Andy with Wild Open Eye's  Sony FS700 cinema HD camera

Andy Luck with Wild Open Eye’s Sony FS700 cinema HD camera

One of the cinema HD cameras we have been most impressed with at Wild Open Eye is Sony’s FS700 which we have used on a number of shoots recently and in Scotland, particularly on some short craft films about fashion knitwear designer Di Gilpin.

Here the FS700’s fabulous 240 fps super slo-mo HD was perfect for showing off fashion models in flowing garments, delighting all who saw the results.  It’s not just about slo-mo however, as we have also found the FS700 holds a lot of clean detail which looks better than any DSLRs we have tried when recorded at Pro Res HQ onto our Atomos Samurai.

Results also look terrific at modest bitrates recorded without any external HD device straight onto the internal card in AVCHD.

Filming the Pride concert with the FS700

Filming the Pride concert with the FS700

We were very impressed when filming out and about in London for Visit Britain over the amount of detail and tonality in the files and it performed flawlessly at the Pride concert in Trafalgar Square even as light levels dropped off.

It’s also a lot of fun to use the FS700 for wildlife, for example slowing dragonflies, bees and butterflies down in flight at a fraction of the cost of a Phantom!

One of the main practical reasons we invested in the FS700 ourselves however was that in a time where electronic media equipment becomes obsolete almost before it is released, the FS700 came with a promise of a degree of future proofing with the Sony pledge to make upgrades to 2k and 4k output possible through firmware and hardware add-ons in the future.

Vertiginous Emirates Skyline!

Vertiginous Emirates Skyline!

That future has now arrived and Sony were even good enough to waive the firmware upgrade fees for those attending the recent 2014 BVE broadcast equipment exhibition at the ExCel in London, upgrading owners FS700’s on the spot.  Jerry Short and I hotfooted it up the river Thames by KPMG Thames Clipper boat service (very fast and impressive) and over the river from the O2 on the Emirates Skyline cable car (vertigo-inducing but spectacular!), with the FS700 in a rucksack.

Leo Napoll of Sony Pro Support with the new chip that will allow our FS700 to output 4 k

Leo Napoll of Sony Pro Support with the new chip that will allow our FS700 to output 4 k

Safely over the river and into the Sony stand at the ExCel, we met Sony Prime Support technical specialist Leo Napoll, one of nature’s gentlemen who took our FS700, issued us with a chit and as there was no queue, proceeded to work on the camera right there and then while we waited and chatted. Very impressive service that warmed us to Sony professional considerably and made that initial investment in the FS700 feel all the more worthwhile!

With the new upgrade, instead of shooting around 8 seconds of super slo mo in AVCHD to the internal card, the camera can now output continuous 240fps in 2k raw via the SDI port t an external recorder – amazing!

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Our FS700’s innards tethered to Sony Prime Support’s mainframe prepares to receive the 4k goodness!

Now with Convergent Design’s work with Sony to take the FS700’s modified 12 bit RAW output from the SDI port into their Odyssey 7Q,  4k recording is possible, but it’s a pity however that storage is still very pricey. Hopefully this will come down in time.  The output can of course go to ProRes HQ in 10 bit taking up less space and according to Philip Bloom and others provides stunning HD.

Another benefit that can be used with or without the 4k recorder option is the new addition of S-Log 2 at a native ISO of 2000 while max ISO on the camera is also raised to 64000!

More to follow once we get a 7Q to test with the FS700.

AL 30/03/14