My First Few Weeks with the new Sony PXW-FS7 4K Super35 Camera [Updated]

Watch the video above in 4K and let me know what you think.  That was the first footage I shot on this camera when I received it quite early in late October, 2014 with much thanks to John Rule at Rule Boston Camera. I was able to get my hands on this camera very early (one of the first 27 it looks like worldwide!). Once I got a clear day, I took the camera to the park and shot this over an hour, very quickly, all handheld/shoulder mounted as the camera comes out of the box. This is not my best work by any means, and has no real story, but so many people asked for some images I tossed this together. What follows are my thoughts from that day and continual use of the camera over time.

WE HAVE A NEW FILM AND 2 MORE DETAILED FS7 POSTS TO SHOW YOU

I have shot for work with the camera since, but all of that footage is not publicly releasable. However you can now see our NEW film, Snowlight, and read our latest post about working with this very special camera, the FS7. There's all kinds of new discussion from DPs who have used this camera alongside the Sony F5 and F55 and Canon C300, and some updated information. So do take a look.

I have heavily added to this post over time. It has many sections including initial thoughts, rigging and balance, the free Metabones adapter from Sony, and much more. A change log is at the end of this post, and while we have updated our practical thoughts in the new post, I am keeping this one because there's a lot of neat reference information.

And then, after you read this and that, catch our latest article "The FS7 IRL: 5 Months Later" posted in April of 2015. You can see how the camera fares after some months of use.

Initial Thoughts FROM THE VERY FIRST TEST SHOOT

This is graded with FilmConvert, and I selected what I wanted exposed as I worked. I will blog more about this soon, but my VERY preliminary thoughts are:

  • Fantastic, super-gradable image (I am coming from a C300 so 10 bit high bit rate XAVC is a revelation. I know you blackmagic folks have had this for a while but the low light on those cameras is poor and the noise can be very patterned.)
  • As good as C300 in low light but less color in the noise which is nice (Sony A7S beats them both)
  • Very high dynamic range and amazing latitude (14 usable stops, plus another lurking in there.  Again, I am comparing to a C300)
  • Rugged 1: (I banged it around pretty roughly in the woods no issues) - this is just great, and in line with my C300 experience. Far nicer than FS100/FS700. 
  • Rugged 2: The all-magnesium build is superb but don't scrape it against metal or the paint will chip (had a little accident in the car where a metal lens went flying and took a few tiny metal chunks & scrapes out of the curved back of the camera.. and at the bottom of the camera you see a little of this wear and tear from tripod use. Though I saw that on the C300 too, here the metal doesn't seem to be an anodized but merely powder coated?) 
  • Long battery life, 2+ hours per U60 in 4K?  3 60 batteries will last you all day. The one that it comes with will get you 1hr in normal use
  • GREAT Smart Grip… just a fantastic design for multiple angles especially considering it is in the box. The little rabbit tail integrated in it really is fantastic and let's you use the grip in a multitude of ways.  
  • Nice EVF/Monitor - sharp and very bright. It is not OLED as originally reported but does look great. 
  • Ugly big (albeit functional) loupe. The EVF is actually a 3.5" monitor with wth a loupe attached. The monitor is plastic but of high quality and anti reflective. But the loupe, while serviceable, is too damn big. They should make it smaller like a Zacuto Z-Finder. 
  • Many shooting options. Very easy to shoot by handle (low), high (over your head), against your chest (pseudo C300 style but better stabilized). If you're coming from a C300, you'll actually be able to shoot more ways than you could without a rig before thanks to the movable arm and grip and rounded back with pad. Far easier to prop against your body and stabilize. 

RIGGING AND BALANCE

THE FS7 is not great shooting from the shoulder however. This is advertised as a shoulder cam but it's really not at all great at it, at least not out it the box.  The included shoulder “pad" is too small, and center of gravity in the wrong place relative to the pad. You feel horribly cramped as a result and your right hand shoulders most of the weight. You can shoot like this certainly (which is nice, not needing a rig) but only in very short spurts. So what do you do?

