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Sony XAVC PMW-F5 / F55 CineAlta
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Old April 9th, 2014, 02:00 PM   #1
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Making the switch from Canon to Sony

Been producing various projects for a number of years now and since the start of the DSLR revolution (since going freelance), I've been Canon all the way. Started out with the Mark II and moved to the Mark III as soon as it came out, have about a dozen great EF-L lenses and so forth. I've always loved Canon's aesthetic image.

But as my business grows and my higher-end clients are asking for more, I can no longer wait for Canon to come up with what I need - Which is HFR predominantly. I've tried everything within my power to try and convince people at Canon to *consider* HFR and year after year, it falls on deaf ears. I'd happily move to their Cinematic line if any of those cameras did more than 60fps. They've just fallen asleep at the wheel in my opinion and that is unfortunate.

Having done quite a bit of research on the Sony line up and considered the F5 and F55, I've decided the F55 is the camera for me. 240fps at 2K and with the optional filter pass that softens it a little to remove aliasing - I can live with that image, it's pretty remarkable. Also - Bye-bye rolling shutter - That was the decider for me... F55 all the way.

So - A few questions to the Sony experts...

As a complete newbie to Sony and S-log, could anyone point me in the right direction as to the inevitable learning curve I must endure to get up to speed on the camera operation and workflow for editing/grading work?

Do you recommend I buy the Optitek CPL-FZ MARKII and continue using my Canon lenses with the camera, or should I sell my dozen Canon lenses and buy the Zeiss or Sony's PL cinematic ones to replace?

Regarding the view finder purchased separately - I own a Zacuto EVF (where the diopter can flip up) and Z-finder - I'm thinking this won't be good enough, that I should go for a Alphatron Broadcast Electronics Electronic Viewfinder EVF-035W-3G - They seem to have good reviews and are less expensive that the Sony ones without compromising quality?

I think I've already been sold on the low pass 2K filter, but I'm wondering are the Sony BP-FL75 v-mount batteries the best ones to buy, or is there an alternative brand which is just as good?

Any other recommendations whilst buying the equipment?

Sorry for the questions - I've researched a lot online and in this forum already, but I'm still lacking on good advice regarding the above.
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Old April 9th, 2014, 02:45 PM   #2
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Re: Making the switch from Canon to Sony

I can't answer all your questions, but with regards to the lens-selling, I wouldn't do that. It sounds like you have a substantial investment in your glass, and unless you need cineprimes for their ergonomics, you will probably never really see the difference in quality. Canon still glass is very, very good and sharp, and that adapter costs about 1/3 of the price of a single PL prime!

Unless you're going to be shooting with a crew and focus-puller, I would go with the adapter if I were you.
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Old April 10th, 2014, 07:09 AM   #3
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Re: Making the switch from Canon to Sony

Thanks for the input Finn - I wasn't too comfortable with selling all my Canon glass as it has taken me a while to build up that collection. They're all very fast primes too. I had wondered if I would see any noticeable difference using the cine primes.

It's hard to come by good, informative information about the F55, especially from user experience as I think few have this camera ... or are unwilling to share their experiences!!
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Old April 12th, 2014, 10:11 AM   #4
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Re: Making the switch from Canon to Sony

The Optitek adapter was showing at NAB with an additional follow focus/iris remote control and receiver setup that was pretty impressive. Obviously the other pieces will up the price a bit, but the follow focus maps the relatively short focus throw of the Canon lenses over something like 300 degrees of the remote's focus wheel.

However, nothing will give you as smooth and accurate an f-stop pull as a real cine lens, since the canon lenses all move the iris in partial stop increments.

I'm assuming that if you're thinking 240 fps you're looking at also getting the R5 raw recorder? (I think the camera tops out at 180fps for recordings made internally to the sxs pro+ cards)

The HFR OLP filter makes sense when shooting HFR from the full sensor. But remember that switching it in and out may take some extra time on location.

A non-OLP-changing approach (though with less selective depth of field) is to center crop the sensor to only use a 2K area. This allows you to use Super16 lensing and there is no 'pixel dropping' in the equation. There was also some nice footage at NAB that was shot this way at 240fps.

My advice is to definitely go with one of the Sony viewfinder options. In many ways the slightly less expensive LCD viewfinder offers you more options since it can open (and be viewed) in a couple of different ways. Most people seem happy with it.

For the S-Log options, start by reading the Sony white papers and watching what Alister Chapman has to say. But more importantly remember that with s-log you are always doing a color correct -- and preferably you have a favorite colorist to whom you can bring some test footage and develop an overall approach. Make sure to do a range of exposures in your test footage, since determining your personal exposure strategy is a big part of the process. Of course if you get the R5 you should also be testing your color correct for Linear RAW. You may find that your exposure strategy will vary depending on what parts of your subject matter are most important.

