Snowlight: Our New Sony FS7 Test Film & Real-World Thoughts

Watch HD on Vimeo above. You can also stream from Youtube in 4K here and download a 4K version from Vimeo.


After running a lot around with the Sony PXW-FS7 Camera and documenting it’s handful of odd known quirks and issues in this super long post, Emmy award-winning cinematographer and frequent collaborator Rick Macomber and myself decided to get together for a few hours to shoot another test film. The results are above, and it’s a little more creative this time – with an actress and a poem written for it by yours truly.  You can watch above in 4K. More technical details are below.

Since I will often give this camera to shooters for our productions, I wanted to see how it would work in the practical real world for someone that deals with cameras all the time. I also wanted to find out how well I could color grade the footage not in Resolve, which I am still learning, but within the Final Cut Pro X NLE.

Because we spent so much time learning the camera and trying sort-of-successfully to balance the Sony A7S asked on a brand new BirdyCam 2 gimbal from Varavon, once we got on location we quickly lost our light. This piece is, as a result, shot in less than an hour.

IMPORTANT NOTE: 

After you read this catch our latest article "The FS7 IRL: 5 Months Later" posted in April of 2015 and updated in June, 2015 and again in March of 2016. You can see how the camera fares after some months of use.

About the Story

I was tasked a day before we shot to come up with the poem that we could shoot to. The poem, entitled Snowlight, is written for a female protagonist. It can have many meanings, but essentially the idea is that the winter is cold, and dark, and beautiful all the same time.  And so is love, which of course conquers all. It's all a bit Robert Frostian with some good ole fashioned themes of love and loss tossed in. You can infer whatever you else you want from the content of the poem, (text at the end of this post,) and the attached imagery. That brings a whole other level to things which is what art is all about. 

I told Rick what the poem was ahead of time so that he could visualize what shots he wanted. As most news based cameramen do, he was able to quickly build a shot list in his head and rattle it off on location within the extremely short amount of time we had.

When we met the beautiful Kiva Kuan Liu in our hour or so of pre-production, she performed the voice over. Eventually, she will translate the poem into her native Mandarin Chinese, which may flow better. We will upload as an alternative version.

Technical Details

This piece was shot primarily at 4K (Ultra HD), 60fps, using the XAVC-I CODEC at 600Mbit 4:2:2 10bit.  It plays at 24fps in the piece.  The camera was set to shoot Slog3 gamma on Custom mode, with noise reduction set to medium. Matix was off. No other adjustments were made.

Rick tried to keep his 90% whites around 70 IRE, but mostly did it by eye in the end. Read on to learn more.

The lens was a Canon 24-105L F4 IS lens on a Metabones Ultra Speedbooster adapter. (Note the chromatic aberration noticeable in the trees in the first shot which likely was a result of shooting at 24mm; it shows nowhere else)

The camera was set up with a longer 10” rod on a Zacuto clamp (both far superior to the included rod and clamp), with a Zacuto QR plate attached to the bottom. The QR plate works with Kessler’s outstanding Kwik release receivers and that is how we used it. For shoulder shooting, we attached (to that same plate) the Zacuto QR shoulder pad (which is outstanding). The Sony grip and arm were attached to a Vocas extender. Rick said the camera felt quite balanced in this manner, though because he spent so much time going back and forth on sticks (with the drop in Kessler Kwik system), he would have rather used just the built in shoulder pad so he could move quicker. The pad was really designed for longer use scenarios, and this was not one of them, but I wanted him to test it anyway. Read this page for more details on these add ons.

There are also two 1080P Sony A7S shots in there from the Varavon BirdyCam 2 gimbal, which was unfortunately set to 24fps by me in the rush and made most of the resulting shots useless. I slowed them down using FCPX but it's a little obvious. We also found the autofocus on the Sony 24-70 Zeiss FE lens attached was much too slow (AF wise) to use wide open (hey, it was a test), so lesson learned – stop down; the A7S certainly has the light sensitivity for it. We also really need to properly tune the gimbal, and Varavon has offered to help. More info on that will be coming in a later post.

