Sony invited me to London to get a hands on with the PMW-F3, no holes barred, I stuck my SxS card into slot one and Mr Bloom recorded me doing a piece to camera.
The frame grab below is from the SxS card and as you would expect it’s not a million miles away from the quality seen from any 35Mbs SxS footage, this proves that filming in SxS mode you are producing nothing better than an EX1R/EX3 can produce but with less noise and the shallow depth of field.
My main concern is the viewfinder, most DPs I know would not be happy with such a basic viewfinder, it’s just not good enough to see critical focus though Philip Bloom used what he called a “push in” where you press a button and it magnifies the picture on the LCD.
Sony did not take a leaf out of RED’s book when producing this camera and it’s viewfinder yet if they had only given us a connector to which we could attach a choice of viewfinders of varying qualities and prices. Sony’s reply would be the camera is made to a budget. My reply is that if you are going to use such a camera even as a “B” camera to an F35 then you must be able to see critical focus.
The EX3 was produced with a splendid viewfinder carried onto the PMW-350 yet a camcorder capable of so much more is compromised due to such a basic need as a decent Hi-Rez viewfinder, fortunately Sony have a fantastically sharp LCD monitor the PVM-740 OLED.
Both Philip Bloom and myself are of the opinion that the F3 would have been far better received if it had 50Mbs, 4:2:2 rather than 35Mbs 4:2:0. Cameramen as a rule do not like add on’s like NanoFlashes if we can avoid them, it’s not the NanoFlash itself but the fear of something going wrong between the camera and the external recording device being used.
When you see this camera beside the F35 and 9000 you can’t quite see the logic in Sony making it so small after all once you put your prime lens on the front you are not going to use it hand held if you can avoid it but I for one see it as a refreshing alternative to a 650 with 35mm adaptor.
The F3 can produce cracking 1080 50p 4:4:4 pictures but again uses the dual link HD SDI sockets and a payed upgrade into an SR Memory recorder, all these options cost a lot more money.
Paul Joy a film maker was taken by the fact that if he owned the F3 he could use it in many guises, corporate one day and ENG the next using the new zoom lens…this lens will not be previewed till April 2011 which means availability not till June 2011. Why ?
Sony must have known this camera was going to have a zoom control why did they not have a working zoom lens available with the launch of the camera, I would be stuck not having a zoom lens for my F3 from day one as most of my work does not involve prime lenses nor do I own any unless you count my Canon “L” glass.
This brings me onto my last topic, prime lenses ! Not everyone is going to use expensive PL mount lenses on their F3 so Sony had better contact Canon and Nikon adaptor manufacturers if they want a bigger audience to sell this camera to.
The F3 looks the business and will be a refreshing alternative within Drama, no more 35mm adaptors and oversized camcorders taking up excessive room, I think DPs will take to this camera like a duck to water and if Creative Video’s pre order for 100 units is anything to go by it’s a definite winner from day one.