Description image

New Sony F5 Camera Taken for a Spin in Short Film 'The Contract'

01.16.13 @ 4:23PM Tags : , , , ,

We have seen a few examples of what the new Sony F55 is capable of, but there aren’t really many samples showing what its similar-looking sibling, the F5, can do. A group of students over at USC produced a recent project called The Contract that was shot exclusively with the new camera, and they wanted to explore just how - the camera was and how it would perform in mixed-light situations. Check out the movie, written and directed by Rodney Hooks, below.

There is some NSFW language:

<embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="400" height="300"></embed>

Here is a bit of the process that went into the movie:

The opening Car scene is shot handheld from the backseat with a 50mm lens set at T2. On the hood of the car is a Lite Panel Mini with a remote dimmer attached to the top of my camera so I can ride the key light on the actors “to taste”.  I found this to be wonderfully liberating and allowed me to participate in the creative process even more intimately. 

The scene as they pull up and sit in front of the house is where the Plasma lights came in. We were able to light from across the street with no cabling or generator. Each lamp was powered by its own battery belt that sustained it for hours. All the lights were gelled and softened to some degree and we still had plenty of stop with the cameras very sensitive ISO. 

The “argument” in front of the house is shot with 650w lamps bounced off of board and a 1k through a 4×4 silk.  All this is plugged into the locations house power. We utilized 75mm and 100mm lenses shot at T2. I think the skin tones turned out marvelous.

Color Timing all these scenes at Shapeshifter under the supervision of Randy Coonfield was a revelation and joy. We discovered enormous dynamic range. The files had a gentle sensitivity to them that allowed for subtle color correction and adjustment. Having done my own color and black and white printing of still photographs for many years I enjoyed this aspect of our process tremendously.

The “fireplace” sequence was one of our dynamic range tests.  Again we used small instruments bounced off of boards with a 400w lamp gelled with 216 and CTB edging our actors. The fire was reading around T22 in a scene that was shot at T2. The waveform monitor built into the Sony Monitor was starting to peak out past legal yet we sustained color and some detail in this beautiful effect.

Our “ Garage” scene was filmed late at night but of course lit to play as morning.  Again the Plasma lights came into play to create the  “Sun” coming through the slightly frosted windows. It was set to be very hot, almost “”out of control” to give the scene a sense of realism. These lamps are naturally daylight balanced and I left it raw while using tungsten lamps on the additional lighting. I love to mix color temperatures and feel the Camera captured the mood and quality I was working for.

We haven’t talked too much about Hive lighting, but the company makes plasma lights similar to the technology in the Zacuto light, but much more concentrated and more like a traditional Tungsten head. These are the most efficient lights per watt in terms of their output currently available, and they obviously proved to be extremely helpful on the shoot.

As far as the camera is concerned, they rated the it at 1200 ISO and shot in XAVC HD, but S-Log was not implemented in the camera yet. There is a ton of dynamic range in the camera, but whether it’s as much as the F55 remains to be seen — though they are both rated at 14-stops. Some of you will surely say just like the other shorts that the images don’t seem as cinematic as some other cameras (namely Arri and RED), but I think we’re getting to a point where digital is digital, and the looks are going to be more accepted as we move away from film. Even watching this on Vimeo it’s clear that the encoder and the down-scaler is doing an incredible job. It’s too bad Sony couldn’t have released this camera instead of the F3, as it literally takes everything that was good about that camera, and multiplies it by 10, without adding all that much to the cost — but I guess that’s the march forward of technology and everything gets better.

Head on over to the Sony forum to read more about the production.

What do you think of the short? How about the actual performance of the camera itself?

Link: NEW Production shot on the F5 “The Contract” — Sony Forum


We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 82 COMMENTS

  • What was that film even about?

    • Shanon Fernald on 01.16.13 @ 6:10PM

      Unwatchable student film.

      • What are you talking about? The story was really nice, the actors were good, the lighting was beautiful and the camerawork was solid. I have seen “unwatchable student films” and this is definitely not one of it!

    • thadon calico on 01.16.13 @ 7:20PM

      why do we readers of NFS have to be subjected to such kindergarten sentiments. The post clearly states ===> “The Contract that was shot exclusively with the new camera, and they wanted to explore just how – the camera was and how it would perform in mixed-light situations”

      why do we keep having art convos about exclusively technical subjects

      • thadon calico on 01.16.13 @ 7:24PM

        in addition , from their vimeoo page ===> “Some of our intention technically was to explore it’s native ISO ( we rated it at 1200 ) , it’s dynamic range and the cameras color sensitivity especially to mixed color temperature light sources”


      • It makes the insecure feel better – it’s not complicated

      • The post asked the question “What do you guys think of the short?” Commenting with one’s thoughts on the short is a perfectly sensible thing to do. Bitching that other people commented on the short is a little neurotic. Maybe you are responding to the “unwatchable student film” comment, but I just literally didn’t understand what the film was about. The story made little sense to me. The image looks fine. The detail and dynamic range look great. The lighting and sound design weren’t perfect, but yeah, it was a student film. Lighten up.

