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David Peterson

Is a Sony F3 worthwhile buying in 2015??

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Does a Sony F3 still make sense to people in 2015? Because have you seen on eBay lately just how cheap they're going? :-o You can pick up a Sony F3 for similar pricing to a new BMCC.


The expensive SxS media puts me off, but this appears to be an easy way to avoid that expense:




For the only extra grand or so over the cost of an AF100 or FS100 it would seem like an F3 is worth it if you're looking for an older large sensor camcorder on the ultra cheap.


(as I've been seriously looking into getting an AF100 for only a grand, just so I can have an "impressive" pro looking camera to impress the brides/guests and wedding shoots, with the rest of my kit being 1x GH4 + 1x GH2 + 2x GH1. I know images is all that should matter, and appearances shouldn't matter, but in real life first impressions do matter. If a few extra hundred dollars to get an AF100 over GH2 with the same image quality, then leads to more bookings, that it is money very well spent. But then this logic dangerously leads me down the path to spend even more on a Sony F3... as then I could use the F3 on serious jobs too)


For context, I also own a kitted out BMPCC (that I love love) but it can look like a glorified smartphone to some people :-/ (until they see the images produced! But again, first impressions do matter and last)

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Came across this interesting comparison from an owner of both an F3 and a RED Scarlet (which would be waaaaaay outside my price range to consider a Scarlet!):




<<The biggest problem i have is deciding between the two cameras. The RED is simply razor sharp, has a punchy slick look, and has the easiest onset ergonomics and workflow. The footage is 16bit 4K RAW. I mean, the camera is the size of a Hassleblad and gives you amazing images.


The F3 on the other hand, is night vision, which makes for simpler indie shooting on lower budgets where you dont have access to bigger units. It also has more useable dynamic rage, and its color is in my opinion the best in digital right now short of the Alexa. ( Though REDColor3 is REALLLLLY good!) Case in point, in the skin tone test you just watched, the color of the wall in the F3 footage is completely accurate. Thats exactly what my wall looks like, but looks quite magenta in the RED footage. If I fight the magenta with a bit of green, the skin tone gets thrown out of whack. This green/magenta balancing act is a definite pitfall of the RED, even with REDColor3.


This real issue is that it comes down to image quality. I find myself, shooting films and documentary on the F3, but commercials, music videos, and corporate spots on the RED. When it needs to look natural, i use the F3. When it needs to look crisp and slick, RED.>>




This guy's logic is in a similar-ish headspace to where I am at too (C100 vs BMCC vs F3):


Edited by David Peterson

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You don't need to use the SxS really, you could of course go via the SDI to something like a KiPro or, even cheaper, a Hyperdeck.

Personally, though I am quite fond of the images I have gotten out of the F3; much moreso than Red. However if you're working on the indie world, i'd not think you'd get much rental out of it.

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with F3 you could invest to a external recorder which also serves as a monitor, for example Atomos. I think the biggest disadvantages with F3 are slow-mo options and occasional moire. The intermediate mount system is very VERY handy, it is easy to change in seconds between for example PL and Nikon mounts so if you are using lots of different lenses it is a huge advantage :)

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This is a subject that exercises me greatly.

 

The answer to the original post is that it depends on whether you're expecting to get a rental for it, or whether it's for your own use, or to give away free or nearly free on very low budget productions.

 

If you want to get a rental for it, the answer is no. In that situation you need to perpetually own the latest, greatest thing, and that changes every six months, making it an extremely expensive proposition. Unless you're very, very serious about becoming an equipment supplier, and unless you have a series of jobs booked that need it and will pay for it, it isn't worth buying any camera. If you do have lots of work booked and an obvious need, well, then, it'll be obvious what you need to buy.

 

If you don't want to get a rental for it, and it's for your own use or for small productions, then sure. It was a perfectly adequate camera three years ago and it's a perfectly adequate camera now. Things do not become obsolete simply because they have been superseded.

 

P

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This is a subject that exercises me greatly.

 

"Exercises"?? Huh? :-/

The answer to the original post is that it depends on whether you're expecting to get a rental for it, or whether it's for your own use, or to give away free or nearly free on very low budget productions.

 

Mostly the last two, for "free" on no budget short films I do, and for personal use, but perhaps more importantly on paid productions to impress the corporate types in suits (or brides and guests at weddings, or whatever it is that the shoot is on that day).

