Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor

FS5 Prime

As you can see from an earlier post my first outing with the Sony FS5 was almost a nightmare, since then I have learned a lot more and will pass on my advice to fellow FS5 owners.

I came back from a non paying job with 2 shots that I was not expecting to be out of focus which unnerved me, the first thing I did was experiment with the FS5 and Samyang lens viewing the footage on a 50″ plasma TV.

me and FS5

My dog was in the middle of the garden about 45 feet away, I focused in on her legs with the peaking (focus assist) switched on. The red edging in the FS5 told me her legs were in focus as was the fence which was a further 20 feet away, that didn’t make sense. I was using the Samyang 35mm T1.5 cine lens wide open, the same one that had let me down. I punched in (4X magnification) to reveal the fence was not in focus. I did the exact same process on the FS7 with the same results, so its NOT the fault of the peaking. Since this I have spoken to Alister Chapman who told me peaking works on hard edges so the fact my dog was “peaking” it did not stop the “hard edge” fence peaking also, peaking is not infallible and must be used in conjunction with magnification etc.


Now the hard facts…You cannot rely on Peaking (focus assist) as your only source of help when focusing, unfortunately Sony no longer give us high resolution viewfinders any more so we have to rely on 3rd party EVF loupes or use 4x magnification punch in which works a treat.

Using Sony lenses with your FS5 will lessen the need for edge detection as the auto focus in the words of Alister Chapman is “a lot faster and more accurate than the human eye, especially if set to face detect”. Seemingly Sony have given the FS5 an auto focus which is a lot more accurate and faster than the FS7. Having tried it myself the FS5 AF is certainly better than the FS7 but this relies on Sony lenses, I have the Metabones smart adapter IV but it does not activate AF in video mode…

  • With PXW-FS7, NEX-FS700 and NEX-FS100, autofocus works only in photo mode but disabled in movie capture mode.

Very limiting in my opinion if your 3rd option to focus via AF is not activated using the Metabones adapter with Canon lenses.

The Samyang is a good lens but don’t rely on it at T1.5 as its soft, this can be used to good effect for an interview.

One little nugget I did find was that Sony have also connected the zoom rocker switch to the centre scan which allows you to digitally zoom 2x while using a prime lens…very useful, this is activated in the menu.


Having a loupe with a + 4 diopter on the FS7 certainly helps, the FS5 has no such luxuries, the OLED VF is a tad small but does allow you to see critical focus in daylight.

The only difference between my FS7 and FS5 is the loupe on the FS7s LCD which does make a big difference when it comes to critical focus.

Having a loupe on the FS5 LCD would have been an advantage, I am coming to the conclusion that the use of Sony lenses with AF is going to get quicker and more accurate focus on the FS5 than using non dedicated prime or zoom lenses, but certain lenses have their place and the Sigma 18-35 f1.8 Canon fit with E mount adapter is one of those lenses.

Dan Chung

The FS5’s native ISO is 3200 so why do we need lenses wider than f4 ? Here is the perfect example Dan Chung of Newsshooter shot this footage with a Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 ART lens on the Sony FS5 with adapter to good effect. Sony FS5 London anti war demonstration footage – graded from Dan Chung on Vimeo.


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.

8 thoughts on “Sony PXW-FS5 with Prime lenses

  1. LOL of course the peaking works on hard hedges, the problem as I understand is that the peaking peaks on the wrong ones and fights the picture recorded , maybe in purpose, maybe the peaking is a liberal and the picture recorded is a republican, but they do appear to disagree dramatically for some reason.
    Methinks that if a lens (or any lens) in manual focus gets the wrong edges on the screen output then the screen output must be calibrated or re-designed because it’s obviously wrong, and was wrong from the moment it left the factory.

  2. Firstly, I have to say that Newsshooter footage is a highly impressive demonstration of the FS5 low light capabilities. It’s frankly in a completely different league to most other cameras. What is striking is that in three key areas it simply doesn’t look as if it was shot in low light – seeming virtual absence of noise, detail and gradation in the shadows, and colour rendition.

    Frequently, we see cameras trying every trick in the book just to keep the noise down in low light – typically crushing the blacks. That certainly reduces the noise – but means shadow areas go too dark, become “black holes”. And artificial noise reduction often means a “muddiness” in colour rendition. But not here. I’ve got a pretty good idea what the lighting levels for that shoot were like and the FS5 simply makes it look far better than it is. Very, very impressive.

