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An Informative Guide to Using the S-Log Upgrade on Your Sony F3

03.20.12 @ 5:08PM Tags : , , ,

With Sony’s recent decision to make the S-Log upgrade standard on new F3′s, and some current owners wondering whether they should shell out $900 for it, there are a lot of folks wondering about just what they’re getting with the upgrade.  With that in mind, Andy Shipsides, the Camera Technology Specialist at AbelCine, has wrapped up a 4-part series that goes over many of the upgrade’s features — including footage comparisons:

From comparing the dynamic range of the camera with and without S-log, to understanding how the in-camera look up tables (LUTs) can be used to preview footage with different looks, the series does a great job of explaining and showing just how useful the upgrade is.  Just look at how the details on his forehead magically appear in this demonstration:

The series also goes into how you can edit and create your own custom LUTs — pretty handy if you’re a DP trying to give the director a rough sense of how the footage will look in post while on-set.

As someone who doesn’t own an F3, and hasn’t gotten a chance to play with one, I found this all pretty informative.  The Sony F3 is a pretty great camera out of the box, but with the S-log you’re getting a whole lot more.  I may not get a chance to own one any time soon, but at least I’ll have a better understanding of just what I can do with it if I rent it.  For all 4 parts of the series check the links below.

Do you own a Sony F3?  Has the S-log upgrade impacted how you shoot?  Share below!


[via AbelCine]


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Description image 19 COMMENTS

  • Michael Locke on 03.20.12 @ 7:28PM

    Just finished on a short film shoot with a “Panavised” (PV mount) F-3 w/S-log. The S-log was like another 400+ in ISO, with no extra noise, when viewed next to the non-S-log monitor. The extra stops are definitely on the bottom; we adjusted light for taste, but rarely had to bump the levels up. We used a Ki Pro Mini to handle the 10-bit signal output (DNxHD still not available), and the camera was flawless in use, no issues (except finding 1080px60fps output in the menu: should be capable with the external recording, never found it). Our DP said he might have gone with a lighter lens set (Panavision’s are perfect, but often large) like the Zeiss cine primes, as we had a lot of handheld scenes, but the stock Sony body is quite manageable. I’m sure I’ll work with this camera again, this “poor man’s Alexa” will make Sony some money (and maybe a few of us operators too).

    • You have to record out of the dual HD-SDI ports (A+B) simultaneously in order to achieve 1080p 60fps footage. The Ki Pro Mini would not have been able to record it as far as I know.

  • I recently photographed a short in Arkansas using the F3 with an AJA Key Pro to record 10-bit 4:2:2 S-log. I really was surprised at my headroom in the highlights. I’m an ex-AF100 owner, so this was a MAJOR deal. The dynamic range with the S-log was incredible. This camera can nearly see in the dark. Very low noise. Very easy to work with if you are familiar with the EX family. I can still remember being in shock at how well this camera managed to retain so much skin detail in harsh highlights. This camera is a fantastic tool, and is a testament to camera technology these days. Of course, we all know that it will be obsolete in less than a year, but it’s a joy to shoot with.

  • Zachary, glad to hear your comments and I couldn’t agree more except that I don’t think the F3 will become obsolete in a years time. I realize things are moving very quickly but, I’m not a believer in the 4K revolution that is so frequently bantered about and regular old HD will be the norm for years to come for many types of delivery, the web being primary in the future of motion image content. And the F3 will be a great camera for that and more. With S-log, it is really that good.

    Also, I find it very curious that, as I type this there are a total of 4, count ‘em, 4 posts on this thread. I’ve been extolling the merits of this camera almost since it’s release but, it is the unsung hero of the current crop of cameras at this price point. Everything is Canon, Canon, Canon. (or Scarlet). Put Canon in the title of a thread and there will be 2, maybe 3 pages of posts. I doubt that any of the fanboys of that ilk dared click on this thread for fear their Canon world would come tumbling down around them. This is the camera everyone should have been talking about all along.

  • Does the F3 blow the Scarlet out of the water?

    • Why even this question? Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Just use them both and pick the one that you like. The whole blowing-out-of-the-water thing never ever changes the quality of your work at all.

    • I haven’t shot with a Scarlet but, as I understand, it requires more of a monetary investment to get it up and running as opposed to the F3. It won’t blow the Scarlet out of the water but, it does have certain amenities that make it a contender for a multitude of jobs. Price, availability, extreme low light sensitivity (more than Scarlet), greater dynamic range and a much simpler workflow, especially, if you attach one of the outboard recorders like the KiPro Mini or Ninja. With the KiPro, you have 10bit Apple ProRes 422 HQ to drop right into FCP, no trans-coding or manipulation prior to editing. This is a very nice file for grading in post.