 

As while my BMPCC is truly absolutely awesome, to them it can just look a bit like a smartphone with a lens on the front of it!

If you want to get a rental for it, the answer is no. In that situation you need to perpetually own the latest, greatest thing, and that changes every six months, making it an extremely expensive proposition. Unless you're very, very serious about becoming an equipment supplier, and unless you have a series of jobs booked that need it and will pay for it, it isn't worth buying any camera. If you do have lots of work booked and an obvious need, well, then, it'll be obvious what you need to buy.

 

I see in my city (AKL NZ) quite a few Sony F3 cameras listed for rent between US$200 and US$300 per day, do you think that these are just overly optimistic / old listings and they're not getting any bookings?

Edited by David Peterson

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This is very interesting, didn't know about this price drop.

 

am I the only person who thinks the F3 image is better then the F5/55 in some cases. i think the F55 is a higher end camera in terms of handling color and maybe latitude, but the image is so lifeless. F3 is nice and soft and kinda like a cheaper alexa look to me.

 

F3 seems better then c300 to me as well.

 

The other camera in this same space that is similar is the new black magic 4.6k sensor ursa mini. I donno if F3 or that is the way to go.

 

I have been looking to buy something in this bracket though for some documentary work.

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Mostly the last two, for "free" on no budget short films I do, and for personal use, but perhaps more importantly on paid productions to impress the corporate types in suits (or brides and guests at weddings, or whatever it is that the shoot is on that day).

 

I see in my city (AKL NZ) quite a few Sony F3 cameras listed for rent between US$200 and US$300 per day, do you think that these are just overly optimistic / old listings and they're not getting any bookings?

All the rental houses in my market have long gotten rid of their F3s. C300s took their place. I wouldn't count on making much rental income from it. But it's a still a fine camera for personal or owner/operator work.

 

For the level of corporate work you will be doing, you will have one video-savvy director/producer and maybe one or two clients who know nothing about cameras. So I really wouldn't worry about trying to appear impressive with big gear. Just bring enough stuff to get the job done properly and the producer will see that you know what you're doing.

 

Likewise for no-budget stuff, the production has no money or insurance to rent your expensive gear anyway, so instead spend your energy on doing the best job you can, not worrying about what you look like doing it. Use the best footage to build your reel and move on to bigger and better jobs.

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P.S. I'm guessing that a lot of those F3's in Auckland are ex-Weta cameras used for motion capture witness camera work. We used a bunch on 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' when they came up to SF for a few days last year.

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All the rental houses in my market have long gotten rid of their F3s. C300s took their place. I wouldn't count on making much rental income from it. But it's a still a fine camera for personal or owner/operator work.

I'm more just curious as to what current market for them is (due to still seeing quite a few advertised for rent online).

As I don't find it too appealing to be rental house myself! Because the overhead in terms of paperwork, contracts, marketing, and insurance, just for an occasional rare small rental does not seem worth it.

 

For the level of corporate work you will be doing, you will have one video-savvy director/producer and maybe one or two clients who know nothing about cameras. So I really wouldn't worry about trying to appear impressive with big gear. Just bring enough stuff to get the job done properly and the producer will see that you know what you're doing.

Most people are not camera geeks like ourselves and have very outdated or even flat out wrong info. If all things are equal (ignoring the fact the F3 is a superior camera to the 5Dmk2 to start off with), would a person bring back for the next job the F3 guy or the 5Dmk3 person? Likely the former.

 

Wish appearances didn't matter, and only purely the technical results matter, but nope. It does, it is all part of the marketing game to appeal to the stuffy mens in suits. :-P

 

Likewise for no-budget stuff, the production has no money or insurance to rent your expensive gear anyway

Oh, don't worry I'm not expecting to be get rich via renting out the F3! (or even get a cent from rentals, as I mentioned above. And if it does impact my overall day rate at all, via wet hires, would only be in a minor and rare manner I suppose)

 

so instead spend your energy on doing the best job you can, not worrying about what you look like doing it. Use the best footage to build your reel and move on to bigger and better jobs.

 

Why does it have to be either/or? Why not produce the best work you can and impress the clients with both your end result work and by appealing to their pride? Heck, sometimes it is part of their marketing scheme too! Sharing BTS pics of the "big productions" they're doing for their next ad campaign or whatever.

