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Watch 'Mahout,' One of the First Films Shot on the Global Shutter Sony F55

11.29.12 @ 6:37PM Tags : , , , ,

Last night Sony went in-depth about their new camera offerings, the F5 and the F55, and their accompanying accessories, and also detailed the list pricing for all of those items. In addition to the presentation they showed a plethora of footage from both the F5 and the F55. Now we’ve finally got one of those samples online — from the F55 — thanks to the good people over at Stargate Studios. Click through to check out some of the first images from this camera.

Here is part of the description below the video:

Sony asked Sam Nicholson, ASC, and Stargate Studios to produce a short film to test the F55. Nicholson, along with production teams from Stargate LA and Stargate Mumbai, travelled to Sri Lanka to produce the film, hiring local talent and crew to help in the production. “Mahout” follows an orphan girl who helps a baby elephant escape an abusive owner and return to his herd in the wild. Nicholson directed and shot “Mahout” throughout the spectacular environments of Sri Lanka, from crowded urban locales to remote jungles, rivers and beaches, often struggling with monsoon rainstorms, severe humidity and unpredictable weather. “Mahout” features a young bull elephant, local Sri Lanka children, sacred stone temples and a large herd of wild elephants.

Thanks to Cinester for finding this:

Quite a bit of this footage looks like it has been shot with a more open shutter — which is unrelated to the fact that this camera has a global shutter CMOS vs. a rolling shutter CMOS sensor. For example, if the entire video was shot at 24p (which it seems like it was except for the slow motion parts), the normal shutter would be 180 degrees or 1/48 of a second, but there are a few shots, like when the girl is hiding out at night, and near the end, that have a lot more blurring in the motion — so it would stand to reason that a 1/24 of a second or 360 degree shutter was used at those times. Plenty of the film looked fine, but there were enough moments that stood out to me. It’s possible that this technique was used to gain an additional stop of exposure during certain scenes, which could also allow for shooting with a deeper depth of field.

As far as the look, it seems very similar to much of the other offerings from Sony. Watching in compressed form on Vimeo is certainly not ideal, especially since this was shown in 4K at the presentation yesterday, but one of the biggest things that is impressing me is the dynamic range. For a global shutter camera, it’s remarkable that Sony has pulled this much latitude out of the sensor. The highlight rolloff is nice in many shots — and some of the them are just downright impossible if you’re not using a camera with a lot of range. In certain places it does seem that the grade has been pushed hard, and shadows and highlights are slightly lost — but if you’re shooting RAW, it’s going to take a lot to not have a usable image with the F55.

I think the big thing with this camera will be to see how far the compressed 4K can be pushed. I have a feeling that’s going to be used quite a bit by productions because you get all of the advantages of 4K — like reframing and stabilization – without the massive data requirements of RAW (and keep in mind that Sony is also using compressed RAW with their recorder, so you are saving a little bit of space from uncompressed).

I’m interested to see how far the prices will come down when the cameras are actually delivered, since those numbers listed yesterday were just the MSRP. I would definitely like to see more samples and some RAW examples to really make any judgements about what this camera can really do, but the specs are there — it’s just going to come down to whether you personally like the look of the camera.

What do you guys think about the look so far? How about the dynamic range? Are you warming up to Sony’s offering if you were initially on the fence?

Link: Mahout – Sony F55 CineAlta 4k Camera Demo — Vimeo


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Description image 75 COMMENTS

  • Now, that’s a camera demo.
    Absolutely stunning , even witrh the vimeo compression.

  • +1

    Great use of an amazing camera! Still cant believe something with the Sony badge and these specs is only $35k or around $50k ready to roll. This camera is going to take a HUGE chunk of Alexa’s market.

    Red needs their Dragon sensor like yesterday!

  • Just WOW. I have no words for this. My God.

  • is it just me or did the lightning at the beginning of the short look strange or fake?

    I wasn’t personally impressed by the visuals of it. Not the cameras fault. The stuff Bloom shot had me posting ads to sell my kid for a minute, until I realized I probably couldn’t get near as much needed from the sale to purchase this camera.

