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Tye's Sony Rant


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#1 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 11:18 PM

We were talking about the new Ursa Mini PRO 4.6k and Robin posted this:
 

Not sure why anyone would buy this camera (Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6k) TBH... for a bit more you can get the fs7 MkII... a much better beast..


This is my response...
 
I just wrapped my 3rd Sony shoot... so now I've used ALL of the cameras you love, on professional/commercial shoots. The FS7, the F5 and F55. They're insufferable garbage from the limitations they put on what the user can access in what modes, to the amount of work in post production necessary to make a good image out of "less then perfect" lighting situations that you come up with all the time during ENG style shooting. This last F55 show I just wrapped on, I even had a DIT on set to make sure the stuff would look right because on the last two Sony shows, the stuff came out like crap. But alas, this F55 show... it's just insufferable garbage. We had scopes, we had a full DaVinci bay right on set, we checked every single frame of footage as we shot, but in the color grading bay, we can't bring back what we lost on set. The images are noisy, even though we shot at 800 ISO, the highlights were right below clipping on the scopes on set, but no matter what I do, the black level noise is throughout the whole show. 
 
I pickup a Blackmagic Ursa Mini 4.6k. I turn on the power switch. I set it to 180 degree shutter, I set the kelvin to 7k (for daylight), I set it to 800 ISO, throw an ND in front of the lens and hit the record button. Everything I get is stellar, absolutely flat out stellar. I wrapped on a little show shot with an antique Red Epic MX few months ago, same deal man. In 10 minutes, I had the camera set for the entire shoot and it came out great. Both the URSA and Red in DaVinci looked amazing. I'd apply a LUT and BAM perfect. In fact, I did no other corrections to either show for the temp color output for my editing system and the clients haven't asked for any further color work, then a base LUT. This is my experience with my pocket cameras and pretty much ANY OTHER camera BUT SONY. Even the Canon C300MKII we shot Cowgirls with, looked fine compared to the Sony's I've shot with and let me tell you something, the whole movie of Cowgirls was shot Rec709. I was the 2nd unit cinematographer as well, I shot the rodeo stuff and even though I hate the ergo's of the C300MKII, I'm always impressed by the beautiful rich colors of the camera. 
 
I wanted to shoot on the F55 because frankly, I wanted to end this whole Sony vs the world debate once and for all. What I've learned is that the Sony cameras offer no benefits over the competition. The Sony color pallet is muted. The dynamic range is very limited, the menu's and limited user control in certain modes (SLOG) are mind blowing and should be a deal killer for anyone. The only mid grade digital cinema camera I did not use in 2016 was the Alexa and AJA Cion. I used the Red Dragon, Red Epic MX, Ursa Mini 4.6k, C100, C300MKII, FS7, F5, F55, do I dare mention my pocket cameras that I've shot over a dozen shows with in 2016? Now all of these shows I've edited and graded on my own and I use the same lighting style/techniques on all of them. So don't give me bullshit about something I did wrong. Sorry, I've been doing this for 25 years man, I know how to shoot. 
 
If you want muted colors, horrible dynamic range, menu's that don't work and format limitations that make post production a nightmare... buy a Sony. If you want a camera system that flat-out works, buy anything else. I can't see ANY value in anything Sony makes anymore. I'm done with them. I've pissed off enough clients with poor results using Sony cameras, even though what was in the viewfinder and on the external monitors looked fine on set, yet the files didn't reflect the look on ANY of the shows, Rec709 or Slog mode. 
 
The URSA Mini Pro will END Sony's ENG reign. Nobody wants iframe MPEG compression. Nobody wants the proprietary RAW recording. Everyone who buys these mid grade cameras is using DaVinci and/or Speed grade today, both are NATIVE with Pro Res, DNX and Cinema DNG.  We all use Avid or Premiere to edit, again 100% Pro Res and DNX compatibility with no transcoding, no waiting around for media to be converted, throw the raw in there and just edit. Heck, my bay will edit r3d native!!! That's the hardest codec to work with, yet the stupid MPEG crap that comes out of the Sony doesn't work. Plugin's, updates, special drives, even different computers, the shit doesn't work. Real time playback with one LUT in DaVinci on a $10,000 Mac Pro? 12fps... TWELVE FPS! How the F are you suppose to work with that? Huh? Really?
 
Ok done with my rant... don't even bother responding because my ass is hurting from my boss kicking it for using Sony crap, so I don't have any more patience left for anything Sony.


