The Sony PMW-F3
The newest camera on Sony's block has been in my hands and on my tripod for a few weeks. Here are some comments.
The first thing that I noticed was that the camera was familiar and after turning it on I understood why. The menu layout is similar to the Sony PMW-EX1 and the EX3. You’d swear that you were looking at those menus and this makes things easy as I’m on familiar ground. Already I'm sensing that this is a "Just Get Out and Do It" kind of camera.
There is abundant information online detailing the technical specs of the camera, however I’m more intrigued by its potential in a range of productions and the possibilities it creates to take my corporate and doco work into a new realm.
Sony suggests that the PMW-F3 is suited to television, commercials, music and promotional budget productions however, based on my two weeks of toying around, I see much more in store.
Let's get the specs out of the way.
- The F3 is based on Sony’s XDCAM EX workflow. The codec is MPEG-2 Long GOP 4:2:0 8 bit, 35 Mbps and uses Sony’s recording format based SxS ExpressCard.
- The Super 35mm CMOS imager delivers appealing shallow depth of field with high sensitivity and low noise levels.
- It offers a wide range of options for creating images, and the ability to edit F3 images seamlessly with material shot on Sony’s F35 by using an HD SDI dual-link output and making external recordings. This is nice given the mature and straight forward nature of the XDCAM workflow.
- The F3 records naively to the on-board SXS cards in 4:2:0 at 35Mb/sec transfer rate.
Before making any consideration of this native spec, look at the images that come from the camera. They have a earthy, organic feel and I would be happy shooting straight to the SxS cards for most of the time, but this camera is up-scalable.
I would consider stepping up to the 4’s and 2’s, recording at 4:2:2 at up to 280Mb/sec using the compact nanoFlash external recorder. The front end of the F3 has the Super 35mm CMOS imager and some excellent lenses all held by a solid PL lens mount and you can’t help but notice this quality in the final production.
The PL-mount of the PMW-F3 can both take PL and zoom lenses and is compatible with a variety of cine lenses such as Cooke, Arri, Fujinon and Zeiss.
Most cinematographers will appreciate that this camera creates a very new and special category, so when would I shoot with it and what is it actually like to use?
microWAVE microbudget filmmaking event
I will be conducting a session
during this event at the UTS on Saturday afternoon, February 19th. My topic will be on the emergence and use of large-sensor video cameras. This is going to a fantastic day.
Journalism students get some basic video skills
Getting some basic video camera skills was part of the five day course for a group of students of the APM School of Business & Communication at the Australian Film Television and Radio School this week. I've been working with the schools's Open Program.
Two weeks of training for ABC Television
Recently completed running a series of video camera training course at the ABC's Four Corners production unit.