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posted by - Monday, 30 April 2012

Sony has been working hard on the F65 and has now announced some major updates to the camera. In the current beta version of the F65 firmware, SR Codec (HDCAM SR format) recording has been enabled in addition to F65RAW.  The current firmware has some limitations and a few fixes were requested, so this is definitely a welcome update. Sony also announced a new download option for SR Memory cards – the SR-D1 is a small card reader which gives direct access to the cards via eSata or USB 3.0. This is a great, less expensive option for anyone using SR Memory cards. Going back to the firmware now, here is a quick run down of what is coming in the new 1.5 firmware:

  • Improved fan control (low fan mode improved during recording)
  • Shutter motor now powers down completely when using electronic shutter

Some initial comments about the camera mentioned its noise level during recording; these two updates address this issue. 

  • Playback without reboot
  • SStP (HDCAM SR) Recording at 440 & 220 (880 to come in summer)
  • RAW Lite (an alternative, slightly more compressed RAW which gets 50 minutes of 24p at 512GB vs 30 minutes for regular RAW)

On the current version of the SR-R4 recorder which mounts to the camera, the unit needs to reboot when switching between playback and recording. The new update addresses this issue and also adds some key recording formats. 440 & 220 Mbps SR Recording give you long record times in a high quality HD format; SR compression will no doubt be popular for television work. F65 RAW Lite is a major addition with around 6:1 compression. This will speed up download time and save hard drive space with only a limited effect on the overall quality.

  • Improvement of the VF delay (now .5 frame faster)
  • S-LOG2 for HD-SDI output (which covers full 1300% of range instead of 900%)
  • Improved VF markers
      – Modified aspect ratios (fixed some issues found in early productions)
      – Variable markers (also control of  thickness and brightness)
  • HD-SDI Embedded TC, Audio,  & Rec Trigger (RAW Mode only, but SStP ability in early June)

All of these updates improve the output of the camera in some way. S-Log2 is a new log curve that is designed to get as much information off the F65 sensor as possible, pushing the range up to 1300%. The viewfinder improvements, including faster response and more frame line adjustments, are also welcome. The embedded TC and audio in the HD-SDI output is a big benefit for anyone shooting Raw but wanting to record externally as well for offline use.

  • RPN detect at power-on

RPN is a process run in the camera for automatic hot pixel compensation. This can still be run manually but will now also be completed on boot up of the camera.

  • Improvements to iPad connection and interface (more status info)
  • iPad application type control available via web interface of camera, which will work with iPhone and Android phones/tablets (device must be capable of peer to peer connections or use an Access Point)

The F65 has an iPad controller which can be found on the App store. The new firmware will improve connection options and also open web browser control over the camera.

  • Fix for bug with the VCLX battery which caused 24v ports to shutdown at battery startup

A small update, but important for anyone using Anton Bauer VCLX batteries.

Towards the end of summer, more updates will become available, including one that adds 120fps recording. This will be a free update, and give the F65 even more functionality. Additional updates will include 880 Mbps (10 or 12-bit) SR recording, TC over HD-SDI in SR mode, elimination of the ND filter wheel sound, and other updates that have been requested. The F65 is looking better and better, and we are looking forward to testing out the new firmware, which should be available in a couple weeks. Camera owners should contact AbelCine for details on this latest update.

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