By technical editor Matt Allard:
After my last blog post a few readers wanted to know if the image quailty of the NEX FS700 could be improved by recording to an external HD SDI recorder. Well in short the answer at the moment seems to be no. Sony have said the camera will be capable of outputting a 4K 12bit RAW image at some point in the future but sadly it only outputs 8 bit 4:2:2 over the HD SDI output at the moment. My interest here is solely in actual image quality so I’m not going to go into all the technical reasons for this – if you are interested in finding out more there is plenty of in depth technical information around the web.
For this test I recorded to the internal SD card at 24Mb/s in AVCHD as well as to ProRes 422 HQ at 220Mb/s on arecorder. My conclusion after looking at direct comparisons of the two is there is little if no difference in image quality. Even when blowing up the image there is virtually no difference. There was no improvement to the quality at higher ISO either. The only point to record to an external recorder is to have a back up copy of your video files and for faster turn around time of material because it is already in the Prores (or other) format and does not need conversion. Just like Canon’s C300 there seems to be almost no reason to use an external recorder with the FS700. The 8 bit HD SDI output offers to my eye almost zero improvement over recording internally.
What may also be very exciting for news shooters further down the track for is tha when the 4k finally becomes enabled you should in theory be able to use a 2/3″ ENG broadcast lens and still get a full HD 1080P image by cropping the 4k image. That said I have my doubts though as to how good the quality would be from a 2/3″ lens – time will tell.
About Matthew Allard, Aljazeera Senior Field Cameraman, Kuala Lumpur:
Matt has been a Camera/Editor in TV news for more 20 years, previously working for both Channel 9 and Channel 10 in Australia. Twice Network Ten Australia’s cameraman of the year as well as being a Walkley Finalist for outstanding camerawork in 2006 (for coverage of the Cronulla Race Riots) and a Logie Finalist for outstanding news coverage 2006 (Bali 9). He is a multiple ACS (Australian Cinematographers Society) award winner. His Sword Maker story that was shot on a won the prestigious Neil Davis International News Golden Tripod at the 2011 ACS Awards. He has covered news events in more than 35 countries, from major sporting events to terrorist bombings. Based out of the Kuala Lumpur broadcast centre in Malaysia he is an avid user and follower of new technology, shooting stories on HD broadcast cameras, the as well as new Canon DSLRs.