Sony recently launched PMW F5 and F55 CineAlta cameras, which both record full-4K resolution and lower-resolution formats. Ubiquitous throughout NAB 2013, both models are in demand by the camera-support industry as the latest and greatest cameras to accessorize for commercials, TV production, indie features and other projects. While the F5 and F55 have been heavily marketed as twins with distinct personalities, when push comes to shove, Sony is keen to accent the superior capabilities of the F55.
In interviews and presentations, Sony Senior Product Manager Juan Martinez highlighted some key similarities and distinctions between the F5 and F55. Firstly, both cameras can record 4K RAW at up to 60fps to a separate 4K video recorder, like the AJA Ki Pro Quad, Convergent Design Odyssey 7, Codex Onboard M or Sony AXSR5 recorders. Both also record several compressed codecs, like XAVC (H.264) HD, MPEG-2 HD and SR SStp HD at 440 and 220Mbs. Curiously, many of the cameras’ differences have to do with their 2K capabilities. The F55 has a faster sensor and more advanced shutter speed that can capture 2K RAW at up to 240fps, while the F5 maxes out at 120fps.
The F5 and F55 employ different types of shutters. The F5 uses a conventional rolling shutter that’s prone to “banding” under certain conditions. The F55 has a new, advanced “global shutter” that eliminates most of these issues with full-frame scanning. Both cameras offer similar 4K and 2K workflows. Fortunately, leading NLE companies (particularly the three A’s: Adobe, Apple and Avid, and others like Boris FX Media 100 and EditShare) have stayed ahead of the 4K curve and expanded their 2K workflows to cover 4K. Another key difference between the Sony F5 and F55 is the pricing: the F5 lists for just under $20K while the F55 starts at around $35K, but the addition of a viewfinder and Sony AXSR5 recorder will add another $10K+ to the startup cost. Both cameras are currently available, although not all of the recording options have been enabled.