The final drone shot is in 4K at 30fps conformed to 24fps, taken from a GoPro Hero 4 Black camera mounted to a DJI Phantom 2 drone on a H3-3D gimbal. It was quite dark when taken, past sunset. Neat Video noise reduction was applied to the final shot as a result. No ND filter was used due to the light. I am quite impressed with the result, I must say, for only having 5 minutes to set up and shoot it.

The FS7 used internal scratch sound, and foley effect were used for everything except the footsteps, which were taken from both camera’s internal microphones and slowed down to match the pace of the feet in slow motion.

The entire piece was edited on a late 2013 “new” Mac Pro 8 core dual D700 computer with 64GB of RAM. The entire piece is graded using FilmConvert (which I used on most projects), with the official Sony Slog3 REC709-LC Look (.cube LUT) applied as a base on an adjustment layer using the LUT Utility plugin from Color Grading Central (which was free today 12/1/14, normally $29.) If set to “best performance”, generally everything ran smoothly even with all the filters applied.

Note – the internal built-in LUTs available in FCPX 10.1.4 don’t look right because I believe they do not respect the necessary order of operations.  If you apply LUT Utility to a clip, it always applies itself after all other corrections are made. This can result in some bizarre color.  You want to apply it to an adjustment layer (I used Alex 4D’s free effect for this) as the layer always applies first, as a base. I have found however that this can make FCPX crash a lot with an "undo error" if you do a lot of manipulations in FilmConvert, so Davinci Resolve really is a better choice once you have everything locked down in your edit. DaVinci Resolve is free for even 4K use, and while you don't get noise reduction in the free version, Neat Video is arguably better and can be added to Davinci Lite for only $200.

Filmconvert has Sony A7S profiles loaded into it (which seem like they are essentially LUTS), but it does not have FS7 or F5/F55 Slog3 settings. You basically can’t accurately use it without applying a base LUT first, which is what I did here. Filmconvert was set to “standard” when using the LUT.

The Experience

Rick generally thought the camera (as kitted out with extras) was extremely light and fairly well balanced on the shoulder. (This will get even better from Zacuto.. you can now watch our very own FS7 camera in action in their video about rigging the FS7 with the Next Generation Recoil kit, located to the right or just click here.)

Rick thought the build quality of the camera with it’s dust resistant buttons and magnesium body panels to be on par with the C300 from Canon, and I agree.

Rick did not like the EVF loupe at all. It kept fogging up for one (I applied some fog eliminator onto the lens after the shoot). Also, due to limitations in the FS7 firmware, you cannot shoot with a VF LUT (still recording Slog to the cards) and keep your waveform on the screen. There is also no noise reduction in CineEI mode currently, though the F5/F55 are getting this in the V5 firmware in December of 2014, so we are hopeful it makes it to the FS7 eventually.

What this meant, essentially, is:

  • If you want to shoot with a monitoring LUT but have no waveform, be Cine EI mode
  • If you want to shoot with a monitoring LUT and have a waveform on, be in Cine EI mode but you must burn the LUT into your footage on your cards
  • If you want to shoot with a waveform and have in camera noise reduction, be in Custom mode (slog3 gamma, presumed sgamut3.cine, matrix off, but have no LUT.

I know. It’s very weird. Rick found without a LUT it was extremely tough to judge critical focus. The C300's C-Log isn't really a true log profile so it's far easier to use unaided vs Slog or Log-C from the Alexa.

I had the peaking set relatively non-aggressively, which compounded matters - and this has been fixed.  Rick wasn’t even sure he was focusing correctly using the milky white Slog 3 image in the VF, but it turns out he was spot on. The fog compounded the matter.

The solution here for critical focus is to:

  1. Learn how to deal with it and tune your peaking the best you can; (I am used to this shooting Slog2 with no LUT on the A7s for example).
  2. Attach an external monitor or EVF that has built in LUT capability, like the upcoming Atomos Shogun recorder or the very expensive but very nice Zacuto Gratical HD EVF
  3. Shoot with a REC709 LUT in Cine EI, expose one stop higher, and just eyeball it or use your zebras set to 90. Note currently on all F cameras you lose noise reduction in camera, which as we see is a pretty big benefit. NR is coming to the F5 & F55 in Cine mode later this month, however the FS7 may or may not ever get that We will see. 

