Everything You Need to Know About the Sony FS5

Sony's latest cinema camera, the compact but powerful FS5, is starting to make its way into the hands of shooters worldwide.

As with any new camera, potential buyers and renters want to know everything that they possibly can so that they can make informed decisions. Luckily, Alister Chapman — a DP who probably knows more about shooting with Sony's cameras than anybody else — recently did an extended workshop about the FS5 for Vocas, a company that produces great matte boxes and support gear.

The workshop clocks in at 2 hours 31 minutes, and it covers just about everything that any future FS5 shooters would need to know, including an hour-long section about the camera's various picture profile and gamma options. Even if you're not interested in the FS5, that section is worth watching anyway, particularly if you're shooting in S-Log 2 or S-Log 3 on one of Sony's other cameras.

Here's the presentation:

If you're looking for specific topic within the workshop, here's everything that Chapman covers:

  • 1:24 Start of presentation by Alister
  • 2:45 Introduction of Alister’s work
  • 7:12 Introduction of PXW-FS5 and it’s main features
  • 10:38 What makes the PXW-FS5 different?
  • 13:49 What the PXW-FS5 is NOT
  • 25:37 But what it is…..
  • 38:11 Usage in Gimble / drone
  • 38:40 Cooling system
  • 39:51 Lens options
  • 41:41 Variable ND filter
  • 49:35 Cool tricks (center crop, clear image zoom)
  • 55:07 Cool tricks #2 (joystick on handgrip, stream live, upload to FTP, GPS)
  • 59:14 Picture quality (Gamma curves, Cinegamma, S-Log) — 1 HOUR OF EXCELLENT TECHNICAL INFO OVER HERE!
  • 2:08:15 First firmware versions limitations
  • 2:10:51 Recording modes, codecs, XAVC vs AVCHD, recording media and card slots
  • 2:13:54 Super Slow Motion
  • 2:18:31 Multi-interface shoe
  • 2:20:28 Why is it a star?
  • 2:22:30 Model variations (kits)
  • 2:23:00 Comparison: FS5 vs FS7 vs FS700
  • 2:24:03 Sony Professional HDD RAID short info
  • 2:26:10 Wrap up, prize draw
  • 2:27:38 Alister’s shameless plug for Northern lights trip
  • 2:28:47 Audience final questions

If you're interested in learning even more, and seeing a nice short documentary shot with the FS5, check out Cinema5D's first impressions and hands-on articles. The Sony FS5 is expected to begin shipping to the masses in about two weeks, and it can be pre-ordered through B&H    

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Your Comment


After debating the FS7, Ursa Mini 4.6k, and the FS5, we finally settled on the FS5.

Budget was approved for any of the three, but after thorough research (except for getting hands-on with the latter two) we decided the FS5 is the best fit for us. Very much looking forward to working with this camera in person.

November 20, 2015 at 11:10AM

David S.

Jacob, I began to reply—but it got too long. So I made a discussion post instead. Sorry it's not a quick response, but I'm not sure how to shorten it down beyond "a balance of factors".


November 20, 2015 at 2:50PM

David S.

Two words:
RED Raven


November 20, 2015 at 7:59PM, Edited November 20, 8:00PM

Daniel Reed
Hat Collector

4 words:
heavier & more expensive.


It really depends on your needs.
I'm considering a FS5 over a RED Raven, because it is way lighter for gimbal use and a RED is just above budget with all the accessoiries and hardware demands for the edit.

November 21, 2015 at 4:04AM, Edited November 21, 4:04AM

Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer

Saw that video a little while back. Don't think they caught 1 problem that Atomos did though. You can't record 4k internally and externally at the same time. Only a game breaker if you don't trust a Shogun(natural fit) by itself. Personally never shot anything with backups and knock on wood, never had a card or SSD corrupt itself mid interview, ever. Had tape go bad though once or twice though=) Atomos claims its a problem with the processor itself, so it may be unfixable. Video is https://vimeo.com/146101207

We're deciding early next year between this or a c100mII if 4k or super slow mo isn't a necessity, which technically they aren't.

