots, it was set to 800. Graded in DaVinci Resolve with Visioncolor Impulz LUT Kodak Vision3 50D. Did some slight modifications to this - nothing that crazy. The goal was speed - to get these pieces out into the world as soon as possible.
Camera is incredibly ergonomic, small, and intuitive. The viewfinder - the weight - the balance - everything feels great.
I couldn't find out if it had a waveform - so I was just protecting for the highlights. The zebra feature doesn't seem intuitive - it's hard to see if it's blowing out - also hard to tell if it was working like it should. I hope there is a future firmware upgrade to fix this. There is some jello from the rolling shutter - not too bad, but not as good as the ALEXA. Shooting super slo-mo had some pretty blocky noise - maybe going to an external recorder will be better.
Can you really complain with a camera that costs 9k and is basically is a hybrid between the sony F5 and F55? This thing is going to sell like hotcakes - I am going to order one.
Like most new cameras, the FS7 clearly has a few usability issues, especially with its software exposure tools. Luckily, it sounds like most of these issues are software issues, and Sony has an excellent track record of rolling out timely and feature-packed software updates for the F5 and F55. I would expect the first major firmware update for the FS7 to address those usability issues. What's of more concern, however, is just how noisy the 180fps footage is. A few of those shots had an atrocious amount of noise in shadows and midtones, and that's with a relatively low ISO (for this particular sensor) of 800. Again, like Ed mentioned, the results from an external recorder might very well prove to be far superior.
Overall, the footage from the FS7 looks and feels incredibly similar to the Sony F5, and for good reason — the two cameras both feature the same Sony sensor. That image quality, especially when combined with the ergonomic design, will undoubtedly make the FS7 incredibly popular for a wide range of video production styles and niches, especially documentary. Until someone gets their hands on the XDCA-FS7 extension unit — which enables RAW output and ProRes recording, among many other features — it's hard to say just how versatile the FS7 will prove to be.
If you have any questions for Ed regarding these videos or his experiences with the FS7, please leave them down in the comments.