Jump to content


Photo

Sony F23 vs. 16 mm


  • Please log in to reply
29 replies to this topic

#1 Mehul

Mehul

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts
  • Director

Posted 24 December 2007 - 12:59 AM

Hi, I'm making a film in February and have the ability to work with the F-23 Camera or Super 16 for about the same price. Is one a better medium than the other. It is a Bollywood style musical so vibrant colors are important! The outcome for the film is to get the best quality 35 mm print out of the two, that is the ultimate goal, but 35 mm will be too expensive to do for this project. Please let me know.
  • 0

#2 Chris Keth

Chris Keth
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4427 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Los Angeles

Posted 24 December 2007 - 01:04 AM

What is the lighting budget for the show? Is shooting a slower film a possibility or are we really comparing the F23 and 7218 (7219)?
  • 0

#3 Mehul

Mehul

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts
  • Director

Posted 24 December 2007 - 10:37 PM

What is the lighting budget for the show? Is shooting a slower film a possibility or are we really comparing the F23 and 7218 (7219)?


We have about 6k alloted, which should cover a 1/2 ton grip truck, with lights. Don't know more specifics than that, but will have a good lighting package. Not sure about the 7218 part, just what a super 16 mm film would look like versus the f23.
  • 0

#4 Walter Graff

Walter Graff
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1334 posts
  • Other
  • New York City

Posted 24 December 2007 - 10:50 PM

Shoot with the video camera. You'll have an easier time and as long as you have qualified people working with the equipment, you'll be able to get as much color as you need.
  • 0

#5 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19765 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 24 December 2007 - 10:55 PM

Considering that most Bollywood movies are shot in 35mm anamorphic and have a very "clean" saturated hyper-real look, I think the F23 would be better at creating that look than Super-16. Unless you were going "against the grain" and wanted a more realistic look. Or if you wanted it to look like an older musical, then pumping up the colors of a Super-16 image in digital post may give it a 1950's musical look (I'm writing this as 1944's "Cover Girl" is playing on TV.... not that it looks grainy at all, but it doesn't look like HD either.)

I also think the F23 would hold up better in terms of detail when the camera pulls back into the classic wide shot of the crowd dancing. And it would probably hold-up better if you had to crop the image to 2.40.
  • 0

#6 Chris Keth

Chris Keth
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4427 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Los Angeles

Posted 24 December 2007 - 10:59 PM

Considering that most Bollywood movies are shot in 35mm anamorphic and have a very "clean" saturated hyper-real look, I think the F23 would be better at creating that look than Super-16. Unless you were going "against the grain" and wanted a more realistic look. Or if you wanted it to look like an older musical, then pumping up the colors of a Super-16 image in digital post may give it a 1950's musical look (I'm writing this as 1944's "Cover Girl" is playing on TV.... not that it looks grainy at all, but it doesn't look like HD either.)


I was kind of thinking Vivid 160 if he went S16. That might do the look nicely if they go that route.
  • 0

#7 Bruce Greene

Bruce Greene
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 493 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 25 December 2007 - 12:01 AM

Hi, I'm making a film in February and have the ability to work with the F-23 Camera or Super 16 for about the same price. Is one a better medium than the other. It is a Bollywood style musical so vibrant colors are important! The outcome for the film is to get the best quality 35 mm print out of the two, that is the ultimate goal, but 35 mm will be too expensive to do for this project. Please let me know.


I don't often shoot Bollywood movies, but when I do, I prefer the f-23.

Actually I just got a Dos XX beer commerical stuck in my head, but I would certainly choose the f-23 for image quality over super 16mm. I would even suspect that the F-23 can produce a better image than 35mm scanned to a 2k DI. Just my 2 cents.

That said, I'm surprised that the F-23 cost is less than 35mm original when post production expenses are factored in.

-bruce
  • 0

#8 Scott Fritzshall

Scott Fritzshall
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 584 posts
  • Other
  • Los Angeles

Posted 25 December 2007 - 12:53 AM

Check out the trailer for Speed Racer, which was shot on the F23. Color doesn't get any more saturated than that. Granted, they did some manipulation in post, but the F23 is more than capable of capturing what you need. The image quality is going to be much higher than Super16 as well.
  • 0

#9 Walter Graff

Walter Graff
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1334 posts
  • Other
  • New York City

Posted 25 December 2007 - 12:57 AM

The image quality is going to be much higher than Super16 as well.



I think that is key. Anyway you slice it, the F23 is simply a step above 16 for such a look and in general. You can make either medium see colors as saturated as you want (within the limits of how much color you are permited technically) but the F23 simply offers more in both color, clarity, and overall picture.
  • 0

#10 Max Jacoby

Max Jacoby
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2955 posts
  • Other

Posted 25 December 2007 - 04:05 AM

but the F23 simply offers more in both color, clarity, and overall picture.

