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Sony XDCAM PMW-F3 CineAlta
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Old October 22nd, 2011, 09:24 AM   #1
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New VF mount Kit

Able Cine Tech has come up with a great VF kit. I have held off from the Zacuto / Cineroid VF solution. All of my F3 work has been on sticks, steadicam, dolly, and jib. But now I believe this will encourage me to use it hand held.
F3 Solutions: AbelCine ProVFM Viewfinder Mount Kit | CineTechnica
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Old October 22nd, 2011, 11:50 AM   #2
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Re: New VF mount Kit

That's going to be very useful indeed!
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Old October 22nd, 2011, 11:55 AM   #3
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Re: New VF mount Kit

It was bound to happen, given the F3's almost useless EVF. However, I won't be jonesing for that setup anytime soon. The Sony HDVFC35W costs almost as much as the camera itself, making it a viable option for large production companies, rather than simple mortals like myself, for whom the less costly and sooner to arrive alternatives do a decent job and will have to suffice.
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Old October 22nd, 2011, 12:18 PM   #4
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Re: New VF mount Kit

I guess that might suit the needs for some people, it certainly looks well-built and fits a niche. However, I already own a C35W for my F800 and I won't be getting that adapter.

Quote from Abel's website:

" . . . receives its signal from the F3′s VIDEO OUT port, keeping the HD-SDI and HDMI ports free for other uses. When using a Sony color viewfinder, the HD-SDI port is fed to a Blackmagic Design box, which outputs Component HD for the viewfinder, and HD-SDI for other monitoring devices"

So it sounds like I can only feed it an SD signal unless I also want to attach (and power) a Blackmagic box too? No thanks. I'll stick with my Zacuto EVF which costs only $900, has it's own attached battery which lasts all day, and has proven to be a very good EVF. The picture is not as good as the C35W, but it's good enough and costs 1/12th the price of the C35W -- even before you add all the accessories to make the C35W functional:

$1100 for VF kit
$225 for Berkey plate
$?? for a compatible viewfinder
$?? for Blackmagic HDMI converter box
$?? for battery system with D-tap to power the converter

All of that adds a lot of weight, bulk, and complexity to the camera that I don't really want. My Zacuto EVF is practically invisible and lives on the camera even during transport. And for tripod shooting, I've got the Zacuto mounted towards the rear (Panavision style) where it is a lot easier to get my eye on it. The C35W would have to always be forward mounted with Abel's adapter.

No doubt about it, the F3 is certainly a bugger to configure for handheld. There's probably a shoulder mount model just around the corner with a real EVF. I can wait.
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Old October 22nd, 2011, 02:39 PM   #5
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Re: New VF mount Kit

Hi Doug,
Although I do not own a C35W, you expressed my thoughts right down to the last word. Like you, I consider weight and bulk a major issue (camera, that is), and will continue to keep it lean. In this regard, the Zacuto EVF fits the bill nicely.
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Old October 22nd, 2011, 04:14 PM   #6
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Re: New VF mount Kit

The F3 Video Out BNC outputs HD luminance or SD composite. So you'd get 1920*1080 black and white in HD mode.
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Old October 22nd, 2011, 05:05 PM   #7
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Re: New VF mount Kit

David, that's a good point. But I own (and now expect as standard equipment) a color viewfinder.
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Old October 23rd, 2011, 03:05 AM   #8
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Re: New VF mount Kit

You articulated my issue with this setup, Doug: not being able to easily adjust the viewfinder to the rear for cine-style shooting. Emulating a broadcast camera viewfinder setup with the F3 might make sense for someone who is using it in that type of environment, but there's no need to have to lean into the camera to access a fore-mounted viewfinder for dolly or sticks work. With a geared head, it's all but impossible to operate this way.
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Old October 23rd, 2011, 06:48 AM   #9
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Re: New VF mount Kit

Something else about this setup just occurred to me. What about zebras? There's no way you're going to be able to get any kind of zebras whether you connect the VF to the video out connector (B&W only) or rig it for color with the HDMI connector and a Blackmagic box.

