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Sony XDCAM PMW-F3 CineAlta
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Old December 21st, 2011, 08:42 AM   #1
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First experiences with the SR-R1 deck and 14x lens

I just wrapped a spec pilot that shot on F3's and the newest addition to that product line, the SR-R1 recorder and the 14x lens.

First, the recorder. It's a hefty size; about the same size and weight as the camera itself, but with Chrosziel's solid bracket that allows rotation through 180 degrees, it neatly counterweights the camera turning it into a stable shoulder mount setup. As can be seen in the picture we had additional gear at the back (Preston remote focus, Boxx HD transmitter amongst other things) which tipped it into back-heavy territory, rather unusual for any camera these days. The Marshall was pressed into service when our outboard viewfinder went down unexpectedly which brought the weight forward again.

The R1 records HDCAM SR, which is of course a very robust codec. We opted to shoot at 4:2:2 to save on the file sizes. It will be more than acceptable for this project.

The 18x lens is an interesting piece of gear. The variable aperture is slow to slower (wide open is T3.8 and it starts to ramp towards its eventual aperture of T6.3 fairly early). I've never shot a narrative piece with a variable aperture zoom, other than those that demonstrated a half stop or so loss at the very end, so it was hard to get used to. Obviously anyone who celebrates the shallow depth of field of the large sensor cameras will be challenged by even the T3.8 end. I imagine that someone shooting doc-style in a well-lit environment would do fine with this lens, but it does beg the question--why shoot with a large sensor at that point. Of course, if it's a one-size fits all camera, switching to a fast prime (we also had the Sony 35, 50 and 85 T2 primes and made use of those for night exteriors) will get you where you need to go.

One aspect of this lens that was interesting was the optical stabilization--we shot the entire piece handheld (director's choice) and my operators were able to hold some very long lens shots with acceptable stability with the OIS engaged. That was convenient.

The project is off to the editor now. I didn't have the opportunity to review any of the footage at the time but it will be interesting to see how it all worked out.
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Old December 21st, 2011, 12:19 PM   #2
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re: First experiences with the SR-R1 deck and 14x lens

Charles,
Any guess on the total weight as shown?
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Old December 21st, 2011, 01:30 PM   #3
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re: First experiences with the SR-R1 deck and 14x lens

Charles,

Your findings sound very much like mine.

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Old December 21st, 2011, 01:51 PM   #4
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re: First experiences with the SR-R1 deck and 14x lens

I think what's interesting to consider here is that this setup is without doubt good enough to shoot a properly budgeted movie, not just a short or a film for the festival circuit, but a major release movie. Perhaps the lens isn't ideal, but if you purchased the F3K with the 3x PL lenses, then you have an extremely capable setup. Just looking back 5 years, these kinds of packages were not something discussed on this forum, this kind of kit was generally considered well and truly beyond the reach of most this boards readers.

My how things have changed, in a large way thanks to Canon. Now we have a great range of options at an amazing quality/price point. Not just this setup, but the C300, Scarlet etc.

It's an exciting time to be a cinematographer/videographer.
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Old December 23rd, 2011, 05:57 PM   #5
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re: First experiences with the SR-R1 deck and 14x lens

Alister, agreed. While the Alexa is for me the gold standard at present, the F3 with s-log is a solid alternative when budget requires and more than capable of shooting a feature. I look forward to pitting it against the C300 soon.

Dennis, we didn't put it on a scale but I would estimate 20-25 lbs. That to me represents a good amount of mass to deliver solid handheld work (for a run and gun, all day long situation, 5 lbs less would be worth the tradeoff in stability). Having the deck down low increased the axial stability of the setup substantially.

There were some operational complications with the R1 deck but they have been reported to Sony and are being considered by the engineers, so there's no point in detailing them here.
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Old January 23rd, 2012, 12:21 AM   #6
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Re: First experiences with the SR-R1 deck and 14x lens

it's better to be dumb once by asking a question than to be silent and stay dumb forever.

Could someone please tell me what are all the pieces attached to the camera? I can only make out the viewfinder, the follow focus (non visible) and what i assume is a mattebox.