I prefer Log shooting most of the time unless I am passing the footage off to another production who doesn't want it. Thusly, for me, for now, it’s 1) or 2) with a monitor if I am not running and gunning.  Focus is hard on this camera as the firmware is currently set, but it's hardly impossible.

I have found that shooting a LUT with Cine EI looks pretty much noise free if you are shooting a low contrast scene or a well lit scene, so it's always an option. More on image and some other DP's thoughts below. There's no clear winner here. 

Rick also had issues with the Metabones Ultra EF to E mount adapter. It worked (providing a Full Frame FOV and an extra stop of light along with IS), but the iris changes were way too slow for running around and we also had issues getting it to stay in “advanced mode” so changes in IRIS would not flash the screen as the blades momentarily went wide open.  Your best bet for now is to use manual glass on this camera like the excellent yet cheap Rokinon Primes until Metabones and Sony resolve this. I know they have heard our cries for help, and have since stated in their forums they intend to fix the slow iris - and indeed did make some improvements. (See our first FS7 post for a quote from Sony, as well as a report on how the V1.10 firmware released on 12/17/14 made things better/usable, but there's still work to be done.)

The image

I am no professional colorist, and I am still learning Resolve. So I did all my CC inside of the FCPX NLE. This is not ideal, apparently, as there were a lot of odd slowdowns and pauses when I had multiple effects and the LUT turned on with the 4K footage. But it is quite amazing sometimes what you can create from 60 eight (8) megapixel stills every second:

A 4K still, edited in Photoshop, from the source Slog file.

A 4K still, edited in Photoshop, from the source Slog file.

The dynamic range, the roll off in the highlight, the skin tones, the detail of course... everything looks amazing. [UPDATE: it keeps getting better. I received an Atomos Shogun in late December 2014 to use with the Sony A7S. The images are very very good in 4k.  Very similar to the Canon C500 in 4k. But the FS7 is even better. There's more detail preserved in 4k, and I can definitely see more range in the highlights. The images out of the FS7 can truly be glorious.)

Why Bit Depth Matters: From Larry Jordan - one of the primary reasons I upgraded

Why Bit Depth Matters: From Larry Jordan - one of the primary reasons I upgraded

I will learn Resolve soon because proper color correction is absolutely essential with this camera. Generally, Rick shot proper exposure per Sony’s recommended standards (90% white set at 61 IRE for Slog3) and in those cases the shots were almost devoid of noise. When he shot overexposed, that was also not a problem.

Compared to the Canon C100/300 and even the Sony A7S (also 8-bit), the FS7’s XAVC-I 422 10 bit high bitrate footage is a revelation for color grading. You can do a TON with the footage without having it break up or start to posterize (banding).

Keep in mind that 4:2:2 color makes a bigger difference vs 4:2:0 in artifact reduction vs 8 bit and 10 bit. For example, the A7S has far fewer artifacts in post when shot externally to a recorder at 4:2:2, even though it is still only 8 bit out of the HDMI. But once you are at 4:2:2, yes, more bits are better.

Overall, considering we lost the light within 20 minutes (and therefore the scene became very flat), I see some very nice shots in there with quite pleasing skin tones – which I added a warm tone to to taste, depending on the mood of the shot.

Slog 3, Cine EI, Noise: DPS WEIGH IN ON HOW TO GET THE BEST OUT OF IT

I have to admit, color correcting SLog3, for me, is a learning process still, and the only option until recently. (Slog2 was added as an option in Cine EI and Custom modes on 12/17/14 in the V1.10 firmware; Slog2 is better for highlights and Slog3 better for shadows, generally.) I wanted some shots to look warm, and some to be bluer, to show the contrast of emotions she has in the woods. But some shots still tend less blue and more green, which didn't look that way on my calibrated monitors, but did on my TV. 

