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Old October 15th, 2011, 10:43 AM   #1
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Sony 14x Zoom Lens SCL-Z8X140

I just got the word from Sony on the official specs of their new 14x zoom lens for the F3. It will be available in November with a list price of $12,200, and sell price for around $10k. The lens is officially called the SCL-Z8x140 and mounts to the camera's 'FZ' (native) mount. New firmware will enable the zoom rocker on the camera.

Here are the specs:

Manual/Auto Iris
Manual/Auto Focus
Manual/Servo Zoom
Auto Flange Back Adjustment
Image Stabilization
Sony Lens Interface
Lens mount: FZ mount (F3 original)
Focal Length: 18 252mm (28.7 401.8mm 35mm equivalent)
Zoom Ratio: 14x
T-stop: T3.9 (wide) / T6.8 (tele)
Iris Diaphram: 7 blades
Filter Diameter: 82mm
Size:
151.5 (W) x 173.5 (D) x 125.6 (H) mm (Wide)
151.5 (W) x 216.1 (D) x 125.6 (H) mm (Tele)
Weight: 2.25 kg (4.96 lbs) (w/o hood)

Interesting to say the least, I'll let you all be the judge. The T stop change and size change could be a problem for some, but the servo zoom and range is very impressive. Comparing the specs this lens looks very similar to the 18-250 lens that comes with the FS100, with more accurate T stop measurements and all those auto features. The stabilization option is a nice addition as well. I hope to get my hands on the lens in the next couple of weeks.
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Old October 15th, 2011, 12:53 PM   #2
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Re: Sony 14x Zoom Lens SCL-Z8X140

Specs. are of an amateur lens with a pro lens price.
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Old October 15th, 2011, 01:06 PM   #3
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Re: Sony 14x Zoom Lens SCL-Z8X140

With this lens the F3 can serve as an ENG camera. The smaller aperture gives similar DOF to a 2/3 inch camcorder and a similar zoom range. I also find the price very competitive, given the fact the lens is stabilized. A similar lens for 2/3 inch ENG camcorders probably would have cost more.
The F3 emerges as a jack for all trades without serious compromises. You can shoot film, TV drama, documentary and do newsgathering. The small size makes it suitable for 3D and steadicam work as well.
Its the first time in more than 15 years that I'm thinking of buying a camera with such a high price tag. I regularly rent the one most appropriate for the project.
Of course I'll wait for Canon, but I'm tempted.
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Old October 15th, 2011, 01:25 PM   #4
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Re: Sony 14x Zoom Lens SCL-Z8X140

For that same zoom lens street price I would rather buy the FS100K with its included 18-200 zoom lens, fully rigged for hand-held work with a nice shoulder support, smallHD DP4-EVF and external recorder with batteries included...

Almost same features and quality for more or less 1/3 of the full price for ENG, News, Sports, Events...

Not the target for the PMW-F3 with SLog, primarily designed to be used with PL primes for mid/high end commercial work.

Just my thoughts.
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Old October 16th, 2011, 10:44 AM   #5
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Re: Sony 14x Zoom Lens SCL-Z8X140

Quote:
Originally Posted by Emmanuel Plakiotis View Post
With this lens the F3 can serve as an ENG camera.
Sure, after you buy a pile of expensive junk to make it sit on your shoulder correctly. And then some more pricy junk to serve as a viewfinder. At that point you might as well use a real ENG camera with better glass and superior ergonomics and save yourself the agony. This is from a guy that owns both cameras and loves them for different reasons...
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Old October 16th, 2011, 03:11 PM   #6
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Re: Sony 14x Zoom Lens SCL-Z8X140

Anyone that's tried to use the FS100K's lens for serious applications will know just how awful it is ergonomically. No iris ring, sluggish, servo driven focus with no markings or repeatability and a stiff zoom ring that can stick and makes smooth zooms hard to accomplish.

While the Z8X140 is not perfect, it's does look to be a half decent all round ENG type lens for the F3 at a fraction of the cost of most comparable true par focal lenses. It doesn't breathe and has an excellent stabiliser.
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Old October 19th, 2011, 05:39 AM   #7
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Re: Sony 14x Zoom Lens SCL-Z8X140

Hi Alister

The Sony 14x zoom price tag's a bit steep for the moment so I am keen to try your adapter with a 2/3" lens. Are you getting close to selling them, either as a prototype for testing (happy to be guinea pig) or manufactured?

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Old October 19th, 2011, 12:12 PM   #8
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Re: Sony 14x Zoom Lens SCL-Z8X140

[QUOTE= ... While the Z8X140 is not perfect, it's does look to be a half decent all round ENG type lens for the F3 at a fraction of the cost of most comparable true par focal lenses. It doesn't breathe and has an excellent stabiliser.[/QUOTE]

No doubt the lens in question would suit an ENG scenario, although the aperture shifts could present a problem, but as an F3 owner, it seems clear to me that the F3 is not, and was not intended to be an ENG camera. Yes, I realize that there are all kinds of Rube Goldberg contraptions available that will enable the F3 to be quasi shoulder-mounted, but if what one requires is an ENG camera, why not simply purchase the real thing. In addition, from what I have witnessed on this side of the pond, the F3 represents massive overkill in regards to ENG, when many of the stations are using 1/3 " chips like the small FX Canons and similar.

And then there are the full auto features that undoubtedly bumped up the production cost, but seem to be an odd addition to a presumed professional camera.
So then, how do we define the F3 from a market perspective? Professional, semi-pro, pro-sumer,etc? Certainly the price and features would suggest professional. And where does the aforementioned ENG capable lens fit into the picture, considering that the form-factor of this camera is clearly not ENG friendly?

Just my perhaps naive opinion, but I am open to criticism.

