Joining the F35 and SRW-9000PL in Sony's lineup of CineAlta 24p digital cinema cameras, the PMW-F3L Super 35mm XDCAM EX Full-HD Compact Camcorder with S-Log Gamma continues the democratization of high-end image capture. The camera's Super 35mm-size CMOS sensor offers a variety of advantages over smaller sensors, including increased control over depth of field, higher sensitivity in low light, lower image noise, and an exceptional dynamic range. Unlike smaller, broadcast-style sensors or the larger "full-frame" sensor found in some DSLRs, the PMW-F3's chip is on a par with Hollywood film cameras, in terms of field of view and depth of field. That means complete compatibility with cine-style film lenses and consistency of vision for cinematographers used to shooting on 35mm film.
Another advantage of the camera's highly efficient sensor is its low power consumption--only 24W. Not only does this mean a standard 12V battery can last nearly 3 hours, but the low amount of heat the sensor generates offsets the need for an internal fan--contributing to the camera's extremely light weight (just over 5 lb). As a result, this is the first CineAlta camcorder designed with a handheld form factor.
Using a solid-state workflow based on the XDCAM EX platform, the PMW-F3 records natively to professional SxS media, using the MPEG-2 long GOP codec in an 8-bit 4:2:0 color space. More demanding applications can utilize the camera's dual-link HD-SDI ports to output to an external recorder in 10-bit 4:2:2 or 10-bit RGB 4:4:4.
The combination of four HyperGamma settings with S-Log and LUT capability provide RAW-like flexibility to the image data, allowing for increased picture control and dynamic range. S-Log expands the camera's dynamic range to include at least 12.5 stops of exposure latitude. Meanwhile, the F3's Exposure Index mode sets the camera at an optimal ISO and adds a full stop of exposure, maximizing the sensor output for situations when highlights are a priority.
An included PL mount adapter strengthens the link between digital cinema and traditional film, providing an efficient means for using any number of professional PL-mount cine lenses--including full compatibility with Cooke/i and Arri LDS technology. Beneath the removable PL adapter, the camera's native, stainless steel FZ mount provides a foundation for added versatility. Its short flange distance allows for the development of smaller, lighter zoom lenses as well as compatibility with a wide array of both cine and photo lenses (using optional adapters).
Other features--such as variable frame rates, multiple-format recording, slow shutter, and uncompressed PCM audio--make the PMW-F3 an impressive companion to its larger Super 35 brethren. Not only will it intercut perfectly with the F35 and SRW-9000PL as a second unit or B camera, it can easily stand on its own in applications as diverse as indie film, television, commercials, music promos, and education. In the world of digital cinema, these are indeed interesting times--and the PMW-F3 represents another revolutionary stride toward affordable, motion-picture quality imaging.
Exmor Super 35 CMOS Image Sensor
The PMW-F3 is equipped with a Super 35mm sensor, which is the same size as Super 35mm film and has been specifically developed for digital cinematography. Its positioning within the chassis is exactly the same as it would be within a 35mm film camera--ensuring exactly the same optical performance with the unrivalled range of 35mm cine lenses.
In addition, Sony's advanced accumulated sensor technologies provide an excellent sensitivity of F11 (ISO 800) and a remarkable signal-to-noise ratio of just 63dB (measured at 1080/59.94i and typical value). A unique Exmor sensor offers exceptional noise reduction and greatly reduces power consumption.
PL Mount Adapter for Compatibility with 35mm Cine Lenses
The PMW-F3 is supplied with a PL mount adapter to provide immediate compatibility with the huge range of filmic 35mm lenses, including prime, digital cinematography and even still lenses. There are also hot shoe electric interfaces for Cooke/i and ARRI LDS.
Sony F3 Original Mount for Zoom Lens
Sony has begun to introduce zoom lenses that are directly compatible with the F3's FZ mount, beginning with an 18-252mm model (the SCL-Z18X140, sold separately). Zoom lens compatibility expands the operational flexibility of the F3 so it can be used for almost any application.
RGB 4:4:4 Signal Output
An RGB 4:4:4 1080 23.98/25/29.97PsF signal is available over an HD-SDI dual-link or 3G-SDI output, allowing the use of an external recorder such as the SR-R1 Memory Recorder for high-quality output for VFX tasks such as chroma-key, compositing, and CGI.
S-Log mode is available with wide dynamic range (800%) for the RGB 4:4:4 10-bit signal.
Apply LUTs (Look Up Tables)
LUTs can be applied to the HD-SDI output and to SxS recording off-line. User-defined LUTs (created by Sony's CVP file editor) can be loaded to the camera from an SxS card. LUTs can be used for off-line editing with SxS-recorded content. You can transfer user-defined LUTs from one camera to another for easy setup.
Built-In LUT for On-Set Video Monitoring
Without applying a LUT, uncorrected S-Log footage looks "flat" and washed out. Pre-loaded LUTs allow you to correct for this, so you can properly monitor on-set. The F3's S-Log gamma mode lets you retain maximum dynamic range from shadow details to highlights and employs exactly the same S-Log workflow as used for high-end products such as the F35 camera.
