The Sony XDCA-FS7 is perhaps one of the most intriguing parts of the new FS7 camera. By building certain key features into an optional expansion dock Sony is able to offer the FS7 camera body at a lower price with out cannibalizing their other cameras. The FS7 camera sells for $7,999, the expansion module sells for $1,999. Together this puts the camera system at about $10,000, in between the $6000 FS700 and the $16,500 F5.
But what does the XDCA-FS7 module do? And, most importantly, do you need to buy one? The module is wonderfully designed fitting seamless onto the back of the camera, only adding a couple of inches and about a pound to the overall size of the camera. It attaches the the camera via a custom multi-pin connector that transfers all data and power. It is not some ungainly “rig” that needs another 4 pounds of rods and rails to hold it together.
The module enables several key features. It upgrades the cameras battery system from the BP-U series batteries to V-Lock brick batteries. This will allow you to use full size batteries capable of delivering true all-day runtimes. It also ads 4-pin DC power input and 4-pin Hirose power output for expanding the power options of the FS7 even further.
Probably the biggest feature that will draw most people to the XDCA-FS7 is the enabling of 12-bit RAW output of the camera. With out the module the camera can output uncompressed video via SDI but the module allows for 4K RAW to be output at 12-bit sampling up to 60fps. It also allows for 2K 12-bit output up to 240fps. When combined with the Odyssey 7Q recorder/monitor this becomes a very powerful acquisition tool. The FS700 can natively output 12-bit RAW to external recorders, the F5 can natively output 16-bit RAW to be recorded. By making the RAW output an optional module for the FS7 it allows people who won’t use it to skip it and save some money at the same time.
The XDCA-FS7 also contains a codec board for Apple ProRes 1080p encoding. By attaching the module to the back of the camera the camera now has the ability to record ProRes in-camera, natively, to the same XQD cards that you would normally record XAVC to. It’s very similar to what Sony has done with the F5 & F55, selling optional ProRes boards that, when installed, provide fully native ProRes recording in-camera.
Finally, the XDCA-FS7 provides studio-style connectivity for multi-camera live switching productions. This includes Gen-lock, Reference, & Timecode in and output. This completes the true “broadcast” feature set of the camera, putting it on par with larger, more expensive broadcast camera connectivity.