November 18, 2010

First Sony PMW-F3 Footage Hits the Web

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:

And the Convergence crew have also published a review and director's impressions of the camera.

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]

Your Comment

7 Comments

IT does look good, but I think this camera should be $10k. $22k with lenses is way too much for the form factor and max 60p, 35mbps codec.

November 19, 2010 at 2:22AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Hal

I agree with Hal. Thousands more for no moire or rolling shutter is a tough sell. Even when you consider the connectivity options and superiority of the audio system in the cam. Footage looks beautiful, though.

November 19, 2010 at 3:30AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Nick Ocheltree

It is a bit expensive, but donť forget that simple (for example) PL-Mount lens cost about a 4000 bucks at least. The Cam costs $13k without lenses, that's about $3k each cinema prime in kit... So its not "that" expensive... My opinion only... :-) BTW The footage is gorgeos...

November 19, 2010 at 8:50AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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George K.

Hi,
Im sorry about my bad english. It is not my native language.

Im agree with all and would like to add: with prime lenses and 5d MK2 you can get very very similar footage good enough for broadcast and even for film transfer.

November 25, 2010 at 7:18PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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The fact that DSLRs overheat after a very short time period makes them almost useless in production for me... sure if you buy 2 or 3 so you can let the overhot one cool is kind of a solution, but then you have to worry about inconsistencies between the cameras, having to stop whilst you switch cameras, you still have moire and rolling shutter issues and all of the other headaches with audio, monitoring etc. The Panasonic looks great and takes away all these problems, the sensor is so close in size to a 35mm sensor that the difference is negligible and I really thought Sony would have positioned this camera as a competitor to Panasonic... really disappointing price point... come on Scarlet! I have been holding out on these 3 cameras to come out before buying something new and at the moment, I would go with the Panasonic and use the extra money I would save on lenses and perhaps some kit to record pure HD-SDI. It's cool that I can shoot a bit of footage with my DSLR, but I will be glad to see them disappear from the professional space and take all of their usability headaches with them.

November 28, 2010 at 11:00AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Ben

We really don't know much about the F3 except for it's technical
specifications and some compressed Internet footage. So far, so good.
I'm truly impressed. But unless this thing gets out into the real world and gets
pushed around bit by a wide cross section of professional filmmakers, then we'll see what this baby
is really made of. I have a feeling that this camera has a lot more potential than
what we expect. S-Log, HyperGamma & Dual-Link 4:4:4 is more than
enough to convince me beyond what S35mm can offer. But we have to
see her in action in order for her to earn her pedigree.

December 16, 2010 at 6:30PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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John Philips

Well, maybe it was a slow www connection but I see some distracting moving shutter artifacts. Also, reality is not seen through shallow depth of field; I found annoying the manic use of rack focus through shallow depth of field.
I shoot fast moving action, and would be hesitant to move up from my SD 2/3" P2 gear to the new sexy F3. However, if SONY let me trial shoot the F3 I would consider it. Question, which scene file settings would eliminate the moving shutter artifact when shooting for example a horse moving at 40 mph ?

December 30, 2012 at 12:53PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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