Our friends at Newsshooter.com just broke the news that Sony is going to issue its long awaited 3.0 firmware update for the Sony FS7 in December, and it will be free of charge.
Moveable Focus Magnification
This is a big deal for me personally as an FS7 owner and shooter – right now, the FS7 only has a center magnification function for focus checking, which is a big problem when you are shooting and your focused subject isn’t exactly in the center of the frame. You can’t really reframe while shooting an interview but there is no way to check the focus on the eyes on the subject in front of you without moving the camera (because in 99% of all interview shoots the eyes of your subject are not centered in your frame, of course). With the new firmware update, this will finally be freely movable around the screen, which really should have been possible since version 1 of this camera. It also took Canon a long time to introduce this feature via firmware update in their C300 camera back in the day though. (However it’s a standard feature on such much less expensive cameras like the Sony A7s – why do these very basic and essential features often take so long to implement?). Of course, this only works for the standard screen (EVF) on the FS7, not the external ports like HDMI or SDI (and it shouldn’t in my opinion – this is a feature that monitor and EVF manufacturers like SmallHD and Zacuto have implemented into their monitoring devices directly).
Center Scan Mode
Like their higher-end F55 and F5 cameras, the firmware update will enable the popular FS7 camera to shoot in a Super16 crop mode using the center area of the sensor. This will allow you to use Super16 lenses on this camera, which (apart from their typical look) will give you the opportunity to use less glass to cover a wider focal range with zoom lenses. Plus, as Dan Chung also points out in his article, you will be able to use normal ENG lenses using an MTF B4 2/3″ to Sony E-Mount adapter.
Noise suppresion in Cine EI mode
The FS7 differentiates its main modes of operation into Cine EI mode and Custom mode. Cine EI gives you a very flat image off the sensor with as little modification as possible … it’s still compressed in the XAVC codec if you record internally, but it’s as untreated as possible (also at its native 2000 ISO). However, this also means that noise suppression is unavailable, which results in considerably noisier images than you’re used to – because most cameras use internal noise reduction to get rid of artifacts in the shadows out of the box. The only way to get noise reduced images so far was to shoot Custom mode, which opens up a whole lot of other features like choosable log curves, color rendition settings and a myriad of other settings that many users don’t even want to get into.
So I think it’s a welcome addition to also have noise suppression in the Cine EI mode because it will make the mode more attractive for me personally – very often I find myself in the situation where I want to produce an SLog2/3 image to give the editor / post production the most latitude to play with in post production, however I don’t really like the noisy image of the Cine EI mode. So you end up shooting in Custom mode with SLog2 or Slog3 enabled, and kind of forced to fiddle through a lot of other settings to “get it right”. To have the added option of noise suppression also in Cine EI gives me the certainty of actually being able to produce pleasant and treatable images without being in danger of turning one wrong nob in the “Paint” settings that can screw up details of your image by accident.
Full list of enhancements
Check out Sony’s full list of enhancements by heading over to their appropriate page or here:
PXW-FS7 Firmware V3.0
Upgrade is free of charge and available during 2015 (TBC)
New Features & Improvements:
● Support for adjusting the Focus Magnification area position
● Support for “2K Full, “2K Center” setting in Imager Scan Mode
● Support for Interval Recording function
● Support for Noise Suppression setting in Cine EI mode
● Expand lowest value of Zebra level to 0%
PXW-FS7 V3.0 firmware will be downloadable here during 2015.