The Sony PXW-FS5. Run and Gun Super35 for all.

pxwfs5_side_150728_32-1024x745 The Sony PXW-FS5. Run and Gun Super35 for all.
The New Sony PXW-FS5

I was lucky enough to get some hands on time with a prototype FS5 in Amsterdam at IBC. In case you haven’t heard about it, the PXW-FS5 is a compact interchangeable lens, super 35mm camcorder from Sony that can record in HD or UHD 4K. It shares many of the features of the already incredibly popular PXW-FS7 but in a much smaller body. As well as being similar to the FS7 it also has many similarities with the lower cost FS700, more on that later.


The first thing that struck me about this camera is just how small and light it is. The top handle and handgrip can be removed making it even smaller and the body alone weighs just 800 grams. It really is very small and very light, so perfect for drones, gimbals or simply for those of us that want something compact for travel.


On the right side of the camera there is a chunky handgrip with a host of assignable buttons, a zoom rocker, an assignable dial (ideal for exposure control) and a joystick for navigating through the cameras menus and controlling various functions. The handgrip is comfortable to hold and gives you a very secure grip of the camera. It can be rotated and locked into an wide range of positions so you can adjust it to suit your shooting style and how you’re using the camera. My only criticism of the hand grip is that for me and my big hands the record button was a little too recessed and could be tricky to press. Perhaps before the cameras are released this may be addressed.  The handgrip can be quickly detached via a quick release mechanism. The mounting system is very secure and I couldn’t find any play or wobble. Like the handgrip on the FS7 it uses the LANC protocol to control the camera and is connected via a 2.5mm plug. So this means that the majority of other existing LANC controllers can be used with the camera for remote control. Once the handgrip has been removed you can add a standard Arri rosette (not supplied, but available from Sony as a spare part) to attach the arm and controller from the FS7 or any other arms or attachments that use the Arri rosette standard.

FS5-Sony-grip-rosette-1024x542 The Sony PXW-FS5. Run and Gun Super35 for all.
Details of the detachable handgrip.


The left side of the camera is like a miniaturised FS7. There are several assignable buttons as well as the always familiar ENG style switches for gain and white balance. Above the switches there are push buttons for iris, shutter and gain control. There’s a dial and buttons for navigating the menu system (similar menu structure to FS700) and two large dials for setting the audio recording levels. On top of all that there is a large dial to control the iris/aperture or the electronic variable ND filter. Yes, that’s right an electronic variable ND… more on that later.

sony-fs5-6body-web-top-300x229 The Sony PXW-FS5. Run and Gun Super35 for all.
Top of the PXW-FS5 with the handle removed.

This camera is incredibly well built, it even has both 1/4″ and 3/8″ threads on the base as well as eight 1/4″ threads on the top of the body  for multiple mounting options on tripods as well as for attaching accessories such as lights or monitors. The body is lightweight magnesium alloy and to me it feels extremely well constructed. When I shot with it in Amsterdam it was raining heavily and it did get quite wet but that didn’t cause any problems. I would always recommend a rain cover, but sometimes you do get caught in unexpected rain showers.


This is a 12v camera so for power the camera uses the now common BP-U type batteries as used on the EX1, PMW-200 etc. Or you can power it via a DC socket on the rear of the camera. Thanks to the low power electronics (approx 12 watts) a BP-U60 will run the camera for an incredible 4 hours. That’s almost double the run time of the already low powered FS7. So with one battery in the camera and a spare in your pocket you should have enough power for a full day of shooting. Connectivity is very good, there are two XLR audio inputs, one on the rear of the camera body and one on the right side of the removable handle. So even when you remove the top handle you can still attach an external XLR mic to the camera. On the top handle there is Sony’s MI shoe so you can add a radio mic or further XLR input box if you wish without extra wires or cables (the handle also includes a GPS receiver for adding your location to the footage metadata). On the back of the camera there is an HDSDI output and HDMI output. The SDI is HD only and the HDMI can be HD or 4K (UHD 8 bit, 4:2:2, 3840×2160) depending on the cameras shooting mode (Currently the HDMI/SDI output is not available when recording 4K internally. However a firmware update, version 1.1, will enable the HDMI/SDI while recording internally at a later date). It’s worth noting that there are no timecode or genlock inputs or outputs. In the future there will be a firmware option to add a raw output to the camera for the best possible image quality (there may or may not be a charge for this upgrade and I don’t know when it will be available). As well as the traditional video connections there is also a full size LAN port. The camera has wifi too, so you can connect to the internet or a network via either WiFi or a LAN cable and then use it’s built in streaming capability to stream your footage live or upload it via ftp at a later time. This is going to be great for breaking news or to stream corporate events for clients. Next year I’m going to try to stream the Northern Lights live from Norway.


pxwfs5_others_150728_42-Mid-300x228 The Sony PXW-FS5. Run and Gun Super35 for all.
Left side of the PXW-FS5

The sensor appears to be the same sensor as the PXW-FS7 and PMW-F5, so it’s a dedicated 4K video sensor. This means that compared to most DSLR’s and many other large sensor cameras it has minimal image skew and low levels of rolling shutter. When I shot with it I didn’t find any shots that were noticeably effected by rolling shutter even though I shot a lot of footage from a moving boat. Noise levels are well controlled even though the native ISO is 3200 ISOin S-Log and 1000 ISO in other gammas! It looks like the image processing in this camera is really rather good at reducing noise. In low light and the dark the pictures from this camera look very good. My understanding is that in order to keep the power consumption down and to keep heat levels low this camera uses different processing to the FS7.

FS5-night-1-1024x576 The Sony PXW-FS5. Run and Gun Super35 for all.
Ungraded frame grab from the pre-production PXW-FS5. Note how little noise there is. Click on the image for the full size frame.

This makes sense as this camera does not have some of the more advanced functions of the FS7, like the CineEI mode, but on a camera like this the simpler menu structure and less complicated shooting modes really come in to their own as it helps make it a very easy camera to use. And for me, this was one of the best surprises with this camera. It’s very easy to use!


I had the 18-105mm power zoom lens which is available with the camera in the PXW-FS5K “kit”. It has to be said that this isn’t a high end cinema lens. It’s a low cost DSLR type lens with a powered zoom function. It’s a constant f4 throughout the zoom range but still small and compact. The camera includes electronic lens compensation that helps reduce some of the distortions and vignetting that would otherwise be visible (this does work in both HD and 4K with this camera). In addition with a Sony lens you can choose via the menu which direction the focus ring operates in. When paired together like this it’s almost like having an ENG handycam camera like the EX1 or PMW-200 again. You get a smooth power zoom that tracks focus reasonably well in a very compact package. OK, so it’s only a 6x optical zoom and the focus ring is one of those uncalibrated round and round servo jobs, but you know what, it works and it works pretty well. The camera even has Sony’s clear image zoom function that electronically increases the zoom range with virtually no image degradation. Apparently this can even be used with a prime lens to make it into a short zoom, although I was unable to test this clever feature out for myself. Once the production cameras come out I’ll be sure to try this!

The autofocus is pretty good too! The camera has Sony’s face tracking auto focus which is great for shooting people on the go as it locks on to faces and will ignore the background etc.  Turn off the face tracking and you have a smooth and accurate autofocus system. Add in image stabilisation as well and for run and gun this really starts to make a compelling package that could be handed off to an assistant or less experienced operator for some B roll.

sony_pxw-fs5_smart_side-cover-1078x516-1024x490 The Sony PXW-FS5. Run and Gun Super35 for all.
The PXW-FS5 with 18-105mm power zoom.