I also found that with every shot, post LUT, I still had to add magenta to every shot. I later traced this to the fact that FilmConvert adds green for some reason at least in FCPX. If you use the Alexa LogC setting, you get no green but it crushes the blacks a bit. And just the LUT on shows no green tint.

In all cases, the key here to successful image and grading seems to be using a Sony LUT as a base (the LC one seems to be the most pleasing on skin tones), and exposing generally I’d say about 1.5 stops over. If you don't use the LUT, the nuances in color can be lost and your color can be all over the place, especially with critical skin tones. Visit this site and request the excellent F5/F55 exposure guide to help.. it really makes a difference, noise wise. The other thing that helps, is shooting Slog3 in custom mode. 

(Updated editor's note:) One thing that came up since I originally posted this, is that some claim shooting in Custom mode (to gain NR, ISO controls, custom WB) you can use the Slog3 gamma but it seems you lose the Sgamut3.Cine gamut. But when I shot in CineEI with the Sgamut3.cine gamut, then Custom Slog (matrix off), and applied the Sony LUT to both, at the same exposure or not the colors were identical to my eye and the RGB parade waveform. There are claims the LUT won't be correct in color or DR if you shoot slog in custom but they graded and looked exactly the same DR and color wise. The noise was the only issue, which muddied the image and skin tones even after applying NR in post. There technically, scientifically may be slight variances in color, but nothing I could actually see. But I can sure see the noise differences between the two modes.

There is a whole method to using Cine EI which involves noise reduction in post and so forth. It certainly gives you a nice monitoring LUT to aid in focusing and with clients on set. And you can effectively expose my eye or zebras here and it's easy. But there's a cost to this. In marginal light or high contrast situations, side by side testing showed the Cine EI to be a good bit noisier. (In good light or low contrast scenes both looked fine.) When I applied NR in post to the Cine EI image, the resultant image looked better than Custom... Until it moved. Then the in camera NR looked smoother, temporally - frame to frame. This is even though I used temporal correction in Neat Noise.  

There's a lot of technical mumbo jumbo going on here but as the video above shows, Custom Slog looks amazing with no apparent loss in DR if you shoot at the native ISO of 2000.  The higher ISO you shoot, the more compressing of your highlights you see - (this is also true if you bring up native 2000 Cine EI footage) - but we all knew that.

As of this writing, it seems that your choice for the best picture comes down to shooting with waveforms using Custom Slog3 with in camera NR on: but no monitoring LUT. This presents us with a bit of a quandary:

Your choice for easiest focus and exposure but more noise and a more difficult to fix picture is Cine EI, but the best overall picture, noise wise, seems to come from Slog3 in Custom. 

This will all change if NR is added to Cine EI mode. The F5/55 are getting just this setting in V5 of the firmware coming out later this month. I hope it'll trickle down to the FS7, so this discussion becomes largely moot. 

If you want to use it now, it's important to realize how Cine EI works. Whereas Custom mode is more like a traditional video camera with a LOG gamma (sort of like the C300), cine EI is like film. How does Cine EI work? 

Alister Chapman on the Sony Community boards stated:

In a nutshell, you select your chosen LUT in camera and apply it to the VF or HDMI/SDI2 output but NOT the internal rec/SDI1. Then at the native EI of 2000 expose so the image via the LUT looks correct. My recommendation for exposure is to use the 709(800) LUT as this provides the most accurate and simplest exposure levels.
Then in post apply the same LUT to your footage and the footage should look the same as when you shot it. Then you can grade the footage to tweak the images
If you want to alter your exposure mid point then you use a higher or lower EI, again exposing via the look of the LUT. Lowering the EI will raise the mid point, giving less headroom but more under exposure range. When you bring footage exposed with a low EI in to post, unless you have a LUT that includes exposure compensation then the footage will appear brighter than when shot. When grading this brighter footage you will be bringing your levels down (either via the grade or via the exposure compensated LUT) which results in less noise in the final image. For higher EI's the opposite happens, more headroom, less under exposure range, darker image in post, more noise in finished images.
In Adobe CC you can use the included Lumetri color correction filter to add the LUT. In Resolve you can add a LUT by right clicking on the clip when in the color room. [Editor's note - you can also use LUT Utility for FCPX as noted above.]

