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Sony PMW-F3 with 2500 hours on it. Should I buy it?


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39 minutes ago, IronFilm said:

That price seems far too high, but... you got it with a PIX-E5! That makes it a good deal (in this time of higher than usual F3 prices)

The price was definitely a hard pill to swallow and I would've definitely save some money IF I didn't choose the Pix e5 (yea I had the option to choose) and went for a video assist for example. They are not going around for cheap so that took a big bite of the budget... But considering the Sony F3 came with the 2 New swits batteries which are like 220$ each and MTF Nikon mount I didn't feel too bad about it. The pix e5 came with a 960gb too so I have storage for days.

I used a Pix e5 recorder before and Its just the best recorder in my opinion. The size and the build are truly something special and Im mad audio devices dropped support on it so quickly. Good thing its a tank so it won't break easily. 

Another reason I chose the Pix e5 was because I managed to grab a Sony A7S mark 1 for 140$. After some crazy flipping deal I did a month ago. Now I can fully utilize the Pix e5 capabilities of 444 and 4k output.  

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Stills from some past F3 projects, all with Leica R's and the 5" Video Assist. Such a remarkable camera: lovely to use, easy to grade, solid in low light, lots of dynamic range...for the money I paid,

A few more for the road. Damn does the F3 grade well.

I think you're a consumerist idiot. Genuinely - if you don't want hyped prices... why cut and paste a YouTube hype piece about it all over Internet forums. And then say "NOOOOOOOO" What

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On 11/3/2020 at 8:21 PM, Josue Nunez said:

But considering the Sony F3 came with the 2 New swits batteries which are like 220$ each 

You can get chinese BP-U60 batteries from Aliexpress for qutie cheap.

On 11/3/2020 at 8:21 PM, Josue Nunez said:

Another reason I chose the Pix e5 was because I managed to grab a Sony A7S mark 1 for 140$. After some crazy flipping deal I did a month ago. Now I can fully utilize the Pix e5 capabilities of 444 and 4k output.  

Wow!

On 11/3/2020 at 8:21 PM, Josue Nunez said:

I used a Pix e5 recorder before and Its just the best recorder in my opinion. The size and the build are truly something special and Im mad audio devices dropped support on it so quickly. Good thing its a tank so it won't break easily. 

To be fair, it is now over 4yrs old. That's a decent run for its lifespan. 
(btw, you meant Sound Devices, not "audio devices")

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  • 3 weeks later...

Stumbled across this YT comment which is a nice little summary of the Sony PMW-F3 history, thus I thought I'd include it here into this F3 megathread: 

Quote

This is quite possibly the absolute best 1080p camera ever produced.
I own one now, and have owned 4 F3's over the years.

Here's a little story about the F3 if you aren't aware of the history that camera had: (Copy pasting from a thing I wrote...)

The Panavision Genesis was the real first true 4:4:4, 35mm digital camera. It was specifically designed to work with all Panavision glass and be back compatible with PL. Before this, all the CineAlta cameras were 2/3 sensor, but Panavision wanted a system that would work with their lenses so the alliance was formed and the camera built upon that as Sony was the cinema leader in digital since the 80s. The alliance broke when Sony released the F35, as Sony saw a market and a hole there to fill. Panavision was pissed it was a direct competitor to the Genesis, with updated technologies. The 5D MKII came out the same year as the F35, and the DSLR revolution took off. In response to this, Sony felt they needed to produce a camera that was superior in every way to the 5D, that would come up in the middle of the market. They told their EXCAM engineers to produce a camera but cut down in price. The EXCAM guys only knew one place to look in Sony to get a backplane, color tech, and sensor bus. The F35/F65 team. So they shoehorned some of the F35 and F65 parts into the EXCAM body, and cut some corners to produce a lower cost camera. The F3 was announced in 2010 and dropped in late 2010/early 2011. When it hit the market, people didn't know what it was because it was EXCAM form factor but not an EXCAM. Is it a cine cam? Is it a corder? Is it an ENG cam? A camera for live events? What is it? They marketed it very badly, and initial impressions were bad because the camera was limited in capacity as Sony cut down the color science, limited it to EXCAM color science, and choked the image pipeline in software. Then the C series cameras dropped in mid 2011 at a cheaper price, with Vincent Laforet doing their promo videos. Laforet is one of the producer/director/cinematographers who was at the forefront of DSLR revolution at the time so everyone jumped onto the C series. Sony had to scramble as they had tons of F3 back stock nobody was buying. A lot was invested in the actual physical parts of the camera since they used such expensive tech and they weren't turning much of a profit for each unit as it was. Prices slashed. They started releasing firmware updates that enabled SLOG and the true 10bit in a 12bit wrapper 4:4:4 uncompressed outputs at a steep up charge. Buyers were pissed. It was only 8-9mo later and their cameras were already worth half what they paid. The camera flooded the aftermarket. 4mo later, Sony gave all the SLOG/4:4:4 1080/60p uncompressed output updates out at no cost, which pissed people off even more. The price of the camera dropped from $16,000 to $4,000 new in about a year. It was a crushing blow to Sony. In all this mess however, the camera was used as a B cam or even an A cam in major films at the release of the 12bit 4:4:4 output. To this day, that camera is legendary in professional cinematography circles, because of it's legacy that's shared with the F35. It has the largest sensor pixel area of anything other than the F35, F65 sensor backplane and bus, and Panavision technology and color science. When Sony released the firmware updates, it unlocked what the camera can truly do, but it was far too late and Sony already lost too much money AND on top of that, when Sony saw the F3 hit the market and flop because it was limited, instead of enabling full 2k readout and 12bit 4:4:4, they started rapid development of the F5 and F55. They only released the final free unlock update for SLOG when all the owners were super pissed especially that Sony was abandoning the only 1yr old camera and we were raising hell with them. We were promised full 2k readout at 12bit 4:4:4 uncompressed. As soon as the F5 hit the announcement block in late 2011, ALL F3 media/advertisements/EVERYTHING disappeared and all back stock pushed out the door. They wanted those cameras to be sold because their profit margin was far higher and the margin for the F3 was slim since it's F35/F65 parts in a cheap body. The F55 on the other hand, that was a far cheaper camera to produce. A lot of people went to the F55 and were pissed that the dynamic range was cut down significantly vs the 14.5 stops DR of the F3 when using the SLOG 4:4:4 uncompressed and F55 could only do 60p in SQ. It really left a lot of people mad, but in the end, they wanted the camera to disappear FAST because it's a better camera in 1080 or upscaled to 2k for projection than many of the cameras that came after it.

