Friday, September 12, 2014

Canon C300 Killer? $8000 4K/60p Sony PXW-FS7 Out-Specs $12,000 Canon C300


Okay, you've probably already heard that Sony has decided to go all-in on support for Super 35mm independent filmmaking with the brand new $7999 4K/60p PXW-FS7 camcorder, announced at IBC 2014 overnight (press release here, specs here).

From the specs and early hands-on videos from Sony Professional and Cinema 5D (see below for early video) - the FS7 appears to be a full-on frontal assault on the more expensive Canon C300 (which is currently marked down from $13,999 to $11,999). And with the FS7's $1999 XDCA-FS7 Extension Unit and its ability to output ProRes and RAW  (shown in the images below), it becomes a $20,000 Canon C500 killer too.

Here's the camera with the XDCA-FS7 mounted (it's also a V mount adapter):

With this camera, independent filmmakers will be able to rent a $10,000 camera (a quarter of the price of an Arri Amira), throw it over their shoulders and go out and record directly to 4K without a bunch of external recorders or rigging.

My guess is that a lot of news organizations will buy this camera too, especially if, as expected, it works seamlessly with the SELP 18-200 power zoom.

James Tonkin shooting with the FS7 in Japan (image courtesy of Sony Professional)
Sony deserves a lot of credit here. Not only for reclaiming the entry-level Super 35 lead from Canon - but for listening to users' complaints about the ergonomics of the NEX-FS700, with its top mounted LCD and boxy form factor.  They also deserve credit for being willing to cannibalize the sales of their own FS700 and PMW-F5 - offering a higher-spec shoulder mounted camera with built-in 4K at a lower price point.

In my view, this will earn them a lot of loyalty from consumers - and, in the long run, will be more profitable than Canon's strategy of "protecting the high end by crippling the entry level".

Early video from this camera is solid, and the demonstrations of the built-in shoulder mount and control grip in the hands on videos are impressive.  These features are not only extremely useful, they will save shooters a lot of money because they won't have to spend thousands of extra dollars on third party shoulder mounts and control grips.

Here are the best videos I could find as of this post (I will update this over the next few days as more become available, so please check back):

Thanks from Nigel Akam

Sony PXW-FS7: another UHD XAVC very quick test from Filippo Chiesa

Sony PXW-FS7 UHD XAVC very quick test (one hour in my garden) from Filippo Chiesa

Sphere Of Light -SONY PXW-FS7- 4K from Yoshihiro Enatsu

A Night in Amsterdam with the Sony PXW-FS7 from Alister Chapman

The Cheesemonger - FS7 Camera Test Project from Ben Allan ACS

Just this morning from Jason Wingrove

Sony Professional: PXW-FS7 Official Promotion Movie

Sony Professional: PXW-FS7 Official FullHD Beauty Image

Sony Professional: FS7 First Footage

Sony Professional: BTS with the PXW-FS7, Den Lennie and James Tonkin

First look video courtesy of Sony Professional with Juan Martinez and Chiyoko Yannette

Cinema 5D Exclusive: Sony FS7 hands-on (courtesy Cinema 5D)

It seems to me that the only downside to this camera is the lack of a global shutter and internal RAW recording - features available on the sub-$3000 Blackmagic Production Camera. But those omissions are offset by the thoughtful ergonomics, a proven professional codec and an upgrade path to true 4K in 2015. In my view, this camera is well worth the $8000 list price - and is the first camcorder that has tempted me to sell all of my Panasonic GH cameras. Well done, Sony.

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