Get The Most Out Of Your Sony F3
Sony is ramping up their F3 in a big way by releasing new accessories and firmware (some free, some not so free) that will unlock exciting features that will not only make the F3 a powerhouse camera for indie filmmakers, but also a professional studio digital cinema camera as well. By itself, the PMW-F3 is a revolutionary camera system that for $16,800, you’re essentially getting a compact version of the F35, equipped with the newly developed Exmor™ Super 35 CMOS image sensor, PL lens mount, and SxS card for 1920 x 1080 full-HD recording. In terms of firmware, the camera ships with v1.00, which offers 4:2:2 1080/50P, 60P, as well as other base features. However, there is now a new version, v.1.10, that offers simultaneous HDMI/SDI output and that comes pre-loaded w/4 LUTs and x5 User LUTs for monitoring in S-Log mode. In order to shoot in S-Log, you’ll need to purchase the CBK-RGB01 optional package ($4,400), which any professional cinematographer will probably need. Sony’s S-Log helps the F3′s “Super 35mm” sensor reach its full potential and is designed to mimic the response of 35mm film negative by giving you up to 800% dynamic range, at F16 sensitivity, 57 dB signal-to-noise ratio, and an exposure index 1600.
If you have the CBK-RGB01 S-Log package, there’s now a free v1.20 that will enable S-Log EI, aka Cine EI, which will shift the S-Log gamma towards more low-light shadow detail or for more highlight detail, depending on what setting you use.
Because of the F3′s compact size, two cameras make an ideal and cost-effective 3D system. Sony is offering an optional package, the CBK-3DL-1 ($5,500), that will allow you to connect two F3s via 3D Link. This will give you synchronized operation of both cameras and lenses.
Speaking of lenses, if that weren’t enough, Sony is also releasing two new zooms for the F3. The SCL-P11X15 is a wide-angle, 1,5x (11-16mm), PL mount and is a T3.0. The SCL-Z18X140 is a 14x (18-252mm) high-powered zoom lens with a T3.8 and is for the F3′s native mount. The zooms aren’t tremendously fast but are fairly inexpensive for cinema-style zooms. The wide angle is $7,700 and the high-power 14x is $12,200 and both will be released early next year. Not to confuse you anymore with the firmware upgrades, you will need to get v.1.30 to use the new zooms.
In the near future, Sony will also release the CBK-MH01, an attachment to the F3′s built-in LCD panel as monitor hood, which will help for outdoor shooting and critical focus.
All in all, these updates will definitely propel the F3 into the high-end production space that professional cinematographers demand. With the exception of 4K, for under $25K, you’re getting a system that pretty much can do anything that systems costing $50K plus can do.