/end

I still hold on to one of my F3's and I put it up against 4k cameras all the time. While the body is plastic and the menus suck, it's image quality and dynamic range is just flat out unreal. Especially if you can get one now, as the prices have fluctuated up and down around the $500 to $1,000 mark if you really look hard. Someone needs to hack the 2k readout...

 

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@IronFilm I always keep checking new F3 footage on youtube, rather than filming with my own one.:)

A 2K hack would indeed be really something. Only thing this cam would be missing. How would one approach that? F5 hack style?

One design flaw though is the on off switch. On my cam, which is almost like new, it is very easy to push either side. Would like to know if anyone of this forum has the same kinda feeling about danger of switching the cam off on accicent during an important shoot.

For our enjoyment, awesome image quality. Mojo time! 🙂

 

 

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4 hours ago, PannySVHS said:

@IronFilm I always keep checking new F3 footage on youtube, rather than filming with my own one.:)

Ha! Same here. Although I had a shoot with it yesterday, and might have another next week too. But the client it seems is wanting a 4K and slow motion, looks like I'll need to rent in a Sony FS7 or maybe I can get away with a FS5. 

Am tempted by an upgrade to a Sony PMW-F5, even though it is a LOT of money (even at these bargain prices), if it lasts me as long as the F3 has (5+ years) then on a per year basis it isn't much at all. (or at least that is how I'd "rationalize" it to myself!)

4 hours ago, PannySVHS said:

A 2K hack would indeed be really something. Only thing this cam would be missing. How would one approach that? F5 hack style?

Heh, this camera is missing a LOT more! (but that is why we have the F5....)
Funny you mention the F5 hack, as I've done that myself! 
Highly doubt we'll see a 2K hack for the F3. But you never know. However a big difference is the F5 had the big brother F55 that could do 4K since Day 1, and they shared a lot of similar code as at their core they are the same. (except the F55 has a slightly different tweak of the sensor with a different CFA, which meant it uniquely had a global shutter but with the big trade off of a lower base ISO than the F5) Which is what made it easy to enable 4K recording on the F5, as the code to do it was already sitting there on the camera!! (thus the big scandal)

 

4 hours ago, PannySVHS said:

One design flaw though is the on off switch. On my cam, which is almost like new, it is very easy to push either side. Would like to know if anyone of this forum has the same kinda feeling about danger of switching the cam off on accicent during an important shoot.

Never ever had that happen.

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11 hours ago, IronFilm said:

Never ever had that happen.

 

Hopefully it never will. I find it hyper flimsy! It is the worst on off switch I ever had on a camera. Missing a LOT more? What do you mean other than internal 10bit or 422/444? :)

I haven´t found beautiful F5 footage on the web. Have not come around to shoot with one neither. F3 look convinced me right away. When I bought the cam I found some  internal 8bit SLOG footage on the cards. It already gave me an hint how beautiful the image is from this camera. It is the cheaper C300MK1 and better HD cinema cam than the C300II when coupled with an external recorder. Footage on vimeo and especially latest youtube posts show the cinematic beauty of this beauty.

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17 hours ago, PannySVHS said:

Missing a LOT more? What do you mean other than internal 10bit or 422/444? 🙂

A few big ones are: no 4K, no slow motion beyond 60fps, and can't load LUTs. 