    Can’t wait to see more from this cam.

  • I like it though. the IQ looks good.

  • I was going to say the same thing about the motion in some scenes. It was so different than the rest it stood out. Man, there is a lot of latitude in some of those shots and even on Vimeo you can see then sensor resolves a lot of detail. Some of those fine hairs on the elephants back remained a lot sharper than I thought they would after going through Vimeo’s compression.

    As I shoot a lot of motorsports, I really wanted to see the cam pushed to it’s limits when shooting fast motion. Really curious to see how the global shutter holds up. Oh well, soon I’m sure!

  • Ben Howling on 11.29.12 @ 7:50PM

    The image looks beautiful. I like the detail and dynamic range. There were some shots, like 4:30 and 5:25 where there was too much detail, and it was bordering on video-like infite DOF, but the colour reproduction and DR really helped to keep it looking cinematic. Matter of fact, there wasn’t much to really show off the shallow DOF of a Super35mm sensor in the entire film…. ? There were images, though, like 11:00 and 11:03 that were downright painterly with the light and colour. Gorgeous, gorgeous stuff.

  • The image looks good but for the most part doesn’t look or feel cinematic, which is worrying when this was shot by a member of the A.S.C

    • My thoughts exactly, didnt fee filmic at all. A lot of it is great, but other than the DR im not too impressed with it… Was sort of expecting more its seems to be missing something.

    • Yeah i agree. I’m impressed with what the camera can do, but that’s it.

    • I think I have to agree. A little too much on the sharp side for a cinema camera, but maybe the contrast has something to do with it too. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to see nature documentaries shot with it.

      • James Cameron on 11.30.12 @ 1:50AM

        SNORE. You guys are pathetic…

        The picture quality is fantastic, stunning actually. Go somewhere else and measure-bate someone else’s footage.

        • This is a 50k camera once you set it up are you kidding me? Unless youre made of money you should be “measure-bating” footage as you so elegantly stated if youre thinking about dropping that kind of cash. Or should everyone just say, yeah!!! amazing!!!! awesome!!!!!!

        • Hey, Mr. James Cameron, please, give up of coming here in amazon at brazil to shoot your ‘documentary’. biopiracy is bad already how it is being done! THANX! go shoot blue people made of vertex in Canada! :D

      • It is important to note that this was my very first surface level reaction to the footage. My comment is by no means a final decision. In fact, the way you view or display the footage has a LOT to do with how it looks. My first view of the footage was on a 15 inch Macbook Pro. My second view was on an Apple Cinema Display which is a much more proper way to view the footage. With that being said, the footage looks more cinematic on the Cinema Display. Either way, to decide anything for certain from one video is not giving this camera a fair chance to prove itself.

  • Nice. Not ‘run out and buy one’ nice, but certainly will suck up a ton of doco and TV work. I don’t think it will hurt the Alexa too much (there’s plenty of them out there now, and wait til you see the Studio-M stuff due out shortly) – this looks more like someone choosing to step up from a C300 or F3 on a project (although unless you’re projecting at 4k, I’m not sure its that much of a step up).
    Just a note – there is a cultural difference between the US and Europe re re-framing. When I arrived in London they were horrified that I did it without even blinking. Its not forbidden, but its definitely frowned upon :-)

  • i see this kind of footage on BBC everyday…. I think they shoot with Panasonic cameras, it is nice but yeah, very nice for docs, our DSLR can produce very similar look

    • Ben Howling on 11.29.12 @ 11:38PM

      if DSLRs can do that, imagine what you could do with a C300, or, *gasp* a C100!?


    • BBC shoot on a number of cams. They havent shot with Varicams for a while, or the AF101. Huge RED and Canon users, and every Sony ever made.

  • 99% Bollywood films are shot on Arri cameras.

  • For a feature film there would be more artistic grading done. It looks like the wanted to keep the color natural on this which is understandable from a camera maker perspective. Also, I think the super sharpness from the 4k sensor makes it look digital/video like. I think that a nice subtle blur on this footage would make it look much more cinematic.

