I was in the room at this year's NAB when Sony revealed the F65, and one of my first thoughts was to wonder why it was called the F65 if the F35 was named because its sensor size matched that of 35mm film. With their announcement today that the F65 will retail for $65k, perhaps the camera was named because of target price? Strange. The F65 has the same size sensor as the F35, but upgrades the pixel count to a "true" 4K (I'm putting "true" in quotes because the F65 has a nonstandard pixel array that producers a resolution of 8768 x 2324).
$65K may seem like a lot, and this camera will probably not find its way onto indie sets any time soon, but considering the F35 retailed for well into six figures, this is Sony's attempt to drop their camera to a RED-like price point. While the EPIC-X starts at $30k, for example, that is a "brain only" price; the EPIC-M shooting package, keep in mind, sold for $58k and the mass-produced EPIC-X cuts less than $10k off that. Sony and RED are now officially competitors, and not just at the high end; I mentioned them squaring off in January regarding the $6k and $12k price points as well. Perhaps Sony has something to do with RED's latest philosophy change, who are now claiming they "will only announce new things when they are done and ready to ship." This feels like the third or fourth time RED has claimed such a change in strategy, so I'll believe it when I see it! Sony's F65 press release, where they "officially raise the curtain on the F65" (what was the NAB event, then?) is below; also hit the following link for the PDF brochure.
Link: Sony F65 Brochure (PDF)
Sony F65 Press Release
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 6, 2011 -- Sony Electronics officially raised the curtain on its F65 CineAlta(TM) digital motion picture camera system, ushering in a new era of digital cinematography. Before a select audience of American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) members, press and high-profile industry professionals, Sony screened new F65 footage shot by leading DPs, demonstrated new features and announced its roll-out plan for the revolutionary camera, including availability and a surprisingly accessible price of just $65,000 (with viewfinder).
Announced here only days before the F65 will be shown to a worldwide audience at the IBC conference in Amsterdam, the new camera clearly signals Sony's commitment to the Hollywood community and to developing the production technologies content creators need.
The F65 derives true 4K resolution - and beyond - at the point of image capture. "4K" resolution is 4096 x 2160, which is more than four times greater than the full HD (1920x1080) spec. Its unique 8K image sensor, with approximately 20 total megapixels, offers higher image fidelity than any other digital cinema production camera. With 16-bit Linear RAW File output capability, the F65 creates the gateway to an end-to-end 4K file-based mastering workflow.
"This is the camera Hollywood has asked for, designed specifically for filmmakers," said Alec Shapiro, senior vice president of Sony's Professional Solutions of America group. "The ability to shoot content in true native 4K resolution lets filmmakers capture more of what they're seeing through the lens to fully realize their vision. The F65's incredible imager captures more data, which translates to more information that can be put up on the screen. And access to an open and inclusive platform enables the integration of an F65 file-based workflow into other systems, creating truly exciting, and limitless, production opportunities."
Sony first announced the F65 at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in April, and the camera has already distinguished itself by offering superb resolution, incredible dynamic range and the truest color reproduction of any available camera.
With its latest enhancements and features, the F65's capabilities now include:
- 14 stops High Dynamic Range with much wider color gamut
- Rotary shutter model (F65RS) to remove motion artifacts; four ND Filter built-in with rotary shutter.
- Wi-fi operation for remote control operation from tablet devices (including the Android-based Sony Tablet S and Apple iPad)
- HD-SDI output with viewing LUT for on-set monitoring with focus assist zoom
- 60 Minutes of 16 bit Linear RAW file recording onto a 1TB SRMemory card at 24FPS
Sony also introduced a dockable SRMemory recorder - model SR-R4 - which attaches to the camera to record directly to an SRMemory card of 256 GB, 512 GB or 1TB capacity with data security and sustained throughput of 5.5 Gbps.
Sony is now unveiling a powerful new capability for the F65/SR-R4 combination - the ability to switch recording between 16-bit linear RAW File and MPEG-4 SStP File modes. Users can configure the camera on a project-by-project basis, selecting either 16-bit linear RAW File for ultimate quality acquisition or high speed operation at up to 120FPS, or MPEG-4 SStP File (HDCAM SR native) for exceptional quality HD recording. MPEG-4 SStP File also provides full compatibility for viewing, offline and post production using either the free Sony PC or MAC viewer or products using the new Sony Software Development Kit.
The F65 is in high demand by the motion picture production industry, and Sony is now taking orders for the new camera. The first rental company in Hollywood to take delivery will be Otto Nemenz International.
"The F65 is more than just a new camera; it's a complete system and a revolutionary approach to the digital production workflow," said company president Otto Nemenz. "My customers are looking for the latest and greatest, and this technology more than fits the bill. I'm proud to be the first to carry this camera."
New CineAlta(TM) Branding
Since its introduction more than 10 years ago, the CineAlta brand has come to represent the benchmark for the highest quality digital cinematography acquisition. Now, to coincide with the launch of the F65, Sony is introducing a new CineAlta logo, signifying acquisition quality at "Beyond HD" resolution and reflecting the open nature of the F65 and its file based approach.
The new logo is designed to resemble the symbol for infinity, as the F65 with its new image sensor makes true 4K production real today and provides viable image acquisition for many years and future applications to come. The logo will be applied to all Sony system components that enable digital imaging beyond the 1920 x 1080 HD format.
"From the success of Sony 4K projectors which are driving digital cinema in movie theaters and creating demand for 4K content, to the staggering creative possibilities offered by the F65, no other company can deliver the total 4K lens to theater experience that Sony can," Shapiro said. Sony has already installed more than 9,000 4K projectors in cinemas worldwide.
The F65 digital motion picture camera line-up is scheduled to be available in January direct from Sony: The F65, with viewfinder for $65,000; the F65RS (Built in Rotary Shutter Model), with viewfinder for $77,000; and SR-R4 dockable recorder for $20,000. All will also be available through Sony authorized resellers.