The solution without going to a large heavy rig like some cameras (C300!) is to augment with a pad and a longer rod, and extend the provided grip arm. The EVF won’t go back enough on the included rod to get to that preferred style of shoulder mount. It needs a longer rod and a better shoulder pad (like the Zacuto QR pad - around $350 at B&H). However, with the camera over the shoulder fully (possible with the Zacuto pad) and the EVF way back on a longer rod, it becomes far more comfortable to shoot shoulder mounted. See images to the right - it's beautiful this way, though I'd still like a slightly longer arm for the grip. Luckily there's an answer for that.

One thing I noticed is even set up like this with the shoulder pad and longer rod, the arm coming to the smart grip is still about two inches too short in some shooting scenarios. This is even while fully extended. I'm purchased the Vocas VODSSHGE 66mm Double Sided Short Handgrip Extender ($128.50 at B&H) to solve this problem. (You can see it mounted in Dan's video below.) you can stay mounted to the camera, and you can still adjust the length of the arm with the screws provided by Sony. It just gives you a much, much needed extension in the Sony arm which I feel is just too short for true balanced shoulder use. In practice the Vocas extender plus the Zacuto pad really helps, but the balance is still a little off. More to come on that as I work perhaps on something even better.

Much thanks to Dan Chung of Newsshooter.com for these tips on balance by the way.  

UPDATE: December 3, 2014: Zacuto has released a first look video featuring our very own FS7. It shows many existing and upcoming rigging options, many of which are quite reasonable. Watch here:

 

How I shot the video above - LENSES AND CODEC

I used the Sony Zeiss 24-70 F4 OSS (FE glass, native) with ND applied most the whole time.

I highly recommend you read Dan Chung's new article about using Sony native FE, E and A mount lenses here: 

http://www.newsshooter.com/2014/11/09/lens-solutions-for-the-sony-fs7-part-1-the-joy-of-a-mount-and-the-pain-of-e-mount/

Most shots in the video are 4K at 45FPS S&Q XAVC-I 422 10-bit. You get a full sensor scan with no binning or line skipping up to 60p even in 4k. I saw no evidence of moire, aliasing or highlight aliasing in HD or 4K. I didn't test HD HFR extensively (up to 180 fps) but what little I did looked quite good.

Of course online compression will hurt the footage - DON'T JUDGE BASED ON YOUTUBE COMPRESSION ALONE!) I stabilized some of the shots, as the shoulder mounting isn’t perfectly stable obviously (but gives you a fighting chance). Drone footage is a GoPro Hero 4 Black with Polar Pro ND filmed at 4k/30. It's a much nicer image compared to the Hero 3 black and 2.7k, and that's a nice camera!

YouTube compresses these things horribly. I had to compress it down to post it too. But if you want to download a version in 4K (40Mbit) you can, from Vimeo.

Compared to the Canon Cinema EOS C300 (and C100)

Compared to the C300, this camera is very similar in build and overall quality. The proper EVF is missed, but you're getting compensating useful factors like built in XLR and internal scratch mic in the body of the FS7, never mind the fabulous grip.

The image out of the box on the C300 looks more filmic I think. You can hand it to any decent shooter in Cinema Lock and say "keep your highlights under 100" and they'll do fine. This is one reason as a producer I'll still tend to hire people with C300s as they are prevalent and look great. This is especially true if I really don't have to manipulate the footage. 

But there's so much more image to work with on the FS7 with its up to 600mbit 422 10 bit 4k internal recording the you can go crazy in post without it breaking up. And you have a lot more latitude in the highs, and it's easy to see.  You can really push and pull the footage to your heart's content with no penalty, which means you can kind of get any look you want from it. This was not possible on the C300 (much less the C100 in AVCHD).

There's a ton of detail and highlight detail here. It just needs a creative colorist (or a nice LUT or plugin like FilmConvert) to make it sing. And properly exposing the SLog3 is essential. Which means your whites peak out just over the midline on your waveform monitor according to Sony, though this flies in the face of common sense and may be wrong. See below for more info under "exposing Slog3."