Batteries are personal preference (and what you may already have. I know some people who use the Sony ones, and others who use Anton Bauer's with an adapter.

I happen to like having a cheese plate on top of a camera to add a lot of convenient mounting points. Work with your dealer and try several shoulder mounts to determine what actually feels good to you. Everyone is different, so physically try them to see what works best for you.

Make sure to update to the latest firmware. 4 was just released, so cameras sitting in dealer warehouses will probably be on an earlier firmware.
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Old April 15th, 2014, 02:33 AM   #5
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Re: Making the switch from Canon to Sony

Dave - Thanks for the very informative information. I will likely take your advice and go with the LCD viewfinder as you suggest, but a lot of people rave about the new OLED. I read somewhere that if you can afford both, go for both, but personally I think that might be overkill - It's one or the other.

What is the disadvantage of not having the OLED?

Yes, it had dawned on me that I will need the R5 to do 240fps, which is a shame - Was hoping a future firmware update might negate that need, but if the camera cannot -physically- perform that frame rate internally (ie. it isn't software limitations preventing it), then it will be on my shopping list for it. Have noticed the F5 can now do 240fps with a firmware update... Which starts to eat away at my reasons for going for the F55 over the F5.

Did you inspect the NAB footage closely for 240fps with center crop? Did you see any aliasing at all? Do you know if their promotional film 'Earth, Wind, Fire, Water' used the center crop or the OLP filter to achieve that result? I would like to inspect the footage first before making a decision on that. I saw footage on Vimeo taken at 240fps, non-OLP and saw aliasing in almost every shot. I have to avoid that.

Thanks for the info on S-log, I have a lot of research to do. Can you recommend a colourist to me? I don't have one and should probably invest in that research once I have the camera.

With regards to lenses, I think I will go for the adapter to start and may rent some cine lenses after a short while to decide what to go with long-term.

After NAB, that Blackmagic URSA camera looks very tempting for the price, but with a max FPS of 60, sadly it isn't the camera for me.

Thanks again for the great info.
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Old April 15th, 2014, 12:39 PM   #6
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Re: Making the switch from Canon to Sony

Kris,
I'm not knocking the OLED -- from a color rendition standpoint I don't think you can beat it. But from a multi-viewing position / able to open the viewfinder different ways standpoint the LCD has a lot going for it. It really depends on your style of operating and your needs -- you should play with both before making your decision. I do a lot of long interviews where I don't particularly like keeping my eye right up to the viewfinder, plus I have an OLED field monitor, so I personally like the way the LCD is designed to flip open. Your operating style may be different.
In terms of the center crop 240fps footage I saw at NAB, it was running on a display monitor and I didn't notice any artifacts. It was extreme close-ups of makeup being applied to models, so not a lot of movement. Shots were close and rather telephoto so not much depth of field, even though only the S16 sensor size was being used. I don't have any info on 'earth, wind....' so no help there. It would make sense that there would be aliasing in 240fps non-OLP filtered material since I believe the camera at that frame rate is basically taking every other pixel, so without the HFR OLP I'd expect aliasing. In center crop mode I believe there's no pixel skipping.
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Old April 16th, 2014, 02:59 PM   #7
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Re: Making the switch from Canon to Sony

There are a lot of complaints about the brightness of the OLED. It's has amazing contrast, but isn't particularly bright, so judging exposure by eye can be a little tricky. I have the LCD myself and am very pleased with it.

2K HFR in center crop mode is artefact free as in this mode the sensor is still a 4K sensor, just now you are only using the center part, so the 4K OLPF is still doing it's job correctly. In full frame HFR the 4K sensor is read as a 2K sensor, so unless you change the OLPF you will get some aliasing and moire as now in effect you only have a 2K sensor that is the same size as the 4K sensor.

The F5 and F55 are amazing cameras with incredible versatility thanks to the interchangeable lens mount, the system expansion port on the rear that can be used to add the raw recorder, a studio adapter or the new ENG shoulder kit. Add in the abundance of codec options, XAVC, XDCAM, SStP, ProRes, DNxHD and you have a very capable camera.

Canon's problem with HFR is that they don't have a suitable codec. You can't use Mpeg 2 for more than 30fps at 1920x1080 and normal AVCHD just doesn't have the quality level that most Pro's are looking for. So until Canon develop a new codec or licence someone else's they are a bit stuck.
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Old April 16th, 2014, 06:35 PM   #8
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Re: Making the switch from Canon to Sony

I've informally polled F55/F5 owners to see which viewfinders they have -- but I only really care about what choice they made if they had a chance to test drive BOTH viewfinders. Otherwise, how can they compare them? Someone may love viewfinder X, but if they never even saw viewfinder Y, how do they know they wouldn't have liked it better?

