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The Sony F3 Gets New Zoom Lenses and Another Stop of Exposure with Firmware Update

10.20.11 @ 11:02AM Tags : , , , ,

Has anyone done an official dynamic range test of the Sony F3 with its amazing S-Log firmware enabled? I heard it was 13.5 stops, but now Sony is claiming firmware version 1.20 will add another stop by utilizing Exposure Index S-Log mode (more on this after the jump). Also, Sony will be coming out with two zoom lenses for the F3, making use of the camera’s zoom rocker. Plus, the CBK-3DL01 3D Link option will add the ability to link two F3s together for 3D use, but will apparently cost $5,500. While the F3 is a hell of camera, something tells me that if Sony wants to remain competitive in terms of pricing, after November 3rd they might want to think about their firmware pricing. If you want S-Log and 3D, that’s a total of $9,000 in upgrades on top of the camera’s $14,000 price tag. Then again, if the new S-Log mode does add another stop of exposure, that would put it even with the ARRI ALEXA — and that camera is $75k.

Okay, so what exactly is this “Exposure Index S-Log mode?” According to Abel Cine:

The Exposure Index mode works differently than the standard S-Log mode – it sets the camera at an optimal ISO (800) and maximizes the sensor output, giving a full extra stop of exposure. Then when the gain switch is adjusted, instead of adding gain it adjusts the exposure index. A practical explanation of this is that when gain is increased the camera will push up the exposure values, and when it is decreased it will pull down those values. Because the ISO is set to get the most out of the sensor, the exposure index change works more like an adjustment in post.

As for the new Sony zoom lenses, there are two: an 11-16mm zoom, about which details are scarce, and an image-stabilized 18–252mm T3.9-T6.8 lens. Damn, at full zoom it stops all the way down to T6.8?

SCL-Z8X140 Lens Specs

  • Manual/Auto
  • Iris Manual/Auto Focus
  • Manual/Servo Zoom
  • Auto Flange Back Adjustment
  • Image Stabilization
  • Sony Lens Interface Lens mount: FZ mount (F3 original)
  • Focal Length: 18 – 252mm (28.7 – 401.8mm 35mm equivalent)
  • Zoom Ratio: 14x T-stop: T3.9 (wide) / T6.8 (tele)
  • Iris Diaphragm: 7 blades
  • Filter Diameter: 82mm
  • 151.5 (W) x 173.5 (D) x 125.6 (H) mm (Wide)
  • 151.5 (W) x 216.1 (D) x 125.6 (H) mm (Tele)
  • Weight: 2.25 kg (4.96 lbs) (w/o hood)

[via AbelCine CineTechnica]


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Description image 15 COMMENTS

  • wow. awesome sauce. Only thing is, i really don’t get the big deal about the lens. Get an adapter an a Canon L 70-200 at 2.8. Am I missing something?

  • that canon can’t use the F3′s built-in rocker control, hence a bit more difficult to use for ENG, run-n-gun type of work, I guess. and the Sony lens probably has a much larger focus throw for more precise use (I’m guessing).

  • That “explanation” of the exposure index thing didn’t do anything for me… sounds like it’s just doing a digital push/pull? In which case… no, I don’t get it. Anyone?

    • I don’t get it either, but I’m assuming it’s because the camera is always able to use its optimal ISO setting that you’ll get some extra exposure at “other” ISOs in EI mode. To me this means that it would be the same at 800 ISO, though, right?… Which I would then assume means the same 13.5 stops.

      • It’s how Red and Alexa (in RAW) work. The photosites of a sensor have a finite capacity, and when they’re full they’re full. At the other end of the scale there comes a point beyond which they’re reading more noise than real light. These two points dictate the sensor’s dynamic range. Most DSLRs use analogue gain to moderate the ISO, but provided you have an ADC of high enough bit-depth, you can do it digitally. I think the Fuji X100 uses analogue gain up to a certain ISO, then is digital for the remaining stop or two.

      • Koo & Luke, I finally found a good explanation for what is going on with the Sony F3 S-log EI upgrade. Apparently, there aren’t any added stops of total dynamic range – only the ability to gain extra range in the highlights by shifting the dynamic range up (Sony only claims 12.5 total stops conservatively). This will enable more highlight detail, but lose the same amount of detail at the bottom of the shadows. Normally, the S-log captures 5.3 stops above middle gray (18%) and 7.2 stops below. With the EI function, if the ISO is increased from native 800 ISO to 1600 ISO, then the range becomes 6.3 stops above middle gray and 6,2 stops below. The EI can be increased by 1/3 stop increments. There is a good explanation by Abel Cinetech with a chart that helps visualize the process:

  • who needs a lens which has a T 6.8 at 300 mm. guess it´s only for filming in the sun!?!

    • Pretty much all the handheld cameras for ENG don’t have constant aperture. I’m sure with this lens stopped down to 6.8 there’s still more light coming through than any 1/3″ camcorder is ever able to receive

  • Wow…Ditto that about shooting the sun…T6.8?! if you’re shooting at the “optimal” 800 ISO, shooting at 6.8, it’s like you’re losing a stop and a half over a T4 (which is most lenses “optimal” aperture)…so that’s more or less like shooting at ISO 250 or 320…which gets to around what the Red One did…four years ago. And the depth of field will look like two thirds/four thirds/super 16 footage, so you won’t get that apparent sharpness that you get with a shallow depth of field. The higher sensitivity and larger sensor are two salient features of the current generation of cameras…and that get swallowed up with a T6.8 lens.

    Who is making their lenses?

    Well, it’s a moot point…just don’t buy their lenses but just get the PL adapter and rent Zeiss/Cooke/Angenieux lenses…it’s nice to own your own package, but that’s useless.

    • The depth of Field at 252mm at T6.8 will be plenty shallow, and if you are using the rocker zoom, your probably not shooting narrative and therefore, probably dont need the shallow DOF and would benefit from a wider DOF. ala Doco, sports, news gathering etc.

      I would like to see how the T stops hold over the zoom range, will it be a constant drop from T3.9 to T6.8 over the entire zoom range? or will T3.9 hold until maybe 100mm and then start dropping to T6.8 at 252mm?

  • Sony will definitely have to do something after Nov. 3rd. All the media is waiting on Canon and RED.

  • Lliam Worthington on 10.21.11 @ 12:29PM

    Well, wasn’t exactly a surprise that they would have to try and fortify the walls was it.
    But was always going to be interesting how. You always have your finger on the pulse Koo
    and it’s appreciated. It’s just amazing how fast a landscape can change.

    3D option Sony? Really? I’m no expert by any means, but wIth it’s codec/res/ and 422 only after another significant spend – will this really be the camera of choice for anyone who want to shoot 3D projects?
    Your not even shooting at 2k? What res does it offer slow mo in again – I think it was only 720 for 60P?

    Very hard to see the gates holding despite their efforts.
    But I guess they only have to wait until NOV 3 and will then make their next plan of attack accordingly.

  • Jeff Walters on 11.23.11 @ 11:20AM

    The lens works focally great in the 18-100mm range, then progressively less so. A huge need for this type lens for those shooting ENG with the incredible F3. Tracking autofocus while zoomed in on a moving athlete will pay for it right there. Though I won’t be buying one, there is a need for this, and plenty of deep pockets in broadcast can pony up the dough for it.