All About the Sony XDCA-FS7 Expansion Module

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.

FS7 Expansion Module

All About the Sony PXW-FS7

Physical Design

The FS7 has a unique new compact design meant to be used on the shoulder “out of the box” with a built-in adjustable grip and handle which features zoom control (for compatible lenses). No rig required. The camera has 4 built-in ND’s which are mechanically switchable with a dial similar to the one on the F5 and F55. The LCD viewfinder comes with a newly designed attachable loupe. The camera has been purpose-built to provide a versatile range of creative shot options while sitting comfortably on the shoulder, even after hours of operation. The supplied grip, easily adjustable viewfinder and fully-sealed, die-cast magnesium chassis have been designed to provide robust usability in dusty or humid environments and for ‘run and gun’ applications.

The FS7 grip, designed for easy handling and oper- ability, is the result of exhaustive consultation with vid- eographers and cinematographers, as well as the pro- duction of various prototypes.The shape supports long periods of camera use and flexibly accommodates subtle differences among various users’ gripping styles. The angle of the grip can be easily adjusted with the press of a button. In addition to a zoom button and Rec Start/Stop, the grip also has several programmable buttons that can be customized for easy access to any other functions such as the focus magnifier function.

The length of the arm section of the FS7 can be ad- justed just by turning a knob. Another knob at the joint makes it easy to adjust the angle of the camera. So a user can choose a comfortable style that suits his or her physique and shooting position. The FS7 is equipped with a shoulder pad for stable shoulder-style shooting. Users can also choose oth- er supported shooting styles including handy style, chest style (using the curved rear part of the FS7), tripod shooting, etc. depending on conditions.

What it Records

It can shoot 4K in XAVC (up to 600Mbit/s in 60p, 300Mbit/s in 30p) in 10-bit 4:2:2 I-Frame in up to 60 frames per second. It can shoot slow motion in up to 180fps in proper 1080p resolution, also in 10-bit 4:2:2 I-Frame 100Mbit/s compression . Support for QFHD 3840 x 2160 resolution is available now but 4096 x 2160 resolution support will be provided by firmware update scheduled for early 2015. The camera can or will support for a variety of recording formats including XAVC Intra, Long GOP, MPEG HD422 (XDCam422) and Apple ProRes 422 (some codecs available early 2015 by firmware update).

SlowMotion up to 180fps or even Full High Definition with 60/50 progressive frames is possible. By using the optional extension unit FS7 is capable of natively recording in Apple ProRes 422 codec, planned to be available in early 2015 by firmware update. In addition the optional extension features optional RAW interface, meaning the PXW-FS7 is capable of 4K/2K 12-bit RAW recording up to a maximum 240fps with the Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q.

Sensor, Media, Lens Mount

The FS7 features the same image sensor that is found in the much more expensive PMW-F5. The PXW-FS7 is able to capture great image quality without needing significant lighting support. It has high-speed image readout characteristics, such as 240 fps while recording 2K RAW on an external recorder, responsive sensitivity (ISO 2000) and a high signal-to-noise ratio. The PXW-FS7 supports QFHD up to 60 fps with an upgrade to 4K 4,096 x 2,160 resolution due to be made available in early 2015.

The FS7 uses Sony’s Alpha E-mount system. There is a wide variety (and growing number) of high quality light weight lenses that are natively design for the E-mount system. The E-mount features a very shallow flange. When this is combined with the nearly universal compatibility of the Super35mm size image sensor the camera can be adapted to nearly any lens mount in the world. It is very common, and easy, to adapt the E-mount to Canon EF, Nikon F, Arri PL, or even Sony’s Alpha A-mount lens lines.

The FS7 uses a media called XQD. This is not a proprietary media card. Rather, it was developed in conjunction with the Compactflash Association to be the Next Generation media that takes over as Compactflash reaches its final limitations. XQD gives the necessary read and write speed to handle the very high bit rate XAVC codec at the high frame rates that todays media professionals require. The FS7 features two internal XQD memory card slots.

PXW-FS7

Sony XQD Cards In-Stock Can Mean Only One Thing….

Look what i got in-stock today. The newest generation of Sony’s XQD media cards are in stock on my shelf. Of course these media cards are required for the new Sony FS7 digital cinema camera. Now that i have the cards i just need a camera to put them in. The cameras should be in-stock soon. I’m still filling back orders… slowly. By the way, currently the price on the XQD cards are: $799 for a 128GB, $359 for a 64GB, and $165 for a 32GB. With the FS7 in 4K at 30p each minute of footage equals 3GB of data. So a 128GB card will give you about 45 minutes of footage. To pre-order your FS7 please email me at epetrie@provideoandtape.com or call me at 503-598-9142 . Post by Eric C. Petrie

XQD in stock