TCC & Shift 4 Kit Review – Sony PXW-FS7 Mk II
The Crewing Company visited the test rooms of kit hire company Shift 4 to review some new and unique pieces of equipment now available for rental. With full access to Shift 4’s stocks of gear and explanation and demos from Shift 4’s Technical Manager Paul Kendler, The Crewing Company freelancers DOP / Lighting Camera Op Neill Francis and Camera Operator / Editor Peter Cartwright got the low down on Sony’s new FS7 Mk II, 3 different sliders and 3 models of light panel.
In this first installment we’ll look at the Sony FS7 Mk II
The FS7 Mk II was unveiled by Sony towards the end of last year and first made available in January. The FS7 Mk I has become hugely popular over the last 12 months replacing the Canon C300 as the most hired camera for broadcast production, but what’s the difference between the FS7 Mk I and the FS7 Mk II, is the newer model superior and will it mean the FS7 continues to dominate?
The Sony PXW-FS7 Mark II is an update to original FS7 Mk I camera. As per the Mk I, it has a 4K Super35 CMOS sensor capable of capturing high-quality 4K footage internally onto XQD cards and the ability to shoot up to 180 frames per second (NTSC) or 150 frames per second (PAL) slow motion footage. On top of that it has several design updates which Sony says are based on Mk I customer feedback. Paul outlined to us the main ones:
The Mk II’s “tool-less” mechanical design makes it easier to make on-the-fly set up changes, for example the Mk I’s handgrip arm has 2 flathead screws meaning you need a screwdriver to make adjustments; the Mk II has a more easily adjusted locking lever.
The FS7 Mk II boasts an internal variable ND filter. Rather than the Mk I’s 3 solid steps of ND .6, 1.2 and 1.8 (1/4, 1/16 and 1/64), the Mk II allows a specific ND to be dialled in (between the 2.1 (1/128) maximum and .6 (1/4) minimum values) with easy transitions, allowing greater exposure control. Preset mode is also available meaning users can assign 3 ND settings if preferred.
Additionally, the FS7 Mk II’s E mount has a cine style lever lock meaning E mount lenses (or other mount lenses with an adapter) are more solidly attached to the camera body. They can be changed by rotating the locking collar rather than the lens itself, saving time and hassle whilst on location.
Bottom line is the Mk II is virtually the same as the Mk I, with the variable ND in Shift 4’s opinion being the most notable improvement. What did Neill and Peter think?
Peter Cartwright on the FS7 Mk II
“The FS7 is a very solid camera – it has a lot of choice in terms of menu options that can tailor the look of your image and the Mk II has a more solid and robust feel when handling it. For me, the stand out feature is still the 2K Centre Crop. It can really be a life saver when you’re filming in open spaces and you can’t get close, such as sporting events or corporate speeches. If you have a wide zoom like a 16-35mm or even the 24-70mm and you just need that extra length, it effectively doubles it without ruining the quality, which is pretty amazing. I own a C300 Mk I and a C300 Mk II and although I love the C300’s picture quality, its menu is not as advanced as the FS7 Mk II. Some will probably prefer the in-depth options but others will prefer Canon’s simplicity. I think I am the latter but that doesn’t detract from the new FS7’s capabilities.”
Neill Francis on the FS7 Mk II
“I think this is a great camera. The best feature of the FS7 Mk II which didn’t feature on Mk I is the internal variable ND filter. Being able to dial in a unique ND with easy transition allows me greater control over the exposure, which is very handy. The viewfinder mount is also useful – the locking collar makes it much easier to adjust, saving time and hassle on location. Those are the main differences, other than that it is quite similar to the Mk I but either the Mk I or II, they are both great cameras and I love shooting on them.”
About Shift 4
Shift 4 are one of the UK’s leading facilities hire companies. We supply cameras, camera accessories, lenses, lighting, grip and sound equipment to commercials, drama, broadcast television and corporate productions. We carry the latest models as well as reliable favourites and a number of unusual and hard-to-find items. We’re a trusted authority when it comes to technology.
We pride ourselves on our immaculate equipment. We take quality of service to the next level: our processes are slick and seamless and our unrivalled attention to detail means problems are pre-empted and solved. Our skilled staff, high calibre of in-house engineering and 24/7 technical support are designed to give peace of mind.
We provide free professional training and equipment demos through the Shift 4 Academy. We have a broad, loyal and ever-growing client base including production companies as well as crew.
Unit 3, Crusader Industrial Estate