Bottom line: the FS7 is essentially a Sony F5 with 4K for $8,000. Think about that. (And it has the exact same sensor and processing as the F5). The F55 (with built in 4K XAVC-I recording) has a different color filter array and a global shutter so it's different of course, but the underlying technology is the same. The F55 is over 30k ready to shoot and the F5 close to $20k. Yet this camera does all of that with the same sensor for $8k. It's perfect for a producer/editor like me who doesn't shoot as often as I used to because the price is so low relative to what you get. 

Does the C300 (which I sold for a good price) look any worse in HD? Nope. If anything it looks a little more film like to me (grain, color, that "gauze of film" that you need to work out of a Sony F cam is just naturally inherent in the Canon Cinema EOS series). I will keep hiring them and loving the footage out of them. The FS7 just brings a higher end option for post down to the mid level, which is nice.  

There's more comparing the C300 directly to this camera (and the Sony A7S) near the end of this post, and further thoughts in our newest post about the FS7 and the accompanying film, Snowlight.

How I shot - Exposing Slog3

All these shots were filmed in Slog3, custom, matrix off and NR at medium. I exposed white generally at around 63% as per Sony (61% for 100ire/90% white, 41% for 20ire/18% grey). You can go way over that, but you risk making the shadows noisy. Note this is the exact opposite of the A7S which you want to overexpose (but under 100 IRE) in Slog2. I think the A7S can perfectly match this camera, but it tends to tint green which has to be graded out in post. 

Note that there's no exact science to this. Some still ETTR. Joe Simon of the Delivery Men is doing some further tests (better than mine) that I will link here when released. 

[UPDATE] While I have been told I do a decent job with color, I am by no means a colorist (I don't even use Resolve extensively yet and do everything in the NLE). I have heard from a few people that the best way to grade with Slog3 and this camera is to shoot the Slog, then apply Sony's LUT on top. THEN you add your looks to taste - for example, layer FilmConvert (using a standard profile) on top of that.  I'm still concerned how much latitude that will remove for me, if any, but I need to just try it. Just a different way of thinking for me.

One of our commenters thoughtfully provided a link to Sony's LUTs here, which I will try someday soon: http://community.sony.com/sony...

Note: on 12/17/14 Sony released the V1.10 firmware that adds slog2 as an option. This is great for high contrast shoots.

Issues So Far: A Bunch of Problems & Workarounds with 1.1 Firmware, AND THE BANE OF LENS ADAPTERS

I and other new FS7 early adopters have been seeing some odd issues cropping up. There's quite a few little issues that are indicative of a first firmware release. Most have workarounds, and Sony already has publicly stated they have another release scheduled for Dec 14/Jan 2015 timeframe that adds, among other things, DCI 4k internally for XAVC-I and Slog2 in addition to the existing Slog3. Sony released a V1.01 firmware on 11/18/14 or so that "Overall operation performance has been improved." It also "Activates the support of the optional extension box XDCA-FS7. A PXW-FS7 which has V1.00 installed cannot use the XDCA-FS7." 

Well, I can report that the update may have fixed bugs, but nothing has really changed operationally. I'm not sure what they did, perhaps solve the occasional lockup issue people were having? It did not address the slow menus or the dial issues. While it's definitely great they are issuing bug fixes so soon after release, feature updates and changes to quirky behavior will have to come later.

Note - Sony has released a manual addendum on 12/1/14 which clarifies some of these items.

Note 2 - 12/15/14 - Sony just posted this on their forums (of which I am a member): "

"The FS7 team plans to... deploy other firmware updates to add functionality and improve the operability."

Sony also released a V1.1 firmware on 12/17/14  that addresses the following. Things are improving:

What’s new in firmware Version 1.10 

  • Support for “S-log2 Gamma/S-Gamut” is added to the Cine IE Menu. 

  • The “sensitivity” of the Iris aperture setting using the “Iris dial” and the “assignable dial” is improved and optimized for various lenses or adapters. 

  • “Video Signal Monitor” display enabled condition. 

    1. The default value of “Output Format” on the Video Menu is changed.
      This will allow “Video Signal Monitor” display without changing the “Output Format” from the default setting. 

    2. Video Signal Monitor is display in the SDI and viewfinder while in “Edge Crop mode” (Except, when the “Rec Format” or the “RAW Output Format” is set to 4096x2160 or 2048x1080; in this case the VSM will only display on SDI, not on the viewfinder. 