I seriously doubt that Sony have somehow managed to solve a problem that no video/digital camera manufacturer has been able to solve so far, i.e. get the color depth of film stock. For best color, especially when it comes to skintones, I take film over any digital camera.
  • 0

#11 Walter Graff

Walter Graff
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1334 posts
  • Other
  • New York City

Posted 25 December 2007 - 08:08 AM

I seriously doubt that Sony have somehow managed to solve a problem that no video/digital camera manufacturer has been able to solve so far, i.e. get the color depth of film stock. For best color, especially when it comes to skintones, I take film over any digital camera.



I don't disagree. But the reality of techniques in color correction and DI today make it non sequitur. Yes film always can capture more color depth to start with. But unless you are doing side by side presentations, video can give you just as rich a look as film on it's own due to the techniques that allow one to make up for what wasn't captured entirely in the beginning. Based on the film outs I've done and many I have seen by others, I would definitely give the advantage to the F23 over 16mm in general.
  • 0

#12 Bruce Greene

Bruce Greene
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 493 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 25 December 2007 - 02:11 PM

I seriously doubt that Sony have somehow managed to solve a problem that no video/digital camera manufacturer has been able to solve so far, i.e. get the color depth of film stock. For best color, especially when it comes to skintones, I take film over any digital camera.


Max,

I'm getting the impression that your opinion is more an emotional statement than a technical one.

Certainly digital capture has the potential to be more color accurate than film. Your preference for film might be based upon the film's design to display "pleasing" flesh-tones at the expense of accuracy? If so, it's a legitimate preference I think.

As for "color depth", both film and digital capture devices record color information by exposing light sensitive sites through colored filters. I suppose the film may record a greater range of tones in each color and that is what you mean by "color depth". But in the range of normal flesh-tones, these would be easily captured by either medium, and adjusted in post in either medium.

There is one significant difference here though: Film records color and light level via dyes, digital as data. I have often noticed with film that as flesh-tones get darker, film's ability to record this color becomes weak and dark flesh-tones can be rendered as cyan/grey mush color. I think we've kind of become used to this, and I'll take a wild guess that it's a limitation of the dyes. Whatever it is, I've noticed that when shooting digitally, I can record and display (to me) more pleasing dark flesh-tones than I was able to record and display when shooting on film. Of course it may be hard to hold on to these dark flesh-tones in a film out.

I'm just rambling on here, but I think as we become more used to digital capture, and become more adventurous in it's color grading/manipulation that the "look of film" will seem to be "old timey", kind of like sepia toned photographs are today...

I think this has already happened in commercial still photography.

-bruce
  • 0

#13 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19765 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 25 December 2007 - 02:21 PM

I don't really agree that film handles fleshtones worse in underexposed lighting -- I was watching samples of D20 footage and the one area where fleshtones looked the worse was in dim lighting, where it tends to get "metallic" and "crunchy" looking, and somewhat grey-ish.

Fleshtones have a lot of hidden colors and a certain shine. This is one reason why 4:2:2 and 4:1:1 video tends to reduce skin color to a sort of simpler band-aid tan. And the shine causes clipping problems in the hottest areas. In theory, though, a 4:4:4 or RGB camera should be able to accurately capture fleshtones.

I think half the problem is that digital color-correction allows skintones to be whatever shade you want them to be, so you find yourself trying to "pick" a believable fleshtone in color-correction - this problem happens with film going through a D.I. as well.

Also, I'm not sure why, but D.I.'s and digital cameras seem to have more problem with skin shot in warm lighting. That may be partially because skin under blue lighting is so desaturated naturally that we don't expect anything accurate anyway, but in warm lighting, we are sensitive to how the color looks on the skin.

Just saw "Sweeney Todd" and the D.I. was fine for the cold scenes (the majority of the movie) but off-looking in the warm-lit scene. Some of this was by choice, desaturating the warmth to a sort of browness, but it also took on a weird digital quality.
  • 0

#14 Max Jacoby

Max Jacoby
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2955 posts
  • Other

Posted 25 December 2007 - 02:45 PM

I'm getting the impression that your opinion is more an emotional statement than a technical one.

Digital simply cannot show certain colors that film can. That has nothing to do with 'emotional', but is a mere technical fact. I don't think you'll find anyone disputing that film has the wider color gamut. It's the same with DIs, they always reduce the colors. And on a human face I find this to be most noticeable, probably because, as David says, human skin is something very complex and also because it something that we see daily and just know how it is supposed to look. I have seen shots that went through a DI with no grade applied to them, just scan and record and projected they simply did not look as good as the same shots that were contact printed.