What about the limitations? Compared to the FS7 there are a few limitations. The codec options are all long GOP. You can choose between AVCHD or XAVC-L. There is no option for XAVC-I and in part that’s because this camera records to SD cards (SDXC for XAVC-L). There are two card slots so you can have either relay (one card after the other) or simultaneous recording to provide an instant backup. It’s nice to be able to use such cheap media, provided you remember that this is low cost consumer media, not really designed for professional applications. SD cards are normally very reliable provided you buy good quality cards from a reputable source.

Each card slot can be independently controlled by the hand grip rec button, the top handle rec button or body rec button if you wish. Back to the codec…. XAVC-L is a great codec. In HD it’s 10 bit 422 at up to 50Mb/s so offers full broadcast quality recording. In UHD (4K, 3840×2160) it is only 8 bit 4:2:0 at 100Mb/s so a little more restricted. But don’t panic! The 8 bit UHD recordings look beautiful. They are packed with detail and have rich well balanced color. I think it’s also worth remembering that like most 4K cameras this uses a bayer sensor, so you never have a true full chroma resolution equivalent of a 444 or even 422 signal off the sensor to record anyway. One small but important point to consider is that a Long GOP codec needs a more powerful computer to decode than an I Frame codec. So to edit the 4K (UHD only, no DCI 4K in the FS5) from this camera you will need an up to date and reasonably high spec computer. My retina MacBook Pro will play back and edit a single stream without issue, but start trying to use multiple layers or grading and adding filters and it will start to drop frames. One further limitation of the FS5 is that the highest base frame rate in 4K is 30fps. So you can shoot at 24, 25 or 30fps in 4K  at 100Mb/s or 24, 25, 30, 50 or 60fps in HD at 50 or 35 Mb/s XAVC-L or AVCHD (1920×1080 @ 17/24/28 Mb/s, plus 1280×720 @ 9/17/24Mb/s) or an AVCHD proxy for ftp or streaming at (it’s a multi-region camera).


You can however shoot at up to 960fps by using the S&Q motion mode. This mode operates in almost exactly the same way as the FS700. It’s HD only. Up to 60fps the camera can record continuously, there is no sound however. Above 60 fps the camera uses an internal memory buffer to cache the super slow motion content. This means that at 240 fps, which is the fastest full HD speed, the camera can record up to 8 seconds of action. You have a choice of a start trigger which starts the 8 second record period when you press the rec button or an end trigger. If you use the end trigger you can wait for the action to happen, then press the rec button and the 8 seconds prior to pressing rec is then transferred to the SD cards. At 240fps 8 seconds of action becomes an 80 second clip. At 480 fps the sensor is read at half HD vertical resolution, at 960 fps the resolution is about 1/4 HD and it gets pretty grainy looking.


The PXW-FS5 includes picture profiles that have a number of preset “looks” straight from the factory. But you can go in to each of these picture profiles and change the gamma, colorspace, matrix and many other image quality settings. The FS5 has Cinegammas and S-Log2, S-Log3 as well as S-Gamut, S-Gamut3 and S-Gamut3.cine (some of these options may not be in the camera at launch, maybe only S-Log3/S-Gamut3.cine, the others added later). The Cinegammas are great for projects that won’t be graded or only have minimal grading. S-Log2/3 are fantastic for film projects or other higher end work that will be graded as it allows the full dynamic range (14 stops) of the camera to be captured. In HD the 10 bit recordings are going to be fantastic with S-log3 or S-Log2. In UHD the 8 bit recordings will be a bit more restrictive when it comes to heavy grading or post production work. S-Log2 is better than S-log3 when you only have 8 bit data as it uses all of the data available. But as a test I decided to record some S-Log3 with the FS5 and then grade it to see how it holds up. I was really very pleasantly surprised. Get the exposure right and it works well and can produce a beautiful image provided you don’t push the grade too far. When shooting in S-Log you can add a gamma assist LUT to the viewfinder to make exposure assessment easier. At the moment there is only one LUT which is the 709(800) LUT. This corrects the gamma in the viewfinder to a much more normal looking image to make getting your exposure right much simpler. I noticed that the cameras Histogram always measures the recorded signal. I think this LUT is going to be the key way of getting good log exposure with this camera, but it’s also very simple to use and that’s what you need for run and gun. Add the LUT and if it looks right, it is right, it really is that simple. The camera will feature an enhanced zebra function that will operate over the full brightness range of 9 to 109 IRE and when the histogram is used you can include a marker line at the zebra level, so if you want to use a grey card or white card to set your log exposure this will be possible (this feature wasn’t working on the review sample so I have not tested it yet). There is no CineEI mode in the FS5.

The images from the PXW-FS5 really are very nice indeed. They contain lots of very fine detail and nice rich colors. The camera I had was a pre-production prototype, so there will be some tweaking of the image before launch, but I really hope that Sony don’t change it too much as it really looks great already. There is a little noise at 3200 ISO but the noise has a very fine grain and is not at all unpleasant. You can use a lower ISO if you want, even when shooting in S-log. Once the production cameras are available I will investigate the best ways to get the most out of the standard gammas and log gammas.

Ungraded-S-log-FS5-1024x576 The Sony PXW-FS5. Run and Gun Super35 for all.
Ungraded S-Log3 frame grab fro a prototype PXW-FS5. Click on the image for the full size. Note THIS IS A JPEG so will contain artefacts not in the original image.
FS5-graded-2-1024x576 The Sony PXW-FS5. Run and Gun Super35 for all.
Graded S-log3 from the PXW-FS5. Click on the image for the full size frame. Note THIS IS A JPEG so will contain artefacts not in the original footage.


FS5 has a center scan mode that uses just the center super 16mm sized part of the sensor. This mode is only available when shooting in HD, but the really nice thing is that you can assign the center scan mode to one of the assignable buttons and it switches instantly between full scan and center scan. This can be useful for extending your focal length electronically, in effect acting as a 2x extender. It means that if using the 18-105 lens for example you can get the equivalent of a 36 to 210 focal length by using the center scan mode. Another possibility is being able to use super 16mm lenses or even some 2/3″ ENG B4 zoom lenses. Super 16 is slightly larger than 2/3″ so not all 2/3″ lenses will be suitable, but many will be fine and won’t need an optical adapter, just a mount adapter.


For monitoring you have two options. There is a nice 3.5″ LCD panel (same panel as the FS7 perhaps) that can be attached to either the right, left, front or the rear of the hand grip. The LCD is plugged in to the side of the camera using the same connector as the FS7 viewfinder. The LCD can be rotated into a wide range of different positions for viewing from the rear, front or side of the camera. The attachment system and mount is well thought out and much better that the FS7’s viewfinder mounting system. The resolution is approx 1/4HD (960 x 540) which appears to be the norm for this size of LCD panel. On the back of the camera there is a small electronic viewfinder (EVF). This little EVF is actually rather good. It’s OLED so has great contrast and has a resolution very similar to the larger LCD panel. It is however quite small and you do need to get your eye nice and close to the EVF to get the best from it. I used it a lot for my shoot in Amsterdam.


pxwfs5_3-300x300 The Sony PXW-FS5. Run and Gun Super35 for all.
The FS5 Has an electronic variable ND filter.

