I have been eagerly awaiting the raw upgrade to Sony FS5 that was released last week. What does 12-bit 4K raw look like on this camera? I purchased the $600 CBKZ-FS5RIF upgrade as soon as I could, installed it, and over the weekend, had a chance to shoot a little on a music video project. Here’s my initial observations, based on recording with a Atomos Shogun Flame.
First insight: the Flame isn’t actually a raw recorder just yet. You are limited to recording 4K 10-bit ProRes or DNxHR from the Slog 2 or 3 12-bit raw signal that the camera sends. This means you don’t have the option, if you want it, to “develop” the digital negative to your liking from CDNG using raw tools like Resolve or Adobe Photoshop. Atomos says CDNG raw will be supported in a future firmware upgrade.
If you want 12-bit CDNG raw now, an Odyssey 7Q+ with the latest firmware and an FS5 will do the job. I look forward to testing that combination soon. However, from experience I know the Odyssey screen isn’t as bright as the Atomos Flame, and I love me a bright monitor. However, the Odyssey is OLED, which the Flame is not.
So, just how bright is the Flame? The sun was shining in Seattle yesterday, so I had a chance to really work it. And I found that it’s noticeably brighter than a SmallHD 702 (1500 nits vs 1000 nits). In direct sunlight, though, you still need the hood. That’s because the screen is highly reflective, and in glaring sunlight, you need to cut down on sources of reflection. The Atomos hood creates a box with a little window you can peer through, which effectively reduces the area of reflection to a small rectangle in the middle. I found that wearing a ball cap while operating further shades this opening, making it possible to view the screen pretty effectively even in direct sunlight. But the best option? Shade the camera and operator with a flag or umbrella.
The HDR mode is…interesting. It does look cool, visibly brighter than in rec 702 mode. But it feels a little 1.0 to me. The pixels aren’t OLED, so brightness feels like it’s coming from over cranking the LCD pixels. I’ve seen a real OLED Sony HDR monitor, and wow, it blew me away with its brightness. This monitor doesn’t even come close. It’s more like a preview of coming attractions than the real deal. But it’s a start, and I applaud Atomos for shipping it as soon as possible, because HDR is going to be amazing when it gets here and is widely supported on consumer monitors.
There’s a display mode on the Flame that tries to convert Sony SLOG2 or SLOG3 to Rec709 using Sgamma 3 or Sgamma 3.cine color modes. The problem is, it doesn’t really work for me, because I (properly) overexpose my SLOG. To visualize that, you need a LUT, and the Flame happily does support LUTs, allowing you to load up to 8 custom ones.
I found that the LUT I normally use with SLOG3 looked slightly different when applied to the raw signal of the FS5. So that will need some tweaking. But the good news is that your LUTs will work and can be applied, not only to the screen view, but you can burn them in to the recorded footage if you choose.
Slow Motion is a non-starter on this Shogun. The Flame will display a 60p signal, but the record button is disabled, meaning it does not support any slow motion frame rates above 30p. The Flame doesn’t display anything but noise when the S&Q option is enabled on the camera. You’ll need a Shogun Inferno to record at 4K 60p, in burst modes, and in the 2K slow mo mode.
There’s also no way to down-convert the raw 4K -> 2K on this recorder, which means you HAVE to record 4K, fwiw. Not a big deal since you can record 10-bit on the camera’s sd card. But it would be nice sometimes for workflow reasons to go straight to ProRes in 2K instead of having to transcode the footage first, something the Odyssey supports.
Neither SDI nor HDMI output is available when shooting raw, which means you can’t send a feed to a director monitor (at least not to the SmallHD 702 I used for testing).
Battery: The Flame chews through batteries. Bring lots of them if you plan on shooting for very long.
Sound: The Flame has a fan, but it runs nearly silently after noisy boot up. In a hot production environment, this might be an issue.
So, how about that 4K image? Jury’s still out. I definitely noticed the same kind of noise in the shadows that you see with SLOG recorded in-camera. Apparently 10 bits isn’t enough to solve for that. I’ve been told that 12 bits isn’t enough either – that you need 16 bits before those shadows really come clean right out of the camera. So just be aware that you will still need to overexpose the same way you do with in-camera 8-bit or 10-bit SLOG. Beyond that, the benefits of shooting 4K in 10-bit are all there: you can push the file around in post more without degrading the image, you get better color information and no macro blocking and artifacting that you can see when pixel peeping your XAVC footage.
Conclusion: I wouldn’t buy this recorder, but I would happy rent it again – until the Inferno is available.
Update: I finally got a chance to test out the Inferno. In a nutshell, it’s the same recorder as the Flame, but it allows you to record up to 60p in 4K with the FS5. It still doesn’t allow you to record slow motion at frame rates above 60p, and it doesn’t yet support 12-bit raw recording to CDNG files. Choose the Odyssey 7q+ if you want any of those features.