23.98P Native Recording
The PMW-F3 is the first compact camcorder to be a member of the legendary Sony CineAlta family. It offers native 23.98p* recording which, in combination with advanced creative features such as selectable gamma curves, makes this camcorder ideal for cinema production.
*In 1440 x 1080/23.98p (SP) mode, images are handled as 23.98p and recorded as 59.94i signals via 2:3 pull-down.
Slow & Quick Motion Function
The PMW-F3 offers a powerful Slow & Quick Motion function--commonly known as overcranking and undercranking in film shooting. This enables users to create unique looks or special effects with slow- and fast-motion images, and can be selected on the control dial on the side of the camcorder.
The PMW-F3 can capture images at frame rates selectable from 1 frame per second (fps) to 60 fps in 720p mode, and from 1 fps to 30 fps in 1080p mode--in increments of 1 fps--onto a single card. With the Slow & Quick Motion function of this camcorder, images are recorded natively without interpolating the frames. This means the quality of the slow- and fast-motion images is extremely high and superior to those created in the editing process. In addition, these slow -and fast- motion images can be played back immediately after shooting, without using any converters or processing on nonlinear editing systems.
1920 x 1080 HD Recording Using MPEG-2 Long GOP
The PMW-F3 records 1920 x 1080 HD images using the MPEG-2 Long GOP codec, which conforms to the MPEG-2 MP@HL compression standard. MPEG-2 Long GOP is a mature codec--also adopted by the XDCAM HD and HDV 1080i series of products--which enables users to record stunning quality HD footage with highly efficient, reliable data compression.
Selectable Bit Rates
The PMW-F3 offers a choice of bit rates--either 35Mb/s (HQ mode) or 25Mb/s (SP mode)--depending on the desired picture quality and recording time. The HQ mode supports both 1920 x 1080 and 1280 x 720 resolutions. The SP mode supports 1440 x 1080 resolution at 25Mb/s, which provides compatibility with HDV 1080i products.
Multiple-Format 1080/720 Recording
The PMW-F3 offers a wide array of recording formats for multiple content creation applications. Scanning mode is switchable between 1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720, and 1440 x 1080 resolutions. Frame rate is also selectable from interlace and progressive: 59.94i, 50i, 29.97p, 25p, and native 23.98p.*
In addition, 59.94p and 50p progressive recording is available in 1280 x 720 mode. The SxS memory card can simultaneously hold multiple files of any of these recording formats, allowing for flexible use of the memory card.
*In 1440 x 1080/23.98P (SP) mode, images are handled as 23.98p and recorded as 59.94i signals via 2:3 pull-down.
Slow Shutter Function
The PMW-F3 offers a Slow Shutter function for capturing clear images in low-light environments. This allows the shutter speed to be extended to a maximum of 8 frames. The Slow Shutter function not only increases camera sensitivity but also produces a special blurring effect when shooting a moving object, for enhanced shooting creativity. The shutter speed is selectable from 2-, 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-, 7- and 8-frame periods.
High-quality Uncompressed Audio Recording
In addition to HD recording, high-quality audio is an equally significant feature in the XDCAM EX system. The PMW-F3 camcorder records and plays back high-quality, two-channel 16-bit, 48-kHz linear PCM uncompressed audio.
Exceptional Workflow Flexibility
The PMW-F3 uses XDCAM EX's proven high-speed, intuitive workflow and offers seamless integration with leading nonlinear editing software. In addition, 10-bit 4:2:2 HD-SDI output opens up hybrid recording possibilities with content simultaneously recorded on internal memory and, in uncompressed form, on a variety of external recording devices.
The Dual Link HD-SDI option enables 10-bit 4:4:4 RGB 23.98/25/29.97PsF or 10-bit 4:2:2 108050p/59.94p uncompressed external recording--ideal for integration with highest quality production workflows such as HDCAM SR. The PMW-F3 also supports selectable gamma, four levels of HyperGamma and S-Log for a wide range of shooting conditions from standard to wide latitude. The PMW-F3 can simultaneously record LUT (Look Up Table) information onto the internal media for additional workflow flexibility.
3G-SDI is available for 10-bit RGB 1080 23.98/25/29.97PsF or 10-bit 4:2:2 1080 50/59.94p output.
SxS Memory Cards = High Transfer Speeds + High Reliability
Both SxS PRO and SxS-1A memory cards use the PCI Express interface to achieve an extremely high data-transfer speed of 800 Mbps - 1.2Gbps, and can resist considerable shock (1500G) and vibration (15G). Also, a unique Salvage function can restore content damaged by power loss or memory disconnection during recording.
In addition, with an optional MEAD-MS01 or MEAD-SD01 Media Adapter, a high-speed Memory Stick or SD memory card can be used as emergency or alternative recording media. (Slow Motion and the Salvage function are not supported.)
