Mark McCarthy rigs up a top-end second-hand Sony camera and is delighted with the results
It’s been a little while since I last wrote an article for RedSharkNews, but I’m back! Business is going great guns for us at Sparky Media Productions with lots of interesting projects going on, a new Assistant Producer, Dan Keeble coming on board and I simply haven’t had much time to sit down and write – but I thought I’d take the time to share something we are working on, that I hope you might find of interest.
With all the current conversation and buzz based around 4k and the need for it (it’s not something immediately on our radar at the moment), we have taken a sideways but certainly upwards step in terms of picture quality with the investment of a Sony F35 camera to go with our Sony PDW-700 and Sony F3. I started to follow the story of a couple of guys who had purchased the camera and had modified it to work for them with amazing results. I decided to take the plunge and within two weeks I purchased a used one from the States and had it sitting on my desk!
Used on a daily basis
The investment was initially more of a personal project for me really, but I have been so impressed with the results from the camera, it’s now being used on an almost daily basis. If you type "Sony F35" into google, you will soon see what these cameras cost only three years ago, and they were being used on some major productions. Don’t worry - we didn’t pay anything like that price. But with the introduction of the Sony F65 as a major cinema camera, the demand for the F35 dwindled, so good deals can be had on these units. And in my view they still produce the best 2k image today.
Here is our current setup with the Sony F35
For us this arrangement is looking good and working well, with a special shout out to Clive at Hawk Woods for adapting a V-LOK battery plate onto the back of the camera’s interface box for us.
To record the cameras image we use an Atomos Samurai, which allows us to go straight from the uncompressed SDI signal into ProRes. We use a TV Logic monitor as the viewfinder (which we adapted a mount for to place it on the camera) which works really well. The camera sits on the MovieTube rig that we used on our Sony F3, and we have a lovely PL mount RED 17-50mm lens which we rate very highly, perched on the front. The whole setup is actually pretty streamlined for a big camera.
We do have bars for the camera supporting handles we use when shooting handheld, in addition to a second set for our Chrosziel follow focus unit - but these are not in these pictures as we were trying to keep the weight of the F35 to a minimum on this shoot.
You might notice in the pictures we actually attached a microphone by Velcro which is sits on the right side of the camera’s body. The Samurai does record an audio track on two channels which is really handy for syncing up with an audio track that's been recorded on an external device. This find was a real bonus for us and our work flow as we didn’t think any audio could be recorded.
Was it all worth it?
Well, the camera is heavy. It does go through batteries pretty quickly. But, we think the images are just gorgeous!
Like all cameras it takes time and we are getting to grips with how to get the best pictures possible.
But we hope and believe we are getting there.
The resolution on the images is amazing, the dynamic range when shooting S-LOG is very impressive and it’s easy to grade the images to get great pictures in Vegas. The F35 produces such organic and creamy images, we are in love with them! It can’t be used on all jobs naturally due its size etc, but we are trying to use it whenever we can.
For more information on our progress follow us on Twitter @sparkymedia1 or visit us at www.sparkymediaproductions.com
Read Mark's report on the Panasonic GH3 here