The Sony FS7 features a Super 35-sized sensor, 4K internal recording, and codecs including XAVC-I at 113 Mbps, to match Sony’s flagship F55. Capture 14 stops of dynamic range in Slog-3, or choose a picture style to go direct to broadcast. 10-bit 4:2:2 in DCI-4K, QHD, and 1080p HD resolutions without bulky recorders means shooting for the colorist is easy.
We include the extension unit with the kit rental, which adds raw output, timecode in and out, genlock, and multiple power options.
The Sony E-mount on the PXW-FS7 can be adapted to fit EF and PL lenses, and a behind-the-lens ND filter means no more clumsy filter changes. The rental includes an electronic viewfinder/display and adjustable hand grip. The versatility makes the FS7 equally at home in cinema and broadcast applications.
The FS7 camera supports UHD framerates up to 60p, as well as 1080p at 180 fps, all continuous and in-camera. Sony rates native ISO at 2000, and low-light performance is superb, especially when compared with other 4K cameras.
While Sony continues to offer the FS700, the FS7 offers multiple improvements in functionality, higher-quality recording formats, and a more ergonomic layout. The FS7 is a well-matched camera to an F5 or F55, and also works well on a set with an FS700 or even an A7s backing it up. This is Sony’s answer to the Canon C300, and it would appear the FS7 wins in every category worth measuring.This FS7 camera kit includes everything you need to get started shooting in 4K at high speed, just add lenses.
Sony FS7 camera
XDCA-FS7 extension unit
Metabones EF to NEX Speedbooster Ultra
2 64GB XQD cards
1 USB 3.0 XQD card reader
2 V-mount batteries
1 Dual V-mount charger
2 BP-U Batteries
1 BP-U Charger
You’ll want to use a lens support when mounting heavier lenses to the Metabones Speedbooster Ultra.
I’ve been shooting with the Sony PXW-FS7 and Metabones Ultra Speedbooster EF for about six months, yikes, about four years! For some of my earlier notes, check out my first post on the FS7. This post is updated and current as of October 8, 2017, and covers some of the updates available in the FS7 mark II as well.
The FS7 and the C300 mark II have definitely squared off as direct competitors. Excluding a few fanboys on either side, most operators and producers will say both cameras perform relatively equally. The cost to buy, cost of ownership, and flexibility all tilt in Sony’s favor. Canon appears to have the edge in durability and name recognition.
The battery options have gotten a lot better, and most modern BP-U series batteries have been updated to work with the FS7 and FS7 mark II. I’ve had great results from BP-U90 batteries made by Vivitar, with two of them lasting all day. If you’re running on a gimbal/stabilizer, you’ll probably want to scale down to multiple BP-U30 batteries.
The XDCA-FS7 really brings the camera close to the features and functionality of the much pricier F5 and F55. If you’re using the camera professionally, it’s a no-brainer to buy one. Of course, everyone who has one isn’t looking to sell it, so they are pretty rare to find used.
After beating an FS7 up for four years, a few parts are going to break or fall off. In particular, consider reinforcing the connection between the EVF and camera body. Also, be aware the shotgun mount is a target for abuse, and the EVF mount is less than ideal. If you’re able to swap for the mark II version of the EVF mount, I strongly suggest it. At a minimum, you’ll want to trade out the short rod for a longer one to better position the EVF for shoulder work. Be careful, as the screws strip out easily if you’re heavy-handed.
The stream of constant firmware updates has ended, and the latest version is probably the right choice for anyone who is not in the middle of a project. You don’t want to brick your rig halfway through a week’s shooting, or find out that highlight handling or something was changed halfway through your shoot. There are still some weird things about the way the FS7 handles settings, in particular if you’re setting general settings like framerate and resolution. More than once, I’ve gone through all my settings from top to bottom, and then realized that by changing some value, I’ve reset other values as well. And then there’s the menu items that end up grayed out without explanation. I suggest writing your most commonly used settings to an SD card, so you can recall them quickly, rather than spending 10+ minutes making sure every last setting is right or doing a factory reset every shoot.
