Sony FS7 II Hands-On – Here’s the Difference to FS7 mark 1

Sony FS7 II hands-on featured image

Sony just introduced the new Sony FS7 II as a successor to their flagship single-operator large sensor camera: the successful FS7 (should we call it “Mark 1”?). Recently, I had a chance to have a hands-on with the new Sony FS7 II, and in this article I’ll run you through all the new features. For those who have been expecting something big: I should inform you that the new specs will probably not throw you off your seat.

Sony FS7 II Hands-On

The introduction of the original Sony FS7 was a huge event. With the launch of this camera 2 years ago, large sensor shooters received an amazing tool that was ready for a variety of 4K productions at a competitive price, a position it has held until this day. The Sony FS7 II was going to mark the next step in the evolution of the successful FS7 line – or so it seemed.

After being introduced to the new features, we had half a day with the new camera and, during my FS7 II hands-on, it quickly became clear that this is more of an “update” rather than an entirely new camera. If your expectations are low, you will probably enjoy the new features, but if you thought you’d see a rival to the Canon C300 mark II, you are likely to be disappointed.

Sony FS7 II hands-on review

Sony FS7 II hands-on – literally

The Sony FS7 II Has an Electronic Vari ND Filter

Sony first introduced the electronic Vari ND Filter technology on their X180 and X160 cameras in 2015, but the feature received more attention when it was implemented in the Sony FS5 as besides the added convenience, it also made stepless adjustment of ND filtration possible.

The new filter is an LCD layer placed between the sensor and the lens-mount. The strength of the filter can be assigned to presets or dialled in via the “Variable” wheel on the side of the camera. This allows you to keep the same aesthetics while changing the amount of light that hits the sensor during a scene (see a sample of the technology here).

Sony FS7 II hands-on electronic Vari ND

It’s certainly nice to see the electronic Vari ND filter added to the Sony FS7 II. Users report they find this feature handy and adds to the ergonomics of the camera. In my opinion, this is not a “must have”, but a useful update indeed.

E-Mount Lever Lock – A New Locking Mechanism

E-Mount is a great lens mount. Its sensor distance makes it possible to use a variety of third party lenses via adapters, and it is so popular that almost all lens manufacturers produce specifically for this kind of mount by now. What is not so great about it, however, is that it was made for stills photography lenses, and thus lacks stability and a rotation-less locking mechanism. Sony addressed both issues with the new E-Mount Lever Lock.

Sony FS7 II E-Mount Lever Lock

Sony FS7 II E-Mount Lever Lock Mechanism

The innovation about the E-Mount Lever Lock mechanism makes it very similar to the PL mount system used in cinema productions: instead of turning the lens you now turn the collar. This helps lock lenses more tightly and is ideal for large camera setups such as when you have a matte box and follow focus setup, as you don’t need to twist the lens.

This mount is ideal for cinema, large lens setups and also when the camera is on a tripod. For everyone else — and I assume this will be 90% of FS7 II handheld users — this new mount will probably be a huge problem. It’s nice that we don’t have to twist the lens, but twisting the lens mount and pressing the lock release, while holding the lens is an almost impossible task to perform for any single-operator shooter.

Sony FS7 II E-Mount Lever Lock

Yes, there is innovation here and I applaud Sony for introducing this system, but as you will need an assistant to conveniently use this mount, most people will probably not find this update so welcome. The way I see it, this camera is targeted at single operators, broadcasters and handheld shooters and will rarely be used in environments where this mount will make a positive difference.

Sony FS7 II, What Else Ya Got?

These two are the biggest updates of the Sony FS7 II in comparison to the Sony FS7 Mark 1. Internally, the camera is 99% the same machine. They’ve only added a color space option (BT.2020) that we’re likely to see on the FS7 Mark 1 via firmware soon. Besides that, we have the same super35 sensor, 4K DCI resolution at up to 60fps, the same internal slow motion in HD up to 180fps, XAVC-I codec, etc…

Sony FS7 II hands-on

Externally, there are a few more tweaks Sony added to the new Sony FS7 II:

We now have a power LED next to the on/off switch.
So you can see wether the camera is turned on.

There’s now a thumb screw on the grip arm extension.
The Mark 1 required a screwdriver there.