November 20, 2015 at 12:38PM, Edited November 20, 12:38PM

Motion Designer/Predator

Even if you are not interested in the FS5, I highly recommend you watch Alister Chapman's video on it. Outside the FS5, he talks about how and when to use S-Log. He also gives you a lot of important information about proper S-Log exposure and getting the best color in general, and about why you should use DaVinci Resolve for color grading over Premier and FCPX.

Color is where the URSA and the Red Raven have the edge over the FS5. The XAVC-L is 4:2:0 8-bit color at 100 mbps in 4K and 4:2:2 10-bit color 50 mbps only in 1080p. Besides a model workflow, superior color is another reason why ARRI has been so successful. The FS5 is a cheap way to get into 4K, but at the price of degraded color. Does the camera get a future 4K RAW firmware option? Maybe. And will it cost a chunk to get that upgrade option? Very likely.

November 22, 2015 at 8:38AM, Edited November 22, 8:40AM

VFX Colorist

Wrong on the "degraded color" comment. The F and FS series Sony cameras will give you a very clean, 'flat' image that, in the hands of a competent grader, can be graded to match pretty much any camera, Red and URSA included, making it one of the most versatile cameras available. Of course, the Alexa is king of color among many other qualities.

November 23, 2015 at 5:05PM

Richard Krall

Actually the "degraded color" comment is not wrong at all. Anyone who knows anything about chroma sub-sampling and bit depth understands that 4:2:0 and 8-bit is a common, consumer-level color acquisition. So yes, that IS crap color for the trouble of 4K resolution. If you had watched Alister Chapman's video... then even he says (around the 22:00 mark) the FS5 S-Log2 and S-Log3 in 8-bit is far from ideal in color grading. And at the 24:42 mark he says the FS5 is not really a camera for using S-Log in 4K. Log helps to improve the detail in the highlights and shadows, but in the end you are still confined to the tonal limits of 8-bit and 4:2:0 chroma subs-sampling with various color and block artifacts that will only become more magnified in post correction and grading. Long story short, it seems a terrible waste for the Sony FS5 to capture 4K only for the sake of resolution at the compromise of consumer-level, degraded color. For any 4K acquisition, 4:2:2 10-bit should always be a minimum, or in the Sony range... 4K with XAVC-I.

Capturing 4K at 8-bit color is not future proof at all. The future is 10-bit color, and it will be the new standard in consumer TVs and other display devices starting mid 2016 and into 2017. The new UHD Blu-ray spec already shows 10-bit color as standard. So indeed 4K is the future, but 8-bit color is no longer a part of that future.

December 13, 2015 at 7:42AM, Edited December 13, 7:47AM

VFX Colorist

First of all I do not like it at all. This camera is not a real place. In Italy we say that it is not meat and fish it. Makes a 4k weakened, many constraints in managing the data flow, you are obligated to use optical cameras if you do not use an adapter. It costs too much compared to any DSLR that allows you to do a great 4K but spending less. Why buy it instead of FS7?

December 3, 2015 at 11:57PM, Edited December 3, 11:57PM

Francesco Morra
FilmMaker - DoP - VideoReporter

Hello all,
Hi David,
1- How can i Recording 4K on FS5,Will i need to special SD Card or i Can Record with normal Card??
2- why i dont have 4K i Have just 2160/60P 100Mb with XAVC??
3- what the best number of Shutter Speed for Slow Motion 200fps??


February 26, 2016 at 4:41PM

Ramzi Alkaysi
Director of Photography

I checked out someone's FS5 last night. I love the form factor, the variable ND filter, the ergonomics and the price, but I'm baffled about the low codec bitrates (1080 @ 50 Mbps and 4K at 100 Mbps). I'm looking to upgrade from my GH4, which shoots up to 200 Mbps for 1080. I realize they are two very different cameras, so maybe I'm missing something here, but it seems that the FS5 codec is rather limited. I took some test shots with the FS5, and find that Premiere Pro struggles playing back the footage. Any thoughts on this?

March 29, 2016 at 2:46PM

David Patterson