I’m so glad, at last – a review of this set-up. Thanks for doing this. I’m torn between the Odyssey7Q+ and the Flame for whenever I get the RAW upgrade. I really want the highest bit depth, so I guess the Odyssey7Q+ will win out (I also prefer SDI over HDMI connectors) – but the reviews seem very mixed regarding its usability and reliability. So I’m really hoping you will find time do a review on that as well at some point.
Hi Terence, I’m eager to review the Odyssey 7q+ as well, and will likely have an opportunity to shoot with it next week. I will definitely be posting about my experience with it soon after that.
Where do you get the FS% Raw firmware update? I checked B&H and it says “coming soon”… How did you get it?
Hi Adam, I purchased it from Texas Media Systems, but I think I got their last copy. Their website lists the upgrade as out of stock at the moment. It’s very weird that Sony has decided to release this as a physical piece of paper that you have to purchase and have shipped to you, instead of a simpler download. Rather low-tech for a hi-tech company, don’t you think?
Thanks Dan. They’re probably trying to avoid it being pirated and dumped through simple torrent searches. Who knows…
Sorry that this is off topic but what battery is that coming out the back of the FS5? I’ve been looking for something with multiple D-taps and this looks like it has 2 which is great! Also would you recommend it? Great blog by the way.
That battery is a Hawk-Woods BPU 60. They make the best BPU batteries for the FS5 in a variety of sizes. They are based in the UK but ship very quickly. I highly recommend them.
Just found your blog and I’m about to start playing with both of these toys.
Have you had more time to play with them?
From what I can see, there has been one new firmware from atomos, were any of those issues addressed on the new firmware… S&Q, RAW, LUTs, etc?
I’m shooting a documentary in the next couple of weeks, so to be honest baking RAW isn’t what I’m really looking for, out in the middle of nowhere swapping cards every 20 mins and dumping to a laptop, NO THANK YOU. I can stick to Prores for now.
Thanks in advance, keep it up!!!!
Hi Chris, I haven’t had a chance to shoot with the Atomos recorders since the new firmware was released. I don’t believe they yet support 12-bit raw recording the way the Odyssey does, but sounds like that won’t be an issue for you anyway. You should be more than fine sticking with 10-bit prores, assuming you’re shooting 4K. If you’re not shooting 4K, then you really don’t need to use an external recorder, except to use it as a monitor or to speed up your workflow by eliminating need to transcode MXF files to prores. Have a great shoot!
Thanks for the review.
What do you mean by “I don’t believe they yet support 12-bit raw recording the way the Odyssey does”
Cant the flame/inferno record 12bit raw?
The Odyssey supports 12-bit raw CDNG recording; the Shogun Flame that I tested did not. Shogun says they will support 12-bit CDNG recording in a future firmware update – I don’t know if that update has been released yet. I also don’t know whether the Inferno currently supports 12-bit CDNG raw recording from the FS5 yet. But I know the Odyssey does.
Thanks for getting back to me, just got back from the shoot, it went great, only problem was transferring those SSD (480Gbs were taking about an hour to dump and they only recorded 45 mins each, in 4K with proresHQ)
For the Slomo with used the internal codec, tho, since the Shogun Flame doesnt support 120fps and up.
Still the performance of the device was great. I wish I had known about the Odyssey price drops last month, at the end it’s way better than the Atomos.
But we worked with what we had and we’re happy with the end results.
Take care and keep shredding.
Glad that worked out Chris. I agree that with price drops, the Odyssey is pretty hard to beat for use with FS5, at least until Atomos can ship a product that handles the slo-mo and offers real CDNG recording. Cheers!
Fellow Seattleite here. I am fairly new to the FS5 having just got it in June. Like many I am also looking at the RAW firmware update and external recorders. Searching online, I have not been able to find answers to what I feel are common questions. Maybe you can shed some real world experience to it.
1) I read somewhere that the signal of the upgrade is just coming out the HDMI. Does it come out the SDI as well?
2) Without the firmware, does the camera still send a 4:2:2 signal to the Atomos in 4K?
3) I just picked up an Atomos Ninja Flame but a bigger fan of the SDI connectors. Before I unbox it, curious in your opinion if the extra money for the Shogun is worth the investment.
Thanks in advance if you have any insight to this. Jim
re 1: The raw signal comes out of SDI as well. Using HDMI is a terrible idea – it’s a weak, unstable connection that can drop out when the cable is touched. Avoid HDMI like the plague.
re 2: Assume you mean without the paid upgrade? You need the upgrade to get 4K 4:2:2 out to the recorder. You can send a 1080p signal to the recorder without the upgrade, but it’s the same 10-bit 50Mbs quality as recorded internally.
re 3: SDI all the way. HDMI is not a professional connection.
