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Sony XDCAM PMW-F3 CineAlta
HD recording with a Super35 CMOS Sensor.


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Old February 16th, 2011, 10:12 PM   #1
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F3K for miniseries (recording options)

Hi. I haven't posted in ages. Basically, I'm going from a Sony V1 to the PMW F3K, which Im thinking on
purchasing at Expandore, Singapore, which has the same price as BHPhoto. I have a budget of 20.000 usd for investing on a cam to shoot a UN miniseries in ASIA. Sorry for the intro, but going to the point,

with that budget, I am really torn between what should I get. I'm really thinking on lending money to get the NANO FLASH, which from what I have been reading is a must have, unless I want to spend half of the amount on a couple of SxS Pro memory cards. But then I read that I will have better image recording 4:2:2 rather that 4:2:0.

And what about the Vocas MB-255, is there anything cheaper out there?

But my main doubt is if I should go for the Nano flash or the SxS Pro memory cards.

Oh, also, I have never worked in post with XDCAM's footage. Is a macbook pro able to handle those files?

THANK YOU!
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Old February 17th, 2011, 01:33 PM   #2
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Martin,
Not yet an F3 owner, but speaking from EX1 experience,
I've been very happy with the footage I've shot using the NanoFlash, particularly blue or green screen stuff.
On the other hand, I still always record simultaneously on SxS cards as well.
In fact, I can't imagine not shooting on SxS cards. (With cards in the camera, I can use timecode to trigger the Nano, otherwise I'd have to trigger the Nano from a button press or a remote.)
When assembling your package, don't forget about lenses, batteries, tripod, etc. If you're really strapped for cash, you could get a couple of the SDHC-SxS card adapters and some decent SDHC cards.
At this point some of the older or smaller SxS pro cards may be available used as well, and very reasonably priced.
Start with SxS cards and then do a comparison test with the NanoFlash. The NanoFlash is an exceelent recorder, but you want to make sure that you actually need it.
As far as computers, just make sure you have one with an expresscard slot. SxS drivers are available for both Macs and PCs, and the workflow is fairly easy as long as you pay attention.
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Dave S
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Old February 17th, 2011, 02:20 PM   #3
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I've done a direct comparison on an F3:

shot recorded on SxS and simultaneously on Prores
directly fed to HD SDI on a Mac and the difference was very little.

In 99% of the time you don't need the extra bits unless you're heavily grading.
The space required is also 5-6 times more.

The picture is so noise-free that the 35mb codec is doing an excellent job.
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Old February 19th, 2011, 03:13 AM   #4
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Thanks. In some way its a relief,

I will go for the SxS pro then.

cheers
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Old February 19th, 2011, 06:32 AM   #5
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Thank you Tony for this feedback.
Did you do this versus under different kinds of light ?
I'm wondering if a dim scene would need the extra bits and bitrate fed by SDI, because 35 mbits XDcam shows more artifacts in dark gradients.
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Old February 20th, 2011, 12:18 AM   #6
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Which version of Pro Res did you use: LT, regular or HQ? I believe regular is 140Mb and HQ is 220Mb and both are I-frame which makes a big difference versus L-GOP. Also, 140Mb 10bit Pro Res is actually equal to ~112Mb I-frame 8bit which is equivalent to 50Mb L-GOP on the nanoFlash. I have even seen a test of 220Mb Pro Res vs 50Mb L-GOP from a Sony PMW350 and I couldn't see any difference.

Another way to look at this SxS vs nanoFlash: will you have future projects that would benefit from having a nanoFlash?

Also, I believe the MOV files from the nanoFlash import directly into FCP whereas the XDCAM EX from the F3 do not without log & transfer.
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Old February 20th, 2011, 03:04 AM   #7
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I used the HQ Pro-res and used a split screen.
I could see a very very small difference but no-one in the room saw any difference on a 40inch display.

Using Pro-res on CF cards(Ki-pro mini) is crazy as you would need many 32GB.
Using the Sony Xdcam Transfer is very easy and is near realtime, so no problem there.

Now for longer projects i would go to HD workflow like the Ninja if the quality is good.
(Waiting for reviews)
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Old February 20th, 2011, 03:21 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Partamian View Post
Using the Sony Xdcam Transfer is very easy and is near realtime, so no problem there.

Now for longer projects i would go to HD workflow like the Ninja if the quality is good.
(Waiting for reviews)
A 32GB SxS card then takes 2hrs to xfer just from the card and then you need to download it for backup. That's quite a bit of time. For FCP users, that might seem 'normal' but I couldn't imagine waiting hours just to begin editing (as I use Premiere).

The Ninja can only record 8bits because all camera HDMI ports are 8bits only. Also, it lacks many framerates such as 720 24p and 1080 30p.

For long continuous recordings, the nanoFlash works greats as it supports hot-swap and when a card gets full, the next card begins recording - something the Aja Mini cannot do.

