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Sony XDCAM PMW-F3 CineAlta
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Old March 6th, 2012, 08:45 AM   #1
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Is the F3 for me?

I currently own an FS100, and while I am happy with the camera, I can't help but wonder if I should upgrade to an F3.
I mostly do local commercials and corporate videos. I am in the network pool of crews for bigger clients - i.e. networks, cable channels, large advertising firms, etc.
I am wondering if owning an F3 would possibly open more doors for me with the bigger clientele. Is the F3 in demand? Is it a hot rental item? I would be open to renting the camera, as it would be a business expense. If it can make additional income, then I would use it as such.
I'm confident of my shooting abilities. I'm just wondering if I buy an F3, will the clients come?

I'm also wanting the better images you can get from an F3. The FS100 won't have the dynamic range of the F3, and after shooting a short film, I could see the advantages of a camera that could handle highlights better.

It's interesting that Doug Jensen had a little quiz in this forum that picked what camera best suited your needs, the FS100 or the F3. According to the quiz, I should pick the F3.

I would appreciate your thoughts. Thanks.
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Old March 6th, 2012, 09:25 AM   #2
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Re: Is the F3 for me?

The camera rents for $500-$750 with the 3 PL lenses. Are your clients willing to pay for the camera rental plus your personal fees?
If the answer is yes, buy it. If you really just like the toy, buy it.
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Old March 6th, 2012, 09:38 AM   #3
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Re: Is the F3 for me?

Mine stays quite busy. Sometimes with me and sometimes on its own. I know many of the renters would not have gone for the FS100. Nothing at all against the FS100. I like them both. The F3 is considered the more professional camera.
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Old March 6th, 2012, 10:26 AM   #4
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Re: Is the F3 for me?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glen Vandermolen View Post
It's interesting that Doug Jensen had a little quiz in this forum that picked what camera best suited your needs, the FS100 or the F3. According to the quiz, I should pick the F3..
And I still have the quiz on my website . . . Which Super-35mm camera is right for you?

If the quiz says the F3 is the right choice, then you better make the switch. The quiz is never wrong! :-)
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Old March 6th, 2012, 12:04 PM   #5
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Re: Is the F3 for me?

S-log makes a huge difference to the look of the footage produced by the F3. Much more control and greater dynamic range as you noted. It's almost like two different cameras.
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Old March 6th, 2012, 12:16 PM   #6
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Re: Is the F3 for me?

Charles,
S-Log is lost if your final output is TV which must confront with the much more limited HD standard.

Glenn,
For your kind of work, I think the biggest difference is the lack of ND filters of the FS100. F3 has also slightly better image, but personally I wouldn't have upgraded just for that.
The inclusion of the 444 mode makes it a better deal, but maybe foreshadows an upgrade of FS100 at NAB. Since its around the corner, I would wait for the time being.
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Old March 6th, 2012, 12:58 PM   #7
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Re: Is the F3 for me?

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Originally Posted by Emmanuel Plakiotis View Post
Charles,
S-Log is lost if your final output is TV which must confront with the much more limited HD standard.
I totally disagree. It's about capturing a range of values that you can then manipulate in post as required. The more range you have to work with, the more you can fit into the delivery master.

Highlight handling is very different in s-log. It's much more film-like. I have heard the look of the F3 without s-log as "electronic", "classic Sony video look" and "broadcasty". I tend to agree with this. If that's the look one wants, that's fine.
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Old March 6th, 2012, 05:45 PM   #8
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Re: Is the F3 for me?

[QUOTE=Emmanuel Plakiotis;1719357]Charles,
S-Log is lost if your final output is TV which must confront with the much more limited HD standard.

I would say s-log is great for me in TV because my footage must match other cameras from the 1st unit and s-log literally "makes the grade" to blend the looks.
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Old March 6th, 2012, 06:08 PM   #9
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Re: Is the F3 for me?

