There are a lot of factors to consider when selecting a digital film camera: lens compatibility, definition, over and under-cranking, image quality, ease of use, and price are all very important. To be sure, image quality has to be very high on the list.
We have seen some great new cameras in the past year. I love the look of the Canon C300, and have written about it. In my blog post This Canon Cinema EOS C300 Sings I explained that it had me singing the blues because of the price. I still love the look of the introductory films Canon commissioned when they released the camera. When Sony introduced the FS700 at NAB I felt that the combination of features that Sony offered in this camera at this price point couldn’t be beat so I was first in line when the camera was shipped just a couple of weeks ago. Too bad Sony didn’t commission some intro films like Canon did, we would have a better idea on the look of FS700 footage.
I am not going to review the FS700 here, there are plenty of reviews that tell the story in great detail. What I want to illustrate is the type of image quality you are going to get out of the camera, and that image quality is heavily dependent on what picture profile you select.
The FS700 has 6 built-in picture profiles, each of which can be modified in countless numbers of ways. It is interesting to note that the 6 profiles do not include an example of CINE3 and CINE4 gamma settings that are available on the camera. Each of the profiles can use any type of gamma and the operator is free to alter them at will. One nice feature of the camera is the ability to customize the camera to your liking, including the 6 profile settings. Then when you have it set up the way you want, you can back up all of the settings to a SD card for safe keeping or uploading to other FS700s. Saving your camera setup is a feature that the FS100 did not have.
I suppose that the 6 profiles are meant to be starting places. If you are considering purchasing a FS700 you surely would be interested to learn a little more about it ahead of time. It is hard to find info regarding this camera on the official web site. You have to check pro.sony.com. Even so, I could not find the operator’s manual, so I have made available for download the Sony NEX-FS700 Operator’s Manual here [8.1 mb]. If someone from Sony wants to send me the link to the manual on their site I would like to link to it instead.
I was trying to get a handle on the look of the 6 profiles so did a simple test which you can view as well as download from Vimeo. These are the stock profiles with no changes. No color corrections or grading in post. In the future I will do more testing under other lighting conditions and using the other 2 CINE gammas. It is apparent the FS700 is configured to shoot right out of the box. If you want a quick look baked in, it is there for you. You’ll won’t need to do any grading in post. If you want a flatter cinema look to give you flexibility in post, it is also ready for you. You can grade all you want. It will be very interesting to see just what kind of end results folks will produce with this camera. And oh, did I mention that it will be upgradable to 4k raw in the future?