Tag Archives: AXS-R7

How can 16 bit X-OCN deliver smaller files than 10 bit XAVC-I?

Sony’s X-OCN (XOriginal Camera Negative) is a new type of codec from Sony. Currently it is only available via the R7 recorder which can be attached to a Sony PMW-F5, F55 or the new Venice cinema camera.

It is a truly remarkable codec that brings the kind of flexibility normally only available with 16 bit linear raw files but with a files size that is smaller than many conventional high end video formats.

Currently there are two variations of X-OCN.

X-OCN ST is the standard version and then X-OCN LT is the “light” version. Both are 16 bit and both contain 16 bit data based directly on what comes off the cameras sensor. The LT version is barely distinguishable for a 16 bit linear raw recording and the ST version “visually lossless”. Having that sensor data in post production allows you to manipulate the footage over a far greater range than is possible with tradition video files. Traditional video files will already have some form of gamma curve as well as a colour space and white balance baked in. This limits the scope of how far the material can be adjusted and reduces the amount of picture information you have (relative to what comes directly off the sensor) .

Furthermore most traditional video files are 10 bit with a maximum of 1024 code values or levels within the recording. There are some 12 bit codecs but these are still quite rare in video cameras. X-OCN is 16 bit which means that you can have up to 65,536 code values or levels within the recording. That’s a colossal increase in tonal values over traditional recording codecs.

But the thing is that X-OCN LT files are a similar size to Sony’s own XAVC-I (class 480) codec, which is already highly efficient. X-OCN LT is around half the size of the popular 10 bit Apple ProRes HQ codec but offers comparable quality. Even the high quality ST version of X-OCN is smaller than ProRes HQ. So you can have image quality and data levels comparable to Sony’s 16 bit linear raw but in a lightweight, easy to handle 16 bit file that’s smaller than the most commonly used 10 bit version of ProRes.

But how is this even possible? Surely such an amazing 16 bit file should be bigger!

The key to all of this is that the data contained within an X-OCN file is based on the sensors output rather than traditional video.  The cameras that produce the X-OCN material all use bayer sensors. In a traditional video workflow the data from a bayer sensor is first converted from the luminance values that the sensor produces into a YCbCr or RGB signal.

So if the camera has a 4096×2160 bayer sensor in a traditional workflow this pixel level data gets converted to 4096×2160 of Green plus 4096×2160 of Red, plus 4096×2160 of Green (or the same of Y, Cb and Cr). In total you end up with 26 million data points which then need to be compressed using a video codec.

Bayer-to-RGB How can 16 bit X-OCN deliver smaller files than 10 bit XAVC-I?However if we bypass the conversion to a video signal and just store the data that comes directly from the sensor we only need to record a single set of 4096×2160 data points – 8.8 million. This means we only need to store 1/3rd as much data as in a traditional video workflow and it is this huge data saving that is the main reason why it is possible for X-OCN to be smaller than traditional video files while retaining amazing image quality. It’s simply a far more efficient way of recording the data from a bayer camera.

Of course this does mean that the edit or playback computer has to do some extra work because as well as decoding the X-OCN file it has to be converted to a video file, but Sony developed X-OCN to be easy to work with – which it is. Even a modest modern workstation will have no problem working with X-OCN. But the fact that you have that sensor data in the grading suite means you have an amazing degree of flexibility. You can even adjust the way the file is decoded to tailor whether you want more highlight or shadow information in the video file that will created after the X-OCN is decoded.

Why isn’t 16 bit much bigger than 10 bit? Normally a 16 bit file will be bigger than a 10 bit file. But with a video image there are often areas of information that are very similar. Video compression algorithms take advantage of this and instead of recording a value for every pixel will record a single value that represents all of the similar pixels. When you go from 10 bit to 16 bit, while yes, you do have more bits of data to record a greater percentage of the code values will be the same or similar and as a result the codec becomes more efficient. So the files size does increase a bit, but not as much as you might expect.

So, X-OCN, out of the gate, only needs to store 1/3rd of the data points of a similar traditional RGB or YCbCr codec. Increasing the bit depth from the typical 10 bit bit depth of a regular codec to the 16 bits of X-OCN does then increase the amount of data needed to record it. But the use of a clever algorithm to minimise the data needed for those 16 bits means that the end result is a 16 bit file only a bit bigger than XAVC-I but still smaller than ProRes HQ even at it’s highest quality level.


Big Update for Sony Raw Viewer.

rawviewer-01-large-e1480363307344 Big Update for Sony Raw Viewer.
Sony’s Raw Viewer for raw and X-OCN file manipulation.

