Sony FR7 brings interchangeable lenses to PTZ cameras

Sony’s latest cinema camera is not designed for use in the field or on set. Instead, the FR7 is all about remote control for broadcast venues and live events. This is a PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) camera, a type designed for fixed-point installation and control from a cab. To date, these cameras have used fixed lenses and smaller image sensors. With the FR7, Sony is changing that.

Instead of a fixed lens, the FR7 supports interchangeable E-mount lenses, and the image sensor is the same full-frame chip included in the FX6 cinema camera, with all its capabilities – 4K60 recording with 10-bit 4:2:2 sampling, electronic variable ND control to maintain set exposure while changing light, face and eye detection autofocus with subject tracking — to put it mildly, it’s more camera photo that many of us will never need.

(Credit: Sony)

As such, Sony is positioning this one with high-end customers. One representative suggested use cases ranging from cooking shows on YouTube to episodic dramas on the production side, and venues like concert and wedding venues and houses of worship for broadcast. Since it has the same image pipeline as the FX6, you can match footage in the editing room (with the same editing flexibility), and broadcasters can take advantage of out-of-the-box profiles like S-Cinetone . A Genlock connection is included for synchronization in multi-camera setups.

The FR7 is a nice addition to the company’s diverse line of cameras, and one that offers a few options for PTZ setups. It can be mounted vertically or on the ceiling and accepts power from an AC or Power Over Ethernet (PoE) source. Although we expect many will use it for streaming, there are also two CFe (Type A)/SDXC (UHS-II) card slots for internal recording, and the full range of SDI, HDMI , optics and others you would expect.

FR7 on ceiling mounting

The FR7 can be mounted on the ceiling or on a crane. (Credit: Sony)

Smooth, stable pans and tilts are essential for quality streaming; Sony touts the FR7’s motors as powerful, but also quiet and responsive for slow and fast camera movements. Sports venues may want to take advantage of longer lenses, and while you can’t fit the heaviest lenses on the camera, the vast majority are compatible. The 100-400mm, 200-600mm, 400mm F2.8 and 600mm F4 are the only lenses too heavy to handle.

RM-IP500 Multi-controller

RM-IP500 Multi-controller

The remote is available via a web app, and the camera also works with the RM-IP500 multicontroller, which is already on the market for $2,625. The controller includes a zoom rocker and a joystick for pan and tilt control. Even though the camera has focus tracking, Sony tells us that the FR7 can’t move the camera to track subjects on its own. You will still need a remote operator. Even so, don’t discount the feature entirely, the rep also says it would be a “natural idea” to add the feature.

The FR7 will be available in late November for $9,699.99 as a case only. You can also pair it with the FE PZ 28-135mm F4 G OSS motorized zoom lens in a kit for $12,199.99.

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