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Sony F3 for Documentary Work?


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#1 Alexander Boyd

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 05:37 PM

Hello everyone!

 

First of all, please excuse my (relatively) small knowledge about the ever expanding technical aspects of cinematography. I'm a director of music videos and commercials first. But I'll embark on more personal documentary work very soon, where I will have fewer resources and more importantly, only a few helping hands. Since I have shot on various cameras myself before (mostly Alexa and RED) and because I feel the urge to "get my hands dirty" again I was researching a lot about possible camera setups. 

 

Considering the fact that I will be operating myself and without a crew, I believe the Sony F3 would be a reasonable first choice. Relatively light and handy, I would use the camera in combination with PL lenses and an Odyssey7Q monitor/recorder (S-Log 10bit 4:2:2). Another important pro is the possibility to record proper audio.

 

I would love to hear about your thoughts and experiences! Would you recommend such a setup or could there be some major issues that a "one man crew" would struggle with. Would you put another camera over the F3 for documentary work?

 

I look forward reading your thoughts.


Edited by Alexander Boyd, 07 December 2013 - 05:39 PM.

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#2 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 09:26 AM

Hi Alexander,

I've shot quite a bit with the F3 to date, and ended up buying one of my own when it became apparent an Alexa was out of my price range for the time being. Image quality is gorgeous (when recorded in SLOG to a 10-bit external recorder) however ergonomically the camera is a pain, and requires extensive customising to turn it into a more functional camera for running around.

If you do opt for the Sony, the first thing I'd recommend you get (after an external recorder) is the Element Technica body armour kit and shoulderpad unit (if they have any left - they've been running a 70% off firesale on their remaining stock) - it transforms the camera into a vastly simpler and more functional unit.

And whilst you do have proper XLR ports on the F3, they don't hold their own against a dedicated audio recording unit - so unless you REALLY need the 1080p60 capability of the Odyssey 7Q, for a one-man-band operation I'd strongly recommend the Sound Devices PIX240i recorder instead - it'll allow you to capture beautiful audio that will already be synced to your 10-bit master files without any extra hassles; a life-saver in tough solo-shooter/editor type situations. Plus the PIX240i has great monitoring tools like false colour, peaking, zebras and 1:1 pixel zoom.

The camera's built-in NDs are also great, and can save a lot of time mucking around with filters in your mattebox.

For documentary work, a C300 really is a more suitable camera I think - it's more ready to go out of the box, and doesn't require the extensive rigging the F3 does and it has a nice, simple and fairly robust codec in it's internal 50mbps 4:2:2 recording. However 10-bit SLOG from the F3 really is in another category image-quality wise (it's been described as a baby-Alexa, and I think that's a fair call) so it's a question of what matters more to you.

Hope that helps.
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#3 Jimmy Jib

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Posted 29 January 2016 - 10:31 AM

I've seen the F3 used for documentary work and the images are superb, however, I  would add a set of portable lights to your kit. For interviews in remote places where power options might be limited a good set of battery powered LED lights might make all the difference.


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