Sony announces the PMW F3K!

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We have seen prototypes of this camera this year but today Sony officially revealed the name and the full specs and it’s pretty damn good!

It’s essentially an ex1 mated with a 35mm cinema camera, having features from both.

Key things are a super 35mm CMOS image sensor (close to APS-C), it comes either body only with PL lens mount or with 3 T2 lenses, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm. They plan on introducing lenses specifically for this new F3 mount…details to follow…

It records in 23.98, 25p and 29.97p in full HD ad 50/ 60p in 720p mode. It records on SxS media like and EX1/ EX3 and offers the same overcrank as the EX1. So you can overcrank from 1 to 60fps in 720p mode and up to 30fps in full HD. It records in the same 35mb/s XDCAM long gop format. I am assuming it’s the same 4:2:0. You can record uncompressed 10bit 4:2:2 out of the SDi socket.

It’s good news for EX owners like myself who already have stacks of media!

Looks awesome to be honest. The key questions is price…how much?

Tentative pricing from Sony Europe is €20,700 (US$28,850) for F3K (with lenses) or €14,500 (US$20,195) for the F3L (without lenses) model – no where near as cheap as the AF100. Estimated shipping date is January 2011. So not cheap am afraid! Which will price it out of most people’s pockets… Cheap in the old days but in today’s aggressive market is it too expensive?

I am very curious about the whole including the PL lens mount as standard, this alone is positioning at the much higher end of the market as very few of us can afford PL lenses. I am certain we will be able to use other lenses with adaptors, whether made by Sony or not. XDCAM 35mbs is pretty damn good. Certainly better than 5Dmk2 54mbs H264 as it’s much better encoding and more video orientated despite the lower number. It’s certainly not going to be appeal to the low budget DSLR indie crowd at that price but it will to the higher end…

I will try and get my hands on one as soon as I can to see just what this camera is capable of. This is a serious camera and definitely aimed at the cinema/ higher end broadcast market despite the lowish bit rate in camera which with Nanoflash type gear can be unlocked into VERY high bit rates. It’s not going to be a consideration for the indie 5Dmk2/ 7D owners as the price point is way way higher and much higher too than the AF-101…Let’s see where all this goes…exciting times..

Read more here


  1. According to Sony UK (on Facebook) it’ll €​14,500 body-only, or €​20,700 with lenses. Expensive, but cheap for what it can offer (dual-link 4:4:4 and RGB).

    And it looks like a video-style zoom may be coming – unprecidented for a sensor that large.

  2. Hi Philip I agree PL lenses are very expensive, but very easily rentable from places like Panavision and Arri. What I find more odd is that unlike the DSLRs it has an EVF but both are on the back of the camera so you are in the same predicament, needing to get and external EVF or use the LCD screen which lets face it has caused the slow decline in critical focus for most broadcasters who are more concerned with the codex and the image being in focus. At least with the RED you get to build the camera you need and want from the ground up, although it probably wont work with out some problem or another.

    1. I starting shooting with a 16mm B&H 70 in the early 1970s. Then I went to a shoulder mount Eclair NPR, and have NEVER used a hold-in-front-camera since – and I’m not going to start again now!

      Both Sony and Panasonic need to make mid-range cameras for pros, not soccer moms.

  3. Might be tempting if it were a third the price, but with no 1080 50p overcrank, on-camera recording in an OK-but-probably-not-dramatically-better-than-AVCHD codec, and presumably no fall-back autofocus for one man band tracking shots, it doesn’t look like an AF100 killer. They’ve presumably released the news to try to stop as many of us as possible pre-ordering AF100’s 😉

    Creative video are listing the price as £12500 + VAT body only. You could get two AF100’s a big sack of lenses for that… or one AF100, a big sack of lenses and a whole heap of cash to spend on talent and location for the next big shoot using 5D2 and 7D as put-em-anywhere coverage cams.

    I guess if you are used to Hollywood prices, this probably seems cheap… but on paper at least, you’ll get a hell of a lot more bang for the buck from the Panasonic.

    Now if only Red can get the S35 Scarlett working and shipping at something like the promised price point… LOL

  4. bizare, the price/performance is perplexing.. especially considering the af100 and scarlet will be out before long.. not sure if this will be a long term hit with anyone…

  5. AHHH:

    Yet again, Sorry Sony but no, for That price i may as well throw in an extra 5k and get myself a RED ONE MX. If That is the price that hits the streets, i doubt it will sell very much.

