Having seen some of its high-end cinema camera thunder stolen by the likes of Red and Arri, Sony has just launched a pair of CineAlta PL-mount cameras with brand new Super 35mm sensors: The PMW-F5 and PMW-F55. Though both pack 4K CMOS imagers, there are some major differences -- the higher-end PMW-F55 has a global shutter, wider color gamut and can capture 4k, 2k or HD video internally, while the PMW-F5 records 2k and HD natively with a rolling shutter (4k requires an optional RAW recorder, as discussed below).
Depending on the level of quality you want, there are several ways to capture video to each camcorder. MPEG-4 H.264 video or Sony's SR MPEG-4 SStP can be recorded onto Sony's new SxS PRO+ media, or if RAW quality is desired, there's the new AXS-R5 Access Memory System for 2K / 4K RAW capture -- which will also work with the current NEX-FS700. Using the latter system, the PMW-F5 is capable of grabbing up to 120fps slow motion RAW HD video, while the PMW-F55 can capture 240fps at 2k, putting it squarely in Epic-X territory. The new camcorders will arrive in February 2013, and while Sony hasn't outed pricing yet, it'll likely be well under the flagship 4k CineAlta F65's formidable $65k sticker. Check the PR after the break to get the entire technical skinny.
Sony F5 / F55 pro camcorders
Sony grows large sensor camera family with new 4K camera systems
New PMW-F55 and PMW-F5 Models -- Plus New PL Lenses, Battery, RAW recorder , Viewfinders, and Recording Media -- Expand Sony's Line of End-to-End 4K Acquisition Solutions
Basingstoke, 30 October 2012 – Sony is unveiling two new CineAlta™ 4K cameras, complemented by a full line-up of new accessories. The new cameras, the PMW-F55 and PMW-F5, fill a critical gap in large-sensor acquisition between Sony's PMW-F3 camcorder and its F65 CineAlta Premium 4K camera, giving content creators new levels of flexibility and creative options for HD, 2K or 4K acquisition and production.
With a modular and compact design for easy configuration, each camera features a new type of 4K Super 35mm image sensor with a 4096 x 2160 resolution (11.6M total pixels).
The 20 megapixel F65 remains the flagship of Sony's large sensor camera family. The 8K sensor-equipped F65 continues to evolve, with new features designed for the most demanding high-end imaging applications. These features include a new high frame rate mode for 4K RAW recording at 120P to deliver stunning 4K images with super smooth slow motion capabilities, and image capture using the SR codec at 12-bits. Future updates to the F65 will deliver 6K de-mosaicing, along with other major new features.
New PMW-F55 and PMW-F5 Cameras
The new PMW-F55 and PMW-F5 CineAlta 4K cameras deliver unprecedented creative options for HD/2K*/QFHD*/4K (PMW-F55) and 2K*/HD (PMW-F5) production. Both offer multi-codec support featuring Sony's new XAVC MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 format, the SR codec (MPEG4 SStP) and the
industry-standard High Definition XDCAM 50Mbps 4:2:2 codec. In-camera recording is on Sony's New SxS media, SxS PRO+ (Plus ) – which can be used to record XAVC in HD High Frame Rate and in 4K at up to 60fps (in the PMW-F55), and XAVC HD High Frame Rate in the PMW-F5.
In addition to on-board recording onto SxS PRO+, the PMW-F55 and PMW- F5 can also be connected to the new AXS-R5 RAW recorder. Slow-motion imagery at up to 240fps** (PMW- F55) and up to 120fps** (PMW- F5) can be captured as 4K RAW files on newly developed AXS memory.
The PMW-F55 features a global shutter to eliminate rolling shutter skew and flash band, and features a wider colour gamut for exceptional colour reproduction. The cameras are further distinguished by wide (14 stops) exposure latitude, high sensitivity, and low noise.
New Options for Monitoring
The PMW-F55 can connect to the new 4K 30-inch LCD monitor, PVM-X300, using four 3G-SDI interfaces to monitor pictures at 4096x2160 resolution at up to 60p, while recording and playing back XAVC 4K images. Similarly, it is also possible to connect directly to the 84" BRAVIA 4K LED TV for large-screen monitoring of the camera's 4K 60P images (at resized horizontal resolution of 3860 pixels).
