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sony F3 vs A7s


andrew mcmillan

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It is an interesting comparison, as you can get either one for a kinda similar price secondhand. And I strongly disagree with jagnje that you could not find two more different cameras, as for all their differences, they have an awful lot of similarities too! And can make great complementary cameras for each other. 

Personally I own a Sony PMW-F3 since last year, and might maybe get an A7s later this year as a matching gimbal camera (but my BMPCC is doing just fine for now). 

A7s is smaller, can take still photos, is a bit better in low light, has 120fps 720p, has capability to do 4K output externally recorded, and has an E mount. 

Downsides is: looks like a consumer stills camera (as that is what it is), E mount is not as strong, is 8bit 420, can't handle audio professionally, no SDI.


F3 Pros: cheap to get 10bit 422 externally (as recorders are under $500 now. Can even get 444 if you use a PIX-E5) , can do 1080 60fps slow motion (C300 can't), has XLR inputs, has SDI outputs, has time code, has FZ mount which is rock solid and you can adapt to almost anything now, uses SxS cards (which are dirt cheap if you use a cheap SD card adapter like I do), has great lowlight (was the lowlight **KING** when it was released!), is big and impressive.

F3 downside: "only" 1080 (but a very good 1080!) which some might view as "outdated", also is big, and heavy. (but was promoted as a very lightweight camera when released! And it is very lightweight compared to its direct competition of the time. But if you're coming from a DSLR/mirrorless background you will find it to be big and bulky. On the upside, at least your handheld shots will no longer have the "DSLR jitters"! :-D ). 

 

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Well you just pointed out what makes a cinema camera and what makes a consumer camera. It's picture can be matched as much as you can match the f3 to the alexa, ursa, etc...way harder to do that with a7s, at least in my opinion.

 

both have their uses. I would not take the f3 to a family trip or a skate event, and I would not film a narative that will have heavy grading with the a7s.

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34 minutes ago, jagnje said:

both have their uses. I would not take the f3 to a family trip or a skate event, and I would not film a narative that will have heavy grading with the a7s.

Very good point. (I would still take the F3 to a skate event ;))

I would definitively get the F3. This thing is a workhorse and you have everything you'll ever need (except 4k but personally I don't want it).
SDI, XLRs, Fr**king INTEGRATED ND FILTERS !, Build quality, Adaptability.

The A7s is  a good camera, sure, but it is a still camera.

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I worked on a short where A7s and F3 footage was intercut, but I was really surprised to see a noticeable difference in quality between the two. This might have just been the grade, but compared to the F3, a7s skintones looked like plastic and the highlight roll-off was not as nice. That being said, the a7s does have it's advantages. It is better in low light, it can do higher frame rates (I think the F3 does 60i?), and it ways a hell of a lot less. 

Now this might just be my opinion, but I actually prefer the image coming from the F3 over that of the F5. It just seems more natural and more organic. Obviously it's not 4K Raw, but as a final HD deliverable the F3 spits out some really nice images. I think sony was using some kind of magic in their early sensors because the f3 and F35 seem to shoot more filmic footage than their later cameras. 

 

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Don't forget with the Sony F3 you are going to want to get a solid 10 bit recorder, such as an Atomos Blade, or even better Pix E5, with which you could run 3G SDI, and get the 422 1080P 60P footage, for slow motion, with one cable! The best recorder would be the convergent design Odyssey Q7+, but that's some extra weight. I think the F3 is a rock solid camera.

 

Broatch Berry

Venice CA 

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What are you planning to use this second camera for?

For the work I do, I would never want shoot on a camera of the F3 size. All the other gear you need has to be bigger, heavier and more expensive (tripods, sliders, gimbals, camera support, etc...). Getting creative with a camera of that size is far more complex than with a dslr.

 

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I own both and they both have pretty great images. Image-wise, the colours are not dissimilar.  

Personally, if I'm looking for something quick, 'more run-n-gunney' the A7s is generally my go-to. It's smaller, lighter, gets onto a gimbal significantly easier, and the XAVC-S is super malleable, despite the fact that it's 8-bit. It also is easier to use - my biggest gripe with Sony professional cameras is their menu systems. The F5/55 is improved in that regard, but the F3 sucks for having to dive into menus to do simple things.

A7s will give you much better high ISO performance, thought the F3 performs pretty well in low-light as well.

The F3's internal codec is nice, but it really shines when you pair it with a recorder. Once you do, you'll be very happy, especially in Slog2. The images you can get out of the F3 are amazing. If I'm not using a recorder, or don't want the extra weight, or annoyance - the benefits of the F3 over an A7s are diminished IMO. I own the XLR adapter for the A7s, so XLRs isn't really a plus for the F3 for me. The F3 does have internal ND, which is really nice. A7s is full frame, which is also really nice.

I have a Shogun Flame which I use to get 10-bit 4:2:2 out of the F3, or 4k out of the A7s. It's a pretty neat setup.

Keep in mind that you can get away with using a cheap tripod with a small DSLR, but a cheap tripod will struggle to hold something like an F3 with a decent lens on it.

I've shot commercials for television and cinema, and all sorts of other projects with both of them, and with decent lenses on them, they can both give you pretty incredible images. I don't think you'd be disappointed with either camera. 

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14 hours ago, Kristoferman said:

I do agree that f3 footage looks great. As to whether its image beats the f5, who's to say? There seems to be like 3 people in the world who own that camera haha. There's tons of great f3 showcases out there. F5 not so much.

Eh??? There are lots and lots of F5 cameras out there

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14 hours ago, Kristoferman said:

I do agree that f3 footage looks great. As to whether its image beats the f5, who's to say? There seems to be like 3 people in the world who own that camera haha. There's tons of great f3 showcases out there. F5 not so much.

The F5 and F55 are both very popular cameras, and there are plenty of examples of F5 footage out there...

F5 has a different look to the F3. F5 gives you 2k and 4k and a whole bunch of other features. Personally, I would go for an F5 over an F3 if I had the cash and/or believed I would be able to pay the camera back within 12 months, but the point is that an F5 is $15k+, whilst an F3 is ~$3k used

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I don't want to go to off topic but it seems there are a number of people who have experience with the F3, so hope it's ok I have a few questions. I wondering about correctly exposing for s-log in run and gun situations, and being able to use the tools on the camera's lcd screen to get correct exposures. I'd like to be able to use s-log with internal recording when a external recorder would be to bulky. So will using the histogram and zebras be accurate enough? Also a question about external recorder, Atomos Blade or blackmagic video assist? I like the idea of SSD's. 

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Amook,  If you are going to shoot S Log with the F3 you are going to want to record to an external recorder! You need the 10bit and 422 color space to record the S Log picture, if you use the the internal F3 codec which is a 420 compression, when in the S Log mode you will not be getting all the information ( bits and color information ) you need. There is a lot of information on exposing the F3 when shooting S Log, do a search. Here is a basic explanation of the F3 and S Log by Andy Shipsides of Ablecine.

http://blog.abelcine.com/2011/08/04/f3-s-log-part-1-on-the-charts/

And here is another post talking about the F3 and S Log on DVX

http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?269977-Do-I-need-a-Gemini-or-Ki-Pro-Mini-to-Use-the-S-LOG-Firmware-Update-on-the-F3

Good luck.

 

Broatch

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Just decided to upgrade to a7sii and then meet this thread (things will never be simple again ). Now i cant go any further before ill compare downscaled 4k 8bit 4:2:2 and 10bit from F3. Can anyone help me and provide some footage from F3? Google it but have no results. If someone has 60fps footage that would be totally great...

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