Tag Archives: PMW-F3

Details of free and paid firmware updates for PMW-F3

From the Sony Cinealta Web Site

With respect to the PMW-F3 firmware updates which should be available any day now:

The following features are free of charge:

  • Dual Link HD-SDI output
  • 4:2:2 10bit 1080  23.98/ 25/ 29.97PsF*
    • *1080  59.94i and 50i are already available with V1.00.
    • SxS software key installation for CBK-RGB01 and CBK-3DL01.
    • Planning metadata functionality same as PMW-350 V1.30 except Wi-Fi.
    • Simultaneous HD-SDI and HDMI output (menu setting)
    • Ability to use the S & Q dial for menu setting (same as jog dial on the rear panel).
    • Display the signal format of the Dual Link output on the STATUS window.
    • In Thumbnail mode, vertical navigation of the cursor is now possible
    • TC output follows the internal Timecode Generator (TCG).
    • One-click adjustment of Peaking, Brightness and Contrast of the LCD/EVF.

The following features are activated with the CBK-RGB01 optional cost-based software key:

  • RGB4:4:4 10bit, 1080  23.98/ 25/ 29.97PsF output on the Dual Link HD-SDI or 3G-SDI.
  • S-LOG Gamma output on the Dual Link or 3G-SDI.
  • Switching HD-SDI Dual Link and 3G-SDI.
    • 3G-SDI is only available on the Link-A connector and Link-B is OFF.
    • LUTs (including x4 preset and x5 user-defined) for on-set video monitoring.
      • LUT On/Off is applied to both HD-SDI output and SxS recording at the same time.
      • LUT name information will be recorded to SxS as NRT metadata of the Clips and it can be seen by the XDCAM browser.
      • User-defined LUTs can be created by CVP file editor for free.
      • Wi-Fi function for Planning metadata (same as V1.30 for PMW-350).

 

I was not expecting to see Planning metadata on the F3, that’s certainly a nice surprise. No mention of how to get 1920/50p or 60P out of the camera. I had thought the F3 was supposed to support that. Nice to see 4 preset LUT’s along with 5 user LUT’s for S-Log along with the software to roll your own LUT.

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PMW-F3 and FS100 Pixel Count Revealed.

This came up over on DVInfo.

An F3 user was given access to the service manual to remove a stuck pixel on their F3. It was found in the service manual that you can address pixel manually to mask them. There are  pixel positions  1 to 2468 Horizontally and  1 to 1398 vertically. This ties in nicely with the published specifications of the F3 at 3.45 Million Pixels.

At the LLB (Sound, Light and Vision) trade fair in Stockholm this week we had both a SRW9000PL and PMW-F3 side by side on the stand, both connected to matching monitors. After changing a couple of basic Picture Profile settings on the F3 (Cinegamma 1, Cinema Matrix)  Just looking at the monitors it was impossible to tell which was which.

Updated notes for FS100 – F3 Video Review.

To see the video scroll down to the next blog entry.