 

P.S. I'm guessing that a lot of those F3's in Auckland are ex-Weta cameras used for motion capture witness camera work. We used a bunch on 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' when they came up to SF for a few days last year.

Maybe that explains a "local glut" of F3 in my local market and why their prices seem to be a bit lower than on eBay?

Edited by David Peterson

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A little update: Purchased an F3 this morning and picked it up, am now the proud owner of my own personal F3 :-D

 

 

This is very interesting, didn't know about this price drop.

 

am I the only person who thinks the F3 image is better then the F5/55 in some cases. i think the F55 is a higher end camera in terms of handling color and maybe latitude, but the image is so lifeless. F3 is nice and soft and kinda like a cheaper alexa look to me.

 

F3 seems better then c300 to me as well.

 

The other camera in this same space that is similar is the new black magic 4.6k sensor ursa mini. I donno if F3 or that is the way to go.

 

I have been looking to buy something in this bracket though for some documentary work.

I certainly think the F3 is better than the C300, it is a bit bulkier however (and even more bulkier again if using the external recorder).

 

The URSA Mini 4.6K I expect/hope will demolish the F3 in terms of performance, however the URSA Mini 4.6K also costs many times more than what I paid for an F3. So I think I'll take the savings for now, and enjoy the 1080 world at up 60fps for a little while longer :-) Then pick up an URSA-M4.6K on the cheap when they go on sale and/or turn up on the second hand market in a year or two from now.

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Yup! I got it for practically nothing.

 

I'll be spending far more (multiple times more) on kitting it out and upgrading tripod/monopod for the extra weight, than what I paid for the body itself!

 

The temptation to wait and get an URSA Mini 4.6K was *very* strong, but that would've had similar (or even greater) accessories cost (plus a lot will smoothly transition across when I do get an URSA-M, such as the heavy duty tripod, rails, recorder/screen, follow focus, and V Mount batteries), and a body that cost several thousands more. So I think I can live with this decision for now! :-)

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I'll be spending far more (multiple times more) on kitting it out and upgrading tripod/monopod for the extra weight, than what I paid for the body itself!

 

Hey, well congrats on the purchase! I'm sure you'll do good work with it. As someone who recently bought a far less practical Moviecam SL for personal work, I can relate to this. :)

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HAHA, that is awesome Satsuki I have thought about that too.... maybe I could convince some people to shoot film if I had a camera!

 

good luck, hope you get to shoot some great stuff with it

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What can I say, it was the same price as a new 5D Mk3 and I really wanted one! ;) Hoping to shoot a few specs with it this year if I can get the funds together.

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Y'know, an F3 isn't a terribly awful idea. What frame rates do they do? 60? And sensitivity? I suspect those are the areas where they fall short of more recent cameras, but still, yes, very decent.

 

P

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Satsuki, I got it for closer to the price of a used 5Dmk2 than a 5Dmk3!

 

Phil, FHD 60FPS via external recorder.

Low light is extremely good for its era. No A7s of course, but beats easily a RED One. (Better than a R1 in dynamic range too)

 

Hopeful I might even use my F3 for a doco this weekend. Will have to rent the Nikon F to Sony FZ adapter however, as mine hasn't arrived yet.

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I've almost completed my initial kit out for now. The last remaining items I still need to decide on buying is: a second dovetail (one for the tripod, one for the monopod. The camera already came with one dovetail), a fluid head for the monopod that can handle 10kg or more, and maybe a tripod (as I expect my current one won't quite handle the full set up).

 

Haven't looked enough into which fluid head, so still quite clueless as what to get! I'd appreciate any suggestions? Am considering a couple already, but they're only capable to a max 8kg payload, which I suspect in a worse case scenario could come up a couple of kilos short.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Pro-JY0506-video-DSLR-Camcorder-Fluid-Tripod-Head-Drag-slider-rail-max-8KG-load/121491999464

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Miliboo-MYT801-Pro-Tripod-Monod-Ball-Head-Quick-Release-Plate-for-Canon-Nikon-/271837439808

 

