Three years ago the FS7 was announced and it shook the ground. Not only was it the most versatile camera on the market, but the amount of features packed into such a reliable beast was just incredible. It was a no brainer for me to move from the Sony FS100 to the FS7. It has better dynamic range, 10bit Video, 4K and a codec that you can easily be graded in post. It can deal with almost any situation, and can be used in many applications and if you can’t tell yet, I just love this camera.
Arguably the colour science in the FS7 is not the best. It’s not terrible though, and if shooting in SLOG3 and grading the footage there’s little to worry about that can’t be corrected. If you didn’t already know why this camera is the bomb, you surely do by now. There are reasons why this camera has held its value and price, and why it’s the BBC’s go-to. So why am I writing this, years after the release? Well, to express my appreciation for it’s quirks and perks but also to point out some flaws that I have observed but haven’t heard of being discussed before.
Now, bear with me on this first one because there isn’t an industry term for this yet that I’ve found, so it might sound weird: the image you get from the Exmor Sensor looks more 3D, which is certainly an acquired taste. I feel it makes it harder to focus the camera too. I really can’t make my mind up whether I like it even after 3 years, but it does give this camera a unique look. When compared to the likes of Arri cameras, Sony A7 Series, F55, RED cameras and even the Blackmagic Ursa 4.6K pro, which all have a more 2D compressed imaging sensor, the FS7 really stands out. We have a feeling here at EMAGIC that it could be down to the actual thickness/depth of the sensor itself. The FS7 could be the future of cinema, but if you like what you see when you watch movies on the big screen, then this more 3D look could come as a surprise. Any thoughts on what the term for this could be? I was thinking ‘sensor compression.’
The second negative is the shape and weight of the camera, in the sense that it doesn’t fit on any just any gimbal- definitely not the low to mid-end ones. So, your next options are a Steadicam or Glidecam, not that I’m complaining personally. There is a trend however in passing camera shots, with multiple camera operators/assistants for bigger projects, so it doesn’t make it an ideal choice for those sorts of productions. If you do want to mount the FS7 onto a gimbal though, you’ve got the MOVI or even the DJi Ronin 2, both of which can end up costing a small fortune – more than the camera itself. It’s not all bad though; the shape and weight of the camera makes handheld work a dream, without the need to rig it up, which is ideal for corporate and low budget projects. A noteworthy observation though for those Glidecam or steadicam setups: without a long/expensive base plate you’ll find a gap between the shoulder pad and the quick release plate of the steadicam, resulting in micro vibrations and bounce when moving at slightly quicker paces. There are cheaper DIY ways around this however, and the extra effort is worthwhile when you get an image as beautiful as the FS7 produces.
Written By Jack Buck