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Sony XDCAM PMW-F3 CineAlta
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Old November 17th, 2010, 10:32 AM   #1
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Sony F3 - Things I really hope Sony change!

Okay, so hopefully someone from Sony reads this board.

The F3 looks like a great camera for the kind of work that I do. HOWEVER, there are a few aspects I think are particularly poor about the design.

1) The rear viewfinder is a waste of time, especially if it is the same finder as on the EX1. PLEASE add an option for a decent VF and think about how to make the camera work as a shoulder mount for handheld. If the LCD could be used as a VF as on the EX3, that would be great. I want a camera that is adaptable without having to add a load of 3rd party accessories.

2) Tripod mounting threads. As I have written elsewhere, a camera like this with a PL mount needs a solid mounting. One 1/4" thread like a Z1 or EX1 is totally inadequate. It needs a row of 1/4" and 3/8" threads along the bottom so that a plate can be attached in different positions for balance. The screw threads on top are great but need to be the highest point on the camera so that Steadicam plates can be attached securely for low mode.

I hope others agree, maybe it's just me.
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Old November 17th, 2010, 11:20 AM   #2
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Hi Mike,

Didn't realize you are a Steadicam Op. Cheers, on that...

I posed the question to the head of Sony Marketing in the UK during their Facebook Q & A just over a week ago along with a raft of other questions. He unfortunately, answered all the questions but not the one about making some minor modifications to the top of the camera for low mode wedge plates, like a removable viewfinder and lowering the shoe mount .5 cm.

Unfortunately, the design is now locked in from what I can tell. Production badged units are now seen out being tested by cinematographers so the physical side of the camera now, is what it is.

In my dreams, I hope that the major camera manufacturers will tear a page out of ARRI's design book on the Alexa. The camera looks fantastic and there are flat planes everywhere making it one of the most practical cameras from a package building perspective ever made.

For viewfinders people will be resorting to Marshalls and the like or the Hoodman Pro diopter attachment that can now be used on the EX1/R which gives close to the same functionality of as the EX3 diopter snoot.

My solution for the tripod mounting issue will be to throw weight off the back of the camera. Little consolation though if someone tosses you a 4 kilo lens to put on the front which will require another +2 kilos of rails and risers to keep the package stable, assuming you can physically brace the lens.

There are two press junkets scheduled for 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm west coast (USA) time today. We should have more information on the camera and the prime lenses Sony is developing for the unit.
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Old November 18th, 2010, 04:10 AM   #3
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I was really really hoping they'd ditch the pretty much useless little VF hanging off the back, not only will no one really use it for the caliber of this kind of camera, but its an ugly eye sore, its really making the camera look cheap and un-professional.

Also to detach the right side handle like the AF100 would have been lovely too, but as stated above I think we missed out on voicing those changes, they seem to be already done with design considering all their ads are already running with photos of it with a big 65mm Master Prime on the front of it.

Damn sony why did you have to put that little ugly thing hanging off. To be totally honest, I would most likely figure out a way to detach it. I would never use it. Voiding the warranty I suppose but damn I'd most likely break it off by accident anyway, it sticks so far back. Wish this was made with a release or something to detach it.

Next camera you guys put out, just stick with the brick and shoulder shooters mode, its what us DP's really want anyway. Look at ARRI Alexa, that in form factor is perfect.
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Old November 18th, 2010, 05:47 AM   #4
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Glad I'm not the only one!

I haven't used the Alexa for work yet but have handled one and loved the ergonomics. It seems stupid that Sony haven't thought the ergonomics through properly as a good design doesn't add to production cost and they could have even saved some cash by ditching the stupid rear VF.

How are Sony expecting this camera to be used for handheld with heavy PL glass on the front? As a palmcorder? With no VF socket, your only option is using an external monitor and bolt on shoulder mounts, which is pretty awkward.
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Old November 18th, 2010, 05:59 AM   #5
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I haven't seen a pic of the bottom plate, but the top has numerous screw mounts, so you'd hope the bottom was the same.

I fully agree on the VF. Occasionally it may be useful, but mostly like a dew claw that get caught on everything and you'd want to smash off with a hammer.

Just make it removable, and please add a port for a real VF.
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Old November 18th, 2010, 06:07 AM   #6
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I think what they are trying to do is lure in some of the people who are used to this kind of design. Though it just makes us pros shy away from it. Stupid move. Justifying a 16k price for something that looks like its worth 4k or less is not a good way to get costomers.

There is such a thing as sex appeal for cameras and its always the same, they look like the F35, or the Alexa.

You are right it wouldn't have cost them a red cent to design this thing in a better form factor. The PL mout with a zoom handycam rocker is just ridiculous in design and completely useless for people who will actually USE the PL mount. You could have even saved money not having to put the VF on there and put that towards a second HDMI port just for viewfinders and such.

