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Best super 35mm camera?


redimp
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Hello there,

I'm looking to buy a used cinema camera that does full HD (yes, not 4k) and has a nice 1.5x crop sensor or around that. I want it to be PL as I have a set of PL lomos that I plan to shoot with, paired with my Iscorama 36.

I don't want to get a GH family camera or bmcc with speedbooster, and sensor size matters to me, as I want that DOF and FOV of a 1.5x crop sensor, so please don't suggest to get a 2x crop camera.

I would imagine some old flagship cameras from brands like Canon is what I would be looking at. Ideally I would want 60p and built-in NDs, but my main focus would be color science, DR and highlight rolloff, as well as low light performance. 

So far I have done a lot of googling, and usually newer articles pop up, that talk about 4k cams. I would actually go for a 4k cam, was looking at the Ursa MP but I don't have the capacity to store and edit that much data and the price would be sort of a stretch for me, so I better get a HD cam and some decent lights.

So what would you guys recommend? I have an HDMI monitor (not recorder tho) with anamorphic de-squeeze, so in cam anamorphic mode is not a must. 

I have looked at C300 prices, looks like a ready-to-shoot package would be around $2500 and that's a good price IMO, but maybe there's something better in this price bracket? I would reeeeeeally appreciate any advice, as I've started learning about cinema cameras during the 4k era and know little about the HD superstars.

So to sum up – Full HD, PL mount option, great skin tones and overall color science, grade-able codec, great DR and smooth highlight roll-off, good low light performance, NDs and maybe 60p. Budget is stretchable. 

Thanks you guys!

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2 minutes ago, redimp said:

Thanks guys! I'm really unfamiliar with F3, looking at it right now. How would it compare with the c300?

I think on paper the F3 beats it in about every way. Canon just might have the slightest edge in low light, not 100% certain on this.
 



It all comes down to your preferences in image and Canon fanboys might tell you "Sony's color science is crap", but have in mind:

You can do a whole lot more to a 10-bit 4:4:4 image than Canon's 8-bit 4:2:2.


BTW This is coming from a Canon fanboy, that shoots 14-bit raw ;) Just to cause some confusion.
 

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Agreed. The F3 is awesome. It really depends what you're shooting. The Canon C100/C300 looks really good on skin. 

My work has the C300ii, I love those cameras, but they're in a different price bracket. I wouldn't trade the F3 for anything else at this price level for what I do. 

You should be able to get the Sony F3 and the Black Magic Video Assist for under 2500. the 444 version will output 60p to the video assist, the 422 will not. 

 

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26 minutes ago, Mattias Burling said:

You don't need to be a canon fanboy to see some size and ergonomic differences.

Personally I wouldn't get any of them. 

What WOULD you get? Considering your channel is all about getting good deals, maybe you have something to recommend for the up to 4k price bracket for a ready to shoot package?

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The F3 is really nice. I remember being so let down by the F5 after using the F3.

The ergonomics and menus are really bad, though. But yeah, the F3 is nice. (I don't fully trust that video, but sort of agree with its conclusions.) I remember using it as a B cam for the Epic and I preferred it to the Epic and the low light blew me away. And then it was used by someone else to shoot promos for an Alexa/Epic/C300 feature I was on and it was kinda looking great when we saw those promos.

Where the C300 wins is ease of use and ergonomics and workflow. But it's also a great camera. The image is a bit sharper and it's just such an easy camera to use with a gorgeous daylight matrix. I think the image might be worse than the F3 technically, and it does have worse DR, but not by a lot. The apparent chroma clipping in that video is deceptive. That's not lost detail and it can be graded out (unlike with the F5's default SLOG2 gamut which clips hard).

This might sound weird, but I'd probably recommend the C300 with an EF mount over the F3 for most people because of ergonomics, but if you're shooting with a "cinema" kit and PL lenses don't mind the large body (and required external recorder–the XDCAM codec is worse than the C300's internal codec, and worse than the C100's internal codec even) the F3 is a winner.

But wow did I not like the ergonomics. It's not a good camera for the "dSLR" type (me).

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26 minutes ago, redimp said:

I have taken a closer look at the F3 and for some reason I'm struggling to find any good videos with decent sharpness on it except for these two 

and 

Other videos look really blurry even for HD. 

I can't judge the sharpness too well on my phone, but I've always liked this video

And that's not even 444

If sharpness is the most important thing... you could go back and include 4k in your search ;) since you already might be looking at big files from a real cinema camera, you might as well downscale in the process too

And since people are listing ef mount cameras, I might as well add the BMCC with speed booster is the perfect s35 crop and an amazing image

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19 hours ago, redimp said:

I'm looking to buy a used cinema camera that does full HD (yes, not 4k) and has a nice 1.5x crop sensor or around that. I want it to be PL as I have a set of PL lomos that I plan to shoot with, paired with my Iscorama 36.


