FS7 – Notes on Firmware.

Backlot

This is really a little post to communicate with Sony if they are listening.

The FS7 is the finest camera I have ever owned – I want to be clear on that. Slog3 is a fantastic space and the LUTs to delog it are wonderful. This makes the camera pseudo raw at 1/4 of the data rate of a raw camera.. well done Sony. Audio pots, a self powered EVF, low power consumption and other features also make the camera a wonder.. well done Sony!

Now I think the camera could be moved to another level with some concentration on the firmware. I know nothing of firmware but I have a sense of what is easy to do and things that will push the processor to a place that it may not want to go.

Bugs. Here are some things that I consider to be bugs – things that should be sorted asap.

Magenta Shift

Well known – Custom mode kelvin dial is off presenting a magenta shift in the image as one moves away from 3200k.

Cache Record – lost

On event coverage I like to use cache record , however if I engage S+Q, and shoot an offspeed clip cache record is no longer engaged when I return to normal speed.

Matrix -‘randomly’ switches on.

When using custom mode I like to record Slog3, Matrix Off – as matrix adds saturation that should not be there in a LOG image. Matrix appears to ‘randomly’ switch itself on.

Mlut randomly switches on

An early observation but it seems like Mlut status can be lost on engagement/disengagement of S+Q

Memory Loss.

I cant remember other examples but other settings seem to ‘randomly’ move too. For example my camera is now on shutter speed – Im sure I set it to angle – setting it to angle means less button twongling when engaging S+Q

ISO lag

When I change ISO using the HML switch the EVF only picks up the settings two seconds later – very confusing if you are used to a faster response – If lags are defined by processor speed then the EVF could display a ‘wheel or egg timer’ in the way that computers tell us ‘this is hard, bear with me’

Rec status.

In S+Q one can shoot a short shot and then get the camera into a status where the camera is neither displaying the record button or the STBY status – leaving the operator at a loss if he wants to start rolling – hit the record button again or not? A side note to this is the record button on the op side is not as sensitive as most record buttons.

Click WB does not work.

This might be a function of using Slog3/Custom which does not present the system enough colour data – but often it is impossible to use the WB button. If the camera is pointed at a white card it will read ‘NG highlight’ if one stops down in 1/2 stop increments the reading then suddenly changes to “low light’ making a click WB impossible.

Tint.

Tint is called tint by everybody and even in Cat Browse. So why is it called Temp in the Sony colour menu?

OK, thats the bugs out of the way – let us look at some simple improvements.

No media Present.

This would be a simple warning to add.

Display On/Off

With the EX1/3 Fs100/700 one is still presented with an in monitor red icon when recording – can we have that back please. Display on/off was elegantly done with the FS100

Scene Lut/Scene File Title on screen.

With the EX1 I had many picture profiles built – they may have had titles like ‘SMM_EXT_Daylight’.. but on screen was not this title but PP3. With the FS7 the same or worse is the case. Ideally we would see something like..

Recording: “EI : Slog3”

Monitor: “SMM_Golden_Lut :”

And in Custom 

Recording: “SMM_Daylight_Warm”

This is super important at the moment because I have a setup “SMM_Minus17Magenta_55k” – this must be on when shooting Custom at 5500k and must NOT be on when shooting at 3200K which needs “SMM_32_Standard”

(ideally this would also be burned into the meta data esp in EI so the colourist could go to the selected LUT to recreate the on set experience)

Moving the firmware towards really working for the professional.

Really I think the complete firmware of the camera needs a complete revisit. Sony should forget their broadcast heritage menu set up and move towards offering a simple interface that aligns with both Professional Cinema cameras and professional DSLR stills cameras (1dx, nikon D4)

Luts

Luts should be consistent both in playback and HFR and not kill the WFM – I will not use Mlut at all until this is the case.

Luts in Custom mode.

Many shooters are desiring EI mode to be ‘upgraded’ to include sharpening NR et al. I feel this is wrong as keeping those facilities out of EI gives one a safe method of recording image. Custom mode should be expanded to offer LUTs and then one could shoot with Slog, Sharpening, NR and a LUT.

Slog3 and Custom Mode

When Slog 3 is engaged, matrix and all colour controls (excluding temp and tint) should be turned off – so that  SlogCustom matches Slog EI.

ISO Shutter and Colour temp buttons.

Pressing the ISO button engages Auto ISO – this is wrong and can ruin shots – Sony should align ISO button to match cameras by everyone else..

The ISO button should open the ISO menu, 500-1000-2000-4000-6000-8000-10000-AUTO

Same for the other two base controls..

Temp 3200-4000-…..1000k-Auto

Shutter – 360-270-180-90-45-… Auto

RGB histo/wfm

The basic way of evaluating colour in a digital camera is to evaluate large RGB histogram or WFM – addition of this.. even only to evaluate a still or in status mode would add a critical functionality – a functionality that is available on $500 and up DSLR and compact cameras.

Bleeping menu.

The EX1 and DLSRs bleep when the menu is moved and the EX1/FS100 bleep on start/stop with different tones – this is a huge confidence booster and should be added.

More assignable buttons.

Every button shold be assignable – there are some buttons rarely used by ‘professionals’

  • LUT ON/Off (see Sony PMW-F3)
  • Off Centre focus check – the subject is never in the middle!

And finally.. actually upgrading the camera (Id pay? for this service pack?)

  • Sound recorded on S+Q – I really want this
  • Lut to one card at HD.. Log to other card at 4k
  • one button digital zoom

 

written by
Sam Morgan Moore - working with cameras since 1995, stills and motion