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I got to fondle test the new Sony PMW-F3 digital video camera tonight at Z Systems and I won’t bore you with still photos of the device, mainly because you can look up a lot of them yourself (and the ones with me in them are NSFW — F3 is sooo sleeek, sooooo sexy!). The things I did want to bring to your attention, though, were the camera’s very impressive low-light/high-gain performance and the juicy tidbits I got from Sony’s presentation.

Oh, go ahead, take a quick peek at the video clip. It isn’t very scientific, just me getting a few seconds at 0db, 6db and 18db of gain. On the Sony reference monitors, the image was super clean. So clean, in fact, that I had to double-check that the gain was indeed turned on and was set to 18db! We were all collectively impressed. I can see a tiny bit more noise now in FCP, but still, at 18db, the image is pretty nice! Certainly leaps and bounds better than the noise from using gain on the EX3 camera.

The juicy bits are as follows (via Sony):

  • The firmware update for 4:4:4 / SLog in April 2011 will cost money (updated: about $3300)
  • It should be capable of f16 / ISO 1600
  • 13 stops of latitude
  • Footage does not need any de-Bayer
  • It can do 1920×1080/60 4:2:2 via HD-SDI output
  • It will do 1920×1080/30 4:4:4 via dual HD-SDI output
  • Records both HD-SDI and SxS (if cards present)
  • It supports Cooke and Arri PL mounts
  • The Bp-U30 battery won’t work, larger ones will
  • It has five 1/4″ mounts on the top
  • Sturdy handle and sturdy mounting plate on bottom

Thanks to Z Systems and the Sony guys for bringing the working camera to Minnesota. As they mentioned, it is two cameras in one — you can use it immediately as a Super35-sized EX3 SxS camera, and you can also use it as an HD-SDI output Super35 pro camera.

Also, I was unable to glean any good information about the supposed NXCAM HD camera, but I am curious…