  • “Zoom Ring Direction setting” will be retained after Power OFF 

    (Not explicitly mentioned but I've noticed is improved stability again.) 

My initial experiences:

  • Magenta WB preset issue still seems to be there from what I can tell, but I am only testing for 30 mins. 
  • Iris is faster, but not super fast. .5 stops per rotation/spin on the grip dial. So 2 spins per stop. They need to add acceleration but this is an improvement for sure. (tested on EF 24-104 w/Metabones Ultra in Advanced). 
  • They made some fixes so you don't keep losing the waveform or have to go through contortions to get it to come on: it kind of forces video output to 1080 for you, and edge crop mode works now with the waveform on. 
  • Slog2 is now available in Cine EI and Custom.
  • No waveform still in the viewfinder if you have independent LUTs on in Cine EI, but in V1.1 you can get a waveform on SD2. 
  • That's all I found. Much more still to come but at least they are working quickly.

Here are some of the gotchas so far, which generally apply equally to the V1.0 and V1.01 firmwares, except where noted: 

1. Missing Waveform Monitor ("Video Signal Monitor"):  [UPDATE: SOLVED, YET ANNOYING] I couldn't get the Waveform/Histogram/Vectorscope to show up initially. Many could not. The solution Sony says (and this is not in the manual), is to ensure your output video via SDI and HDMI is set to 1080 when recording internally to 4k. You can't have 4k output via HDMI on at all.  Let me be more specific about this. The 1080 must be PsF - SDI only. If you turn on HDMI at all, even 1080P via HDMI only, oddly you still won't see waveforms.

[Note: Firmware 2.0 made the proper settings to show the waveform the default setting, and persistent, so most people should not see this issue any longer. But the restrictions remain.]

Sony Engineering had this to say regarding waveform, and it's exactly, precisely correct

"Currently, you do not have a waveform monitor unless you have the video output set to "SDI=1920/HDMI = "----" [you can still record to the cards in 4k when you have the output setting this way -Paul].  It seems to be a limitation in the character generator "pop-up" displays. This has been passed on to our engineering staff and hopefully they there can be a software update to change this behavior."

And you know what? This worked for me, and it was repeatable. Sony in fact makes this the default mode now as of V1.10 firmware when switching to 4K, so you can in fact see the waveform. (Before in V1.0 and V1.01 firmwares, it would default to 4K when you switched to 4K recording modes, killing your waveform.)

For me - the Sony solution/ behavior worked and was repeatable, even after a reset, but you must be precise. HDMI can't be set to 4k. Ideally, it needs to be OFF. 

Your two SDIs will still output however, 1080PsF via both ports, even while you record 4k internally. SDI1 is always clean and SDI2 optionally shows the VF overlay. 

Note that in Cine mode, if you use independent LUTs, you cannot use the waveform in the viewfinder. And I'm not sure Sony can add it; it wasn't added in Firmware V1.10 but it did add one thing: it added the waveform on the SD2 output. Not that that helps in the viewfinder, and just so you know - that waveform shown in SD2 does not respect any LUT added; it only shows the raw Slog3 waveform. Weird.

Alister Chapman dug into this and actually has an explanation but I can't find it now nor can I clearly articulate it to you. It has something to do with display processors and output busses. There are two, and they can either do 2 HD or one 4k. And the internal recording is tied to whatever SD1 is set to. LUT processing, distortion correction, and video signal monitoring all run off these display processors. So you can have independent LUTS (e.g., ON on SDI2 and/or waveform, off on SDI1/internal), waveforms (same), lens distortion correction, but not more than one at a time - UNLESS you turn them all on or all off.

TL;DR: keep your outputs to 1080 (internal recording can still be 4K) if you want independent anything, and you can't mix LUT processing with the waveform, nor can you mix LUT or waveform with lens distortion correction. If you want to also output 4K while recording it internally, forget using LUTS or waveforms. The F5 and F55 have an extra sub bus/processor that gets around this limitation that the FS7 apparently does not have. Sony may be able to work around this, but they are not sure yet.