Thanks Dan. I was able to return the Ninja (fortunately I bought local) and exchanged it for the Shogun.
I want to buy a new camera or DSLR, and I would like to ask (professionals)
what should I do? What would be best?
I wonder about the:
1. Sony A7s + Shogun + Atomos Atomos Video Power + ND etc …
2. Sony FS5 (with or without) Atomos Shogun etc.
What better to choose? I want to record films, needs a very good quality at 4K! Is FS5 has more noise than the C100?
Please reply and any advice on what to choose, what to do …
Thank you in advance, Robert! (sorry for my English).
Hi Robert, I would, without hesitation, say that shooting with the FS5 will be vastly simpler than cobbling together a DSLR solution. Everything you need to get shooting on your project is included in the Sony FS5. With a DSLR, the camera is just the foundation and there’s a lot to learn before you even know what you need.
Re: C100 vs FS5, the FS5 is NOT noisy as long as you overexpose your s-log footage properly (by a stop or more). I shoot with both regularly and have no problems with noise on the FS5.
Regarding external recorder, the primary reason to use an external recorder is to get 10-bit instead of 8-bit 4K. The benefits of 10-bit 4K are hard to see by eye, but are revealed when you start pushing the footage around in post. In particular if you’re doing any green screen work, you’ll want the 10-bit (or better yet, 12-bit, which is possible by using Odyssey recorder in raw recording mode). But your workflow will take an enormous hit when you go down this path – you’ll need 4x the computer speed for editing, 4x the storage space of HD files, etc.
thank you very much for your answer!!!
Thanks to you – I want to FS5!
I still have a question – whether the picture is better in A7S?
whether it is better to FS5?
I ask because I see – 12MegaPixels VS 8.8 megapixels
How is this in practice? And you may want to consider the Blackamgic Ursa MINI 4.6K?
I want to do such films me this: https://vimeo.com/71413646
(I mean the picture quality)
Regards, and thank you 🙂
That’s a beautifully shot film Robert. Very nice work. After seeing that, I would say that the Ursa Mini 4.6K would definitely be worth a close look for you. I haven’t shot with it yet myself, but the image is very cinematic and if you’re shooting narrative style mostly, then you won’t find its limitations (such as lack of ND) to be a deal-breaker.
Ok, dzięki! Mam pytanie: mógłbyś mi udostępnić (na przykład dropbox) sample footage z sony FS5? (jakiś bardzo krótki)??
The Ursa mini 4.6K am afraid of opinion – which I read .. 🙁
OK thanks! I have a question: Could I make (for example dropbox) sample footage with sony FS5? (Some very short) ??
The Ursa mini 4.6K am afraid of opinion – which I read .. 🙁
Robert, are you asking for some sample FS5 footage? Here’s a link to some in various flavors: http://zsyst.com/sony-4k-camera-page-sony-pmw-f55-sony-pmw-f5-sony-pxw-fs7-and-sony-pxw-fs5/sony-fs5-sample-footage/
OK THX 🙂
Thanks for the great article. Did you ever use the Shogun together with the SmallHD 502 on the FS5? If so did you experience any lag? Or did everything work fine?
I currently own the FS5 and a SmallHD and im thinking about making the RAW update. First i was thinking about the Odissey 7Q, because of the better specs, but i’ve seen that people had problems recording raw and using an EVF (SmallHD or Zacuto) at the same time. Thats why im wondering if Atomos recorder have the same issue?
Hi Mathias, I haven’t tried that combination, but I’m sure it will work fine as both the Flame and the 502 support loop through. Not sure about latency, but it should be minimal. It’s certainly minimal on my 502, which I frequently use to feed a client monitor.
I did the upgrade and honestly, I never use it. The internal 4K is indistinguishable to the eye from the externally recorded video. However, if you need to pull subtle keys, such as with significant green screen work or serious hue-shifting color grading, then the external recorder is totally worth it.
Having used both, I would go with the Odyssey 7q+. It supports 12-bit raw as well as the slow motion frame rates, which the Flame doesn’t yet. So if you want those, then the Inferno is the only comparable recorder to the Odyssey. And it’s not shipping yet as far as I know.
Dear Dan, dear all,
I have read the chat. It is quiet interesting. I am not a professional but agree with Dan the FS5 is real camera. The Alpha 7 series are very good cameras,too -but the are photo cameras. I am using the 7rm2 and the FS5 they can be combined as well changing the lenses. For Videoshooting the FS5 is much easier too handle and maybe cheaper.
But one question to Dan. Is there a difference in the newer shogun flame ,inferno instead of the older shogun for raw shooting? Atomos published the beta cdng update for the shogun for raw. Is there more performance in newer series?
