Why I bought a Sony PXW-FS7

Categories: Miscellaneous 12 Comments

buying-FS7

It’s a no brainer if you want top quality 4K and HD footage at a reasonable price there is only one camera on the market that ticks all the boxes…the Sony PXW-FS7. As you know I had a Canon C300 and I loved the pictures but 720 50P and off body XLRs were becoming very dated, not to mention 8bit technology. I would have lost a lot of value trying to sell a C300 once the Sony FS7 was announced. Once you see 10bit pictures you never go backwards.

I had my two GH4s for nine months, selling one for a Sony A7s a couple of months ago. My main reason for buying the Sony FS7 was the servo zoom lens. I still have my GH4/YAGH as it will make a great second camera.

FS7 800As yet Sony can’t supply the 28-135 f4 lens but I needed a camera for more than one filming situation. Your footage becomes stilted using prime lenses all the time, they give you lovely footage and nice looking interviews but sometimes you need a creeping zoom thats not achievable with a DSLR.

The second reason is looks…yes, I am afraid we are in a “looks industry”. I have been filming all last year with two DSLRs and latterly a Sony PXW-X70. When you are filming an interview with two DSLRs to be quite frank there is no WOW factor, in fact it just looks like a photographic shoot, the end result…impressive, the look…not so impressive.

DSLR

The final straw came just over a month ago when I was called by Channel 4 News to cover live inserts in George Square, Glasgow and the only camera up for the job was the Sony X70.

X70

BBC

Everyone had Sony PMW-500s as you can see above, I felt very uneasy attending such a major news story with such a small camera. Don’t get me wrong the camera produced very comendable SD footage from the SDI socket into the satellite truck 50 meters up the road and Channel 4 were happy, but I decided there and then that was the last live news story the X70 was to be involved with.

I needed a camera that gives me many options plus a servo zoom but I was not going to buy into a Sony PXW-400, so the only solution was the Sony PXW-FS7.

List-web

The Sony FS7 gives you the best of both worlds. If you want to produce nice large sensor interviews or run and gun news stories the FS7 will do both, but with one caveat; most news organisations use SD video feeds into their satellite truck and the FS7 does not produce an SD signal from the SDI socket. I am hoping Sony can fix this via firmware as I would be reluctant to buy a mini  HDMI to SDI converter just to produce SD. You can produce SD from the HDMI but once again broadcast satellite trucks only handle BNC connectors via your SDI socket.

Prompter-3

The great thing is the FS7 fits my prompter, which I was testing for its first shoot on Sunday for a new major client…now that looks impressive. Also found out that the XAVC-I mode:FULL HD 50P VBR, 185Mbps, MPEG-4 H.264/AVC is FCPX ready which is a major boost to me, this is the maximum HD 50p quality and it looks stunning.

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12 comments on this post

  1. mark says:

    totally agree. BUT then X70 is almost there… almost there. The only thing is the body ,delicate : not really tough enough for hard use and snow and rain and heat . plus the need of patch cables and tricks. SD for the truck is mandatory. and once again there is ALWAYS SOMETHING missing with any cheaper camera. LOL . Intentional? YEAH, OF COURSE.

  2. Gwynne says:

    Hi Philip,
    I will be very interested in your feedback as a user. This camera is certainly starting to tick the boxes as far as I’m concerned and had to smile at your comment about size and assumption from clients therefore about professionalism and quality. I’ve been a freelance cameraman for 28 years and that is so true !

    Gwynne.
    http://www.studiousmultimedia.com

  3. Gotzon says:

    I think the Sony EA50 can be also a solution. It´s a good tool, looks impressive… and it´s a lot cheaper than your -wonderful, yes- new camera.

  4. mark says:

    while I agree that looks are important (very!) I also have to notice that things are changing rapidly in that regard. It started with the live music events where now you don’t see the huge canons anymore. I have the feeling that things will get smaller and smaller. But a camera MUST be on the shoulder, smaller but on the shoulder: Philip do you remember that orange JVC? yeah .. that one. I want a camera exactly like that one! X70 with a real viewfinder and the weight on the shoulder mount.

  5. Jiri Vrozina says:

    So You bought Sony becuse of “looks”.
    Well Sony cameras ar propably worst cameras on Planet when it comes to daylight images, skintones.
    That is why people who know enjoy Panasonic, Arri and Ikegami and Canon looks.
    Sure one can do certain mirracles in post but there is so much one can do with that ugly Sony look.
    Enjoy your camera but problem with most people in industry is, they just read too much into lines and resolutions miss out on really important things.

    HDW : Jiri firstly I have a friend who bought two Panasonic PX270’s because they match his two Sony EX3’s so you don’t know what you are talking about.

