The engineers at Sony’s Shinegawa factory have been busy. Announced today is the new Sony FS-700 which at first look appears to be a re-vamped FS-100, but under look closely and it’s actually a very different camera.
Out of the box it will offer 1920×1080 recording at 24/25/30 fps plus a special burst mode that will allow you to shoot at 120 fps for 16 seconds or 240 fps for 8 seconds at full 1920×1080. This is a remarkable feat and while 8 seconds doesn’t sound long, do remember that shoot for 8 seconds at 240 fps will result in a clip almost a minute and a half long at 24 fps. At lower resolutions it’s even possible to shoot at up to 960 fps.
To achieve these high frame rates a new sensor is being used. This has 11.6 million pixels and was designed for video applications. The fact that it has 11.6 million pixels means that with a future firmware upgrade the camera will also be able to shoot at 4K. You won’t be able to record 4K in-board (nor 10920×1080 50/60P for that matter). To record these formats you will need an external recorder. To get the signal to the recorder the FS-700 is equipped with a single 3G HDSDi connector and there will be a special 4K recorder from Sony.
Addressing some of the complaints about the original FS-100 the FS-700 features built in ND filters while retaining the Sony E mount lens system. Some of the function buttons have been made larger to suit those users with big fingers or wearing gloves and additional commonly used controls, like image expand (for focussing) have been added to the hand grip. The addition of the 10 bit 3G HDSDi output is also very welcome and the camera can be switched between 25 and 30fps making it a world camera.
What’s less clear in the Sony press release is what will come out of the Sdi connector when shooting 1920 x 1080. Will it still be 4:2:0 or will this camera output 4:2:2 or even 4:4:4? As the internal recording media is still SD cards or the FMU it appears likely that the recording format will still be AVCHD, so that would mean 4:2:0, 8 bit internal recordings.
Even if the output remains as 4:2:0 the ability to shoot burst of 120 or 240 fps video certainly make this an interesting camera. We’ll have to wait and see how the sensor performs as it will have much smaller pixels than the FS100 or F3 so it may not be as sensitive and might be more noisy. It is after all still rare to get something for nothing, so there may be a price to pay for the ability to shoot at 4K.
US street price is pegged to be less than $10K USD and it should be available in June. Hopefully I’ll get to play with one at NAB in just over a weeks time.