Last edited by Ron Wilk; October 19th, 2011 at 02:00 PM.
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Old October 20th, 2011, 11:48 AM   #9
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Re: Sony 14x Zoom Lens SCL-Z8X140

My adapter is still a little delayed but it is coming.

Shouldn't the lens designation be SCL Z18x14 : SCL (Sony Camera Lens) Z (FZ mount) 18 (widest focal length, 18mm) x 14 (14 x zoom ratio)???
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Old October 20th, 2011, 12:14 PM   #10
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Re: Sony 14x Zoom Lens SCL-Z8X140

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Wilk View Post
........if what one requires is an ENG camera, why not simply purchase the real thing.
That is obviously the case if 99% of a persons work is ENG. But where I suspect this lens will find a market is with people who want the large sensor benefits of the F3 about 75% of the time (and are best suited with primes then), but want something more suited to ENG the rest (the minority) of the time. That's especially true if the servo zoom aspect is important, but it's likely to be on a tripod.

You're right - it's never going to be as suitable for handholding as something like a PMW350.
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Old October 20th, 2011, 05:46 PM   #11
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Re: Sony 14x Zoom Lens SCL-Z8X140

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Wilk View Post
Just my perhaps naive opinion, but I am open to criticism.
I think it is a very good opinion. The LAST thing I want to turn my F3 into is an ENG camera. That is exactly what I am trying to get away from. There are a lot of people buying an F3 who would be better served by something as simple as an EX3. I know a few of them personally.
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Old October 20th, 2011, 08:00 PM   #12
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Re: Sony 14x Zoom Lens SCL-Z8X140

I don't think this lens turns an F3 into an ENG camera? While I love the look of fast PL primes on the F3, I've come across quite a few instances where having a usable long range zoom would have really helped with tight shooting schedules, small crews and tiny budgets.

We all know how good the F3 looks at T2 or in low light, but not every shoot demands the same style or allows the right time for re-sets. I've ordered this lens, not because it'll replace good PL glass, but because it increases the flexibility of what is already a great camera.

I don't know why people should feel threatened by this?
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Old October 20th, 2011, 08:42 PM   #13
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Re: Sony 14x Zoom Lens SCL-Z8X140

I for one don't feel threatened by a lens. Why would I? Does it bite? I just don't see the point of people trying to use the F3 for tasks that are better left to other cameras. Why would I possibly want to shoot with a professional lens that is incapable of holding the exposure through the entire zoom range? That is not a zoom. That is just a variable prime. And do I really want to invest $12K on lens with a proprietary mount that only fits one model of camera in the whole world? Suppose Sony decides to go dedicated PL and there is never another camera that uses the F3 mount. Okay, odds are there will be other cameras in the future that use the F3 mount, but that is not a $12K risk I'd take at this time.

F3 + zoom = $25K
F3 + EX3 = $23K

For a fraction of the price of that zoom lens I could buy a brand new EX3 that will outperform a stock F3 with that slow f/6.8 lens mounted on it -- then I'd have two cameras for different tasks, rather than forcing the F3 to be a jack of all trades. Plus I'd have a great B camera when I needed it.

Why would I want to pound a nail with a screw driver, when I can buy a hammer and a screw driver for less money? The right tool for the right job. Now that is real flexibility!
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Last edited by Doug Jensen; October 20th, 2011 at 09:28 PM.
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Old October 20th, 2011, 09:37 PM   #14
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Re: Sony 14x Zoom Lens SCL-Z8X140

Good point, Doug.
I recently reconfigured my airline carry-on bag to hold both an F3 and an EX1 for the documentary I'm currently shooting. The F3 is used for the interviews, time lapses and certain other tripod shots, while the EX1 is the run-around camera. Having the second body allows me the luxury of doing certain time lapse shots (or keeping one camera set a certain way) while using the other camera forother types of shooting. Since a certain amout of the filming is being done in refrigerated rooms, having the second camera gives me the advantage of being able to let the first camera temperature acclimate in a bag without having to rush and use it when condensation wants to form.
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Old October 20th, 2011, 10:33 PM   #15
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Re: Sony 14x Zoom Lens SCL-Z8X140

I do think you're right Doug to consider this lens as a variable prime rather than a zoom, which is partly why it doesn't turn the F3 into an ENG competitor!

I also understand your point about having two camera's for the price of this lens. Unfortunately, for the work I do the EX3 is not regarded as broadcast spec without an external recorder. This means you should also add the cost of an additional recorder, power, and support etc before you can compare the quality to my existing F3 rig. I'm not sure then how carrying and operating this additional kit improves the workflow or operating speed on tight schedules? With your suggestion you'd have two camera's/recorders for different tasks while I'll only need one?

As it happens, I already have a small selection of camera's with which to choose the best tool for the job and sometimes it certainly helps to have a second camera as Dave describes. However, for many reasons, I'm finding that the F3 has become my favourite go-to 'A' cam. In no way am I suggesting replacing PL glass with this lens, just that there are situations where an 18-252mm variable prime could be a very useful tool.

I agree that at 252mm that the SCL-Z8X140 is not the fastest of lenses (it's actually T6.8 not f/6.8), but at the wide end at 18mm it's T3.9. Have you tried adding up what it would cost to cover this range with existing PL zooms? I paid $6,000 for a RED 17-50mm T2.9, which is cheap and very useful, but the flexibility of being able to go longer than 50mm without another lens change is sometimes worth an extra stop just to get the shot.

By using the phrase "forcing the F3 to be a jack of all trades" you're implying that using this lens makes the F3 master of none! In reality, it doesn't change what this camera is already capable of with good glass.

P.S. I think you'll find this lens being sold for quite a bit less than $12,000 !
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