    Panasonic make good cameras but do not have any 4K-HD servo zoom cameras at this price point.
    ARRI are also very good but weight and price alone puts me off buying one.
    Ikegami don’t have as far as I am aware a 4K camera let alone a S35mm camera with servo zoom.
    Canon are also good cameras but are outdated and the off camera XLRs are a joke…720 50p on a C300 at 8bits is no longer acceptable.
    JVC have just brought out the LS300 4K with S35mm sensor but NO SERVO ZOOM sadly…and you never mentioned JVC who make brilliant cameras.

    I did a major shoot with a Panasonic GH4 and a Sony A7s both matchable in post why do you talk about a subject you have obviously no personal experience with.

    You have always been anti-Sony but this time your argument is blown out the water my friend !!!

  6. Jiri Vrozina says:

    Well my friend;-)
    I still have 2 eyes after more then 30 years in this industry.

    Please disregard any 1/3 or 1/2 or 2/3′ cameras, not interested.
    OK now we can comment on real cameras.
    From Sony main players are fa7/f5 almost identical guts and f55. All 3 of them are ugly in Daylight. They have this bad electronic,news look which can be partially corrected in post or ajust camera matrix.
    Secondly they have bad DR, thats why one must use Slog for decent productions.

    Other (better) cameras nobody talks about on this site.

    New Pana Varicam.
    Yes it costs $$ but people who make $$ sometimes spend money on decent equipment.
    Let you and your crowd little scoop now.
    Panasonic are bringing this year “watered down” s35 Varicam. It will not be for $5 but in c300 price range.

    Other better camera for sure will be new c300.
    I am also sure Canon next 2 months will UNLOCK 4K in its new c100 mk2 to get some sales.

    JVC 300 on paper looks fantastic to me and with Canon c100 4k will be far netter value then fs7.
    Two thing in Sony’s favour is 28-135 zoom and internal codecs…well done Sony.
    Lastly new range of Canon 5Ds will be released with 4k and far more organic images then Sony.

    You must be all shocked i did not mention Arri Amira?;-(
    Just check your f55/fs7/f5 against this high end camera and you will understand what i am talking about.

    If cameraman makes about $100,000 a year,
    What is a problem to spend $50,000 on Camera which will last about 4-5 years?? and have that EDGE!

    OK. Enjoy my rant and go back to $5,000 toys 😉

    HDW : Jiri I buy practical cameras not ones that cost a fortune or need a crane to lift them, when was the last time you used a modern Sony camera ?

  7. Jiri Vrozina says:

    i had fs7 for about 1 hour and then returned it. Cameras for me must deliver nice images.
    Now ,Phil,
    How many cameras You bought last 314 years? 10?
    Most of my fellow cameramen keep camera for 3-4 years. That is why they buy decent one to start with.
    All the best with your new gear,
    Will see how long fs7 will last

  8. mark says:

    @Jiri Vrozina 50K for 1 body? 30K for 1 lens? what are you delusional? the F55 did the soccer world cup in brasil again with a 30K lens for each body and the money from sony. If I get that kind of budget I’d probably add half-mil to the cost of the crowd and the satellite so I can compete against Sony (I mean.. against SONY ..LOL)
    now let’s talk about movies: beside the actors and assistants and everything why don’t they use a GH2 which is perfectly capable? because they rent from panavision, mostly Arri. And there the cost of the camera is irrelevant.
    Stop talking nonsense

  9. mark says:

    @HDW any problem with the mxf files importing? in Vegas? I’m thinking about it, it’s a great tool, I like the ergonomics but it’s also a lot of money … don’t know yet. The fact that you went for it sure makes a difference. I don’t feed live but still .. in case I have to…

    HDW : Cant tell you about Vegas I use FCPX I might get some feedback at BVE for you.

  10. Owen says:

    Do you think you will find the servo zoom lens versatile enough given its effective lack of wide angle?

    HDW : I am writing a blog about the very problem but 42mm is still wider than a standard lens, I am looking to get the Sony E10-18mm f4 OSS Lens (15-27mm) for this very problem.

  11. Hi, curious about the teleprompter.

    Would like to find out what the brand name is.

    As for the camera, sounds like an excellent choice.

    HDW : Hi Karl its a Datavideo TP600 that you can order from Production Gear or H Preston Media, the distributers are Holdan you can see further info here http://www.holdan.co.uk/Datavideo/Teleprompters/TP-600

  12. robert says:

    Very happy with my FS7 and stock Sony lens.

    Have time for post so using Slog3 and getting some good stuff off Rafa Nadal practicing during a tennis tournament. HD 4K 150fps 50p and any other settings I can play with. Now a little wider lens would be nice. But stock lens can now be used on A7s so OK.

    Super content for the price point and only in for 10k vs 16k new c300 in August. Need the work now.

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