Sony updates FS-7 firmware and adds 4K to X70

Firmware updates

Updated: the Sony PXW FS-7 camcorder. Image: Sony
Sony has released a significant firmware update for the PXW FS-7 Super35mm camcorder, as well as a 4K upgrade for the PXw-X70.

The FS-7 upgrade brings in the promised, DCI-compliant 4K recording mode. Using XAVC, this supports a resolution of 4096 x 2160 at up to 60fps. The update is an improvement on the launch firmware of the FS-7, which was initially limited to UHD resolutions only.

The new recording mode is available across a number of framerate presets from 23.98 to 59.94. But, slow and quick motion (S&Q) is also available in DCI 4K, and this can be set in single frame increments.

The XAVC-I intraframe codec records data to the camera at up to 600Mbps (for 60fps), with the FS-7 recording to XQD media. Sony says that XAVC-I, even at 10-bit 4:2:2, is significantly less demanding on storage than alternative codecs, such as Apple’s ProRes.

None the less, Sony has increased its support for ProRes recording; installing the XDCA-FS7 expansion module upgrades the camera to ProRes recording, to internal XQD media rather than to an external recorder. ProRes files are captured in HQ or 422.

Sony’s V2 firmware for the FS-7 also upgrades audio recording to four channels, at 48KHz at 24 bits. To capture the additional tracks, Sony has enabled recording via the MI intelligent hot shoe built in to the camera. To use XLR inputs, film makers need to buy Sony’s XLR-KM2. The interface, which also works with Sony’s a7 cameras, costs US$600 for a kit, including an ECM-XM1 mic.

Alternatively, Sony says that the camera can be set up with a combination of the camera’s internal mic, an external mic, and two radio mic units.

Further changes to the firmware address colour balance issues in white balance preset mode, and improve some menu labelling.

The firmware update will be available free of charge later in March, with Sony promising to release information on its blog here.

Sony has also announced a firmware update for the popular, handheld PXW-X70. Firmware V2 brings a significant range of new features to the 1-inch chip camera.

The updates include low bitrate proxy recording, and the transfer of both proxy and master files, over FTP. The firmware also adds support for wired LAN connections, using a USB to network adapter kit.

In addition, Sony has added live streaming to the camera, with support for 3Mbps and 9Mbps quality settings.

The main point of interest in the update, though, is likely to be the PXW-X70’s 4K capabilities. With a paid-for licence, the camera will be able to film 30fps, 24fps and 25fps at a bitrate of 60Mbps. The main V2 firmware upgrade will be free of charge, and the fee for the 4K licence, CBKZ-X70FX is set at €485. The update is expected in June.

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