I'm looking at one of these dovetails:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Lanparte-15mm-Slide-Dovetail-Plate-230mm-Long-For-Tripod-Baseplate-DSLR-Rig-BMCC-/370856985673

http://www.ebay.com/itm/45cm-long-Dovetail-Plate-Arri-standard-with-1-4-20-3-8-Hole-InnoCamera-/171787795433

http://www.camtreerigs.com/camtree-19-15mm-base-plate-with-dovetail-tripod-plate-arri-standard.html

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/891108-REG/Wooden_Camera_WC_151100_Safety_Dovetail_8.html/prm/alsVwDtl

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1100200-REG/lanparte_dp_15_dovetail_plate.html

 

This is the tripod I'm considering:

http://www.came-tv.com/came15t-pro-carbon-tripod-for-red-epic-cage-dslr-rigs-p-573.html

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i would be weary of all the cheap accessories David, keep in mind you can always rent that stuff till you can afford it. Anything like a set of stick you will be able to use in the future as well with other cameras I would atleast buy something a little more solid. I have never used a knock of set of sticks like that, and even manfrotto stuff is a little wonky. I would buy a satchler for a few grand.

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Cartoni and Vinten also make quality stuff for under $2k. Well worth it as a good set of sticks will last you decades and many camera systems. But if you can only afford like $500 or so to start, the Manfrotto stuff will work. It should get you by for a few years until you can step up.

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i would be weary of all the cheap accessories David, keep in mind you can always rent that stuff till you can afford it. Anything like a set of stick you will be able to use in the future as well with other cameras I would atleast buy something a little more solid. I have never used a knock of set of sticks like that, and even manfrotto stuff is a little wonky. I would buy a satchler for a few grand.

 

It is not necessarily about going "cheap", but keeping everything within budget (already going to spend 3x the camera body in total, not counting lenses or many other parts) and appropriately proportionally.

 

For instance, this is the follow focus I'd like to get:

http://www.shoot35.com/CINEfocus-Pro-Follow-Focus-p/cinefocus-pro-followfocus.htm

 

However, this would cost me a third of what the camera body itself cost! Does that seem terribly sensible? :-/Maybe not. I'll probably get a follow focus costing half that amount.

 

Likewise I can't rationalise at this point in time spending several times more on a tripod than what I spent on the camera itself. And just because an item is expensive doesn't mean it will automatically be great, neither does an item being cheap mean automatically it will be rubbish. The cage I have for instance for my BMPCC I got for not too much at all, yet I love it. (heck, the F3 itself I got for a dirt cheap price! Yet I'm sure it will be fantastic :-D A classic example of how price and performance are not always directly linked) Unless a person has specifically used an minor brand's item, I wouldn't automatically write them off.

 

So I'm looking for similar kit for the rest of what I need for my F3, that will deliver performance punch above its weight for under my budget.

 

Once I'm done (not too far off, mostly just a follow focus / tripod / flat fluid head is what is left) I'll write up a detailed list of each item and its cost, for others to see too :-)

Edited by David Peterson

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The way to rationalise it, I think, is that massive (absolutely massive) advancement in electronics has allowed camera bodies to become cheap. Very cheap, as you've just discovered. The F3 you just bought represents absolutely staggeringly good value for money, compared to things of five or certainly ten years ago. In 2000 we were excited about people shooting movies on F900s, and the F3 dumps all over the F900 from a very great height in practically every respect.

 

So cameras have become cheap. The rest of it really hasn't changed, which has two effects. First, it makes everything else look expensive. Things involving high-quality mechanical engineering, such as tripods and heads, are more or less the same price as they ever were, it's just that the cameras got very much cheaper. The second effect this has is that if you buy a decent tripod now, it'll probably still be entirely relevant in ten years. I bought a Vinten Vision 3 tripod, used, in about 2001. It was expensive. But I'm still using it, and in between it's had dozens of cameras on it. It's not absolutely brilliant, I'd replace it if money was no object, but it works and it still has value almost fifteen years later. I know people who own very expensive lights and lenses and tripods and don't own a body at all (this is to some extent the situation I'm in). Let the rental houses take the strain, or buy a low-cost body, as you have. Buying brand new cameras, which makes the associated gear seem cheap again, is an expensive business that exposes you to massive depreciation. The F3 won't do that to you, at least.

 

This isn't necessarily a manifesto in favour of buying expensive equipment but it may put things into perspective. The tripod isn't expensive, the camera is cheap.

 

The usefulness of follow focus depends on what lenses you're looking at.

 

P

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