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Anyone still see merit in the F900?

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I understand that moving forward, a digital camera that isn't 4k or higher loses its punch. But how do you guys like the image and functionality of the F900 for something like a short narrative in 2016? I know parts of the Star Wars prequels were shot on the camera, which looked pretty nice.

 

Very cheap right now at only $2000

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Might be OK if you can manage to record on a better codec than HDCAM.

 

It would be the lens that would expensive be rather than the camera.

What mount is the lens? And does it have an SDI out? I've never personally worked with one.

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It has a B4 mount, but HD zoom lenses will probably cost more than the camera. It has SDI out, plus the standard broadcast in and outputs for 2/3" camera..

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It was a very fine camera in its day. As others have intimated, the problem with it was the recorder, not the camera. HDCAM was a mediocre format.

 

The problem is that once you realise that the lens is expensive and the recorder is not useful, what is it? An eleven-ish-stop 2/3" camera that only goes at 30fps. And you can buy a better camera than that for less than $2K.

 

P

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I thought it's more like seven stops or so.

 

If you are using hdcam as a backup and recording the edit version with external recorder to prores, then it might make sense: you would have relatively good camera for handheld docu-style shooting, edit ready recording format and onboard backup which can be stored as is and will last for 10 years or so.

You could also use it for documentaries or reality style shooting where a ENG zoom is very handy. for normal cine use there is much better options nowadays especially if the capability for onboard readily storable backup is not needed

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No, I don't see any value in the F900. It never really looked that good to begin with. It was used for a short period of time because there was nothing else like it on the market. Once other cameras started coming out, the F900 fell to the wayside very quickly.

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I think to use the 11-stop range you'd have to put one of the hypergamma curves on it.

 

At that point it is an entirely reasonable camera.

 

But, sadly, all the previous concerns hold. The main issue is the cost of lenses.

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It was the flagship camera for many years in TV.. and then the F900R .. used for a short period of time is pushing it a bit !.. the first 24p video camera.. the F900 is really heavy without a lens or battery.. the 900R was a bit smaller and lighter..

 

But I think your better off with a s35mm size sensor these days for narrative work

 

Second hand ENG zooms are pretty cheap now.. I had a very expensive Fujinon 4.5 wide angle zoom that I could barely give away .. !

Edited by Robin R Probyn

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To do a 900 justice you'd really want an HD-rated zoom, unless you were content not to use the bottom two stops and the last 25% of the long end!

 

And HD zooms are still terribly expensive.

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used for a short period of time is pushing it a bit !.

I was referring to "cinema" use, not broadcast use.

 

The F900 filled a void from 1999 (initial release in the states) through around 2003, right when the Thompson Viper came out. This was mainly due to Lucas and Panavision building a complete package out of it. There were a BUNCH of films shot with it during that period. However, it was quickly dropped in favor the F950 and Panavision Genesis, which was of course developed by Sony. The 950 and Genesis added 12 bit 444 recording onto HDCAM SR tapes, which was a HUGE improvement over the F900. Plus, the Genesis had a Super 35mm sized imager block, bringing it more in line with today's technology.

 

I was heavily involved the broadcast industry during the F900's day and nobody could afford them. Sony wanted $85.000 USD for one and you could buy Panasonic cameras for half that price or less. I did however install many HDC-1500's at facilities, which was the camera head of the 950. That was a very popular studio camera for quite sometime.

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To do a 900 justice you'd really want an HD-rated zoom, unless you were content not to use the bottom two stops and the last 25% of the long end!

 

And HD zooms are still terribly expensive.

 

 

It was HD.. Fujinon HA14 X 4.5 BERM HD.. it was really hard to sell.. in the UK or Japan.. no one was more surprised than me !

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It was HD.. Fujinon HA14 X 4.5 BERM HD.. it was really hard to sell.. in the UK or Japan.. no one was more surprised than me !

Rather surprising in that 2/3" cameras are still used for much broadcast work, although Super 35 sensor cameras are now being used in circumstances where the 2/3" camera probably makes more sens.e.

 

There's also a Film setting in the F900 menu, which was intended for theatrical productions.

Edited by Brian Drysdale

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Brian .. that was exactly my case.. I had 2/3 and s35 camera,s.. but rather quickly the work that had been 2/3 all went s35.. and i had buy the Canon CN7 cine zoom to keep working as I had, but in s35.. with an idea that sale of the fujinon would help ease the pain.. but could only sell it for a fraction of the cost .. only just 4 yrs old and in very good nick..! no buyer at all.. had to sell it to a dealer .. I also sold the ENG camera PMW500.. and even that was hard to sell also.. only 2 yrs old.. low hours.. I think its only news and sports shot in 2/3 now TBH..

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Very cheap right now at only $2000

 

I've been browsing some of those dirt cheap F900 listings just now too.