        • thadon calico on 01.19.13 @ 10:37AM

          na u lighten up….the creators of the short told u about their intent…now u wouldn’t use a Ferrari coupe to pick up trash in the streets, would u?…this short’s intent isn’t meant to showcase their story telling skills just the technical abilities of the cam….maybe i should post that again cos u are not READING THEIR WRITE UPS

  • Wow. That cam is going to really sell. Love his lighting scheme too.
    With the Zeiss Ultras, this is essentially the same rig used for a LOT of TV drama. I can see most Sony owner/ops moving to this rather than the F55.

    • Yeah, all they really need now is solid support and workflows for XAVC.

      • Yep. Can’t keep putting everything through Smoke :-) I imagine we’ll see Avid/FCP integration asap.

        • Yeah, that’s really the way these cameras will succeed. Drag and drop will make lots of people very happy.

  • The camera looks great, and I’m sure it will look even better once they manage to get it s-logged. And the skin tones were right on par with any other high-end digital cinema camera out there, at least in my opinion.

    However, with the exception of the first few shots in the car, the camera work and the framings in this short were not very good, especially in the front yard scene. The lighting was well done, though. Also, I’m really interested in the potential of plasma lighting in the future.

    • Plasma lighting is just insanity. They are approaching Tungsten CRI – I know there is some contention about the CRI number in general but stay with me – last thousands of hours with no degradation, and are 10 times as efficient as Tungsten lights – not to mention they are immediately more pleasing to look at than LEDs.

  • Camera really looks great – beautiful color and resolution – guess the DSLR era is really coming to an end…

    • What is this statement based upon? There’s a big difference between the F5 and a DSLR beyond image quality and for most of us low budget indie filmmakers it’s the difference in price between a Canon 5D mkiii and an F5.

      Why is it every time a new camera comes out there’s a need to call it a “insert camera model here” -Killer? I’d be surprised if people weren’t still shooting on DSLRs in 5yrs time. Don’t forget that a lot of people like the form factor of DSLRs and they like having a camera that shoots great video AND stills saving them having to invest in two separate systems.

      • Hey I love the DSLR form factor and am probably one of the only posters here who has actually shot and released a Redbox Top 10 movie that was 100% Canon DSLR – but there is no DSLR today that can come close to the image in this short. The resolution, color and dynamic range are just fantastic and far better than even the Canon 1D C which I love.

        4K is here to stay and Sony has done a great job catching up with Red with these new cameras.

        • So Lance B, what’s the name of your movie?

        • I think you missed Neil’s point — that it doesn’t make any sense to compare this camera to a conventional DSLR. The F5 was designed with completely different functionality, capability, and market in mind and that nature is reflected in its form factor, price, and specifications. Saying that DSLRs will be irrelevant because of this camera’s existence makes little sense relative to its place in the market.
          The only DSLR camera with a remote relevance to the F5 would be the Canon 1D C, which, as you know, is a specialty cinema-optimized model of the 1D X and only just recently went on sale.

  • That was the on-board codec with no slog! damn, that camera encodes really well for the internet.

  • Hats off to Sony. They are neck and neck with ARRI now in terms of image quality.

  • It still looks for video-y to me. Visually the short was rather boring. Not a fan of the Sony look at all. Like you said in the post, not very cinematic.

    I thought the performances of the actors were pretty good but the overall writing was not very entertaining. The music was awful. It started pulling the film into the over dramatic corny territory.

    • its a student film, ease up

      • The footage looks glossy, super sharp, and non-film like. Don’t get me wrong, it looks good, it just doesn’t look like film, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing depending on what you’re shooting. The BMCC looks like (Super 16mm) film, and I’ve even tricked some of my friends into believing BMCC was indeed film footage in a blind test.

        • This is easily remedied. Want your 13-14 stop digi-cinema cam to look like film? Post work is as follows:
          1. de-focus the image slightly
          2. use warm diffusion (highlights mostly)
          3. add grain

          Tune to taste.
          Voila, film look is fully emulated.