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#2 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 11:30 PM

Wow Robin inspired a whole new thread.

 

I have a soft spot for the F3 because it's really cheap and is shaped like a camera made for video. Other than that, I remember downloading F55 footage and data in the highlights was nearly gone. My thing with Sony's been cameras with great advertised features but sensors that don't match the great slew of features.


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#3 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 11:59 PM

Sony cameras are the Swiss Army knives.... they do everything and nothing well. Just good enough for owners to be excited.
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#4 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 02:04 AM

I shot a feature last year with F55s. I had no complaints. Great looking images. We shot in CineEI mode, SLog3, SGamma3Cine, and rated the camera at 800asa. The camera is not as easy to use as an Alexa, but I couldn't fault the images that it makes.

 

Maybe your problems were not camera related.


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#5 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 02:42 AM

Depends on the look your after. If you want a flat, desaturated look and have complete control over every ounce of light, then the F55 may cut it for you.

I personally find it hard to get decent filmic saturation with modern digital cinema cameras. It's why I love the blackmagic products so much, their color science is right up my alley. I'll take GOBS of saturation and tone it down, then very little and have to bring it up.

I'd post stills of all the shows, but they're too different content wise (doc vs corporate vs narrative). However, I do have access to all these cameras in the same building, so I do plan on doing a camera test day with them and show you what I'm talking about.

Sure, I'll admit straight up as a cinematographer it's my job to know my equipment before shooting and I did spend a day with the F55 shooting bullshit to make sure it worked. Yet I didn't spend a second with the Red Dragon, Epic or URSA 4.6k before shooting, and they worked great. So is that the fault of the cinematographer, or the fault of the camera being a complete piece of shit?

Technique is technique... if the same technique works for me on all the other cameras I've shot with, including film... then why would it be the cinematographers fault?

Just sayin'
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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 04:21 AM

I think the F55 is a rather different beast. The layout is far better. FS7, though, is too close to the domestic cameras. Too many buttons and menu options. I mean, this is detail stuff. It's a perfectly fine camera. I'm being picky. But for some reason, Sony has a bit of a block about making their lower end cameras fiddly like this. Full auto modes and so on - it's not necessary. Simplify, and make it out of metal.
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#7 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 08:35 AM

Sorry Tyler .. honestly not a jab at you personally .. and yes I have only had a very limited look at the Ursa.. and I have to say it seemed sort of pro sumer to me.. esp the EVF..  but I probably should have kept my mouth shut..!   again :)

 

But I really cant see why you cant get good images out of the F55.. i mean really alot of people are able to.. there have been many high end shows and doc,s shot of the F55.. eg  The Crown.. (ok crap subject matter ) .. but looks great..  Slog will be flat of course.. but you should be able to get something out of that.. and 16 bit linear RAW.. really thats alot of data to play with.. with nothing baked in.. a skilled grader should make that work.. 

 

Its also been used on the BBC nat history shoots.. (even by me !).. Slog3.cine.. 4K.. and those show,s look amazing and sell all over the world.. 


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#8 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 08:38 AM

Wow Robin inspired a whole new thread.

 

I have a soft spot for the F3 because it's really cheap and is shaped like a camera made for video. Other than that, I remember downloading F55 footage and data in the highlights was nearly gone. My thing with Sony's been cameras with great advertised features but sensors that don't match the great slew of features.

 

Was that footage Slog EI or custom mode.. its pretty hard to lose your highlights with Slog.. if its  way over exposed then yes they are gone.. but that would be any camera .. even an Alexa .. Slog3 curve is almost exactly the same as LogC.. i.e. Cineon kodak telecine one..


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#9 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 10:20 AM

I know I got it from this site:

http://zsyst.com/son...adable-samples/

 

And it was either XAVC 4:2:2 10 bits or 4k Raw, think I tried both, I can't precisely remember since it was last year. Give the 2 a few pulls in Resolve and share your findings if you have the time. Thanks.


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#10 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 01:18 PM

I just shot with the F55, and I've never used it before and I didn't test it and I had no idea how to work it, and I got great images out of it within 5 minutes of being on set. SLOG and Cine EI, what's the problem? It's no Alexa, sure, but I knew that going in, but it's leagues above anything BM has put out thus far in terms of amount of data. Nice EVF as well.


