Sony announce expanded HDR workflows, new firmware for FS5 and PXW-Z150

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Still getting to grips with 4K and VR workflows? Get with 2017, now it’s time to worry about High Dynamic Range production and how to squeeze the most out of your sensor for display on the next generation of HDR displays.


Sony are laying the groundwork for end-to-end HDR production, and the way it will affect most shooters is a firmware update that will enable Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) on your camera. There’s a primer on HDR and HLG here – it’s a standard developed by the BBC in the UK and NHK in Japan that adapts existing technology and workflows to enable HDR content to be broadcast live.

Existing HDR solutions such as UHD BluRay and Dolby Vision are only really suited to pre-produced content, so HLG is destined to be a big deal in the next few years as HDR becomes a more widely adopted spec (or: another acronym your TV maker suggests as a reason to upgrade your set).

Adding HDR capability to your existing camcorders

Back to Sony – the FS5 and PXW-Z150 will receive an HLG upgrade via firmware, which will be implemented in camera by a new picture profile option. Switching over to the new profile will also enable the BT.2020 colour space on the cameras. We’ve heard that the FS5’s new HLG mode will work with Atomos recorders but we’ll try that out when we’re able to get an updated camera and a recorder in the same place at the same time.

Sony’s PXW-Z150 will get a firmware update later this year to enable HLG recording.

Sony are also announcing live camera systems, servers and monitors for HD HDR production, although of all the other kit perhaps the most useful for Newsshooters is an update to Sony’s Catalyst Browse software. This will allow you to view HDR footage as it’s meant to be seen, rather than in a flat Log-like state.

Shaking it up and seeing what settles

There’s the potential for the next few years to be quite messy as standards and resolutions get ironed out, deployed, abandoned and revised. Sony seem to be reacting to the fact that 4K doesn’t yet have widespread consumer penetration, and could be said to be hedging their bets a little by embracing HDR for HD.

Still, HD does have significant presence in households, at least in the UK, and the upgrade to 10bit HDR colours on living room screens could be a more significant improvement in quality than simply increasing resolution to 4K. There, I said it…

Firmware availability

The new firmwares for the FS5 and PXW-Z150 will be available in July, and Sony’s Catalyst Browse software has been updated to be HLG-enabled and is available now.

Are you shooting for HDR yet? Think it’s a cul-de-sac or the way of the future? Let us know in the comments below.

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