PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Gotchas, issues and workarounds for early firmware cameras.

advertise-here-275 PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Gotchas, issues and workarounds for early firmware cameras.

So, I’ve just spent 3 days demoing the F5 and F55 and the BVE show in london. It’s actually been a great learning experience for me as even though I have been lucky enough to have shot with the cameras several times already, at BVE I was asked to show all kinds of different modes and setups. Many of which I have not used myself. In doing so I came across a  few anomalies in the way the menus work, a few what Sony might call “features”. Anyway I thought I would start to list them here in case anyone else gets stuck, or perhaps more importantly as a reminder to myself of how how to get around the features. As I come across more I’ll add them here. The cameras are shipping with firmware that is in development. There are some bug fix firmware releases coming very soon (maybe even the next few days) and we can expect many small updates over the coming months as more feedback makes it’s way back to Sony. Over all everything works, but there are a few peculiar things that might trip you up. These notes are to the best of my knowledge correct at the time of writing, but may become out of date as new firmware is released.

Remember that if your shooting 4K 4096 x 2160 the aspect ratio is 17:9, so you might want to add a 16:9 framing marker from the viewfinder marker menu.

Understand the difference between the “System”, “Base Setting” modes. Make sure you read and understand page 32 of the manual. There are two key modes, Cine EI Mode and Custom mode. Cine EI mode locks the camera into Exposure Index, S-Log2 mode. You need to be in this mode if you want to shoot raw on the R5, in fact you can only select this mode if you have an R5 attached. You cannot change the ISO in this mode. When your in this mode your gain is indexed, that is, the camera always records at the base ISO (1250 on the F55 and 2000 on the F5). I assume that in later firmware you will be able to index the ISO, ie change the ISO of the LUT’s and metadata to fine tune your dynamic range.. The colour Gamut is S-Gamut. Only the colour temperature can be changed

In Custom Mode there are colour gamut two sub modes. The two modes are Normal and S-Gamut. S-Gamut offers a wider colour gamut than the normal colour gammut. In either mode the colour temperature and gain can be adjusted as can the gain/ISO. However in S-Gamut you can only choose between the 3 preset white balance settings of 3200, 4300 and 5500. If you want to dial in your own white balance or set a manual white balance (done in the camera menu) you have to be in “Normal” mode. A common reason for not being able to change the gamma curve (gamma options greyed out) is having the camera set to S-Gamut as this locks the camera to S-Log2.

In order to record raw with the R5 set “Shooting Mode” in “Base Setting” to “Cine EI,” and “Main Operation” in “Base Setting” to “RAW” of the System menu.

To output 4K using HDMI you must have the camera set to 4K 4096 x 2160. Then you have to go to the video output menu, output page and first turn off the 4K SDI output. Once you turn off the 4K SDI output you will then see the option to turn on the 4K HDMI output. You won’t see the 4K HDMI option until you have turned off the 4K SDI.

MLUT’s are only available when in Cine EI mode. In Custom mode, even if you select S-Log as your gamma curve, you won’t get any MLUT’s. You have to be in EI mode and have MLUT’s activated for the viewfinder or one of other outputs to get the MLUT options.  You only get the MLUT options in the menu when the camera is set to Cine EI.

Exposure Dissparity between XAVC S-Log2 material and raw. I need to try to get to the bottom of this one. Some of my raw material ends up looking hugely overexposed compared to the S-Log2. Anyone else seeing this? It all looks fine in the viewfinder when I’m shooting, but the raw looks over exposed while the S-Log2 is OK. So far it’s always graded back to sensible levels. 



16 thoughts on “PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Gotchas, issues and workarounds for early firmware cameras.”

  1. Alister, just a friendly pointer to what I believe is a typo: “You won’t see the 4K HDMI option until you have turned off the 4K HDMI.”

