Launch of Sony F3 and NXCAM in London, short films, test footage, video interviews!

DAY 1:

Support my fight to beat prostate cancer via my Movember moustache growing by donating  PLEASE. Also check out some of awesome films made by my team!

This morning I was actually in the country (England) for the launch of the 3 new cameras from Sony, the high end HDCAM SR S35mm Camcorder the SRW-9000PL, the EX1-esque but with S35 chip the F3 and the prototype surprise announcement of another S35 camera the yet unnamed AVCHD NXCAM.

We got to see footage from the first two cameras and they looked gorgeous.

The camera I was mostly interested in, at first, is the new Sony F3 which I talked about on an earlier post here. It’s SXS based with a dedicate EXMOR S35 sensor and is rated at ISO 800. Really impressive. The images looked awesome although they were using Zeiss Superspeeds and recording via HD-SDI out to HDCAM SR. I would love to have seen the actual footage from the SXS. The thing is the camera is an EX1 in a lot of it’s functions. Even the menus look the same (a good thing!) It records at 4:2:0 35mb/s shoots the 24p/25p/30p at full hd, 720 50p and 60p and overcranks and undercranks in 720p mode from 1fps to 60fps. Oh, it also shoots interlaced if you want that!

Now XDCAM EX format is awesome, I bought and EX1 as soon as it came out and now have an EX3. I have used it for countless projects, both with and without 35mm. Always rated it. You see, I am not into numbers. Yes, the less compression is better but 35mb/s has always looked amazing to me from my EX cameras but the big HD broadcasters insist on 50mb/s 4:2:2 for full acquisition despite the 35mb/s being awesome. This camera does not do this. It CAN though using the uncompressed 10 bit out of the HD-SDI, the guys who made the demo film recorded to HD-CAM SR, but you don’t have to go so expensive. A Convergent Design Nano-Fash or Ki-Pro mini will do an excellent job. It is such a shame though that the camera does not have the 4:2:2 50mb/s out of the box. It would be so much easier…I like less wires and less cumbersome rigs and that is not even getting into the extra costs. Bill Drummond from Sony explains why in my video below.

I haven’t shot with it yet so until I get the camera and shoot with it…

Interviews are with Rick Young from MacVideo.TV, fellow Movember team member Paul Joy from, Philip Johnston from, Bill Drummond from Sony and the designer of the new NXCAM! Oh and that thumbnail is me using and EX1 and Letus Extreme on Drama shoot The Somme, silly hat and all!! Shot the video blog on my lovely point and shoot Canon S95. You gotta love it…available on my Amazon store!

Sony F3 AND NXCAM LAUNCH from Philip Bloom extras on Vimeo.

Sony pmw_f3_launch_promo from Mike Saunders on Vimeo.

The below short was directed by Martin Scanlan and DP’d by Steve Lawes who shot the amazing BBC series Sherlock. If you have not seen it, then watch it. It’s amazing and a visual feast.

There are two versions. The first is the ungraded XDCAM 4:2:0 35mb/s off-line then the graded HDCAM SR version. Do read Martin’s blog about it. Great read!

Convergence – The Offline from Martin Scanlan on Vimeo.

Convergence – Short Film shot on Sony PMW-F3 from Martin Scanlan on Vimeo.

Another teaser for a short shot on the F3 by Jason Wingrove.

compulsion – teaser from Jason Wingrove on Vimeo.

Sony PMW F3 Camera Test from Stargate Studios on Vimeo.

The NXCAM looks very interesting, although just a prototype box with a lens and little info so far it has great potential. It’s AVCHD so 24mb/s and the REALLY cool thing is it has EXACTLY the same S35 EXMOR sensor as it’s big brother the F3. Not a crappy DSLR sensor scaled down to HD like the consumer version out right now this is a dedicated 1920×1080 S35 sensor, not APS-C, large pixels, meaning great in low light, ISO 800 rated. no moire, no aliasing, minimal rolling shutter. A rough release price of ¢6000 but that could change and no idea if it includes a lens. It is the E mount system and can take Alpha lenses too (and am sure every other lens with an adaptor). One issue I picked up on straight away when talking to Sony is the EU version will be 1920×1080 25p and also 1920x1080p 50 which was very surprising, this may be a mistake but if it is not it records at a higher frame rate than the F3 for less money, but not overcrank, 50p so it’s cinema tools to slow it down BUT to get 24p and 60p you need to buy the US version. It currently is not switchable, or currently not planned to be switchable. I told them it’s absolutely essential for it to be. As someone who like many people work in different countries having a world camera is essential. I do not want my camera tied to a region. I am certainly not going to buy two cameras to get 24p and 25p. Hopefully they will listen.