I’ve saved one of the best bits about this camera to last. It has an electronic variable ND filter. On the front of the camera there is a traditional looking filter wheel knob with 4 positions. In addition on the side of the camera there is an exposure adjustment wheel that can be used to control the iris or the ND filter! When the front ND filter wheel knob is set to clear the ND filter system is removed from the optical path. But in the other 3 positions the variable ND is placed between the lens and the sensor. It’s very important to understand that this is not a polarising ND filter as often used on the front of camera lenses. It is a special crystal that darkens when a voltage is applied to it that does not polarise the light. When the ND filter is in place it can be controlled either via the ND knob or the exposure dial. If controlled by the ND knob you can set the 3 selectable ND levels via the menu, so you can choose just how much ND you get at each of the 3 ND knob positions. If you use the wheel the you get smooth control of the ND from dark to near clear over what I believe is a 7 stop range. In the future there will be a firmware update to allow automatic control of the ND filter.

The FS5 uses what we know as Sony’s E-Mount (although Sony actually call the lens system the Alpha system). Because the sensor is very close to the lens mount it’s very easy to adapt from E-Mount to almost anything else, such as PL-Mount or Canon EF. As anyone that’s used a Canon EF lens or camera will know, the aperture on the Canon lenses operates in steps. This means that you can’t make a smooth exposure change mid shot. The variable ND filter on the FS5 gets around this problem very nicely as you can set you exposure with the aperture as you would normally and then use the ND filter for any mid shot exposure changes. The other nice thing about a variable ND is that it allows you to make exposure changes without altering your depth of field. It’s very clever technology that first appeared on the PXW-X180.


I think Sony really have a winner on their hands. The current FS7 is a great camera, but can be a bit bulky for run and gun, it’s a shoulder cam. The FS7 is a great digital cinema camera with 10 bit 422 4K DCI and UHD and full LUT and EI capabilities. The new PXW-FS5, while a little more limited as a digital cinema camera is much smaller and I think much easier to use for run and gun. The combination of the FS5 with the 18-105mm lens with it’s power zoom, effective autofocus, variable ND and really great handheld ergonomics make this a really easy camera to shoot with on the move. It really does remind me of the EX1 when that was launched.  At that time to get really good quality images you almost always had to use a shoulder mounted camera, but the EX1 changed that forever. Now we have broadcast quality handycams such as the PXW-X200 that are used day in, day out for news and documentary production. To me the FS5 is similar. Up to now the majority of high quality super 35mm cameras have been shoulder mounted or bulky. The Fs5 brings really exceptionally good image quality combined with ease of use into a truly useable handheld package for the first time.  While there are other small options such as the new Sony A7s2 they are not as ergonomic as the FS5 for video work, they don’t have XLR audio without the use of adapters, they don’t have conveniently located zoom rockers etc.

The FS5 is sure to be a hit. I have one on order.

Please remember that my review is based on a pre-production prototype camera. Some features and functions may change between now and release and options may or may not be added in later firmware updates. I have tried to be as accurate as possible and believe that everything is true and accurate, but things do change!

Don’t forget I run storm chasing and Northern Lights expeditions every year. I still have some places on the second Northern Lights tour in Feb 2016. These are amazing expeditions by snowmobile up on to the Finnmarksvidda. We go ice fishing, dog sledding, exploring, cook a meal in a tent and enjoy traditional Norwegian saunas.

More information here.

sky-full-of-Aurora-1024x683 The Sony PXW-FS5. Run and Gun Super35 for all.
Northern Lights over our cabins in Norway.


139 thoughts on “The Sony PXW-FS5. Run and Gun Super35 for all.”

  1. Hi Alister, the FS5 review, previously password locked along with your excellent CineEI guide has to be worth what I hope turns out to be a decent beer. Never been to Raffles myself! Bob

  2. One of the key things missing from the FS5 is an Exposure Index mode. This isn’t the end of the world, simply ensuring you expose nice and bright will be enough a lot of the time. One way to get around this will be to use a monitor or viewfinder with built in LUT, then create and use a LUT with a built in exposure offset.

  3. Hi Alister,

    Thanks for this very useful article – I’ve an FS5 on order so I’m reading/learning everything I can find on it at the moment! One thing. You wrote “there are two XLR audio inputs, one on the rear and one on the right side. These are part of the camera body, so even when you remove the top handle you can still attach external mic’s to the camera”. Is that correct? I thought one of the XLRs was in a box that’s part of the top handle – or is there something I’ve not understood?

    Thanks for any clarification and keep up the great work, Andy

  4. Sorry if the question is poor, but I really don’t understand what is the difference between Cine EI and the Slog3+SGamut3.cine. Can you explain it?

    1. CineEI gives you the ability to easily shift the center your dynamic range up and down to manage exposure range and noise levels by making the LUT’s brighter or darker by controlled amounts. So when you look in the viewfinder the exposure looks correct, but the recorded exposure is shifted (normally made brighter). Without EI you can still achieve the same end result by deliberately over or under exposing, but the picture will look wrong in the viewfinder.

  5. Terrific, thorough review, Alister! Now comes time to weigh between another FS7 or an FS5. Run ‘n gun, FS5. Higher quality codecs, FS7. Cost, FS5 ($2400 difference at B&H in the US). Decisions, decisions! Thanks for helping to make life interesting.

    1. Yes, I think this will be the dilemma for many. The FS5 really is a handheld camera while the FS7 is more of a shoulder mount camera. Both can be run n gun, but do you want a handycam or a shoulder cam. If you want to do a lot of 4K S-Log then the FS7 is the better choice.

  6. Great review
    I’m interested in using it with B4 lens but would also need a real eyepiece / viewfinder in the style of a ENG camera. Any thoughts on that?

    1. I have a Zacuto Gratical and I will be using that with mine. There are several options, a 3rd party viewfinder (Gratical/Alphatron) or add a loupe to the existing LCD panel.

        1. That picture is of an FS5 fitted with the FS7 viewfinder. There is no loupe included with the FS5 for the LCD.

  7. Not sure it is actually better for run and gun.. having the still very light and small Fs7 actually on your shoulder,with a decent shoulder mount like the Zacuto . will be a lot less tiring than holding a camera out in front of you.. but the small size will be perfect for confined spaces .. I think we will see a lot of them on Movi / Drones .. etc..

  8. It’s not just the size that makes it so good for run n gun. It’s also things like the clear image zoom extending the zoom range of any lens, even a prime. The face tracking autofocus, the variable ND and the direct menu (Direct Menu allows you to access key camera functions such as gain, shutter, white balance etc without entering the main menu via the joystick on the handgrip). All these combine to make it really easy to shoot with.

  9. Yes true.. I wonder if there will be a shoulder rig for this camera.. I guess so.. then it would cover all bases .. using the side mounted LCD as the VF..

  10. The LCD has an extra long cable so it will be easy to configure it as a viewfinder. I’m sure there will be plenty of loupe attachments from the usual 3rd party suppliers such as Zacuto.

  11. Thank you for this article. Not sure if these were covered or not and my apologies if so:
    – Will the HDMI enable the capture of 4K 10-bit, 422 rather than the internal 8-bit, 420? As of now, it only shoots 10-bit, 422 in HD.
    + can you use an external monitor using HDMI or HDSDI out when recording in HD or 4k
    + can both LCD and EVF be used simultaneously?

    Thank you.

    1. At the moment the specs of the HDMI in 4K are unclear. It is a 10 bit 422 signal, but it looks likely that it’s only carrying 8 bit 422.

      At the moment the HDMI is disabled while recording internally. A later firmware update will enable the HDMI when recording.

      Yes you can use both together. There is a small switch on the LCD that controls the LCD/EVF switching as well as a sensor on the EVF that detects when you have it against your eye.

