Here at Dream Engine, we recently got our hands on a Sony FS5, a camera that is fast becoming a staple workhorse for professional videographers. Boasting 4K internal recording, up to 240fps at 2K resolution and an ingenious electronic ND filter, the FS5 fits a lot of high-end features into a small package.
One of the biggest benefits to shooting with the FS5 is its ability to record 4K video to an SD card. 4K has been a staple for a few years now, even most new smartphones can record 4K, but why is 4K so special? Well for one it gives you a an added dimension of creativity by letting you reframe shots in the editing suite. In some instances it can even act as a second shot, by zooming in you can have a wide and a close up shot with just the one camera. Secondly, with many new TVs now 4K capable, the standard will move from 1080p to 4K.
The first thing to grab you attention about the FS5 is its size. Gone are the days of bulky production cameras and back spasms, at less than 1kg, it has been designed with mobility in mind. So if you are a run and gun style documentarian, a wedding shooter, or are just sick of weighty cameras, the FS5 will suit you well. The lightweight body means that it works on our camera stabiliser the DJI Ronin, mounted on sliders, jibs, you name it. When paired with a light zoom lens, you can have a completely mobile, extremely versatile camera.
Slow it Down
Another huge advantage the FS5 has over cameras in a similar price range is its ability to shoot in multiple high frame rates. Capable of recording 2K video at 240fps (with an external recorder) you can capture fine details in movement, or give a simple shot a more dreamy, impactful feeling. As the FPS gets higher and higher, shutter speeds need to be faster and faster to capture sharp frames so at some point there is a point where you will need to crank up the ISO especially if light is inadequate.
By using slow motion wisely, you can add some serious creativity to your arsenal.
FS5 Electronic ND
The FS5 features a very clever electronic, variable ND system that allows you to dial in anywhere from 1/4 to 1/128th ND filtration in the camera body, allowing you to forgo your old glass ND filters. This is a feature that is fairly unique to the FS5, although when the industry catches on to how helpful it is, it will be in cameras everywhere. The electronic ND really shines when you are shooting outdoors on location. Instead of ramping up the shutter speed or getting out an optical filter, you can now just spin the handy dial and lower the sensitivity of the camera’s sensor, allowing you to choose your desired aperture and achieve a shallow depth of field, even in bright sunlight.
When combined with an external recorder, (Such as our Atomos Shogun, or others like the BlackMagic Gemini) you can unlock further advantages from the FS5. By bypassing the limitations of the internal storage, you can really tap into the strengths of the camera. With a firmware upgrade, you can record 12-bit RAW files in 4K to your recorder. For most purposes like web videos, this won’t really offer a huge benefit as the size of the RAW files can be huge, but for the best image the FS5 can produce, this is what it is capable of. So if you’re shooting something for visual effects work or a TVC, you should be working with an external recorder and shooting to RAW.
The Sony FS5 is a brilliant, lightweight camera that has been created with videographers and documentarians in mind. It packs in a huge amount of features for the price, as well is an industry leading electronic ND filter. When paired with an external recorder, the FS5 is a formidable camera with huge creative potential.
Ryan Spanger is one of Melbourne’s most respected and sought-after video production professionals. Ryan founded Dream Engine in 2002, and specialises in helping medium to large corporates, government departments, and the non-proﬁt sector to connect with their audience more effectively by using video.