The New Sony FR7 is the First Ever Full-Frame ILC Robot Camera
Sony’s already famous for its robust line of mirrorless digital semi-pro and pro photo/video cameras. Among them are many superb models in the Alpha lineup and the a6000+ lines of Sony cameras. Nonetheless, the brand creates other camera types too.
One recent and very different addition to Sony’s camera universe is the new FR7 full-frame interchangeable lens (ILC) PTZ video recording camera with robotic remote shooting functionality. This model uses some of Sony’s most recent imaging technology and then combines it with a new set of sophisticated motion robotics.
PTZ stands for pan/tilt/zoom and that’s exactly what this camera model offers with claims of smooth, high-quality functionality. According to Sony, the FR7 has the form factor of the brand’s cinema line cameras but with a new level of remote shooting capability with precise, smooth PTZ mechanics.
Sony also gave the FR7 an interchangeable lens mount, the already-mentioned PTZ motion functions and a full-frame sensor. This is the first time that all three are offered on the same device.
The FR7 is a professional remote recording camera and has a price that reflects this. Sony is aiming this model for serious video production uses in settings such as TV shows talk shows, cooking channels, music videos and reality TV projects. The camera can also be used in other contexts such as live-streamed event recording, concerts, fashion shows and other large commercial endeavors that need crisp, high-fidelity video on the move.
According to Sony, the three key factors in the FR7’s design and functionality are its appearance, its operability and the smoothness of its workflow.
The camera does seem impressive. It has a back-illuminated, full-frame 10.3-megapixel sensor and delivers a full 15 stops of dynamic range. The camera’s ISO is also quite good at a range of 800 to 12,800 with room for expansion to 409,600. This makes the camera useful for persistent low-light filming situations in which there’s little room for improvement.
The FR7 is also able to shoot in multiple formats but its more publicized support is for 4K resolution at 120fps and 4K at 60p with 4:2:2 10-bit support through SDI and HDMI. The media storage options on the FR7 include compatibility with CFexpress Type A and SDXC memory cards that are part of its base electronics but not the camera itself.
Sony is famous for the quality, responsiveness and speed of its autofocus technology and this is very much present in the FR7, which has rapid AF and also includes versions of the technology like real-time eye-AF with Real-time tracking. On the other hand, there are no automated tracking options with the PTZ. Users have to rely on the AF systems or carefully calibrated presets for pan and tilt.
Sony is offering the FR7 with a 28-135mm f/4 lens as an option and the camera generally works with 70 E-mount lenses. The zoom part of its PTZ features makes the FR7 dependent on lenses with built-in motors, and Sony is one of the few companies that happen to make optics with their own integrated servo-zooms.
The Sony FR7’s usability is apparently great, with very smooth motor functionality on its pan, tilt and zoom. These functions are also very flexible since they can operate as slowly as 0.02 degrees per second or as quickly as 60 degrees per second. There are also preset zoom options. The FR7 also has a pan angle range of -30 to +195 degrees when upright, while being able to handle -210 to 15+ degrees if suspended.
Availability and pricing for the Sony FR7 are as of late November for an unsurprisingly hefty price tag of $9,699 for the body alone and $12,199 for the camera with motored 28-135mm f/4 kit lens.