The main aim of the shoot was to see how the FS100 held up against the F3. We shot on a bright sunny day by the River Thames and again in the evening in a typically lit living room. There were no big surprises. The FS100 is remarkably close to the F3. You would have no problems cutting between the two of them in a project.
I did find that the FS100 LCD appeared less sharp and not quite as good as the F3’s even though they both use the same underlying panel. This is probably down to the additional layers required for touch screen operation on the FS100. I also did not like the 18-200mm f5.6 kit lens. There was too much lag in the focus and iris controls, but the beauty of this camera is that you can use a multitude of lenses. For the evening shoot I used a Nikon 50mm f1.8 which was so much nicer to use. On reviewing the footage I did find that we were tending to over expose the FS100 by half a stop to a stop, this does make making accurate comparisons difficult and I apologise for this. I believe this was down to the slightly different images we were seeing on the LCD’s. I did use the histograms on both cameras to try to ensure even exposure, but even so there is a difference. A small part of this is also likely down to the very slightly different contrast ranges of the two cameras.
Oe thing we discovered, not mentioned in the video is that when you use a full frame lens, like the Nikon 50mm. You must ensure that the E-Mount adapter you use has an internal baffle or choke. If it doesn’t you will suffer from excessive flare. The adapter I had did not have a baffle and some shots (not used) were spoilt by flare. The adapter I have from MTF for the F3 has a baffle as do MTF’s E-Mount adapters, so these should not suffer from this issue.
The FS100 performance is so very close to that of the F3’s (at 8 bit 4:2:0, 35Mb/s) that it is hard to tell the two apart. I believe the F3’s images are just a tiny bit richer, with about half a stop more dynamic range, in most cases it takes a direct side by side comparison to show up the differences.
The range of camera settings and adjustments on the FS100 is not quite as extensive as on the F3, nor do the adjustments have such a broad range. However there is plenty of flexibility for most productions.
If you don’t need 10 bit 4:2:2 then it is hard to justify the additional cost of the F3, both cameras really are very good. Despite some other reports else where I felt the build quality to be very good and the buttons, while small, are big enough and well placed. If you do want autofocus then you will be pleased to know that it actually works pretty well on the FS100 with only minimal hunting (of course you must use an AF compatible lens).
I did also record the HDMI output to one of my NanoFlashes at 100Mb/s. Comparing these side by side it is extremely hard to see any difference. It is only when you start to heavily grade the material that the advantage of the higher bit rate Nanoflash material becomes apparent. There is less mosquito noise in the NanoFlash material. I was really impressed by the AVCHD material. The lack of noise in the images really helps.
The FS100 really is the F3’s little brother. The pictures are remarkably close, which they should be as they share the same sensor. The FS100 packs down into a remarkably small size for transport. The loan camera from Sony was actually packed in a case designed for the MC1P mini-cam, about 15″x10″x5″ so very compact indeed. The F3 is considerably larger and bulkier, in part due to the extra space taken up by the built in ND filters.
The lack of ND filters does need to be considered. There are some clever solutions in the pipelines from various manufacturers as well as existing solutions such as vari ND’s, screw on ND’s and a Matte Box with ND’s, so it’s not a deal breaker
I think there is every chance that the FS100 will be the first NXCAM camera that I will purchase. It will be a good companion to my F3. It’s modular design will allow me to get shots that are not possible with the F3. I felt that the FS100 (with the 18-200mm lens that I don’t like) was better suited to “run and gun” than my F3 with either manual DSLR lenses or PL glass. You can, with the FS100 simply point the camera at your subject and hit the one push auto focus and auto iris and have an in-focus, correctly exposed shot. This is much more like a traditional small sensor camcorder in this respect. The long zoom range also makes this more like a conventional camcorder, although there is no servo for the zoom.

In conclusion, in my opinion, for “run and gun” or quick and dirty setups the FS100 with the 18-200mm lens has an edge over the F3 due to the fast auto focus and auto iris one-push controls. For more precise work and shallow DoF your going to want a different lens, something with manual control and calibrated focus and iris scales. For more demanding shoots then the F3 is probably the better choice with it’s slightly improved dynamic range and the ability to use S-Log and 4:4:4. In either case these cameras can produce highly cinematic pictures and I see no reason why you could not shoot a great looking feature with either.

Two PMW-F3’s used on 3D Cinema Commercial.

Rig-on-slider-200x300 Two PMW-F3's used on 3D Cinema Commercial.
Alister Managing the F3's on a Hurricane Rig.

I got back late last night from a big budget cinema commercial shoot where I was working with a pair of F3’s on a Hurricane Rig. All went very well and the DoP, (Denzil Armour-Brown)  was impressed by the F3’s. The overall light weight of the complete system really helped us when moving from position to position. We used a ton of Chapman grip equipment including sliders and dolly’s. I was responsible for the 3D rig, camera setup and alignment as well as assisting the DoP.
We shot using 2 sets of band new Zeiss Ultra’s, mainly at 32mm and 50mm (very nice) as well as some older and very heavy Arri 100mm macro primes. Our only small issue was that the follow focus motors were shifting the camera very slightly due to flex in the tripod base plate on the F3. You probably wouldn’t notice this at most normal focal lengths in 2D but in 3D small shifts are very obvious. So a stiffener plate for the base will be needed to prevent this (as well as general flex) or a pair of 15mm rails mounted to the top holes on the F3 body.

We were recording to a Nano3D (2 x Nano Flashes) as well as to a Mac workstation recording ProRes in the video village. The video village allowed for instant playback on 50″ 3D monitors in a blacked out tent for review and tech assessment.

It was an outdoor shoot in great weather. As well as the F3’s there was a second rig with a pair of Phanton HD Gold 35mm high speed cameras shooting 3D at 1000fps. So even thought the sun was shining brightly, many shots were done with 2 or 3 18kw lamps!!