  12. Hi Alister ! I think Andy is correct, one XLR is on the camera body beside the SDI and HDMI ports, the other is attached to the Top Handle. This handle can be removed so (please correct me if I’m wrong) but you would loose this XLR if removed. Also the onboard mic is built into the handle and not the body, so again if this is removed you would loose this as would the ability to add
    an audio unit like the XLR-K2M XLR Adapter. Regards, Thomas

    1. Yes, my mistake. XLR 1 is on the body at the rear and XLR 2 is on the handle. I’ll correct the review. Thanks for bringing it up.

  13. I held it in my hands for a moment during IBC.
    Felt really good, looks very promising.
    I think I found a great EX1R like camera that I can actually fly on a MoVI M5 as well (this was actually tested during IBC).
    S35 with zoom rocker, at least 120fps in good quality, 4K possibilty, easy rotatable handgrip, high ISO and the variable ND (great tool!) combined with the possiblity to mount it on a gimbal make this a quite versatile camera. And I need a versatile camera since I’m shooting corporate videos with ‘cinema look’, training videos with large DoF, very dynamic shots with the MoVI and events and presentations (some in darker environments).
    The FS5 seems to fit right in my needs.

    The FS7 is a great camera as well, but it just won’t fit in my M5… :-p

    1. Yes, this is what I have been told by Sony. HDMI disabled while recording at time of release, but this will be fixed in a later firmware update.

  14. Hi Alistar ! Would it be possible for Sony to add 4K 10bit output to the FS5 (via a firmware) instead of 8bit as advertised and what would this depend on ?
    I personally wouldn’t mind paying the extra for this and the Raw output they have advertised (once it’s not a crazy price)
    I hope somebody from Sony is listening as now would be the time to introduce this especially with the URSA Mini and RED Raven on the horizon !
    It doesn’t seem unreasonable to ask for this. Especially when the FS7 can already do this internally and even the GH4 which costs a fraction of the price also offers it.
    I hope somebody from Sony reads your site and might add it to the paid upgrade. Regards. Thomas

    1. Only Sony can answer that. Technically it may or may not be possible, there might be limitations with the video processor thats being used. 8 bit is not the devil. Sure it’s not as good as 10 bit, but we have been using 8 bit and watching 8 bit TV for decades and it can produce great results.

      URSA Mini does indeed look very interesting on paper and at a great price, time will tell as to how good it actually is. Red Raven looks less interesting, it’s a smaller sensor and a working system looks like it will be closer to $10k and considerably more bulky.

      1. Hi Alistar ! I have worked with 8bit and agree it’s fine for most broadcast situations, but when you need a bit more room in post or want to push the image I found you can run into problems. For my needs 10 bit with Slog 2 or 3 would be fine as I don’t need the storage and other complications associated with Raw. 10bit 4:2:2 seems like a good middle ground. I would be surprised if a new camera like the FS5 can’t process 10bit, but only Sony can answer this. But with cameras like the GH4, Ursa Mini and Raven offering 10bit more and the FS7 having the ability to record it internally I hope Sony (if possible) will add it to the FS5. I do agree with you regarding the Raven however, I don’t think it will be as an attractive package as first appears, with accessories, media and batteries you are looking at a minimum 10-12K spend, plus the ergonomics are no where near as good as the FS7 or even FS5.
        My dream setup would have the FS5 paired with the new PIX e5 recorder as it seems like a perfect size for the FS5 and can double as a really good monitor. Regards. Thomas

  15. Red just announced the final specs for the new Red Raven, it’s pretty impressive but the form factor and price is not for me.

    Main Features:
    RED RAVEN: 4K RAW @ 120fps, 2K RAW @ 240fps, 2K ProRes 422 HQ @ 60fps, 16.5+ Stops via APS-C n DRAGON Sensor, Wi-Fi Control, Fixed Canon Mount.

    I do like the fact that it can record both 4K and Pro Res 422 HQ internally at the same time !(2K only). However it also lacks the built in ND’s and other features of the FS7 and FS5.
    I really hope Sony (if possible) allows 4K 10bit 4:2:2 (DCI) output over SDI and HDMI with their paid upgrade for the FS5.

    1. Its the same system as the PXW-X180 and X160 cameras which have been out for a year now and it’s proven to be very good.

  16. Hi Alister,
    Are we to believe then, that this is not a pro camera? I ask this because the lens that is part of the package is, as you quote…
    “It has to be said that this isn’t a high end cinema lens. It’s a low cost DSLR type lens with a powered zoom function”.
    And as Sony’s own website states…
    “Discover the new PXW-FS5
    Ideal for DSLR movie makers, web journalists, freelancers and semi-professionals, this stunning 4K camera lets you shoot any angle from any position, giving your creativity no more limits”.
    Further, is 4k at 100Mb/s really broadcast standard? I’m reminded of how we were all conned into buying HD ‘ready’ tv’s at 720 and then full HD came along at 1080.
    Considering these then, where is the camera aimed?

    1. I believe that yes, it is a pro camera, in the same way that the original EX1 was a pro camera. Yet, as you say 100Mb/s for 4K is a lot of compression and not really enough for mainstream 4K TV production IMHO.

      But, HD recorded at 50Mb/s 422 10 bit H264/XAVC-I exceeds the specs needed for a lot of HD broadcasting. So for HD it will find a lot of broadcast applications and the majority of TV productions are still HD. For 4K I think ot will find a place for a lot of online productions or as a secondary or backup camera for situations where a larger camera just won’t work. As with HD, I expect it will be acceptable to use up to 20% of the footage within a program from a lower quality camera.

  17. IMO Sony can put the whole professional argument to rest if they just allow 4K 10bit 4:2:2 output at the same bitrates as the FS7. The camera will still be distinguished from the FS7 as it has internal 10bit.
    NOW is the time to implement this though !
    With the RED Raven and Ursa Mini on the horizon the FS5 would be an extremely attractive option. For me the FS5 with the Pix e5 could be the perfect combination of size and features.

    Anybody on the fence over the 8bit 10bit debate would jump on board, plus Sony marketing could claim its’ the perfect camera for it’s price point, size, feature set, ease of use and editing / storage requirements.
    JMO !

    1. I very much doubt it will happen. It’s not just a case of switching on 10 bit, it would require more processing which means more power and more heat in what is already a very small box. I too would love it to be 10 bit 422 in 4K. Don’t forget it will get raw in a future update and that will be at least 12 bit and there are already a number of raw recorders with more and possibly smaller ones likely to come.

  18. Alister I agree with you on the 10bit internal recording and why this will no be a runner. And I understand that it may take extra processing and produce more heat, but even at it’s current size it should be capable of outputting 10bit, given the fact it is already using newer technology and processing than the FS7.
    Also smaller cameras like the GH4 are already capable of outputting 10bit in a much smaller form factor, I can only surmise that the FS5 is using similar heat dissipation as the FS7. RAW recording is great but it depends on how it’s managed in terms of file size and ease of use.
    My own guess is (and I may be completely wrong here) Sony doesn’t want to unlock 10bit output on the FS5 so it doesn’t appear to be in competition with the FS7.
    However with newer cameras like the Ursa Mini and Raven arriving I think it would be clever if Sony allowed 10bit output so other manufacturers can’t claim that the camera doesn’t have 10bit output, and is more a prosumer camera.
    IMO NOW would be the ideal time to rethink this and allow 10bit output if at all possible.
    Again this is just my thoughts on things. Regards. Thomas

    1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the GH4’s 4K HDMI is also only 8 bit.