  6. The panny was a stretch for the DSLR crowd, but this is just waaayyy to expensive, crazy expensive.

    It looks good but why so much? Is this really 3-4 times the hardware of the Panny to justify this price? Seems like Sony are making a nice little margin on this.

    Oh well, hope Canon are a bit better at catering for the little guy than greedy Sony.

    Shame, because it looks good but not at that price.

  7. Will it have increased sensitivity to red as an added feature 🙂

    Way to expensive….. and they should get rid of that little viewfinder in the back, it is totally useless. Mine has been removed from my EX1 since day 1. It is fragile and always sticking out, so it can be easily broken.

  8. There’s totally a legit market for this at that price…the question is will the image quality be good enough to justify the price? If the AF-100 is as good then Sony is going to have some problems, and if the thing isn’t better than the RED or other digital cinema cameras in that range then it’s going to have some serious issues getting sales.

  9. Oh dear another expensive Sony realise….I remember when the DSR 570 was £16k….and its not that long ago. Good attempt but in a years time this will seem like a massive waste of money….You can see from the reaction on here from many experienced camera op’s the price point is fantasy.

  10. Once again, this seems to be an example of Sony putting out a product in search of an audience. The specs (in relation to price), while very nice, seem a little out of place with the intended end-user. It puts itself into supposed near-direct competition with RED MX. (Let’s ignore the fantasy Scarlet, it may never be released).

    Like the strangely designed and priced, Sony NEX-VG10 with is lack of 24p and xlr audio, it is too expensive for the consumer camcorder market, and lacks critical features for the pro-sumer.

    In sharp contrast to the Panasonic AF-100, which appeals to HDSLR users looking for real video camera functionality at a competitive price, this Sony offering is way too expensive to be a real solution.

    I’m sure this camera will appeal to commercial production companies who are already outfitted with EX workflows wishing to upgrade. But for most of us, this is a non-starter.

  11. How can they put 3K in the name of this camera, and it only shoot 720 and 1080 formats? This is just not good enough for a ‘cinema’ camera. And interlaced? Come on! This camera would be amazing if it actually shot 3k or 4k, with a better codec than MPEG2 long-GOP. A half-hearted effort at a cinema camera, in my opinion.

  12. If I sell my second truck,then I can afford this!
    No need to have 2 trucks anyway gas is just going to go up,
    Now if only I could afford lenses for this 😛

  13. Why, oh why, couldn’t Sony build a camera with this technology but with a decent viewfinder, a body not made of lightweight plastic and big enough to use on your shoulder – as cameras are meant to be used handheld.

    What’s the point of something potentially heading towards the quality of the RED and Alexa, but in an EX-1’s skin? Is the idea to give it to production assistants and get them to go and shoot reality tv with it?? No, it’s surely aimed at the higher end of the market, given the technology and price.

    Looks like we’re going to get some really nice looking episodes of The Only Way is Essex next year…

  14. If I was spending this much money on a Camcorder you would think it would at least meet the minimum bitrate specs for HD broadcasters. Yes, of course – you can add an external recorder etc. etc. but this camera just feels like it’s been hobbled by Sony marketing trying to maintain product segmentation across their legacy range. I guess Canon weren’t worried about canibalising their video products with the 5DmkII. Actually Canon are a good example – the 5DmkII and the XF305 are very different products that suit different markets. The F3 seems to fall into a gap where it doesn’t suit any market. Let’s see.

  15. There’s one intriguing possibility here which we should consider.

    What if this camera was never really meant to be an AF101 competitor?
    What if it’s true calling is with an SR flash-mag and recording 4444 220Mbit SR lite (which has been alluded to in the press release sometime next year)?

    Is that the reason for the mystery chunky brackets on the top?

    What then if the EX on the SxS becomes the offline proxy recording that perfectly matches the SRlite clips in name and timecode, so you can ingest the EX for the proxy and online with the SRlite?

    The proxy is the achilles heal of the XDCAM HD422 format – it’s far too low quality to use for real editing and the audio is shocking.
    Editing with EX would be an ideal HD proxy for high-end work and if there was an easy conform route to SRLite that’s a very interesting option.

    So maybe Sony DO know what they are doing, but they had their hand forced by Panasonic and have had to release this early before all the pieces of the jigsaw were in place.



      1. That’s not camera, which is Sonys answer to Af101.There will be new new pro version of NEX-VG10 in January, with XLR and so on..We just have to wait official launch.

