NAB 4: The Sony F3 on steroids with S-Log. 14 stops of latitude. Uncompressed 444!!!

Jonathan and Khalid

Yes I am still in Vegas. NAB did end about 5 days ago but I stayed on to chill out after my epic tour with and the exhausting NAB. I still have a blog to put up of my highlights but before I do that this is pretty special.

I shot with the Sony F3 back at Christmas for fun with my sister. As a former EX1 owner and still a current EX3 user and also lover of large chips of the DSLR it was a lovely experience. Low light was simply stunning. So clean at 3200 ISO. But it’s handicapped by the in built codec XDCAM 4:2:0 35 mb/s. Using a Nanoflash, kipro mini or the new Atomos Ninja which I have just got to try out you can record in Apple Pro Res HQ 422 or other better formats but not uncompressed and not 444. For this you need to use the dual link SDi of the F3. For this to be enable you need the S-Log firmware from Sony which costs around $3000 or so and is due out late summer/ early Autumn. Combine this with a device capable of recording dual link SDi like the Cinedeck Extreme or the soon to come out Gemini from Convergent Design and you have a camera capable of recording 14 stops of latitude for around $20k (using the Gemini).

The image this camera is capable of as it is is superb. Seeing it in the Zacuto Shootout 2011 literally blew me away. It performed amazingly. But this takes it to a whole new level. So much so that I took the plunge. I went in with Eric Kessler of Kessler Crane and bought a Sony F3 from Rule Boston Camera and I also personally  treated myself to something I have been desiring for over a year now…a set of Zeiss Cp.2 s. I have the 35, 50 and 85mm…Don’t worry I am NOT abandoning DSLRs. Far from it. Cannot wait until the 5DmkIII or whatever it will be called and still will be shooting a huge amount on them. This is a different tool for different jobs and with the S-log bang for buck that is unheard of!!

I am in love!

Next Level Pictures (Khalid Mohtaseb, Jonathan Bregel) in conjunction with loads of great sponsors and lots of very talented help managed to get hold of S-log early and shot for half a day around Las Vegas recording to the Cinedeck Extreme to show the difference it makes to the image. We are talking about 14 stops of latitude now, basically seen in the highlights. Information that was not there before is now. It’s exceptional. The job done by this team is terrific! That was the key, a team effort all working for the love of it and helped by companies like Kessler who champion these indie filmmakers. Do check out Next Level Pictures Blog here and take a look at their other work. Gorgeous!

The sponsors


Sony F3 S-Log Test from Next Level Pictures on Vimeo.

New York City, NY (April 18, 2011) Next Level Pictures in association with Tstop Cinema teamed up with Abel Cine, Kessler Crane, Wide Open Camera, Angenieux, Carl Zeiss, Cooke, Tyler Mounts, and Miller to unveil the worlds first ever camera test using the Sony F3 with S-Log. S-Log isn’t scheduled for official release until late summer 2011 so we are proud to get our hands on the camera and put it through several latitude tests to include helicopter aerials by Vincent Laforet, vibrant Vegas city lights, and skin tone tests of two models in ten different locations throughout Las Vegas at NAB 2011. The crew of twelve had only ten hours with the camera to produce and film the entire project. The purpose of this test is to compare the latitude and image quality of the new S-Log firmware to native EX codec.

Next Level Pictures:
Jonathan Bregel
Khalid Mohtaseb

Executive Producers:
Eric Kessler
Jarred Abrams
Carl Zeiss Lenses
Vincent Laforet


For a list of all crew and additional details go to:


Sony F3 S-Log Test – Behind the Scenes from Next Level Pictures on


  1. Just an incredible piece of kit. I would have never bet on SONY making a move like this. The market has spoken though, I’d be very interested to see what ARRI meetings are like. Don’t really know which direction or rather what angle they’re going to work. I want to get my hands on this beast though ASAP. So am I gonna have to come to the UK or are you gonna come here? 😛

    Hope all is well Sir. Bloom


  2. I am curious why you chose 35, 50, 85. All very close, is there an advantage of staying close with your choice when it comes to these lenses? I am looking to get a set of 3-4 soon and was surprised you didn’t pick a wider lens than 35.