Still there are differing opinions. DP and good friend Mick Jones of Filthy Look Films in Sydney Austalia is an F55 owner and testing the FS7 currently. Mick has shot for the Discovery Channel, History Channel, Intel, Wrangler Jeans, and many more high profile international clients.

He had this to say:

"I have been in this conversation now for almost 2 years since I got my F55.  And it has been a roller coaster ride from Slog 2 Sgamut (back then there was NO cine EI mode unless you were shooting raw) to Slog 3 Sgamut Cine etc etc. Every step of the way has been a learning curve and testing period.  Trying to strike a balance between an image that I find appealing and a tech spec engineering approach that is deemed "the right way".
I have never been a paint by numbers shooter, I like to expose by eye where possible and approach the look and tone of a shot in an instinctive way.  I don't use grey cards.  Is the scene dark and moody, bright and cheerful, hot or cold? Those are the things that affect how I expose.  Not where middle grey falls in one portion of a scene.
When it comes to shooting Cine EI or Custom mode for internal recording of XAVC S log 3.  I prefer custom mode personally.  The reason being… I get the look I want out of it.  To be clear, the footage is going through a Davinci resolve colour grading process.   I like to use LUTS and usually 2 nodes to get my "one light".  And then grade to taste from there.  So it's not exactly super quick, but it takes out the push pull of noise reduction and where and how much to apply it in post.
I find the technical explanations on Cine EI workflow very counter productive to my visual style and way too involved for achieving the look I personally want in the timeframe I want.  Since the debate has opened up again I thought I'd test some shots Cine EI Vs Custom.
I keep hearing that shooting in Cine EI is the correct way to do it and that shooting custom Slog3 is "wrong".  I think find a workflow and camera setup that gets YOU the pictures YOU like the look of.  If that's Cine EI and applying NR in post then go for it.  It's subjective.
I don't care what anyone says.. noise reduction in post comes with a price to pay in skin tones and perceived sharpness and the overall tone of the image.
Here are two shots I just took (to the right; click for a larger image, and thumbnails to switch.) Both with a Film print emulation LUT applied.  Cine EI has some NR applied in Davinci. In which one does the subject look better to you guys? To me... hands down the Custom image shits on the Cine EI image... even after LUT and Noise Reduction.  In my opinion it is far more appealing of a look in Custom mode.  But some will say that Mathematically I'm getting less out of the image…but it just looks better to me!"

Philip Bloom, a UK based DP who is currently shooting an amazing looking documentary for CNN called "The Wonder List" said this on Twitter:

"[The] FS7 is a super good camera. I would [definitely] recommend if shooting in low light or super slow to use a hyper gamma and custom [mode]."

He also added later on Instagram:

"I have learnt much from the first shoot about its early firmware quirks, gotten round the Metabones issue (don't use green mode until firmware fixes it by then) and have now permanently replaced the stock loupe with the Zacuto pocket camera one. Sticky frame and a simple tie so I can easily take it off. No flip up for now but I believe they are working on it. Way better for handheld as it's much smaller so balance is better.... 

I hope Sony add noise reduction to Cine EI mode as its needed in low light and high frame rates. Otherwise I will stick to custom mode. Damn fine camera."

As above, you can use Slog in custom as well with NR.

Austin, TX DP Joe Simon of the Delivery Men had this to say (you can read his whole C300 vs FS7 post here):

"I tested both the EI mode and custom mode. I ended up shooting with custom mode as it allows you to use noise reduction while EI mode does not. I had the noise reduction set at medium and I didn’t see any softening of the image with this setting."

However, local Boston DP Ben Eckstein of Beryllium Pictures, who shoots national pieces for NBC and many well known international clients, takes a slightly different approach. He said on Twitter that that he shoots 50% of the time in Cine EI for log, and 50% of the time using Custom mode with Cine 1 for clients who do not want to heavily grade the footage.

"I don't find EI mode that noisy once graded if I'm around base ISO."

He exposes for 2000 ISO whenever possible and finds the noise not bad in Cine EI. He uses Cine because he prefers a LUT.