      My suspicion is that the FS5 is using a hybrid of sensor readout from the FS700 and image processing from the A7s Mk2 rather than the FS7 chipset. The FS5 has half the power consumption of the FS7. There’s only so much heat you can pump out of a small camera body without sensor noise becoming an issue.

      The raw implementation should be the same as the FS7 so you will have the option to record raw or ProRes depending on the recorder. I also have a strong feeling that there will also be a very small raw recorder to match the FS5 around about the time the raw firmware is released.

  19. Alister & Thomas,
    I think Thomas nailed it with his last post.

    It’s as if those clever chaps over at Sony have got together, listened to their customer base and designed and produced a piece of equipment that is truly useable in the real world of location film making – then, just before launch, someone from sales comes along and takes away one or two of the sought after aspects and comments “come along boys, we can’t make it that good!” So what you end up with is a range of products that are nearly but not quite! (Sony aren’t the only guilty parties here. BMD’s Ursa Mini – I so wish it was called the Ursa Minor 🙂 – is equally flawed without internal ND filters. Who shoots R’n’G doc’s and says “hold on a tick while I screw on another filter”!)

    As pointed out, other manufacturers manage admirably well with smaller form factors and limiting 4K to 4:2:0 is a joke.

    Alister, agreed that 4K TX is still some way off – It’s got to be if BT makes a great deal of advertising “at least one premier league match with be broadcast in UHDTV each week” – but if it makes sense to archive material in the highest possible form, your comment about broadcast permitting 20% of content basically suggests that the FS5 is 20% useful. Remember, the largest badge on the FS5 is the one denoting ‘4K’.

    The EX1’s & 1R’s were pro cameras, but needed the Nano Flash to get really good images out of them, but at least they allowed the image to bypass the internal processor and be out putted via HDSDI.

    At the end of the day it seems to me counter supportive of their customer base to restrict output from the FS5 to external recording devices when internally it has a non pro codec.


    1. But once the raw output is enabled you will be able to record externally at better than 10 bit 4:2:2 anyway. I don’t see what the issue is.

      Plus don’t forget, the image off the sensor is not 4:2:2 anyway, it’s more like the equivalent of 4:2:0 anyway so a lot of the argument for 4:2:2 is mute anyway.

      1. Alister will the Raw output be in 4K ? I thought the SDI output is only capable of HD and 4K is only available via HDMI in 8bit 4:2:0 (if I’m wrong on this I apologise)

        1. My understanding is that the raw output will be 4K over the HDSDI, just as the FS700 outputs 12 bit 4K raw over it’s HDSDI.

  20. Just a final observation, if Sony act now before the FS5 is launched they can claim that they always intended to allow 10bit output and the IBC specs were never finalised.
    If however they wait and drag their heels then the other manufacturers will just use this against them.
    I still believe the FS5 and FS7 represent different markets and allowing 4K 10bit 4:2:2 output will not drastically effect sales of either. Some will prefer the bigger FS7 with it’s internal 4K 10bit (broadcast and corporate work where the perception of a bigger camera and quality still holds) and others will prefer the smaller FS5 with the ability to add an external recorder for 10bit. Either way not allowing 10bit output will only affect potential sales of the FS5 (IMO)
    If Sony is really looking to become the leading 4K Camera manufacturer I believe it can take on and beat the competition by offering this. It becomes very difficult to justify a Red Raven, Ursa Mini or even a DVX200 if the FS5 and FS7 can offer more bang for buck, features and comparable image quality at a fraction of the price.
    My 2 Cents.

  21. OK, So would you be prepared to pay the same price as an FS7 for the FS5 if it had a 10 bit 422 output?

    Red Raven is in a totally different class. It’s heavy, power hungry, needs big batteries and costs twice as much ready to shoot. No ND filters, no autofocus or auto controls. If you want to shoot in 4K it’s raw only.

    Ursa Mini: We don’t really know much about this in the real world yet, I haven’t yet seen anything that shows 14 stops of dynamic range, but it’s certainly an interesting camera that can’t be ignored. A ready to go Ursa with viewfinder will cost about the same as an FS5. But the media costs will be very high because you’ll need 500Gb per hour, so even with the cheapest C-Fast cards your looking at $1,500 per hour. You have to choose between expensive PL or Canon EF, there’s no way you can do both and there are no ND filters. Plus you need to use heavy, bulky V-Mount batteries (and the battery plate cost extra too).

    DVX200? 4/3″ sensor, fixed lens, limited dynamic range. Sure it’s an interesting half way house between a traditional handycam like the PMW-200 and a Super35mm camera. But it’s also neither one or the other. Bit of an oddball really.

    The FS5 already offers a feature set that is very attractive. Once the raw output is enabled you will be able to record ProRes or Raw externally, connected via SDI. So why bother with the less than ideal HDMI connection?

  22. Alister just one question I can’t find the answer to.
    Will the Raw output via the SDI be 4K in as you mentioned better than 10bit 4:2:2 ?
    If so I think any recorder like the Atomos or 7Q will be able to handle this and I would be happy as they will probably allow recording in different flavours of 4K Pro Res 10bit 4:2:2
    If not then I would like the option of recording 4k 10bit 4:2:2 via the HDMI
    Regarding buying the FS5 for the same price as the FS7, with the RAW upgrade it will probably be close to the same price anyway so I don’t see Sony loosing out by offering 10bit output. In fact this option the FS5 with External recorder will probably work out dearer than the FS7 when you add in the paid Raw upgrade.
    Thanks. Thomas

    1. It looks like the raw output will be the same as it is on the FS700 which is 12 bit linear. So it will take every pixel of the sensor and output the data from each pixel as a 12 bit signal with no gamma and no other processing other than a small gain shift according to the white balance selected.

      Potentially the raw output will exceed the quality of a 10 bit 422 HDMI output.

      I think what everyone forgets is that raw doesn’t need any processing, so it can be done with low power, low heat and a very basic processing chip. Processing a 10 bit 422 signal takes a lot of processing power and is much harder to do than raw.

      1. Thanks Alister !
        I for one would be happy with 4K Raw over SDI.
        Plus it allows me the option of choosing a more edit friendly
        4K Pro Res 4:2:2 codec when using a 7Q or Atomos.

  23. Thanks for the great review of the FS5. I’m very excited about this camera. I would use it mainly for HD shooting at the highest recording quality. You mention a couple of times about XAVC-L being processor-intensive for editing. I edit on a Macbook / FCPX and had assumed that it would routinely convert XAVC-L to a less compressed editing codec on import, e.g., Pro Res, so alleviating any processing issues. Am I wrong in thinking this?

    Apologies for posting this previously in the wrong comments section.

    1. FCPX will not convert XAVC-L unless you tell it to. Even then it has to be considered that this may take some time and the files will become significantly bigger. 4K ProRes HQ is 880Mb/s, so that’s 500GB per hour at 24fps. I would suggest that as a minimum you want a MacBook Pro Retina with the NVIDIA GT750M graphics card or better for good real time performance with 4K XAVC-L.

      1. Thanks, Alan. I guess the default setting is “me” – I always choose “optimize media” in FCPX even with AVC, and just assumed everyone else would to make editing easier. External hard drives are cheap enough these days and for me XAVC-Ls ability to compress efficiently onto XDXC cards is a positive advantage not a downside. I’m thinking of investing in this camera when it arrives.

  24. Hi Alister,

    Thank you for your great review.

    After reading your review I am very interested in ordering the FS5 however I would like to know about how using a professional camera such as this one differs from using a standard Sony consumer camcorder.

    I am looking to take my film making to a new higher level, do you think based on your experience that this camera would be the right option for someone like me, if price is not an obstacle, or do you think the advanced features are unnecessary for someone who doesn’t work in the industry?