Thanks! I'm still learning...
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Old January 25th, 2012, 12:31 AM   #7
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Re: First experiences with the SR-R1 deck and 14x lens

From Front to back
Chrosziel Lightweight Mattebos (looks like a clip on- Barely visible)
New Sony lens.
Above the lens is an arm to hold the 7"(?) on board monitor
The Monitor (maybe a panasonic or a tvlogic can't tell.
Below the lens is handles for handheld setup.
The Camera
Behind the Camera is what appears to be a wireless broadcast system perhaps from a steadicam operator.
behind that is an anton bauer battery plate, with battery'
Underneath that is the new sony SRR1 "deck"

Charles can chime in and correct anything that I may be mistaken on.
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Old January 25th, 2012, 02:41 AM   #8
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Re: First experiences with the SR-R1 deck and 14x lens

Pretty much correct Nick, thanks for getting in there (I didn't get notified of Adrian's post, sorry).

The Chrosziel mattebox was rod-mounted. Their handles also.
Monitor is a Marshall 7". We had a SmallHD DP4 viewfinder but it developed an issue, since fixed.
Behind the camera is the receiver for the Preston single-channel remote lens control--this allowed the operators to move freely handheld without having the AC's hand on a whip or focus knob.
Behind that, the Boxx Meridien HD transmitter.
Rest is as Nick noted.
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Old January 25th, 2012, 01:40 PM   #9
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Re: First experiences with the SR-R1 deck and 14x lens

And in those few lines I learned more than what I would have in hours of research.

Thanks to the both of you!

How long does that battery run?

I am shooting a super low budget short film on a basic F3K kit (with the 3 primes), and whenever I see something like this I feel like I must be doing something terribly wrong.

But it turns out that I'm ok.

And then again, in your expert opinion, how bad is it that we don't have a mattebox? how different is that 7 inch monitor against the one in the camera (and against, say a sony 19'' plasma which is what we're actually using for reference)

Lastly, the remote follow focus... I didn't even knew those existed. Damn you for telling me! now I want one and I bet they're super expensive.

So, all in all, thank you!
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Old January 25th, 2012, 11:59 PM   #10
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Re: First experiences with the SR-R1 deck and 14x lens

Couldn't tell you exactly how long we were getting out the battery (Dionic HC90)--we were obviously powering quite a few things. Probably around an hour.

Matteboxes are useful for preventing flare. And of course for using filtration, which is fairly important with the F3. While the camera has built-in ND's, they are fairly heavy and you may want in-between degrees of ND to achieve the desired stop.

The operators couldn't use the built in screen as it was too far back when they were operating with the camera handheld. The Marshall is really too large--the DP6 was a better choice (it was on the other camera) and for me, a viewfinder is even better, for handheld.

Remote lens controls are required for large-sensor remote camera work on Steadicam, and handy for jib and handheld work.Yes, they don't come cheap--expect at least $4K for a reputable single channel system, and a three channel (focus, iris, zoom) will run more than the cost of the camera itself.

Ultimately, you can do great work with the bare camera and lenses, under the right circumstances. I'm used to working a certain way so it would be hard for me to do it. I had to shoot without a mattebox for a couple of hours on a series recently while we were waiting for the additional gear to arrive, and it was a frustration to see the AC's having to tape on filters and wrestle with flares.
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Old January 27th, 2012, 12:58 AM   #11
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Re: First experiences with the SR-R1 deck and 14x lens

well Charles, we're clearly on very, very different leagues (I just checked your webpage), so I feel kinda proud i even understand what you're talking about haha.
So far we've done 3 out of 4 days of shooting. I've loved the f3 but I totally see what you're saying with the nd filters. Also... somehow I feel like i'm coming short on the dynamic range levels I should get. I feel that the whites go off the edge way too soon. Since you're using the SR-R1 now, does the 4:4:2 (or is it 4:4:4?) change the dynamic range?
The set of primes is terrific, but I do feel we go out of focus a bit often. I've chickened out for the better part and have stayed away from the 85 lens. All in all it looks semi-ok I'd say. But you having a 14x, how do you deal with that super narrow depth of field? low f steps? i don't think that would give you the right look... remote ff and a steady hand? I ask my actors not to move more than 2 and a half inches most of the time and I've been wondering how a real pro does it...
As for the flares and the mattebox... I've barely had to deal with that. Again, these are different leagues, and I'm pretty sure that if you looked at my footage you'd spot a bunch of details...
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