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Sony XDCAM PMW-F3 CineAlta
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Old November 20th, 2010, 07:19 PM   #1
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Sony F3 vs RED?

Considering the epic or scarlet have not and prob. will not come out by the time the F3 does. Does the F3 compete with the updated RED ONE?

Just to see what people think.
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Old November 20th, 2010, 07:34 PM   #2
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If they were both the same price, same weight, some functionality. I'd still want the F3 more. I like that Sony stayed with traditional 1080HD as honestly, that is more than sharp enough to make a very impressive image without creating incredible large files that are a pain to work with. Plus beyond (future) 4k feature movies how is anything over HD needed? Just saying. I also like that Sony went more for improving the image quality specifically with improved dynamic range and sensitivity instead of just going for huge resolutions.

It's a camera I would have asked Sony to make. I like it.
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Old November 20th, 2010, 11:15 PM   #3
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At first I was not real impressed by the F3 specs but some of this sample footage is very very nice and I can not wait for some real testing to be posted.... Now compared to RED... too early to say for sure... obviously the Rez difference 5K EPIC and has 18 stops via HDRx which is honestly amazing!!! The only feature that I just do not understand Sony leaving off the F3 is the ability to shoot at least 120fps and unless the Sensor has a very very slow recycle rate it should be able to do 120fps no problem and even more as short burst... I know a lot of people do not appreciate this function but it is a huge one for me and if I am going to drop 16-23k I think the camera should have this feature if they claim to compete with RED at all. (maybe a firmware update can open this up in the future) EPIC will be 28k of course that is not ready to shoot but with the F3 you are rapidly getting close in cost if you get lens pkg and the overall specs just do not match up, not saying the footage will not look amazing just that I do not think the F3 is in direct competition to the RED nor do I think Sony want to be.... They will however get folks who can't quite come up with the $$$ for a fully functional RED or do not want some of the hassles of the workflow that goes with it although not near as bad as it use to be. I am one of those filmmakers that am on the fence to go F3 or save a little longer for the Epic... I am very excited with where things are going and have waited a long time for a S35 cinema style camera to be within reach and now there will be many to choose from so I will await a shootout and hands on before dropping any $$$ I really want to see how these Sony Primes hold up against the more well known PL mount glass out there. 2011 is going to be one heck of a year!
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Old November 21st, 2010, 02:04 AM   #4
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My take on it is up and down...

I really do like the images I see so far, they remind me of Alexa footage. Not saying its on the same level, but it has a more organic look than say anything else.

In the resolution wars... well Sony fails for obvious reasons, BUT how many RED films shot in 4k stay 4k to print? I hear a lot about debayering and getting to 2k for print and release.

The question is about this sensor that sony is using, is it a 2.5k sensor with filters and then knocking it down to 1080, or is it a native 1080 chip? If its 1080 chip then it would still not be up the the sharpness as red. I will say this, from what I see so far the F3 holds details amazingly well. Again if I didn't know what I was looking at and someone just showed me the footage, I would have guessed Alexa.

As far as I'm concerned... I'm not in cinematography for resolution wars, to be honest 2k is where my heart stays, I'm not jumping out of my seat for the whole 4k push, I'm sure there a lot of people doing heavy post work that love it, but for me I'm fine at where things are at. If this resolution war ended at 2k I would be happy and that would be it.

The RED workflow is obviously different but I never saw it as a problem (this coming from a film background is just magic to me, being able to not wait 2 days for your dailies on this level of quality is worth its weight). To be honest I think any proper film post operation is exactly the same in the digital world no matter what you're camera is. You make your copies, you send your dailies, you have your offlines and you have your masters for online. Theres really no other way of doing things safely. Ingesting footage is all the same to me in my own opinion.

I hate the form factor of the F3. Its ugly and cheap looking. BUT I also hated the form factor of RED. So I guess thats just the nature of it.

On to footage... What I see so far is beautiful. I have access to some of the raw footage of these shoots and I've watched it on my big 1080p monitor in my home editing suite. It was beautiful, I have no complaining at all. It didnt look "digital" it didn't look flat, it had a decent dynamic range for the most part. The noise levels are fantastic. The low light capability is very nice, although I see this being over used a little too much. I'm tired of these horrible night shoots with "street lamp yellow" as the main lighting. But it is nice when shooting a horror movie to really use smaller practicals and be able to have what I like to call a 360 degree set. I like shooting hand held and being able to whip the camera around and not have to worry about lighting gear in the way. So for that its a wonderful thing.

