What You Didn’t Know About the New Sony FS5 & the XAVC Codec Family

Confused about XAVC-S, XAVC-L, XAVC-I? We spoke to Claus Pfeifer from Sony Europe about the Sony FS5 and how it uses XAVC in a surprising way.

The latest addition to the sony digital cinema camera family, the Sony FS5 has caused quite a stir. We wanted to follow up on some open questions. Will the FS7 receive a 240fps firmware upgrade? What are the main differences between the FS7 and FS5? Which codec is used in which situation and what are the benefits? All questions answered in our exclusive interview.

Interestingly, we found out that the 240fps high speed shooting mode is “only” a burst mode similar to the FS700, not like in the FS7, where you can record 180fps continuously internally if you use the faster XQD memory cards.

A big junk of the interview was dedicated to learn about XAVC. Nino asked Claus about XAVC-L, which is an interframe codec (as opposed to XAVC-I, which is intraframe), with the FS5 being the first camera using XAVC-L as its exclusive codec. It’s 4:2:0 color space in UHD (the “broadcast 4K”) and 4:2:2 color space in 1080p resolutions.


As a reminder here are the specs of the new camera. See the details in our Sony FS5 announcement article.

  • Sensor Size: 4352 x 2662, 11.6 Megapixels (8.4 Megapixels Effective)
  • Sensor type – EXMOR 4K Super35mm
  • E-Mount Lens type
  • S-Gamut3.Cine & S-Log3
  • Native 3,200 ISO with 14 Stops of Dynamic Range
  • Built in Electric Variable ND from 1/4 to 1/128
  • Codec: XAVC-L
  • 3840 x 2160 8-bit, 4:2:0, up to 30fps continuous.
  • 1080p 10-bit 4:2:2 up to 60fps continuous
  •  S&Q Mode: 120, 240, 480, 960 fps (buffered like FS700)
  • Less than 5 sec boot time, Direct Access Menu, No rebooting for Rec format changes, etc.,
  • 2K Center Crop
  • 4K RAW output via future firmware
  • Dual SD Card Slots
  • Built-in microphone
  • Dual XLR input (one on body, one on handle)
  • 3G-SDI, 4K HDMI, WiFi, Wired LAN,
  • Same batteries as FS7
  • Weighs: 0.8kg

List Price: $6,700 without lens, $7,300 with 18-105mm f/4 PRE-ORDER HERE


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Javier Morello

Great information. it’s posible to record slow mo continuosly with an external device, like Odissey 7q?)

Joseph Castleberry
Joseph Castleberry

No, the 120-240 fps mode is not the actual sensor readout rate, the FS5 maxes out at 60p. To get 120-240fps in 1080 you have to enter Slow/Quick mode on the camera which only switches to those frame rates after you hit the record button – once you hit record it only remains in that frame rate till the memory buffer fills ( between 8-16 seconds ). So an external recorder will only get access to 60 frames in 1080. Hope this makes sense, I tried to not make the answer to lengthy.


[…] Nino Leitner from Cinema5D interviewed Claus Pfeifer from Sony Europe about the Sony FS5 and how it uses XAVC in a “surprising way”. The new E-Mount 4K camcorder can be preordered in two versions: FS5 body only at Adorama and BHphoto. FS5 body with kti lens at Adorama and BHphoto. […]


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