      My comments about Canon and the C300 (I am a Canon owner, by the way) stems from what appears to be kind of a boycott or dismissal of the F3 which, I don’t understand. It is far superior in many ways but, IMO, it doesn’t receive nearly the fanfare it deserves, for whatever reason.

  • They have an F3 at my school (yeah I read nofilmschool an go to film school lol..then again noone gets me here so I search for net support) but I’m opting instead for their F35…doesn’t have the s log….the f35 can shoot 4:4:4 with HDcam…hmmmm

    • Swag, You or your school is quite fortunate to have $200,000.00 to spend on a camera. You could buy about 14 F3′s for that. Lucky students.

  • This test is fine is you want to demonstrate how the camera is capable of making a really terrible image slightly less terrible. Is that what all this technology is leading to? I don’t think so. Who on earth would shoot a subject under those lighting conditions? No-one. So why show that the camera is capable of shooting this image? I am not going to go out and spend £10,000 plus lenses to stand a guy in terrible lighting on a roof now am I? Its just another example of a pointless lighting test which tells us nothing. Sorry to be so negative but please …..what is the point?

  • What is the point. it sets a standard for what its limits are. When you go Jeeping, you want to know just how far the jeep can lean to one side before tipping over. Now you know. don’t exceed that. Same here. It tells me that it can take lousy shooting situations and capture them with detail from highlights to shadow detail. Now that is impressive!
    So when you do your Gladiator movie, you can have lots of dark scenes and get glorious detail in the robes, the hair, the facial expressions is obscene shadows – and it is all there. Now THAT is cool.

    I was just at a meeting last Wed. with a bunch of pros and an F3 presenter showed a frame grab picture taken at midnight in S-Log. 1/30 I think. He could not even see the detail in the trees, let alone the stars, yet you could see all the stars and the details in the tree branches. I was stunned, floored and blown away as we all were. As a film maker, he has used Red, Red One, Red MX and Arri’s. He dumped the Red’s (no good) for a major loss, and the F3 is just as good as the Arri. Swears by it. S-Log of course.

    • David, Excellent point! Exactly what I wanted to say. Shipsides test was exactly what you want to see in a real world test… 2 extremes (hilites and shadows) in the same image. The F3 with S-log (even without S-log, it’s fantastic) is unbelievable. I wish all the boys who think Canon is the only camera manufacturer around would read Michael’s, Zachary’s and your post. The F3 is the ONLY camera at this price point worth it’s salt. As anyone who has read just about any post I’ve made here knows, I am an ardent fan and evangelist of the F3 but, it is so often over-looked or dismissed for reasons beyond me. I go off on Canon because with all the hype on the C300 (and the Scarlet), clients get conditioned to it and end up requesting to shoot with a C300 or Scarlet. (I don’t knock Red too much because I don’t really feel their hype is as unwarranted as Canons). It makes it harder to sell them on the F3 because there’s little to no fanfare about it. But, it is the most deserving by a long shot.

  • Canon gets a lot of attention as it has the following of a million 5D kids who think they are professional cameraman and film-makers – Canon also has PR whores like fatso phillip bloom and Vincent Laforet (wanna be professionals) who massively plug canon because they need to

    Sony only seems to have Alister Chapman to promote them (UK DOP)

    Sony’s F65 is the best camera of them all the digital cinema cameras – Its now being used by IMAX – but at moment it seems Sony isnt taken all that seriously within the film community – hopefully that will change when more people use the F65 – It seems film productions shoot on alexa (because its arri), Red is used by more owner operators who edit themselves, Sony till now has been more for professional broadcast and Canon is for kids

    The C300 is a fad as its the last new camera to come out
    I havent seen anyone shooting on C300 since it was released – The rental houses here dont rate them either – Black Magic will be the next fad till everyone realises thats also shit – then canon will announce a new video camera and so on and so on

  • I own a red epic, sony f3 and alexa. The Sony f3 and Alexa are both amazing cameras. Red of course is great but overall i prefer shooting with the F3 slog 444 through my gemini and Alexa. Eventually i think Sony and Arri will be the only two choices for film makers.

  • Is there a decent mount yet for EF > F3?