If you thought there was an empty space between the PXW-FS7 and NEX-FS700 in Sony’s 4K camcorder lineup, you were not alone: Sony thought so, too. That’s why they recently unveiled the PXW-FS5 compact Super 35mm camcorder to fill in the space. Scheduled for November availability, the FS5 will cost $6,699 (body only) or $7,299 with an 18-105mm lens.
The FS5 will become the starter model in Sony’s professional camcorder lineup. According to Sony’s director of digital imaging for its Professional Solutions division, Francois Gauthier, the FS5 is targeting cinematographers who like the compact size of the FS7 (the FS5 is even smaller), but find the price out of their reach (the FS7 starts at $8,000, and does 4K at 60p). It also gives them more flexibility than what Sony’s A7R II and A7S II mirrorless cameras can offer. The FS5’s lightweight form-factor is ideal for aerial shots by drone, while the features and price make it attractive to indie filmmakers, freelance documentary producers, online productions, and educators. It’s also being marketed as a step-up camera for budding videographers who are used to filming with DSLRs or mirrorless cameras.
The Super35 Exmor CMOS sensor is capable of 4K XAVC high-definition shooting at 24p/25p/30p (8-bit), and Full HD 1080 at 240 frames per second (10-bit). It’s also the first Super 35mm camcorder to offer built-in electronic variable ND filters, giving you more control over exposure and depth of field.
“The high sensitivity and large size of the sensor delivers background defocus, increased low-light sensitivity and lower image noise,” Sony says. “High-quality imagery is further ensured by high frame rate cache recording at 10-bit 4:2:2 Full HD and a high frame rate of up to 240 fps, in 8 second bursts, which makes 1/10 times Super Slow Motion possible without sacrificing bit depth or loss of image quality.”
The FS5 is compatible with a stable of A- and E-mount lenses from Sony and third-party lens makers, as well as DSLR lenses via an adapter. If you’re new to Sony, you can opt for the kit version that comes with a compact power zoom E-mount lens (PZ 18-105mm F4 G OSS lens). “Sony’s Alpha Mount System and its enhanced interfaces include 3G-SDI, HDMI output and dual SD card slots. Also equipped with Wi-Fi and a wired LAN terminal, the FS5 features enhanced network functions such as file transfer and streaming transmission. A planned future firmware update will provide RAW output.” (Click here to see all features.)
Controls on the camera are mostly on the left-hand side, and most are easily accessible, including the knob to control the ND filter. The ergonomic design also includes a top handle, and an adjustable 3.5-inch LCD panel to view the action. The LCD panel can be attached on the handle or other locations on or near the camera to make it more adaptable to the different needs of the cinematographer. The Smart Grip can also be rotated to reposition the camera for different shooting angles. Because of the small size, the FS5 is designed for handheld shots, although a stabilizer of some sort would be a nice accessory to include.