  3. Fantastic stuff. Congratulations and welcome back to Sony. The big video camera manufacturers really changed the game again this year with 35mm capability started by the dslr’s. Good for all.

  4. Philip,
    I knew you would (sooner rather than later) end up with an F3 and a set of CPs. The thing is, with the S-LOG, the F3 has become THE true game-changer, as it’s the FIRST affordable camera that brings the independent cinematographer a production tool with cinema-like images, at true broadcast standards; ideal for low-budget commercials, docus, music videos and independent films.
    Don’t set the number just at “around 20k” though, as you still have to add a set of PLs, an o’connor tripod, Mattebox, FF-3, filters, panasonic 17″, 416 and lavaliers, transmitters, a few Litepanels and Kinoflos, some flags and butterflies, and a bag full of batteries. All together summing around 50k, which is still an steal, considering that’s what just an SD broadcast ENG camcorder cost just a few years ago, remember?

    1. of course. but I have all the associated bits as many cameramen will. Few will start off from scratch with this camera. I am also lucky enough to have loads of EX3 batteries and SxS cards from my EX3

  5. Wow Phil! That’s quite the purchase! I can only imagine what you feel since I am blown away and it’s not even my profession!!! Hopefully one day I’ll step up from my D7000 + ZFs + Nikon glass and go for it!

  6. You’re very lucky man !

    Those images are just gorgeous.
    I’m, this week, shooting a documentary with an EX3 combined with a KiPro (for ProRes 422HQ) and it seems that I get a lot of noise on the prores files. I checked my SDI cables, every signe piece of connectors and didn’t found anything. But it works well anyway.

    The F3 seems to be a dreaming machine ! The upcoming years, with EPic/Scarlet, Sony’s F65 and -I hope- the rumored Canon EOS Camcorder, will be amazing years !

  7. First off, you look like a kid in a candy store in that first photo. Congrats on the F3 and CP package. I’m sure it’ll only improve your filmmaking. I had the privilege of writing a review for Zeiss and love the CP’s. Also the F3 is truly stunning for the price. Using a Ki-Pro you can get footage that comes close to the RED. With the S-log upgrade i feel this will be the camera of choice for film schools and lower budget indies alike.

  8. So why not go for the F3K, well ok perhaps the answer is as simple as CP lenses can be used for all the other fine stuff as well. I guess with all theL lenses I got for my canons I would get the F3K and if the RED Epic S isn’t all that I expect it to be buying an F3 will be eeeh… plan B?!?!

    1. I bought the F3K.

      Are the lenses close to Zeiss quality? No. Are they mostly plastic? I suppose. Are they gargantuan? Definitely. But they’re very good lenses. Super sharp. I’m very happy with the lenses. Very.

      I appreciate (and covet) quality gear like the next guy. But don’t be discouraged by anyone who says the Sony lenses are not “good enough”, or whatever. For most of my shooting situations, they’ve been more than adequate. With the camera rated at 800ISO, they’re pretty fast too (f2).

      Zeiss is a better lens. Of course. Point is, the Sony lenses are really good lenses for the price. Purchasing the F3K they end up pricing out at about $2000/ea. A crazy value.


      1. I agree James. The lenses are good. I used them for my first short with the F3. But I am building up a set up PLs and CP.2 are only way to go. Also the Sony PL lenses don’t fit other PL cameras or adaptors which sucks!

  9. In the spirit of the fact your a busy man Phil.

    Short questions.

    Your EX3 will gather dust because of this?
    Need a Monster PC for 444?
    Low Light Fantastic but how to control sensitivity in sunlight (filter?)

    Finally….potentially your soon yo be favourite camera?

  10. Have you tried external 4:2:2 recording with a Nanoflash (or other device) out of HD-SDI yet? It would be interesting to see the comparison with XDCAM in that respect. We do a lot of green-screen work, and the XDCAM codec doesn’t cut it. Maybe we could get 4:2:2 out of the camera for a low price-point.

  11. Would someone please explain to me why I think the F3 footage looks so electronic and after looking at Red Epic footage, it literally makes me feel queasy.

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