I have noticed the same problems with digital and DIs when it comes to warm light. In cold light they generally look fine, but warm light is often a dead giveaway whether a DI or digital camera was used. I have seen some dark D20 shots from 'Hogfather' that looked horrible on faces.
  • 0

#15 Bruce Greene

Bruce Greene
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 493 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 25 December 2007 - 04:09 PM

Digital simply cannot show certain colors that film can. That has nothing to do with 'emotional', but is a mere technical fact. I don't think you'll find anyone disputing that film has the wider color gamut. It's the same with DIs, they always reduce the colors. And on a human face I find this to be most noticeable, probably because, as David says, human skin is something very complex and also because it something that we see daily and just know how it is supposed to look. I have seen shots that went through a DI with no grade applied to them, just scan and record and projected they simply did not look as good as the same shots that were contact printed.


Max,

Since I haven't been making any instrument comparisons between film and digital capture, I can't say for sure which medium has the "widest color gamut". I am certain that they have different color gamuts that they can record. When you say that "Digital simply cannot show certain colors that film can", you call this a "technical fact" because I won't "find anyone disputing that". Unfortunately this does not add any information on the issue. When David says he's had a certain experience using the D-20 with flesh-tones, that's really useful information, from his personal experience. I try to add what I know from my personal experience and hope it's helpful to someone and encourages people like David to add their experiences as well.

Please forgive me for starting a ruckus here but this sounds an awful lot like the arguments we heard when the CD began to replace the LP. We get used to the way something sounds and when it sounds different we say it's worse. At least the "purists" do.

Yet still, this is a worthwhile discussion I think.

I guess my 1st point was that while there may be certain colors that film can record that digital does not yet, there may well also be colors that digital can record, that film has difficulties with. Hence my experience with the dark flesh-tones. (haven't used the d-20 though).

I think another interesting issue that you bring up Max is about "wider color gamut".

I guess the question I'm wrestling with is: Is the widest color gamut the best choice to use when shooting movies?
And this is not necessarily a philosophical question, but a technical question as well. We can not record all the visual data that exists in life in either film or digital capture. A compromise must be made somewhere. What I'm thinking about here is that given a fixed sized data bucket if you will, the more dynamic range, and the wider the color gamut captured, the larger the steps between recorded tones and the less subtle the image. This holds for film as well as digital capture. At a certain point we might very well prefer a limited gamut, for the sake of more subtle tonal and color representation given a limited amount of data that we can record and realistically work with.

Your comments about the look of DI footage are interesting also. I don't know if it is because of "reduced colors", but I have noticed that they often look kind of "lifeless" to my eye. I don't know what is going on here with film, but the prints I've seen lately, just don't seem to look as good as some that I saw 20 years ago. In particular I'm thinking of the new Kodak vision3 film that they demonstrated here recently. In their demo the photography was beautiful, but the prints just didn't do it for me. They just lacked that something, technically that I emotionally connect with. I'm not sure what it is.

-bruce
  • 0

#16 Walter Graff

Walter Graff
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1334 posts
  • Other
  • New York City

Posted 25 December 2007 - 04:37 PM

I recently did a project on an F900 for filmout to a national theater chain. It involved mostly talking heads. Colors were perfect and facial tones exactly as I wanted them when I saw it by chance recently. At the same time I did a similar project a few months back and everything looked washed. I have noticed from day one with digital that while we belive we have standards in terms of how things are, the reality, is it a combination of how it was shot, how it got to where is goes, and the people that get it there. I equate it to accountants and taxes. Give 50 accountants your tax information and you will get 50 different final tax returns. My point is that sometimes as much as you do it all right, something in the chain is missing or not exactly the same and yo don't get exactly what you envisioned. I am also under the impression that many times facial tones are lost because while everyone is so concerned with all the blacks, gammas, and the like in the big picture, and because of what 'we' are told not to turn on what what to turn off in a camera (incorrectly because it is 'supposed to be that way'), I don't think some folks record facial tones/exposure to faces properly to begin with and that err is often lost even worse in the chain. I have been yelled at for suggesting that too many poeple who simply don't understand the intracacies of the controls in a camera fool around too much in a camera, and I say it for a reason.
  • 0

#17 Michael Nash

Michael Nash
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3330 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Pasadena, CA

Posted 26 December 2007 - 03:30 AM

I'm just now scanning this thread so sorry if I've overlooked anyone mentioning it, but --

Not all video cameras share the same color gamut. The main limitation of three-chip video cameras has been the prism, which basically creates a "blind spot" to certain colors in the process of separating light into RGB. In the F23, Sony is supposed to have included a greatly improved prism that allows a significantly wider color gamut than has previously been possible. I won't say it's the same as film, but it's not like the F900 either. I've only seen demo material of the F23 and haven't tested it myself, so I'm kind of taking them at their word that the F23 color gamut is not like that of any other video camera out there.