Oh well, sometimes I really think these companies have the weirdest people designing for them, they are clearly NOT cinematographers who'd use this stuff. Its like they make it look ugly on purpose.

And that ugly little mic hanging off the front as well... eek. And why the heck did they put the XLR's right next to the lens mount? thats going to get in the way of any mounting gear with all the XLR cables getting in the way and sticking out.

A real miss for design, but the footage is so amazing I'm stuck with having to buy it haha.

This is the best photo I've seen of it yet though, with none of that crap hanging off of it, thats as close as you can get it look to something professional.
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Last edited by Giuseppe Pugliese; November 18th, 2010 at 01:29 PM.
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Old November 18th, 2010, 08:02 AM   #7
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Yup the images are gorgeous.
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Old November 18th, 2010, 01:25 PM   #8
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Well, hopefully there is another follow up version - like the EX3 to the EX1. I will be waiting for that.

I think that we all need to put pressure on our Sony contacts directly to address these issues.

I want a proper viewfinder, and I want it to be removable.

Looking at that silly viewfinder at the back, I wonder how it feels to have a face full of BNC cables and an XLR cable. Useless. Does Sony even test their cameras with working DP's?

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Old November 18th, 2010, 02:58 PM   #9
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You're spot on there Mike, they also need to sort out the flip out screen so that you can hand hold the thing with a shoulder rig. My EX1 sock loupe is going to get a new lease of life if I start using this thing regularly
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Old November 18th, 2010, 07:47 PM   #10
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I just saw a video which momentarily showed the base. It appears to have 3 * 1/4" threads, two inline, one off set.
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Old November 19th, 2010, 03:49 AM   #11
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On the Sony Professional Facebook discussion Sony wrote:

"Mount at the bottom of camcorder is the standard screw-thread type seen on EX1R.
There are no optional viewfinders available."

Let's hope they were wrong. 3 x 1/4" threads would at least be better than 1 but not nearly as good as having 3/8" as well.

Shame to put all that effort into what is shaping up to be a technically great camera, only to blow it on the most simple aspects. VF wise, they should have just made a detachable finder which mounted to the camera via a magic arm and 3/8" screw threads on the top and sides. Simple, cheap, adaptable, effective.
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Old November 19th, 2010, 07:19 AM   #12
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If no one else chimes in sooner I'll have access to an F3 on Monday and I'll post a pic of the base. I do know that the entire base is flat so we don't have to deal with silly curves. All the F3's I've played with so far have had tripod plates on the bottom. They have always felt solid and secure on the tripods.

Don't forget that the Sony PL lens set is very light. They have been purposely deigned to be ultra light weight for handheld use. The camera with any of the Sony PL's is not that much different to an EX3 to hand hold. Yes it is front heavy, but not so much so that you can't shoot "handycam" style.

I would agree that a shoulder mount and loupe will work well with the F3. The rear VF looks to be the same as the one on the EX1R, which is at least a big improvement over the original EX1.
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Old November 19th, 2010, 07:31 AM   #13
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Thanks Alister. I'm hoping it will look a little like the bottom of my VCT-14. :)
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Old November 19th, 2010, 09:06 AM   #14
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Mike, in case you haven't discovered these VCT-14/U14 baseplate adapters, you should have a look.

One from True Lens Service in your neck of the woods (4th item down):
True Lens Services

And fairly recent entrant from GENUS which I got a couple of months ago:
Genus GAP Adapter Plate GL GAP B&H Photo Video
Genus Adaptor Plates - Genus Video and DSLR products

And if you haven't discovered the ARRI QR-HD1, you have to look at this. Could save a Steadicam Op from moving to a bigger rig with the weight savings:

ARRI Group: Quick-Release Baseplate QR-HD1 for Digital Cameras

Download the catalogue and go to page 16 for a much better photo. Should be noted the baseplate goes up and down, independently on the rails bit an of course the unit can move back and forth about 5" with the throw of a lever allowing you to move the CG waaaaay back, if you want. It weighs well under 2 pounds but when you factor in baseplates, a riser or two and the functionality, you get the picture.
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Old November 23rd, 2010, 09:36 PM   #15
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I've been thinking about this. It's going to be heavier than an EX3, more front heavy, and it has that useless EVF so you would have to be holding it away from your body to even look into it.

Spec wise they have knocked it out of the park. Probably the last camera some of us would ever need until 4k displays for the home are common. But form wise, both this and the NXcam are so clearly doomed to be left on a tripod (or some giant custom shoulder rig) because holding one will be a nightmare.

The EX3 is so good in this regard. Everything is just about perfect for handheld, yet not as bulky as a true shoulder cam. It's truly a shame that one of these cams didn't follow that form factor. Maybe the F5? If it happens I'm sure it would cost even more than the F3!
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