Sony recently announced firmware version 1.20 for the PMW-F3. The new firmware, which will be released in November, will enable the use of the zoom rocker found on the F3, as well as some other very cool features. The first is the ability to turn on the 3D Link function in the camera with a new add-on key called CBK-3DLO1. On the back of the camera you’ll find the 3D link port, which will enable two F3s to be linked together for 3D. When combined with a Sony paintbox, both cameras can be controlled at the same time. Additionally, if Sony’s upcoming 14x lens is used on both cameras, a matching zoom, focus and iris can be achieved at the same time. (Read more about this new lens on our blog tomorrow.) This makes the F3 very straightforward to set up for 3D use. The CBK-3DL01 option key has a list price of $5,500 and includes the cable needed to connect both cameras.
Perhaps the most significant addition of all is Exposure Index S-Log mode. You will still need the S-Log option installed to make this work, but if you already have the S-Log option on, this will be enabled right away. The Exposure Index mode works differently than the standard S-Log mode – it sets the camera at an optimal ISO (800) and maximizes the sensor output, giving a full extra stop of exposure. Then when the gain switch is adjusted, instead of adding gain it adjusts the exposure index. A practical explanation of this is that when gain is increased the camera will push up the exposure values, and when it is decreased it will pull down those values. Because the ISO is set to get the most out of the sensor, the exposure index change works more like an adjustment in post. The extra stop in exposure is big news though, and I can’t wait to try it out.
We also learned about another firmware update coming out at the end of the year. Version 1.30 of the F3 firmware will be available around the end of December or January 2012, and will coincide with the release of Sony’s wide angle 11-16mm PL mount lens. The firmware will add one really important feature, which is the ability to output S-Log in 422. When S-Log is enabled (with the optional key), you will be able to send a 422 signal out of the Dual-Link ‘A’ output. Right now S-Log can only be sent out via the regular SDI output, by turning off the output LUT. With the new firmware, we will be able to send out S-Log over the ‘A’ output, while sending out another signal with the LUT applied over the regular SDI. This is a great feature for anyone using a Ki Pro Mini, PIX240 or other external recorder.