Sony promised to let me have the F3 for a day or two soon-ish, I will chase them for this as for me there is no better test than going out and shooting with it. I would also shoot on SxS to check out the quality!

The biggest thing I wish they had done was base the design on the EX3 rather than the EX1. That EX3 viewfinder is awesome and ergonomics are less hideous. Such a shame!

Comparing the mo with Paul Joy
Paul again capture on the Leica M9 with Voigtlander 50mm F1.1

NXCAM lense

Philip Johnstone from HDWARRIOR.CO.UK


HDCAM-SR solid state coming next year

I know that brand!

The F3 is list price around £12k and the F3K with 3 Sony PL primes is around £18k…it’s pricey for sure, pricey for an EX1 with S35 sensor, BUT this is a proper S35 sensor rated at ISO 800 and the features it is capable of (albeit with spending more money) can take it into SERIOUS high end Cinema territory. Is it an AF-100 competitor? Nope. The NX-CAM is much more going for that market and if it does it MUST be switchable as the AF-100 is a world camera. If you are to compete then at least have the same if not betters specs? Certainly the sensor in the NX-CAM is going to be a MASSIVE plus. A dedicated S35 sensor is a huge draw…oh well, things certainly got more interesting…AGAIN. Still going to get me that Panasonic though, especially as it’s out this year and the NXCAM won’t be till next summer and I don’t have the cash for the F3 right now and I love that full HD overcrank in the Panny…too many cameras…MUST HAVE THEM ALL! 🙂


  1. “too many cameras…MUST HAVE THEM ALL! :)”

    Love that!
    We are seeing amazing advances this year. Really cool. Did Sony talk about or show those three F3 lenses? Really interested in them for the AF-100.

  2. i’ve loved sony since i got my vx2100 five years ago, so i’m always looking for what they do next, but more in the budget range of the vx2100 or the like…

    and what was up with that God aweful flower wallpaper? someone needs to rethink that interior design 🙂

  3. exciting stuff! I haven’t seen anything filmed recently from you on the EX3, just curious how often are you still using it? also, was there a technical reason they’re not offering 24P and 25P switchable? i don’t get it.

  4. Love it Phil the ‘tash Bloom.

    Awight mate! wanna buy a camera? It is a… Digikal Sonny job. Nah mate it’s kushti.

    ‘Ang on ‘ere come the rozzers scarper!

  5. Hi Philip: Thanks so much for posting these reports from the field. It’s very useful to get up-to-date info, even if some of it is preliminary & subject to verification. The new Sony cams look interesting. Nice to have choices.

    OT questions: Do you now have a final production version GH2? If so, and if you’ve tested its live HDMI output with your KiPro, did they “work” well together?

    Again, much thanks.

              1. Thanks. He’ll appreciate that. Was fun to get involved in bleeding edge tech for once. Think the next little while will get interesting. I can only hope that it will fuel a resurgence in indie filmmaking over here sans Film Council. Time will tell …

  6. Hey Phil, the Zacuto plate is exactly what we had to use on the F3 No other way to get the camera up high enough to use 15mm studio rods & follow focus 🙂 Hope Sony is working on that.. or maybe Steve will get it done quicker!

  7. Good Job Martin & Philp
    Well done,

    The only bad thing is price related.
    XDCAM EX 35mm €15K VS NXCAM 35mm AVCHD €6K ??

    Its a lot of difference in price ..
    And for sure (strategig fk**) they will don’t get the nxcam 35mm with even single HDSDI.

    Do you think that will be normally, pay €9K more for: xdcam ex (11mbps more), and upgradeable options (albilt its costs) ?

    Other thing for Philip .. Your blog in IE don’t work for ‘reply to message’

  8. I’m just an American who’s not that good at currency converstion, so if the guestimated price for AVCHD S35 Camera will go for ¢6000 in Europe, what price would that be in USD?

  9. It’s a shame that they are limiting the 24p and mbit output like that, he danced around the question but the Panasonic is already ahead in at least the frame rates including the 1080p over-crank. Wonder what Canon will answer with if it ever does.

    The real test will be if Canon or Nikon figure out a clean down-sample without moire and aliasing, these cameras will be just a distant memory for us amateurs. The Sony 12k price-point is a cash grab considering the under 5k price for the 101.