  2. Just completed a green screen shoot with the F5 in London.

    Here’s a couple of things that i noticed from an operational view:

    1) Turn S+Q off if you want audio into the camera

    Got me for the first two takes as i saw a big 25fps in the left corner and thought i was good to go, to record 25p you want to see it listed in little letters in the right third of the screen and that S+Q is off.

    2) I couldn’t set the menu to output to monitor

    Spent a while flicking through menus trying to find out how, but i couldn’t get it to output. Looking back now, i think i was using the wrong SDI output, anyone have any ideas?

    3) Theres no Waveform monitor!

    Could really have done with one in camera, i was using a Sony PVM-141 monitor so it wasn’t a big problem.

    4) Really low power use

    Ran all day on one V lock Hawkwoods reel power! impressive!

    Overall, a great camera, i was shooting lock off compositions on a green screen so i didn’t get chance to test the effect of rolling shutter.

    We shot S-log2 with S-gamut and got some super flat images out of there, just a quick play in Da Vinci and you can see the ability to take the image where ever you want.

    1. You can add the menu overlays to either the HDMI, Main or Sub busses in the “Output Display” page of the “Video” menu.

      Power consumption is very good, about 24W for the body plus EVF. Add the R5 and that goes up to around 40W.

  3. Hey Alister,

    thanks for an enlightening post.

    I wanted to ask you – is it possible to shoot 4K internal Slog2/S-Gamut XAVC 422 with MLUT’s on the F55? It doesnt seem likely from your description, or am I wrong?

    Secondly, does the RAW recorder only records 4k RAW at the moment, so no 2k RAW or XAVC?

    thanks for your help!


  4. Hey Alister,

    thanks for an enlightening post!

    I wanted to ask you – is it possible to shoot 4K internal Slog2/S-Gamut XAVC 422 with MLUT’s on the F55? It doesnt seem likely from your description, or am I wrong?

    Secondly, does the RAW recorder only records 4k RAW at the moment, so no 2k RAW or XAVC?

    thanks for your help!


  5. On my first raw test I’m getting the same result. Looks fine in the viewfinder, but then overexposed footage. Seems odd.

    Thanks for the tips – some really useful stuff here.

  6. Sam, Number One is brilliant…. when the sound guy looks to you in a panic and you have a new camera and are not sure what to do!!!!! Thank You!!!

  7. Does S+Q still allow for undercranking? What are the framerate increments? I cant confirm anywhere on the net… I am planning a shoot and need it to do 1 fps.

  8. Amended grumbles:

    2 (from above) – SDI-sub 1 was set to display everything in the viewfinder and will output all menus to the AC. The camera was sent like this.

    Continued grumbles:

    1 – I need reel numbers to be produced from the camera, i cant believe that the camera will only produce a card named ‘untitled’. This is a massive need from an organisational perspective.

    We worked around this by jumping the time-code setting along one manually every time we changed mag, not ideal – but works.

    3 – Need the ability to send a rec709 signal from the camera whilst recording (and viewing via viewfinder) an slog2 image.

    4 – still needs more exposure tools adding to the camera itself.


  9. everything’s getting too complicated nowadays
    it needs to slow up. there are too many techy people who are not cameramen, thus, making a naturally artistic profession a overly technical one.
    how many artist do you know that can change a plug?

    1. Most of the great artists were also chemists. They used to study chemistry so they could create the paints they used. Film camera operators understand how the the processing and printing processes work. If you don’t understand how a camera works then you will be at a disadvantage as you will never get the best from it unless you hire a DIT. Architects don’t just sketch buildings, they also understand how loads in structures behave.

      1. Your right Alistair, point taken.
        Though I was digging at the techy manufacturers rather than an individual/s. And the fact snappers have been using the Canon 5d and Nikon equivelant for the past 10yrs, whereas, tv (ENG) camera people have to cope with a daily onslaught of new cameras and their growing capabilities. I only whished, Sony produced the F5’s greatness in the body of a Betacam 400AP or HDCam body instead of running around with bits and bobs bolted on and hanging off everywhere.

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