      • vinceGortho on 01.16.13 @ 9:25PM

        No need to ease up. It was put out for the public to judge.

        • then swing the ax, oohh mighty Judge..haha you know, perhaps the movie was posted so the people who are interested in f5 movie sample can see it for the first time. Is there anyone who came to this page just to judge the movie? I am very grateful for the video sample. It is the only one on the internet from f5.. hope to see more soon

    • Color engine is thatnof the f3. the f55 has the f65 color engine and superior skin tones.

  • Jayy Slocum on 01.16.13 @ 6:01PM

    Indeed this camera looks nice , Was this shot as compressed 2k since thats the highest resolution in camera for the F5. It kinda favors the canon 4k 1dc footage, but there seems to be a tad more detail.

    The real question, is if one purchases this or USED/REFURBISHED F3, right now you can get a decent
    F3 for about 6.5 or $7000 which is not bad, it may not the quite the pinpoint resolution as F5 but F3 with SLOG is no slouch.

  • Nygel bissel on 01.16.13 @ 6:48PM

    What the movie was about ?

  • My God…Apparently this camera seems to capture almost everything you put in front of it very finely and vividly. I see people commenting that this camera looks video-y and I can see what they are referring to. The F5 is almost too clear and clean of and image. To get this camera to “look like film” you will have to “dirty up” the image in post with filters, crushing blacks, limiting highlight brightness etc. I love the power of what you can get straight from this cam but it just may be arguably too clean of an image. I think one’s post work is where it will truly be determined.

    • I had the same response to a lot of The Hobbit. Went and saw it last night in 2D and a lot of it – especially facial closeups – were startlingly sharp and clear. There was a clinically clean feel to it with no texture or soul.

  • I thought s-log (or s-log2) was out of the box on the F5? IS that not the case?

  • FYI …. Hobbit looked awful in IMAX with a 2k DCP.

  • Good ol RED ONE MX kills this Camera. So much more filmic. This looks way to video…

  • Jayy Slocum on 01.16.13 @ 8:25PM

    Look at the details in the face from the still, the detail is there and again, this in-camera compressed with no s-log

    As far as all the critic on the film not being perfect, ease up its a student film and technically this post was geared around technical aspects of the camera, so technically if you are looking at specs the subject matter
    is irrelevant. If you want a more film look then add grain, the little so far from this camera looks promising,

    • Don’t forget to crush the blacks as well!
      I still work with film. Its nice, but I am not in the camp that it has something unreachable digitally.
      Look at Skyfall – that’s a DOP who has been working with digital for a while. It looks stunning on a big screen – on anything smaller its breath-taking.
      Does this footage look amazing for a first shoot by people who’ve never worked with the camera before? Hell yes. Try shooting 35mm with only a miniLED without having ever shot it before and see how you get on. :-)
      I kid, but I am mostly serious.

  • Its weird how obsessed some people are with “filmic.” I haven’t shot on film so I don’t have any need/nostalgia. I respect it but don’t require it. If motion rendering is the only problem for this camera, then the pros murder the cons.

    • john jeffreys on 01.16.13 @ 9:18PM

      Its because digital cameras (well, I guess the RED is an exception if you expose it correctly, light it correctly, and use certain lenses) still havent gotten to film yet in terms of dynamic range and color and “organics” of the image (forgive me for using that word)

    • Like I said above, I think that sentiment will disappear as film goes away. I think the Alexa is still the best at this, but I’m sure there will be a point in time when people think something looks old if it resembles film too much.

      • Yes Joe, I agree with you here. I would say Arri Alexa then Red One Mx then Red Epic and then the Panavision Genesis and Sony F65.

        This is my OPINION…..probably most of you won’t agree :))

        • Watch 1080P version of the Oblivion trailer, shot with F65…

          You do not get those skintones with Epic.

      • I think Joe is right about that. But I’m not sure I’m happy about it. :(

      • Like many things before it, I think that’ll be true…until it’s not. Analog synths gave way to digital synths. Uniquely digital sounds are more popular than ever but almost every software and hardware synth maker is also tripping over itself to make virtual and/or actual analog synths. Vinyl records and tape cassettes gave way to CDs and the various digital file formats. But, how many times have you heard someone add pops and crackles or the sound of boombox transport buttons to a song? Solid state took over the audio world for a time until vacuum tubes came back with a vengeance. It seems like more and more young people who grew up in the bland, cookie-cutter suburbs are moving to the city because they find it more genuine and appealing (at least where I live).

