Today, Sony released the latest firmware, Version 1.1, for the PMW-F3 camera. It includes several features that really improve the camera overall. They also released the CBK-RGB01 upgrade key (S-Log upgrade), which enhances the camera’s imaging options. Sony let us check out the new firmware a bit early. Here is my report of the improvements made to the camera with the free upgrade.
Simultaneous Live HD-SDI and HDMI Ouptut – This is very important for anyone wanting to use an external viewfinder like a Zacuto ZEVF or Cineroid. It works in all video formats, as well as in 23.98 when 2-3 pull down (59.94i) is enabled in the menus. If you’re worried about getting a clean 23.98 PsF output, then read the next section.
Live Dual Link Output in 444 & 422 – The A & B connectors have been enabled, so you can use them when working in Dual Link (with the RGB upgrade) or in regular 422. This means you have two additional clean outputs all the time, perfect for connecting an external recorder. When shooting in 23.98, these outputs will give you 23.98 PsF even if you have pull-down enabled on the other HD-SDI output. (Note: When Dual Link output is enabled, the HDMI output is turned off.)
Planning Metadata – Planning Metadata allows you to design a naming convention for the camera before you start shooting. We created a Planning MetaData file generator several years ago for the PDW700 & F800 cameras, which also works with the F3. The idea is that you generate several of these Metadata files ahead of time, load them into the camera through the SxS card, and then choose the appropriate naming convention when needed. I’ll release a more in-depth blog on this in the future.
After loading a Planning Metadata file, you can then choose the naming type in the Clip menu:
S&Q Wheel as a Menu Dial – You can now use the S&Q wheel on the side of the camera to move around the menu. This is a great option when the scroll wheel on the back of the camera is hard to reach. Hold the ‘cancel’ button while pushing in the S&Q wheel to change into this mode.
The CBK-RGB01 option key, which you can now order here, opens up several functions as well. When you purchase the key you are actually buying an SxS card with a special encoded key on it. This will allow you to enable RGB & S-Log on one camera. Once the functions are active you can remove the SxS card from the camera for safety or continue to use it as a standard SxS card. It is possible to move the RGB / S-LOG functions from one camera to another by uninstalling the key from one and re-installing it on another. They are using some serious encryption on the card to prevent multiple installations.
Dual Link or 3G SDI 4:4:4 S-Log output – This is the big feature we tested at NAB that everyone is excited about – it enables S-Log gamma mode output. Giving the camera extra dynamic range, S-Log is perfect for anyone wanting to make the most out of the camera.
Monitor & SxS LUTs – When shooting in S-Log, you can choose to enable a LUT that will record to the SxS cards and also be used for monitoring out of the standard HD-SDI and HDMI outputs. The camera comes loaded with four different LUTs to choose from with different levels of range, or a Custom LUT can be created in the CVP File Editor from Sony. I’m working on a blog that will show how to create and load these LUTs.
WiFi Connectivity - If you get the CBK-RGB01 key and Sony’s CBK-WA01 WiFi Adaptor for the camera, you can load the Planning Metadata files over WiFi. Or you can use the same feature to change clip names on the fly.
Edit: The Sony Service website is currently undergoing maintenance. The expect to be up again by September 6th. Until then, you can download the firmware from AbelCine here.