 

17 hours ago, PannySVHS said:

It is the cheaper C300MK1

Is funny how the F3 is cheaper now secondhand than the C300mk1, but back in the day F3 had a new price which was higher. 
Just is the influence of Canon still showing through, and the high popularity of the C300mk1/C100 shining through and keeping their secondhand prices high. 
Has got to a point now where the F3 and C300mk1 are finally a similar ish price, but that's due to how long it has been that finally the C300mk1 prices are dropping to a reasonable level, and oddly the F3 price has risen up again lately. 

 

18 hours ago, PannySVHS said:

I haven´t found beautiful F5 footage on the web. Have not come around to shoot with one neither. F3 look convinced me right away.

The problem is that the F5 was very much targeted at the owner op market, and the doco / tv etc markets. Thus you don't see the people with the skill level or crew / production resourcing of a high end narrative shoot using the F5/F55 much at all.  Rather for most shoots the F5 is going to be a corporate shooting workhorse, or similar such unglamorous purposes. 

But there is some good looking stuff out there with the F55 (and if the F55 can, you can be 99% sure that an F5 would also get you at least 99% of the way there too), for example:

 

 

 

 

https://ascmag.com/articles/regal-drama-the-crown

https://www.studiodaily.com/2018/06/crown-series-dp-adriano-goldman-asc-abc-capturing-lavish-details-royalty/

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi everyone,

Thanks for posting so much beauty from this camera (the classical challenge shots are amazing!!).

I got mine yesterday and plan to use it along with LOMO primes. I know that Ceico7 makes adapters for these, so that's the next step.

A few questions:

- Do you have any recommendations in terms of adapters? I know and trust Ceico7 stuff but have no clue about MTF, Photodiox, etc. ?

- I like it pretty run & gun/minimal/compact but how do you stabilize your shots? I don't want to go gimbal (artificially smooth) but some sort of support would be great. Are you guys using EasyRigs or something similar?

As I'm pretty tall, I can't really put cameras on my shoulder or everything will have that downwards look. I usually shoot at chest/waist level.

 

I'm looking forward to posting some stuff soonish 🙂

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4 hours ago, Pascal Deshayes said:

Are you guys using EasyRigs or something similar?

I wish! Should have splurged out on one of the knockoffs years ago? But would like to read more reviews about them. 

For me I tended to use tripod/monopod/shoulder-rig. 
 

4 hours ago, Pascal Deshayes said:

As I'm pretty tall, I can't really put cameras on my shoulder or everything will have that downwards look. I usually shoot at chest/waist level.

Know the feeling! I tend to do the splits to get my height down lower when using a shoulder rig. But of course that is a very uncomfortable position, especially if shooting for long days. Which becomes VERY uncomfortable if you have to shoot anybody notably below average height. 

Unfortunately at only 6' 3" tall I feel that cradling the camera then goes a little too far on the too low side of things for it to be an optimal general purpose shooting stance. A couple of camera ops I know who are taller than I do however use this approach as their default manner of shooting (with a RED Gemini, which is also better suited for this style of shooting). 

Perhaps if I owned a Cinesaddle that would get the camera up just those extra few inches into a better position, and take the bulk of the weight of the camera too, a win-win. 

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1 hour ago, IronFilm said:
5 hours ago, Pascal Deshayes said:

Are you guys using EasyRigs or something similar?

I wish! Should have splurged out on one of the knockoffs years ago? But would like to read more reviews about them. 

Careful, I seem to remember the last time EasyRigs were brought up on here we ended up with about ten pages of a forum version of this ....

 

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8 hours ago, Pascal Deshayes said:

- I like it pretty run & gun/minimal/compact but how do you stabilize your shots? I don't want to go gimbal (artificially smooth) but some sort of support would be great. Are you guys using EasyRigs or something similar?

As I'm pretty tall, I can't really put cameras on my shoulder or everything will have that downwards look. I usually shoot at chest/waist level.

 

Try a "belt pole" rig:

waist-rod1_large.PNG.1f6c4fd3275c0afe4bd91976e8e8e99b.PNG

belt-pole2.thumb.jpg.46dea3f264b535dab16f97c45c4979c3.jpg

If you have a lightweight tripod with a center column, you can try using the center column with the head and make a belt with a pouch.  It won't have an adjustable height, but it might put the camera close to where you need it, and you will get a rough idea of how stable such a rig can be.

 

A shoulder bracket is not necessary, but it allows one to let go of the camera.

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6 hours ago, IronFilm said:

I've seen this configuration too a few times on sets. 
Basically you take a monopod, and stick the bottom of it into a little "pocket" (such as a very strong drink bottle holder) which is attached to a sturdy waist belt. 

I think @mercer mentioned using a belt clip for a tape measure at one point.. ?

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6 hours ago, IronFilm said:

Basically you take a monopod, and stick the bottom of it into a little "pocket" (such as a very strong drink bottle holder) which is attached to a sturdy waist belt. 

Yes.  A monopod is better than my suggestion of a tripod center column and head.  A monopod can telescope to different heights and a full tripod head isn't needed for this rig.

 

By the way, I think that such a rig was called a "belt pod."

 

 

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