Long Recording Time
Utilizing a mature and highly efficient compression format together with high performance SxS memory cards, the PMW-F3 can record superb quality HD images for approximately 140 minutes (in HQ mode) on a single 32 GB update SxS card. As the PMW-F3 features two memory card slots, this recording time is easily doubled to 280 minutes (with two 32 GB cards). When recording across two cards, the transition is seamless without any frame loss.
The PMW-F3 is part of Sony's highly successful XDCAM EX product family, which supports a high speed nonlinear workflow. With XDCAM EX, recordings are made as data files in the MP4 format, which is widely used in a number of recent electronic portable devices and has been standardized by ISO.
File-based recording allows material to be handled with great flexibility in an IT-based environment--easily available for copying, transferring, sharing, and archiving. All these operations are accomplished without any digitizing process required.
File-based data copying allows for degradation-free dubbing of footage, which can be performed easily on a PC. The file-based recording system also allows for material to be viewed directly on a PC--simply by inserting the SxS memory card into the ExpressCard slot on a PC or Mac, or by linking a PC/Mac to the XDCAM EX unit via a USB2 connection. This file-based operation can dramatically improve the efficiency and quality of your workflow.
Immediate Recording Start and No Overwriting Footage
By virtue of recording on flash memory card, the PMW-F3 can start recording virtually the instant the camcorder is turned on. Moreover, the camera automatically records on an empty area of the card--there's no danger of overwriting existing content. This is extremely convenient, as camera operators do not have to worry about accidentally recording over good takes, and they don't have to search through footage for the correct position to start the next recording. In short, it means the camera is always ready for the next shot!
Instant-Access Thumbnail Search with Expand Function
Each time a recording is started and stopped on the PMW-F3, the content is recorded as a single clip. During playback, users can cue up the next or previous clip simply by pressing the Next or Previous button, as you would do on a CD or DVD player. At the same time, thumbnails are automatically generated for each clip as a visual reference, allowing operators to cue up a desired scene simply by guiding the cursor to a thumbnail and pressing the Play button.
The Expand function allows one selected clip in the thumbnail display to be divided into 12 even-time intervals, each with their own thumbnail identifier. This is useful if you want to quickly search for a particular scene within a lengthy clip.
3.5" Hybrid Color LCD Screen / Viewfinder
The PMW-F3 is equipped with an easy-to-view, color LCD screen with a high resolution of 1920 x 480 pixels. This is the same LCD screen as found on the PMW-EX1R, and is located in an easy viewing position on the side of the camera. It can be used to instantly review recorded footage, as well as access the camera's setup menus and view thumbnail display status indications such as audio meters, depth-of-field indicators, and the remaining memory and battery time. What's more, the Hybrid LCD screen--which comprises transmissive and reflective panels--offers clear viewing even in bright sunlight.
Genlock and Timecode Interfaces
The PMW-F3 includes genlock and timecode interfaces, making it ideal for multi-camera operation and entry level HD studio use.
3D System Link Option
Using this option (not included) you can easily synchronize timecode, genlock and control functionality with a single cable, locking together left and right cameras to simplify 3D acquisition.
Remote Control Capability
The PMW-F3 offers professional remote control of various camera features via a standard Sony 8-pin control interface. This allows use of Sony optional RM-B150 and RM-B750 remote control units, offering increased flexibility for studio/location use.
The PMW-F3 has a chassis built around its Super 35mm CMOS sensor. Its lightweight, compact design provides exceptional flexibility when shooting, particularly as a B-camera. It also offers a "best of both worlds" combination of compatibility with 35mm lenses via a PL mount adapter, plus support for a huge range of other Sony and third-party digital cinematography accessories.
Low Power Consumption
Sony's chip design expertise means the PMW-F3 operates with exceptional efficiency, with an average power consumption of 24W. This makes the camera more reliable, extends its battery operating time and is also environmentally conscious. With the optional BP-U60 battery attached, the PMW-F3 can record continuously for just under three hours (with dual-link option off).
Wide Array of Interfaces
The PMW-F3 camcorder comes equipped with a wide range of interfaces optimized for a variety of operational needs. These include dual HD-SDI output, downconverted SD-SDI output, i.LINK (HDV) input/output, USB2 and analog composite output.
Only SxS memory cards are guaranteed for use with the PMW-F3 XDCAM EX Camcorder. USB-based memory cards cannot be used with the XDCAM EX range. USB based memory cards might work with the XDCAM EX range in some cases, but Sony does not guarantee that all the functions will operate. The performance of USB-based memory cards can vary.
Super 35mm Exmor CMOS Image Sensor (23.6 x 13.3 mm)
1920 x 1080 (Effective)
PL Mount (with supplied lens mount adapter)
63 dB (typical)
Not specified by manufacturer
F11 @ 2000 lux, ISO 800, 89.9% Reflectance (typical)
Not specified by manufacturer
NTSC / PAL
Neutral Density: CLEAR, 1/8, 1/64
3.5" Hybrid-type 16:9 Color LCD Monitor
Approx. 921,000 effective pixels