    But – I suppose the lesson is you tend not to get things for nothing. And such a performance comes about not simply because of inherent performance, but by using a f1.8 lens with a large sensor. Have such and the laws of photography dictate you will get a very shallow depth of field. It’s seen on one hand as one of the primary reasons to go the large sensor route (!) – but yes, will also mean focusing becomes very critical! You can’t have cake and eat it! 🙂

    As far as the peaking goes, then again, it has to respond to a certain range of focus, so I’m not too surprised by what you find. (Put another way, it will indicate over a certain depth of field range.) In many cases, just indicating at the point of precise focus would cause as many problems as it would help.

    I think any user just has to realise that you get an incredible low light ability if fast lenses are used – but at the price of being able to easily focus in fast shooting shooting. If that’s a problem, then just stop down to ease focussing and the sensitivity will still be roughly what another camera may only be able to give at best anyway. Sorry – nobody can have cake and eat it!

  3. I agree, David. Very impressive low light performance. I wonder if he used a speed booster adapter?? That would drop the iris to 1.4 (I think). I would like to know what pic profile he used and how he graded it. I wonder; did he shoot log or something like Cine Gamma 4?
    Another thing is the Sigma doesn’t have stabilization. That makes the shots more impressive, as many or all seemed to be hand held.
    I have a Canon FD 1.2 lens with an FD to e mount speed booster–that takes it down to o.95. I might give it a try–but ONLY on a tripod.
    I’m very familiar with the FS700, so learning the FS5 is pretty easy. I’m still not clear on shooting with the high ISOs. Mostly, right now I handle basic exposure with zebra and histogram and that seems to be working fine.
    The variable ND filter is pretty awesome. Ought to be on every camera worthy of the name.

  4. tom ridenour … The Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 is an APS-C lens, so a speedbooster is not advisable. The speedbooster is designed to adapt FF lenses to crop sensors. You would have to use crop mode on the camera, probably neutralizing any aperture benefit.

    Dan Chung’s footage is amazing, although I found it a bit hard on the eyes in places at full screen size. I wonder if this is due to the combination of very sharp image and small camera shake due to no image stabilization. Or maybe it’s just my eyes getting old and tired.

  5. He coould not have used speed booster with NON Full Frame lens. Lastly, most of Sonys are good in NON Daylight lighting environment? It is under Daylight light where they suck.
    I wish i had those codecs on my camera.

  6. Steve – do you think what you refer to may simply be the result of viewing on a computer monitor at non-native frame rate? I certainly found some “jerkiness” but would be 99.9% sure it wouldn’t be there if directly viewed on a normal TV.

    I did feel a lot of the newsshooter material was somewhat on the cold side for my taste, but am putting it down to most likely the colour balance being done with a very low colour temperature? Maybe (too much?) sodium street lighting on the card? Personally, I’d grade it a little warmer, but maybe it’s matter of personal taste.

    Either way, the fundamentals as attributable to the camera itself are exceptional. (Absence of noise, shadow detail, low light colour rendition etc.) Such as online showing can’t improve such factors – it can only give faults not on the original!

    Very impressed. FS5 seems already to be becoming easily the first choice for anyone who needs low light capability.

  7. No issues with my FS5 with a range of Sigma, Samyang and Tokina lenses. The Assign 4 focus mag button being my chosen method of focus after getting in the ball park with the Peaking.

  8. David … All my monitors run at native resolution, and they are all 1080p (no 4K for me yet). I’ve watched it on a couple of different monitors, with the same result. It does seem to bother my eyes. I can’t put my finger on why, and it may very well just be me and my eyes.

    I agree with your color balance remarks, but that’s not what is bothering my eyes.
    I see the same color issues with my Sony PXW-X70. I prefer the Canon color, and I have a lot of trouble balancing color between the Sony and my Canon 5D3 (even though it is a little soft , this camera still gives beautiful head/shoulder shots, especially with the 70-200 f/2.8).

    I am planning to upgrade my cameras in 2016, and I’ve been watching the FS5 closely. For me, this upgrade is a pricey decision. My leading choice is to add the FS5 to the X70 to give me a light weight two-camera setup. I’d have to juggle my lens portfolio a bit for that.

    There’s no doubt that the FS5 is a formidable new camera. I know this is not a popular choice, but I am still considering the C100 mkII. Just add it to my 5D3 and call it a day. Mostly because Canon colors are almost always really good, and color problems give me too much trouble.

    My third option is to hope for a C100 mk III announcement, and do the full Canon 5DIV with C100 mk III. But I suspect the wait is too long.

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