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VARIABLE ND FILTER I’ve saved one of the best bits about this camera to last. It has an electronic variable ND fi lter. On the front of the camera there is a traditional looking fi lter wheel knob with 4 positions. In addition on the side of the camera there is an exposure adjustment wheel that can be used to control the iris or the ND fi lter! When the front ND fi lter wheel knob is set to clear the ND fi lter system is removed from the optical path. But in the other 3 positions the variable ND is placed between the lens and the sensor. It’s very important to understand that this is not a polarising ND fi lter as often used on the front of camera lenses. It is a special crystal that darkens when a voltage is applied to it that does not polarise the light. When the ND fi lter is in place it can be controlled either via the ND knob or the exposure dial. If controlled by the ND knob you can set the 3 selectable ND levels via the menu, so you can choose just how much ND you get at each of the 3 ND knob positions. If you use the wheel the you get smooth control of the ND from dark to near clear over what I believe is a 7 stop range. In the future there will be a fi rmware update to allow automatic control of the ND fi lter. The FS5 uses what we know as Sony’s E-Mount (although Sony actually call the lens system the Alpha system). Because the sensor is very close to the lens mount it’s very easy to adapt from E-Mount to almost anything else, such as PL-Mount or Canon EF. As anyone that’s used a Canon EF lens or camera will know, the aperture on the Canon lenses operates in steps. This means that you can’t make a smooth exposure change mid shot. The variable ND fi lter on the FS5 gets around this problem very nicely as you can set you exposure with the aperture as you would normally and then use the ND fi lter for any mid shot exposure changes. The other nice thing about a variable ND is that it allows you to make exposure changes without altering your depth of fi eld. It’s very clever technology that fi rst appeared on the PXW-X180. CONCLUSIONS I think Sony really have a winner on their hands. The current FS7 is a great camera, but can be a bit bulky for run and gun, it’s a shoulder cam. The FS7 is a great digital cinema camera with 10 bit 422 4K DCI and UHD and full LUT and EI capabilities. The new PXW-FS5, while a little more limited as a digital cinema camera is much smaller and I think much easier to use for run and gun. The combination of the FS5 with the 18-105mm lens with it’s power zoom, effective autofocus, variable ND and really great handheld ergonomics make this a really easy camera to shoot with on the move. It really does remind me of the EX1 when that was launched. At that time to get really good quality images you almost always had to use a shoulder mounted camera, but the EX1 changed that forever. Now we have broadcast quality handycams such as the PXW-X200 that are used day in, day out for news and documentary production. To me the FS5 is similar. Up to now the majority of high quality super 35mm cameras have been shoulder mounted or bulky. The Fs5 brings really exceptionally good image quality combined with ease of use into a truly useable handheld package for the fi rst time. While there are other small options such as the new Sony A7s2 they are not as ergonomic as the FS5 for video work, they don›t have XLR audio without the use of adapters, they don›t have conveniently located zoom rockers etc. The FS5 is sure to be a hit. I have one on order. Please remember that my review is based on a pre- production prototype camera. Some features and functions may change between now and release and options may or may not be added in later fi rmware updates. I have tried to be as accurate as possible and believe that everything is true and accurate, but things do change! Searching? broadcast cameraman Search with full details of hundreds of GTC accredited Camera Operators, Lighting Cameramen, DoPs and specialist cameramen, why go anywhere else? www.gtc.org.uk/search KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 106 OCTOBER 2015 | 63