Friday, September 11, 2015

New Sony FS5 - URSA Mini Killer?

Today, 5 months after NAB 2015, Sony has launched a major counterattack against the URSA Mini (which finally started shipping yesterday).

The new $6699 (body only) Sony PXW-FS5 is a lightweight Super 35, E mount camera with a 240 fps super slow motion burst capability, a built-in electronic ND filter and compatibility with affordable Sony power zooms (such as the $548 Sony 18-105mm constant f/4).

As usual, Sony's marketing department had a sample video ready on the day of the announcement, something Blackmagic has not done in the 5 months since NAB:

Here's a BTS and interview with Producer Den Lennie and DP Mick Jones:

The size, weight and image quality from this camera appear to be ideal for independent narrative and documentary filmmakers.  Its compatibility with affordable power zoom lenses is an added bonus, and will probably cut into sales of the $4195 fixed lens Panasonic DVX200.

Here is a table comparing the specs between the FS5, both models of the URSA Mini and the Canon C300 Mark II (Canon's lowest priced 4K Super 35 camcorder).

Mini 4K EF Mini 4.6K EFSony PXW-FS5 Canon C300 II
Body Only Price $2995 $4995 $5599 $15999
OEM Viewfinder $1495 option $1495 option Yes Yes
Sensor Size Super 35 Super 35 Super 35 Super 35
Lens Mount EF (add $500 for PL) EF (add $500 for PL) Sony E EF or PL
Max Resolution 4000x2160 4608x2592 3840x2160 (paid upgrade to 4096x2160) 4096x2160
Max HD Frame Rate 120fps 120fps 240fps 120fps
Codec ProRes 422 or RAW ProRes 422 or RAW XAVC 4:2:0 (4:2:2 HD, paid upgrade to ext. RAW) XF-AVC 4:2:2 (4:4:4 HD)
Shutter Global Selectable Global/Rolling Rolling Rolling
Mic Input(s) 2xXLR w phantom 2xXLR w phantom 2xXLR w phantom 2xXLR w phantom
Headphone Output(s) Yes Yes Yes Yes
SDI Out(s) Yes Yes Yes Yes
Storage 2xCFast 2.0 2xCFast 2.0 2xSD 2xCFast 2.0
In Body Stabilization No No No No
ND Filter No No Electronic Yes
Native Power Zoom NA NA $548 $31K
Still Photos No No No No
Weight 5 lbs. 5 lbs. 1.8 lbs. 7.4 lbs.

Bottom line - this looks like a nice little camera - 240 fps, the ND filter, the OLED viewfinder and HD 4:2:2 are great features - and it produces nice looking UHD images on YouTube - but $6699 is a whole lot of money to pay for 100mbps 8-bit 4:2:0 UHD.

The Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K EF (with the OEM viewfinder) is $209 less for a camera with higher resolution straight out of the box - plus built in 12-bit RAW recording (of course, that extra $209 might pay for one CFast 2.0 card).

All of that said, both of these are great cameras - Sony and Blackmagic are to be commended for giving filmmakers such terrific tools at these prices.

EDIT: Hat tip to reddit user /u/zdubs1, who points out that the pre-order price for the FS5 is actually $5599 , $1100(!) less than the $6699 list price.

This makes the FS5 a whole lot more attractive, and a real threat to cameras such as the $5499 Canon C100 Mark II, which is limited to 1920x1080p maximum resolution and has no upgrade path the 4K or RAW.

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