August 12, 2015

New Sony 8K CineAlta Camera Coming in 2016 to Replace the F65?

Sony F65
The Sony F65 might be technically amazing, but it never really found favor in Hollywood.

A full shooting package for the F65 was a little under $100,000 when it was first released in early 2012, and now you can get them for around $30,000 or less just three years later — with rental prices coming down as well. The F5 and F55 announced later in 2012 have been used much more, mostly because the workflow was a bit simpler and the cameras were a bit smaller and lighter — while still giving the ability for 4K RAW if you needed it (and let's not forget much cheaper). We did get movies like Oblivion and the recent Tomorrowland shooting on the camera, but not too much else — and both of those were shot by Claudio Miranda.

The ARRI ALEXA likely had a lot to do with why the F65 wasn't more popular in the US. Though it's non-standard 8K x 2K sensor produced a technically strong 4K image (and you can actually get files larger than 4K in post), the F65 was only used on a handful of movies, whereas the under 3K ALEXA has been used on literally everything you can think of over the last few years. For many people, there's just something more pleasing about the ALEXA image, and it had a far easier workflow, especially if you were only shooting ProRes. 

If a new rumor turns out to be even remotely true, we may see a brand new 8K Sony camera coming next year that not only takes the cake in the resolution race, but would also be smaller and lighter, and would hopefully keep the same media and workflow that we saw with the F55. Here is Sony Alpha Rumors on that (keep in mind this is just an SR2 rumor, so the probability is still pretty low):

“Sony is working on a 8K Cine Alta camera which will replace the current top of the line Sony F65 camera. The sensor will be based on the A7r2 back-lit CMOS technology and will include a global shutter mode (either mechanical or electronic) 
– 60FPS in DCI 8K resolution
– 240FPS in DCI 4K resolution
– 16 bit RAW uncompressed and compressed onboard recorder 
– ProRes, DNxHD, DNxHR, AVCHD, XAVC, SR, MPEG-2, H264
– Burst mode allows for higher FPS 
Sony F55 form factor and weight
– To be introduced in early 2016
– Price point will surprise many people
– Sony FZ mount”

Take this rumor with a huge grain of salt. Sharing this is less about the rumor itself though and more about what Sony would need to do to take back some marketshare in Hollywood. A few years ago this spec list would have seemed ridiculous, but with the way Sony has developed sensors, and the fact that RED will have an 8K camera soon, and ARRI has a 6K camera, it would not really be all that surprising to see a camera from them actually shooting 8K.

Sony has always been big on oversampling to get a better image, which is why the F65 and the F35 both had many more pixels than their final resolutions. Could we see a much higher-than-8K sensor in order to get true 8K, or will this be more like the F5/F55 where you're essentially using the pixels that are there? Either way, creating a better form factor would go a long way for them. Simplifying the workflow and the physical exterior of the camera would also go a long way, which is something that has propelled the ALEXA. Most of all though, if the image still looks similar to the traditional Sony "video" look, shooters outside of Japan aren't likely going to get too excited about it.

Sony can be as technically perfect as they want, but the film industry has shown that they want something that looks and feels nice over technical superiority. If something is coming in early 2016, we'll probably hear about it at IBC in September, or shortly thereafter. 

What would you like to see in an 8K Cine Alta camera?      

Your Comment

35 Comments

The Alexa was popular because while it was short on resolution, it had bigger and better pixels than the rest. Quality vs Quantity. Because of the size of those pixels, you could easily upscale an Alexa-shot film to 4K, like what Roger Deakins did with his films shot with the camera.

August 12, 2015 at 9:40PM

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Henry Barnill
Director of Photography
595

Alexa did great, because they tried to emulate analog film and created something, that spoke to the tastes of many film directors.. effortles sort of analog look in other words.. if you see the evolution of the Arri digital cameras you can see that with every new cam until Alexa, the "mojo" of the picture (color, contrast range, etc) was getting better and better. It's like yesterday I remember how the D21 had some funky red colors going on around incandescent - F35 was much better back then. But with Alexa, everything was tuned properly.. it's insane to think that the camera performs amazing in every light condition you throw at it.. it has literally no weakspot. I wonder if they are planning something new.. some new looks (before we had different brand filmstocks to chose from) or I guess they will stay with what works, with what brings in the Oscars.