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#11 Albion Hockney

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 01:23 PM

I have a friend who swears he can't shoot on Red and every time he does it looks crap.

 

everyone has a thing I guess. Use the Fs7's alot - I like it just fine. Never shot on an F55, but have seen good images out of them.


Edited by Albion Hockney, 03 March 2017 - 01:23 PM.

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#12 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 02:44 PM

SLOG and Cine EI, what's the problem?


Can't set the color temperature to anything you want, you're stuck to three settings.
The files must be processed by a 3rd party application in order to view, you can't edit with them raw. Not the case with Pro Res out of any of the BMD cameras.
 

It's no Alexa, sure, but I knew that going in, but it's leagues above anything BM has put out thus far in terms of amount of data. Nice EVF as well.


Umm... Cinema DNG raw (14 bit 444) has far more data then anything the F55 produces stock. Heck the Pro Res XQ (12 bit 444) codec has far more data then the iFrame MPEG codec that's native to the Sony as well. Sure, one could argue that iFrame MPEG is in fact more "efficient" but I don't see the efficiency being a positive thing outside of drive space. Plus, test after test, the Ursa 4.6k imager shows far greater highlight detail then the Sony or even Red Dragon. The dynamic range, especially on XQ mode, is nearly identical to the Alexa. Even my pocket cameras have excellent dynamic range, far greater then any other $1000 camera.

As someone who has to work with the files I shoot... (I shoot, edit and color) I have to be mindful of the post workflow, over pretty much anything else. Remember, shooting is maybe a month? But post can be 3 - 6 months easily. So if I'm in a complete headache for the entire post production process thanks to a codec that's uncooperative, it's going to cost the client more money and they're not going to hire me on the next job.

I have pushed the pro res codec to it's destruction, where it starts to literally fall apart in post. I've done the same with 410Mbps iFrame MPEG and even many variations of Red Code. Pro Res holds together better then any of the other formats, especially XQ. I don't know why, because it's an antique outdated codec, but because XQ separates the channels, it seems to have more room for pushing it in DaVinci. I haven't tried pushing the Cinema DNG codec to destruction because frankly, the camera imager falls apart first.

When I do my big camera test, I'll make sure to show the post production workflow in better detail. This way cinematographers who spend their time shooting, can understand the frustration of a one man band. :)
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#13 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 04:29 PM

Sony has this system of pre set  WB only for EI.. Slog.. the theory is you get the max DR.. because WB is gain.. I believe their idea is you get close with the preset.. and then you have to grade it anyway..   RAW.. no WB is baked in at all... 

 

I would think your in a minority ,that would chose a BM camera over an F55..


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#14 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 04:44 PM

Thankfully I just give the files to the DIT who makes it work ;)

As for Color Temp; I only really need 3, I need a tungsten, a daylight and a middle. For everything else I can gel or not gel the lights; but then again, i'm not a one man band.

If I was, then perhaps the new BM Pro Ursa, maybe, if only for the built in NDs, though TBH @ that point, I might go for something else too like the FS7ii or an Alexa Mini (though I hate that form factor).

I think the BM stuff is fine for anything, tbh, but like EVERY camera out there you have to work with the system which means being adaptable to how that particular camera responds to light. The way i work with an Alexa is not the same as a Red or that of a Sony or that of a BM or that of an IPhone or an Osmo.

As for pushing codecs to destruction... why? In most shooting situations I can't think of a time that you would anymore. We're really not dealing with 5D stuff here, or the early days of DVCPro or MiniDV. All these codecs work well to be recorded into and I haven't had any trouble with anything "modern" falling apart on me.


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#15 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 05:56 PM

I had a full crew on all of the Sony shoots I did recently, really good Gaffer on the FS7 shoot, like top notch union guy who came in to do us a favor. The stuff looks fine for a corporate video, which is what it was, yet the client still complained about noise in the blacks, even though we shot the entire show at 800iso. The F5 and F55 shows were also gaffed by a really good guy, I helped quite a bit though because we were shooting in large open rooms and had a super tight schedule, 18 pages a day! EEK! 

 

Ohh and my codec comment was only to highlight how much clients want to correct these days. It's a real nightmare in the coloring suite. 

 

 

Sony has this system of pre set  WB only for EI.. Slog.. the theory is you get the max DR.. because WB is gain.. I believe their idea is you get close with the preset.. and then you have to grade it anyway..   RAW.. no WB is baked in at all... 

