The Sony F55 is billed primarily as a digital cinema camera, but it becomes a fantastic ENG camera with a Sony build-up kit and a few other accessories.
We recently built up three Sony PMW-F55 ($28,990) cameras for a customer for ENG use. These kits are obviously built around a Sony F55 body and use the CBK-55BK ($4,995) kit to provide most of the ENG functionality our clients were looking for. To round out the package we added Fujinon 19-90mm cabrio ($39,800) and 85-300 lenses ($42,000), and a Berkey System top plate ($250), nato rail top handle ($435), carbon fiber rods ($18) and lens support ($131).
The Sony F55: An Absolute Powerhouse
The Sony F55 we have come to know and love is a real powerhouse of a camera, offering 4k 60p recording and HD recording up to 180p, all with global shutter to prevent wobbly images when shooting fast-paced action. Also, 2k center crop mode greatly increases the range of any lens, up to 600mm effective zoom on the longer lenses for these packages. The camera has a slew of professional connections for video output, TC sync, and audio input. The F55 comes with an FZ to PL lens mount adapter and can be adapted for Canon EF, Nikon and B4 lenses. The cameras we built up were also outfitted with ProRes and DNxHD recording capabilities via an optional upgrade from Sony.
Bringing Everything Together: The Sony CBK-F55BK Kit
The CBK-F55BK is an all-in-one docking station for the Sony F55 camera body. It has an integrated shoulder mount with two different adjustments for the shoulder pad position to get that perfect balance needed for long shoots. It also has VCT brackets on the bottom for quick mounting to the Sony VCT-14 tripod plate. The module also has built in rod receivers for mounting lens supports, follow focus and matte boxes.
Complete Control of Your Audio
One of the key features of the CBK-55 is the professional audio control module with controls for up to 4 channels of audio in any combination of camera inputs. With the CBK attached there are 2 standard XLR inputs on the rear of the camera, a stereo 5-pin XLR input on the front and a slot for a drop-in wireless receiver. You can also use the audio module to control your monitor output volume and mix.
The other key feature of the CBK-55 is the addition of a module on the operator side of the camera that has Gain, WB, menu control switches, assignable buttons and optional VTR control in a familiar ENG configuration.
Fujinon Cabrio Lenses: Fast, Powerful, No Extra Cables
The Funinon 19-90mm and 85-300mm lenses are PL mount with servo controls, VTR camera control, and selectable auto/manual iris. They are also fast, with a constant aperture of T2.9 for the 19-90 and T2.9-4 for the 85-300. The lenses get all of their power and communication through the FZ to PL mount lens adapter on the camera so there are no extra cables to run.
Your Personal Support Team: Berkey Systems Top Plate, Top Handle, and Lens Support
Berkey Systems is our favorite manufacturer of top plates and replacement handles for Sony cameras. Their F5/55 top plate has all the threaded mounting points you could want and has an attachment that protects the viewfinder plug on the side of the camera from getting knocked around.
The top handle with nato rail mount allows you to position the top handle anywhere on the top plate that you want, letting you find that perfect balancing point. On this build up the balance point was forward of the camera body so we turned the handle around to give us a good grip point that feels secure.
The lens support is custom designed to work with the Fujinon lenses, which have 3/8th threaded support points instead of the more common 1/4 20. The carbon fiber rods weigh almost nothing and help keep the weight of the setup down.
Our Final Take: A Well-Balanced, 4K Broadcast-Ready Winner
We really liked the way the cameras built up for ENG use with this kit. All together the camera weighs in around 25 pounds as pictured in this article, but the balance is superb and it sits well on your shoulder. The camera is definitely ready for 4k broadcast work. We were so impressed with this set up that we are seriously considering getting a CBK-55BK for our own rental F55 and pairing it with the newly announced Fujinon 20-120mm Cabrio lens.
Remember, at Z Systems, we know pro video- It’s all we do. Let us build the perfect camera package for your needs.
Click below to visit our web store:
Sony PMW-F55 (Body Only) $28,990.00
Sony PMW-F5 (Body Only) $16,490.00
Sony CBK-55BK Shoulder Mount Dock $4,995.00
Fujinon PL 19-90 Cabrio Lens $39,800.00
Fujinon PL 85-300 Lens $42,000.00
Berkey System Lens Support $131.00