The Sony PMW-F3
The newest camera on Sony's block has been in my hands and on my tripod for a few weeks. Here are some comments.
The first thing that I noticed was that the camera was familiar and after turning it on I understood why. The menu layout is similar to the Sony PMW-EX1 and the EX3. You’d swear that you were looking at those menus and this makes things easy as I’m on familiar ground. Already I'm sensing that this is a "Just Get Out and Do It" kind of camera.
There is abundant information online detailing the technical specs of the camera, however I’m more intrigued by its potential in a range of productions and the possibilities it creates to take my corporate and doco work into a new realm.
Sony suggests that the PMW-F3 is suited to television, commercials, music and promotional budget productions however, based on my two weeks of toying around, I see much more in store.
Let's get the specs out of the way.
- The F3 is based on Sony’s XDCAM EX workflow. The codec is MPEG-2 Long GOP 4:2:0 8 bit, 35 Mbps and uses Sony’s recording format based SxS ExpressCard.
- The Super 35mm CMOS imager delivers appealing shallow depth of field with high sensitivity and low noise levels.
- It offers a wide range of options for creating images, and the ability to edit F3 images seamlessly with material shot on Sony’s F35 by using an HD SDI dual-link output and making external recordings. This is nice given the mature and straight forward nature of the XDCAM workflow.
- The F3 records naively to the on-board SXS cards in 4:2:0 at 35Mb/sec transfer rate.
Before making any consideration of this native spec, look at the images that come from the camera. They have a earthy, organic feel and I would be happy shooting straight to the SxS cards for most of the time, but this camera is up-scalable.
I would consider stepping up to the 4’s and 2’s, recording at 4:2:2 at up to 280Mb/sec using the compact nanoFlash external recorder. The front end of the F3 has the Super 35mm CMOS imager and some excellent lenses all held by a solid PL lens mount and you can’t help but notice this quality in the final production.
The PL-mount of the PMW-F3 can both take PL and zoom lenses and is compatible with a variety of cine lenses such as Cooke, Arri, Fujinon and Zeiss.
Most cinematographers will appreciate that this camera creates a very new and special category, so when would I shoot with it and what is it actually like to use?
microWAVE microbudget filmmaking event
I will be conducting a session
during this event at the UTS on Saturday afternoon, February 19th. My topic will be on the emergence and use of large-sensor video cameras. This is going to a fantastic day.
Journalism students get some basic video skills
Getting some basic video camera skills was part of the five day course for a group of students of the APM School of Business & Communication at the Australian Film Television and Radio School this week. I've been working with the schools's Open Program.
Two weeks of training for ABC Television
Recently completed running a series of video camera training course at the ABC's Four Corners production unit.
A Back-to-Basics workshop in Hobart
Back from Hobart having run an Australian Film Television and Radio School weekend workshop for eleven Tasmanian video professionals and enthusiasts.
A varied group of video shooters including a team from the University of Tasmania and two ABC television producers, Justin Murphy and Tracey Smith. Surfers and geologists were also represented.
It rained both days and the old sandstone Salamanca Arts Centre was a cosy venue with no shortage of good coffee shops
"Almost every question you've ever pondered is answered, and always with good humour and enough repetition until you get it. And then he followed up some days later with a terrific set of notes. It was the best, most confidence-giving training course I've ever done."
Justin Murphy "Collectors" ABC Television Hobart
A new article is available
Wherever you point your camcorder, you are placing a rectangular frame around a particular part of the scene. You have the choice to record some parts of the scene and to exclude unwanted parts. Choose to include an object or person in the frame and it becomes important to your audience. Leave it out and for your viewers it will never exist.
You become totally responsible for what will be on the screen. The edit begins before the card or tape even leaves the camcorder.
I have added a new article containing my Ten Top Tips
. This artilce was also published in Better Digital Camera Magazine.
A successful DSLR workshop - more are planned
Twelve participants enjoyed Nick Rains
and myself at the Newport Mirage Resort on Sydney's northern beaches last weekend. Great food and sweeping Pittwater views were the backdrop to a weekend of hands-on training on the large-sensor cameras currently doing the rounds.
Those attending the workshop commented that they had a valuable two days, saw lots of gear and mentioned that they had learned more than they had ever expected.
There are more workshop events planned for Sydney and Melbourne and other Australian cities. Nick and myself would like to thank Lemac, Canon, Genus, Panavision, Foto Riesel, Sony and sound recordist James Nowiczewski for their support.
The Kino Kabaret masterclass
I conducted a special Sony Kino Kabaret masterclass this week - a solid way to kick off seven days of fabulous filmmaking for Kino Sydney
Film Festival. Thanks to all of the filmmakers who came along with their great questions.
WHAT IS KINO?
A low-budget filmmaking movement born in Montreal and gone global
WHAT IS KINO SYDNEY?
The Sydney chapter of the Kino movement. Also refers to the monthly screenings
WHAT IS KINO KABARET?
A special edition of Kino where films are made under 48 hours alongside international participants and with the benefit of a Kino Lab
WHO CAN MAKE A FILM?
Anyone. From people who've never made a film before to Oscar-winners
HOW ARE FILMS SELECTED?
They are not. While there is no pre-selection, feel free to act as if there was and make the best film possible. Come have a look at other films first, if you think you've got what it takes then take the plunge. Register to screen a film and that film will be screened, provided it obeys The Rules
New tutorial now ready to download
Photographers and cinematographers alike observe light and the way it influences things. It could be harsh summer sunlight that casts strong overhead shadows, or a ray of warm afternoon light as it rakes across the landscape after a rain shower. Light, and the way it falls, sets a mood.
