Sony has officially announced the FS700!
At first review of the specs, it seems like an interesting camera. My bias is obviously that I own the FS100 (purchased about 4 months ago), which I absolutely love. The chance for higher over cranking ability is really great, but as an FS100 user I can tell you that the higher frame rates are not something I’d use in my everyday work (especially since they’re not at full resolution).
That’s not to dismiss the great features they’ve brought, just not enough to dismay those of us who own an FS100. Another great addition is the 3G-SDI out, which I’d love if only to get away from the consumer-grade HDMI port. HDMI has plagued the low-end professional camera market (that seems like an oxymoron) for too long, and the BNC is tried and true (patented in 1951). Locking HDMI cables have existed for quite a while, but they aren’t perfect (high price and I wouldn’t trust it like I would the BNC). This, along with the built-in ND (sorely missed in the FS100), are the features that will solidify the FS700’s spot in professional work.
Alongside the 3G-SDI out is what some would consider an even bigger deal: The ability to record 4K. Sony has hinted that it will be available at “sometime,” only through the 3G-SDI output, via an external recorder. I don’t think any such device is available yet, but it’s fantastic that the ability will (eventually) be there. I’m skeptical though, because Sony also promised us FS100 owners that the camera would do 4:4:4 via the HDMI out (even though it’s 8-bit). While it technically does this, the camera simply up-samples from 4:2:2 to display at 4:4:4—no extra information is passed. This is kind of sneaky, in the same way that saying your old tube TV can display HD video (through a conversion box).
The real reason any of this is a big deal is the price tag, which is supposedly anywhere from $8-10,000. That puts the FS100 as the junior Super 35MM, the F3 as the big guy, and the FS700 as an intermediate. It shouldn’t be long until the whole line of cameras is updated to 4K, but is that really what we need right now? Future proof, for sure, but really what is needed from camera manufacturers is better chromo sub-sampling and more efficient codecs (at least for Canon and Sony). Instead, we’re getting the 4K resolution race, which to me is exactly like the megahertz race in PC manufacturers in the late 90s. Yes, it’ll make the product better, but that’s not the only aspect of the technology that makes it a good product.