        Film looks awesome. Digital bests it at some things but most humans find film very pleasing to look at. I think after so much visual sterility and clinical precision, the film look will be a welcome change. What was old will be new again and I guarantee whoever does it will be called some kind of genius or trailblazer to those kids who grew up on squeaky clean images (it’ll have to be the right project at the right time). That is, unless, they crack the “film look” soon with next gen sensors like Dragon or whatever Arri comes up with next.

  • Anthony Marino on 01.16.13 @ 9:56PM

    I may be wrong but I think it’s the cadence, how the signal resolves detail is what people are comparing to real celluloid being “filmic” or or even “organic”. It’s a digital signal, super clean. I see no problem getting this footage as “organic” or “filmic” in post as you like. It’s all there and won’t fall apart in post especially with a professional doing the tweaking. Most would crap their pants if they saw what real celluloid looked like straight out of 35mm camera. This is the future, look at how much better our iPhone pics turn out once the right filter is applied. Same goes here just on a much larger scale. The cameras are arriving one by one at a rapid rate so there’s no excuse there. I speak for myself when i say I better concentrate more on my lighting and post production skills rather then what specs a camera has. In my humble opinion all the new releases have been really nice so far. I realize the only thing that can make the image pretty now is me. The details all there.

    • True, the new generation of moviegoers actually prefer the “video” look. Ask any young kid and they will tell you that they prefer the clean digital look. But real celluloid straight out of 35mm camera looks awesome, I have shot a lot and often you can go with it with just a one light transfer and it looks good. No need to “tweek” as much with film as with digital. But I guess the freedom with digital cameras is so much better. Even if I love film I have to say that film is dead.

      • Mostly I agree with that. I think people who haven’t shot film would be shocked how often ’1 lights’ get used and often regraded from the digital transfer not from the original neg. However, I don’t miss matching footage across days/emulsions. Digital means those days are mostly dead for me :-)

      • You still need to apply film lut to a scanned neg, just like with raw / log footage.

    • Hear hear! I agree. If people want their image a bit more “filmic” then they’ll have to dirty it up themselves. Tons of tools available for that sort of thing.

  • yinkadesigcode on 01.16.13 @ 10:46PM

    I don’t see how this camera is 10 times beta than the f3

    • Not in image quality. Internal encoding, form factor, menu system, upgradeability to 4K RAW, etc.

    • I also wouldn’t go as far as to say “10 times better” than the F3. The F5 without the AXS recorder is quite crippled only offering HD & 2k internal codecs in 10-bit over the F3 which also offers 10-bit uncompressed but via HD-SDI. Is that worth $2600 difference in retail price, plus VF you will need, plus V-mount batteries, + + + ? By the time you do add the extra bits and AXS recorder to get it to shoot 4k the difference over the F3 in price is enough to buy a RED Scarlet.

  • Anyone at ces see the f65 footage shot with the little baby rolling around on the bed…it was shown on a new sony 4k tv with triluminous color. It looked filmic and amazing with how spot on the skin tones were. There wasnt a RED dp at the show that claimed they could top it….color wise or dynamic range wise.

    Call me a fanboy but unless you saw it you wont know what I am talking about.

    The sony f55 is the camera to watch out for….not the f5.

    • They are two very different cameras. if we’re talking at this level, the Arri Studio M and the new Panavision will best all of them I suspect, let alone the potential of the RED Dragon (that last bit is sarcasm) :-)
      The F5 is pitched at the TV/indie owner/operator currently looking at the C300, but this camera has a more standard form factor and an upgrade path to 4K.
      The F55 has more features and costs a lot more.
      Oblivion does rock BTW. The F65 needs a hit.

  • Oblivion might visually rock….shot on f65.

  • Hmmm, I’ll hold judgement until I see some s-log footage.

    • Yeah, it looks like really good (and I mean REALLY good) video, I’m looking forward to the S-log stuff as well (as someone who likes “filmic” imagery).

  • this cam will kick some ass i think… wish i was able to shoot my student vidz on a camera like that!! (Sony Z1 flashbacks)

  • How did they get Morgan Freeman to act in a student film?? wow!

  • The camera seems to perform really well in low light (as expected of an F3 follow up) but there’s something about the Sony Look that leaves me uninspired. Given too that I don’t like the look of the Zeiss glass may be a contributing factor but something about the way Sony footage looks leaves me thinking I’d be ok not shooting with this camera. Funny that if this was shot on the BMCC I’d probably be all over it. Not sure if it’s bias or preference creeping in :).

    Thanks for the post and images off this new beast. Now patiently waiting for the 2nd official Dragon sensor image!

