Sony FS5 Offers Quality FHD Slow Motion!


The newly announced Sony PXW-FS5 Professional camcorder is like a hybrid of the venerable FS700 of 2012 and last years darling the Sony FS7.   It however offers a lot in the way of portability with it’s small profile and a slow motion mode akin to that in the RX100 IV and RX10 II.    It seems to be a refined higher resolution mode of the FS700’s slow motion capabilities with better dynamic range and less artifacts to boot. Call it FS700 slowmo v2.0!

The camera comes with an HFR High Frame Rate mode akin to what was introduced in the lower end Sony line this year.  You get 120fps recording in full sensor full HD for 16 seconds, 240fps full sensor full HD for 8 seconds. Higher frame rates are as of now not known in duration or frame size quality but according to reps they should be a step up from the FS700 camera.

Super Slow Motion Function NTSC [60i] Frame rate selectable
120, 240, 480, 960 fpsPAL [50i] Frame rate selectable
100, 200, 400, 800 fps

Sony FS5 Official HFR Video Sample:

First Variable Electronic ND Filter:


If there is something truly revolutionary about the Sony FS5 it is the new technology powering the electronic Variable ND filter.  It goes from 1/4 to 1/128 allowing for taming the base ISO on the sensor at 3200 ISO to be more in line with the 180 degree shutter that filmmakers and video pros crave.   Even in a bright sunny day the camera will be able to shoot 24p at 1/48 or 1/50 shutter without using a screw in or matte box filter. This is a huge time saver and one of the most innovative features we have seen in recent memory when it comes to video centric features.

To activate it you rotate the ND cylindrical switch which lowers the electronic ND module in front of the sensor, then adjust. The technology works by obscuring an LCD like glass module with the desired intensity to block light.  According to Sony no image quality degradation occurs when using the ND module but as with anything you put in front of the sensor or lens you might get a very slight to imperceptible decrease in real resolution.  We feel there is no real concern and a feature that will be standard in the future for all sorts of cameras. This is the kind of innovation that speaks volumes of where the industry is going and Sony is pushing the envelope here.

Sony FS5 Official Features Video  with VariableND:

Image Quality:

The Sony PXW-FS5 records 4k 4:2:0 at up to 30p internally to at 3840 x 2160 resolution with Sony’s XAVC™ Long codec.

  • XAVC™ Long recording for 4K (3840 x 2160 at up to 30p) and Full HD (1920 x 1080 at up to 60p); advanced encoding technology retains superb picture quality at affordable bit rates (up to 50 Mbps in HD, up to 100 Mbps in 4K); beautiful 4:2:2 color and nuanced 10-bit grayscale in Full HD.

While the 4k limit is identical to that found on the Panasonic GH4 at 100Mbps, it has 4:2:2 10 bit encoding at 50Mbps for full HD and this includes all of the HFR high frame rate modes. The color quality and grading capability including the S-Log3, S-Log2 and S-Gamut3.Cine curves will be ideal for slow motion capture and 4k but with the reduced 4:2:0 color space on the higher resolution.

Official FS5 Launch Video “Free Spirit” by Den Lennie and Sony:

The video above will give you a good idea of what the camera is capable of. Even when the story and execution seem like that of a  stock imagery reel, it does give you a sense of the exemplary color and dynamic range the camera can provide.  It is raising the bar for quality at the under $6k price point for a camera of this caliber.

Interview with filmamker Den Lennie on the FS5:

The Dynamic range is rated at 14 Stops which is Alexa and RED territory. The shot of the sun in the video sample reflects part of what you can get out of this.  For comparison the GH4 with V-Log L has only 12 stops of DR and the FS5 tramples it with 2 more. You will feel at home shooting on bright sunny days or dark environments knowing a lot of detail will be retained.

  • Super35 Exmor® CMOS image sensor with 14 stops of dynamic range and 8.4 million effective pixels (16:9)

FS5SonySunDRGlad to see Sony not going crazy with the Megapixels here by letting the sensor be 4k ready but of a large pixel area to push low light performance and DR numbers up.

  • Clear Image Zoom uses advanced image processing to double the effective focal length of your lens; a 12x zoom effectively becomes 24x

We are not sure if Clear image Zoom is only for Full HD 1080p video as a sensor crop or if it is a pixel doubling of the image that retains fairly good quality.  As with any interpolation your quality will not be as crisp but for wildlife videographers and paparazzi it could be a great feature to have.

