By technical editor Matt Allard:
The Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q was one of the most exciting announcements of the year. What’s not to like? A 7.7″ OLED display with great features like waveform, histogram, false colour, focus assist and pixel zoom. It is also a versatile external recorder able to record a variety of codecs including 4k raw. Like most product announcements these days the promised shipping dates kept changing but now it’s finally available. So I wanted to see if the Odyssey 7Q lived up to all its hype.
I’m not going to go into too much detail here about my thoughts; I’ll let you watch my 40 minute long video.
I found the device a pleasure to use. It really is feature rich – the design and interface are well thought out. The one thing I am looking forward to is the ability to record a compressed codec to the 7Q. I have a love/hate relationship with raw. While it offers the greatest amount of information to work with the storage it takes up and the work flow makes it just not practical for a lot of shooters. Raw is something I steer clear of when doing news or current affairs. The pros just don’t outweigh the cons.
For news and documentary shooters I think the Odyssey 7Q is an excellent external monitor choice that then allows you to use it as an external recorder if your work requires it. For owners or renters of the FS700, C500, F3 or Arri Alexa this device makes a lot of sense. The only other high end recorder options for these cameras are significantly more expensive. Specifically for FS700 users this is in my opinion a far better solution for recording RAW than what Sony is offering.
As far as Sony FS700 users go you will still have to be patient if you want to be able to record 4K Raw to the 7Q. This is straight from Convergent Design:
“Currently the Odyssey7Q is not allowed by Convergent Design’s licensing agreement with Sony to record the 4K RAW output of the FS700. The Odyssey7Q can record the 2K RAW output at all frame rates, including up to 240fps.
This is not the end of the story for 4K from the FS700 to the Odyssey7Q. The Odyssey7Q will soon have the ability to record in a popular compressed video codec. When that is available, the Odyssey will accept the 4K RAW data, deBayer it and transform it into a high quality 4K video, and then record this video in the popular codec. This will be enabled up to the highest frame rate of 4K the FS700 can output, which is 60fps. In many ways this is more desirable than RAW to many, as it will require drastically less memory to store the material. Much of the advantage of RAW can be realized with a high quality SLog2 video image. The Odyssey7Q will also be able to similarly transform the 2K RAW into video.
Another way the Odyssey7Q utilizes the 4K RAW output of the FS700 is to generate a higher quality HD image than the camera creates on its own. In HD video mode, the signal recorded onto the camera’s internal media or output via the HDMI or SDI ports is only 8-bit 4:2:2, which is a very limited color space and depth. When attempting to color correct such a signal, banding and other artifacts can quickly occur. By starting with the original 4K RAW data output from the camera, the Odyssey7Q can generate a 10-bit 4:4:4 HD video signal, which allows far greater range in color correction. Currently the Odyssey7Q only outputs this signal via its SDI ports, but an imminent firmware update will allow recording of it to the Odyssey SSDs.
If Sony does allow Convergent Design to record the 4K RAW data directly, it is a functionality that can be immediately implemented via a firmware update. Any Odyssey7Q owner who purchases the FS700 Recording Option will receive this expanded capability free of charge.
Lastly, Sony has asked Convergent Design not to use the Sony proprietary RAW file format for the data. So the Odyssey7Q transforms the information into Cinema DNG file sequences. These files are easily read in various software, such as the free Resolve software from Blackmagic Design.”
I hope this explains the current situation regarding using the Sony FS700 with the Odyssey 7Q.
Currently, without the implementation of compressed codec recording to the 7Q that is coming soon (I’m going to say it is ProRes), you’re not going to get a lot of record time no matter what codec or camera you use.
Over all I think the Odyssey 7Q is a unique and impressive unit. It ticks just about all the boxes and with a lot more options and firmware updates to come it will only continue to get better.