NAB 2012 PREVIEW – The Sony NEX-FS700U – 4K Sensor and Super Slow-Mo Capture
With Sony‘s announcement of the new NEX-FS700U, 1920 x 1080 capture is now officially over! Well, not quite. Everyone is predicting that NAB 2012 will officially launch mainstream 4K solutions and this announcement definitely kicks off the “4K for the masses” movement. We already have a number of cameras on the high-end of production (Sony F65, RED EPIC), the middle-end (Scarlet-X) and even for the prosumer market (JVC’s $5,000 GY-HMQ10). Now, Sony announces their new NEX-FS700U for NAB that nobody saw coming. Part of their growing NEX line of digital still and motion picture cameras, the FS700U contains a Super 35mm sensor and is designed for high speed shooting. The camera can capture full HD quality images at 120 and 240-fps in a 16 or 8 second burst. For even faster shooting, you capture 480 and 960-fps at reduced resolutions. More info and tech specs will probably be given at NAB. The camera will replace the FS100U as the flagship camera of the NEX line.
In terms of its sensor, the FS700U uses a new 4K “Exmor” Super 35 CMOS sensor (11.6 million pixels) and is optimized for motion picture capture – unlike what you would get with a DSLR - with high sensitivity, low noise and minimal aliasing.
Like all cameras in the NEX line, the FS700U contains an E-mount, which accepts Sony’s growing list of E-lenses. If the E-line is too limiting for your production, you can also use Sony’s new LA-EA2 adaptor, which lets you mount Sony’s proprietary A-mount lenses to the FS700U’s E-mount. The great thing about the LA-EA2 is that you also get phase detection autofocus built right into the adaptor, giving you much faster AF capability.
One great feature the FS700U contains that the FS100U does not are built-in ND filters that rotate across the sensor. The wheel includes positions for Clear, 1/4 (2 Stop), 1/16 (4 Stop), and 1/64 (6 Stop). This is a big plus for those that contain multiple lenses with various filter sizes so you won’t have to buy expensive Variable ND filters or sets of standard ND for each lens.
In terms of signals, the FS700U’s 3G HD-SDI and HDMI connectors can output full HD 50p and 60p, in addition to standard HD 60i, 24p, 25p or 30p frame rates with embedded time code and audio. With 3G HD-SDI, it can output native 23.98, 25, 29.97 progressive signals. You can also output PsF over the 3G HD-SDI. The FS100U only contains an HDMI output.
The FS700U also has a detachable top handle that contains a cold shoe, plus two sets of 1/4 and 3/8 inch holes to mount accessories. The handle contains “active grip” that features four buttons for commonly used functions – expanded focus, auto iris, still capture and recording start/stop. Former FS100U users will definitely appreciate the FS700U’s handle, especially for handheld shooting at low angles.
The biggest news of the FS700U’s release is that Sony is planning a future firmware upgrade that will enable the camera to output 4K data over 3G HD-SDI when used with an optional Sony 4K recorder. (If it’s the SRR1000, don’t plan on buying one with the cash you save from buying a Scarlet-X. They don’t come cheap.)
Regarding the 4K capture, I’m also not sure if it will be Full Aperture HD (4096 x 3112) or Quad Full High-Def (3840 x 2160), or what the codec will be. Hopefully more details will come soon.
The NEX-FS700U (body only) and NEX-FS700UK (with 18-200mm zoom lens) will hit the market in June 2012 at a price tag of less than $10,000. This is a giant leap forward for digital camera systems. Many were hoping cameras such as the RED Scarlet-X, Sony F3 and Canon C300 would have hit this price point upon their release rather than over $15,000.
NAB just became really interesting.
To be continued…