The Sony FS5 Gets RAW: Installing the CBKZ-FS5RIF Key

So I installed the new Sony CBKZ-FS5RIF FS5 RAW Update. This allows a lightly compressed (3:1) Raw DCI 4K output from the built in 3G-SDI port on the FS5. No additional hardware is required except of course a recorder. I got it from Texas Media Systems, and here are my very initial experiences.

Installation

It's kind of a silly convoluted process:

1. Buy the $600 upgrade license from a dealer (I used Texas Media Systems - Terry and Clint are great!)
2. Get the box
3. Get piece of paper in box
4. Go to very confusing website from Sony Japan
5. Sign up for site and enter odd validation codes
6. Enter purchase key
7. Enter Unique ID for your camera
8. Create license key file (WARNING: you only can do this ONCE so don't mess up; there has already been one report from friend Joe Simon of bricking his key because he entered an extra zero...)
9. Download license key to your SD card
10. Insert card into camera
11. Go into "option" and install the key
12. Now you have RAW (DCI 4K no less). In 60/30/24, plus burst 4K and 2K modes.

 

Pics of install and use with Shogun (click for bigger)

Working with FS-RAW on Atomos Shogun (original)

I tested this on the original Atomos Shogun. It works - if you record 30 or 24p. (It'll display 60p but not record it). It even displays and records the full DCI 4K which surprised me. It will not however record any 60p or HFR in 4K or 2K; you need a newer Shogun (Inferno?) or Odyssey 7Q+ for that.

The Shogun allows you currently to record to ProRes or Avid flavors with either a Slog2 or Slog3 translation burned in (in other words, you're getting 10 bit 422 Slog out of the 12 bit 444 RAW on the fly.). It also allows you to view a LUT and there's an FS RAW LUT built right into the Shogun.

You can simultaneously record an HD Proxy at the same time in camera as outputting the RAW to the recorder, which is nice. You also don't lose viewfinder at all, or any displays in camera. You keep your "assist" gamma curve on the viewfinder too.

IMAGE - IS IT WORTH IT?

On first glance, the image isn't THAT far off from the internal XAVC even in 4K (post Firmware 1.11) if properly exposed. But of course the translated RAW has a good deal more color information to work with and far less digital artifacting like macro blocking or banding. None, really, in fact, if you expose properly. I'd say it loosely represents the same quality as the 4K XAVC-I 240 (?) MBit 10 bit 422 24p FS7 footage.. when comparing Shogun translated Slog via RAW.

(Update: though really only noticeable while pixel peeping or on a massive screen, there is definitely more picture detail in the converted RAW footage as compared to the XAVC-L. But given the much higher bitrate this is to be expected) 

I noticed the noise was "clean" - no odd banding or blocks at all, even in shadows, that the XAVC-L will show if you really push the grade even with FW 1.11 and FW 2.0. This is especially impressive considering there is no in camera noise reduction going on; all the processing in this case is from the Shogun. I also noticed there was just more color and frankly more usable dynamic range to work with; I could push exposure further with the RAW recorded to ProRes than I could the XAVC-L.

If Atomos finally enables CDNG on the original Shogun from FS RAW that would be even nicer. But for now I can say it definitely all works with current firmwares.

Your FS5 turns into an FS7, image wise.... and beyond. And it's cheaper than an FS7, including the recorder, but not very much.

I'll talk more about this on a future podcast (I.e. Why bother?) The use cases here are interesting for the price. For me since I already had a Shogun it was a no brainer to significantly increase the color and noise performance of the camera with less compression. I suspect though when (if?) Atomos enables CDNG recording things will get more interesting. 

if however you don't own a recorder (and have to purchase one,) you kind of lose some of what makes the FS5 a great run n gun camera by having to strap a recorder on. Add in cost and the fact that and you're so close to an FS7 with similar IQ, that you might as well buy an FS7, right?  Hmmmmmm...

UPDATE - FOOTAGE!

This is a little test I shot between work on the FS5 with the CBKZ-FS5RIF RAW upgrade key ($600 USD) into FW 2.0.  I recorded it on a Atomos Shogun (original) at 24fps DCI 4K with an Slog 3 profile. The lens used was a Canon 24-105 F4 on a Metabones Speedbooster T making it a 2.8 equivalent. I shot with Auto ND on at +1.5 exposure correction.

This was relatively low light. To expose the sunset properly I had to under expose the shadows. Only a few shots at the end have no ND applied.

What do I think? It’s interesting. It’s clear as day that the converted Raw holds much more picture information. Try as I might, the same shot shot at the same time in the internal XAVC just didn’t have nearly as much detail in the shadows as the Raw did. It wasn’t even close.

I only had 30 min to test, but the sunset was lovely.

However that comes at the cost of noise. I suppose it’s like Raw recording on a stills camera; you have to process out the noise in post to your own liking, which can get rid of detail. As you can see there is a fair amount of noise in the converted-from-raw ProRes shadows. I had to knock the shadows down to get rid of them.

The other surprise is how well the XAVC-L internal recording looks in a scene like this. I was very surprised. It doesn’t have as much picture detail but it’s quite clean; it’s obvious FW 1.11 fixed this camera’s faults.

Consider that the Shogun only records up to 30fps. If you have a Shogun Inferno or an Odyssey 7Q+, you can actually record up to 60fps in 4K with this upgrade, as well as 120 fps bursts of 4 seconds in 4K (even the FS7 doesn’t do that), and 240 fps continuous 2K. None of this is available with the current Shogun.

Overall I’d say you probably don’t need this upgrade unless you need a lot of detail or the aforementioned high frame rates in 4K. The internal XAVC, which was heavily graded with a ton of saturation added, looks just great. In fact it is less noisy. On the other hand, the Raw offers more picture detail and can be pushed further without falling apart. Also, while noisier, the noise is “clean” grain like noise (it looks green here because I boosted the saturation 200%), whereas the internal codec starts to macro block.

It’s very close though. I don’t know. And keep in mind... I've never shot any FSRAW before so this is my first experience. What do you think? Is it worth it? Sound off below.