2. Nothing is coming out of the HDMI port!  Well, it is. But like the F5 and F55, it outputs an odd 24p that some monitors cannot see. So you must monitor to SDI as above to see an image out of many monitors. 

Keep in mind you can output 4k over HDMI while recording 4k, and many monitors that will take the 24P HDMI but not all. And in any case, if you use HDMI out and it's turned on, you don't get any waveforms or independent LUTS in any recording mode a without outputting 1080i only to SDI.

It's all a bit messy right now, and the manual is completely useless on these issues. I just don't get this one. 

3. Can't use VF LUT without also burning it into the footage on the card: [UPDATE: SOLVED] I also could not get LUTs to work in CineEI mode such that it only shows on the viewfinder or SDI2. Right now it's linked to SD1 which is also linked to internal recording Sony is trying to figure out why for me. They claim it should work but it doesn't:

"... about the MLUT is also related to the video output menu. If you drop down to 1080, then you will have independent control of each of the possible LUT destinations.  This too has been forwarded to our engineering staff for correction.  This can be corrected with a software update."

Well, this did not work for me. Try and try as I might... I could not get this to work. Until I discovered that having "distortion compensation" ON in the lens menu under System causes the LUTs to be frozen out. Shut that off, and you are good to go.... You get independent LUTs. But you lose waveform. Go figure.

Again, Firmware V1.1 did not solve the loss of the waveform in the viewfinder when you put on independent LUTS. 

4. Cant load your own LUTS [NEW] Great. Get that to work and try to load your own LUTs, and nothing works. Can't find them on the card. Huh? I have not tried this yet but a very helpful user on DvxUser forums has a solution:

"The FS7 should be looking for user LUTs on the SD card, in this location ... Private > Sony > PRO > CAMERA > PXW-FS7

However, when you put LUTs in that folder, nothing shows up in the file list when you try to use the Load LUT option. 

*What you need to do is create a "PMWF55_F5" folder* next to the "PXW-FS7" folder on the SD card, and put your LUTs in there.

The next thing to be mindful of is that the file list will show copies of your LUT files that start with "._", don't try to load these, it will just fail. You need to scroll down the list and find the files that lack the "._" beginning. I'm not sure if this is an artifact of transferring the files using OS X or if it pops up on Windows, too."

Thats apparently a successful workaround. I'll try it myself too soon to test.

5. Metabones EF Smart/Ultra Adapter Woes? Finally FIXED - June, 2015

You may recall for months that the aperture changing speed on the FS7 started off incredibly slow. It them moved to "eh, it's ok", but still quite slow. I use EF glass almost exclusively on my FS7, as it lets me use widely accepted EF glass, and also gives me a +1 stop advantage in light gathering plus a full frame aesthetic. I also use Sony Zeiss FE glass, but mostly for my A7S for stills and as a B-camera lens for autofocus, gimbal use and so on.

Sony improved the speed significantly in later FS7 firmwares, but never fully. The dials were still slow when changing F-stops on lenses.

As of June 6, 2015, native glass on the FS7 still changes aperture slowly. However with the just released in June, 2015 0.41 firmware for the Metabones Smart IV and Ultra Speedbooster adapters, this has changed. Previously, "green" mode changed the f-stop quickly, but caused unusable flashes to appear. To get rid of the flashes, you had to switch to advanced mode... but then it took many turns of the dial(s) to effect a change.

With this latest firmware, this issue is finally solved!! You can now on the FS7 (and A7S) use "green" mode, and get your rapidly changing f-stops, but see no flashes of light. The turn is just about 1:1 to iris blade changes. This is HUGE and much needed. 

You can download the firmware here, and the full list of changes is here:

  • Name: Firmware update V0.41 for EF-E Speed Booster ULTRA
  • Release date: 1 Jun 2015
  • Benefits and improvements:
    • User may choose between lens OIS and IBIS using the lens' IS switch (except for some Tamron lenses). If the lens' IS switch is ON, lens OIS is used and IBIS is turned off automatically. If lens' IS switch is OFF, IBIS is used instead. To turn off all IS, hold down the WO button on the adapter while switching the lens' IS to the OFF position.

