I am beyond ecstatic. I took delivery of my Sony F3 today. Somehow i managed to be lucky enough to get a hold of the camera, and take it home seemingly weeks before some distributors even receive them to sell! I cant spill the beans as to who sold me the camera, but i am grateful and happy to be able to share some of its finer points.
This camera is the back bone of my new company, officially going live on March 1st, Tstop Cinema LLC.
Any how back to the fun……Getting the camera home, and like building any new camera the game of getting all the pieces to fit is sort of a mix between a jigsaw puzzle and Lego’s. Luckily i have a brand spanking new Zacuto baseplate and a whole slew of new parts to make it all work…..( who doesn’t love brand new gear!) I owned a lot of Zacuto gear from the 35mm Adapter days, and i’ll be damned if they didn’t come in handy. If you’re one of 3 people in the film world that doesn’t know about Zacuto support gear, its essentially a camera support system that offers you a ton of flexibility in assembling your camera package.
Adjusting, amending, adding, subtracting, balancing and counter balancing, i managed to get all my new accessories mounted, clear of all the essential parts powered up and fully functional. As the camera booted up for a couple seconds, the Monitor came alive. The images this camera produces are almost alien. Beautiful, organic and clean. Its weird, its something i’ve never seen before. There are no artifacts! If the image is static, it looks like a still photo. Heres the kicker, it somehow manages to look completely grain less, yet organic, natural and realistic, without looking like plastic. Sony cameras in the past have to my eye looked like plastic. That is to say dry, with unnatural color and tones. The complete opposite is true of the F3. I have not been so moved by a digital video image like this since the first time i saw Alexa footage. The F3 has a clearly visible wide dynamic range that you can feel as you operate it. Parts of the image that normally burn out with ENG style cameras, HDSLR’s and pro-sumer HD cameras are miraculously retained. the F3 image looks like a RED-MX, but with a soul. That soul is the big surprise here. The DVX100, long revered for the “Mojo” of its image sadly is obsolete…. However that intangible “Mojo” is alive and well here. This is exciting as its so essential in narrative film making for a camera to have some emotional impact on the image it captures. I imagine the Cooke iPanchro lenses i bought are helping somewhat in this department. The Cooke “look” as its called, is surely bringing out what is great about the sensor in this camera.
On the technical side, the F3 is an amazing performer. Let me tell you a brief anecdote. Earlier, after a rushed camera check out, before getting the whole system safely home, I built the camera and hooked it up to my 46″ Panasonic plasma in Studio REF mode. Switching the camera on, the screen came alive, and on it was a lush gorgeous image. My jaw dropped, and i thought to myself, WOW i cannot believe how clean, and rich this image is… BUT, it looks amazing now, lets see it with the ISO blasted up to the limits. Wanting to see the breaking point, i reached for the side of the camera and pushed the “gain” ( ISO) switch to “H” or High, but to my dismay it was stuck. Truthfully, it wasn’t stuck, the camera was ALREADY in “H” at ISO 3200 no less…. Its performance is astonishing. Just for some reference, 3200 ISO looks like my 5DmkII around 640 ISO. Based on what i saw in a room with ambient light at ISO 3200, i could probably shoot my next project @ ISO 3200, not tell anyone, and no one on set, or in post would be the wiser as to what ISO i set the camera to. Its that good. I cant wait to test this out further. This weekend will be great!
As i gather more data i will surely continue to add to this post, check back often!
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