A Breakdown of the 4K Sony F55 Cinealta Camera

Sony-f55-cinealta-4k-camera

If you have already seen the Sony F5, the F55 might seem like the same camera at first glance. Appearance wise, they are identical expect for the ring on the lens mount (F55 has a silver ring, while the F5 has a black ring). The F5 sensor is reportedly rated ISO 2000, while the F55 is said to be rated at ISO 1250. The two new Cinealta cameras both feature the same Super 35mm sized 4K sensor with 8.9 million effective pixels, but with one HUGE difference- The Sony F55 features Sony’s first implementation of a global shutter. In short, Sony listened to users and implemented a sensor in the F55 that may eliminate the wobble, skew, and smear traditionally associated with CMOS cameras.

Global Shutter vs. Rolling Shutter

So, whats the difference? To be brief, a global shutter captures and exposes all of the information from the entire sensor all at once, while a rolling shutter captures the frame line by line, essentially “rolling” through the frame. Rolling shutters have traditionally been used with CMOS sensors in order to boost sensitivity. The distorted images resulting from rolling shutter have been a problem many DP’s have learned to live with and work around, but this may now be a thing of the past.

Modularity

Sony may have taken a page from the RED playbook on this one. Both the Sony F5 and F55 cameras feature modular add-ons to the camera “brain”.

Frame rate- Shooting Options

60 fps- Out of the box (XAVC HD at launch; XAVC 4K, QFHD and 2K with a planned upgrade)
180 fps- With a planned upgrade (XAVC 2K/HD). Unique to this process, there is no line skipping or sensor windowing. So there’s no crop factor, no loss in angle of view.
240 fps 2K RAW- With the optional Sony R5 recorder and a planned upgrade, achieves the highest frame rates most productions will need, while retaining exceptional, 16-bit image quality. This not only exceeds 12-bit RAW with 16 times as many Red, Green and Blue gradations. By design, it exceeds the capabilities of human vision!

Sony F55 Vs. RED EPIC

Sony has no doubt set the stage for comparisons between their F55 and RED’s EPIC 5K camera. So which one would you be most likely to purchase? David Jones via DVXuser had the following to say:

“Neither! I no longer consider buying a camera an investment, as quickly as technology is changing. When I was shooting on film you kept a camera between 7 and 15 years. Then when we started shooting digital your average camera lifespan went from 7 years down to 5 years. In the last 2 years technology has progressed so quickly that you are lucky if your camera has a 3 year lifespan, and the quality level that was $60K 5 years ago can now be had for under $10K now. We have now reached the point where camera technology and lifespan is changing every 18 months. Sorry camera manufactures, but I am no longer going to play your camera upgrade games every year. I will keep a coupe of lower cost cameras in house which can be payed off quickly, and then rent specific cameras when needed. In my business model in just does not make sense to “invest” in a higher end camera platform like the RED EPIC for example, and then be locked in to shooting with this camera for X amount of time to pay it off while technology passes it by, when I can rent any camera ever made and have it shipped in a day.”

David made some good points. For those that own a RED EPIC, do you think Sony’s 16-bit RAW format will meet your needs or is RED’s 12-bit REDCODE RAW at 8:1 compression good enough for your purposes?

 

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