I would say that for anyone who is shooting footage that will be color corrected, espcially in contrasty environments that can't always be controlled, S-log is well worth it. If the post pipeline requires fast turnaround and a "Rec 709"/broadcast look, s-log wouldn't be that critical (and thus, if one can deal with the physical differences between the FS100 and the F3 and financials are a concern, the latter will probably be a more logical choice).
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Old March 7th, 2012, 09:56 AM   #10
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Re: Is the F3 for me?

"I totally disagree. It's about capturing a range of values that you can then manipulate in post as required. The more range you have to work with, the more you can fit into the delivery master.
Highlight handling is very different in s-log. It's much more film-like."

Undoubtedly is more filmlike,but it won't be seen...

Everything which is out of the dynamic range and colour gamut of the 709 spec., is lost during broadcasting. What you see in the monitor is not what the viewer receives in his TV. Actually if the image is not filmed and corrected between the boundaries of the broadcasting transmition, it may actually look worse, to the end viewer, because valuable visual information may not get through.
Even in the old days of telecine, the DoP were exposing film very differently, when it was heading for TV, in order to account for the limits of video transmission. To expose video like film when is heading for TV in my opinion is a wrong approach.

I remember in the old of monaural sound a very well respected editor, after finishing his mix, was always performing a last check from the lousy speaker of his monitor. When I asked why he does that. He replied: "that's the way, people at home are hearing it."
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Old March 7th, 2012, 10:09 AM   #11
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Re: Is the F3 for me?

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Originally Posted by Emmanuel Plakiotis View Post

Undoubtedly is more filmlike,but it won't be seen...

Everything which is out of the dynamic range and colour gamut of the 709 spec., is lost during broadcasting. What you see in the monitor is not what the viewer receives in his TV. Actually if the image is not filmed and corrected between the boundaries of the broadcasting transmition, it may actually look worse, to the end viewer, because valuable visual information may not get through.
Saying that it won't be seen assumes the final image will not be graded into a 709 colorspace. S-Log is not a broadcast ready recipe and does require manipulation in post.

The point is that the F3 when used in S-Log mode gives you an image that can be more easily matched to other cameras and gives you very nice roll-off into the highlights. When that image is graded to the broadcast colorspace of your choice it will look better and less video like than using one of the stock picture profiles in the camera.
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Old March 7th, 2012, 10:23 AM   #12
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Re: Is the F3 for me?

Glenn,
will you se the difference between the two , depending on delivery format maybe
will F3 open more doors for you with the bigger clientele, most likely;
if you love what you do and you can afford it - buy it, it is better camera, you'll love it,
i was debating between F3 and Scarlet and went with RED, but that's me;
just wait until after NAB.
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Old March 7th, 2012, 11:50 AM   #13
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Re: Is the F3 for me?

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Originally Posted by Emmanuel Plakiotis View Post
What you see in the monitor is not what the viewer receives in his TV.
On "Key and Peele", I used an HD Link Pro to dial in LUT's with the F3 (pre-current firmware, so all outputs were s-log in 422). On Alexa shoots, I toggle between the s-log and REC709. So actually, what I see on my monitor is close to the worst case of what the viewer will see. Later in the Davinci suite we can improve on it as required.

Quote:
Actually if the image is not filmed and corrected between the boundaries of the broadcasting transmition, it may actually look worse, to the end viewer, because valuable visual information may not get through.
Again, this is the point of s-log. Take an example of a subject standing in shade with the background in frontlit hot sun. If one points an F3 in non-s-log mode at this scene, you have to make the choice of exposing for the highlights and allowing the subject to go black, or exposing for the shadows and blowing the highlights. Later in post, you may be able to dig something out of the shadows, but whatever is blown out is gone for good. If you shoot the same scene in s-log and expose for the highlights, there will be more detail captured in the shadows and you can grade the footage to retain the highlight detail and bring up the face. Comparing the two sets of footage on broadcast, you will without a doubt see a greater range of values on the s-log footage. Has nothing to do with the TV--there would still be an advantage downconverted and shown on a 30 year old Trinitron. As always: garbage in, garbage out.

