Sony have today finally released their highly anticipated version 3.0 firmware for the FS7. It was previously scheduled for release in December but was delayed due to the discovery of issues with the quality of high frame rate RAW recordings by the Cinema5D website.
The most significant feature of the release is the addition of Center Scan mode – something already seen on the F5/55 and FS5. This HD mode utilises just the central portion of the sensor and in effect crops the image to a Super16 size. When used with S35 optics it effectively becomes a digital teleconverter that usefully extends the range of the lens. For news and documentary shooting it is has become an essential feature for many F5/55 users.
By adding an appropriate optical adapter this also makes it possible to use b4 ENG lenses on the FS7, as well as a raft of vintage Super16 glass. MTF services and IBE optics both sell adapters that do this.
Noise suppression is now available in Cine EI mode. This is an option many shooters have wanted for some time. The gains in dynamic range from shooting in S-Log3 and Cine EI are useful, but without noise suppression it pretty much guarantees you need to run noise reduction software on your footage in post. The new option gives users access to the same noise reduction that is available in regular shooting modes in Cine EI. The result might not be quite as good as noise removal in software, but it speeds up the process and I imagine most factual shooters using S-Log3 will opt for in-camera noise suppression.
Another key feature of the firmware is the ability to move the focus check magnification area around the screen. This is great for off-centre subjects and especially interviews.
Interval recording also comes to the FS7 in this firmware release.
Users who have the XDCA expansion unit and are using it to feed RAW signals to an external recorder like the Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q+ have also experienced quality issues in slow motion recording, which the new firmware addresses. Cinema5D reported frame drops at 200fps (PAL mode). They also reported lower than expected bit depth issues.
Cinema5D have tested a version of the new firmware and still report a loss in bit depth at high frame rates, although the dropped frames appear to be fixed. They report dynamic range on internal recordings is still slightly higher than external in high speed.
The firmware is available now from the Sony Japan website, though if you don’t speak Japanese we’d recommend you wait until it appears in your locality before upgrading.
Here’s a full list of features from Sony:
- Focus Magnification function is improved.
- Support for magnification area position adjustment.
- Magnification resolution improvement.
- Support for “2K Full”, “2K Center” setting in Image Scan Mode.
- Support for Interval Recording function.
- Expand lowest value of Zebra level to 0%
- Support for Noise Suppression setting in Cine EI mode.
- Video Signal Monitor usability is improved.
- The operability of “Iris setting” using the “Iris dial” and the “assignable dial” is improved.
FS-RAW image quality and operation stability improvement.
- Overall stability and operability of the camera is improved.