The PXW-FS7 is a serious upgrade of Sony’s NEX-FS700. I say serious because it offers far better recording options: 50mbps, 4:2:2, 10-bit recording (ticks UK HD Broadcast Quality standard boxes) in a camera that’s extremely affordable to hire. And it can record in 4K.
What cameramen especially like is the fact that the camera is easy to use handheld. That can’t be said of many digital cinema cameras that require third party mounts to make them manageable. Part of this is the handgrip Sony provides with the camera – and part is the design. It is just more ergonomic. We have added a MOVCAM shoulder mount to our package and the combination makes the FS7 a pleasure to handle.
The FS7 has a Metabones adaptor and this enables the use of Canon EF lenses. It also has a Super 35mm Exmor CMOS sensor meaning you can get that ever popular shallow depth of field.
The camera is also really good in low light. It has a very high native ISO of 2,000. To address this high sensitivity in outdoor daylight locations, it has built-in ND settings of two, four and six stops.
Another feature, especially for a budget camera, is a dynamic range of 14 stops. This is expected with higher-end cameras but to offer this with a budget camera is an achievement.
Slow motion. You can record up to 150 frames per second in full HD in a PAL (25fps) setting, up to 180 frames per second in NTSC (30fps). In 4K, you can record up to 60 frames per second. Since most of us are still primarily shooting in HD, this covers most requirements.
4K. You can record 4K internally but you’ll go through a typical stock of XQD cards pretty quickly. You’re best off using Sony’s XDCA-FS7 extender. We have one of these. It attaches to the back of the camera with a multi-pin connector. You can then use a 12G SDI cable to connect the extender to an external recorder to enable a much longer recording time. Without the extender and external recorder, 4K recording is not really practical.
A number of cameramen I have spoken to think this camera is Sony’s ultimate challenge to the Canon C300. It’s easier to handle, has excellent technical specs and offers 4K recording. If they’re right, Sony has finally come up with a camera that could win back the customers the C300 has taken over the past few years.
We carry the C300 and it produces great pictures. But we do agree the FS7 is developing a dominant presence in the market it serves. Well worth a try on your next shoot.