Sony’s raw viewer is an application that has just quietly rumbled away in the background. It’s never been a headline app, just one of those useful tools for viewing or transcoding Sony’s raw material. I’m quite sure that the majority of users of Sony’s raw material do their raw grading and processing in something other than raw viewer.

But this new version (2.3) really needs to be taken very seriously.

Better Quality Images.

For a start Sony have always had the best de-bayer algorithms for their raw content. If you de-bayer Sony raw in Resolve and compare it to the output from previous versions of Raw Viewer, the raw viewer content always looked just that little bit cleaner. The latest versions of Raw Viewer are even better as new and improved algorithms have been included! It might not render as fast, but it does look very nice and can certainly be worth using for any “problem” footage.

Class 480 XAVC and X-OCN.

Raw Viewer version 2.3 adds new export formats and support for Sony’s X-OCN files. You can now export to both XAVC class 480 and class 300, 10 or 12bit ProRes (HD only unfortunately), DPX and SStP.  XAVC Class 480 is a new higher quality version of XAVC-I that could be used as a ProResHQ replacement in many instances.

Improved Image Processing.

Color grading is now easier than ever thanks to support for Tangent Wave tracker ball control panels along with new grading tools such as Tone Curve control. There is support for EDL’s and batch processing with all kind of process queue options allowing you to prioritise your renders. Although Raw Viewer doesn’t have the power of a full grading package it is very useful for dealing with problem shots as the higher quality de-bayer provides a cleaner image with fewer artefacts. You can always take advantage of this by transcoding from raw to 16 bit DPX or Open EXR so that the high quality de-bayer takes place in Raw Viewer and then do the actual grading in your chosen grading software.

HDR and Rec.2100

If you are producing HDR content version 2.3 also adds support for the PQ and HLG gamma curves and Rec.2100 It also now includes HDR waveform displays. You can use Raw Viewer to create HDR LUT’s too.

So all-in-all Raw Viewer has become a very powerful tool for Sony’s raw and XOCN content that can bring a noticeable improvement in image quality compared to de-bayering in many of the more commonly used grading packages.

Download Link for Sony Raw Viewer: http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/download/rawviewer


PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Version 8 Firmware Now Available.

Last week Sony released firmware version 8 for the PMW-F5 and F55 cameras. The main purpose of this update is to add support for the new AXS-R7 raw recorder as well as a number of bug fixes.  A further addition is the inclusion of the XAVC Class 480 codec, a higher quality version of XAVC-I for more demanding applications.

An important bug fix is the ability to use the latest versions of XQD-G and M series cards.



Model Serial Number
PMW-F55 100001 – 100723

500001 – 500036

PMW-F5 100001 – 100781

500001 – 500020

Attempting to install version 8 on cameras in the above serial number ranges may lead to the camera becoming completely unusable unless a very expensive circuit board is replaced.

If your camera’s serial number is in the ranges indicated you should contact a local service center to arrange to have the firmware installed for you (my understanding is this is a one-time requirement, you will be able to do future updates yourself).


Please supply the following information to the following email address PrimeSupport@eu.sony.com and Sony will advise next steps.

First name

Last name

Email address

Company name if applicable

Business Phone


Which product do you own?      

Serial Number (6 digit number)

Which firmware version is currently installed?

And confirm if the CBK-55PD option installed?*

United States service centers:

Eastern Service Facility

Sony Service Center
Sony Electronics Inc.
123 W. Tryon Avenue
Teaneck, New Jersey 07666
Voice: 201-833-5300
FAX: 201-833-5312
E-mail: TeaneckService@am.sony.com

Western Service Facility

Los Angeles
Sony Service Center
Sony Electronics Inc.
2706 Media Center Drive; Suite 130
Los Angeles, California 90065
Voice: 323-352-5000
FAX: 323-352-5039
E-mail: LAService@am.sony.com

For those located in Canada please contact

Sony of Canada (Customer Service Solutions Group)

Service Operations
211 Placer Court
Toronto, Ontario , M2H 3H9

Sony Montreal Service Center

Sony du Canada Ltée
2886 Boulevard Daniel?Johnson
Laval, QC H7P 5Z7

Fusion Cine

1469 Venables Street
Vancouver, BC V5L 2G1
Professional Technical Support (Vancouver)

In other countries please contact your Sony dealer who should be able to assist.

If, and only if your camera does not fall in the range above then you can perform the update in the usual manner by placing the firmware on an SD card.

DO NOT download and install version 8 firmware if your serial number falls within serial number range detailed above

F55 download here:


F5 download here:


This firmware can be updated from V7.02, V7.01, V6.02, V6.01 and V6.00. When you want to update F55 and F5 from V5.11 and earlier, you must update to V6.00 first. Please also ensure that your AXS-R5 firmware (if you have one) is also up to date.