  25. Hi everyone. This ongoing discussion is really very helpful. Not just to the participants, but also people like me who want to learn. Thank you all. Please keep it coming. Also, an apology to Alister for my clumsiness in spelling your name wrong. I’d be upset to be called Roobert! Very good of you not to take offence.

    As SD card speeds and capacities increase maybe we will see firmware updates that can make the FS5 even more of HDW’s “no brainer”. I was very interested to read Alister’s comments on the internal hardware, so there are limits to what can be done with this model, but the form factor is brilliant, so maybe at NAB ….

    One of my many concerns is do I need to upgrade my pc computer to process XVAC UHD Long Gop? It scores 6.7 on Windows benchmark, but was really designed and built by my son with astronomy photography and telescope control in mind. Any comments or better still, camera file samples, would be very helpful to me, and maybe others. Cheers. Robert.

  26. Some good news. I have read on DVinfo today a comment from a very reliable member who saw/handled the camera yesterday at a dealer event. He says it does indeed have a Wave Form Monitor. Perhaps the camera was running a more advanced firmware than the one you handled Alister – but I’m very please to hear it does look like it will have a WFM after all!

  27. I can’t begin to thank you enough for all the informative reviews especially this one
    about the new FS5. As a one man production crew I feel this may be the “work horse” camera I have been waiting for. Even though I stay really busy event shooting, with a somewhat limited budget I am torn between the new A7s II (including ibis & improved autofocus) and the new FS5. Allister do you believe that the FS5 is a better camera producing a clearer more vivid image than the upcoming A7s II? I realize there are DP’s around now that are extremely talented making incredible 4k movies with their iphones. Yet for my work flow I need to make a purchase soon.. I’m not a pixel peeper just a film maker looking for a pretty
    pictures coming from my new camera. Thanks again for all your insights

    1. I think there will be pro’s and con’s to both. I really like the look of the pictures from the A7s, but as a video camera ergonomically the FS5 is far superior. The variable ND will be a godsend (although there are variable ND E mount to EF lens adapters in development). I don’t think there will be a huge difference in image quality between the two, it will come down to how you use them.

  28. Hi Alister,

    Just for the record I don’t agree with everyone about how your reviews are so great. It seems like you work for Sony and you are just a shill for their advertising machine. Plus you pick and choose who comments on your website.

    Sit and spin my friend.

    1. I do not hide that I do some training, event support and video production work for Sony, it’s clearly stated on the front page of the site, nor do I hide that I am a fan of Sony’s products. Yes I moderate the posts on the website to keep out spam, but I do not exclude negative comments or posts unless they are abusive, offensive or trolling, if you take a look you will find many examples of negative posts. You are of course entitled to your opinion but would suggest the fact that there are on average 45,000 vistors that come back to the site month on month means that a great number of people would disagree with you.

      1. I’m sorry but that is a straight up lie that you simply moderate the posts for negative comments. And if we can’t trust you with that then how can we trust you with making unbiased reviews. I don’t even expect you to post this reply because you are not interested in the publics opinion.

        1. And what evidence of this lie do you have? Do you have access to the moderation queues? If you keep making false and unsubstantiated accusations you will be blocked from the site.

          1. Tara: No one forces you to come here and read the advice and info on offer.

            If you don’t like it simply leave. But don’t cast aspersions on the excellent knowledge base Alister provides for free.

            Your rather terse and rude comments lead the rest of us to believe that your camera knowledge and skills is of the same level of development as your manners.

  29. Alister,

    I don’t agree with the previous post that your reviews are biased. Your reviews are great, thorough, and accurate!

    Thank you!

    1. Thanks Craigkilb. I try to be honest. If my reviews are inaccurate then I’m going to be found out as soon as people start buying the cameras and that isn’t good for me, wouldn’t be good for the manufacturer or anyone.

    1. Really depends on what you need. If you want autofocus the Sony 18-200 power zoom isn’t all that bad. Otherwise it might be worth looking at the A-Mount version of the Tamron 16-300.

  30. Nuanced, informative and well written, excellent review without question. Thanks for the piece. Sounds like a really stellar camera at a price point that affordable for people such as myself.


    1. Not sure. The processing is different, so it’s a bit of an unknown at the moment. Hope to get an FS5 and FS7 side by side this week.

      1. Very much looking forward to your findings Alister. It would be akin to the Holy grail to have the 2 camera match up seamlessly, especially in 1080. For now I keep renting a second FS7.
        Then to have both hand held and shoulder mount options between the 2 cameras, for the same price of a C300 MKII…

  31. Tara you are 100% wrong.. Ive been following this site for years now.. and there have often been negative aspects about Sony products pointed out,when they are warranted, in the reviews themselves .. let alone the comments ..

  32. I really appreciate your work here and the value you give to us in the Sony community…I cannot find anywhere if there is focus peaking and focus zoom in this camera? These functions are so basic (like on my x200) that one would assume the are in scope…any ideas? Cheers…Steve

  33. Dear Alister, can you confirm that i can use a XLR-K2M on a fs5 so that i can get 4 channels of xlr audio? thanks!


    1. You can use the adapter, but my understanding is you will still only have 2 channels of audio. It’s really important that people understand that the FS5 is not simply a shrunk down FS7. It uses completely different processing to cut down on power and to make it smaller, so many FS7 features are not possible.

      1. Thanks, thats bad news for me. 4 Channels of Audio would be fantastic, if you are working as a Videojournalist etc. I dont think 4 channels of audio take much processing power and in fact i think the processing power of the fs5 is higher or the same as the fs7 (face af for example takes power, i think they put a newer and energy saving processor into it, but thats just guessing). but its good that you make clear its not a stripped down fs7 because many people think that way. cheers, Jakob

        1. The FS5 has a lot less processing power than the FS7. The FS7 has at least 3 DSP’s, the FS5 it would appear only has 1. The FS5 can’t even add a true LUT to the VF, it’s only a gamma shift. The FS5 is much closer to an A7 or FS700 than an FS7. My suspicion is that it uses the same image processor as the A7rII which would explain why it can’t do 10 bit 4K or 4 channels of audio or LUT’s beyond a VF gamma shift.

          But it is a great camera.

  34. I specifically wanted to know about the noise level in low light conditions and you demonstrated that right away in your review. In researching this camera there have been answers I’ve only found within your review whereas the others seem like they’re reading off the Sony press release. Who cares that you’re a “sony” guy… you’ve nailed the tech info those of us that are seriously considering this camera want to know. And what’s more, my Canon snob production partner has given the thumbs up to me with the FS5 for what he knows I’ll need it for! Thanks for filling in the info gaps.

  35. Does anyone know if Sony will allow 4k out HDMI at 60 fps. The specs says its HDMI 2.0 which can support 4k 60fps but that doesn’t mean this camera will do this. It would be great if it could over crank 4k at least externally.


    1. I don’t know for sure, but I very much doubt it. It would be highly unusual to have a monitor only mode in the camera where internal recording is not possible. It might be possible when the raw option comes out as this bypasses most of the internal processing so higher frame rates may be an option with raw.

      1. Thanks for that quick response Alister. Oh well. I was hoping it was just simply a SD card limitation. They probably will leave that to the raw upgrade as you said. Just another quick question. Am I right in understanding the MI shoe gives a third input for audio. So i could run two wireless and a shotgun for example?

        1. It does give an extra input but at the moment my understanding is that you will only be able to record two channels.

  36. Alister.

    I watched your presentation on the FS5, fantastic, you have a wonderful way of breaking things down.