    • IS is always turned on during magnified focus assist for ease of manual focusing

    • Added autofocus support for some legacy lenses on A7 series

    • Eliminated iris flicker when opening up the iris from a slower aperture to a faster aperture in Green mode on FS series, NEX-VG series and A7 series in movie mode.

    • Eliminated iris tick noise while zooming a variable aperture zoom lens in Green mode

7. Magenta Whites in Custom mode. [FIXED V2.0] - 

Sony fixed this bug in V2.0 of the firmware.

Key Takeaways from Issues/Quirks Discovered

There's a few big takeaways here. For one, the FS7 can't show waveforms or independent LUTs if your SDI output format is anything but HD, and HDMI is off. (Sony changed the defaults in FW 1.1 to enforce this for waveform). You can still record in 4K, and in any framerate, but your output via the ports must be in HD. If you want to output 4K (to monitor in 4k or record externally in it) you will lose independent (i.e, non-burnable) LUTS and waveforms. And if you change to and from different 4K frame rates, HDMI may be turned back on and make you lose waveform again. There is a method to this madness though: SDI ONLY outputting if you want waveforms or independent LUTS.

The second one is Metabones adapters give different results depending on your EF specific lens, and need to be turned the advanced mode every time it's used. I've only tested three Canon EF lenses, and three Rokinon lenses which don't need a smart adapter anyway. And the dial issue above compounds the adapter issue, though Sony has improved it and is committed to making it even better. But I can confidently say at this point that MY EF glass works fine. That is, I can change the iris reasonably fast and, use IS. How fast you can change the iris is another story however. 

Another major takeaway I think that should be obvious by now, is that the firmware for the camera was not ready for release yet. V1.01 and V1.10 likely addressed many bugs (the camera doesn't seem to oddly lock up anymore thankfully,) but it's still got a way to go, at least in the area of "polish". "Cannot execute" for example is a useless error, and still prevalent with the V1.10 firmware.  You have a nearly useless custom WB in Custom with the magenta cast. And the user manual is similarly poorly completed, with many critical operational functions and reasons for errors (see above) not explained in it at all. Sony has released addendum but this still needs to be fixed. And you cannot use HDMI at all in 4K while using waveform and other critical parts of the camera. 

I am sure all these issues will be fixed though additional future firmware updates, but this camera has more than its share of early adopter woes compared to any other camera I've purchased in the last five years. 

REBATES

If you read Dan Chung's FS7 Metabones article, you will note that the Mark II version of the Metabones EF-NEX adapter showed the least amount of issues. And Sony is giving it away. If you want yours and are a FS7 owner, the rebate is here.

My conclusions (so far)

In conclusion (so far) there are always, always firmware and software issues with any new major release of complex electronics like the FS7 (or my iPhone!). The early adopters take the pain so you can all have a better experience. You can definitely shoot some great stuff with this camera - its core technology and build is fantastic - but you must know what you're getting into,  and how to work around the handling and settings quirks. And you're going to have some patients as you learn to grade the footage, and deal with some of these issues, and perhaps deal with having to reboot the camera. It's like dealing with an early Red all over again.

I am so far, in this very early going quite happy with the camera, even with its quirks. It's extremely well built (especially considering its price), nimble for many different types of shooting, lasts a long time on batteries, and is essentially a Sony F5 (with the new official 4K firmware) in a box that costs half what the Canon C300 did when it was released. And 1/3 the cost of a F55 for the same image. One third! For far, far better specs and technical capabilities than the C300/C100. It has a nice control layout and is nice to handle.

Is it perfect? No, no cameras is. The smart grip, as much as I love it, sits on an arm that is in many respects too short and needs to be tightened in place with a coin or screwdriver. You wonder how long it will last, or when the coiled cord (not removable) leading up to the grip will get pinched or wrecked. 

But the body is otherwise phenomenal, center of gravity quirks aside, and CAN indeed be used in many different types of shooting scenarios by one person without an AC. It has a rock solid professional high bitrate codec, and a sensor that gives 14+ true, usable stops of dynamic range in 10 bit 4:2:2, right on board.  It's a stunning achievement for the cost - giving you quality that essentially matches the F55 which is being used on current feature films and TV shows, while remaining nimble for the single shooter. It's just very new, so it needs some little tweaks like any camera does. Between the Sony A7S (itself a pretty amazing achievement) and this camera, we have what we only dreamed of a few years ago.