August 13, 2015 at 3:06AM

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Kokles
90

bigger pixel means worse sensor. technically comparing alexa sensor to f65 is comparing fiat to bmw. This is why sony didn't produced a new sensor yet, because it's still best digital sensor in world. ARRI has won with 100 years of experience. They know what cinematoraphers want, they had that network already. sony is making all pro sensors of world alexa sensor or even iphone sensor.
but where they lost; comfort of cinematographer, simplicity of workflow and PR.

they are not planning any upgrade to F65 yet. I think they won't till someone else (probably its gonna be red) outstrip them.

February 9, 2017 at 9:48AM

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Yusuf Aslanyurek
Director of Photography
1

Fake, DCI does not have 8K standard yet.

August 12, 2015 at 10:51PM

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Driftwood
279

I guess they say 8K DCI in terms of aspect ration.

August 13, 2015 at 8:47AM

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Isaac Alonzo
Photographer / Cinematographer
328

Sony seems to not strive for 'warm' in their picture, but rather 'real'. To me it equates to 'cold'. I am very happy for higher resolution. It doesn't just make for more detail, but for richer color. It's not just Alexa that hurt Sony, but Red. Red's picture has a very appealing look, even though it's not as 'warm' as Alexa. Red 8K is supposed to be out in December. Hateful 8, and The Revenant both have muted colors on the sets and costume, so we can't see the Alexa 65mm at it's best, yet. What I've seen so far doesn't look like $10,000.00 a day, i.e., $1 million for a 100 day shoot. Red 6K does look better. Red 8K on the way.

So, sure, Sony better have something special about this camera or they will continue to stay in the distance, far behind Red and Alexa.

BTW, how long till we see "8K for $8k"? And how long after that until Panasonic blows even that price away?

August 13, 2015 at 12:03AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
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Hateful Eight was shot on 65mm film, not Alexa

August 13, 2015 at 4:20AM

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Thomas Bazin
Assistant Camera
164

Ha, I just posted about this minutes ago.
We've gotten to the point where both amateur as well as experienced eyes are having difficulty telling the difference, which is GOOD.

August 13, 2015 at 3:04PM

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Or we're where we've been for years and years; a lot of people can't tell the difference because they don't know what to look for and most people can't tell the difference from a heavily compressed 2-minute youtube trailer.

August 13, 2015 at 7:23PM

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Oscar Stegland
DP/Steadicam
651

Ah, film, so I'm smh even more over the filmic thing. Red 6K is looking better.

People don't know what to look for to see that film is better? If you have to have to be coached on what to look for then film is not superior. If it was superior it would be immediately obvious. Maybe those few people that are scrutinizing the picture to find the difference between film and digital should let it go and just enjoy the movie, like everyone else is already doing.

It's not immediately obvious....... let it go..... let it go. ;-)

(at the same time, I do know film has a special place in some people's heart, so I do apologize for sounding hard on you guys, and girls)

August 14, 2015 at 9:37AM, Edited August 14, 10:07AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
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listen, I shot features on (almost) every pro digital camera since 2008. I've compared them hundred times. discussed with my collages even more.

the difference is huge, I or any professional eye can tell picture was shot on film or digital. Because the difference is like looking at painting on a monitor vs real canvas.

and its same story with digital projection. its just like huge tv.

fact is we have to use the digital because it's cheaper, faster, easier. but not better, not even close. remember my words in 10 years from now. when we have 16k-32k cameras and projectors and still you would say they are same.

February 9, 2017 at 9:59AM

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Yusuf Aslanyurek
Director of Photography
1

What? If you white-balance the camera correctly, warm or cold shouldn't be part of the equation. What makes it more 'real' is most likely that they (where RED and everybody else have failed as well) haven't gotten away from the video-look. A lot of that is gamma curve, where if you blow out the highlights it appears as if a chunk of the image has basically been removed. Here, the Alexa has a lovely bloom, not dissimilar to film, which so far no one else has come close to.