 

I would think your in a minority ,that would chose a BM camera over an F55..

 

But the white balance is baked in. If you shoot out doors in broad daylight with the camera set to 3200 Kelvin, you can't bring back the missing saturation. This is the same with any camera, it's not a Sony or even digital specific issue, it's just the lay of the land and I'm only mentioning it because you made this comment. 

 

I agree with Adrian's comment above that each camera has a different look and henceforth as a cinematographer you make adjustments. However, when I'm looking through the viewfinder or on a color calibrated monitor and aren't seeing what I want, there isn't much I can do about it. Normally I'd simply adjust the Kelvin setting to match what I, the cinematographer want it to look like. This is a normal thing to do on ANY OTHER professional camera, but not Sony.

 

Why should I have to filter the lens, introducing loss of light getting to the imager and in most cases, having to deal with a mattebox, in order to fix something that every other camera is a push button away from achieving?  I don't see this special feature as a benefit and as a shooter, I want the most dynamic range, so of course I'm using Slog. I use log on every camera I work with to insure these issues don't come up, how wrong was I. 

 

I personally like warm saturated images because it's far easier to detune them in post to get the "look" you want, vs brining up something that's cold. These particular Sony cameras are cold looking in SLog no matter what you do. This may work great for some people, but for me I just dislike the look entirely. Shooting with Rec709 mode proves to be the opposite issue... now you can't control the image at all, so if it doesn't look good in the viewfinder, you're screwed. So either way, your dealing with an issue which shouldn't even exist. 


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#16 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 09:50 PM

 If you want a flat, desaturated look and have complete control over every ounce of light, then the F55 may cut it for you.

 

The CFA in the F55 is the same as in the F65, and the two cameras share much of the same technology. They look similar enough that many cinematographers use them as A & B cameras. Are you saying that the F65 also looks 'bad'? If you are, then I would have to say that there is a substantial body of work created with these cameras that looks very different to how you describe it.


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#17 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 11:45 PM

When I read the post, I was reminded of Hamlet's line: "...there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."  The Sony cameras probably aren't as bad, nor the BlackMagics as great, as Tyler's thinking makes it so for him.

 

As for the notion that you can't get warm day exterior images out of a Sony camera, just take a look at "Cafe Society", parts of "Tomorrowland", not to mention the Africa sequence in "The Crown", or parts of the musical "Annie".  In fact, Sony's strong reds (when seen in Rec.709) have been a defining feature going back to betacam.  


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#18 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 12:41 AM

Sorry David, you're right. The F65, does look really good. Every show I've seen with that camera has looked great. I did mention earlier that I was referencing Sony's prosumer cameras, rather then unobtainable ones. :) 

 

You're also right that I use to love Sony during the ENG days. The color science they used from the very beginning was excellent. 

 

I've owned Sony cameras until very recently. Even the HDV Sony equipment I owned in the early 2000's was very good and only the Canon beat it in terms of cinematic feel. However, I started to become unimpressed with them the moment they switched to CMOS. 


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#19 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 07:40 AM

The F55 is a prosumer camera ???? you must be alot richer than you make out :)... 

 

Sony RAW the WB is not baked in.. its 16 bit RAW.. more than Arri .. there are billions of tones in there.. there is something else very wrong if you cant get a good image out of F55 RAW.. or even F5 RAW for that matter..

 

Not sure why you would shoot broad day light at 3200.. (maybe this explains something).. but Slog3 is the same as LogC.. its 14 bit.. if you are in broad day light and you set the WB to 5500.. you will have alot to play with .. and it would be pretty hard to make that look bad.. its not the gaffer you have to worry about.. but who is dealing with your grading .. honestly if they cant make the F55 look good.. I would look for someone else ..  changing WB is adding gain.. if your in Slog ... Sony,s idea anyway .. is that changing the WB will have an effect of the max DR.. the only way to keep this is to limit WB to the pre sets.. and that the whole thing needs a full grade anyway.. so unless your totally way off the mark it makes no difference and actually aids the grader by being a uniform Kelvin for that scene.. Im not a grader.. Im just telling you why Sony has this preset WB only for EI mode.. 

 

Sony,s have always been too red if anything.. :)


Edited by Robin R Probyn, 04 March 2017 - 07:41 AM.

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#20 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 09:20 AM

So wait, which of the Sony CineAltas were actually taken seriously for narrative work? Just the F65? There has to be one or two more.


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