Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sony PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Version 8 Firmware no longer on the web.

The version 8 firmware update for the PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 cameras is not available on the internet in Europe. In order to get a copy you have to contact prime support or your local service center providing the serial number of your camera, current firmware level and any options installed. Then, if your camera is safe for an end user upgrade they will issue you with a copy of the firmware and the update instructions appropriate for your serial number. If not they will advise you as to where you need to send it or take it for the update.

My understanding is that despite all the warnings there have been a lot of people that have tried to install the firmware on cameras where the install procedure is different. The end result being a camera that will no longer work and the need to replace one of the logic boards which is very expensive. To prevent this they are requiring the serial number before releasing the firmware to you.

I also recommend that if you do have a copy of the version 8 update that you do NOT share it. Please allow Sony to ensure that only owners of those cameras that can be upgraded by the end user get the firmware. This isn’t Sony trying to get more money from you, this is Sony trying to ensure that you don’t end up with an extremely expensive repair bill.

In Europe you should email Prime Support: PrimeSupport@eu.sony.com They will normally get back to you very quickly.

The Firmware is available online from the US site. BUT YOU MUST ENSURE YOUR CAMERA CAN BE USER UPGRADED. DO NOT ATTEMPT IF YOU ARE AT ALL UNSURE.

In the USA I would suggest contacting:

United States service centers:

Eastern Service Facility
Teaneck
Sony Service Center
Sony Electronics Inc.
123 W. Tryon Avenue
Teaneck, New Jersey 07666
Voice: 201-833-5300
FAX: 201-833-5312
E-mail: TeaneckService@am.sony.com

Western Service Facility
Los Angeles
Sony Service Center
Sony Electronics Inc.
2706 Media Center Drive; Suite 130
Los Angeles, California 90065
Voice: 323-352-5000
FAX: 323-352-5039
E-mail: LAService@am.sony.com

In Canada:

Sony of Canada (Customer Service Solutions Group)
Service Operations
211 Placer Court
Toronto, Ontario , M2H 3H9

Sony Montreal Service Center
Sony du Canada Ltée
2886 Boulevard Daniel?Johnson
Laval, QC H7P 5Z7

Fusion Cine
1469 Venables Street
Vancouver, BC V5L 2G1
Professional Technical Support (Vancouver)

Please have the following details ready:

First name
Last name
Email address
Company name if applicable
Business Phone
Country*
Which product do you own?
Serial Number (6 digit number)
Which firmware version is currently installed?
And confirm if the CBK-55PD option installed?*

New 4K Optically Stabilised ActionCam. FDR-X3000

FDR-X300-1024x518 New 4K Optically Stabilised ActionCam. FDR-X3000
Sony FDR-X3000 4K action cam.

Sony have a new 4K action cam with some very cool features. The FDR-X3000 boasts full optical image stabilisation using a Balanced Optical Steady Shot (BOSS) system where the lens and sensor moves to take out the camera shake typical of hand held or body worm motion. This helps produce smoother and sharper images in many typical mini-cam applications. In addition the camera has a 4K Exmor-R sensor providing great (according to Sony) low light performance. The camera records using XAVC-S at up to 100Mb/s and has built in timelapse functions. All in all the spec is very impressive for such a diminutive camera. Pair it with the new Live-View remote and it becomes even more versatile as you can use it as a camcorder (and you can change the focal length of the lens from very wide to medium). The Live View remote can be worn on your wrist, attached to the back of the camera with a novel finger grip or clipped on to a tripod.

Full details over on the Sony website: http://www.sony.co.uk/electronics/actioncam/fdr-x3000-body-kit

In addition at IBC you have the opportunity to win an ActionCam with Sony’s  #SonyFlaminGO competition at IBC.

There will be 4 flamingos (fake, not real) hidden on the Sony booth.

Tweet @sonyproeurope a picture of all four flamingos hidden around the Sony stand either in a montage or separate pics arranged so that “SONY” is spelled out: http://bit.ly/2bz2PXZ

How much technology does a modern cinematographer need to know?

This post might be a little controversial, I am often told “you don’t need to know the technical stuff to be a cinematographer” or “I don’t need to know about log and gamma, I just want to shoot”.

I would argue that unless you are working closely with a good DIT a modern DP/Cinematographer really does need to understand many of the technical aspects of the equipment being used, in particular the settings that alter the way the camera captures the images. Not just things like “set it to gamma x for bright scenes” but why you would want to do that.

Now I’m not saying that you have to be a full blown electronics engineer, but if you really want to capture the best possible images it really is very important that you truly understand what the camera is doing. It’s also a huge help to understand how your footage will behave in post production. Any craftsman should understand the correct way to use his tools and not only know how to use them but how they work.

Part of the understanding of how your chosen camera behaves comes from testing and experimentation. Shooting test clips across a range of exposures, trying different gamma or log curves and then taking the footage into post production and seeing how it behaves.

