The results of our recent experiments with the Sony PMW F3 camera have blown us away. This is the kind of image quality we were hoping for when we put that camera, along with a complete set of Zeiss CP2 Prime lenses in the capable hands of Director of Photography Jake Wilganowski. The camera’s large, Super 35mm imager captures pictures with such amazing latitude and the 10 bit SDI output allows us to capture so much picture information, it’s really opening up a new world of creative capability for us here at AMP.
We’re used to working with large image sensors, based on our experience with the Canon 5D Mark II. That’s where the similarities end between the two cameras, though. The F3 introduces a much more streamlined workflow, with no more need for split system audio, industry-standard, SDI monitoring, a true cinema camera form factor, and no more dealing with anomalies like moire patterns and “rainbow” effects so common with the 5D. With the addition of the Zeiss lenses, things go even more smoothly due to their consistent form factor across the entire range of the lenses. From 18mm through to the 85mm, only one setup is required for the support rails, matte box and follow focus. And of course, Sony has packaged in all the features you expect from a professional video camera.
In my opinion, the F3 far outclasses the competing Panasonic AF 100 as well. The imager is larger. There’s a smaller crop factor when working with full frame primes like the CP2s. And overall, it just has more features and is better constructed. Of course, there are other, more expensive digital cinematography products out there, like the RED cameras. From my point of view, though, this camera delivers all of the quality and signal breadth needed for our projects, from high-end corporate jobs to broadcast spots, at a reasonable price, and from a reliable, business-friendly manufacturer. You’ve got to admit, if it’s a Sony, it’s going to be a dependable workhorse and there are no unknowns about the purchase process or support after.
Needless to say, our clients are as pleased as we are with this camera. The images are spectacular. We can do even more in post. And we can achieve more within their budget constraints. Some clients have even noticed the on-set efficiencies gained from using this camera versus the 5D, with shooting going more smoothly and wrapping on time.