Joining the F35 and SRW-9000PL in Sony's lineup of CineAlta 24p digital cinema cameras, the PMW-F3L Super 35mm XDCAM EX Full-HD Compact Camcorder with S-Log Gamma continues the democratization of high-end image capture. The camera's Super 35mm-size CMOS sensor offers a variety of advantages over smaller sensors, including increased control over depth of field, higher sensitivity in low light, lower image noise, and an exceptional dynamic range. Unlike smaller, broadcast-style sensors or the larger "full-frame" sensor found in some DSLRs, the PMW-F3's chip is on a par with Hollywood film cameras, in terms of field of view and depth of field. That means complete compatibility with cine-style film lenses and consistency of vision for cinematographers used to shooting on 35mm film.
Another advantage of the camera's highly efficient sensor is its low power consumption--only 24W. Not only does this mean a standard 12V battery can last nearly 3 hours, but the low amount of heat the sensor generates offsets the need for an internal fan--contributing to the camera's extremely light weight (just over 5 lb). As a result, this is the first CineAlta camcorder designed with a handheld form factor.
Using a solid-state workflow based on the XDCAM EX platform, the PMW-F3 records natively to professional SxS media, using the MPEG-2 long GOP codec in an 8-bit 4:2:0 color space. More demanding applications can utilize the camera's dual-link HD-SDI ports to output to an external recorder in 10-bit 4:2:2 or 10-bit RGB 4:4:4.
The combination of four HyperGamma settings with S-Log and LUT capability provide RAW-like flexibility to the image data, allowing for increased picture control and dynamic range. S-Log expands the camera's dynamic range to include at least 12.5 stops of exposure latitude. Meanwhile, the F3's Exposure Index mode sets the camera at an optimal ISO and adds a full stop of exposure, maximizing the sensor output for situations when highlights are a priority.
An included PL mount adapter strengthens the link between digital cinema and traditional film, providing an efficient means for using any number of professional PL-mount cine lenses--including full compatibility with Cooke/i and Arri LDS technology. Beneath the removable PL adapter, the camera's native, stainless steel FZ mount provides a foundation for added versatility. Its short flange distance allows for the development of smaller, lighter zoom lenses as well as compatibility with a wide array of both cine and photo lenses (using optional adapters).
Other features--such as variable frame rates, multiple-format recording, slow shutter, and uncompressed PCM audio--make the PMW-F3 an impressive companion to its larger Super 35 brethren. Not only will it intercut perfectly with the F35 and SRW-9000PL as a second unit or B camera, it can easily stand on its own in applications as diverse as indie film, television, commercials, music promos, and education. In the world of digital cinema, these are indeed interesting times--and the PMW-F3 represents another revolutionary stride toward affordable, motion-picture quality imaging.
In addition, Sony's advanced accumulated sensor technologies provide an excellent sensitivity of F11 (ISO 800) and a remarkable signal-to-noise ratio of just 63dB (measured at 1080/59.94i and typical value). A unique Exmor sensor offers exceptional noise reduction and greatly reduces power consumption.
*In 1440 x 1080/23.98p (SP) mode, images are handled as 23.98p and recorded as 59.94i signals via 2:3 pull-down.
The PMW-F3 can capture images at frame rates selectable from 1 frame per second (fps) to 60 fps in 720p mode, and from 1 fps to 30 fps in 1080p mode--in increments of 1 fps--onto a single card. With the Slow & Quick Motion function of this camcorder, images are recorded natively without interpolating the frames. This means the quality of the slow- and fast-motion images is extremely high and superior to those created in the editing process. In addition, these slow -and fast- motion images can be played back immediately after shooting, without using any converters or processing on nonlinear editing systems.
In addition, 59.94p and 50p progressive recording is available in 1280 x 720 mode. The SxS memory card can simultaneously hold multiple files of any of these recording formats, allowing for flexible use of the memory card.
*In 1440 x 1080/23.98P (SP) mode, images are handled as 23.98p and recorded as 59.94i signals via 2:3 pull-down.
The Dual Link HD-SDI option enables 10-bit 4:4:4 RGB 23.98/25/29.97PsF or 10-bit 4:2:2 108050p/59.94p uncompressed external recording--ideal for integration with highest quality production workflows such as HDCAM SR. The PMW-F3 also supports selectable gamma, four levels of HyperGamma and S-Log for a wide range of shooting conditions from standard to wide latitude. The PMW-F3 can simultaneously record LUT (Look Up Table) information onto the internal media for additional workflow flexibility.
3G-SDI is available for 10-bit RGB 1080 23.98/25/29.97PsF or 10-bit 4:2:2 1080 50/59.94p output.
In addition, with an optional MEAD-MS01 or MEAD-SD01 Media Adapter, a high-speed Memory Stick or SD memory card can be used as emergency or alternative recording media. (Slow Motion and the Salvage function are not supported.)
File-based recording allows material to be handled with great flexibility in an IT-based environment--easily available for copying, transferring, sharing, and archiving. All these operations are accomplished without any digitizing process required.
File-based data copying allows for degradation-free dubbing of footage, which can be performed easily on a PC. The file-based recording system also allows for material to be viewed directly on a PC--simply by inserting the SxS memory card into the ExpressCard slot on a PC or Mac, or by linking a PC/Mac to the XDCAM EX unit via a USB2 connection. This file-based operation can dramatically improve the efficiency and quality of your workflow.
The Expand function allows one selected clip in the thumbnail display to be divided into 12 even-time intervals, each with their own thumbnail identifier. This is useful if you want to quickly search for a particular scene within a lengthy clip.