HD? PL? S35? 60p? NDs? DR? Colors? Lowlight?

Sounds like you just described the Sony PMW-F3! ;-) 

19 hours ago, redimp said:

So far I have done a lot of googling, and usually newer articles pop up, that talk about 4k cams. I would actually go for a 4k cam, was looking at the Ursa MP but I don't have the capacity to store and edit that much data and the price would be sort of a stretch for me, so I better get a HD cam and some decent lights.

Smart!!

18 hours ago, redimp said:

Thanks guys! I'm really unfamiliar with F3, looking at it right now. How would it compare with the c300?

No contest.

F3 wins.

14 hours ago, SigurdW said:

Constructive comment. But I'll bite ;) JVC LS300 paired with a PL adapter


Yeah, JVC LS300 or secondhand Sony FS700 are probably the only other S35 cinema cameras with NDs I'd consider on an ultra low budget, other than the Sony F3.

1 hour ago, Liam said:

And since people are listing ef mount cameras, I might as well add the BMCC with speed booster is the perfect s35 crop and an amazing image

Rather go with a BMD Pocket/Micro than the BMCC

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F3 with the BMVA. In a heartbeat.

Form factor takes some getting used to, but I actually find it very easy to operate on a tripod or with a back-weighted shoulder rig. You just have to set up your custom buttons properly. There are hard buttons/switches for almost everything, standard cinema I/O, and excellent reliability. Low light, DR, colors, roll off, and malleability in post (with an external recorder) are all outstanding.


It has a ton of advantages over a comparable DSLR, too, like outstanding battery life, XLRs, internal NDs, interchangeable mounts, SDI out (hard to go back once you have it), more mounting points without the need for a cage, top handle for low angle shots, no record limit, and the most accurate peaking function I've ever used. 

My current rig is very simple: the F3 body with a simple rail/riser system and a Tilta follow focus, a camcorder battery with a d-tap output, and a Blackmagic Video Assist mounted to the top handle with power running to it from the d-tap. That means no multiple batteries to keep track of and a streamlined rig. 

As a 1080p cinema camera, it's the absolute best available for the money. 

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Even as a C300 fanboy (I love the ease of use), I agree that the F3 is a better cinema camera with a technically stronger image. The image isn't as sharp but it's more than sharp enough and otherwise it's better in every way except codec... and color is subjective. It has slightly better DR and 10 bit 444 out vs 422 8 bit out (though that's all Canon Log really needs). Same pixel pitch etc. as the Alexa I believe (very similar at least).

But rent it and try it out if you can. Coming from a dSLR, I couldn't deal with F3 ergonomics, especially when the C300 had 90% of the image in a much smaller form factor. I also liked the Canon colors a bit more, but the F3 has good color, not like later Sony cameras which are a very mixed bag.

If you're considering both, try both, but I'm a Canon fanboy who did not like the F5 but I still think the F3 is a steal. Plus, 60p! I also like the F35 but it's more trouble.

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35 minutes ago, Inazuma said:

This post has me really interested in the F3, but I see it does not have 50/60p. What other cameras of op's spec has 50/60p?

The F3 outputs 50/60p, to i.e. a BM Video Assist. Both JVC LS300 and Sony FS700 does higher frame rates, but will need adapters for PL lenses. There are also differences in resolutions/codecs/bit-depths but can potentially fit the OP with the right kitting.

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Both IronFilm and HockeyFan12 mentioned '60p' just earlier... looking into it: 'The PMW-F3 has an HD-SDI Dual-link output connector which offers 4:2:2 1080 50/59.94p uncompressed signal output as standard. By using external recording devices such as HDCAM-SR recorders, users can achieve x 2.5 natural slow-motion playback in 1080/24p mode' and another official Sony page 'Dual Link and 3G HDSDI interfaces for: --10bit full uncompressed RGB 4:4:4 external recording --10bit YPbPr 4:2:2 1080/60P external recording'. So externally it's possible. Actually, that's what BenEricson mentions:

On 25-9-2017 at 9:29 PM, BenEricson said:

[..]

You should be able to get the Sony F3 and the Black Magic Video Assist for under 2500. the 444 version will output 60p to the video assist, the 422 will not.

 

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So here's the rub.

An F3 with the 4:4:4 upgrade will output 1080/60 10-bit 4:2:2 from a single SDI cable into compatible recorders, like the BMVA.

An F3 without the 4:4:4 upgrade will only output 1080/60 by utilizing both A and B SDI outputs in a dual link configuration to a recorder that supports it, like the Convergent Design Odyssey.

Luckily, getting a 4:4:4 model is more a matter of diligence and patience than price; my good condition 4:4:4 model only ran me $1200.

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