This month has been bittersweet. On the one hand, we’ve bought an array of new kit, primarily the C200, which is a really exciting upgrade that I can’t wait to get the best out of. On the other hand, my beloved PMW-F3 has had it’s last professional shoot - and it’s made me sad.
I know I shouldn't get sentimental about cameras - they are only tools, after all - but there were so many things to love about this camera in particular. Such as…
1) Amazing image.
A spec sheet can only tell you so much. On paper, the F3’s specs are really nothing special, especially in 2018. 1080P@25fps, 720P@60fps, MPEG-2 Long GOP, 35mbps, 8 bit. However, this is unimportant. Here’s what matters: with the S Log installed, the F3 has soft, filmic colours. Amazing dynamic range, without being too flat to grade. Minimal rolling shutter. Noise that looks like grain. Flattering skin tones. All this contributed to the F3 producing images so good, it has come to be known as “The poor man’s Alexa”. Here’s some of the content I have produced with this camera over the years:
This sounds like a dull point, but its an important one. The F3 is efficient in several senses of the word. First, the battery life. The F3 is extremely efficient with power. Not only does this mean you don't have to buy or carry loads of extra juice to keep shooting all day, but changing/charging less means more time to shoot. Secondly, file sizes. Considering the quality of the image, the F3 produces very small files. Again, the result is more time getting the shots you need, and less time offloading footage. After a few shoots, it converts into a huge saving in hard drive space. It also means at the end of the day, you can back up quicker. Which means you can get to the pub quicker.
The F3 has a lens mount that is pretty much obsolete (FZ mount) but flexible, due to the small flange distance. You can attach a whole array of different lenses on this camera with adapters, including PL. It’s also a very ergonomic camera, intuitive to use with a whole host of dedicated function buttons and custom buttons. The files are easy to work with, and the whole system is absolutely rock solid; Ive used my F3 for over 4 years and I've never had a technical issue with it.
These are just some of the reasons why I’m so sad to see the F3 go. It’s truly been a workhorse, travelled around the world with me and captured some amazing images. Up until now it has kept up with our demands - quite impressive for a 7 year old camera. But now it is time for change, and to take the leap to a new A cam - the C200.