The new sony FS5 mkii didn’t bring a lot of changes or new functionality that speculators had hoped for, but personally I think it brought something a lot more exciting.
Sony has decided to add the color science technology from the new Sony Venice camera to the Sony FS5 mkii. Sony describes the new color profile to soften skin tone, provide a more natural highlight roll off, and deliver a more cinematic image out of the box.
The promo video by Sony called “Lucent” was aimed to demonstrate this and I think you’ll agree the images are quite impressive, natural, and fantastic looking. Definitely no broadcast or “Sony look” going on here:
Most interesting is that the new color science is not available for use in combination with slog2/3. Instead it will be selectable via picture profile and the look will be baked-in directly into the footage. Still, Sony says that the color will give the camera a more natural highlight roll off, improved skin tone rendition, and created a more elegant and organic looking image. Just how is that achieved?
In this chart from Sony’s website we can see how highlights on the FS5 mkii are drastically clamped compared to the FS5 as brightness increases.
The effect of this highlight smoothening and likely some additional saturation control with higher luminance values can be seen in this side by side comparison (images from Sony):
So why is it a big deal?
It may not be a big deal for all but it is definitely a big deal for some and is a big deal for me. There are many people who’ve been criticizing Sony’s color science over the years for not having good skin tone reproduction, or for taking a great deal of effort in post coloring process to get a good rich and “filmic” look. I have clients that don’t want to shoot with my F55 anymore for higher end production work on international spots – not because it isn’t good but because when they sit with the colorist they’ve hired to grade the F55 footage the colorist will show them how fast, simple and easy it is to grade footage from an ARRI camera. If a colorist is taking more time to tweak images, maybe charging more, the client is going to ask about it and seek some fault in the process. It’s that simple.
If it truly wasn’t an issue then Venice would not have gone back to the drawing board and taken a closer look at its color science in the first place, and hopefully Sony has managed to address the rendition of skin tones and highlights in what we might start seeing in their next generation of CineAlta and prosumer level super 35mm cameras.
To summarize what’s new on the FS5 mkii:
- New Sony Venice like color science
- the mkii includes the RAW license and 120fps continuous license built-in
- ND filter is now black instead of silver
- 9 additions picture profiles
- new DSLR-style look profile
As soon as the mkii starts shipping I will be sure to test it and put it head to head against my mki, and possibly even my F55.