Towards the end of day the F3 rig was tasked with shooting some blue screen and other effects shots and in effect I became 2nd unit DoP. The effects shots will be matted in to the finished commercial.
I’m under NDA so can’t talk about the subject just yet, or post any pictures that show the subject, but once the ad is released (2 weeks time!!) I’ll be able to post some grabs and more photos.

Alan Roberts F3 assessment. Confusing Reading.

Alan Roberts F3 assesment is now online: http://thebrownings.name/WHP034/pdf/WHP034-ADD68_Sony_PMW-F3.pdf

In the report Alan observes the aliasing that I have seen from the camera, in particular the high frequency moire, so no surprise there. But he also measures the noise at -48.5db. Now I don’t have the ability to measure noise as Alan does and I normally respect his results, but this noise figure does not make sense, nor does his comment that the camera has similar sensitivity to most 3 chip cameras. To my eyes, the F3 is more sensitive than any 3 chip camera I’ve used and it’s a lot less noisy. The implication of the test is that the F3 is noisier than the PMW-350. Well that’s not what my eyes tell me. Take a look at the noise graph Alan has prepared. The hump in the noise figure curves at 0db also appears to be dismissed as insignificant, yet it means a greater than 4db difference between what the curve implies the noise figure should be and the measured noise figure. It really doesn’t seem to fit and is very strange. Video amplifiers and processing are normally pretty linear with gain giving a consistent increase/decrease in noise that follows the gain curve. If you read off the noise figures from the graph, the F3 appears to have less noise at +6db gain (-49.5db)  than at 0db (-48.5db). So id we are to believe Alan’s test then we should be using +6db gain or -3db gain (-53.5db) but not 0db, sorry but that just does not add up and to dismiss the 0db noise bump as “not significant” is something I don’t really understand as too me it is significant. Either there is something very strange going on with the F3 at 0db, or there is something up with the test. I suspect the later, perhaps the individual camera had some odd settings, as my F3 is quieter (visually) at 0db than +6db. I would need to check it out on a scope back at home to verify this.

There are also assumptions made about the pixel size and sensor pixel count that are quite wrong. Alan suggests the sensor to be a 12 Mega Pixel sensor, this suggestion is based on Alan’s opinion that the F3 has similar sensitivity to a 2/3″ 3 chip camera, so therefore the pixel size must be similar and the bigger sensor means that it must have 12 MP, yet Sony have published that it is 3.3 mega Pixels (same sensor as FS100). 3.3MP equates to roughly 2422 x 1362 pixels, for a bayer sensor this is a little under the optimum for 1920 x1080 (IMHO) and may explain the aliasing as Sony are probably trying to squeeze every last bit of resolution out of the sensor.

Alans assessment of his zone plate results also concludes that the R, G and B resolutions are the same and that the sensor resolution must be much higher than 2200 x 1240. Well I would not call 2422 x 1362 “much” higher and if this is a bayer sensor (neither admitted or denied by Sony) then the G resolution should be higher than the R and B. So could this be a case of conventional conclusions about an unconventional sensor, or have Sony managed to completely wrong foot Mr Roberts?

An interesting finding was that detail at zero, frequency at +99 and aperture at +20 gives the least aliasing. This is quite different from my own findings and will need further exploration.

The F3 assessment is also missing the usual customary round up from Alan where he suggests whether the camera is suitable for HD broadcast or not. I’m really glad I got my F3 before reading the report as I have seen with my own eyes the beautiful clean images the F3 produces. I strongly recommend anyone considering the F3, but put off buy this report to take a look at the pictures for themselves before making any decisions.

PMW F3 Picture Profile Smorgasbord.

I’ve been working some more on picture profiles for the PMW-F3, mainly matrix settings. You can download the full set by clicking here: ac-profiles. Download the zip file, unzip and place the “Sony” folder in the root of an SxS card or SD card in an adapter. Place the card in the camera and go into the “picture profiles” menu and select a picture profile and then “ppdata” and “recall” to load the data into your camera. This will overwrite any PP’s you already have.

Here’s the latest settings I have:

ALL use Detail level -17, Frequency +20, Aperture +25 unless otherwise stated.

AC Warm1: Warm look, less blue/yellow

Cinegamma 1, Black Gamma -25, Black Level -2.

Matrix: Standard, level +8, R-G +14, R-B +12, G-R +4, G-B +8, B-R +4, B-G -18

AC Cool1: Stark cool look, maybe day for night.