    Great event video Philip, nice end twist!

  10. For sure the images out of the F3 shown on those videos are amaaazing ! (but if everything was recoreded to HDCAM-SR, it is not suprising) The new HDCAM-SR recorder shown in one or two photos looks fucking amzing if you can afford it. It will make this camera a serious deal for cinema production a low budgets.
    Again, that Sony is expansive ! I hope Abelcine will make mackages like they’re doing for the AF-100.

    And again (and again), those cams will have to compete aginst Red Scarlets (and One MX and Epic in a certain way as the F3 is pricey) so… Next year, big fight !

  11. This thing will kill the Panny. I didn’t like the IQ of the Panny but this is looking much better, much more promising. I could work with this.

    Sensor is king and the F3 gets it right in this crucial, crucial area where others like the Panny, 7D etc fail.

    Still, it’s very expensive even in the most vanilla of incarnations and if Sony cripple it with these region based frame rates then it’s useless.

    All the same, though, interesting times we live in, can’t wait to see what Canon hit back with here, they own the DSLR market and I’m sure would be keen to not see their flock move to Sony or Panasonic, which they are in a prime position to accomplish given the Panny falls short on the sensor/specs and the Sony has the Sony tax added to the price.

      1. Sorry, i meant the nXCAM, if it’s the same sensor as the F3 then for 6k why would someone get the Panny for 5k? Assuming the nXCAM has the same IQ as the F3 then that’s going to be the killer feature that separates them, the F3 footage just instantly hits me as better than the Panny.

        Those limitations are horrid though so hope they go:)

    1. I don’t believe we can compare footage from a 1 day run and gun in Japan with less than 1 day post with fully produced shorts shot and produced over an unknown amount of time. I have used and liked the SXS workflow since it’s original release in 2007 but cannot justify the expense of the F3 at 4 times the AF100/101 cost.

  12. Does the NXCAM have XLR inputs as it is now?
    If it has HDSDI or HDMI as well as 24p for $8000 it will be interesting.
    The ability to change lenses with a full frame sensor with the option to attach nano flash or Ki mini Pro should be a game changer.

  13. Hi Phillip, What’s your opinion on EOSHD’s rant about your footage? Considering you shot it I’d like to hear your thoughts. Does the F3 really blow highlights, show excessive noise and aliasing or is EOSHD just looking for some attention?

        1. i had a native file to download which i have now taken off the post due to this. sick of people taking ONE thing and blasting a whole camera because of it. Andrew should know better. It’s what causes me the biggest headaches (and the other mods) on DVXuser.

  14. If I had a $25-30k (£15-19k) budget for a professional digital film camera, why would I choose the F3K over an EpicRED? They both have similar features, but RED is way ahead in specs: up to 5K RAW footage, up to 225 fps in 2K mode, 13 native dynamic range stops, 18 stops with HDRx and lets no even talk that its a covergence camera; it also takes stills like any pro DLSR system. It’s a real deal for the price.

    If Sony lower their price by half, I think they have a great market. In the mean time I’m planning on getting a AF-101 (ASAP!), and I would happly upgrade to a F3K IF the price is right. But at that pricey range, Epic wins by default. I must admit the F3K looks like a great digital pro film camera, but it lacks of REALLY proSpecs that I would expect in a $28k piece of equipment. At the end its not about the size of the sensor, its all about what the camera lets you achieve with it.

    Great times we’re living!

      1. I think the msg went missing, but anyway.

        Yeah, it’s more pricey to build up an Epic from scratch, but if you already own HD-DSLR rigs, lenses, etc. I would recommend an Epic RED upgrade. But if you’re not a DSLR videographer, go for Sony’s F3. But I still think its wiser to invest in more hybrid systems.

            1. Red is the best. we have to think ahead… what the heck is sony thinking in making cameras 1080p? for mid next year? Epic is coming out, scarlet is coming out too… bye bye sony, panasonic and probably canon.

  15. ah man, just typed up a couple of paragraphs and hit submit – and I think my comment went into oblivion… anyone else ever find comments don’t submit properly / get erased now and then?

    anyways – thanks for the great informative post Phil, cant wait to see what your own footage looks like – your choice of lenses / style.

    Good on you for laying down on the sony guys about 24p on the NX cam!! That could be very very interesting …. pending what goodies they throw into it, really hope they dont purposely cripple it’s features to try and upsell people the the F3.