10 assignable user buttons.
The Mark 1 only had 6.

The XQD cards now stick out 4.3mm more than on the FS7 mark 1.
This means you can now grab them easier.

Improvements to the big viewfinder loupe.
One of the two flimsy loupe attachments has been removed. They also added a nice foldable sunhood as an alternative to the loupe when using the LCD in sunlight.

The LCD attachment was improved.
They’ve replaced the round rod with a square one, so the LCD doesn’t tilt so easily. Unfortunately, the rod is still too short for proper shoulder work with the big loupe.

Sony FS7 II hands-on - LCD rod attachment

New square rod on FS7 II LCD mount

Sony FS7 II XQD card slots

Sony FS7 II XQD Card Slots

Sony FS7 II New User Buttons

4 New User Buttons on the Sony FS7 II

Why Should You Get the Sony FS7 II?

At the time of its release, the new Sony FS7 II will retail for $10,000 (body only). In comparison to the Sony FS7 Mark 1, that will be a $1,500 step up in price. If you are surprised about the lack of innovation and improvements to the Sony FS7 II, you are certainly not alone. For most other people who attended this Sony FS7 II hands-on session this was one of the more puzzling moves Sony has pulled off.

While it is frankly rather underwhelming as a camera release, I am sure there are users who are looking to buy a camera that will give them the best options. If you are one of those, at the end of the day the decision probably comes down to wether or not you should go for the camera with the E-mount Lever Lock (FS7 II), or the normal E-mount. I personally would go for the Mark 1, just because I think the Lever Lock is a big potential problem for my work as a single operator with this camera.

Sony FS7 II with Sony E PZ 18-110mm f/4 G OSS Lens

Sony FS7 II with Sony E PZ 18-110mm f/4 G OSS Lens and XDCA Extension Unit

Another reason to go for the Sony FS7 II would be the new Sony E PZ 18-110mm f/4 optional kit lens. This lens was introduced in September, and as the successor to the 28-135mm, it is the ideal choice for FS7 users. In the bundle, the lens could be is $500 cheaper than when bought separately, saving on its standalone $3,500 price-tag.

I hope you liked our little Sony FS7 II hands-on. If you have any questions or thoughts, let us know in the comments. Is the new Sony FS7 II worth the step up in price? Would you go for the Sony FS7 II or rather the Mark 1?

In behalf of the whole cinema5D team, I would like to thank Sony for inviting us to look at their new camera. One must say that this is a manufacturer who takes user opinion seriously, and we honor that. We hope to see and we are sure to see more innovation on the next camera release.

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Daniel Jawadnya November 9, 2016

Will the image be exactly the same with the vari-nd in front of the sensor? Is there a trade-off? And does it have the clever auto-focus features the a6500 has?

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber November 9, 2016

This is a good question and something we will be able to explore in the test lab as soon as we get a sample camera at the cinema5D office.

Daniel Jawadnya November 9, 2016

Thanks Sebastian. Looking forward to it!

Clermond Ferrand November 9, 2016

same sensor, same electronics under the hood = no AF improvement

Johan Corilla Reply
Johan Corilla November 9, 2016

Kevin they fixed some of the things that they should have.

Clermond Ferrand November 9, 2016

11.200,-plus VAT in Germany.
3.100,- over FS7 I
Same price as C300ii
not very seductive

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber November 9, 2016

Hi Clermond,
I’d wait until more retailers have them listed. Maybe the price will be lower eventually.

Clermond Ferrand November 9, 2016

I received an email from B** and in the meanwhile you find the price on all major dealers’ websites.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber November 9, 2016

On CVP the difference is 2300€.
I agree that the price difference is crazy. Let’s see, maybe if sales are low, Sony will lower the price in the coming weeks.

darren wolff November 9, 2016

2 years worth of product development and this is the update? Quite surprising given Sony’s reputation for innovation with updates for the A7 series and the recent A6300/A6500 series coming thich and fast.

Different product development teams perhaps? It also seems Sony have completely ignored feedback and some common complaints. Great camera nonetheless of course but an uninspiring update. Anyway, moving on and back to work.

 Ak Ns Reply
Ak Ns November 9, 2016

Sony is eating canon biscuits. No upgrades.

