Sony has released details of their paid firmware upgrade for the SONY PMW-F3 and the buzz around it is bring a happy dance to those who use it now or for those looking to move in that direction.
The CBK-RGB01 upgrade for the F3 will allow for 4:4:4 uncompressed output over 3G-SDI (the next-generation of HD-SDI) or dual-link HD-SDI, four pre-loaded look up tables (LUTs), five custom LUTs, and most importantly an S-LOG workflow — essentially it’s more of a RAW workflow, which Sony is claiming improves dynamic range by a staggering 800%!
All of these new features come at a price: $3,300. While this may seem to be alot of money for a firmware upgrade, filmmakers interested in those enhanced features will be working on well-funded projects. As a comparison, a 4:4:4 recorder like the Cinedeck costs $10k alone.
While it’d be nice to have the upgraded features enabled by default, Sony is playing it by allowing shooters to get their foot in the door for a lower priced stock F3 camera, with hopes that those very filmmakers will pony up for the future upgrades.
This upgrade justifies the SONY F3 being called a “mini ALEXA” when you consider the Arri Alexa is a $75,000 camera body and the SONY PMW-F3 body sans lenses with firmware upgrade is $17,000.
IMO, The SONY PMW-F3 is bringing a level of technical quality that is more within reach of dedicated digital filmmakers.