Guide to the PMW-F55 and F5

Here are links to pages that should help you get the very best from your PMW-F55 or PMW-F5 cameras.

Quick Reference Guide PDF – Helps figure out why things won’t work as expected, Downloadable PDF, keep it on your phone/ipad or print a copy and keep it in your camera kit.

How to use the CineEI mode.

How to create a user 3D Look for the F5 or F55.

Exposing via a LUT. (video clip).

Using the Viewfinder High Contrast Mode as an alternative to the 709(800) LUT in High Speed (HFR).

Understanding Sony’s new S-Log3 curve.

Gamut and Colorspace.

Log curves and exposure, why Slog2 or Slog3 may look under exposed.

Correct exposure for Sony’s Hypergamma’s.

Using the High / Low Key function.


300x250_xdcam_150dpi Guide to the PMW-F55 and F5

S-Log2 to Canon C300 Look.

Custom Mode S-Log2 and S-Log3 LUT’s

S-Log3 Film Look LUT’s


28 thoughts on “Guide to the PMW-F55 and F5”

  1. Dear Alister,
    First I need to thank you for all the info you have been sharing with us since the F5-55 are out. You make my life easier and my work more beautiful!
    I just gat a call from a friend working on the F5, since I’m an old owner he thought I’ll get him out of trouble fast, but it took me a while…
    When double scan is in the viewfinder activated LUTs can’t work
    We are used to it, but new user would love this to be specified in your Reference guide I guess.
    Maybe you should start a new update wishing list for V5 because I believe it will be our last one before long.
    May I suggest to had on top of the existing program:
    – fast access to center scan mode (2 push max)
    – LUTs in HFR specially and all modes (if possible?)
    – LUTs back on automatically when coming out of HFR (if LUTs in HFR impossible)
    – Viewfinder double scan activated in all modes
    – Possibility to have sound of track 1 also recorded on track 2
    – Possibility to keep the use of the 4 user buttons even when panel is locked

    Thanks a lot for all your helpful posts!
    JG Leynaud

    1. Those requests went in to Sony some time ago. V5 will almost certainly NOT be the last update. I’m hearing rumours of a V6 update next year.

  2. Hi Alister,

    Thank you so much for all the time you put in to sharing your knowledge with the world.. it’s certainly appreciated!

    So, I have just joined the F55 world 2 days ago. Got the Canon cine servo 17-120 too- the combo is a serious beast. Very exciting! Been reading lots- in some ways it seems quite a complex beast, and i have a couple questions.

    I bought the 2K OLPF with it, after being recommended.

    So, most of the time (for now anyway) for my broadcast work i’ll be shooting in HD XAVC 100mbps. I’ll be shooting everything internally on the SxS+ cards. I’m assuming the scan mode for this should be on ‘normal’ (using the 4K sensor but down sampling to HD) for the best image, is this correct? And in this setting, when I want to shoot at 150fps for example, it automatically changes to centre scan, which means the 4K OLPF is still fine for shooting. And if i want normal, full frame 150 fps HD (and not doubling my lens length) then I would choose 2K full scan, and put the 2K OLPF in, right?

    One question is, why would someone choose to use the sensor in 2K full scan mode, when shooting HD but not in HFR?

    I mainly shoot docs, so from the sounds of it CineEI wouldn’t be appropriate. I’m used to the C300- always in C-log and constantly changing the ISO up and down to keep shallow DOF whether its a sunny day, or for very low lit streets at night.

    If I shoot in custom mode, gamut cine Slog3, so I can have full control of the ISO and recorded image, is there no way of using a LUT in the VF?

    Any help and advice much appreciated!

    Thank you


    1. Almost all correct. The camera will stay in full scan or Normal mode when you switch to HFR unless you select center crop. In center crop the 4K OLPF is optimum. In full scan 2K or Full scan HFR you may experience aliasing in some shots if you don’t use the 2K OLPF.

      There is no way to use a LUT in custom mode as the color space will be incorrect, so the LUT’s will also be incorrect. In addition adding or subtracting gain reduces the cameras dynamic range, so there is little point in using S-Log if you are doing this, you would be better off using a Hypergamma.

  3. I still don’t quite understand why i’m better off using a hypergamma, if I want to go up and down on the ISO. I understand that it reduces the dynamic range, but why wouldn’t you still want to shoot with Slog- so that when I am at the native I would have the maximum range? Would i get less range with SLog than a hypergamma at high or low ISOs?

    1. If you artificially restrict the dynamic range by altering the ISO away from native in S-log then you are throwing away data. Basically you still have a 14 stop bucket, but now you are no longer filing it, so in terms of bits per stop you will have less and less as you move further from the native ISO. This can result in highlight banding as you are still using a log curve and will still need to perform a major correction to make it look nice. Using a hypergamma allows you to better fill your data bucket and the amount of correction needed to get to 709 is less so banding and other artefacts less likely (assuming the images have been correctly exposed).