Shai Levy Reply
Shai Levy November 9, 2016

the menus still lagging so bad? :)

T F November 9, 2016

Technically, they fixed this as well as they can. If you use the dials/buttons on the side of the camera then the menus are responsive and snappy. However, they still lag a lot if you use the hand grip. This is because of the LANC connection they decided to use for the handgrip, and not something that can be fixed with firmware. Frustrating.

Tim Fok Reply
Tim Fok November 9, 2016

Great work Seb.

Although I’d find the positive lock E mount good in 90% situations.

As 90% of the time when I use FS7s, it’s using EF or PL mount lenses; I never touch the E mount adaptor once it’s on there.

This only means good things for the sturdier lock mount.

Marcin Gołąb November 14, 2016

Exactly. I’ve never touched it, too.

 Dmitri Tsitelauri Reply
Dmitri Tsitelauri November 9, 2016

O man.., I hope this is not the sign of them switching to “milking” strategy. Sony has gained a good share of market with their inavative technology taking it away from other manufacturers. Is it possible that they decided to slow the horses down a bit?

tim myers November 9, 2016

Most of the FS7 owners I’ve met spoke highly of the accessory arm from Shape. Does the FS7 II’s thumb screw render the Shape arm irrelevant?

Tim Fok Reply
Tim Fok November 9, 2016

No, the shape handle does two things:

– Adds one F button adjustment to the swing hinge of the handle

– Adds tool-less ratchet lever to adjust the length of the handle

The FS7II design only address’ the latter point

Anthony browning Reply
Anthony browning November 9, 2016

Bad Sony, You pulled a Canon on this one but please don’t let it happen again! lol, Apple & Canon have become king of micro upgrades please don’t follow in their footsteps! Im picking up an a6500 either way though.

darren wolff November 9, 2016

To be honest I was more excited hearing about the A6500 than this. Nothing to get you wallet/speak to your bank manager about really. Quite a price hike considering as well imo.

Johann Hütter November 9, 2016

Damn, I was hoping for a price drop for the mark i rather than a more expensive model with small updates. was that the same with the ex1r? i can’t remember.

Mike Nelson November 9, 2016

But will the record light stay on in the vf when you hit the display button to turn the rest of the display off?
It solves one of the biggest weaknesses, the light weight lens mount and the vari nd is awesome.
But my clients won’t notice any difference if i buy this. Hard to justify selling my mki and dropping all the etra coin.
I should spend it on a canon 18-80 😄

Ian Sotzing Reply
Ian Sotzing November 10, 2016

Jordan – doesn’t sound like a big step up from the mark 1 unfortunately.

PiDicus Rex Reply
PiDicus Rex November 10, 2016

I don’t think that Lens-Lock will be much of a deal breaker – I’d expect more people are likely to lock on a Speed Booster or a PL mount, and only be swapping lenses in front of those, rather then on the E-mount.

Thinking out loud, can that VND LCD be retasked to work like Red’s Motion Mount?
It seems to me that the only place Sony is lagging at the moment, is the Rolling Shutter Skew in Panning.

I’d be interested to see if they come out with a Global Shutter version of the FS7-2 at the same price point, which would also kill any sales potential of the C-700-GS.

 Andy Krucsai Reply
Andy Krucsai November 10, 2016

Finally Sony addressed that flimsy e-mount problem… why not make it PL at the first place? They are screwing up their high end market anyway…

PiDicus Rex Reply
PiDicus Rex November 11, 2016

And then you wouldn’t be able to use Nikon, Pentax, Canon mount lenses, or speedboosters.
The E-mount and M4/3rds mounts are the two most useful mounts as they allow the use of the most varied range of lenses possible.

Tim Fok Reply
Tim Fok November 11, 2016

Agreed, PL only would silly.

E mount is versatile, great move to embrace it and firm up the connection point.

Michael Paff Reply
Michael Paff November 10, 2016

Is that your new gopro Scott Morelli

Scott Morelli Reply
Scott Morelli November 10, 2016


 Beebee Lestr Reply
Beebee Lestr November 12, 2016

It’s strange that companies as big as Sony and Canon don’t really understand their camera users, as can be seen by Sony’s decision to go with a lens mount that a single operator has difficulty using.