When working with other toronto music video directors, we always discuss the nessiciaty of shooting at a high resolution in a world that is now dominated by the web. We all agree that the extra resolution helps, but for some artists, the high price doesn’t justifiy the extra cost of renting a 4k camera.
I think that has changed now, with the introduction of Sony’s 4k cameras.
Sony is calling them the PMW-F55 and PMW-F5. The F55 is the “high-end” version and F5 is “lower-end” version.
Sony hasn’t released any definite pricing. But the rumour mill has it that the F55 is gonna go in the $25k price range and the F5 in the $19k price range.
The F55 and F5 has three resolution recording modes – 1K, 2K and 4K. This is great for music video directors who need the flexibility of changing the resolution and not having to worry about workflow.
True, you can always shoot at full 4k and then down res to 1k. But why worry about the workflow and data storage when Sony’s new F Line does internal super sampling to 1K and 2K. With a 8.9 megapixel sensor you get a very clean down rez.
Speaking of sensors. Sony has a put their new sensor in this cam – and what makes it special, besides it being 8.9 megapixel, is that it is global shutter. Meaning that you won’t have to deal with skew and rolling shutter issues. This is a big plus for those directors looking to any hand held, run and gun, fast action shots.
Although Sony is not the first to offer a global shutter (Dalsa did years before) they are the first of the “big 3” to do so. I think this will set the precedent and force other companies, like Canon and Panasonic, to bring out global shutter cameras.
The F5 is almost identical to the F55 except for two factors: The F5 does not have a global shutter and it can’t record internally 4k (more on recording options below)
So if you are doing face paced shots, then you should really look at the F55
The Sony F55 records in full RAW 16bit. This allows you to capture the full spectrum of colour and luminance from the sensor. Since nothing is baked in, once you bring the RAW files into your colour correction software of choice you have more versatility to adjust colour temperature and exposure.
What’s really interesting, is that Sony now allows simultaneous recording. More and more camera companies are allowing this. Red just recently introduced their Meizler Module which allows you to record to ProRes and DxNHD. While Sony doesn’t allow you to record to ProRes or DxNHD, it does allow you to have an offline/online workflow by recording RAW + XAVC, MPEG-2, or the SR Codec.
Along side 16 Bit RAW, Sony also allows you to record different colour depths and bits – from 4:2:2 8 bits to 4:4:4 10 bit.
Sony’s offline and online workflow is achieved by recording to internal SxS cards and the optional AXS-R5 Recorder.
As mentioned above the Sony F55 can record internally at 4k. With the F5 you will need an external recorder.
Sony is claiming that their F55 and F5 has 14 stops of latitude! That is absolutely remarkable. Remember film has 15 stops of latitude. It won’t be long that digital surpasses film – in fact I predict in just a few year it will surpass the human eye.
Even though Sony is offering this camera with 14 stops of latitude, they were smart enough to offer built in ND filters.
As far as I know – there have been no information released on the base ISO. But if I’m gonna go a the ledge and say that I wouldn’t be surprised if it was ISO1600.
The F55 and F5 allows you to record to a multitude of frame rates to give you that super sexy slow motion.
Out of the box you can record 60 fps at 1k, 2k and 4k.
Sony plans to introduce, with a firmware update, 180 and 240 fps at 2k RAW down the line. Word on the web is that Sony will introduce this feature mid-2013.
The music video directors I know in Toronto, are die hard brand loyalist when it comes to their lenses as they are with their cameras. In fact, most DPs will usually shoot with one or two brands their entire careers (Gordon Wills used only Baltar or Cooke lenses)
I think Sony knew this. That is why the’ve desigend the camera to use a multitude of mounts.
With the Sony F55 and F5 you can attach most lenses. Here is the lenses you can mount on the F55.
- Canon, EF, and FD
- Carl Zeiss
- Leica, and M Series
- Sony CineAlta
- 2/3 B4 Broadcast Lenses.
THE SMALL THINGS
Not every feature has to impressive. Sometimes it’s the little thing that have the greatest impact. Here are few little features that I think a lot of music video directors and DP are gonna enjoy.
- Better Battery Life: Both new Sony cameras come with the Olivine – Lithium Batteries. Bassically they last longer and charger quicker
- Outputs and Connections: Real-time 4K output (4 3G-SDI outputs), HDMI, USB, and two XLR inputs.
- Viewfinder and Montors: Sony did away with the silly LCD on the top handle. Thank god! The F55 introduces three viewfinders and monitors. A 0.7 inch OLED viewfinder that has a resolution of 1280×720. A 3.5 inch LCD with 960×540 and a 7 inch a crisp 1920×1080.
- Interface and Design: Sony has taken some tips from Arri’s playbook. The camera has a uncanny resemblance to the Alexa – right down to the display screen. Buttons seem more clearly laid out then some of Sony’s other cinema cameras. All the buttons and functions are mostly on a single side of the camera, yet they don’t seemed crammed together.
SONY FOR ALL
These two new cameras are great for music video production and commercial companies, or even freelance music video directors who are looking to do high end work without having to fork over a large amount of cash or time in learning a new workflow.
If you can’t afford the two new cameras or if you’re looking for a more powerful camera, Sony has a strong Digital Motion Picture Camera line up. Priced below the F55 and the F5 are the FS100, then the FS700, and the F3.
Here is a in-depth video looking at the Sony F55
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Here is the full press release from Sony