    In your opinion, can I assume that I would be able to match the FS5 with the FS7, by using Cine Gammas and Hypergammas respectively, if both in HD?

    Thanks as always


  37. Hi Alister,
    Regarding the evf quality…. Is it like the ones found on the A7r’s and nex 6000’s or much more inferior? The Canon c100mk1, that I presently use, has a really terrible evf. I would presume the this fs5 has a usable one as using an external one is not an option for the type of work I do.

  38. Hi Alister, Thanks for the review
    My question – Will i be able to use my Sigma 18-35mm 1.8 Aps-c lens (canon EF mount) on FS-5?

  39. Hi Alister,

    I watched your 2 hour hands-on presentation on the Fs5. Firstly, I want to thank you for so generously sharing your knowledge!

    I do have a question about using S-log 3 though.You said in dark situations its a no-no because the all the tones DR are about 5 stops.So would this also be true also of a brightly lit coal mine? All the tones ( black en grey) are on the lower end of the scale thus less bits are dedicated to this. Am I right? So its not light level, but actually tonal level. Black must still be black and the brown cat on the coal heap is still a dark brown cat whether its lit with a candle at f 0.95 or an 2 K Fresnel at F 8? Am I understanding you correctly?

    Basically S-log 2/3 gives a less bits ( number of shades) to the shadows vs the highlights? I think this is true of all cameras though ….

    Now my question. I love the LC709A Look that is provided as a LUT on top of the Slog3. I like the colours and the way I can grade it in both Premiere ( with only 16bits) and in resolve ( with 32 bit floating point)

    Now is it not a better idea – ON the FS7 – ( don’t think the fs5 can do this) then to bake in the LC709A look n situation where the TONES are on the darker side? in this way the shadows are given more bits( shades) to process. I’m I right?

    I ask this question because I would like to get the FS5 but not sure How I will match it with my FS7? Originaly I thought to shoot slog 3 on both and then add the LC709a LUT in post. But after watching your presentation it seems this will be a bad idea. Not enough shade of balck gray in the shadows for 8 bit …. ?

    Can I use the hypergammas then ? I like hg7 / hg8 but not sure how that correlates with the cinegammas in the fs5?


    Thank you again for all you help!

    1. The problem is that with log the first 8 stops are all down in the noise and mush below middle grey and are allocated very, very little data, less than 50 code values per stop in 10 bit and less than 12 per stop with 8 bit. With S-log the extra sensitivity comes from a lower black clip level, but his increased low range is mostly noise. With 709, although less sensitive as black clip is set higher, the darker stops have between 2 and 3 times more code values per stop so noise is much better represented and thus looks smoother and far less noticeable.

      If you want to match both cameras you can always use S-log2 or use Hypergamma 1 and Cinegamma 1 as these are the same.

  40. Thank you for your review on the FS5, It’s been the most informative I’ve seen yet and it’s convinced me to buy one. It’s just arrived I’m working my way through the menus right now. Would you be able to recommend a good resource for an explanation on the picture profiles or an overview of the different profiles? I’m coming from DSLR’s with limited knowledge of profile settings and I’m not sure where to start 🙂 – P.S Do I need a plugin to edit footage on FCX?

    1. The PP principles are exactly the same with the FS5 as any other camera, so read up mu my explanations of Hypergamma/cinegamma etc to get an idea of which to use and when.

  41. Hu Alister,
    thank you for your explications. I am a newbie in sony’s camera world, but i will work with the FS5. So i am asking : do you have any exemple of picture profile’s settings for s-log3 because for now with the 3200iso in base, i can find a good settings always have noise in the dark, even when i put luts in resolve.
    Thanks for all

    1. With S-log3 you don’t really want to change any of the other settings. Use the default profile and get the exposure at +1 to +2 stops. S-log is not good for low light shooting and on the FS5 S-log2 is generally better than S-log3.

  42. Hi All,
    Apologies if this has been addressed but can anyone tell me what the “aerial” looking thingy is on the top left corner (looking into lens) is?

    I am in remote part of the world (Central London) and dont seem to be able to find a distributor that is able to let me physically touch it prior to purchasing 🙁


  43. Re S log and low light.. say you have been shooting Slog through out your program.. now there is an unusual “dark” scene.. whats best.. just change the whole set up to Rec 709/STD5/Custom..for that scene/location.. so out of cine EI completely.. or keep Cine EI but bake in the 709.800LUT.. although its 800% over 709 in highlights..?
    Is it a problem to suddenly change to custom/709.. for the post workflow..if you have shot everything else in Slog..


  44. Alister,
    I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed your presentation in Austin on Friday. I think your presentation on the subject matter was the best I’ve heard yet, and it’s so helpful to have someone like you who will pull back the curtain of mystery by which the factories shroud all their goings on give us a glimpse into how many of the things we’re confronted with actually work and why? Come back and see us some time—Sponsor a shoot of South West Texas deserts and mountains analogous to your northern lights project. West Texas, the big bend area, the mountains (8000+ feet)–a really fantastic place to shoot.
    I have three questions regarding your review of the FS5: First, I see in programming the preset buttons a button 6, but I can’t find that button on the camera? What’s up with that?
    Second, you mentioned that you could use a LUT in the “viewfinder” (EVF???) while shooting log. I’ve looked through the camera’s menus and can’t find any such LUT. Can you give me some clarification about that?
    Finally,I’ve noted several views of the FS5 videos on youtube and vimeo mention the images look soft in most of the videos. I noted your falconer video was plenty sharp, but I have to admit I noticed the same thing, and I am not getting the image as sharp as I would like, or as sharp as I can on my JVC ls300.
    Any tips on how to get a cleaner, sharper image from the FS5?

    Thanks kindly,

    1. I’ve noticed the same, Tom, especially compared to my Panasonic GH4. (and I have sharpness turned way down on that one.) I add sharpness in post, to flavour. It looks much more organic than the electronic sharpening that’s done in-camera.

      1. Well, you guys are watching highly compressed videos online. The HD out of my Sony FS5 is mind blowing sharp and the color is amazing.

  45. Hi Alister 🙂

    This site has been very helpful. Thank you. I bought Fs5 and I am starting to get to know how to use it these days, so I do have a few questions that I hope you could answer if you please.

    1. Regarding the Super slow motion:
    I tried several times to shoot slow motion (both 100fps, 200 fps, 400 etc.) in XAVC 108o/25p – and this is what happens: The cam says “preparing” and then goes to “STBY”. When I push “REC” it says “recording” and a huge yellow CANCEL-sign shows on the display. The result is never the session filmed between REC and Cancel. The result is from before I push rec. VERY annoying and I simply do not understand how it works! Could you please help me out? Will it not allow you to see what you record when recording it?

    2. Editing:
    Another difficulty I came across was when trying to import the MXF files (is this the only codec the files get “paced” as?) and not being able to edit them in FCPX. I downloaded all the updates on their homepage (both FCPX + Sony) but still nothing happens! The files show up as sound files without images 🙁 What am I doing wrong??

    3: Also a bit confused and troubled to read that this format demands a really strong computer. I normally edit on my MacBook Pro (Retina) with external hard drive. I have edited two music videos shot with FS7 without problems, but is the files from FS5 heavier? Do I need a stronger computer? Disappointed if that is the case…

    I really hope that you can help me out here. Thanks and Merry X-Mas!

    1. The FS5 uses a memory cache to record super slow mo with a start trigger or end trigger. The length you can record is limited depending on the frame rate you are shooting at. The full details of how to use it are in the manual.