Recording Frame Rate XAVC QFHD (3840 x 2160) @29.97p, 25p, 23.98p 100Mbps/60Mbps

XAVC HD (1920 x 1080) @59.94p, 50p, 50Mbps/35Mbps

XAVC HD (1920 x 1080)@59.94i, 50i, 50Mbps/35Mbps/25Mbps

XAVC HD (1920 x 1080)@29.97p, 25p, 23.98p, 50Mbps/35Mbps

XAVC HD (1280 x 720)@59.94p, 50p, 50Mbps

AVCHD (1920 x 1080)@59.94p, 50p, PS mode(28Mbps)

AVCHD (1920 x 1080) @59.94i/50i/29.97p/25p/23.98p,
FX mode (24Mbps)
FH mode(17Mbps)

AVCHD (1280 x 720)@59.94p, 50p,
FX mode(24Mbps)
FH mode(17Mbps)
HQ mode(9Mbps)

Battery Life:

Battery Operating Time With battery pack BP-U90: approx. 6 hours, 50 minutes
(While recording with LCD On, EVF Off when the external device connector is not used.)With battery pack BP-U60: approx. 4 hours, 20 minutes
(While recording with LCD On, EVF Off when the external device connector is not used.)With battery pack BP-U30: approx. 2 hours, 10 minutes
(While recording with LCD On, EVF Off when the external device connector is not used.)

Recording time on memory cards:

Recording/Playback Time XAVC-L QFHD 100 mode
Approx. 65 min with 64 GB memory cardXAVC-L QFHD 60 mode
Approx. 100 min with 64 GB memory cardXAVC-L HD 50 mode
Approx. 120 min with 64 GB memory cardXAVC-L HD 35 mode
Approx. 170 min with 64 GB memory cardXAVC-L HD 25 mode
Approx. 220 min with 64 GB memory card
Recording/Playback Time AVCHD@LPCM 2ch PS Mode
Approx. 290 min with 64 GB memory card
Approx. 145 min with 32 GB memory cardAVCHD@LPCM 2ch FX Mode
Approx. 340 min with 64 GB memory card
Approx. 170 min with 32 GB memory cardAVCHD@LPCM 2ch FH Mode
Approx. 450 min with 64 GB memory card
Approx. 225 min with 32 GB memory cardAVCHD@LPCM 2ch HQ Mode
Approx. 590 min with 64 GB memory card
Approx. 290 min with 32 GB memory card

Sony FS5 Official “In Action” Video Sample:

Sony FS5 Official “4k” Video Sample:

The videos above will give you a good idea of the capabilities of the Sony FS5 even when Sony for some reason crops every video with a black border.  It makes it harder to judge 1:1 pixel quality at 4k or 1080p this way.

What is it missing?

Looking at it it seems not a whole lot is missing from this camera but there are a few large gaps when compared to its slightly more expensive brother.  The most apparent is the omission of 4k at 50 or 60fps which the FS7 has at up to 600Mbps on QXD cards which are expensive on their own right.   The FS7 also can export 2k RAW video at up to 240fps to an external recorder.  There will be an update in the future for the Sony FS5 for external RAW recording but no word at this time of when and what it will include.

XAVC-I always is 10-bit 4:2:2 on the FS7 while the FS5 has only 4:2:0 8 bit for 4k unless you wait for external recording.

Another is 4 channel audio input on the FS7, the FS5 has only two XLR in ports.

Not a whole lot but is 4:2:2 is really needed the FS5 will be restricted to 1080p for it.  The Fs7 remains relevant in the Sony lineup and valuable to owners of the camera.

Pricing and Availability:

The MSRP on the Sony FS5 will be $5800 USD for the body only kit and or  $6300 for the Lens kit 18 to 105mm E-Mount Zoom f/4 G OSS power zoom.   It will ship by Mid November 2015 in quantity!

Adorama Camera has the Sony FS5 available for Pre Order in the following configurations at reduced prices from MSRP:

Sony PXW-FS5 4K XDCAM Camera System with Super 35 CMOS Sensor with 18 to 105mm E-Mount Zoom f/4 G OSS Lens for $6,099.00 USD Free Expedited Shipping!FS5AdoramaOne

Sony PXW-FS5 4K XDCAM Camera System with Super 35 CMOS Sensor, Body Only $5,599.00 with Free Expedited Shipping


As far as the kit lens goes it is an F4 lens but with a pretty usable range and electronic zoom at 5.83 x  which is not a lot but if you have no e-mount glass it makes for a good companion lens. If you already have Canon, Nikon or other glass you can just get one of the hundreds of adapters out there for Sony emount and skip the lens kit.

We believe the Sony FS5 will be a great quality contender for slow motion easily beating the FS7 and maybe the FS700 on our list. Depending on the quality of the slow motion it may very well be a pretty good all around solution for slow motion with quality and dynamic range in mind.  We’ll keep you posted when more samples and final image quality on the FS5 when available.

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4 thoughts on “Sony FS5 Offers Quality FHD Slow Motion!”

  1. Does it support live playback to an external monitor (TV). I was wanting to use this camera for a slow motion video booth that enables guests to be able to see themselves in action?

    1. All of Sony’s cameras that use HFR or high frame rate recording do not show the slow motion live until it is saved into the SD card at which point you can play back those clips if needed. It takes about 20 seconds to save a couple of seconds clip in HFR mode to the SD card.

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