Now if only Sony can make things easier, more clearly defined, and more stable, this will be a long term winner. They have indicated that they are indeed making a punch list and the #1 priority is the "Voice of the Customer" or VOC. They've already begun to make improvements with the first batch of firmware. I'm hopeful. 

Other people's thoughts ABOUT USING THE FS7 (& THEIR VIDEO)

Since I wrote this post a few weeks ago, lots of people have spoken or written about this camera now that it is starting be released in greater numbers.

First, we have an entirely new post (and accompanying film "Snowlight") about this camera. There's a large new section with DP's thoughts about shooting Cine EI vs Custom, colors, and how it matches the F5. Make sure you watch and read.

Secondly, you will want to listen to episode 47 of the Go Creative Show Podcast (which I created as NeedCreative years ago) - Ben has Dan Chung on and talks in detail about using this camera. His thoughts essentially mirror mine - and he shoots more than I do. Great stuff and some nice reporting in there about InterBEE 2014 (Japan's NAB, essentially).

Third, read Joe Simon's outstanding C300 vs FS7 post and video here.

Fourth, this is a great blog and test from Keyframe in Italy. This is a side by side look at some C300, Sony A7S, and Sony FS7 footage. I owned the C300 for years and use the A7S as a B-Cam to the FS7. This is very interesting; see the video below and read the blog post here.

There's a lot of sample footage being posted now as well. To be honest, much of it is poor as it takes a lot of knowledge to properly expose and, more importantly grade, Slog3 properly. And there's lots of conflicting information out there so even I don't fully grasp it all yet. As the video just above shows, if you do it right the image can look fantastic. Sony even shows that when their LC (low contrast) LUT is used, the Slog 3 image can look identical more or less to the Arri Alexa. Unfortunately, most are not using this LUT yet. No even me. I will try to do so on my next batch of footage.

That said, if you want to see check out this vimeo group, or this one here.

You can also watch Philip Bloom's 50 minute review of the FS7 here, which is more or less spot on:

 

More to come! 

I will blog further about this camera as I continue to use it. I may add to this post, or (likely) add another that talks more about real world use and image than all this technical stuff. Not sure, but I'll be clear when I do.

And this is just a quick little hour long test. It's nothing. I will soon get some of Boston's best independent filmmakers together to shoot something far nicer...

I also have a ton of other stuff to write about. A year's worth of feedback from the Sony A7s and Panasonic GH4 (and why I am selling it), to the "new" late 2013 Mac Pro, the new iPad Air 2, software, new jobs I worked on, all kinds of stuff. I will back fill over time with some new insights on some old topics as I also update you on new items such as this camera. More to come.

POST CHANGE LOG

Updated 6/6/15 - With information about the recent Firmware 2.0 fixes and Metabones Adapter firmware updates that fixed the slow iris wheel issues.

Previously added (in order from newest to oldest):

  • Info about the new V 1.10 firmware information from Sony and practical tests with it
  • Manual addendum from Sony, and Sony's comments on the iris dial.
  • Zacuto rigging video which used our very own FS7.
  • New Snowlight film and real-world experience blog post
  • FS7 Episode of the GoCreative Podcast
  • A link to a C300 comparison
  • Link to the Metabones rebate, also restructured the article a bit.
  • Sony and Metabones firmware update info
  • Dan Chung's full Metabones test
  • Some more LUT information - for grading on your computer - thanks to input from our commenters
  • Info about some new HDMI quirks
  • Info about adding your own LUTs,
  • Video about iris from Dan Chung, much more Metabones info and shoulder mount photos,
  • More about the dial issue
  • Fixes to common problems
  • More commentary.

I will continue to update this post as new information comes in.

ETHICS STATEMENT

Please note that this is a corporate blog, and does not make money by itself nor is this post sponsored in any way. The blog section of our site is rarely updated due to working on, well, work. But sharing is caring, which is why this information is posted. Many are still waiting for their camera so we are trying to help. The camera was paid for completely on our own, and nothing was provided for free.