PL Lens System – The Second Generation
The PMW-F55 and PMW-F5 cameras continue Sony's efforts to offer the most flexible lens options. A PL-mount lets users choose cinematic lenses from suppliers such as Angénieux, ARRI, Canon, Carl Zeiss, Cooke, FUJIFILM and Leica.
Sony is also launching a second generation of cost-effective PL mount prime lenses. Each is certified for 4K capture, and is designed to minimize geometric distortion, vignetting and breathing. A 9-blade iris delivers beautiful bokehs and the focus rings rotate 240°. The new lens series includes focal lengths of 20, 25, 35, 50, 85 and 135 mm. For easy lens changes, each has the same T2.0 aperture, the same external diameter, matte box diameter, and gear locations for follow focus and aperture. All are the same height except for the 135 mm lens.
Shooters can use stills lenses by removing the supplied PL-mount adaptor to reveal the native FZ mount. This makes it easy to accept commercially available adaptors for third-party lenses, including Canon® EF, Canon FD, Nikon® DX, Nikon G, Leica® M and even 2/3-inch B4 lenses. A third option is the use of Sony FZ-Mount lenses with auto focus servo zoom (model SCL-Z18X140.)
Using a new digital interface, PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 users can take advantage of a new series of high-quality OLED and LCD viewfinders. The DVF-EL100 OLED viewfinder measures 0.7-inches with 1280 x 720 HD resolution, superb brightness, contrast and response. The DVF-L350 3.5-inch LCD viewfinder offers 10 times the contrast of previous Sony LCD viewfinders, with a flip-up eyepiece for direct monitoring. A third option is the full HD DVF-L700. This compact 7-inch LCD viewfinder enables high resolution when shooting in 2K and 4K, with pixel-to-pixel 1920 x 1080 representation of HD images.
New RAW Recording System
Sony is also unveiling the AXSM™ Access Memory System for 2K*/4K RAW recording, based on Sony's unique recording technology. Optimised for this new platform is the AXSM memory card (512 GB capacity, model AXS-512S24), using the generic file system exFAT. Users can record 4K RAW data up to 60 fps and 2K RAW up to 240 fps**, with a 300MB/s sustained transfer speed. PC-friendly operation is enabled through use of the AXS-CR1 card reader, offering a USB 3.0 interface for high speed transfer.
Additionally, the new AXS-R5 RAW recorder directly docks onto the PMW-F5 and PMW-F55, for an extremely elegant and compact recording system for 2K** and 4K RAW recording.
New Recording Media
The cameras support Sony's new high-speed, enhanced versions of its SxS PRO memory cards: the "SxS PRO+(PLUS)" series (in 128 and 64 GB capacities, models SBP-128B and SBP-64B). Based on the format long used in Sony's XDCAM EX camcorders, the cards support XAVC 4K and XAVC HD high frame rate recording, and can be directly inserted into the cameras.
New Battery and Charger
The PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 cameras take advantage of Sony's new BP-FL75 battery pack, which uses Olivine-Lithium Iron Phosphate-instead of conventional Lithium Ion cathodes. The result is a substantial increase in charge-discharge cycles, compared to previous Sony batteries. The Olivine battery works with Sony's BC-L90 quick charger. The new battery supports outstanding mobility for on-set shooting enabling two times higher speed charging than current chargers and a maximum 150 minutes of consecutive shooting.
The PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 cameras are also compatible with Sony's BP-GL95A, GL65A, L80S and L60S batteries, which use the BC-L70 and L160 chargers.
Delivering advances in ergonomics specifically requested by cinematographers, the PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 feature Sony's newest shoulder rig for extra stability and comfort. The rig is sturdy, lightweight and uses industry-standard rosettes on both sides for quick and easy attachment of third-party hand grips and other accessories.
Pricing and Availability
The new cameras are scheduled to be available in February 2013, with suggested list pricing to be announced. For more information, visit www.pro.sony.eu/pro/product/f55 or www.pro.sony.eu/pro/product/f5.
* 2K/QFHD for PMW-F55 and 2K for PMW-F5 will be available with firmware version up.
**High frame rate higher than 60fps will be available with firmware version up.