Another part is that with these crazy resolutions, the image gets to be more clinical. In a way, one could see the Alexa's lower resolution as an upside here as well if you're looking for a 'prettier' image. With that said, it comes down to so much more around the camera. In my experience Sony, Arri, RED, Panasonic, and even Blackmagic have good enough color science that the choices you make around the camera usually affect the image more (bar gamma curves and specific color shifts). I've seen ND filter destroy beautiful Alexa imagery. Going Super speeds as opposed to Master Primes on a 6k RED Dragon will give you a less clinical image. I definitely think the Alexa looks better than any other camera out there, but Marvel have succeeded many times to even make that camera look video-ish. I've also seen Sony cams look extremely cinematic (look at what Philip Bloom does with his Sony's).

In my mind Sony are in no way behind RED. RED are much more of a hassle to work with and before Dragon the skin tones were off the charts bad. If anything, RED were actually warm. I've seen tests comparing Black Magic URSA to MX sensors where the URSA blows the RED out of the water when it comes to presenting natural and goodlooking skin tones. The Dragon improves on this greatly, but it's not all there either.

Hateful 8 is shot on 65mm film, not Alexa65. If you take the log image out of any camera on the market, Alexa and RED (if you set the gamma to log) included, it will have waaaaaaay more muted colors and less contrast than The Revenant trailer. The fact that you can conclude that RED Dragon looks better than Alexa65 from a highly compressed Youtube trailer makes me question what you know about cameras. You've already said Alexa looks better than RED, and then you go on to say that RED is better than Alexa65 (which has basically three Alexa sensors stitched together). Which is it? The wonder with these cameras is you can make them look like almost anything.

Do you know what grading is? It's where you set the final look of the film in regards to color, saturation, contrast, etc. It's the reason The Revenant has such muted colors. It's why Guardians of the Galaxy is extremely colorful and Gravity is much more muted even though both are shot completely on the Alexa.

Wait for more material to surface before you judge it, because right now there's not much to judge. The depth and detail of the images from The Revenant trailer is way better than anything I've ever seen, and I'm sure there will be more colorful and saturated material soon. As of now, it's a completely unique product and as such it's also very niched and expensive.

August 13, 2015 at 4:41PM

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Oscar Stegland
DP/Steadicam
651

I'm not sure here, are you talking to me? Where did I say Alexa looks better than Red? I said it is not as 'warm' as Alexa. I didn't say it looks better than Red. Warmer does not automatically equate to better. Warmer can look too yellow. I know some people like the yellow in warm. Red looks better than Alexa to me because I like the truer color of less warm in Red. Sony looks cold to me. I conclude Red looks best of all cameras. Is that ok? Are you looking forward to Red 8K?

This 'YouTube is highly compressed' argument should just be dropped. All video goes through the same process on YouTube, including Red. Red gets the same 'highly compressed' process that is mentioned by commenters. If Alexa is losing some of its beauty in the YouTube process so are all other cameras, including Red. Red still looks better on YouTube than all other cameras. Maybe it's just better to say Alexa cameras have a reputation that doesn't measure up completely to reality. Or let's just say we all have different tastes.

Some you folks that are sensitive about Alexa ARRI need to chill out a bit.

August 14, 2015 at 9:41AM, Edited August 14, 10:00AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
741

Ugh, gross. Can we not?

August 13, 2015 at 2:07AM

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Zack Wallnau
Cinematographer & Tinkerer
634

"We did get movies like Oblivion and the recent Tomorrowland shooting on the camera, but not too much else."

Yeah, not much else, just these :
1. Winter Sleep (Nuri Bilge Ceylan's palme d'or winner)
2. Lucy(Luc Besson)
3. Evil Dead
4. Belle
5. Ex-Machina
6. After Earth
7. Venus in Fur(Roman Polanski)
8. Deliver us from Evil
9 White House Down
10. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime walk(Ang Lee's latest film)
11. Dark Horse
12. The Bag Man
13. No Good Deed,
14. Measure of a Man(Jim Loach's latest film)
15. Kiyoshi Kurosawa's most recent 3

This is just a short list of movies shot on the F65, a host of others including Tv Shows are being and have been shot on the F65.

"But not too much else..." means, oops, I didn't do my research.

August 13, 2015 at 8:31AM, Edited August 13, 8:51AM

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I look at that list and still see "not too much else." Ex-Machina? Sure. After Earth or White House Down? Meh.......

The author's point still stands that use of Alexa and Red blow away the number of projects shot on F65.

