Cinemetography- Sony Pmw-F3k Hands on!

Posted: February 15, 2011 in General Area, Hardware Review, Hardware Reviews
Tags: , , , , , ,

Last week I had the opportunity to play with a new (and at the time unreleased) Sony PMW-F3k motion cinema camera at Samy’s DV EDIT in Marina Del Rey. I have to honestly say that when I was initially invited to check it out, I almost didn’t go. I’ve been so excited to receive my Red EPIC, that I haven’t even paid much attention to what’s going on with all the other manufacturers out there.

The Sony PMW-F3k (“K” just stands for kit) has two packages, one is the PMW-F3 which is just the body for 14k, or the PMW-F3k which comes with a 35mm, 55mm, and 85mm lens (PL ma incl) for 21k. Amazingly Jody Eldred, producer/director/writer/cinemetographer for many many shows NCIS, JAG, Nativity was there to give us a “pro’s & con’s” of the camera.

Execs from Sony gave us the short canned sales powerpoint presentation, and then let us watch RAW footage that was shot the night before. I was absolutely astonished. The footage, un-edited, was absolutely jaw dropping gorgeous. Linear lines of gradients were captured flawlessly, using only natural lighting, there was no noise what-so-ever that I could see with the naked eye.

Jody explained that he had been given the camera only a few nights before (he now has his own) and was asked to simply record random footage, but it was none-the-less amazing. I know that some people may think that $21,000 is a lot for a camera, but this isn’t the “Daddy filming and afternoon at the park” camera, this is a Cinema level camera, for only 21k, typically it’s easy to spend 50k-70k on a camera of this quality. The Sony PMW-f3k is lightweight (less than 7 lbs for the body alone) fully loaded is hard to say though. It’s has compact body that makes it an excellent choice to be used as an A or B cam.

One of the largest (aside from quality) advantages of the camera is that it’s a familiar and easy to use format, Sony’s AVCHD (mpeg-2 SD) which if you’ve shot and edited with a Sony cam before you’d know this goes right with your workflow.

Now I might even dare say, I just might whisper… that the Sony PMW-F3k could go toe to toe with the RED Epic-S, but wait, just waiiiit, I have yet to fully test the Epic (or EPIC-s which the PMW-f3k should be in the same ballpark as far as specs, quality and price). I do believe Sony with their Super 35mm imager has a strong chance of contending with RED on this one.

Ok so I’ve told you the good, so your probably wondering what’s the negatives right? Jody had mentioned that the viewfinder is garbage, and it would be wise to invest $600-$1000 for a new one, which is in my opinion relatively cheap for what you actually get. Also I noticed, along with a friend of mine, that the colors seem slightly hrmmm “faded”, the color red just didn’t seem as vibrant as it should have been, almost washed out. This could be contributed to the fact that it was a prototype unit, and some functions on the camera didn’t even work yet, it also could be attributed to improper settings, so don’t take my word as written in stone, yet. Other than that, there really wasn’t any issues with the camera, and I am now eye-ing it for my next B or C cam purchase.

For the full list of specs CLICK HERE.


*Note: the second picture has a Fujinon lens on it, and it is NOT included in any of the Sony’s packages (the lens cost $88,000!!!)


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