Sony Announces Documentary-Style PXW-FS7 4K UHD Camera

Camera Records 10-bit 4:2:2 to XQD Cards; Optional ProRes Recording and 12-bit Raw Output to Come

At IBC today, Sony unveiled the PXW-FS7, a new 4K UHD XDCAM with a Super-35 Exmor CMOS sensor. Designed largely for shooters on unscripted/reality TV and magazine shows, the FS7 was engineered to be both small and lightweight — the camera body by itself is four pounds — making for comfortable handheld use. It's expected to ship next month with a suggest list price under $10,000.

At launch, the camera will shoot at a maximum resolution of 3840×2160. However, the company indicated that a firmware upgrade in early 2015 will enable full 4K (4096×2160) recording. For a quick, two-and-a-half-minute infodump on the camera, watch the "official promotion movie" below, then read on for more details.

1920_fs7-in-the-field-590x331"The camera head is incredibly small," said Senior Product Manager Juan Martinez at a pre-IBC press event in New York City. "It is really made like an Aaton A-Minima. You can put it up against your shoulder — it has a hand grip very similar to what you would find on an Aaton camera. [And it has] no sharp edges — they are beveled, so it doesn't dig into your body if you're cradling it."

The camera's design includes an adjustable viewfinder and the Smart Grip, a retractable handle with a handgrip that allows access to the user menu, camera start and stop, zoom, and focus magnification. An assignable control wheel can be configured to handle iris, focus, audio level, and gain. This obviously offers a great deal of camera control in one hand and, because the Smart Grip rotates, it opens up a wide variety of possibilities for using the camera in positions that would otherwise be ergonomically awkward.

Up front, the camera has a native Sony E mount, and Sony offers an optional A-mount lens adapter. Because of the short 18mm flange distance, it's possible to use a wide array of other lens types with third-party adapters, but Martinez made a pitch for Sony's glass, noting that Sony currently offers 32 A-mount lenses and 22 E-mount lenses and is building "about five new lenses a year." Starting in December, the FS7 will be available in a kit with Sony's new FE PZ 28–135mm F4 G OSS lens ($2,500 separately). Four stops of ND filtering are built into the camera, selectable using a knob near the lens mount.

The camera is rated at ISO 2000, supports Sony's SGamut3.cine with S-Log 2 and S-Log 3, and has 16-bit analog-to-digital conversion. It supports on-board recording to Sony XQD memory cards at both UHD (3840×2160) and HD resolution via XAVC-Intraframe (at 113 Mbps) or long-GOP (at up to 150 Mbps). For 1080p and 720p recording, 50Mbps 4:2:2 MPEG-2 is also an option. Simultaneous recording of 10-bit 4:2:2 XAVC intraframe or MPEG-2 to both XQD cards is supported, and the FS7 will also permit recording HD (60p max) to XQD while raw output is being recorded using an optional extension unit (more on that below). You can also get 4:2:2 10-bit UHD and HD output via SDI and HDMI.

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