Thanks a lot!
All the best looking foward to read more.
Hi Michael, I haven’t yet had a chance to test the Inferno, but I look forward to doing that when it’s available. I don’t own the Flame – I just rent it when i need it. So I haven’t had an opportunity to try the beta software either.
I’m having a hard time deciding on whether to get an FS5 to go with an Odyssey, or get the Ursa Mini 4.6k. I shoot a wide range of stuff and so the FS5 would probably be good in that respect with its greater flexibility. I was wondering what your thoughts are on the RAW images out of the two cameras?
The FS5 is certainly going to be much more flexible for a variety of shooting situations than the Ursa Mini (which lacks built-in ND filters). I’ve never shot with the Mini, though, so I can’t speak to it’s raw image quality. For the FS5, though, the the 12-bit raw CDNG files coming out of the Odyssey are very nice if you need to pull a key for complex grading, or for green screen work. But for anything else, it feels like overkill to me, given the amount of time it takes to process the images and generate dailies from them.
Hi again DAN 🙂 !!!
Yes!!! I bought Sony FS5 .. This camer ais incredible! but i have a little problem 🙁
– by combining SDI to Atomos Shogun … Shogun not see 4K 🙁 only 1080P.
Do you know what could be wrong?
I listened to you and I not pushed to HDMI.
Sorry my English and wait for response,
Thx, Robert 😉
It’s likely that your FS5 is set to output via HDMI. You need to change so that it outputs the signal to SDI. On the camera menu, select Rec/Out Set -> Video Out -> Output Select -> SDI.
Finally, your recorder may be set to receive an HDMI signal rather than an SDI one. Check the input settings and be sure you have SDI selected.
I use SDI output 🙁 .. ony 1080P show me
Another possibility: there is a monitoring limitation on the camera when shooting 4K. While shooting 4K, you can monitor either on the LCD OR on your external monitor, but not to both simultaneously while recording. If this is your situation, you would notice the external monitor going dark when you hit the record button. No good if you’re trying to send a signal to Shogun. To fix, go to Rec/Out set menu -> Video Out -> Output Select and choose QFHD Rec. Output => VF/LCD Panel set to EXTERNAL OUTPUT. There’s a full article explaining it here: http://nofilmschool.com/2015/12/sony-fs5-firmware-11-simultaneous-internal-4k-record-external-hdmi-sdi
The Odyssey 7Q+ is just a million miles ahead of Atomos on its recording options with the FS5
Absolutely agreed. No contest really. Odyssey 7Q+ all the way.
hey, I have this problem: https://youtu.be/Verf7LRdLuQ
if you can so you?
hey, I have this problem: https://youtu.be/Verf7LRdLuQ
if you can so you?
problem SOLVED! 🙂 this is chromatic aberration…
but i have one question how use battery on Fs5? (on the picture 1)
I’m having a problem with my FS5 + Shogun Inferno. Im trying to output raw 4k60p but the inferno only reads 1080p. However it works fine when shooting 4k30 in QFHD. Is there a way to output 4k60 without going raw???
Yes, according to the Inferno manual, 60p QFHD is supported directly to ProRes. See the manual: http://downloads.atomos.com/shogun-inferno/Shogun_Inferno_User_Manual.pdf
RAW vs Internal Recording.
I got the RAW Update for the FS5 and did a first test with the a Atomos Shogun.
The FS5 was set to Slog2 like Alister Chapman recommended ( I don’t know why not Slog3?)
I set the exposure, that nothing was clipped in the camera (it was a bright cloud) at 106 %.
I noticed later in DaVinci Resolve that the Atomos clipped the signal at 100 %,
so 1 f-stop of exposure range is lost.
The second thing ist that the same image its “darker” in the Atomos, in the 10 bit space (0-1024)
are the darkest part in the image in the converted RAW/Atomos signal at 120 and int the XAVC Signal at 170?
The positiv thing with the Atomos ist, that the noise is much cleaner, without artifacts.
Did somebody had the same issues?
When shooting raw with FS5, you have to choose SLOG2 as it’s the only option that the camera supports for raw recording.
If you didn’t clip the shot while recording, it’s likely the reason Resolve is showing a clipped signal is because of something else inside Resolve. Do you have a default setting that may be causing that such as a timeline LUT or project setting that might account for that?
I’m not sure what you mean about darker; can you clarify?
With the Atomos Shogun Flame recording Raw from the fs5 we lose the ability, which you mentioned, to loop through the sdi out and go to a directors monitor. Do you know if the Odyssey 7Q+ has the same issue? Thanks!
I don’t know the answer to that one as I don’t own an Odyssey and haven’t tried to use it configured in that way.