New Sony Camera Offers a Company First: ‘Super 35mm’ CMOS Imaging

Sony Electronics has unveiled a first for the company: a professional handheld camera with a “Super 35mm” CMOS imager, giving independent filmmakers and other video-production professionals a new acquisition option.

The PMW-F3 camcorder weighs about 5 lb. without a lens and has a basic price of $16,000. For $23,000, users can get the camera and a low-cost PL lens kit, which includes 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm T2.0 fixed-focal-length lenses.

The camcorder is based on the Sony XDCAM EX platform, according to Tatsuro Kurachi, Sony senior group marketing manager, professional video products, for Sony’s Broadcast and Production Systems Division. “And the CMOS sensor makes the camera small and lightweight with low power consumption,” he adds.

The Sony PMW-F3 is a first for the company.

Light sensitivity is f11; signal-to-noise ratio, -63dB. Recording can be done at 1920x720p or 1920x1080p for up 60 frames per second when recording dual-link HD-SDI. Footage shot with the F3 can be seamlessly intercut with content shot on Sony’s F35 or SRW-9000PL cameras.

The camera also supports S-Log and Hyper Gamma, two ways to significantly increase the camera’s performance of dynamic range, Sony says. S-Log is Sony’s approach to the raw Digital Negative, allowing access to the full dynamic range of the Super 35mm imager for maximum flexibility in image manipulation during postproduction. This capability combined with the widely used SxS format lets users take advantage of well-established XDCAM EX and HDCAM SR workflows.

The PMW-F3’s PL mount adapter can accommodate both PL and upcoming Sony zoom lenses and offers compatibility with a variety of cine lenses, such as Cooke, Fujinon, and Zeiss.

As with all its digital-motion-picture production technologies, Sony is also planning to introduce a compatible SR Memory portable recorder for the PMW-F3 camcorder. SR Memory, Sony’s new high-speed, high-capacity card format, will give users the ability to record directly to the industry-standard HDCAM SR codec using the SR Memory portable recorder connected to the F3 camera’s single-link and dual-link output.

Support for 3D is planned for 2011. The SR Memory has an adapter that allows two camera streams to be recorded onto the same card, in addition to on-board recording on both cameras for backup. Full sync of timecode and all metadata is also featured, according to Kurachi.

The camera will also support Look-up Table (LUT), unique for dailies and on-set color management. Up to four LUTs can be stored in the camera and stamped onto the footage on the SxS card, simultaneously using the camera’s dual-link output with S-Log for the unprocessed image. This creates the perfect offline, online workflow combining the SxS and SR codec, with the SR Memory portable recorder connected to the F3 and recording to the SR codec.

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