No zebras? How are you expected to set exposure? Especially in a hand-held situation which this setup is obviously designed for. Am I supposed to carry around my Leader LV5330 everywhere I go? I don't care how carefully you set up your viewfinder, without zebras, you're just going to be guessing on the proper exposure. I do not guess on exposure. Wow, talk a about a step backwards in functionality. I could not imagine shooting anything professional with any camera that didn't have zebras setup and properly calibrated to hit the perfect exposure. Even if I could live with all the other hassles of this rig, not having zebras is a deal breaker.

BTW, my Zacuto has it's own internal customizable zebra generator that was very easy to match to the camera's own zebras. I can nail exposure 99% of the time.
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Old October 23rd, 2011, 11:45 AM   #10
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Re: New VF mount Kit

Hey Doug

As David pointed out the video output of the F3 is HD luminance, so no converts are needed for a black and white signal. So with a B&W viewfinder the setup is nice and compact, compared to the other options it fits very nice and neat on the camera. We made the adapter for people with broadcast viewfinders already, or anyone that prefers the look. The Zacuto solution is something we also sell and promote, but we have heard many customers ask to use their broadcast finders. It's really a matter of preference. Personally i love the look of the traditional finders, they are just easy to focus with.

As you pointed out there are no zebra options, and no tally either. So yes I suggest you buy the Leader LV5330 from us, but just because it is a fantastic tool. Zebras can be read off the built in LCD too, not perfect I know. Wish we could get zebras out of the camera into the viewfinder, but it's just not an option. For studio style shooting the whole thing can be attached to the rear of the Berkey plate, not exactly a quick change but it could be done. Anyway, your opinions are very valid. The Zacuto EVF is very nice, especially with the new mounting plate. We just wanted to give our customers another option.

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Old October 23rd, 2011, 08:36 PM   #11
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Re: New VF mount Kit

My hat's off to Abel Cine for giving us options. Having too many options for personalizing this camera is a good thing. I suspect they'll sell a fair number of these. I ordered one the minute I saw it.

I personally have never used zebras because I prefer to know what's going on underneath them, so that's a non issue for me. Heresy for some, I know. I've had zebra discussions with many other shooters over the years and find it hilarious how passionate some are about it. My advice: If you can't set exposure without zebras, don't buy this product.

Anyway, if this thing works as good as I think it will, it'll be a nice thing. We'll see.
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Old October 23rd, 2011, 10:37 PM   #12
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Re: New VF mount Kit

John, I guess you could count be as one of the "pretty passionate" guys about the proper use of zebras.
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Last edited by Doug Jensen; October 23rd, 2011 at 11:09 PM.
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Old October 24th, 2011, 04:30 AM   #13
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Re: New VF mount Kit

Nah...but I am passionate about gadgets that will make my job easier.
I do like your books by the way...
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Old October 30th, 2011, 07:01 AM   #14
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Re: New VF mount Kit

Although its a black and white signal at least some of those HD view finders mentioned have built in peaking and zebras. Won't those still work?

I'm not familiar with all the models mentioned, but I know a lot of the panny VFs mentioned have contrast controls too. Shooting with S-Log you can make it look pretty normal just by playing with contrast. I would hope that would work in this situation.

For some people the lack of color isn't going to have much impact because you're not going to adjust color while you're shooting. So you look at your LCD, pick a PP for that situation, put it on your shoulder and shoot.

I think it has a lot of promise. I know there's R&D time into it, but the price of the kit is the big drawback for me.
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Old October 30th, 2011, 05:01 PM   #15
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Re: New VF mount Kit

I browsed the list of compatible EVF's and downloaded their OP manuals. At least for the Pannys, while some appear to have the ability to turn zebras on and off from the EVF, their manuals imply that the actual signal comes from the camera itself. If that is the case, then there will be no zebras when used with an F3.
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