By Matt Allard
Two new firmware updates have become available for the Sony PMW-F3. The first is the free version 1.1 – available to download here. It enables the following features on the camera:
1. Simultaneous live HD-SDI and HDMI output – This is great for anyone wanting to use an external viewfinder like the new Zacuto Z-EVF. It works in all video formats as well as in 23.98 when 2:3 pull down (59.94i) is enabled in the menus.
2. Live Dual Link Output in 444 & 422 is enabled. This means the A & B HD-SDI connectors are now both activated, so you can use them when working in Dual Link (with the RGB upgrade) or in regular 422. This means you have two additional clean outputs all the time – for connecting an external recorder. When shooting in 23.98 these outputs will give you 23.98 PsF even if you have pull-down enabled on the other HD-SDI output. (Note: When Dual Link output is enabled, the HDMI output is turned off.)
3. You can now use the S&Q wheel on the side of the camera to move around the menus. This is a good when the scroll wheel at the back of the camera camera is hard to reach. I found the scroll wheel at the back a little awkward at times so this is welcome update.
4. They have also enabled a slight color adjustment for the different ND filters. By adjusting these values, you can compensate for any color shift introduced by the ND filters.
The second firmware update is for the S-Log upgrade. This is not a cheap and costs around $3500 US but what you have to remember is it places the F3 in an entirely new category. The firmware upgrade option key product code from Sony is CBK-RGB01. It enables S-Log gamma mode, Dual Link 444RGB video output, 3G-SDI output, four pre-loaded LUTs (look up tables) and five custom user LUTs.
What does this all mean? This firmware allows the F3 to output full RGB video in S-Log – opening up the true potential of this camera. S-Log raises the dynamic range of the camera to 800%, and effectively increases the base ISO at 0db from ISO800 to ISO 1600. Dual-Link SDI or 3G-SDI (dual-link on one cable) gives you full RGB444, and the LUTs allow you to monitor video normally while shooting in S-Log. The five custom LUT options mean that users can create their own looks .
The CBK-RGB01 option key, which you can now order from dealers like Abelcine, opens up several functions as well. When you purchase the key you are actually buying an SxS card with a special encoded key on it. This will allow you to enable RGB & S-Log on one camera. Once the functions are active you can remove the SxS card from the camera for safety or continue to use it as a standard SxS card. It is possible to move the RGB / S-LOG functions from one camera to another by uninstalling the key from one and re-installing it on another. They are using some serious encryption on the card to prevent multiple installations.
About Matthew Allard, Aljazeera Senior Field Cameraman, Kuala Lumpur:
Matt has been a Camera/Editor in TV news for 20 years, previously working for both Channel 9 and Channel 10 in Australia. Twice Network Ten Australia’s cameraman of the year as well as being a Walkley Finalist for outstanding camerawork in 2006 (for coverage of the Cronulla Race Riots) and a Logie Finalist for outstanding news coverage 2006 (Bali 9). He has covered news events in more than 30 countries, from major sporting events to terrorist bombings. Based out of the Kuala Lumpur broadcast centre in Malaysia he is an avid user and follower of new technology, shooting stories on HD broadcast cameras as well as new Canon DSLRs.