    1. Could someone explain where you can get a Scarlett for ANY kind of money? Doesn’t matter if it’s priced in Monopoly money if it never sees the light of day.

  16. As an EX-1 user, the specs on this seem to address all the things I’d want when not doing meat and potatoes gigs that the EX-1r excels at. I really miss having a bigger sensor in the EX1 when shooting narratives and those times when I want some real bokeh (you can get it on an EX1, but you have to work at it). I much prefer the video camera approach to the DSLR add-on strategy (integrated audio, ND filters, controls that you can easily adjust when doing run & gun), which is why I like the form factor of this and the AF100.

    I can see this as a solid second unit cam for higher end productions or even as a replacement cam for some broadcast applications. I think I could gig on it as I would an EX1 and still be in good shape when shooting film projects. Plus, if it’s a Sony, you know it will work and look good. Plus the EX workflow with FCP is great and the codec they use does hold up pretty well in post.

    All that being said, the price is a road block. As mentioned previously, the trade offs and options you have at that price point do make you stop and think. Will the AF100 be good enough? Even with the trade-offs in quality associated with DSLR’s, does it make sense to stick with that as a platform? It’s pretty clear productions created with DSLR’s are mainstream now. And what about moving up to some flavor of Red? I really dig working with that and the flexibility of RAW files. BTW, still don’t know why I should care about a 2/3″ Scarlet, I mean, really?

    Anyway, we need to let the dust settle, let the actual production models hit the street, let the pixel peepers do their thing and then do some critical evaluation before jumping to conclusions at this early stage. I do hope that Sony does some soul searching to find a way to lower the price, because this could be the camera I’ve been waiting for.

  17. Yah I agree Phil. However, Red just finalized the Epic and is about to put it
    into production … sure there have been YEARS of delays, but I can easily
    see it being more widely available by NAB time next year.

    And the specs on the Epic will far, far exceed this for around the same price
    of the body with a form factor very similar to DSLR’s. (though heavier)

    Yes, I know you said it’s hard to get excited about anything Red has
    promised considering all the delays. But they reached some very significant
    milestones last week and are beginning to order parts for production.

    Just sayin’ … if I’m going to wait for a camera, I’d rather drop 30k on an
    Epic than something like this. Also, consider how Red takes care of their
    customers by letting them turn in old cameras to upgrade. (for instance
    Red One owners get $17,500 toward the Epic — what other camera
    company does that?)


  18. A full frame sensor will definately be a big advantage over the AF100/101 and 444 output is a no brainer. but the Xdcam codec (long GOP) ahhh not for me please. Same issue i have iwht the Af100. in camera recording sucks but HDSDI is great so in fact an AF100 will cost 6K plus 2K for a ki Promini(or ninja with extra drives etc etc.) plus lenses( lets say Zeiss ZF 5k, so lets say 13K.

    Im not even thinking DSLR Philip. Im looking top down DSLRs tome are still , still cams that shoot video (all be it in a fantastic fashion)

    but 13K for an AF100
    Sony starts at 14 K Plus PL mount lenses (20k 5set CP.2’s) cuz you only get PL mount for now anyway, plus ki pro mini 2K
    and all you get is an HD 1080 image (same reason i don’t agree with F23)

    RED ONE 25K camera plus 20K (lenses) plus accessories, 6k
    but you get 4.5K RAW.

    For the market they are going after i think they shot themselves in the foot.

    the DSLR guys find it too expensive and the higher end guys would want more resolution. but let see how it goes

  19. Looks like a beast although I am surprised at the price point – I would have thought around 10-12k for the body only version – a more premium product than the AF100 – would probably sell quite well – however at 20k ( red territory – without shooting 4K) for the body only – I can only assume the Image Quality is the big Ace up the sleeve – as you say Phil – we will see.. curious about lowlight capability as well – ISO / Gain features etc..

    Really hope we see more camera’s shooting to Prores in the future
    ( <3 alexa )…

    A 2k shooting to Prores 1080p at 50/60fps , 5D mk3 FF sensor with better scaling ( no aliasing / moire – reduced RS )
    which has the option of a 2x XLR phantom powered bottom plate connector with full HD HDMI / HD-SDI out (think large battery grip style) out in 2011 (body only) for $4999 USD

    Oh yes, Canon – you know you want to….

  20. I prefer Sony over the Panasonic system only just that the menus in the Panasonic were difficult to work with on the HVX compared to the Sony EX1R/3, which seems more sensible and straight forward.
    Is the menu set up the same on the Panasonic AF101?