    Footage so far seems quite delicious , but with those amazing ARRI UP’s / 10bit out it should be delicious – ( man there’s some killer bokeh in there! )

    again looking forward to seeing how it puts out to SxS with your range of Lenses Phil – can you fit EF on it with an adapter ?

    lastly that S95 seriously packs a punch!! so impressed… might have to fill my stocking this xmas !



      1. Firefox 4 beta (could possibly be the culprit) at home,
        although I think it has happened at work using the current Firefox 3.6 as well.

        yeah I usually copy / paste into textedit but dont always remember!

        yeah I think the F3 has made itself a new category – p a little bit below RED but a solid jump above the EX3/HVX200 area ( which now seems to have dropped back in price range to 5K zone – AF100 ).. confusing indeed – one things for sure, 2011 is going to be a VERY interesting year.

        Not only the NXCam possibly being a more affordable/ smaller F3 but – Scarlet S35 possible release ? ( not holding breath ) + the biggest mystery of them all…. What will Canon do…

      1. well id be very interested to hear your thought swhen you get your hands on it having a much stronger grasp of the cameras that make up the F3’s DNA, but its a very interesting camera to use, none of the issues we’ve put up with in DSLR’s moireing, line skipping etc, rolling shutter is VERY much reduced, down to id say RED levels, and of course ad all the pluses of ext monitoring, long run times and grown up sound. Add to it that is a lot more run and gun friendly than a red (at the moment) and yes its very tempting. The price is higher than id expected though but i dont think it will hold the camera back, especially when the EX zooms come out to suit it and you can use the rocker handgrip etc and have the option of auto/man iris all with S35 sensor. I DID love having over cranking at the touch of a button tho, perhaps a little too temping as my footage shows 🙂

        Sorry..So am i tempted? well im still getting my head round where it sits in the playing field.. a very rapidly changing field it is at that but the one thing it proves is that the big boys are listening.

        1. yeah…am def gettng the af101 as it’s 1080p 60fps overcranking is just superb…just wish the Sony had it. I can easily see me getting the Sony though. Am invested in EX, got the cards, got batteries…if I can get it with lenses for under $14…maybe…

  16. I just watched the Stargate Studios video. Wow, that is impressive! The colours are just so vibrant, and the reds and skin tones seem to hold up a lot better in low light than in any DSLR camera footage I’ve seen. By the look of it, a lot more dynamic range too.

    But yeah, Epic would most probably still be a much better option simply due to the higher frames.

  17. Thanks Philip for another great preview.
    The F3 has no shoulder mount or high end viewfinder located where a viewfinder should be, out of the box. A huge mistake! How can anyone shoot anything worthwhile without being able to frame and focus shots off the shoulder in broad daylight? The F3 looks small and light and therefore begging to be used for shoulder mounted documentary work. Sadly not possible.
    Wow, am I the only one? I don’t care how many lenses it takes or how many bits it bites if I can’t put it on my shoulder and frame a shot easily.
    Look at Rick Young in the background trying to shoot an interview working like a weightlifter. Am I the only one that thinks that this design philosophy doesn’t make sense? I very seldom hear these points mentioned. If we all got together and banged on about this as much as we bang on about 24P then maybe someone would design something I could use out of the box.
    Even my DSLR has a better viewfinder but only thanks to Zacuto.
    BTW, doesn’t the S95 video look great.

    1. I hear you Timothy. Same frustration here. Just posted a little something on this blog. I suspect it’s just Sony wanting us to first buy an F3 and then, later on, buy an upgraded version with VF in the right place. Just like they did with the EX1 and EX3. It’s a shame!

      I do a lot of documentary work; a lot of it is from the shoulder. And just when you’ve had enough of the heavy Letus in front of your EX3 and the word is out about Sony coming out with a new camera.. you find out they made the same mistake/pulled the same trick again as with the EX1.

      Frustration! I have got quiet some money to spend on a new camera, but until they fix this (and the 35MB/s should definitely be a ’50’) my money stays right where it is; in the bank.

  18. Hi everyone !
    Find here a french demo shoot with SONY F3, on SXS, so in 4:2:0…

    Graded on colorus…
    the dynamic range is just amazing … so i’m starting to be very afraid of the dynamic range of the AF 101 now in comparaison.
    More i see the demo of AF101, more i doubt about the look, i’m feeling it to much video with a strange feeling of interlacing in the mouvement of the characters even shot in 1080P, and a so bad dynamic range !

    Maybe some personnal tests between the two camera will resolve my doubt !

