Is Sony’s X-OCN Codec Coming To Mirrorless Cameras?

Since the annual Inter Bee (International Broadcast Equipment Exhibition) is taking place in Sony’s home country, it’s time to catch up with the company and chat about their latest developments. How about X-OCN – their new compressed raw codec – announced half a year ago, for example?

Sony’s X-OCN Codec

It’s been a while since its initial announcement, but the newly developed X-OCN codec by Sony seems to be very promising. The first and only application for this codec for the time being is with the so-called AXS-R7 recorder module, which is designed especially for the Sony PMW-F5 and F55 range of cine cameras. You can read all about this recorder in this article.

As a tiny refresher, X-OCN stands for eXtended tonal range Original Camera Negative, and if you’re thinking of RED’s signature compressed RAW workflow called REDcode, it’s actually not that far off. X-OCN offers 16-bit of latitude straight from the sensor but it’s capable of outputting significantly smaller filesizes than pure RAW footage.

X-OCN

The Sony F5 camera with an AXS-R7 recorder attached. For now this is the only way to record X-OCN.

As time went by, news about X-OCN quickly became quiet. Blackmagic announced DaVinci Resolve support for this new codec, but other than that, nothing.

At this years Inter BEE – taking place in Chiba City, Japan – our very own Johnnie Behiri took the opportunity to talk with Sony’s Yutaka Okahashi about this promising codec and its possible future applications.

X-OCN in Mirrorless Cameras?

Since X-OCN is a high-end codec, it seemed unlikely to see this technologly implemented in Sony camera models further downstream, such as their popular mirrorless lines of cameras. Anyone interested in a Sony A7s II with compressed RAW recording? Well, Mr. Okahashi mentions exactly that… after a little push from Johnnie. But it seems it could be possible to implement such high-end technology in the somewhat lower end cameras (from a F5 perspective) in the future. For now, though, these models live in a X-AVC universe. This codec comes in different flavours, caters 4K as well as HD and is widely implemented in NLEs. But it is a compressed format, far off from RAW.

sony-a7sii-5If we think of the $7,000 Sony AXS-R7 recorder as a proof of concept, maybe things will get interesting in the not too distant future. What about forgetting compressed formats altogether and going all in, with the full sensor latitude in a pocket-sized camera? Now that sounds like a bright future, indeed. Let’s hope that Sony is listening.

As Johnnie puts it:

The rule is very simple. If you don’t make it, somebody else will make it.”

What do you think about his type of codec? Does it seem promising to you or are you happy with the current compressed formats available in mirrorless cameras? Let us know in the comments below.

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