Sony's announcement of a compact camcorder with a 35mm sensor, priced at $16k, has raised a lot of questions. How will the PMW-F3 compare to low-end DSLRs? Panasonic's $5k AG-AF100? RED cams? ARRI ALEXA? Will its footage look like video (which Sony is known for), or will it yield a flatter, more gradable image? Thanks to not just one, but three shorts that have just hit the web, some of these questions have been answered. Here are three videos shot entirely on the Sony F3:
Quick analysis of where I think this camera stands: first of all, it looks great. This is mostly ungraded footage straight out of the camera to the native codec (the camera offers an HD-SDI output for higher quality recording to an external recorder). But watching compressed web video, we are not going to see a huge difference between the F3L and a good video DSLR like the Canon 60D. However, the F3's elimination of aliasing problems, less CMOS skew, higher bitrate, pro audio and video connectors, and a host of other features make it worth renting for serious work intended for bigger screens (HDTV, theatrical). From a value standpoint it's going to be hard to beat a DSLR at present, but with cameras like the F3 hitting the market, you're going to see well-equipped pros like Shane Hurlbut, Philip Bloom, and Vincent Laforet moving away from DSLRs and shooting on these "real" video cameras with decent audio controls, articulating viewfinders, and the option to use external recorders at even higher bitrates.
HDSLRs are not going away in the sense that sub-$1000 cameras that shoot both stills and video are a great value proposition and will always sell well. Enterprising indies will still be able to shoot films on them, provided they can't afford anything better. But now the video camera market is catching up and few DPs will be shooting on a DSLR by choice -- for a bit more money there's the Panasonic AG-AF100, and RED's SCARLET will presumably fill in somewhere between the AF100 and Sony F3. And I think we'll see much better footage from the F3 in the months and years to come, as the camera's Cine Gamma curves get a workout and filmmakers hook it up to external recorders like the AJA Ki Pro Mini and the Convergent Nanoflash.
Ultimately I expect most indie filmmakers will own a DSLR, which will allow us to shoot shorts, behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, web video, and the like. And then we'll rent a real camera for a feature or other important work.
Some more footage and background info on the F3 here:
Anything I'm missing? What're your thoughts on how the F3 compares to the $5k Panasonic and RED's forthcoming offerings?
[via ProVideo Coalition]