The results of my polling show that about 80% of the people who have tried both, choose the LCD. And most people who bought the OLED never saw it before they bought it and assumed it was better because it was OLED.

I compared them before I purchased and I went for the LCD because it fits my needs much better. In fact, I cringe when I look through a camera with the OLED and wonder how anyone shoots with it. Price is no object. Even if the LCD cost more than the OLED I still would have bought the LCD.
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Old April 20th, 2014, 06:14 AM   #9
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Re: Making the switch from Canon to Sony

Just a shame the OLED looks better.. :)... LCD design is a bit on the clunky side..
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Old April 20th, 2014, 03:05 PM   #10
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Re: Making the switch from Canon to Sony

Clunky but very functional :)
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Old April 21st, 2014, 04:56 AM   #11
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Re: Making the switch from Canon to Sony

like my ex wife :).. but cheaper..
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Old April 25th, 2014, 06:30 PM   #12
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Re: Making the switch from Canon to Sony

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alister Chapman View Post
2K HFR in center crop mode is artefact free as in this mode the sensor is still a 4K sensor, just now you are only using the center part, so the 4K OLPF is still doing it's job correctly. In full frame HFR the 4K sensor is read as a 2K sensor, so unless you change the OLPF you will get some aliasing and moire as now in effect you only have a 2K sensor that is the same size as the 4K sensor.
Thanks for everyone's replies - Very useful info.
It would be heavenly if I could see some footage from both 2K HFR center crop Vs 4K HFR OLPF.

Is the 240fps HFR quality just as perfect using center crop mode as it is without center crop and using the OLPF? Anyone know? If so, why go to the expense of purchasing the OLPF if the same results can be achieved in center crop mode?

Sorry for all the questions, I need to make sure my shopping list is correct!
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Old April 26th, 2014, 09:21 AM   #13
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Re: Making the switch from Canon to Sony

"If so, why go to the expense of purchasing the OLPF if the same results can be achieved in center crop mode?"

Lenses / Depth of Field

Remember - Center crop is using a smaller area of the sensor, so your existing (super 35) lenses will create significantly tighter images. You may need other lenses for wider shots.

On the other hand, if you already have a bunch of great Super 16 lenses this opens up the ability to use them.

Also your depth of field will be greater (more is in focus) because you are only using the super 16 area.
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Old July 29th, 2014, 02:04 PM   #14
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Re: Making the switch from Canon to Sony

So keep in mind that you are talking about going from a FULL frame camera image to a 16mm sized camera image when you invoke the HFR capabilities of the F-55. Even the full sensor of the F-55 is effectively a 1.6 magnification of your current lenses on the Canon sensor. And the resulting loss of the very narrow DoF that you currently enjoy. As someone mentioned, you'll need wider lenses when you "move up" to the F-55. I am an F-5 owner, so I'm not being critical of the Sony cameras, just wanted to perhaps state the obvious. The manual for the camera is essentially useless, strongly recommend you consider the purchase of Doug Jensen's comprehensive guide to all functions and workflows from the camera.
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Old August 1st, 2014, 08:30 PM   #15
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Re: Making the switch from Canon to Sony

Hi Kris,

I've owned the F55 since the first week it was available for shipping. I went with the OLED but it was rushed decision as the LCD wasn't available yet and I needed something right away, fortunately I only paid the price of the LCD VF.

The LCD is better because you can flip it up so for certain shoots you don't have to keep your eye up to the cup for example. On the OLED you have to keep your eye close to it to view it. But I can't deny the colors and contrast of the OLED look great and not using it to view the image once you've worked with it hard to give up but it is not particularly that bright.

Regarding slog2/3 you don't need a colorist in reality, for the most part if you need to shoot slog you can now use many of the built-in looks that Sony provides which can be permanently baked into your footage, or you can shoot slog and just add the same look later in post. Sony's latest LUT gives you the look of the Alexa in Rec709 mode and my clients love it, I mean REALLY love it. All my nightmares grading slog went away, also you can get a FREE copy of Davinci Resolve and even it has support for slog2/3 which can help you get on with some basic grading. If your exposure was set good in-camera, you can use resolve to color and transpose all your footage into new files and then edit with those, or hand over files to client directly. Lot's of options with slog all around, just read up on exposure for it because that becomes absolutely critical if you want to get the most of it.

Frankly, the hypergammas built into the camera are very good and can give you a lot of dynamic range as well. HG7 is my favourite, it gives the same dynamic range of 800% as the original slog on the F3 and F35 did and the best part is you don't have to worry about grading it - but it still provides some decent room for grading if needed.

For batteries I'm using IDX v-mount batteries that are from my steadicam. They last a long time, the camera hardly draws any power but I suggest a good brand not any cheap chinese knock-offs, etc..

Best of luck with your F55 camera purchase.
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