Film cinematographers will shoot tests with different film stocks before a large production under the kinds of lighting conditions that will be encountered during the film. Then the film would be processed in different ways to find the best match to the look the cinematographer is trying to achieve. Digital cinematographers should be doing the same and importantly understanding what the end results are telling them.

Most of the great painters didn’t just pick up a paint brush and slap paint on a canvas. Many artists from  Da Vinci to Turner studied chemistry so they could develop new paints and painting techniques. DaVinci was a pioneer of oil painting, Turner used to make his own paints from base pigments and chemicals and patented some of the unique colors he created.

This doesn’t take anything away from the traditional skills of lighting and composition etc, those are just as important as ever and always will be. But modern electronic cameras are sophisticated devices that need to be used correctly to get the best out of them.  I believe that you need to understand the way your camera responds to light. Understands it’s limitations, understand it’s strengths and learn how to use those strengths and avoid the weaknesses.

And that’s a really important consideration. Today the majority of the cameras on the market are capable of making great images…… Provided you know how to get the best from them. One may be stronger in low light, one may be better in bright light. It may be that one camera will suit one job or one scene better than another. You need to learn about these differences and understanding the underlying technologies will help you figure out which cameras may be candidates for your next project.

It’s not just the camera tech that’s important to understand but also how to manage the footage all the way from the camera to delivery. While you don’t need to be an expert colorist, it certainly helps if you know the process, just as film cameramen know about color timing and film processing. A trend that is growing in the US is high end cinematographers that also grade.

This has come about because in the days of film the cinematographer could determine the look of the finished production through a combination of lighting, the choice of film stock and how it was to be processed. Today a cinematographer may have much less control  over the final image as it passes through the post production and grading process. Often the final look is determined by the colorist as much as the cinematographer. By also becoming colorists and staying with their material all the way through post production, cinematographers can retain control of the final look of the production.

As HDR (High Dynamic Range) delivery becomes more important along with the need to deliver SDR content at the same time, a good understanding of the differences between and limitations of both systems will be needed as you may need to alter the way you expose to suit one or the other.

So, there is lots that you need to know about the technology used in todays world of digital cinematography. Where there is a big enough budget DIT’s (Digital Imaging Technicians) can help cinematographers with guidance on camera setups, gamma, color science, LUT’s and workflows. But at the low budget end of the market, as a cinematographer you need at the very least a firm grasp of how a modern camera works, how to correctly mange the dat it produces (you would be amazed how many people get this wrong). Finally how the material handles in post production, if you really want to get the best from it.

It isn’t simple, it isn’t always easy, it takes time and effort. But it’s incredibly rewarding when it all comes together and results in beautiful images.

If you disagree or have your own take on this please post a comment. I’d love to hear other views.

Storm Chasing and Canada Workshops.

I’m off to Canada today for workshops in Montreal tomorrow at INIS (301, boulevard De Maisonneuve Est) Thursday May 26th, 1pm – 5pm and then at  6:30pm – 10:30pm.

Then in Toronto at SIRT, Monday May 30th 1pm – 5pm and 6:30pm – 10:30pm.

From there I go to Vancouver Film School on Wednesday June 1st, 1pm – 5pm and 6:30pm – 10:30pm. 

More details about these free workshops are here: https://www.sonybiz.ca/pro/lang/en/ca/article/broadcast-socan-alister-chapman

After that it’s down to Cinegear in LA for some more workshops there before heading up to Denver for a 10 day long storm photo and video workshop. While getting ready for the trip I came across a few clips from last year that I had not put up on youtube yet, so here they are:

Digital Cinematography Workshop – Singapore.

I’m running a 2 day intensive digital cinematography workshop at Singapore Media Academy on the 28/29th of June.

This workshop is going to be great for anyone that want’s to get the very best from their camera equipment covering aspects such as scene files and picture profiles. How to use different gamma curves to create different looks. How to shoot with log and raw and how to create stylised look with LUT’s (Look Up Tables). There will be an introduction to grading and post production as well as a look a the ACES workflow. There will also be an introduction to 4K and HDR production.

Grants are available through MDA Singapore for residents and some other categories to cover the full course fees.

CLICK HERE for more information.

PMW-F55 and PMW-F5 Firmware V7.01 Released

f5-firmware7 PMW-F55 and PMW-F5 Firmware V7.01 ReleasedA busy day for Sony because as well as the version 3 firmware for the FS7 Sony have also released firmware version 7.01 for the PMW-F55 and F5. No, you didn’t miss version 7.0. Sony chose not to release version 7.0 as they wanted to incorporate some bug fixes into the first release of the generation 7 firmware.

This is another significant release as it include a whole new way of operating and controlling the camera from the side panel. The new menu system called “quick menu” includes 6 pages of key camera functions laid out in a simple and logical manner. It really does make the F5 and F55 cameras much simpler and faster to use.

The F55 camera also gains the ability to record Rec-2020 color in custom mode for compatibility with future TV standards. This gives baked in rec-2020 color in the same was as you have rec-709 color when you shoot with the camera set to rec-709. In Cine EI both the F5 and F55 can be set to S-Gamut or S-Gamut3 to record color ranges compatible with rec-2020 .

