April 03, 2012

New Sony NEX-FS700 4K camcorder

Sony has unveiled a new higher-resolution, higher framerate camcorder for about £6,000/$8,000/€7,500 + tax (or about a thousand more with 18-200mm lens). 

The NEX-FS700 will record full HD at up to 200 (50Hz) or 240 (60Hz) frames per second for 4x or 10x slow motion (depending on your base rate) and will eventually be able to record 4K (with a firmware upgrade and on an external recorder).

The FS700 improves in several ways on the existing NEX-FS100, and compares favourably with JVC’s new small-sensor 4K GY-HMQ10 camcorder (although the FS700 is about twice the price).

It has a Super 35mm (APS-C sized) CMOS sensor using a new 4K Exmor design with 11.6 million pixels (which can also be used for stills). It also has 3G HD-SDI output (which allows it record 4K externally) and built-in ND filters (unlike the FS100). There are also more creative options and shooting styles, as well as enhanced ergonomics, based on customer feedback.

“The NEX-FS700 opens the door to a new world of creative shooting,” said Bill Drummond, Strategic Marketing Manager, Sony Europe. “You can record beautiful high speed Full-HD movies with the freedom of choosing interchangeable lenses. The NEX-FS700, with its super slow motion mode, is ideal for pop promos, commercials and documentaries as well as sports and a variety of events productions.”

It doesn’t look like it will have the creative control of the PMW-F3, but the higher frame rates and/or resolution will probably make it more useful for many types of production – although once you factor in the cost of an external recorder, it may not be that much cheaper than the F3.

The it can deliver HD at 100/120 and 200/240 frames per second in bursts of 8 or 16 seconds respectively. It will also do 400/480fps HD at a lower bitrate and 800/960fps at reduced resolution and bitrate – the camera is 50hz/60hz switchable.

The NXCAM’s E-Mount can be fitted with virtually any SLR or DSLR 35mm lenses, thanks to inexpensive adapters, without optical degradation. With the FS100, the design hadn’t enough room to allow the fitting of neutral density filters, which are important to allow those wide-open F stops that give shallow depth of field, but the FS700 has a newly designed ND filter wheel that rotates across the sensor like a turret, with positions for Clear, 1/4 (2 Stop), 1/16 (4 Stop), and 1/64 (6 Stop).

The NEX-FS700’s 3GHD-SDI and HDMI connectors can output full HD 50p and 60p, plus 60i, 24p, 25p or 30p frame rates with embedded time code and audio. 3G HD-SDI can output native 23.98, 25, 29.97 progressive signals, but users can choose to output PsF over the 3G HD-SDI, and virtually any external recorder can be connected. A future firmware upgrade will enable the NEX-FS700 to output 4K bit-stream data over 3G HD-SDI when used with an optional Sony 4K recorder, which will no doubt make it a useful addition to the new 4K F65 as a B-roll or crash camera. Of course, the F65, of which Sony has now sold about 500 worldwide, is an 8K sensor, making use of all those extra pixels to deliver much higher quality, whereas the 4K sensor on the FS700 is ideally used for HD (in the same way as the 4K sensor on the Canon C300).

Users can save up to 99 camcorder profile settings on an MS or SD memory card and copy the same setting to multiple units. It also uses the MS or SD cards for internal media recording at AVCHD 24Mbps or 28Mbps.

The handle includes an “active grip” with four buttons for commonly used functions – expanded focus, auto iris, still capture and Recording Start/Stop – so handheld users can operate the camcorder more easily than the FS100. Function buttons have also bee enlarged to make operating easier, even while wearing gloves.

The NEX-FS700 is planned to be available in June 2012.

Introducing the Sony NEX-FS700 from Sony Professional on Vimeo.

By David Fox

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