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.

cinema5D at Inter BEE 2016
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Pedro Hofmann Reply
Pedro Hofmann November 22, 2016

Hehe…. Johnny… you nailed it at the end.>> If you won´t do it, somebody else will do it. LOL

Wilco van den Akker Reply
Wilco van den Akker November 22, 2016

Yes please!

Christopher von Krogh Reply
Christopher von Krogh November 22, 2016

YES PLEASE

Davide Fiorentini Reply
Davide Fiorentini November 22, 2016

a great production value for f55 – f65 owners

Mike Silverman Reply
Mike Silverman November 22, 2016

Sounds cool, I don’t see why this couldn’t be included as an optional upgrade on some cameras

Art Sanchez Reply
Art Sanchez November 22, 2016

Doesn’t RED has patents for internal compressed Raw recording? It isn’t?

Billy Causey Reply
Billy Causey November 22, 2016

no. They have patents on using JPG2000 based raw compression.

Jan Hermann von Bayern Reply
Jan Hermann von Bayern November 22, 2016

I saw Sony’s presentation at Cinegear and I can’t wait to see this codec implemented in other cameras.
I’m also waiting for Sony to combine this with a new sensor technology. So 2017 might be the year of some amazing announcements.

John M Antoniades Reply
John M Antoniades November 22, 2016

Until they catch fire 😂

Reply
Markus Magnon November 22, 2016

I am confused. 16 bit. ok. But raw? does that mean i can change things like whitebalance and iso in post?

Olaf von Voss Reply
Olaf von Voss November 22, 2016

Markus Magnon,

exactly! As with every RAW workflow it’s possible to change ISO and white balance in post.

Reply
Markus Magnon November 22, 2016

“If you don’t make it, somebody else will make it”. Well… Thanks to magic lantern so i can record raw with a canon Camera. Even with a 50D fpr 400 Dollars. So its is possible.

Blackmagic Cameras also offers raw, but als a 3:1 compressed raw. right? Even for the pocket and micro cinema camera.

Maybe it is possible to record raw with a sony a7s, too. But i don´t know if the sensor is “good enough” for it. You can shoot raw mit the canon APS-C and Full Frame Sensors. But sometimes you get moire, etc. You also get kmorie with blackmagic, but i think it is better than hte ASP-C Sensor. Of course it is better. 13 stops. And with canon only 8 or 9 stops dynamic range.

What i wanted to write is: Even if its possible. Canon, Sony, Panasonic, Fuji, Nikon did not bring any raw coded into the small cameras between 500 and 3000 Dollars. Even when it is possible. As we can see with magic Lantern raw and Blackmagic raw cameras. Sony, panasonic and other want to sell their 10,000 Euro cameras.. so i don´t think we will see good codec in “small cameras”.

Drone cameras will have raw, maybe even the next smart phone will habe raw.

Jan Hermann von Bayern Reply
Jan Hermann von Bayern November 22, 2016

High quality raw requires expensive hardware. It’s not necessarily the sensor it’s the hard and software that deals with the signal coming off the sensor. So the more data has to be crunched the better the hardware has to be. If you look at the Red camera line you see how much the price difference for this kind of hardware can be. It ranges from $8000 to $50.000

Nathan Rice Reply
Nathan Rice November 22, 2016

Please! Please! Bring support to the A7Sii

Joelle Mcneil Reply
Joelle Mcneil November 22, 2016

I didn’t read anything in this article that really gave much of a confirmation It’s coming, just a maybe its possible.

Reply
Markus Magnon November 23, 2016

“Is Sony’s X-OCN Codec Coming To Mirrorless Cameras?”
clickbait title.
and a very very big “MAYBE”. More a wish / dream. and the guy from sony just want to be polite. don´t think its coming in the near future.

Olaf von Voss Reply
Olaf von Voss November 23, 2016

it is very speculative, that’s true. But as others have mentioned here the pressure is up. Manufacturers like DJI or Panasonic are already capable of implementing pretty high bit depths in their small (DJI: tiny) cameras. I think something will change in terms of bit depth over the next few months. 8bit is kind of pointless already.

Reply
T S November 23, 2016

the gh5 with 10bit will put pressure on Sony to step it up
And also then the drone and gimbal market will push the companies to produce mirrorless with high quality video codec, look at waht is possible with x5s from DJI
something will change very soon…I personally would not invest money in 8bit anymore, it will be worthless for video in 12month

Reply
Florian Lostix November 23, 2016

“What about forgetting compressed formats altogether and going all in, with the full sensor latitude in a pocket-sized camera?”
Isn’t that something that BlackMagic already did with their Pocket Cinema Camera? For a 500$ price tag… 3 years ago…

Olaf von Voss Reply
Olaf von Voss November 23, 2016

Florian Lostix,

true but that’s “only” 12Bit RAW, not 16Bit of the current Sony F5 / F55 + AXS-R7 recorder combo with compressed RAW as X-OCN. Maybe we’ll see somthing like it in smaller cameras, too.