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There are some things about the Sony F55 operation that are unique and worth detailing since they regularly attract queries. Sony has chosen to release the camera features piecemeal with 5 upgrades spread over a year. This blog covers those released up to v1.20.

4K issues. The sensor is designed for a 4096x2160 image, the so called 4K format set by the DCI, a technical committee of Hollywood studios. This has an aspect ratio of 1.9 or about 17:9. If the camera is set to record 4K, either using RAW or the internal XAVC recorder, then the HD - SDI outputs need to be down-converted to a standard 16:9 video signal. There is a menu item called 'Output Setting' in the 'Video' section that allows this signal to be either edge cropped or letter-boxed. The same will hold for the 2K image option when it arrives in a later upgrade. The 4K UHD format (also known as QFHD) is however a video format that is already 16:9 (3840x2160) and therefore when that record option arrives; there won't be any need for cropping.

RAW recording. This is only available with the clip-on AXS-R5 recorder - you cannot record RAW onto the internal SxS recorder. RAW basically records a 16 bit version of the 4K image that the sensor sees. It is not processed in a normal way so there is no gain, gamma or even normal colour sampling (4:2:2 etc) since the image still consists of the Bayer pattern. As such, the RAW file cannot be viewed - it has to be processed first.

In practice, in RAW mode the normal camera processing is also available to use for three main purposes - feeding the viewfinder, feeding the HD- SDI video out and feeding the internal SxS recorder. In the F55, all these uses must share the same basic processing. They will be HD (you cannot have a 4K recording as well as RAW) and will (all) normally have a SLog2 gamma setting. This will give the widest 'window' of the full 16 bit RAW signal but have a low contrast look. You can also set a LUT (look-up table) to a narrower window and a better looking contrast, with one of three choices. If you set it to one of the two Hypergamma settings then you will get wider dynamic range but alternatively Rec709 will give the best picture but with the smallest dynamic range. Whichever setting you use, there is the possibility that you will have good RAW recordings that you cannot monitor properly. What you can do now is reduce the ISO setting of the internal processing which has the effect of sliding the window towards the darker tones, which (dependant on content) may be more suitable, and effectively allow a better choice of exposure to optimise the captured dynamic range. It is important to realise that these settings have no relevance on the RAW recording - they only change the monitoring and (if used) the internal SxS recording.

High Speed options. With the current firmware the camera is limited to 60 fps (actually 59.94). Eventually it will be possible to go up to 240 fps. There is an S&Q mode as per previous Sony cameras that offers variable frame rate of 1-60, but it is currently limited to the XAVC HD recording mode. For use on a programme set at 25fps, selection of one of the other system frame rates (e.g. 50 or 59.94) allows some High Speed (i.e. slo-mo) options since they are available in all record formats.R,G,B processing option, this is found in the 'System'/'Base Setting' menu item. It is only available in HD recording modes. WARNING - If it is set to RGB whilst in a 4K mode then it will change the recording mode to HD!

The HDSR 4:4:4 codec is the only one to take advantage of RGB. The SR codec setting is interactive with the R,G,B / Y,Cr,Cb selection, with the inappropriate choice grayed out.

If the RGB mode is selected in other codecs, it WILL change the signal processing so that the HD-SDI output signal is 4:4:4 and can be recorded as such on an external recorder.

S-Gamut colour space is also found in the 'System/Base Setting' menu item. It is available in all internal recording modes but is locked to Slog2 gamma, so if S Gamut is selected it will force Slog2 as well.

S-Gamut mode enables the extra colour space that is available from the F55 sensor. When in 'Normal' mode the colour space is matrixed down to match the F5 and previous Sony cameras like the F3. The extra colour space will allow deeper saturated colours to be reproduced but note that when played in a normal Rec709 environment before grading, then all colours will appear unsaturated.

There is now a Wi-Fi feature which allows remote control of the camera via pretty much any smart phone or tablet. It simply has to run a web browser and support Java Script. If it doesn’t work it is worth trying an alternate browser. The interface controls most things, including the full menu, but needs a separate monitor to see the video/menu pages.

View the sony F55 here

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