I think we have hit the point between the F3 and what will be the scarlet, that we no longer are fighting over resolution, its the dynamics war now. And Scarlet and the new HDRx thing will win hands down. But again, for me, eh... I do like dynamic range, but 18 stops? If it doesn't exists in film, I kinda dont want it. Then we are doing things outside of film and I personally only want to match films look and dynamic range, I don't want to push because I'm old fashioned. Sure the low light stuff is great, but when you're changing the dynamic range, it really will effect the look a bit more to me.

I am tired of waiting for the Scarlet S35 package. The F3 wins me over for sure on that end of things. Funny thing is, if I got the F3 and then 6 months later the Scarlet came out, would I want to jump on scarlet or not? I'm honestly not sure. If the prices are the same, I think I'd do it. But if I see having to spend more and paying freaking 200 bux for reds cables and handles... I'd rather not.

There is something I do like that the F3 has over what scarlet will never have... The ability to do event shooting and corporate type stuff, and reality shoots. Theres really no real workflow for RED on that end of things. But the F3 does. I can pop off the PL mount and put on their soon to come out "eng" type zoom lens and shoot event work to their SxS cards. You just can't do that with any RED camera without a crazy work flow, the files are just too big for reality and events.

Unfortunately RED has its own name branded in the minds of clients these days. I see postings all the time that say "Looking for DP with RED" not looking for great DP, but a DP with RED... I personally HATE this new trend. Clients are caring more about the camera and less about the person behind it lately. Yes RED looks great, but damn get over it already. In the hands of a not so great DP it just looks like any other crappy video.

With that being said If I own an F3 will I be turned down because I dont have a RED camera? I hear this all the time about people losing out gigs because they didn't own one, and production didn't wanna rent. Or will the F3 be like the F900 way back when... Everyone wanted to shoot with it and it had its same name standing just like RED does now.

Thats my only fear, clients picking the DP who has an RED Epic package over me owning an F3. My footage should be the yes or no answer only, not what camera I own. Look at all the shoots looking for DSLR shooters... my god, its ridiculous. I own a Varicam and HPX500 and I get turned down? It boggles my mind. Anyway my point is that I hope the F3 has a name for itself. But If I see that scarlet comes out, and I miss out because people are specifically wanting to shoot with scarlet, I'd have to jump ship for sure.

Its a nice hold over. It can safely get you through the wait for the Scarlets to come out without dipping to a lesser quality product (AF100, DSLR, rig with adapters). I can safely say I'd be happy with the F3's footage specially at 4:4:4 for feature work. The 4:2:2 footage I have is just lovely, and I tried grading it a bit in Color and it was nice. Even the 4:2:0 footage I have right off the stick was very pleasing to look at.

Bottom line. I really like the quality I'm seeing so far from the F3. The camera is the best on the market for the price so far. If canon surprises everyone and comes out with a camera thats 3k and shoulder mounted... I'd just melt and buy. My favorite camera is Alexa, I got to toy with it for a little while and just love it. The footage right off the SxS cards in prores 4444 was just wowing. The shoulder mount was comfy, and the fit and feel was just like it should be. If something comes out thats close to that form factor, I'd buy it over scarlet any day. Usability is so important for me. Having a shoulder mount is standard, every camera I've ever owned had one, the F3 will be the first that doesn't and I'm not happy about that.

The footage wins me over for the battle to scarlet long wait, will it win the war over scarlet when it comes out... I'm not so sure.
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 03:23 AM   #5
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On the Alexa AFAIK HDR video is recorded by using a combined short then a long duration exposure for each frame, in effect a double exposure for each frame. This can lead to some artefacts on motion. I don't know what RED are doing but I would guess it's the same or similar. But you have to ask how useful 16 stops, or even 12 stops really is come to that.

Taking an EX as an example, if you shoot using the hypergammas, to make the pictures look good you really need to do a grade to bring the dynamic range back down to one that is pleasing to look at on a monitor or when projected. Most digital cinema projectors have less than 10 stops of lattitude (SMPTE specify 9 stops for cinema projection) and domestic and even many professional monitors struggle to achieve 6 stops. Our eyes only have an instantaneous 13 to 14 stop range. So, given that to avoid flat, washed out pictures the dynamic range must be reduced from the 11 or more stops captured in camera to a more sensible 6 to 9 stops for presentation with current methods (even for film-out 10 stops would be enough), why do we need 16 stops? Yes, starting with a greater range allows you to pick and choose your contrast range in post and will give more flexibility, but just what is really needed.

The 12 stops the F3 gives when using S-Log is around 7 times the dynamic range that most displays can accurately represent, so you have ample room for overexposure and other corrections.
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 03:51 AM   #6
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I believe it's RED that has the changing time of exposure process, with a very short exposure time for the high lights and the longer one, within each frame. So far, many people seem to like this, as it gives a softer look to the digital progressive frame, rather more like film because there the shutter wipes across, rather than a straight on off exposure.
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 04:02 AM   #7
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But there will be in effect shutter wipes with any CMOS sensor due to the way the sensor is scanned. The double exposure process leads to a strong main image, the long exposure, plus a ghosted second image, the short exposure. This usually manifests itself as a double edge to any motion in highlights and this is nothing like any film stock I have ever seen.

