Sony has unveiled an unusual mirrorless camera that essentially marries the FX6 cinema camera's tech with remote-controlled robotics. Called the FR7, it's the "world's first" pan-tilt-zoom full-frame interchangeable-lens camera with pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) robotic technology, according to the company.
Priced at nearly $10,000 without a lens, it's designed for professional productions including reality shows, concerts, dramas, music videos and more. For instance, it could be mounted on dolly tracks, a crane or a tripod and remotely follow subjects around without getting in the way. It could also be fixed to a vehicle, with the pan-tilt-zoom capabilities giving the director more interesting angles and shots.
The large sensor allows for a more cinematic image than typical robotic TV cameras, too. "The cinematic look and feel is rapidly becoming the norm in broadcasting and live production as it opens up new ways to tell a narrative," said Sony Electronics VP Yang Chen. "In parallel, over the last 2 years, we’ve seen a steep rise in content created remotely or in small locations where access is difficult."
The FR7 looks a bit like Sony cut the back off an FX6, leaving the mount and small body fixed to a compact motorized system. It's designed to smoothly pan and tilt at speeds ranging from .02 to a rapid 60 degrees per second, while moving from plus or minus 170 degrees (pan) and -30 to 195 degrees (tilt). You can store up to 100 camera presents and control it using a web app or the optional $2,625 RM-IP500 remote controller.
The 10.3-megapixel sensor is an unusual choice, as it may not be suitable for some high-end productions due to the 4K resolution limit. However, it does offer 4K recording at up to 120 fps or 1080p at 240fps. On top of that, it has a native ISO range up to 409,600 with 15+ stops of dynamic range, making it suitable for shooting in low light. It also comes with S-Log3 gamma, wide S-Gamut3 and S-Gamut3.Cine color spaces for HDR and enhanced color grading capabilities.
It offers the same autofocus capabilities as the FX6, including Fast Hybrid AF, Real-time Eye AF and Real-time Tracking, with touch focus available via the web app. Sony promises fast and accurate eye-detect AF, which will be key for things like reality shows or live streaming with no physical operator. It also comes with a built-in electronic variable ND filter, dual SD/CFexpress Type A slots, an ethernet port for remote control (and power) and SDI/HDMI video outputs.
The FR7 costs $9,700 without a lens, or $12,200 with Sony's FE PZ 28-135mm f/4 cinema lens. It's set to go on preorder in the US on September 7th and Sony will show it off at IBC 2022 in Amsterdam later this week.