Lenses & Accessories for the Sony PMW-F3
Wednesday, 02 February 2011
Sony’s new PMW-F3 camera is a full-featured video camcorder with a Super-35mm size sensor. The F3 is suitable for many different styles of production and can be customized with lenses and accessories to make it an even more versatile solution. In this article, we present the many different lenses and accessories that can be used with the camera.
Lens Adapters | Lenses | PL Mount Lenses | Still Lenses | Mattebox, Follow Focus and Shoulder Rigs | Power Options | Recorders | Recording Media | Electronic Viewfinders
The Sony PMW-F3 has a ‘F3’ lens mount on it, which is very similar to the mount found on the PMW-EX3. The F3 mount has a very short flange back distance (the distance between the lens mount and the sensor). The F3 comes with a PL-mount lens adapter, which can be used with the Sony branded PL lenses and any other PL mount lens on the market. Additionally, the F3 mount allows for the use of several different lens adapters.
F3 to Nikon Mount adapter: MTF F3 to Nikon
MTF Services has created the first F3 to Nikon adapter, which allows Nikon F mount lenses to be attached to the camera and features an iris control ring for any lens that does not have external control. Although designed for G series lenses, this adapter is compatible with all Nikon lenses including DX & FX series, so it can be used with Zeiss ZF.2 lenses, as well as any Nikon mount lens.
F3 to Canon FD: MTF F3 to Canon FD
MTF Services’ F3 to Canon FD lens adapter, allows Canon FD mount lenses to be attached to the camera. However, this adapter will not work with the newer Canon EF lenses, which require power to adjust the aperture control. ↑
The PMW-F3K version comes with three Sony branded PL mount lenses (at 35, 50, and 85mm), or if you would prefer to use your own glass, the F3L model does not come with any lenses. With the included PL mount adapter, and the different adapters available, there is a large variety of lenses you can use on this camera. Here are some models that you’ll find at Abel.
PL Mount Lenses
Zeiss Compact Primes
Zeiss Compact Primes (CP.2) – These lightweight lenses are both affordable and versatile. They are built for cinema applications with a 14 blade iris, and a long focal range. They are also unique in that the lens mount can be changed between PL, Nikon, Canon EF and other mounts. The size and weight of these lenses would fit very nicely with the F3.
Arri Ultra Primes
The Arri Ultra Primes from Zeiss are universally known for their quality, color, contrast and speed. A set of these lenses would be a beautiful addition to the F3 camera.
Zeiss Light Weight Zoom 2
The Zeiss Light Weight Zoom 2 (LWZ.2) is an incredibly high quality 15.5-45mm T 2.6 zoom lens. Like the Compact Primes, it comes in PL, Nikon, Canon and other mounts, and is lightweight at only 4.4 lbs.
Angenieux Optimo DP Rouge Zoom Lenses
Angenieux designed the DP Rouge Zoom Lenses specifically for digital cinema cameras. There are two lenses in this series, a 16-42mm T.28 and a 30-80mm T2.8. Angenieux lenses are known for their quality, and these two lenses are no exception.
Schneider Cine Xenars
The Schneider Cine-Xenar lenses are available in PL and EF mounts. These lenses cover the Super 35mm image area of the F3, and also the 5K area of the upcoming Red Epic. Optically they have virtually no breathing and a nice gradual roll off in focus. ↑
Zeiss ZF.2 Lenses
Zeiss designed these high quality lenses for the still photography world, but they also work very well for video. These lenses have an F mount, meaning the MTF F3 to Nikon adapter is required, however since they are completely manual, no electronics are required. The ZF.2 lenses have manual aperture rings and the focus ring has hard stops, which makes pulling focus much easier. There are many different lenses to choose from including 18mm, 21mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm, 50mm macro, 85mm and 100mm. The lenses vary in size and speed, but they all match in terms of color and contrast.
Other Nikon Mount Lenses
With the MTF F3 to Nikon adapter, there are a huge number of lenses to choose from. Two lenses to consider from Tokina are their 11-16mm F2.8 and 16-28m F2.8. These lenses both have manual focus modes and the aperture can be controlled with the adapter. Sigma has a couple lenses to consider as well. The 50mm F1.4 is very nice and very fast, and their 24-70mm F2.8 and 70-200mm F2.8 lenses perform very well. ↑
Mattebox, Follow Focus and Shoulder Rigs
We have had many people asking how to best rig the F3 with accessories. Below, please find several different setups that we’ve tested with the camera.
Arri MMB-1 Kit
The Arri MMB-1 mattebox and MFF-1 follow focus have been very popular since they were first introduced. The MFF-1 follow focus works well on a huge variety of lenses from SLR still lenses (with a gear) to large cinema style lenses. The mattebox and follow focus can be combined with the MPB-2 base plate with an EX3 plate adapter. (The MMB-1 and MFF-1 are available individually or as a kit.)