"Nice thing about the LUT is if it looks good... then you are usually in the right spot."

So the answer here is that there's no clear answer here at all. I tend towards Mick's and Joe Simon's thoughts for now (and my own shooting experience) that while focusing in Slog without a LUT is indeed not ideal (impossible without peaking on?), you get the best overall picture right now from it.

If Sony adds NR to Cine EI on the FS7, I will definitely move to that mode instead and use the LUT, as it is definitely easier to focus and judge exposure from just by looking at it. And if I am not moving around a lot, I'll use a monitor with a Slog LUT such as the upcoming Atomos Shogun I am getting primarily for our A7S. In the meantime? It depends on the shoot and the light. If its good light and/or high contrast I may try Cine EI to make things easier to focus on. Otherwise, I'll use Custom and I'll suffer a little for the best picture with minimal to no added NR in post for now.

Low Light?

We did not test low light in this shoot, but it seems on par with the C300. The C300 can go much higher in ISO (80,000 vs 16,000 on the FS7), but the noise is far worse and filled with color the higher you go. The FS7 is overall cleaner at the same ISO. Bottom line? It's very good, and significantly cleaner and better than the FS700, AJA CION, and even the URSA Mini 4.6K. I do wish you could crank it even higher and apply NR afterwards, but it's very good as is. Who shoots at 16,000 regularly anyway? Mostly specialized shots require such high gain.

Of course that's where the A7S is best: for those cases where you absolutely need the shot and have little light; you gain about two usable stops. I can’t wait for the Atomos Shogun to come out to get 4K out of the A7S, partly because of this. While I will hardly ever distribute in 4K, the 4K does allow some nice zooms/pans and crops with no detail penalty if viewed at 1080. Yeah it's only 8-bit, but it's a specialty/B camera. There are a couple of such shots in this piece.

Keep in mind in Cine EI mode, you are always shooting at 2000 ISO; it's locked. You adjust exposure in other ways and pull or push the footage in post as needed. The gain is essentially applied in post, but in this case it is done so post-compression.

More C300 comparisons

I get a lot of questions on this. This is a tough call. Rick Macomber who shot this isn't running out to get an FS7, for example (he is an owner/op of a Canon C300). Whereas I sold our C300 out to get this camera (it was technically a wash financially, though the C300 had at that point more than paid for itself.) So what gives?

The FS7 has many advantages over the C300, on paper. For example, the C300 isn't nearly as ready to go on the shoulder as this camera. It's internal 8 bit codec can fall apart if you really push it or have a lazy shooter (though it tends to look just fine in the end), and it won't do over 30fps in 1080p. And you can forget about 4k, of course. I should add that there's clearly more highlight information in the FS7 image too, with an often nicer rolloff. This is a key tenet of analog film, and subjectively I think the FS7, like the F5 & F55, do a better job in this than the current Canon Cinema EOS line. 

But the C300 still looks pretty damn great, I think. It's still a very in-demand camera for television shows worldwide. At Anticipate Media, I sure will still use shooters that own and operate the C100 and C300 on jobs. And the footage from that camera can be made to match up relatively well with the 1080 footage from the FS7 or A7S for that matter (which I like to call a C300 in your pocket... the image is about the same.) 

There's always an IF though, right?

If however you are starting from scratch/upgrading from a DSLR, or want to mix things up to have many more color options in post, and potentially a wider client base in the near-distant future...

... I think the FS7 will prove to be an excellent (relatively) economical choice for anything but the highest-end productions.  But do you need it if you have a C300 or C100 and deliver solely to 1080?

No.

Not at all. The C300 didn't suddenly look like crap and I have shot some of my best stuff with it so far. (If anything, a Sony A7S with an XLR kit may be the best replacement there.)