Single-chip cameras have their own ways of deriving RGB, with different color gamuts.
  • 0

#18 Walter Graff

Walter Graff
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1334 posts
  • Other
  • New York City

Posted 26 December 2007 - 07:59 AM

I'm just now scanning this thread so sorry if I've overlooked anyone mentioning it, but --

Not all video cameras share the same color gamut. The main limitation of three-chip video cameras has been the prism, which basically creates a "blind spot" to certain colors in the process of separating light into RGB. In the F23, Sony is supposed to have included a greatly improved prism that allows a significantly wider color gamut than has previously been possible. I won't say it's the same as film, but it's not like the F900 either. I've only seen demo material of the F23 and haven't tested it myself, so I'm kind of taking them at their word that the F23 color gamut is not like that of any other video camera out there.

Single-chip cameras have their own ways of deriving RGB, with different color gamuts.


Actually it is more than the prism. It is also in the chain of electronics as in the DSP, and the CCDs themselves. The more a DSP can process per sample the better the color rendition and the better a CCD can "see" the more color it can reproduce. Sony has introduced a number of chip enhancements over the last few years to make up for the physical and inherent loss of color gamut by electronic cameras.

I don't believe this conversation does justice because it seems to be going in the direction that makes it seem that high end video cameras have trouble seeing all the colors they need to and that in fact video cameras can't see colors well at all. Just to wear the other shoe... No a video camera, nor a film camera for that matter see all the color in a CIE chart. Video cameras in general have always had trouble with the closer to UV colors and the line of purple. And there is one area of color in the blue-green range when corresponding to certain frequencies of red where cameras have trouble. In fact for many years video cameras couldn't even see any shades close to purple. But other than that they have done very good and now do even better at seeing more of that CIE chart. Sony's F23 relies on a better color splitting prism, but also on better IT chips to represent colors more accurately. Along with the circuitry in it's DSP to make sure those colors are not lost in the chain. Basically, it's a camera that wasn't designed like most video cameras, which were designed to work in the limited spectrum of broadcast television, but to go beyond those 'specs' to give you more picture. Technically, it does not capture the colors as well a film, but that does not mean you could or would notice. I equate it to looking at two unopened bottles of Coke. The machine fills them, and two bottles might have slightly different top-offs which you would see slightly different levels of fill by placing them next to each other, but you are still getting a full serving and by themselves satisfy equally. And the F23 especially records skin tones very well. With quality lenses it, in my opinion is a better and more pleasing picture than 16mm outputs.
  • 0

#19 John Sprung

John Sprung
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4635 posts
  • Other

Posted 26 December 2007 - 01:47 PM

It is a Bollywood style musical so vibrant colors are important!

Conisder that if you shoot the F-23, you start on the digital side, so your DI is carved in stone. Go 16mm, and if money gets tighter than expected in post, the producer may decide to use a cheap old time optical blowup instead.

Start with a lot of color in the sets, costumes, and props. In the DI, you can pump up their saturation, sort of pushing outward from the skin tones, so you can keep the faces looking reasonable.

The bottom line numbers may have penciled out the same, but bear in mind that the stock, processing, and telecine cost of film make it more expensive to do just one more take of something. Given that this is a musical, you may well be doing long takes, like a sitcom. With 11 minutes on a roll of film, and takes that are 4 or 5 minutes, you end up with some fairly long short ends. The 50 minute or more run time on tape can be a real advantage.



-- J.S.
  • 0

#20 Chris Burke

Chris Burke
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1675 posts
  • Boston, MA

Posted 26 December 2007 - 02:42 PM

The outcome for the film is to get the best quality 35 mm print out of the two, that is the ultimate goal, but 35 mm will be too expensive to do for this project. Please let me know.



If you are ending up with a 35mm print, then going through a DI process with either S16 or the F23 will be essential, and end up costing you more than if you were to shoot 35 in the first place. If the print has to wait until other money comes in, then I would do a test to see each in print. I think ultimately it is a artistic choice that only you can make. High end digital cameras like the f 23 are too clean and plastic looking for my taste. Movies as an art form on the whole aren't really magical anymore. I feel film does more to bring back some of that magic.

Edited by Chris Burke, 26 December 2007 - 02:46 PM.

  • 0


Technodolly

FJS International, LLC

CineTape

Glidecam

Willys Widgets

Tai Audio

rebotnix Technologies

Aerial Filmworks

The Slider

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Metropolis Post

Wooden Camera

Rig Wheels Passport

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Visual Products

Ritter Battery

CineLab

Abel Cine

Paralinx LLC

Opal

Opal

CineLab

Willys Widgets

Tai Audio

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

CineTape

FJS International, LLC

Wooden Camera

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Glidecam

rebotnix Technologies

Metropolis Post

The Slider

Visual Products

Abel Cine

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Paralinx LLC

Rig Wheels Passport

Ritter Battery

Aerial Filmworks

Technodolly