Once again I need a third party to assess the FS700 as I have never used one. I have chosen my good friend Frank Glencairn who took the camcorder for a test just after it appeared on the market.
It looks like Sony has really listened to the users. We finally have that ND Filter wheel, a lot of guys where asking for. The top handle is super beefy now and feels like it is milled out of one massive block of aluminum. Also the front mount sits on a big black metal base, very solid and twice the size of the FS100 counterpart. Overall the whole body feels more rugged and solid, but gained some weight, because of all the extra metal.
The buttons on the body are all raised, for much easier access, you can even find them blind now.
There are also two new buttons. Face detection, which works surprisingly good, once it`s really locked in – something that can be handy in a complex steadycam shot or run & gun situations. Also there is a “HOLD” button, that can block some functions to prevent, changing them accidentally. You can choose the functions you want to block in the menu.
The new side grip has a big Arri style rosette and is much easier to mount/adjust. It features additional buttons for iris push auto, start/stop, photo, expanded focus and a zoom rocker. I guess that means, that we can expect to see some motorized zoom glass from SONY soon.
The card slot accepts SD/SDHC/SDXC cards or Memory Sticks. In addition to the HDMI output, the FS700 got a HD-SDI/3G output – something I personally really appreciate.
Also there are a component, video and audio out jacks. One of the XLR inputs got moved forward, closer to the camera microphone.
The monitor seems to be the same, but with touch focus and touch focus transition, like in the Epic, also you can change the displayed units like ISO/db, distance and the like. It also gives you – up to 8x – magnifying.
The FS700 comes as a “World Camera”. So you can switch between 50Hz and 60Hz and the corresponding frame rates in the menu.
This is an other exciting new feature, that nobody saw coming in a camera, in this class and price tag.
It´s a burst mode and works like this:
1. Set your frame rate
2. Hit the trigger (start, or end-trigger)
3. Watch your glorious Super Slow Motion clip on the monitor, while it is dumped to the card, or your external recorder in real time.
This are the speeds available:
When selecting 60Hz: 120fps, 240fps, 480fps, 960fps
When selecting 50Hz: 100fps, 200fps, 400fps, 800fps
When selecting 60Hz 1080/60p PS, 1080/30p FX, 1080/30p FH, 1080/24p FX, 1080/24p FH
When selecting 50Hz 1080/50p PS, 1080/25p FX, 1080/25p FH
Recording Burst Times:
When selecting 60Hz: 960/19sec, 480/10sec, 240/8sec, 120/16sec
When selecting 50Hz 800/23sec, 400/12sec, 200/9sec, 100/19sec
I found speeds up to 200/240 looking fantastic, 480/400 are still usable, but you can see the difference. everything faster, is for use at lower resolutions.
In a nutshell: After I shot a few days with the FS700, my FS100 is for sale. The camera I had, worked great, without any hick-ups or any other problems, even from the bed of a truck at 80 MPH.
Noise is about the same as in the FS100, and it looks like we lost a bit of low light sensitivity (still impressive), but the downsampled images from the new sensor are stunning and the option of future 4k raw output is amazing.
We get better highlight roll off, because of the new Hypergammas (maybe they also did something to the processing), DR also seems a tad better, but hard to say, without proper testing.
I´m very pleased, that Sony not only listened to us, and made most of the wishes, FS100 owners had come true, but on top of that, they gave us a great new Exmor sensor with 4k Super Slo-Mo capabilities.
Please bear in mind, that all I found, relates to a pre production model and that Sony is still optimizing some functions.
Sony brought us this camera under the wire, no one knew it was coming and everyone who has tried it has had nothing but praise for the FS700, as Frank said finally ND filters, a decent hand grip and although not as sensitive as the FS100 it has a 4K ready Super 35mm CMOS sensor and that alone gives the Sony 6 out of 6. Like it’s wee sister having 1080 50p is a sensation and at the body only price of £6,216 is the cheapest 4K camcorder by far.
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