There was a tense moment in the film for Babin when the dancer moved forward suddenly and stood beneath the light from above and was significantly overexposed. "I remember having a sense of panic and thinking, oh, my God, she’s really going to cook there," he reveals. "It’s going to wash out and we’re going to lose all detail, but in fact we didn’t. It held up very nicely in terms of highlight detail."
Sony Colorworks colorist Scott Ostrowsky performed color timing on all of the shorts screened at the DGA. His first impression was how sharp and filmic the F65’s images looked. "Unlike most other digital cameras, as good as some of them are, the F65 was devoid of any grain," explains Ostrowsky. "I mean there was no noise. It was just a camera where you capture every minute detail of what you’re shooting, whether it was a shot into a hazy day or a nighttime shot. We saw a couple of shots that had really dimly lit areas along with bright sunlit areas, and you could see the details in both of them.
Whether or not 4K can now outperform film or is more pleasing to the eye, it’s clear that the F65 is a powerful new tool for cinematographers.
"If something is underexposed on a digital camera, you definitely end up getting a lot of noise within the blue channel, but I saw none at all," adds Ostrowsky. "I wasn’t really pushing the image either. The camera had an incredible range of flexibility. There was one night shot at the beach that was shot from the street looking down, and you saw the whole beach, the buildings and streetlights. If you looked at the raw footage, you saw everything. Nothing was lost. It was mind-blowing."
The pricing of the F65 is another feature that has surprised a lot of people (in a good way). The F65 will retail for $65,000, and this includes a color viewfinder. The F65 is priced lower than the HDW-F900R ($80,740, viewfinder not included) and in the same ballpark as the RED EPIC and the ARRI ALEXA. Sony’s pricing move really tells you how competitive the high-end digital cinema camera market has become. With the built-in Rotary Shutter, the F65RS will be $77,000 and the SR-R4 dockable recorder will be approximately $20,000.
With the F65 now exceeding film specs in terms of dynamic range, color gamut and signal-to-noise ratio, is it safe to say the argument between film and digital is coming to an end? DP Babin doesn’t think so. "I think we’re getting into subjective areas," he says. "Technically perhaps, but aesthetically what’s a typical viewer going to accept as the ‘ideal’? Film has a way of aesthetically abstracting an image in a way that most of us have come to accept. I’ve yet to see a digital medium that does that in quite the same way. It’s still a different look and aesthetic, and it has to do with grain and the way color is rendered. For me, it’s a situation of comparing apples and oranges."
Whether or not 4K can now outperform film or is more pleasing to the eye, it’s clear that the F65 is a powerful new tool for cinematographers. And with the prices of high-end digital coming down to earth, the sky is the limit for filmmakers.
For more information on the Sony F65, visit www.sony.com/F65.