  • I wish someone would quantify the terms “filmic”, “organic” and , maybe, “cinematic” for me. Too clean? What does that mean. Are some manufacturers claiming their cameras are dirty? And that dirty is good? I hear people arguing that this or that camera is too sharp then complain about soft images on other cameras or lenses. What the hell? And for a student film, this looks pretty damn good. You detractors trot out your last film for public viewing. We’ll all have a little look-see and let you know what we think.

    • john jeffreys on 01.17.13 @ 1:03PM

      glossary of terms
      filmic: resembles or feels like film.
      organic: (in the context of movies) looking natural and non-digital.
      cinematic: something epic or engaging, akin to being inside a movie theatre.

      • Thank you for that, John. I would have never known. Ahem. Again, I ask that these terms be ‘quantified’. As in, not defined with the words “feels like”.

        • john jeffreys on 01.17.13 @ 2:19PM

          You cant really quantify film/art/aesthetics or like put it in a box and classify it. Go find another hobby

          • Daniel Mimura on 01.22.13 @ 6:55PM

            Holy crap! I never thought I’d be siding with JJ ever, but he’s right on. (except the usual attitude of wanting to challenge or insult everyone, like “go find another hobby”, when Dixter always has comments worth reading.)

            I think biggest problem I see with anything camera-centric and with forums in general is a desire to quantify everything. When I get out of a movie, what’s important is how I feel about the film I just saw, not questioning the pixel count of the sensors used or wondering how many stops over key Deakins likes his highlights. When I talk about that stuff, it’s only when the movie has bored me to death.

  • Craig Shamwell on 01.18.13 @ 2:12PM

    My thoughts about the camera: Yes you can tell its not film…its too “clean”, but it sure was beautiful to watch!!! From the vibrant colors as they drove past shops and streetlights, to the subtle shadows and reflections to the wonderful close-ups as their conversation swelled, This Camera in my opinion, performed very good. The amount of detail in every was very nice. I saw no fringing or aberrations of any kind in any shot. This Camera will be hot when the footage is as one person said “drag and drop”!
    About some comments: First, short films often have a abbreviated storyline in which the viewer gets it after the fact. Or not at all. Shorts are mostly used to showcase a filmmakers skills, not his or hers script writing. As far as terms like “Clean and “organic”, they are used to attempt to connect what is traditional to what is today and the differences between/ I used the term “too Clean’ because in traditional film. its natively grainier and it is subject to lint and small particles of dirt.

  • Hey, look – I watched this from an emotional, draw me in and get me on the edge of my seat point of view – a customer at the movies. I was completely won over. The incredible subtle tones of the faces, the clean, clear lines, the beautiful boketh, soft backgrounds, the gorgeous audio – the story. You won me over immediately.

    With an admitted bias towards pixel peeping, dynamic range, subtle tones and shading, and knowing this would be a sample, I had to look even deeper and quite simply, I was blown away. Forget about this so called filmic nonsense that these pixel peepers and egomaniacs are whining about like cry babies. This captured wonderful stuff, and you have something to work with to make it into whatever medium you want – old film, new film, Discovery channel, TV, Feature film, Skyfall – whatever. Whoever did this film, stand up, be proud, and become a Steven Spielberg, or a Milos Foreman. You did yourselves and the camera proud. Congratulations.

    Take 5

  • I just came off an Epic shoot where we were looking at three lens choices: EF primes, Contax Zeiss primes, or Cooke S4′s. We were massively worried that the Epic, which is known for its supreme sharpness, would look too clean and video like. The DoP had just shot a music video with EF lenses and was annoyed that it had all come out looking too sharp and ‘video-ey’. To my knowledge, old school video was never that sharp. That plasticky so-called video quality is apparently a result of too much direct translation from lens to sensor and out again. Where we attribute so much personality to film is not just the chemistry, it’s also the glass. We were so worried about the video look we broke the budget, with myself and the other director donating fees towards hiring in the Cooke S4s and renting softening filters to take the edge off the Epic. We needn’t have bothered with the filters. The Cookes delivered gorgeous, filmic images to the Mysterium sensor, transforming the camera and I would defy anyone to call what we’ve shot ‘video-ey’. Nothing to do with the camera, everything to do with the glass.

    So… lessons learned. None of these camera tests mean jack unless you’ve sat at Panavision or whatever your rental house is, and actually compared glass. We spent almost an entire day in the workshop testing flares, testing bright sunshine shots, everything. The Cookes were the missing link and it proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt that these cameras are so capable now it places even greater power in your hands to deliver any look you like, as long as you make the right choice with lenses.

    Stop complaining about all this and start doing your homework.