Sony just took the wraps off its highly-anticipated Alpha 7S III video-oriented mirrorless camera, and it’s safe to say that it’s taken the camera world by storm. Not only is this a worthy followup to the A7S II, but it looks like the best new camera in 2020. In addition to its vast feature set, Sony can add Apple’s ProRes RAW capture capability to the list of bullet points thanks to a partnership with Atomos.
Atomos’ Ninja V HDR monitor-recorder will pair with Sony’s A7S III to allow for ProRes RAW recording via HDMI. By recording externally, time limits normally imposed when recording internally at 4K60 are removed, and only battery life and storage space becoming limiting factors. Users will also be able to record both externally and internally for the sake of having a backup.
The A7S III’s 16-bit linear RAW output is compressed and recorded in the Atomos Ninja V as 12-bit ProRes RAW up to 4K60. Combined with the A7S III’s notable low light performance, users capturing in ProRes RAW will be able to have fine control over noise reduction and sharpening in post.
The original Apple ProRes lineup released in 2007 was a popular intermediate codec that’s still loved today for its balance of quality and performance. For example, when you transcode video in Final Cut Pro X, that video is transcoded into ProRes for smoother editing and playback — helpful for those editing on less powerful systems.
ProRes RAW brings similar performance of ProRes while adding the benefits of more flexible RAW video capture. The benefit of ProRes RAW recording is that the codec is applied to raw sensor data, which allows you to massage the look of footage to a much greater degree in post, thanks to the extra data available.
When someone hears the word “raw” they may immediately think of insane data rates and untenable file sizes. Yet, one of the key benefits of ProRes RAW is that the data rates are relatively small compared to uncompressed RAW video formats, and even compare well to standard flavors of ProRes. Apple offers two compression levels: ProRes RAW and ProRes RAW HQ and both feature data rates that straddle the line between regular flavors of ProRes as far as data rates are concerned. You can read all about the nitty-gritty specifics in Apple’s ProRes RAW white paper.
Of course, you don’t have to shoot in ProRes RAW with the A7S III + Atomos Ninja V combo. Standard ProRes and ProRes 422 HQ options still exist, which pair nicely with the A7S III’s 10-bit 422 HDMI video output. This, along with the rest of the A7S III’s long list of features make for a compelling camera that will be hard to beat.
Sony A7S III Key Features
- 12MP Full-Frame Exmor R BSI CMOS Sensor
- UHD 4K 120p Video, 10-Bit 4:2:2 Internal
- 16-Bit Raw Output, HLG & S-Log3 Gammas
- 759-Point Fast Hybrid AF
- Fully articulating display!
After releasing back in 2018, ProRes RAW is starting to gain wider adoption in both hardware and software. Atomos has played a big role in this growth, partnering with camera manufacturers like Z-Cam, Nikon, Panasonic, Fuji, and Sigma. And competing NLEs to Final Cut Pro X, such as Adobe Premiere Pro, have recently gained ProRes RAW compatibility.
Sony cameras and Atomos monitors have always been decent combinations, but with today’s announcement of the A7S III, these two devices now pair like peanut butter and jelly. Not only do we finally have 10-bit 422 output over HDMI, but there’s a full-sized HDMI port on the body of the camera itself, a world’s better choice than stupid micro or mini HDMI.
A fully-articulating screen in a Sony flagship…finally
And ProRes RAW has been growing at a steady clip but I think that having support with the A7S III is going to be huge for Apple’s young codec. The A7S III, with its big feature set and reasonable price, is going to sell like hotcakes. Having the ability to shoot RAW in a relatively easily-editable format like ProRes RAW, which is compatible out of the box with Final Cut Pro X, is going to be extremely appealing to videographers who use Macs in post production. This may be the big moment that ushers in more widespread support and recognition for ProRes RAW.
Atomos Ninja V owners will receive a free update adding ProRes RAW recording over HDMI from the A7S III in September, just in time for when the camera starts shipping to customers. Does the A7S III sound appealing to you? Are you interested in ProRes RAW? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts.
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