And let's not forget that Canon has not been sitting still. They make amazing glass, and Larry Thorpe from Canon practically guaranteed to me at the C300 launch in Boston that the 4K successor to the C300 would come out in 3 years after it... and we are right about there. I think Canon will blow us all away with the C300 Mark II and make a very competitive camera to the FS7 feature and image wise, but I fear the price will be much higher. (It'll probably be slightly better constructed and thought out too.) If it isn't much more expensive, and the image is similar, well, I may be writing this all over again for that camera next fall. ;)

So really, the FS7 is a future play for many of us. If you want to boldly march into the future and have more flexibility in post and resolution, then get the FS7. I believe the firmware issues will be sorted out in relatively short time... and this is a camera that could practically get you through the next 5-10 years if you wanted. It's got legs... if you know how to use them (see ZZ Top).

Again... Read this outstanding post from Joe Simon of the Delivery Men about his extensive C300 experience, and how he thinks the FS7 compares. They essentially look the same but the FS7 gives you many more image options in post.  I mostly agree with all his thoughts as to why we sold the C300. 

The C300 Mark II is another beast entirely, and is arguably a better camera, but the image is similar to the FS7.

Image compared to the Sony F5

I have said in the past the FS7 is the same as the F5 internally. Well, they are very similar... and can be made to match. But come to find out... they are not exactly the same. Not without a little work, with what seems like a little luminance balancing. 

Ben Eckstein posted these lovely screen captures on Twitter comparing the FS7 to his Sony F5 using Zeiss glass. One camera had the Zeiss CP.2 35mm on it and the other the optically identical ZF.2 35mm.  The Slog shot (Cine EI, I assume Slog 3 on the F5 as Ben knows what he is doing) is matched for brightness only. The HG (Hypergamma) shot is an attempt to match in the grade. Ben's initial conclusions?

"Pretty close and can probably be made to match exactly; With same settings F5 came in brighter, but that's not unexpected. Again these can be matched but it's not plug and play."

There seems to be a brightness difference for sure; and the skin colors seem to be very slightly different. The differences in Cine EI are a bit more pronounced (contrast wise), but do note the left side of the face is not facing the key light.  There's no questioning however that the two cameras render images slightly differently. The odd thing is they can be made to match exactly, which makes me wonder what Sony is doing in that thing.

Bottom line? Yes, the FS7 is an F5 in a different body, with F55-like 4K. Kinda. With a little work in your grade. "A sensor similar to the F5" may be an apt description. Does this mean the FS7 suddenly sucks? No... the images can be made to match. It's just... a little different out of the box. Which is to say: extremely good. 

What do you think?

Do you have any more questions or comments? Feel free to add them below. This camera is a tricky one, but the images out of it can be extraordinary considering the $8,000 base body cost ($12-14k fully RTS); almost Alexa-like in fact, at an even higher resolution. You just have to be real good at what you are doing… and I am still learning myself. In most cases, the Canon C100/300 will do a better job out of the box, but the FS7 offers far more flexibility with detail, highlight and shadow information (+2 stops), and manipulation in post. You get out of it what you put into it, with few road blocks technologically. That, and the camera's design which is better suited to shooting all day handheld, is why we purchased this unit.

I will of course update this post as new info comes in. Expect a follow up later on as more time is spent on jobs with this camera. [Update: 12/26/14: So far after a couple of months, I'm even happier than when we got it, and the firmware has been steadily improving too. This is a very nice camera, overall.]

Much thanks to Rule Boston Camera and Sony for getting us this camera so soon to test; it’s been a month so far of learning.

 

Snowlight, The Poem:

The days are now cold

and the nights getting long

And my heart again pines

For the warm days gone

 

Walking in wonder

Snow crunch down below

My mind fills with visions

Of a better path to go

 

For it's the season

That I long to be free

Like the birds 

and the wind

and puffy clouds I see

 

Alone in this place

nature’s sleep coming due

Crystal white and chill

Can get me feeling blue

 

But then looking up

I feel the sun warm my face

I dream of tender hugs

And your hopeful embrace

 

And the glow in your eyes

and the pink on your cheek

and the joy that you give

and the joy I shall keep

 

Emerging from the forest 

I’m cold but feel new

I am one with this place

My heart is beating true

 

For the days are now cold

and the nights indeed long

but I’ll hold you close

from the dusk till the dawn

 

I will hold you close

Until the cold is gone