My key reason for preferring the FS7 over the Canon Cx00 series is the NEX/E mount. The extra flange depth leaves room for optical tricks like speedboosters. There are two big things to know about the Metabones Speedbooster Ultra. First, it needs to be adjusted before you can get infinity focus with most lenses, particularly wide lenses.
Terrible English aside, this is how Metabones suggests you adjust infinity focus on the Speedbooster.
I’ve seen this issue with two different EF Speedbooster Ultras, and have heard about the same problem on the F-mount Nikon version. I needed to rotate each one between 2/3 and 7/8 of a turn counterclockwise before I could get infinity focus on a Zeiss CP2 21mm or a Rokinon 14mm. This seemed to pull the focus witness marks a little closer to accurate, as well. It’s tempting to rotate until you can get past infinity, but I suggest tweaking just enough to get your widest lens happy. Sloppy third-party wide lenses like the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 are probably best avoided completely.
Second, sometimes things just don’t work. If you disconnect and reconnect, this will usually fix the problem, but occasionally, I’ve needed to reset the camera before I could get electrical functions on my lenses using a Speedbooster.
With wide lenses, the arm sometimes needs to come off or be flipped back to stay out of the shot.
LUT handling is limited in the camera, and I don’t expect a firmware update that enables preview in one LUT while recording in another. I was using the Gratical HD for awhile, but lately have preferred the Atomos Shogun Flame to help manage LUTs (as well as anamorphic desqueeze and a few other features). Having the EVF set up to view log and the medium-sized monitor for a “normal” color is quite useful.
What are your experiences with the Sony FS7? Let us know in the comments below.
The Sony FS7 features a Super 35-sized sensor, 4K internal recording, and codecs including XAVC-I at 113 Mbps, to match Sony’s flagship F55. Capture 14 stops of dynamic range in Slog3, or choose a different picture style for your workflow. 10-bit 4:2:2 color in DCI-4K, QHD, or 1080p resolutions without bulky recorders means shooting for the colorist is easy. The Sony E-mount can be adapted to fit EF and PL lenses, and a behind-the-lens ND filter means no clumsy filter changes. The camera includes an electronic viewfinder/display and adjustable hand grip. The versatility makes the FS7 equally at home in cinema and broadcast applications.
The FS7 camera supports UHD framerates up to 60p as well as 1080p at 180 fps, all continuous and in-camera. Sony rates native ISO at 2000. Low-light performance is superb, especially when compared with other 4K cameras.
While Sony continues to offer the FS700, the FS7 offers multiple improvements in functionality, internal 4K, higher-quality recording formats, and a more ergonomic layout. The FS7 is a well-matched camera to an F5 or F55, and also works well on a set with an FS700 or even an A7s backing it up, especially using the Slog-2 or Slog-3 color profile.
This FS7 rental package includes
Sony FS7 body
2 Sony BP-U battery
1 Sony BP-U charger
This camera requires a lens and XQD card, rented separately. An FS7 rental kit with the most popular accessories is also available.
Expand the features of the Sony FS7 with the XDCA-FS7 extension unit. It mounts on the back of the FS7 camera and adds a V-mount battery plate, genlock, timecode in & out, and raw output. 12 DC XLR in and DC out over 4-pin Hirose are also provided. These features are a welcome addition on multi-camera and pro-level shoots, and make the camera a perfect match for a Sony F5 or F55.
The unit enables raw video recording with an external recorder (not included), as well as on-board ProRes and ProRes HQ 4:2:2 1080p recording. Raw frame rates can be set up to 240 fps continuous in 2K, as well as DCI 4K (4096×2160) and DCI 2K (2048×1080) resolution. Sony’s raw recording is 12-bit log, making image quality and latitude in post production unmatched
The Sony FS7 and Metabones EF to E Ultra Speedbooster have been in my hands for about two weeks, and that’s long enough to learn some of the biggest strengths and limitations of the duo. This post is current as of Sony’s firmare v1.01 and Metabones’ firmware V0.38, which are the most recent available today (December 20, 2014).
First things first, the Sony FS7 is easily my favorite camera under $15,000. When the FS700 came out, it was a direct competitor to Canon’s C300, which still dominates docu and reality work. With the release of the FS7, Sony has no direct competitor in this price range, and it seems likely that the camera could become the leading choice of docu and reality shooters. It’s also an incredible film-look camera, and will be my first choice for a lot of commercial work.