  19. You got it! Thanks Philip, I thought I was going mad. Just had a look at an Arri SRIII super 16mm film camera. That’s what I started shooting news on in 1979. Just like all proper broadcast video cameras, the viewfinder is located exactly where the lens mount is situated not stuck on the back.
    I used to be a big critic of DSLR’s for video until I got the Zacuto viewfinder for my 5D. I think the Zacuto viewfinder is as clear and bright as any viewfinder I’ve ever used professionally (in the last 28 years on a video camera) of course minus the ability to swivel 180 degrees.
    Google VHS video cameras and you’ll see cameras looking very much like the Panny 101. The designers of these latest cameras are of course young, so when someone said “go retro” that’s what they thought they meant?

  20. Looks promising. A few notes of concern: what’s with the double image during the final kiss? Also wondering about the jittery high-shutter speed look in bits of “Compulsion”. Wondering if the shooter got forced into that choice or were they simply trying to emulate the 5D look (itself often forced due to lack of internal nd).

  21. Any word on the range of latitude on the F3? They’re saying it could “B” camera for the F35… so it sounds like Sony thinks it’s got some latitude.

    As for Epic, Epic, Epic talk… What’s the hold up? Is there a release date yet?

    1. Hi,
      For the Epic they announced that it is no wgoing into production and should be released BEFORE April 2011. I know I know, subject to change blablabla but I just wanted to answer your question.
      (I’m in NO WAY affiliated with them)

  22. NXCAM
    “Super-35mm is not full frame 35mm. The 35mm movie format is what we call half-frame in still photography, or a little over 18 x 24mm – a size very close to the nominal 16 x 24mm of the DT/DX format used by Sony for APS-C sensors. Sony may decide to use a normal APS-C sensor for this, or to use a true 16:9 ratio for HD Video. However, Super-35mm normally means a squarer image format. No doubt internet forums will be full of folk claiming that Sony has gone full frame frame on the E-mount just like they said, etc etc – well, that is not the case. Super-35mm does not mean full frame (technically, double frame 35mm).”

  23. Nice camera. But who’s going to tell Sony they’ve put that vf in the wrong place? ERGONOMICS PEOPLE! Are those developers at Sony aware of the fact that not all camerawork is being done using a tripod?! I love to shoot from the shoulder, especially for documentaries. With this camera it is just not possible.

    If they come out with a F3 that records 50MB/s out of the box with a proper vf attached or at least a vf-socket for Hi-Res viewfinders, I’ll buy one immediately. Until then I’ll stick to my EX3 with Letus.

    1. Rogier, I’m in the same position. Waiting for a large sensor, small form factor camera with well designed ergonomics, broadcast bit rate and a professional spec quality viewfinder in the right place. We’re all aware of the importance of getting HD in focus but spend all our time talking about codecs and what Zacuto’s going to do to fix another design flaw. Next time you get a chance Philip, please mention this to the designers!
      I used to be a critic of DSLR’s particularly because of ergonomics but most sub 10K video cameras aren’t any better.
      Bottom line- I’m not waiting for the perfect camera, just a camera that makes sense to professionals that use them everyday.

  24. Hey guys,
    All the official pictures of the cameras (on Sony’s website) feature a Zeiss/Arri Ultra Prime 100mm lens… Does that mean that the 3 lenses that will come with the camera are made by Zeiss FOR Sony ? (I’m thinking, for the price range, some ZF/ZE with PL mount)

    1. i think those pics were taken before Sony UK showed the primes..before they were.. well meant for primetime.

      The Sony primes are.. well Sony. They’re not saying where the glass or design comes from at this stage.

  25. I have a dumb question : is the HDMI output clean and 422 10 Bits blablabla as the HD-SDI is ? (same question for the AF-100)
    I ask this because if yes, the Atomos Ninja prores recorder can become quiet a killer to use with those cameras.

    1. Not at all dumb Bastien, We wanted to test the HDMI and had a pre prod version of a Cinedeck for this purpose but as the F3’s were still on pre production firmware the HDMi output was only 480P at best.

      Re the Ninja… if you know of ANYONE who actually has one or have seen or bought one yourself.. let me know. until then im calling it vapourware. In the meantime yes we could haev used a Nanoflash etc but the camera wasnt playing the game. VERY keen to get a prod cam as soon as i can as not even sony to my knowledge know yet what the HDMI output will be capable of.

      Like you im hoping for plenty 🙂

Leave a Reply