  21. 35mb/s is too weak or did they mean 35 MByte/s?
    At least 50mbit/s would be nice for 25p and even more for 50p!
    For that price you could almost go to red.
    With my 7D and EF lenses I can at least use the autofocus button if it has to be quick.

    And why does none of those new cameras have 4 channel audio.
    Even my XL-H1 from 2007 had this and I have used it more than once.

    I hope the prices drop once canon arrives, hopefully with EF-Mount and new lenses like a 15-85mm 2.8L with a constant length so that the videohead don’t get out of balance while zooming.

  22. The price tag is way over the limit we expected…It might be a great camera but very hard to be profitable. It is the same price as the RED One prior to MX and I think it will be better to rent an Alexa or a RED instead of paying that price. One of the reasons I jumped in at the DSLR´s it was because one job nearly paid each camera. Even if Canon releases one model every year I would still buy it…it´s cheap meaning you pay for it very very quickly. Now with these prices doesn´t matter Sony, Arri whatever…we are going back to the place we were before, spending thousands that will never be paid before they release a newer model. I myself at our company when started buying video cams we did the first purchase. One year later needing another one to match the first we had it almost discontinued due to upgrades to the newer model. Result? We now have 16 cameras that have little to do with each other so equals a terrible investment. I see this generation of in between cameras…this is not (I think) a full cinema camera and it is not something we might buy without some planned work ahead.
    Anyway I will like to see the results.
    Thank you for sharing the info.

  23. The thing that seems most puzzling to me is the timing and choice of product. Why release a $27,000 camera targeted as a commercial camera or b-camera when with the same technology, they could release a sub $10k camera to steal buyers away from the much anticipated AF100? Just strikes me as odd. I don’t doubt this may be a popular choice among commercial prod cos who can justify the purchase, but it seems they are going to lose a large audience of prosumers and indy filmmakers by not competing in the same market with technology they clearly have ready to go. And with a wide range of Alpha lenses already available, they could steer users away from Canon.

    Speaking of Canon — is someone asleep at the wheel over there? Why bother with the 60D when fans are screaming for an HDSLR camcorder solution?

  24. Clearly, this camera was not intended to be marketed to many of us who frequent this blog. It’s meant to compete with RED and Super 16. The AF100 will be feeding on the DSLR and Letus crowd without any other sharks for a while.

  25. lets face it, a RED 4K raw for $1k more, and the camere can shoot at 120fps @ 2K. F3 1080p30 max. the additional cost of the SR memory recorder will I’m sure double the cost of the package if you want to actually record S-Log vs 8bit XDcam 35mbit in camera. its truly a camera thats missed its market in price vs features compared to whats out there. what did you expect from sony ?

  26. Yeah, this camera is floating around USC in the hands of professors and select students. They filmed this weekend with this new Sony Cam, which we
    all call, the Sony RED, because it’s priced and featured to compete with the Red One.

    Ironically, another group with Panasonic’s new 3D Camera filmed the group filming with the new Sony F3K

    It’s really cool times…one question Philip, and by the way, I was turned on to you by a Lucasfilm Editor who came by here and showed us your Skywalker Ranch footage last semester, is the F3K going to have HD-SDI out or just SDI?

    4:2:0 is dissapointing…even the Panasonic HVX-200 had 4:2:2

    Yeah yeah, with uncompressed SDI out to a AJA or Nanoflash, you can get 4:2:2

    But for 20,000…why do I have to buy a Nanoflash, I should get a better in camera compression. The whole thing with the Nanoflash is to buy a cheaper camera and then add the 3 Grand extra for the Nanoflash set-up and come out underbudget but with an image that rivals 35mm or a good 35mm video camera.

    It’s all about compression…if Canon wanted to…they could unlock the 5D and we’d have, sensor-wise, better image than any video camera out there.

    The hardware is already there in the DSLR…better than what the Red or F3K has…it’s the firmware that’s missing. I know it’s not news, but its an oft-forgotten point that’s worth re-mentioning.

    Compression compression, and I’m not saying coming up with a compression scheme is easy, nor is it a pure numbers game, as the difference between the 35 mbps Ex-1 long GOP and the Canon 5D’s 50 some odd mbps H.264 shows.

    This is the greatest cinematography blog, thanks Philly.


    I heard it can record to 2K…

  27. I think at this price range it just doesnt make any sense… there are too many alternatives on the market and for that price point I would be more inclined to buy a scarlet camera from RED.

