Sony PXW-FS5 and PXW-FS7 - the differences (with the a7S II thrown in)
16 September 2015 | Category: Motion
Had a customer ask me what exactly was the point in the FS7 now the FS5's here which got me thinking that perhaps a little post about it could prove useful in outlining the differences. So here go!
The FS7 is a shoulder mounted camera. It doesn't lend itself well to being handheld in the way a C300 does. This could count for or against the camera - really boils down to your shooting style. It is attractive being able to make it into a shoulder mount camera without too much effort or accessories (although the Zacuto Recoil Rig dramatically improves the balance by pushing the C of G back behind your shoulder). Once sorted, you could operate all day without too much fuss indoors or out.
The FS5 is, by Sony's on definition, a Grab and Shoot Handheld system. The first thing that strikes you is the size and weight. It's tiny compared to the FS7 and at under a kilo, it's incredibly light. I think Sony have been pretty clever with the design as it will appeal to a lot of Canon C100/300 shooters. I held some Customer Clinics for Sony a few months ago and the biggest problem for Canon shooters with the FS7 was that it didn't feel like a C100/C300. I think with the camera now based around that rotating grip (design to be at the camera's C of G), it's so close to the feel and of course you've got the OLED viewfinder.
You can strip the FS5 right down and then it's tiny. I also like the option of being able to relocate the viewfinder on the FS5 to 11 different places - very flexible.
Okay, technically the FS5 (like the a7S II) doesn't actually shoot in 4K. It shoots in UHD which is 3840 x 2160 with 16:9 (1.78:1) aspect ratio rather than the full Cinematic 4K which is 4096 x 2160 with 1.9:1 aspect ratio which the FS7 can handle. The FS7 also shoots up to 60fps (rather than the 30fps of its little brothers) and does so using a Intraframe 10bit 4:2:2 codec recording at up to 600Mbps. The FS5 makes do with a Long Gop QFHD 4:2:0 8 bit codec recording at 100Mbps and, as just mentioned, can only shoot up to 30fps. The a7S II uses XAVC S 4:2:0 8 bit codec at 100Mbps.
The FS5 joins its bigger brother in being able to offer 10bit 4:2:2 HD recording, although once again, the high bit rate Intraframe codec is reserved for only the FS7. The a7S II must make do with 4:2:0 8 bit recording on XAVC S.
So starting with the a7S II, it can shoot continuously at 120fps at 1080p. The FS5 will allow you to shoot at 240fps in full 1080 HD but it does so using an 8 second buffer. It will of course go up to 960fps but IQ and resolution suffer. The FS7 will only go up to 180fps BUT it is continuous and in full 1080 HD.
The FS7 has a built-in ND filter with the following settings - Clear, 1/4, 1/16 and 1/64. The FS5 actually trumps this with a Variable ND built-in with linear adjustment from 1/4 to 1/128. The a7S II of course has nothing so time to screw a Variable ND on the front of your glass!
The FS7 has 4 audio channels. The FS5 has only 2 audio channels. Obviously the a7S II can have 2 audio channels if you use the optional XLR adaptor!
The FS7 has the ability to load 3D Luts and then apply them to both outputs and/or viewfinder and/or the recording. It's quite flexible. The FS5 doesn't have that support so if you're shooting in S-Log, you may want to look at using an external monitor/recorder with 3D Lut support. Use something like an Atomos Shogun and not only do you get better recording but also a monitor with 3D Lut support, although it rather negates the cheaper price and portability of the FS5! The a7S II doesn't have 3D Lut support BUT it does now have the Gamma Display Assist which can be switched on to help with things.
So there you go, that's the main differences. So far, I have heard lots of moans about the lack of 10bit 4:2:2 on the FS5. Sony's answer is simple - use an FS7!! You can always use an external recorder (although this won't get round the lack of higher 4K framerates). You can't please everyone! Thankfully once the a7S II and FS5 arrive, we'll have the whole family in stock so you can pick and choose as you wish!