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REVIEW SONY PXW-FS7 Pictured: Uli Mors with the FS7 in Amsterdam by Alister Chapman REVIEW A t IBC Sony launched a new camera. In fact Sony launched several new cameras. This is nothing new, every year Sony launch cameras. But this year Sony really created quite a stir with one camera in particular, the Sony PXW-FS7. So what is it about the FS7 that is so special? Looking at the specs alone this camera is nothing new. It has a Super 35mm sized 4K sensor – nothing new there. It records 4K using XAVC or via an external recorder it can record 4K raw. Again, nothing new. It can even record in HD at up to 180fps internally or 240fps in raw. Still nothing new. In fact the spec sheet almost mirrors the spec sheet of Sony’s highly regarded PMW-F5 camera a camera that’s been around for nearly 2 years. So what is all the fuss about? Well it’s the price. With a list price of just 7200 Euros, which means after discounting a street price of £5,500 to £6,000 this appears to be the bargain of the century. But is it? The short answer is a resounding YES in my opinion. You see this camera actually shares more than just a very similar spec to the F5. It also shares a lot of the same electronics. For a start the sensor is the same very high dynamic range sensor as used by the F5 giving a whopping 14 stops of dynamic range. That’s around 200%- 300% more dynamic range than most 2/3” shoulder mount cameras. It records using the same 10 bit 4:2:2 XAVC codec as Sony’s beautiful PMW-F55 camera. XAVC is now appearing in almost all of Sony’s video cameras from the tiny AZ1 ActionCam point of view camera to the latest shoulder mount broadcast cameras. As a result you can now stay with the same codec no matter what type of camera you need, whether that’s HD or 4K, normal speed or high speed. With the FS7 you have the choice of I frame only (XAVC-I) for easy decoding and post production work or the long GoP version (XAVC-L) for a much more compact file that takes up less space on the recording media, but needs a bit more processing power to decode. In either case the 10 bit 4:2:2 image quality is roughly the same. Don’t want XAVC? Then you still have the good old XDCAM HD codec. It’s only 8 bit 4:2:2, but XDCAM is considered to be one of the world’s de-facto codecs for broadcast TV acquisition. But it doesn’t stop there. You can purchase an optional extension unit for the FS7 (XDCA-FS7) that fits 52 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 94 OCTOBER 2014 TV-BAY094OCT14 v118.indd 52 07/10/2014 15:41