New AXS-R7 raw recorder for the PMW-F55 and F5.

axsr7_3q_160219_011-1010x1024 New AXS-R7 raw recorder for the PMW-F55 and F5.
AXS-R7 dual slot raw recorder.

After a brief teaser campaign Sony have now released details of a new raw recorder for the PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 cameras.

The AXS-R7 is a new more rugged dual slot recorder that works with A series AXS cards (that’s the newer smaller size, not the original large size cards). Being dual slot it should allow for relay recording.

axsa1ts48_front_160219_051-300x300 New AXS-R7 raw recorder for the PMW-F55 and F5.
New A series AXS cards.

The new recorder has a lot more processing power than the original to support new functions such as cache recording up to 30 seconds and has a more rugged housing with dust and moisture filters. One of the new features coming with this recorder is the ability to record at up to 120 fps in 4K raw. For this new faster AXS cards will be needed and these will be released at the same time as the recorder this summer.

To support the new recorder the F5/F55 cameras will get new firmware. Version 8 will also introduce the ability to record XAVC class 480 which in 4K is 480Mb/s at 24/25/30p and 960Mb/s at 50 and 60p.

So all in all a series of significant upgrades for these cameras that continue to just get better and better.

axsr7_others_160219_031-1024x769 New AXS-R7 raw recorder for the PMW-F55 and F5.
AXS-R7 docked with PMW-F55

Here’s the full Sony press release:

Basingstoke – February 25th, 2016: Sony’s next generation of CineAlta products provides enhanced features for production professionals now shooting in 4K RAW with large sensor cameras; handling large files can be done easily while maintaining the highest levels of image quality.

The new products include an upcoming RAW recorder, the AXS-R7 for the F55/F5 and higher-speed AXS memory cards. These are complemented by the newest firmware (Version 8) for the F55 and F5, continuing Sony’s development and support of the CineAlta platform by adding new features and capabilities directly based on user feedback.

“These new technologies answer the question of ‘why shoot in 4K 16-bit RAW’? And, demonstrate Sony’s commitment to the F5 and F55’” said Ainara Porron, Marketing Manager, Cinematography, Sony Professional Solutions Europe. “Working in 4K RAW and High Dynamic Range (HDR) opens up new creative possibilities for production professionals who are not prepared to compromise on image quality.”

New RAW Recorder

Compared to previous Sony 4K recorders, the new recorder doubles 4K RAW recording from 60 FPS up to 120 FPS from the F55 camera. For shooting at higher frame rates, the recorder captures 2K RAW at up to 240 FPS from the F55 and F5, for playback with 10x super slow motion.

With the recorder, 4K shooters can take advantage of RAW cache recording at 23.98p for up to approximately 30 seconds while in standby mode, an important feature in documentary or wildlife production where capturing spontaneous action is required.

The new recorder is designed for rugged field performance. A metal filter separates and seals the recorder’s ventilation shaft from the electronics to prevent the entry of dust and water. The recorder’s camera connections are more secure, with a large top bracket that accepts four widely spaced 1/4-inch screws.

AXS Memory

The additions to the CineAlta line also include new high-performance versions of Sony’s AXS memory cards (1TB and 512 GB capacities) with sustained read and write speeds of 4.8 Gbps, and 44 minutes at 59.94p or 22 minutes at 120 FPS. The dual-slot recorder also accepts current A-series of AXS media, but the new cards are designed to support the write speeds required for 4K RAW 120 FPS recording for those who require that level of performance.

PMW-F55/F5 Firmware Version 8

The latest firmware update (Version 8) for the F55 and F5, upgrade license installed, enables support for XAVC 4K Class 480 recording at 23.98p, 24p, 25p and 29.97p. Leading third-party vendors already support XAVC 4K Class 480, for those creative professional requiring a higher data rate version of XAVC.

“These newest additions and updates to our CineAlta platform are all the direct result of user feedback,” Porron added. “It’s no longer about simply delivering a product. It’s about delivering the right products that can grow with a customer and fit within a workflow that is constantly evolving as production requirements change.”

For a full list of features and capabilities, visit pro.sony.eu/cinematography

Planned availability is as below:

[if !supportLists]·       [endif]AXS-R7 New RAW recorder: Summer 2016

[if !supportLists]·       [endif]AXS-A1TS48 Media (1TB): Summer 2016

[if !supportLists]·       [endif]AXS-A512S48 Media (512 GB): Summer 2016

[if !supportLists]·       [endif]Firmware version 8: Summer 2016

More details will be announced at NAB.