  • Impressive. The dynamic range is there. From frame one, i could tell it was shot with a camera far greater than a DSLR. At some point we’re going to have to stop comparing footage shot with a digital camera to footage shot on Film. Their just different. Digital footage will never look like film, ever. Digital is amazing. Optimization is a better goal. Make digital look the best it can. I love the way this short looks. Can’t wait to see some F5 footage.

    • thankyou! it seems many still want video cameras to be film cameras and video to be “filmic” or some nostalgic, retro version of what those that didn’t grow up with film think film looked like – love video for what it can do differently

  • VINCEGORTHO on 11.29.12 @ 11:59PM

    Was not impressed. Sharp. But if this is a testament as to what it can do.
    This camera is best for television and documentary work at best.

    • I agree 100% with you. See above.
      Also, VERY BAD CHOICE re 1st users. Stargate doing emotional street stuff? Hmmm.

  • The images looks really video -ish to me. Sony cant do drama, they better stay with Broadcast and ENG stuff. The DR was not evedent imho, black magic is more impressive.

    • Not sure I’m getting the correlation between story/genre and technology here? Seems silly to attribute the storytelling to Sony or a camera. And if the dynamic range isn’t evident in this situation/shooting conditions, perhaps it would be smarter to wait to see more examples before ranking cameras.

      • Alexa is the No. 1 digital cinema camera for drama, simply for the gentle images it produces. Genre is a direct factor when settling for a camera.

        • I understand treating different cameras/sensors as film stocks, so certainly it’s a creative choice in addition to a technical one. My point is in regards to Sony not being able to do drama. And even in claiming Alexa as the #1 camera for drama seems silly. It’s a great camera, but suggesting it is the #1 camera for drama or any genre seems to negate the idea of using a camera as a creative choice. There’s plenty of great dramatic films created with other camera systems.

    • James Cameron on 11.30.12 @ 1:52AM

      Silly silly.. See, SONY will deliver this camera…

      Where are all the black magic cameras??! Oh yeah… broken.

  • Looks like a Mexican soap opera. Poor directing, editing and incredibly uncinematic. Not impressed.

  • it is amazing to know that all Indian movies been shot on German Cameras and American films mostly with Japanese cams… except Reds for the last few years…

  • So much drama in this part of the world, and with what do they come with? An orphan girl who helps a baby elephant escape an abusive owner and return to his herd in the wild. Sheesh.

  • I`m sold, I`m ordering it!!!

  • Ahh, Sony – I guess they’ll never fail to deliver that video-ish touch with all their cameras, lol.

    There’s a reason they shot this in India, motives there look great on ANY camera.

    That’s one small step backwards for Arri and RED humans, one giant leap for DSLR people :)

  • Elephants are amazing!

  • Here’s another example of the F55 in action.

    There is something so clean and crisp about this imagery that I just don’t like about this camera. For Docs and television this camera is going to rock but for features I will rent an Epic or an Alexa. For small things I will shoot on my BMCC (whenever it shows up).

    Also, I don’t agree with this “don’t compare to film” argument. Skyfall looked so much like film it was ridiculous. The Alexa has proven that HD can be in spitting distance of film not just from a dynamic range standpoint but from also a textural quality. So many shows that use to shoot 35mm now shoot on the Alexa and you would have to have an extremely well trained eye to notice the difference. Try harder Sony, figure out how Arri softens the images on their sensors and you may get there.

    • I liked that demo more than the OP, however there is still these shot to shot variations. Some look stellar, some not so much.

      Problem always remains the DP/cinematographer.

      If you put this camera and footage in the hands of a real pro, like Roger Deakins (since you mentioned Skyfall), he’s going to get the most from it. I think he could get the same look from the F55 that he did the Alexa.

      I think he could get pretty much whatever look he wants from it.

      The more demos like this I see, the more I believe it’s the user rather than the machine that is dictating the specific look.

    • Martin Scanlan / Fried Pixel Films did VERY WELL with that “Dig” clip. There are several stunning scenes, that show what F55 is capable of. It is right there with Epic etc.

      If you do not like the artistic choices it’s fine, but it is pure crap to claim that there something wrong with camera system. Red Scarlet / Epic is not in anyway “more cinematic”, Alexa maybe is.