There are some notable limitations to the camera right now. Here’s a list of the caveats and the considerations you’ll want to consider before buying or renting an FS7 package.
Electronic lenses aren’t working great, yet. Sony knows that the iris control on the FS7 is a bit “loose” feeling. There is no click-equals-1/3-stop, it’s much more of a spin and pray feel right now. This is across both Sony E-mount and adapted EF-mount lenses, so it’s not just a Metabones issue. Sony has talked about addressing this issue in firmware.
Some EF lenses have issues where the f-stop “twitches,” making the image flash. Some high speed lenses are reported by the Metabones to be slower than they are, because Sony firmware doesn’t support lens speeds faster than 1.0. In our tests, a Canon 50mm f/2.5 macro wouldn’t adjust f-stop at all, locking wide-open at f/2.0. We’ll do a comprehensive test of all the lenses in our inventory, but for now, I suggest you test all the EF lenses in your kit before you take them on a shoot. I have every reason to believe that eventually, nearly all EF-mount lenses will work great. It will just take Metabones some time to get the bugs worked out.
The best lenses for now are either Sony’s native E-mount or fully manual lenses. Zeiss CP2s or Rokinon cines make for trouble-free operation. You’ll want to use rails and a lens mount, since the Metabones Speedboosters aren’t particularly good at handling heavier weight lenses.
Waveform or LUT preview work separately, not together. And worse, if you switch between shooting modes, waveform will be disabled by default. The second problem will be addressed by Sony in firmware. Until then, if you change modes and your waveforms turn off, you’ll need to adjust the outputs of the camera to SDI 1080p and HDMI off. You’ll also need to disable LUTs on all outputs (or enable them and record a baked-in LUT). The second problem is possibly too processor-intensive to correct in firmware. If you want to monitor in a REC709 space while you have waveform or histogram on the viewfinder, you’ll need a LUT box or LUT-enabled monitor, for now. I’ve been shooting and previewing in slog3 with waveform on, and have had great results. If I have a shoot with a client over my shoulder, I’ll be sure to bring a DP7-PRO or something else with LUT support, so we can have some idea of what the final product will look like.
Batteries are a b*tch. Sony ships the FS7 with a BP-U30, which will give you 50-70 minutes of real-world use. Sony brand BP-U60 batteries are expensive, with a full day’s worth costing above $1000. Sony’s engineers made sure to sell them, though, by blocking aftermarket batteries from working with the FS7. Even BP-U series batteries that work with the EX1 and EX3 won’t work with the FS7. Want to use an aftermarket battery with a Sony barrel connector, instead? No problem, until you want to charge it with Sony’s latest BP-U series charger. The Ikan BP-U65 battery I tested wouldn’t take a charge on the Sony charger, either. As we learn of aftermarket batteries that work with the Sony FS7, we’ll post a link here.
The configuration is designed to be customized. I’ve experimented with several configurations to help balance the weight when mounted on a shoulder rig. My preferred method moves the shoulder pad back about 2 inches, puts a V-mount battery behind me, and leaves the viewfinder where it is. Other shooters prefer to move the viewfinder and the handle forward (suggested if you’re not using V-mount batteries). Swapping the stock rod for a 10″ 15mm rod will let you move the viewfinder, and an Arri rosette dogbone will solve your handle problems. Figure out how you’re likely to be using the camera before you figure out how you’re going to pack it. You’re stuck choosing between a bulky bag that’s ready-to-shoot or a compact bag that needs a few minutes to get set up.
You’ve got to put in the time. If you haven’t used the Cine EI mode on Sony’s cameras like the F5 and F55, or you’re not familiar with log color profiles (specifically Slog3), you’ll need to read up before you’re ready to get the most out of the Sony FS7. Alister Chapman has a world-class overview of Slog3 and LUTs for the FS7, great for getting started with the camera. There is, as always, no replacement for real-world experience, though. It’s going to take a few missed shots before you’re regularly getting great results from the FS7 in Slog3. It’s definitely not an expose-to-the-right picture profile, and does much better with underexposure than overexposure.
What are your experiences with the Sony FS7? Let us know in the comments below.
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