August 13, 2015 at 11:13AM

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(double post)

August 13, 2015 at 11:13AM, Edited August 13, 11:14AM

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It's not like RED are being used heavily on features... Basically the only Hollywood films that use RED as A-Cam are extremely VFX-heavy films like The Hobbit and Pacific Rim and if you're going to judge the camera by the quality of the projects it's shot on like you do Sony, I'd say way more MEH than Sony. Ex Machina is better than almost all RED-shot films I can remember recently, combined (except Fincher of course).

August 13, 2015 at 4:45PM

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Oscar Stegland
DP/Steadicam
651

Nobody in VFX likes RED. I have no idea where this canard came from (probably RED) and why it continues to live on.

All RED footage is compressed, which causes all sorts of problems for green screen keying. You get edge artifacts, mysterious black dots and compromised bit depth that results in banding. The highlights end abruptly and the color science blows for green screen / blue screen work. In short working with RED footage is a PIA.

What VFX artists prefer is uncompressed footage out of the Alexa or Sony cameras.

Peter Jackson shoots RED because they practically gave him the cameras. Fincher should know better, but in recent years he's become obsessed with his reframing / split screen takes techniques, which is not helping his films (compare ZODIAC to anything recent...).

August 14, 2015 at 1:13PM

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Ex Machina looked amazing.

August 13, 2015 at 2:37PM

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I think his point was not many big name movies are done with Sony, and that's true. Red and Alexa dominate. It looks like that point was clear in the post.

August 14, 2015 at 9:52AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
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color science in the sony's are good. and LUT implementations have been very flexible and easy compared to red and alexa especially because you can actually use luts into the camera.
vs cdl and r3d meta data.
But yes the menu's are always iffy.
Color artists i work with always tell me the f65's color space is the best thing they've seen. maybe we aesthetically prefer the Alexa (including myself) but far as science i think sony's been doing a pretty good job the past several years

August 13, 2015 at 9:06AM

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Kazu Okuda
Filmmaker
1528

Don't people realize that you lose 2 stops of latitude when you double horizontal and vertical resolution?(4 times the pixels) Wouldn't you rather have 14.5 stops at 4k then 12.5 stops at 8k(for the same size sensor)?

August 13, 2015 at 12:22PM, Edited August 13, 12:43PM

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d shay
373

That's incorrect, dynamic range for cinema cameras usually reflects the highest resolution that particular camera can capture, eg. Alexa classic has 14+ stops of DR in 3K raw mode. Sony F65 has 14+ stops of DR in 8K raw mode (not full 8K tho).

when you properly downsample the image, each time you half the amount of pixel increases SNR by 6dB (1 stop), that means when you scale a 4K image down to 2K (with good algorithm), the shadow becomes 2 stops cleaner. That's why KineMAX 6K has "Golden 3K" mode which claims 16 stops of DR.

August 13, 2015 at 1:18PM

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Driftwood
279

Incorrect. If software re-sizing is used, a 4k to 2k downsample doesn't get you back the 2 stops. If pixel binning is used you gain latitude, but you are back to the 2k resolution. Without a 2k low pass filter you get aliasing and moire. Assuming all other tech equal, Signal to noise ratio is determined by the photo-site size.

August 13, 2015 at 1:44PM, Edited August 13, 1:44PM

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d shay
373

Software resizing works the same way, DXOMark normalise their camera test file to 8MP, which is why D810 has so much DR in "print" score.

Pixel binning? you know what "bin" means right? throwing away pixels, for example A7R II does not bin any pixels, instead it does full readout and resamples it down to 4K/HD.

August 14, 2015 at 1:52PM

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Driftwood
279

You are confusing pixel binning with line skipping. Pixel binning combines two or more photo sites to give a stronger signal - but it acts as a single photo site. So if you bin together 4 photo sites(4k to 2k) they act together as one large photo site. Thus you lose resolution but gain s/n ratio thus latitude. Line skipping, as used on most DSLRs, simply skips every other line of photo sites, which reduces resolution and produces artifacts.
Here is an article to explain binning
http://www.quantumimaging.com/binning

August 15, 2015 at 12:14PM, Edited August 15, 12:20PM

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d shay
373

I'm aware of 2x2 pixel "summing", for cinema cameras it's a technical compromise, Sony F5/F55 for example, when shooting over 60fps in 2K, sensor switch to pixel binning mode to for faster readout, the quality drops significantly. That's why A7S/A7R II were marketed as no pixel binning and full sensor readout, all scaling is done in subsequent signal processing, the SNR/latitude increase is the same (bin from 4K to 2K vs downsample from 4K to 2K).