  4. If you want to shoot with a hypergamma, I’ve heard people saying that they get nicer skin tones if shooting in Cine EI mode but baking in a hypergamma, as opposed to using the hypergamma directly in Custom mode. My questions to you are- does this then mean that 1: You can go up on the EI, effectively using it like gain, but without risk of the possible highlight banding issues you mentioned? 2: If you personally want to shoot with a hypergamma and be able to go up on the ISO- would you always use custom mode? And what settings have you found work best- all matrix settings off? I just find in this mode the image lacks contrast and its hard to see critical focus.. Be good to hear your thoughts,

    1. If you use SGamut3.cine you get a very different color science to Sony normal color science and like many I much prefer the tonal range that you get with SGamut3.cine. So using Hypergamma LUT’s on top of SGamut3.cine does produce some very pleasing pictures. You can bake these in if you want and go up or down on the EI to have the same effect as adding or subtracting gain. However adding to much EI can lead to early highlight clipping and subtracting EI can result in a reduction in the peak recording level, both things which you need to watch for with a baked in LUT.

      Going up in ISO in custom mode doesn’t have these issues so may be a safer bet but with standard Sony color. I tend to leave the matrix alone as it’s easier to make small color adjustments in post rather then fiddling extensively with the matrix.

  5. Thank you very much for all the work you put in collecting the information about the cameras and making it so easily accessible for all of us.
    Your website has been a constant source of knowledge for me whenever I shoot with a Sony camera!

    All the Best

  6. Hello

    I have a Sony F5 with the oled viewfinder and just inquiring to whether the spare button on the oled can be assigned via the camera menu or is it not possible. Any help would be greatly appreciated

    1. The VF spare button is not assignable. It is normally used to turn on and off the false color exposure indication.

  7. Alister, I can’t figure out how to change my F55 from NTSC to PAL. Is it done by simply changing the system frequency from 29.97 to 50 or 25? How do I change the camera from 60 hz to 50 hz?

  8. Dear Alister,

    many many thanks for your time and generosity in sharing your experiences and knowledge.

    We had an F5 come to us for a shoot, with a Solid camera Top Plate but no Cable protection, so we wanted to see if we can get the Protector you designed for the cable.
    Will that protector be compatible with this set up?

    Many thanks!!!

  9. Hi Alister, I’m hoping you can help…
    I am shooting a multicam concert with Sony 2500’s and P1 at 50i/25psf. I want to have some slow mo footage so I am looking to have a couple of F55 cameras with BOXX links back to the OB truck. Can I send a PSF signal back to the truck via the BOXX link and then still record S&Q in camera on cards when needed?
    I will only record in camera for certain slow mo moments rather than having to record the whole 2.5hr concert on cards.

    1. That should work. When the F55 is shooting at 150fps the SDI’s still output 25psf when the cameras base rate is set to 25p.

  10. Hello Alister – I appreciate the information you’ve provided online, particularly regarding the Sony FS5. I am trying to see if the Sony FS5 will allow me to record in 2K raw. I just upgraded our Shogun Flame to the new firmware that allows CDNG recording and I’m trying to see if 2K is an option for lower sized files. Any help you can provide is appreciated. – José

    1. No, only high speed 2K. Frankly there would be no image quality benefit to 2K raw over 10 bit log HD. The 2K would be sampled from 2K bayer so would be sub HD resolution, suffer from aliasing and look grainy compared to internal HD which is sampled from the full 4K image so is higher resolution and less grainy.

  11. Alister –
    I’ve been having some issues with the F55 and I’m hoping you can steer me in the right direction. I recently shot a studio interview. It was shot on black, 3 point lighting, nothing complicated. I had the camera set to CineEI, 1250 EI and 3200WB. I was shooting in SLogCine3. I used a Sony CineAlta 50mm f2 lens. The viewfinder had a Rec709 LUT assigned, and the image looked good in the viewfinder and a 7″ Marshall producers monitor. When I looked at the footage in post, it was super grainy with elevated black levels. (I can pull a still next week). My mistake was not checking the ND – it was set to .9. However, shouldn’t the viewfinder shown a dark picture? It’s as if there was an auto ISO that was pulling the black WAY up. On another shoot in available light the footage is grainy (shot in SLog2). The camera is fairly new, and hasn’t been abused, and it is running version 9. Any thoughts?

    1. Probably under exposed. 1250EI is the lowest I would ever go and only then for a mainly bright scene. For a scene with so much black and controlled lighting I would recommend that you use 640EI or 500EI.

  12. Hello Alister,

    the reason why we´re writing to you today is that we could not find any information about that issue in the internet. No complains of other users, no discussion in any Blog, nothing.

    Since a few weeks we own a Sony PMW F5 (was an ebay find) with a preowned DVF-EL100.

    We experience that the picture in the viewfinder is completely stable and clean while using a system frequency of 24 or anyone else but 25 and 50. When changing to the system frequency of 25 or 50 after the reboot of the camera the picture in the viewfinder is instantly slightly flickering in the highlights. The difference of the picture quality and clearness using 24 frames and the flickering highlights using 25 frames is really massive.

    The F5 is updated to the newest firmware (9.40).

    Is this a known issue, do you experience the same with your camera/OLEDviewfinder? Do we have to live with it or is there a fix to get rid of this flickering.


      1. Are you using the the VF high frequency mode? If you want it to be flicker free you need to use the high frequency mode.

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