Quote:
Even in the old days of telecine, the DoP were exposing film very differently, when it was heading for TV, in order to account for the limits of video transmission. To expose video like film when is heading for TV in my opinion is a wrong approach.
Which old days are we talking about? Film chain??!!! Telecine is still the process by which (what is left of) film is transferred for broadcast. It's just a lot more flexible now, with a Davinci at the back end allowing one to apply power windows and keys to fit all the desired information into the broadcast master. Yes, once upon a time we used to be more delicate with filmed material heading for broadcast, but it's not an issue any more. Consider feature films--they are obviously shot for projection, but watching them at home on a decent late-model TV, it's not as if information is suddenly lost: highlights blowing out, shadows blocking up. I'm not saying it looks exactly the same as projected 35mm of course, but it's pretty respectable.

Quote:
I remember in the old of monaural sound a very well respected editor, after finishing his mix, was always performing a last check from the lousy speaker of his monitor. When I asked why he does that. He replied: "that's the way, people at home are hearing it."
Sure, and twenty years ago I put a crappy 13" TV in the 3/4" suite I worked in for the same reason. I remember learning that if I wanted to create a white flash I had to keep it under 80 IRE or the TV would "spasm". But again: these days ain't those days. I'm putting together a dual director's monitor setup and instead of going the 17" Panasonic monitor route, on the recommendation of a video assist pal I tried out a Samsung consumer 19" TV that cost exactly 1/10 the price. I was able to match it about 85% to a reference CRT, more than good enough for its purpose. I definitely wouldn't want to color correct to it, and I'd rather not light to it, but for the director and producers, it will be just as good (and I'll make back my investment in a fraction of the time)!

But let's get back on point. I'm saying that s-log will absolutely allow one to capture a greater dynamic range than Sony picture profiles, and given proper grading of the footage, that will be apparent whether viewed on the web, home TV or transferred to film. I've recently sat through hours in the Davinci suite pushing and pulling the s-log footage from my series and I know this to be true (we had a few 60p shots pre-current firmware that was non s-log, and it was far more difficult to manipulate). There's plenty of clips from the show on Youtube that I can use as reference. Emmanuel, if you have some footage you've shot that you would like to share that you feel proves your point, I would be happy to take a look at it.
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Old March 7th, 2012, 12:09 PM   #14
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Re: Is the F3 for me?

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Originally Posted by Emmanuel Plakiotis View Post

Undoubtedly is more filmlike,but it won't be seen...
Disagree...both on a technical engineering level and personal experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Emmanuel Plakiotis View Post
Everything which is out of the dynamic range and colour gamut of the 709 spec., is lost during broadcasting. "
This makes zero sense to me, since there is nothing about an S-Log encoded image that is out of 709 gamut, and the luma levels are simply mapped to 108IRE, which not only is EASILY take care of in most NLEs and color correction suites, it is often done *automatically*. "Lost during broadcasting" implies clipping. Lots of good gear (Harris legalizers) and software (Davinci Resolve, Pablo, Speedgrade, even Color) handles it more gracefully than that.

I'm really confused where you're coming from on this, Emmanuel. Please forgive my "bandwagon" debate technique, but there's also PLENTY of S-Log originated material out there in the broadcast world, F35 shooters have been using it for a couple years now, and before that, Thompson Viper users were doing something very similar even though it wasn't called "S-Log".

There's NUMEROUS ways to legalize S-Log encoded material without clipping luma or chroma or losing the "look", and in the broadcast world the methods and gear are common.
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Old March 7th, 2012, 01:36 PM   #15
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Re: Is the F3 for me?

Emmanuel,

You want to deliver a medium rare steak as an end product but you over cooked it to well done. (over exposed) With S Log & color grading you have much more dynamic range to resurrect your cooking mishap and can probably pull the steak back to medium rare. Shoot it in 709 and your dynamic range is much less and you'll probably stuck with delivering a well done steak. Is S Log worth it to you? Maybe not if you never color correct, or shoot only interiors having perfect control of your lighting contrast by not clipping highlights and filling the required amount of shadow details in your preferred 709 look. Us mortals don't mind the help when we go overboard on either side of exposure. S Log has nothing to do with delivery limitations but allows more range & freedom to grade your material to your preference BEFORE delivery.
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