Both cameras gain an increased zebra range with zebras now going all the way down to 0% and the ability to record an interlaced HD proxy when shooting at 50p or 60p in 4K.

For more details and the download links please go to the official Sony F5/F55 forum.

There are some ungrateful people out there!

Rant time, so ignore this if you are not interested.

I run xdcam-user.com for free. I provide a wealth of guides, LUT’s documentation and articles for free. It costs readers of the site absolutely nothing.

All I ask in return is for those that want to say thank you to buy me a coffee or a beer in the form of a small paypal payment for a coffee or beer.

But sadly there are some people out there that either don’t read what it says immediately above and below the PayPal button or pay any attention to what is stated on the PayPal transaction page. It clearly states “buy Alister a coffee (beer etc)”.

They make the payment and then open a PayPal dispute when they don’t receive whatever it is they are expecting to receive and I have to go through the whole rigmarole of refunding them etc.

Come on people, READ what it says you are buying, you are buying me a coffee or a beer as a token of your appreciation for the time and effort that goes in to running this site and providing a free resource. The LUT packs, PDF’s and other downloads are all under free links.

And finally I do appreciate the coffee’s and beer’s, I really do. I’m sorry that I don’t get around to thanking everyone that makes a contribution but I only have a limited amount of time that I can spend on the website and I often have to spend that time answering questions, responding to comments, preparing new articles and moderating the forum to keep the thousands of spammers and hackers that target the site every day at bay.

So a big thanks to all that have made a contribution of any size, but a suggestion to READ THROUGH THE TRANSACTION DETAILS to those that then open a dispute.

Rant over. Normal service shall be resumed.

PXW-FS5 Factory Default Frame Grabs and Video (all at 0dB gain)

In my rush to get this out I made a mistake on one of the captions. The S-Log3 was shot at 3200ISO, not 1000ISO.

 

So here are some frame grabs from video shot today with my FS5. There is no image processing other than the grading of the S-log3 clip and the upscaling of the HD clips to UHD in the video.

Default factory settings or picture profiles were used. The footage was exported from Adobe Premiere CC using Media Encoder at 3840×2160, H264 at 75Mb/s for upload to YouTube and Vimeo. You should be able to download the UHD H264 file from Vimeo.  This is what it looks like out of the box. All the shots were done at the same aperture (f9) and shutter speed (1/50) and the native ISO or 0dB gain used in each case. This means that the S-log3 was around 1.5 stops over exposed, which is about optimum for S-log and an 8 bit codec. As you can see the pictures are low noise with no significant artefacts and no banding in the sky, clouds or any other areas. You can also see that the S-log3 grades really nicely when shot this way and results in a very low noise image. In the video clip I have included some pans and tilts and everything looks perfectly normal to me.

Click on the thumbnails of the still images to go to larger and full resolution UHD and HD frame grabs.

UHD-709-1024x576 PXW-FS5 Factory Default Frame Grabs and Video (all at 0dB gain)
PXW-FS5 frame grab. UHD, factory default settings.
UHD-Cinegamma2-1024x576 PXW-FS5 Factory Default Frame Grabs and Video (all at 0dB gain)
PXW-FS5 UHD Picture Profile 6. Cinegamma 2
UHD-Slog3-1024x576 PXW-FS5 Factory Default Frame Grabs and Video (all at 0dB gain)
PXW-FS5 UHD Picture Profile 9, S-log3, ungraded.
UHD-Slog3-Graded-1024x576 PXW-FS5 Factory Default Frame Grabs and Video (all at 0dB gain)
PXW-FS5 UHD Picture Profile 9, S-log3, Graded Shot at 3200 ISO not 1000 ISO as indicated in the caption.

Note that even though the S-log3 is 1.5 to 2 stops over exposed the cloud highlights are still well within range after grading. I could probably over exposed by a further stop and still had great looking highlights and even less noise. S-log really like being over exposed. Log is the exact opposite of standard gamma. With standard gamma you shoot protecting your highlights but with log you must shoot to protect your shadows.

HD-709-1024x576 PXW-FS5 Factory Default Frame Grabs and Video (all at 0dB gain)
PXW-FS5 50Mb/s HD, factory default settings.
HD-Cine3-1024x576 PXW-FS5 Factory Default Frame Grabs and Video (all at 0dB gain)
PXW-FS5 50Mb/s HD, Picture Profile 5, Cinegamma 3

PXW-FS5 Firmware Version 1.1 Released.

Sony have released the version 1.1 firmware update for the PXW-FS5 which allows you to output 4K over the HDMI while recording 4K on the SD cards. However it does appear that at the moment at least it is impossible to output 4K, Record internal 4K AND have a picture on the LCD or EVF. Lets hope this gets resolved later in time. It also adds auto focus face detection in 4K. Click on the link below to go to the download page:

http://www.sony.co.uk/pro/support/software/SW_122115_PSG/1