August 15, 2015 at 8:11PM

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Driftwood
279

I'm aware of 2x2 pixel "summing", for cinema cameras it's a technical compromise, Sony F5/F55 for example, when shooting over 60fps in 2K, sensor switch to pixel binning mode to for faster readout, the quality drops significantly. That's why A7S/A7R II were marketed as no pixel binning and full sensor readout, all scaling is done in subsequent signal processing, the SNR/latitude increase is the same (bin from 4K to 2K vs downsample from 4K to 2K).

August 15, 2015 at 8:11PM, Edited August 15, 8:11PM

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Driftwood
279

Could you site one technical study that shows that down sampling produces the same s/n ratio as binning? If that was true, manufacturers would produce 32k chips and down sample to 4K for a 36db gain(6 stop gain). If s/n ratio wasn't determined by photo site size, you could squeeze as many as you want onto a sensor for near infinite latitude. The limiting factor is the number of photons hitting the sensor. The same number of photons hit a 2k 35mm size sensor as a 4k 35mm sensor. Pixels are not the same as photo sites. Pixels are formed from the information derived from a photo site(s). A 2k photo site gets hit by 4 times as many photons as the 4k photo site. Thus the 6db(2 stop) stronger signal(photons) is used to form the pixel.
Cameras like the A7S do not use pixel binning because their OLPF is not suited for 2k resolutions. It also functions as a 12 megapixel camera, so limiting the camera resolution to 2k would not please photographers. I'm guessing the A7S has a 4k OLPF. To avoid aliasing and moire in the image, the sensor resolution has to be close to the resolution coming off the OLPF and lens. So the A7S reads the entire sensor at 4k(or thereabout) to match the OLPF, and then down samples to 2k. This avoids aliasing and moire, but also leads to slower readout times and the dreaded rolling shutter.

August 16, 2015 at 9:19AM

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d shay
373

Larger photosite does increase full well capacity, but the readout noise also increases, bining 4 photosites into one quadruples readout noise. simple as that.

I think this is the end of the discussion, pixel bining has its compromises and won't be seen in high-end cinema cameras.

August 16, 2015 at 10:50PM

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Driftwood
279

Pixel binning has long been used in high end cinema in the Sony F35 and the Panavision Genesis.
To quote from the link above "For example, if a 4×4 neighborhood of pixels were summed together off-chip, the signal level would increase by 4×4=16, but the CCD’s inherent noise floor would simultaneously go up by =4. Thus, the SNR increase obtained by off-chip summation would be 16/4 = 4x increase. In contrast, if a 4×4 neighborhood of pixels is summed on chip, the signal increases by 16x and the noise stays as it was – resulting in an increased SNR of 16x."
There is only an increase in noise per photo site if they are summed off chip. But binning is a side issue. I claimed that a 4k chip would have 2 stops more dynamic range than the same chip with 8k sized photo sites. If you still disagree, then we will leave it at that.

August 17, 2015 at 11:14AM

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d shay
373

"..32k chips and down sample to 4K for a 36db gain(6 stop gain)"
That should be 18db for a 6 stop gain.

August 17, 2015 at 7:35PM

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d shay
373

Here we go, again.

The movie biz needs 8k like it needs a hole in the head. 4k is more than enough for theatrical production. Beyond that you're just stacking diffusion filters in front of your lenses and blurring in post, so the skin of your actors doesn't look like the walking dead.

8k for IMAX? Sure, why not.

Sony may want to concentrate some of those resources on making the color out of their cameras look less broadcast / video. The LC709 Type A LUT was a step in the right direction, but they still have a long way to go.

signed,

A Sony user

August 13, 2015 at 2:03PM, Edited August 13, 2:03PM

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Gonna take awhile for computers to catch up with 8k. Then again, if you can afford to shoot on this camera you can probably afford a top-of-the-line editing system.

August 13, 2015 at 3:11PM

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Ty
Cinematographer, Editor, Director
485

Sony has officially declared the rumor as false: Post by Peter Crithary
http://community.sony.com/t5/F5-F55/New-8K-F-series-camera-coming/m-p/51...

August 18, 2015 at 12:27PM

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