The challenge for the cinematographer is to be able to see and take advantage of these naturally occurring lighting conditions.
I have added a new tutorial on Using Available Light. This article was published in Better Digital Camera Magazine.
Sony's NEX-VG10: the little video camera with a BIG sensor
UPDATE: Sunday, 12 September 2010
The design of cameras that shoot HD video will not stay trapped in a traditional stills camera body for much longer.
I now have my hands on the only demo model of the new NEX-VG10 and I've been shooting tests this weekend. Aimed squarely at the video enthusiast, the big WOW factor for me so far has been ISO performance at 21+Db Gain and not trailing too far behind, the range of high quality interchangeable lenses, top mic clarity and best of all, it's comfy usable form factor.
With a CMOS sensor that's roughly 19.5 times larger than those used in conventional camcorders, will this model put the cat among the pigeons for video cameras at this level? I'll be posting my impressions soon.
Fitted with a Zeiss 24-70mm f2.8 zoom
Piet & Nick's Advanced dSLR Video Workshop
I have teamed up with one of Australia's finest photographers, Nick Rains to offer a workshop for anyone who has recognised the need to incorporate video into their businesses. bring decades of experience as a documentary cinematographer working with high end video and film cameras, and Nick offers the perspective of 28 years as a stills photographer who has recognised and developed the potential of HD video for his business.
Over the past twelve months or so there has been a revolution in image making - DSLR's like the Canon 5D Mark II and the Sony NEX-VG10 have opened up the possibility of making full HD movies with an amazing cinematic quality. Stills photographers have been fascinated with the potential of the new features but have often floundered when they realise that making good short movies is nowhere as easy as it looks.
It is certain that understanding and delivering mixed media content will be an incredibly useful tool as the publishing industry transitions to delivery on tablet computers, phones and iPads etc. Print clients are beginning to request video clips from their stills photographers so an understanding of how to produce decent footage will be essential in the future.
MovieTube PR rig
Nick and I will cover the necessary hardware, sound recording, video shooting basics and editing software in an easy to digest format over a weekend at the Newport Mirage Resorton Sydney's northern beaches.
Topics covered over two days
DSLR cameras including the classic 5D Mark II
Lens choices - wide apertures, zooms, telephoto
Shooting with the constraints of the camera design
Vital accessories such as the MovieTube shoulder rigs and viewfinders
Handheld shooting techniques
Tripod shooting techniques
Sound with sound recordist James Nowiczewski
Shoot for the edit - video clips are not stills
Editing software - iMovie, Final Cut Pro and Premier Pro
Delivery for web - Vimeo and YouTube, website embedding
When and where
When: November 6 & 7
Time: 9.00am - 5.00pm Saturday and Sunday
Where: The Mirage Resort, Newport on Sydney's northern beaches
Price: $995.00. Limited to 12 Participants
What's included: Four 90 minute sessions per day by Pieter de Vries and Nick Rains. Morning tea, afternoon tea and lunch on both days
These one-day seminars will be run in five cities around Australia:
- Sydney - May 10 - SMC, 66 Goulburn St, Sydney (sorry full)
- Melbourne - May 17 - Melbourne Zoo, Elliot Avenue, Parkville
- Perth - May 19 - Perth Zoo, 20 Labouchere Rd, South Perth
- Adelaide - May 23 - Mercure Hotel, 125 North Terrace
- Brisbane - May 26 - Mt Gravatt TAFE, Creative Industries Dept
Over the past two years there has been a revolution in image making - DSLRs like the Canon 5D Mark II, 7D, 1D Mk4 and other models have opened up the possibility of making full HD movies with an amazing cinematic quality. Stills photographers have been fascinated by the potential of the new features but have often floundered when they realize that making good short movies is nowhere as easy as it looks.
Highly experienced cinematographer and large-sensor video specialist, Pieter de Vries has teamed up with photography educator and writer Nick Rains
to deliver the essentials of creating video content. They will cover the necessary hardware, sound recording, video shooting basics and editing software in an easy to digest format over four 90 minute sessions.
Pieter works with digital video in all flavours and will share with you the methods and techniques that have made him one of Australia's most respected cinematographers. Nick offers the perspective of 28 years as a stills photographer who has recognised and developed the potential of HD video for his business.
It is certain that understanding and delivering mixed media content will be an incredibly useful tool as the publishing industry transitions to delivery on tablet computers, phones and iPads etc. Traditional print clients are beginning to request video clips from their stills photographers so an understanding of how to produce decent footage will be essential in the future.
Topics covered include:
- DSLR camera controls, including the classic 5D Mark II (Nick)
- lens choices - wide apertures, zooms, telephoto (Piet)
- shooting video - the constraints of the camera design (Nick)
- vital accessories: primes, viewfinders, shoulder rigs (Piet)
- handheld shooting techniques (Piet)
- tripod shooting techniques (Piet)
- sound - an overlooked but critical aspect of video (Nick)
- timelapse (Nick)
- shooting for the edit - video clips are not stills (Piet)
- editing software - iMovie, Final Cut Pro, Premier (Nick)
$330 incl gst - here is where you book
Training for ABC video journalist
For the past few weeks I have been at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation working with video journalists - bespoke training in video camera and video sequence techniques.
more about training for journalists....