      I don’t know why you are having problems getting the files into FCP-X. MXF is an industry standard wrapper for pro codecs and is the same as used by the FS7.

      XAVC-L is a long GOP codec so needs about 4 times as much processing power as XAVC-I.

  46. Hi Alister, when you have the time (and have got back from sunny Norway) I wonder if you would consider posting a list of the lenses you have found best to use with the FS5 and FS7 cameras? I don’t want to buy an APS C lens and find that it does not fully cover the Super 35mm sensor. I know a dealer visit would be good, but I’m not even in Central London! Have a Very Prosperous New Year (and I wish that to all your other readers) and I would like to join with the many others to thank you for all the very helpful information and advice. Bob

  47. Every time I go through your articles on the FS5 (or anything else) I come away with more I can immediately turn into real world practice. I’ve had the FS5 since early December and really love the results I’m getting.
    I do have one question after reading the above article and it is this: when do you think you will come out with the commentary on the picture profiles and the various gammas?
    I think a lot of us would be anxious to learn anything you can share about best uses for these image tools.

      1. Looking forward to reading that.

        Thanks for your site. I’m learning a lot. I really like this camera. I’m using it for short documentaries. I’ve switched from the C100. I watched your really great video on the FS5 explaining the Cinagammas. I think I’m starting to get it.

        What I’m still confused about is setting the proper exposure when shooting in Cine1 or Cine4. I realize both of these are going to require a little work in post to utilize the full potential. I’m still confused about exposure. For the Cinegammas I should set my zebras for 70% and then close down a stop, right? This will gather better contrast especially in my skin tones, but I’ll need to open it up a little in post.

        Thanks for any advice. I’m coming from a newspaper still photographer’s perspective. The profiles are throwing me for a loop. I want to get the most out of the camera.

        1. That’s pretty much right. If you expose a cinegamma as you would normal gamma and then look at the picture as you open and close the aperture you will see the contrast on skin tones start to fall away as you brighten the picture. So one approach is simply to expose as normal and then just open and close the aperture a bit and look at your pictures then place the exposure where you think looks best.

          1. After reading your response I went out and short a short in Cine1. We wanted to see what we could do with the FS5 with the kit lens, one card and one battery. We wrote a little story arch on the drive up to the mountains and put it through the paces in the snow- we even got stuck at one point.

            The main version can be found here:

            The lightly edited clips are here:

            Thanks again for the info.

  48. Hi Alister,

    When the FS5 uses the memory cache to record super slow mo, could I speed up that write time to the SD card by having a super fast SD card, such as Sandisk’s Extreme Pro 280 MB/s memory cards (currently I use the 95 MB/s ones)?
    Or is the write time to the card determined by the write speed from the cache?
    Thanks for a very informative website!

    1. You cannot speed it up as it’s governed by the encoder, basically the camera feeds uncompressed video into the encoder at 50 or 60fps as that is the fasted speed the encoder can work at.

  49. Excellent review!

    Question, do you know if the FS5 does a 1:1 pixel read out or does it over sample? There are more than 8 million pixels on that sensor so I’m curious to know what it’s doing with those extra pixels? I would doubt that Sony would line skip on this and a simple 1:1 readout would cause a sensor crop…no? We know that Sony does have fantastic technology for over sampling capability on it’s consumer Alpha and Handycam line or products.

    Any idea? (I suppose this question applies to the FS7 too)


    1. I believe it is 1:1. A lot of extra pixels around the edge of the active area are used to estimate noise levels for noise reduction and black level correction.

  50. I’ve been testing a FS5 and it seems that the battery doesn’t last that long and I haven’t even been shooting that much. Has anyone see this problem on battery life?

    1. I’m surprised by this. You should be getting about 2 hours from the BP-U30 that comes with the camera.

  51. Hi Alister am about to buy a new camera I thought the FS5 but I have doubts , I work mainly with Television Broadcast news and with the Pmw 200 Working with XDCAM to 50 mb I want a second camera the FS5 could fit newsgathering ? or you have limitations ? I would use the 4k only for wedding and commercials I saw that from June there will be a paid upgrade for XDCAM 422 50 mb 1080I thanks Angelo

    1. The FS5 is a nice compact camera that could be used for ENG in HD. Just remember the XAVC-L UHD does not meet any broadcast standard, for any kind of broadcast or higher end UHD/4K you’d need an FS7 or F5.

  52. Hi Alister, I can’t manage to unlock the restricted 3200 iso when shooting sLog. As you say at the end of the “PICTURE PROFILES, S-LOG AND GAMUT”section of your article it simps to be possible.

  53. Hi Alister
    Great review as usual. I have an FS5 and I have a query with one of its features – the Active Image stabilisation.
    I have several lenses – Batis 18 and 85, Touit 50 Macro, Zeiss 24-70 and the Kit lens – the 18-105 f4.
    I usually shoot on a tripod – however now and again I have to hand hold. When I bought this camera I was led to believe this was is selling point. However with ALL my lenses the ACTIVE IMAGE STABILISATION is greyed out and I can only get STANDARD IMAGE STABILISATION – which is not as good as the X70 I used to own.
    I queried this with Sony at the NEC in February as I thought it may be a fault with my camera and they said – it should definitely work with the 18-105mm Kit lens – however when they paired their demo up – sure enough same issue. They referred me to contact Sony Prime Support – but they have not been too helpful.
    So I googled it and as far as I can see the only lenses that will work in ACTIVE IMAGE STABILISATION mode are the SEL 18-200 and the SELP 18-200 PZ. Do you know if this is correct – I find this hard to believe that the FS5 – sold as a run and gun – and great for corporate videos – has this limitation on what I would call entry level DSLR lenses? Is the thread I read correct – are these the only two lenses that can take advantage of the AIS… if this is the case – then the X70 with its fixed lens – which is superb – and had built in AIS is surely a better bet for hand held?

  54. Hello Alister,
    It’s no secret that in S-Log2 or S-Log3, you should shoot with one or two stops of overexposure.
    If this seems simple enough to implement on a DSLR, which works by measuring exposure in EV, it seems a little more complicated on a camcorder, which relies on the operator’s habit of the percentage and quantity of zebras appearing in the bright areas.
    For example, is it possible to imagine the trick of setting the zebra to 100%, and having as much zebra in the bright areas as with a 70% standard exposure setting?
    I currently use the Sony FS5.
    Thank you.

    1. You don’t “have” to shoot 1 or 2 stops brighter. It might be beneficial depending on your workflow, especially if you don’t use NR in post production, and most people will find 1 stop brighter makes life easier on the FS5 (exposing brighter is not needed for every camera, it depends on the noise in each individual camera).

      It is more difficult to do this with a camera without LUT’s. Exposure should always be based on the mid range, never on highlights as it is the mid range that must always be correct and the gap between the brightest highlights and the mid range will vary greatly from shot to shot. Expose by the highlights and your mid range exposure will go up and down depending on that gap.

      By recommendation is to set the exposure via a white card or white piece of paper. Set the zebras to 70% and when you have zebras over a white card your exposure will be 1.3 stops brighter than base.

      1. Thank you very much Alister for these recommendations. I often remember to take my white card with me when shooting, for my white balance, but not often enough to use it for measuring exposure as well. This is a good reminder and a good tip!

  55. Hello Alister,
    I still (often) use my FS5 with the HLG3 setting, then grading my footage, manually, in Première. However, I wonder if some HLG LUTs (1, 2 or 3) are recommended, and what results they allow to obtain without having to retouch the settings ?
    Many thanks.

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