    • Ben Howling on 11.30.12 @ 4:30PM

      That’s a much nicer demo video, IMO. Great variation of lighting situations and environments. Footage looked great. Every bit as cinematic as Red and Alexa, so it only comes down who’s hands it’s in, and what they want to do with it. The only thing I would have liked to have seen is contrast on a nice, clear sunny day – but it’s obviously gonna be a struggle to get that in England ;D

      Great find Cinester.

    • Daniel Mimura on 12.9.12 @ 3:47AM

      Okay…now that’s good. That shows what you can do in a way that makes the camera look good instead of crappy. Why did they even release Mahout?

      Just stick to the 180º shutter and shoot 24fps. And don’t overcrush the blacks so you can get an indication of what the dynamic range might be.

    • Just got back from a hands on with the camera, and they then projected this in 4k. I have to say, I was less than impressed, and I was in fact disappointed, as after the hands-on I was really enjoying the way the camera itself worked. I could not believe how easily the highlights clipped. There’s no detail in 90% of the skies, you lose the highlight areas of the river… So many areas that were either close to gone or completely gone, and it’s not what I’d expect from a $30k camera going up against the RED. I’m not a big RED fan, but you’d certainly retain that highlight detail on a RED.

      I can see the F5 as a good doco camera, as it does look nice for a doco or TV type thing, and is much more useable/workable than a RED in such a capacity, but I’d go for a RED every time over this for narrative work. There seemed to be a consensus around the Sony guys that it was merely ‘in the grade’, but I cannot fathom how you could put out a demo for your brand new camera system and not grade back in the sky.

      Even in this ‘dig’ film, whilst more impressive than Mahout (I wish they’d shown dig as well, but apparently couldn’t get ahold of it), you still see blown out skies. There’s a shot through the trees of the sky, except you see no sky, just a wash of white.

      Not to mention the fact that 100% of ‘Mahout’ looks like it was shot on video. It has that very Sony ‘video-ey’ look about it. The spatial resolution is there, there’s no doubt about that – the 4k is there, but I wouldn’t be using it on a narrative film. If the best demos they have of the camera have blown out highlights, you can count me out of that one.

      • Oh, and the menu system seems to be a carbon copy of the Alexa. I guess the highest form of flattery is imitation..

  • I think that was absolutely incredible.. I barely noticed the compression. Sharp, amazing color and motion wow.

    • vinceGortho on 11.30.12 @ 10:24AM

      Vladmir, do you work for Sony? Lol.

      I’ve seen better BMC images than this. Love the way they feel.
      Color science is key. While other companies are making video that imitates the look of film, Sony is imitating the look of video.

  • When its too soft, she complains.

    When its too sharp, she complains.

  • Very impressed. I love my f3 soooo much but this is really something else!

  • Mr Negative? on 11.30.12 @ 1:33PM

    Excuse me but to me this looks very video camera like. All of the footage has this “jerky movement” feeling to it, not at all like with a mechanical shutter film camera. And the dynamic range.. come on it’s downright bad – just look at the shot @ 00:34 and 00:47 . Sky is overblown and it’s not even that bright. Can really compare it to Alexa.. i would say that even F3 at S-log gives you better latitude.

    • Mr Negative? on 11.30.12 @ 1:34PM

      TYPO – CAN NOT really compare it to Alexa

    • your joking right?

      • Soosan Khanoom on 11.30.12 @ 2:56PM

        He is serious. I’ve tried blowing out the highlights with the Alexa and it just wouldn’t happen. Side by side, 35mm and 65mm blew out way faster than the Alexa. Alexa retains highlight information like no other. Nothing compares to it. It’s fantamagical.

    • not impressed by dynamic range as well but that’s the compromise you get with global shutter.
      Then again, choosing between good DR or global shutter I’d take DR any day.