    Speaking of which, whats you thoughts on the new epic and scarlet cameras from RED Phil? You going to test them out anytime soon?

  28. wow. lots of comments, from people who seemingly don’t use Prosumer cameras much. Lots of speculation and bashing too, for a camera no one has actually used yet?

    Philip is right, “Exciting times”. Also I might add: “skeptical times from geek fanboys who talk a lot but may have never used actual non-DSLR cameras”.

    $20k is not for an amateur hobbyist. Please go buy a T2i at Best Buy. Why are you upset at Sony because you can’t afford this camera?

    $20k including lenses is pretty amazing (a Red One is only around $20k if you don’t care about adding a lens, battery, proper rails, media, tripod, etc. to it). Please price out a Red One first before you say this. Both Sony and RED are building cameras that start in the $25 to $30k range (not even for fully loaded, just “fully functional”).

    Great, that’s great. I can’t afford that yet. So what, that doesn’t make it bad. Maybe I can rent it? This was the price of a Betacam not too long ago. Not to mention, used carefully, lots of other modern cheaper cams can come ‘almost’ close to this picture quality in certain settings.

    It’s Amazing that the AF100 will only cost $5000. It’s amazing a high quality Sony cinema-style camera costs $20k and comes with lenses, and can potentially give you George Lucas HDCAM quality! Why aren’t more people saying this? What’s with all the snarky comments?

    Do people really think 4:4:4 dual HD-SDI should be included in a $5k camera?

    The geek fanboys have gone crazy.

    Price out a modern 35mm film camera first before you speak about expensive, please.

  29. With the upcoming cameras from RED, and especially the Scarlet S35 which has been recently announced to be shipping before April 2011 or something (as Jim Jannard himself said, but we know that from RED : everything is subject to change) the competition will be atrocious.
    I believe the AF100 will be out of competition in term of sensor resolution but will stay a great camera because it is quite cheap and used with a Kona Ki Pro Mini will be a beast. (I do think that it would be a better option for many indie production against the 2/3″ Scarlet, even if the sensor has a higher resolution, if the production can’t afford post-production on RAW and doesn’t need more than 60fps…)

    But that new Sony, (that by the way I waited sooooo long… But came too expensive to me), at its price range, will be right against the RED Scarlet S35. Announced at something like 12K$ (body only I assume). I suppose that the price will be higher because of all the upgrades since the last time specs were published (like HDR) so let’s say 14k$ Body Only.
    The Sony, in its form factor, comes a bit more “handy-for-the-price” has you already have I/Os, a little monitor, a viewfinder etc. But sill XDCAM EX codec and 1080P when the S35 will be shooting RAW at at least 3K (I don’t remember exactly)…

    It is getting messy in my head, but next year will be very interesting ! For sure ! (but if I can afford to buy new gear I will go for an AF101 or a Scarlet 2/3 or better if Bill Gates wants to donate his money to me :D)

  30. I’ve been shooting broadcast television film and video for 30 years. None of these cameras make any sense to me if they can not be shoulder mounted comfortably without accessories. It must be possible to build a simple small form video camera possessing all the specs generally outlined above that balances on the shoulder. That and a decent viewfinder. A tiny EVF on the back and flip out colour LCD is useless for serious work. I can’t shoot without an articulating, large bright viewfinder. Operationally, for me it’s all about the balance and the viewfinder.

  31. What kills me is that both Panny and Sony have come soooo close to giving us the perfect “video that looks like film” camera and gotten us to the 80%-percent mark but still clearly missed the target.

    So what they’ve both done is give us:

    1. Rolling-shutter sensor
    2. 4:2:0 color-space
    3. Long-GOP compression type
    4. Poor EVF/Viewfinder setup (no articulating finder options)
    5. Relatively low-bitrate codec

    Yes, we now have 2 choices for a “real” video camera with film DOF characteristics and traditional controls/rigging setups but I’d be hard-pressed to dump a fully-rigged 5DMkII for either of these cameras – especially at the Sony price-point.

    Now, if the Sony had:

    1. A Global shutter
    2. 4:2:2 recorded to in-camera media
    3. Decent built-in or add-on finder
    4. True progressive, “i-frame” format (not Long-GOP)…

    …then I’d be on-board in a heartbeat. But as it is I’m not seeing any compelling reason for a current DSLR shooter – with a PROPER rig – to drop everything and reinvent the wheel, not even close.

    And until the tests come out it’s impossible to tell if the Sony will actually produce better imagery than the AF100. My guess is the results will be nearly indistinguishable.

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