I still don't see the need for 16 stops, unless you have no control over you exposure.
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 04:15 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Erik Phairas View Post
If they were both the same price, same weight, some functionality.
That's like saying if the Audi A4 cost the same as a Ferrari, looked like a Ferrari and drove as quick as a Ferrari, I'd take the Audi.

Though, like an Audi, the one benefit the F3 has is ease of use. That's it. Make no mistake, in every other comparable area both Epic and Scarlet are light years ahead of the F3.

For some, the F3 will be exactly the camera the need, for others neither the F3 nor RED will fit the bill and they'll be happier with another camera. Choice is good. But in a straight fight between the Sony F3 and the new RED cameras the F3 wouldn't stand a chance. DOA.

That said, RED need to start shipping and soon...
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 04:20 AM   #9
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Extra dynamic range is very handy to retain highlight detail, which can then be graded to narrower range in post. IMHO film's greatest advantage over video is that it still rolls off highlights in a more pleasing way but it looks like that advantage may not last much longer!
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 04:21 AM   #10
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On any footage I've to date, it seems to be more noticeable in the single frames rather than in the motion, it doesn't have a ghost lag effect as found in video tubes.

Often you're trying to hide things, rather than show them, so 16+ stops can a be mixed blessing and you need to trust the colourist.

Perhaps best for smoothing the highlights, since further down the viewing chain you certainly don't get that range.
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 06:41 AM   #11
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During a shooting the instances where HDR is needed (unless you are after a specific look) are few and mostly outdoors with skies in the background. In most other instances a 9-10 stop dynamic range is more than adequate. F3's small factor and weight, gives you the advantage of using a 3D ring with 2 F3's and expose for HDR. A similar system with bigger cameras is such a hassle to operate. Someone has done it with 2 5Ds but I can't remember the site. The more I contemplate the possibilities of this little new camera the more I like it. It is the only camera costing more than 3K that I am thinking of buying it. But I have to state that I am not raw fan at all, because I have concluded that since it needs more time, both during shooting and at the post is very expensive for most types of assignments.
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 09:27 AM   #12
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That's like saying if the Audi A4 cost the same as a Ferrari, looked like a Ferrari and drove as quick as a Ferrari, I'd take the Audi.

Though, like an Audi, the one benefit the F3 has is ease of use. That's it. Make no mistake, in every other comparable area both Epic and Scarlet are light years ahead of the F3.

For some, the F3 will be exactly the camera the need, for others neither the F3 nor RED will fit the bill and they'll be happier with another camera. Choice is good. But in a straight fight between the Sony F3 and the new RED cameras the F3 wouldn't stand a chance. DOA.

That said, RED need to start shipping and soon...

I like Sony's take on the digital cinema camera better that's all. I'd rather have the best 1080p camera out there rather than some 4k (or higher) monster that makes no sense. Yes if everything else was equal I'd still take the Sony.
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 10:21 AM   #13
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Though, like an Audi, the one benefit the F3 has is ease of use. That's it. Make no mistake, in every other comparable area both Epic and Scarlet are light years ahead of the F3.
Following the conversation I had today with a post person, much also depends on how you use the camera and if people are actaully using a proper RAW workflow that allows full use of the camera master material. People can be doing all sorts of short cuts and not making use of the full potential, just claiming they shoot on RED.

The Audi is more likely to hold together in the daily grind, while the Ferrari has other attractions.

The F3 seems to be aimed at doing something different to a main production camera and amongst those not wanting to use RAW it could meet a need for a small camera. It won't have the range of frame rates or other things, but it's another tool in the box, perhaps not a socket set, but a more specialised item. I haven't seen Sony making extravagant claims about what you can use it for other an a B camera.
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 04:21 PM   #14
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I see the F3 becoming a camera of choice for many documentary productions and some natural history programmes. An F3 recording to a NanoFlash or Ki-Pro Mini would be a wonderful tool for mid and high end documentaries. Productions where the budget just won't stretch to an F35 or Alexa and there is no need for 4K or RAW and all the complications and post production budget implications that introduces.
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 04:55 PM   #15
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Documentaries already make use of Phantom, Red, Varicam, F900 and a bunch of others all of which are better suited to the job. I even shot one earlier this year for Sky1 on a 5D and 7D because I needed to run light and fast. I'm not altogether sure who Sony are aiming at with this cam. I'll probably use it for corporates, in fact if it was available now I could use it tomorrow.
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