  • Can someone please explain to me what the “cinematic look” is? What movies have it? Please be specific. I’m not sure I understand what people are talking about. I know pictures I like. I know pictures that tell a story. I know that the only thing I’ve seen from the Alexa (off the top of my head) that didn’t look good to me was ‘Drive’. But then again, I thought ’28 days later’ looked amazing and it was clearly ‘crappy’ video, but it told the story. As for RED cameras I have a general impression that the tend to not feel ‘real’ to me but then again I thought ‘The Social Network’, “Dragon Tattoo” “Prometheus” and “Blue Valentine” were gorgeous to look at. So again I ask what is this “cinema look”. Please give me specific things to look at so I can understand what people are talking about when they say it so I can know for myself and decide whether or not it’s something I care about in my own work or if I just want to keep telling stories.

    Thank you, in advance.

  • Mr Negative? on 11.30.12 @ 4:30PM

    This is my point of view on this so called cinematic look:

    In my opinion digital cameras in the are of color representation and dynamic range wise have reached the level of film and in some cases are even exceeding it. So for me it mostly comes down to shutter and grain. But of course some of the digital cameras just give these kinda muddy over-saturated (especially in the blacks) colors that just look damn ugly like plastic.
    Let me explain further..

    With some digital cameras even though you have shutter of 180 or degrees or 1/50 (I’m from PAL country) you still get that “jerky movement” feeling like if you were shooting with shutter of 90 degrees or less. It just feels kinda stroboscopic and not so fluent ans a film camera mechanical shutter. Film shutter flows but digital shutters mostly hack. This is the best way I can put in to words.

    Another thing is the grain, yes you can add it in post (blend it in even) but is still doesn’t feel like a texture on film, to me it feels like another layer has been added on top of the pictures vs film grain feels like it is “inside of the picture”.

    And I’m not saying every film should be shot with a really fluent shutter (look a Private Ryan for example) and totally full of grain (look at Prometheus – best looking clean digital image in my opinion which suited the story).
    in that sense I would say that with daylight and completely clean even Alexa looks a bit “jerky” to me, but in nighttime you don’t really notice it. All though I haven’t seen any Alexa Plus or Studio material which has been shot with a mechanical shutter. This might be another story.

  • I think we can all say that this footage looks mostly good but It is most definitely not a Arri Alexa killer.

  • bayer sensor still has a “mud” in the image. Waiting for a real full color sensor

  • The footage seems to be very video-like…When Philip Bloom will test it we will have a better overview on the camera, to see if it’s a real cinema camera we need to see the footage at a 2,35:1 ratio (with real anamorphic lenses if possible) but in 1,77 (16/9) it’s definitely not cinema.. and a better color grade of course.

  • Daniel Mimura on 12.8.12 @ 11:34PM

    Wow…I read the comments before watching this, and I suspected that people were probably just tearing it apart b/c they have a Red, or they really like Alexa, or they love Canon, or they think it’s overpriced…or…whatever…you know, the usual camera factions that we see (I say “usual”, but it’s like this has popped up over the last couple years so strongly…I don’t remember bolex haters or Arri haters or Aaton haters back with film cameras…I guess those choices were mostly before internet forums.)

    …anyway…this footage is awful! What’s up with the crushed blacks? If this camera has good dynamic range (which is strongly suspect, given what many of their cheaper older lower spec cameras can do)…I didn’t see it at all b/c of the grading choices.

    (And that’s ignoring how uneven it was…there were tons of crushed blacks, followed by a random peppering of milky shots that sometimes looked like -log footage).

    And what’s up with the shutter? It’s so irritating looking at greater than 180º shutters! Sony commissions a short to show of the camera, and then makes it look like “video”. I swear, there also seemed to be some 30fps (but not projected at 24) shots in there too…like a couple tracking shots of the car as he’s looking for the elephant.

    Big fail.

    I’m not saying the camera is a failure…I’m sure it’s more camera than most of us could ever use.

  • The look and feel that some are referring to as videoish may
    be an aesthetic choice. I would have softened the image a bit,
    and give it a slightly more warm color grade (& punch up the green channel).
    But, that’s me. I feel the raw stock is already there, and with some post
    work, the responses would have been a bit more positive. But, I can’t
    really complain about it – not bad at all, really!

  • Did I mention we screened this in Austin in 4K back in February? It was a great event.