NAB 2011 was this week and brought a slew of announcements, but one in particular has been bagging headlines left and right — and no, I’m not talking about Final Cut Pro X.
I’m referring to the announcement of Sony’s new 8K sensor digital cinema camera. The Sony F65 camera outputs in true 4K resolution and is future proofed for the next wave of digital cinema.
With a camera designed for professionals with money to spend, Sony is set to shake up the high end of digital cinema and even the sacred world of film.
Sony is right to be bragging about their new camera’s capabilities — 16-bit RAW output, 8K 20 mega-pixel CMOS sensor, slow motion shooting up to 120 frames per second — but its the testing that has me interested.
This is the first image capture system designed from the ground up to support the Academy IIF-ACES (Image Interchange Framework – Academy Color Encoding Specification). Using these specifications, the Sony F65 has eeked past film in color and dynamic range. Further, the resolution of the sensor has been compared to 6K or 8K scans of 35mm and approach that of 65mm film.
Don’t believe it?
Curtis Clark, ASC member and chairman of the ASC Technology Committee had this to say:
“Sony’s new F65 digital motion picture camera combines true 4K resolution with an expansive dynamic range that enables a more nuanced reproduction of fine textural and tonal details. Along with excellent contrast and exceptional color reproduction the F65 produces images that have a rich filmic look and feel, providing filmmakers with significantly enhanced creative photographic possibilities.”
An Option Instead of a Standard
Some are proclaiming the F65 to be a film killer, but I’m skeptical.
We’ve heard it over and over again through the years that film is dead. And yet it perseveres like Rasputin in the Russian monarchy.
Film isn’t dead nor will it die anytime soon. Instead, film will enter a transitional period where it will become another option to shoot on rather than the standard. Film will become another horse in the stable instead of the prized thoroughbred.
Film and it’s properties are always going to inform digital cinema, but from here on out it’s the wild west. What’s the limit on dynamic range? On color manipulation? Will the data flow stop?
Moore’s Law says no and that digital cinema will only become better and faster. In a few years, a camera will come out that blows away the incredible specs of the F65.
If it gets to the point where we have surpassed film and achieved the holy grail of the “film look,” then film itself will not be relegated to the grave, but back in line with all the other cameras.
Film is drifting away from being the standard and towards being an option.
For filmmakers of the future, it won’t necessarily be the best choice, the right choice, or even the given choice. In fact, that may already be the case for certain projects.
Film isn’t dead and it’s not going to die, but its marketshare is going to level out when the digital cinema big boys finally grow up.
And though the term “filmmaker” will live on as a reminder of the celluloid roots of the proud profession, the theory of digital cinema, in its purest sense, will rise to fulfill the prophecy its name proclaims.
I wrote this article without budgetary concerns in mind. I understand that many filmmakers couldn’t afford an F65, let alone film to shoot on. For them, film may already be dead. I wrote this article with the big budget Hollywood gurus in mind. They’re the ones shooting film and they’re the ones this camera is aimed towards.