Cinegamma 1, Black Gamma -25, Black Level -2.

Matrix: Standard, level +22, R-G -44, R-B -24, G-R -34, G-B =28, B-R -7, B-G -69

AC Elec1:  Electronic, vivid look.

Gamma STD1, Black Gamma -20, black level -3, Detail Level -10, Frequency -40

Matrix Hi-Sat,

NAT1CG-1: Neutral Look, natural colors, less yellow/green.

Cinegamma 1, Black Level -2

Matrix FL-Light, Level +3, R-G +2, R-B +2, G-R +8, G-B +8, B-R -8, B-G -6

Note that for most of these I have used a cinegamma, that is because I would assume that post work will be done on the footage. If your not planning on doing any grading or post work you should consider using a standard gamma which will give a richer looking image or cinegamma 2 which is broadcast safe.

Genus Matte Box, Rails and Shoulder mount on PMW-F3

DSCF9051-1024x576 Genus Matte Box, Rails and Shoulder mount on PMW-F3
Genus kit fitted to an F3

So here is my current set up. As you may know Genus are making the 3D rig that I designed, so I get to play with the latest Genus bits and pieces. This is my F3 with a pre-production universal riser and base plate. The base plate will fit most camcorders and incorporates mounts for a pair of 15mm rails. Up front I have a Genus Wide 4×4 matte box. I’m really pleased with this light weight matte box with added top flag, it is a good match for the Nikon DSLR lenses that I will be using and is much, much lighter than my old Petroff matte box. It fits lenses up to 105mm  diameter so I will need a bigger matte box for many PL mount lenses (and bigger filters) perhaps I’ll get one of those nice TLS Raven Matte Boxes. For smaller lenses though the Genus 4×4 is really nice. Behind the matte box I have a Genus Superior follow focus. This is a silky smooth FF unit and on this lens it’s driving one of Genus’s clever flexible lens gears. This is a little bit like a hose clip, a thumb screw tightens it up so that it fastens snuggly around the lens. It will fit a much larger range of lenses than a traditional rigid lens gear.  The lens in the pictures is a Tokina ATX-Pro 28-70mm parfocal zoom. This is a great lens, plenty sharp enough for HD video and it doesn’t telescope when you zoom. Breathing is minimal. To match the lens to the camera there is one of Mike Tapas (MTF) excellent Nikon to F3 adapters.

DSCF9055-300x168 Genus Matte Box, Rails and Shoulder mount on PMW-F3
Genus hand grips and Follow Focus

Underneath the lens I have a pair of hand grips from the Genus shoulder mount kit. The shoulder pad is right at the back behind the camera. For a little bit of extra convenience I have a Genus GAP adapter plate that allows me to use a quick release VCT-14 tripod plate.

The only thing left to sort is a loupe for the LCD screen. I’ve experimented with a Hoodman DSLR loupe that I have and this almost works. It doesn’t cover the full width of the LCD, but does allow me to use the LCD as a viewfinder when using this shoulder rig. I guess I need to get the Hoodman Hood Riser and Hood Strap to make the loupe fit the LCD correctly. I’ve read elsewhere that it does not fit the F3, but my experiments with the loupe alone suggests it will fit. Anyone else tried it yet? I’d rather go this route than getting a Cineroid viewfinder.

The tripod is a Manfrotto 509. This one of their new silky smooth “bridge” style heads. The 509 is a mid weight head with a pretty high payload capability, true fluid action and variable counter balance. I’m going do a separate write up on the tripod, it’s really rather good, especially considering the price!

PMW-F3 Aliasing Update: Not the issue I feared it might be!

A further update. Sony have requested the original clips with the moire, and I have provided them with these. I have not been able to reproduce the effect with any other brickwork, roof tiles or other repeating patterns other than charts. There seems to be something about the particularly dark shade of bricks with very bright mortar (cement) that the F3 doesn’t like. In addition I have not heard from anyone else using an F3 out in the wild that is having any issues. At least now I know what to watch out for. The moire was only slight and my wife didn’t spot it until I pointed it out to her.

I am very pleased with the images I’m getting from my F3 having just finished my first paying job with it. It was nothing exciting, just a corporate shoot, but the shallow DoF and reduced amount of lighting required has resulted in some really nice footage of an otherwise dull subject. I can’t show you the clips due to client confidentiality, but the client likes the look a lot and it was easier to achieve than it would have been with a DSLR thanks to the proper video camera ergonomics.