Back to the OP's $20k: do you have batteries, microphones, a tripod, bags, mattebox & filters, lenses?
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Old February 20th, 2011, 09:25 AM   #9
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[QUOTE=Steve Kalle;1620042]A 32GB SxS card then takes 2hrs to xfer just from the card and then you need to download it for backup. QUOTE]

Steve, I'm getting confused here. Are you talking about 'Log and Transfer' time, or just transfer time?

The great thing about the SxS cards is their fast transfer speed, so a basic backup of a 16GB SxS card to my NEXTO drive takes just over 3 minutes (almost 5GB/min). And even using an old vaio computer and transferring to a slower USB-powered portable drive transfer speeds are above 1GB/min,
The new SxS G1a cards are supposed to be 50% faster (1200Mbps vs. 800Mbps), though I haven't done any transfer speed tests on them yet.
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Old February 20th, 2011, 11:33 AM   #10
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I did a test between Prores HQ and XDCAM EX which may be of interest:

Prores vs XDCAM EX

I was surprised how small the difference was. For many jobs I think XDCAM EX is more than capable but for certain productions the small differences could be an issue. For instance, for chroma-key work, Prores is probably worth the extra effort and cost.
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Old February 22nd, 2011, 01:21 AM   #11
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Re: F3K for miniseries (recording options)

Well, I'm going for the F3K so lenses are in the box.
I have mics, tripod, bag

no filters (not sure about what should I get yet)

After what you guys said, I'm forgetting about the Nano Flash and going for 2 SXS pro
+
Vocas MB-255 matebox, a bit expensive though.

I read the battery lasts an absurd amount of time, so maybe no need for extra batterie.

And one last question; I work with FCP, so do the SxS pro go directly into the expresscard slot of a Mac Book Pro (new one), or should I buy an card reader...

THANKS
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Old February 22nd, 2011, 04:53 AM   #12
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Re: F3K for miniseries (recording options)

I would choose KiPro if it were only for the workflow ease and not quality. Take the drive out, plug it in and you're editing. (no transcoding, no file manipulations, etc.)

I've used a KiPro with my EX for quite some time...excellent device. (NEVER missed a beat or gave me a bit of trouble).
Since I don't do long-format shoots and don't need up/down convert, I'm switching to KiPro mini and will be selling-off my KiPro.
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Old February 22nd, 2011, 11:21 PM   #13
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Re: F3K for miniseries (recording options)

Kipro mini. Why do you say "not quality"?. Can you really see the difference? Otherwise sounds like a very good practical option to me.

thx
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 03:21 AM   #14
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Re: F3K for miniseries (recording options)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Noboa View Post
Well, I'm going for the F3K so lenses are in the box.
I have mics, tripod, bag

no filters (not sure about what should I get yet)

Vocas MB-255 matebox, a bit expensive though.
My own minimum filter set for docu-shooting would be a Pola + 3 soft-edge graduated ND filters - .3, .6, .9. I usually keep the Pola on all day long in exterior shoots, and the ND-grads are extremely helpful to balance the light in the left/right side of the frame as well. For example, if you're shooting an interview indoors, with the person next to a window, just rotate the graduated ND sideways to compensate for the extra light.

Vocas are great matte boxes, but the MB-255 won't do for such a scenario: you need at least one more rotating stage to be comfortable with both Pola and an ND grad on the lens.
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 04:26 AM   #15
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Re: F3K for miniseries (recording options)

Sorry. I didn't mean to imply that the KiPro quality is not better than the onboard XDCAM. 10 bit with a max data rate that's appx. 7 times that of the onboard codec has to be better--it is. From what I've experienced shooting with an EX, the images are cleaner (less noise and artifacts) and hold up a lot better in grading.

I shot some EX stuff that, when lit right, is absolutely stunning off the KiPro. When I compared it to my 5D stuff, I liked it better. However, it is absolutely easier to get great shots off the 5D. My ratio of great looking shots off the 5D was better than the EX. EVERYONE HEAR ME NOW: this is in no way a scientific assessment and is related to the operator and not the gear! All it is capable of producing images the exceed my skills.

I've been running to catch up to the wonderful tools that are available and reachable/affordable these days. Many thanks to all the visionaries who helped to make this happen. To think that the time is here when we can shoot 35mm "film" on near-disposable solid state cameras is exciting.

What I was attempting to point out is that the workflow is VERY sweet (if you are on Mac) since it encodes right to ProRes. So, you can edit the files as they are on the KiPro drive...no encoding, etc.

So, for me, I'd take the KiPro just for that fact, even if the quality were the same as onboard recording. I don't often record long format stuff, but a couple of months ago I agreed to capture a conference for a good client. It was 14 hours of footage! If I shot it on XD Cam, I'd be paying off the SxS cards for 5 years and still be re-encodign the footage! ;-)
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