 

These are the big problems I see with the F900 in 2016:

 

a) the F900 lacks SDI out (I think?????) and for that you need to instead get the F900R to get SDI out, and the F900R go for a fair bit more than the original F900

 

b) the really cheap F900 listings on eBay lack a viewfinder, and to buy them separately is very expensive! (relative to the dirt cheap body price)

 

c) none of my S35/FF lenses would be suitable to work with an F900, and for the high cost of a quality lenses (such as Digiprimes) I could instead buy a good S35 camera.

 

I think if I randomly happen to both have the money ***AND*** see a set of Digiprimes for dirt cheap, then I'd buy those first, and only then afterwards buy a F900/F900R (or even F23). But I wouldn't first by one of these older 2/3" cinema cameras without first having the lenses for it, as finding quality ones of those at low low low prices seems much tougher to do than finding the cameras.

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Personally, I'd look towards an F23 instead. They're going dirt cheap (if you can find them) and it puts out the nicest 2/3" image I ever saw - with the advantage of offering you 12-bit 4:4:4 1080p at up to 60fps (which you can record simply and easily to an Odyssey 7Q.

 

I think what makes the F23 particularly appealing at the moment, is the INSANE deals you can get on world-beating B4 Cine lenses at the moment. Digiprimes and Zooms, and some of the high-end Fuji glass too - they're just spectacular pieces of glass, and a large-sensor-crazed market has made them worth almost nothing (for the time being at least).

 

So yeah, I'd look into that combo - perhaps with an eye to move up to the 2/3" version of the new Varicam when funds allow.

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Where do you see the spectacular bargains for Digiprimes and Zooms? As I seem to be able to rarely find them for sale at all on ebay/dvxuser/reduser, and when they are for sale they're still thousands upon thousands of dollars to buy :-/

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To some people I guess £8k is cheap for a set of cinema lenses.

 

P

When they were originally $30,000 per LENS, it is! Quality always comes at a price, and the price of these incredible B4 lenses is dirt cheap at the moment.

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Personally, I'd look towards an F23 instead. They're going dirt cheap (if you can find them) and it puts out the nicest 2/3" image I ever saw - with the advantage of offering you 12-bit 4:4:4 1080p at up to 60fps (which you can record simply and easily to an Odyssey 7Q.

 

I think what makes the F23 particularly appealing at the moment, is the INSANE deals you can get on world-beating B4 Cine lenses at the moment. Digiprimes and Zooms, and some of the high-end Fuji glass too - they're just spectacular pieces of glass, and a large-sensor-crazed market has made them worth almost nothing (for the time being at least).

 

So yeah, I'd look into that combo - perhaps with an eye to move up to the 2/3" version of the new Varicam when funds allow.

See that sounds good, but I can't find it on eBay or craigslist, is there a better source I should be looking?

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When they were originally $30,000 per LENS, it is!

 

Well - yes - but when it's not something you're ever going to be able to get a rental out of I'm not sure it isn't worth - say - $3. People still seem to offer them for £250/day but I can't see it. Don't get me wrong, I'd be perfectly happy to see more 2/3" cameras in use in single-camera cinema sort of applications, but right now it isn't happening. About the only exception might be the Panasonic thing.

 

Of course it could happen, given Grass Valley's recent 4K 2/3" cameras, but I'm not sure they're in much of a hurry to repeat the Viper experience.

 

More's the pity.

 

P

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Well - yes - but when it's not something you're ever going to be able to get a rental out of I'm not sure it isn't worth - say - $3. People still seem to offer them for £250/day but I can't see it. Don't get me wrong, I'd be perfectly happy to see more 2/3" cameras in use in single-camera cinema sort of applications, but right now it isn't happening. About the only exception might be the Panasonic thing.

 

Of course it could happen, given Grass Valley's recent 4K 2/3" cameras, but I'm not sure they're in much of a hurry to repeat the Viper experience.

 

More's the pity.

 

P

 

Some jobs hire you for your gear, some jobs hire you for you (and you just bring whatever you have along). You're getting a fee either way, just don't expect to be line-iteming them. 'Zeiss Digiprimes' you can list though, cause they're sexy, and academy award winners have shot David Fincher films on them.

 

The big deal is that you picked up a $180,000 USD set of lenses for $11,000, so can afford to 'rent' them out at half the price of a set of CP.2s - whilst getting that incredible optical performance. And things that make your pictures prettier, help you get more work, which pays off the investment.

 

See that sounds good, but I can't find it on eBay or craigslist, is there a better source I should be looking?

 

Here's one: http://www.kpprovideo.com/index.php?page=shop.product_details&product_id=563&flypage=flypage.tpl&pop=0&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=53

 

I'd go looking through the various forum classifieds and call around the various camera brokers. There'll be a couple that have been sitting on people's shelves unused and unsold for years and years.

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'Zeiss Digiprimes' you can list though, cause they're sexy, and academy award winners have shot David Fincher films on them.

 

Well, yes, possibly, but you have to know what they are, and they have to fit a camera that's also sexy. And with very limited exceptions, they don't.

 

Also, can you even get the 60p out of an F23 without some custom piece of Sony madness?

 

P

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