Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor

FS7 owner

As you know I am lucky enough to own a Sony PXW-FS7, its been interesting to watch the reaction to Sonys new FS5 camera. The main gripe seems to be lack of 10bit 422 especially in 4K.

It depends where you are coming from when you are viewing the good and bad points of a new camera, as an FS7 owner I’ve got all the 10bit 422 XAVC I frame rates right up to true 4K.

As a person looking to buy into the FS5 from lets say a DSLR stance, things might look different. Lets say you have a Panasonic GH4 would moving over to the Sony FS5 bring you any benefits.

The form factor alone between the GH4 and FS5…The GH4 will always look like a photographic camera no matter how much metal work you add to it. What about picture quality…the GH4 films 4K 25p (8bit 420) at 100Mbps onto a micro four third chip and gets noisy at around 2000ISO. The FS5 shares the same chip as the F5 and FS7 so we are looking at a super 35mm chip and films 4K 25p (8bit 420) at 100Mbps so the only difference will be a lot less noise on the FS5 at higher ISOs.


The GH4 with YAGH is cumbersome to say the least, you soon get sick of the umbilical cord between the camera and the power supply I hope Panasonic address this in the GH5.


With the YAGH comes two phantom powered XLR inputs plus SDI and a full size HDMI. I was delighted with my GH4/YAGH but the 4pin power XLR cable is like going back in time to the 1980s.

XLR v3

The Sony FS5 has both phantom powered XLRs on the camera, as it should be and looks the part.

FS7 and 5

I love the smaller body of the FS5 but I know my clients who use me for broadcast work would not want 1080 25p Long GOP although its 10bit 422. Sadly it seems to be down to their editing facilities, probably an older AVID. Thats a small negative thats out weighed by all the major strengths of the FS5…

1920 x 1080 50p 422 10bit onto far cheaper SDXC cards.

Same lenses as the FS7

Far easier for run and gun than the FS7

250fps slow motion versus 150 fps on the FS7 (PAL)

A wee note to all you concerned about 4K on the FS5…Oh no its only 8bit 420 “what a disaster”. 4K 8bit 420 was explained to me by a Panasonic engineer. 8bit 420 on 4K is not the same as 8bit 420 on HD why…you have 4 times the picture area in 4K and if you stick to the same old rules by editing 4K onto a 422 HD timeline then your 4K 420 8bit picture compresses down to an effective 444 10 bit picture on your HD timeline.

Apart from high end drama who don’t care for anything less than a Sony F55 no one is outputting 4K direct to our clients so lets not get our nickers in a twist over 422 v 420 when you will be editing onto a 422 HD timeline for 99% of all your corporate work.

Alister Chapmans take…”The FS7 can produce a better 4K image because of XAVC-I which is 10 bit 422 compared to the 8 bit 4K of the FS5. But 8 bit is great provided you don’t want to do heavy grading. In HD both are pretty much the same.”

Its the old story if you need 422 10bit 4K footage then you buy the FS7 but if you need a fantastic companion to your FS7 and can’t justify the cost of a second FS7 the FS5 will fit the bill. Most of my corporate filming is done on HD, having two perfectly matched cameras both filming 10 bit 422 in HD would allow so much more scope…and you only need to buy the body… job done.

Latest info from Alister Chapman from IBC…

So far I can tell you: It’s 10 bit 422 in HD, it 8 bit 4:2:0 in UHD. The 8 bit is actually quite good and can be graded, but you really need to get the exposure just right with the 8 bit. It’s the same sensor as the F5, so similar noise and grain. There are still questions over the native ISO. The cameras that are here at 3200 ISO look nice and clean. It looks like this will be the native ISO for S-Log2/3 but other gammas will have lower ISO’s. The cameras at IBC are still very much development models and the final image quality is still being worked on. The electronic variable ND is fantastic. It does not introduce any artefacts. In essence you have two ND filter states: No ND filter, where the ND filter system is raised clear of the sensor and ND ON where the variable ND is in front of the sensor. Once the ND is in place you then have 3 preset ND settings (which are programmable) and set by the filter wheel. You can set a max and min and then ramp between the two. The remote is standard LANC, so all your existing LANC accessories will work with the FS5. Super Slow mo is just the same as the FS700, so full sensor scan at up to 240fps. At 480 fps it’s only half resolution vertically, at 960 fps I believe it’s half vertical and half horizontal resolution, but it’s also very grainy. The variable ND is currently manual only but an auto function will be added in a firmware update. 


Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

5 thoughts on “From the FS7 perspective…”Is the Sony PXW-FS5 going to be a good second camera”

  1. keep the GH4. both need a frankenrig for both looks and stability. I don’t know how fast the processing in 4K is (with the FS5) to make 4K (in a 1080 timeline) watchable when the camera pans or moves, but quite frankly I’m not holding my breath about it. The FS7 is the only camera that I’d get because it stays on the shoulder nicely and you can add batteries or a simple counterweight. Once again (and for the last time because I don’t want to bore anybody) holding the thing in mid air is NOT the proper way to film. Can’t believe that the prosumer new filmmakers are trying to adapt. it’s not even natural… and the frankerigs are righs made for Frankenstein , not for people.

  2. Hi Phillip.Thank you so very much for all the hard work you put into your very useful and informative site. You are one of the few who cover the cons as well as the pros and that is great production value! Cheers. Bob.

  3. FS 5!I like it and the specs are more than O.K. for me. But what lens to use? The 18-105 F4 has not enough range,18-135 F4 has all manual controls but not the required wide angle.
    So what lens to use?

  4. When I saw the Sony teaser I thought they were going to release a replacement to the PXW-Z100. Although a fixed lens camcorder, it is only crippled by the small (1/2.3” sensor). The PXW-FS5 is a good body design but leaving out features available in other similar cameras makes it look like a step back in some ways. It seems to me that they designed the FS5 to compete directly against the Canon C100 MkII and for the first time they didn’t want it to cannibalize other Sony cameras, specially the FS7.

  5. Igor,
    (assuming you meant the Sony 28-135mm f4 G lens)
    You may like to consider a couple of Sony lens alternatives I suggested a few days ago (for Gary) in a comment here:

    don’t know if you recall my FS7 related lens/crop-factor comment of March 30th (you emailed me 31st March to ask if I’d mind you using it as a blog post but I don’t think it ever appeared and the comment itself still shows [to me] as “awaiting moderation”) …as the new FS5 appears may use the same sensor (to be confirmed?) as the FS7 then perhaps that comment may be worth revisiting as now applying to both the FS7 and FS5?
    Comment originally submitted here:

    I’m assuming you can still ‘see’ my comment submission in that thread but, if not, let me know and I can email it to you for consideration or re-post here as also being FS5 related?

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