Chrosziel F3 Kits
Chrosziel has put together many kits specifically for the F3. These kits include their 450W Super Wide Mattebox or their 456-R2 Academy Mattebox, a baseplate and a DV follow focus. Chrosziel has done a great job improving their mattebox systems with wider backs (130mm) and stronger fiberglass bodies. Their kits include step-downs for different lens standards or their rubber ring for use with SLR lenses.
OConnor O-box Kit
The OConnor O-box is brand new and growing in popularity. The O-box is extremely strong and even features a top bar to which accessories can be mounted. The mounting bar, which OConnor calls a ‘cheese-stick,’ has threads for 1/4-20″ and 3/8″ attachments. OConnor’s O-Grips system can be mounted to this top bar as well as to either side of the mattebox. The rear opening of the mattebox is 150mm, so it will work with a large variety of lenses. The mattebox comes with two 4×5.65 horizontal filter frames, as well as two top loading or 4×4 horizontal filter frames, at an incredible price. OConnor also has a brand new mini follow focus, the O-Focus Mini, and a baseplate prototype. The O-box is available for purchase now, while the other items should be available soon.
Vocas Shoulder Rig
Vocas put together a shoulder rig designed for the Panasonic AF100, however it also works nicely on the F3. The kit includes an MB-255 mattebox, 15mm Pro Support, handgrips and shoulder support with an offset bracket. The rig feels good on the shoulder, and the handgrips are very solid. The Vocas MB-255 Mattebox has two 4×4 filter trays and a 114mm rear opening, so it will work with the Zeiss Compact Primes.
Zacuto Shoulder Rig
There are multiple ways to build up the F3 with Zacuto parts. We have tested the F3 with their Z-Focus, Universal baseplate, Red plate V3 and Doublemount V3. Zacuto’s universal baseplate is a tried and true system, which fits nicely with the F3. The Mini Universal also makes for a good fit. A battery plate can be attached to the Red plate V3 and Doublemount V3, which provides a great way to mount batteries for balance. At the same time, the Doublemount can be used to attach arms for accessories. Zacuto also has a couple of kits already put together that should work well for the F3 including the Cine Baseplate Kit and the Indie Baseplate Kit. ↑
The F3 uses the same batteries as the PMW-EX1 & EX3, however, the camera does not come with any batteries or a charger. So here are some battery and charger options.
The BPU-30 and BPU-60 batteries are the standard batteries used by Sony. They are reliable and work perfectly with the F3. Sony makes both a single (BC-U1) and double position (BC-U2) charger for these batteries.
Anton Bauer is designing a gold mount for the F3. Details are not yet available from the manufacturer at this point, but it will be able to power the camera via XLR 4-pin output. The plate will also have two powertap outputs for 12v accessories.
Switronix has the EX-L96 which is a 96wh battery with has a single powertap on it for 12v accessories. It is a rather large battery, but for long record times it is very handy.
Swit makes the S-8U62 battery, which is a 63wh battery with a single powertap on it. This is a very popular alternative battery for the EX1 and EX3 cameras.
Dolgin has a 4-position turbo charger (TC400), which will work with all of the batteries listed above. ↑
Convergent Design nanoFlash
The nanoFlash is very popular tiny recorder. It accepts HD-SDI, SDI and HDMI inputs and records in various flavors of MPEG2. It can record 4:2:2 LongGOP video at up to 180 Mbit/s and 4:2:2 I-Frame at up to 280 Mbit/s. Its small size and high quality make it an excellent on-board recording option for the F3.
AJA Ki Pro & Ki Pro Mini
The Ki Pro and Ki Pro Mini both accept HD-SDI inputs and record in various flavors of Apple ProRes. The Ki Pro has many different inputs and offers long recording to hard drive or SSD, while the new Ki Pro Mini is small and records directly to Compact Flash cards. Both units will record in ProRes LT, ProRes 422 and ProRes 422 (HQ). ↑
The F3 records to standard Sony SxS cards in the familiar XDCAM EX codec, which makes the F3 a great complimentary camera to the EX1R and EX3. In addition, to the Sony SxS cards, you can also use the Hoodman SxSxSDHC adapter and use standard SDHC or SDXC cards as inexpensive alternatives. ↑
If you’re using the F3 on a shoulder rig, a nice alternative to the built in LCD screen is the Cineroid Electronic Viewfinder. You can attach the Cineroid to your rods with the Zactuo Z-Mount II and Zacuto Zamerican articulating arm, offering you a truly versatile shoulder mounting solution.
Building on the success of the Z-Finder viewfinder for the HDSLR cameras, Zacuto has announced their Z-EVF. This electronic viewfinder has a high resolution screen, HDMI input and a loop through for additional monitoring, and many of the same features found on the high-end viewfinder today.
*Please note: With the current specifications of the Sony F3, there is no support for simultaneous HD/SDI and HDMI output. ↑