Sony FS100…just my first impressions

Unfortunately it came a day late to be used for our music video but the lovely Kanta Yamamoto from Sony Europe popped over to my house this afternoon on his way home to drop off a pre-production FS100 to me to play with for a couple of days. Kanta recently moved from Tokyo and now lives around the corner from me in Richmond, so I think I will be bugging him A LOT!

So far I have only see one independent review of the FS100 and it was utterly scathing. I took it with a pinch of salt and rightly so. After just 30 minutes of shooting with the FS100 it’s nothing like Nigel Cooper paints it as. It feels well made and the buttons are just fine!

Yes, the form factor is different and it is missing some key features. The Hassleblad style is interesting. To be honest the first time I saw it It reminded me of the old HI8 Sony Video Walkman from many a moon ago…check it out below and the FS100 next to it!

Hi8 Video Walkman

But…actually the form factor interests me. I own both an AF101 and a Sony F3 and they have more traditional form factors but they suck to be honest. The only decent form factor is a shoulder mounted camera, everything else needs to be accessorised to make them work properly. The FS100 in many way is a little like a poor man’s Red Epic in it’s stylings. Very modular. You build it up the way you want it as there are lots of screw holes all over it.

I can’t talk about the picture quality too much as I have not done any proper HD shooting with it yet but it operates just fine. The menus are easier to navigate than the F3 due to not being stuck with just a wheel like the F3 there is a control pad on the top. The LCD screen is pretty damn good and with the clip on viewfinder it becomes superb, with one caveat. By being on top of the camera it makes it impossible to use the camera with the viewfinder on a tripod higher than you as the it cannot tilt down!

No ND filter wheel is a bummer. The reason being to keep the small body there was no space for a filter wheel, but this really is a pain for me. I miss ND filter wheels on DSLRs and it’s one of the loveliest things of the Panny AF 101. 4 stage filter wheel…like a proper camera!

It has the same Super 35mm sized sensor as the F3 but different processing. It has no SDI out, just HDMI and it is only 8 bit 422 even though HDMI can do 10 bit 422 because the processor is only 8 bit. Compromises have had to be made to slash the price down from the F3.

One SD card slot is a shame so no continuous internal recording. Batteries are the legacy NPF batteries that I have from my old Z1 and they last about 8 hours for one NPF 970. Fantastic.

The one I have is the US version so no 25p. The EU version will be 1080p 25p and 50p but i was told they plan to add 24p via a firmware update later (charged firmware update?). I personally HAVE to have 25p for my UK broadcast work. I also need 24p for my US work…let’s hope the firmware does come out.

Pricing is around $6000 I believe and we are looking late summer for release.

So keep an eye on this blog and I will update with my full review soon. Tomorrow I compare the camera to my AF101 and F3 with the same Zeiss CP.2 glass on both internal recording and using the Atomos Ninja. Be interesting to see.

So in the meantime check out this little bit of test filming I did with the “smooth slow motion” mode of the camera using a Nikon Mount Zeiss 100mm Macro. I don’t know what the recording resolution is but the bit rate is only around 12 mb/s. It looks like a bit better than SD up-rezzed to full HD recording 120FPS in a 60i stream. I imported it as 30p full HD and using cinema tools conformed it to 24p so it is now 150FPS. The picture quality is just OK in this mode as was expected. It buffers for about 3 seconds and then records 12 seconds of footage to the card. The Sony Z7 has a similar function with the CF recorder. It’s no phantom and the 1080 60fps is WAY superior. But it’s a nice thing to have in their for fun and that’s what the below piece is. Just a bit of fun…Check out this blog for updates and my comparison blog of the F3 vs FS100 vs AF101 blog too! I shoot properly with this camera from tomorrow!!


The Bloom Danube: Sony FS100 Smooth slow motion test from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.


      1. Best news is the potential 24P option. Even if it’s a paid upgrade… shame it’s not there by default, but we can’t have everything 🙂

        Looking forward to seeing how the sensor/picture performs against the F3.

        Have fun.

  1. Philip, please if at all possible post a downloadable short clip of the Raw PR422HQ file straight from the ninja off fs-100 (even its like just 10 secs). would love to see it in all of its glory. I would say thanks, but its your duty to serve all of mankind doing these tests.:) anyway thanks.

  2. The 120FPS doesn’t look very HD. I surely hope Canon or maybe the next GH-x will give us 120FPS. The effect is great. And my compliments to you. The test shot is beautifully conceived,shot and edited. Simple but very polished Phil!

  3. I have read the first part of this comparison with great interest. Good to see the FS100 is not so bad as claimed when it was introduced.
    Recently I started filming with a Canon 5D, but I can hardly get used to the workflow (I’m used to a Sony Z7). I’m considering switching to the FS100 or Canon XF105 (or XF305). Do you (Philip, anyone here) have experience with this Canon? I wonder if the chip (3x 1/3) is comparable to the full-frame Sony FS-100-chip.
    Hopefully you can provide me with some information.

    Kind regards,
    Olaf (Netherlands)

  4. Philip, my understanding behind leaving off the ND filters are because they are inferior to traditional ND filters (mainly because blacks have a red-ish hue to them when using the camera’s ND). Maybe them left them off because these are “professional” cameras? Granted I could be wrong, so please correct me if I am wrong 🙂

  5. Thank you – really appreciate it. Currently using Sony nex-5 with the kit 18-55 and canon FD lenses, trying to decide if I hold out for this, get a 5d mark II, a Sony HXRNX5U or put Alpha lenses on the nex-5 and save cash.. I do interviews, musicians and a mobile work; I am unable to find anything really comparable to the canon image quality.. any advice or simple reality they are tools and no ‘perfect’ piece of gear is around? Cheers from Melbourne.

  6. Hi Phillip

    Any advice as to which SD cards FS100 users should be using?

    I’ve been having some issues where my clips get cut into shorter clips on the card and the second clip has green frames at the beginning of it. I thought this could be because I’m using SDHC cards instead of SDXC cards?

    My SDHC card was Sandisk SDHC Extreme class 10, therefore 45MB/s, but I’m poised ready to order Sandisk SDXC Ultra class 10, therefore only 30MB/s, because the Extreme SDXC cards start to get expensive!

    Do I invest in protocol, speed, or class?

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