Now the stage is set… Canon follows with the 7D, Panasonic releases the AF-100, RED is up with the Scarlet and the Epic-S, Canon is rumored to show a new interchangeable lens HD video camera…. That all being said I started looking at all these contenders and re-evaluated the F3 – and here’s the skinny:
The every day camera in these new days of DoF minded clients with fast, card based work flows that can have multiple finishing strategies will need to have the ability to convert from a super shallow film style camera to a grab and go ENG rig in less than 5 minutes and still fit into my truck with only a few cases =) I went back and looked at all the cameras again and it came down to the Sony F3 or maybe what Canon comes out with. But Canon’s offering would need to be significant as the entrenched Sony Picture Profiles are so available now and requested that it’s important to have a “Matchable” camera. Also, with many people now finishing HD you can no longer do the “shoot wide and scale in post” trick so I am often setting 2 matched cameras and getting my wide and tight at the same time (when eye line is not going to be an issue). So all that being said, for right now, it looks like the F3 is the best all around bet – especially if you have an EX1 or EX3. They can be matched pretty well using the EX as the wide and the F3 getting the glory tight shots. Both will use the same Picture Profile just fine.
Now to the specifics =) The camera is real pretty. Almost no noise (unless you try really hard) Operates just like an EX. Work flow is just like an EX. My EX cards and batteries fit. My rods and FF and mattebox fit. I’m using a Hawk-Woods power distro for my for my bricks to work with it – real nice ad on. We haven’t got the $3300 upgrade yet but are considering it. Birger Engineering will have an adapter ready in the summer (rumor has it) with full control for my EOS lenses and wireless FF features ta boot =) We are looking at the Atomos Samurai SSD/Monitor system for the near future and the Convergent Design Gemini or Cinedeck if needed later to provide our 4:4:4 10bit solution.
Operation: A little on the heavy side… not too bad, just pipey. Good on battery life. Fairly smart layout – 10 assignable buttons. 1/4-20’s everywhere ( 3 on the handle, 4 on the body and probably some I haven’t found yet) The prime lenses work very nicely. I am waiting to use my EOS “L” series zooms =) I will probably look into the Zeiss ZF.2 lens kit with an MTF Nikon to E-mount adapter for my camera. The one I reviewed is using the Sony primes and a RED 18-50mm zoom. Depends on your needs…
And finally… I have used it on some corporate work: interviews ( I’m hoping to post some frame grabs when I get cleared to do so) b-roll and static shots. My take away is this… Great camera for interviews, staged shots, controllable b-roll situations, product and EFX shots. Right now, with the current non-servo zoom lens selection, it’s not going to be that great for “Run & Gun”, candids or pop zoom fashion type work or ballroom cams. I will keep my EX3 for that for now and see what Sony is planning for their servo lenses in 2012. The F3 is the only camera ready to zoom with the rocker in place and a plan for it.
Hope you all can boil this down and extract some good info that applies to your independent needs. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.