Honolulu DP Shoots with State-of-the-Art Sony F65

Sony was looking to develop new cameras for the production industry, so DPs gave the renowned manufacturer a wish list. The list consisted of:

• Higher resolution than any previous digital motion picture camera.
• Even greater exposure latitude, dynamic range and wider color gamut than Sony’s previous best.
• File-based SR Codec recording for fast, efficient episodic TV production workflow.
• A 16-bit linear RAW to support the most demanding feature films.

The result is the just released Sony F65 digital motion picture camera with a base price of $65,000, and when totally tricked out, about $85,000.

Ruben Carrillo shoots with the Sony F65.

Ruben Carrillo, executive producer and director of photography at Honolulu’s 4 Miles LLC, is the first filmmaker in Hawaii to try out the state-of-the-art camera. 4 Miles is a producing entity focused on perpetuating the culture and practices of the first peoples of Hawaii through original media content.

Carrillo has fine-tuned his skills as a director of photography, winning numerous awards for his work, including the audience award for Best Short Film at the Hawaii International Film Festival for the documentary Mana I Ka Leo. His photography has been seen in magazines around the world and Carrillo even has an image at the Smithsonian for his work with the Merrie Monarch Festival.

But for his latest project, which was to consist of shooting aerials of lava flows on the Big Island, Carrillo wanted to try out something different.

So he contacted Band Pro Burbank, which Carrillo has been working with for 17 years, and its sales manager Nir Reches. The company sells high-end digital cinema equipment to the production industry. Reches helped arrange for Carrillo to get a loaner Sony F65 camera for seven days, as well as a set of six Leica first ever cinema lenses valued at $140,000.

That’s about when Carrillo expanded his project to three islands: Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island.

Band Pro also sent digital imaging technician Randy Wedick to assist Carrillo. The deal meant that Carrillo’s footage would be used by Band Pro “to represent the Sony F65” at NAB this year. In addition to aerials, the shoot also included a lot of cultural footage: a Hilo hula halau dancing on a cliff, helicopter footage on every island, Waikiki at night filmed from the ocean, and bodysurfing at Sandy Beach.

Carrillo was impressed with the results of his first footage of Waikiki at night.“

The dynamic range was amazing,” he said. “It maintained detail in the shadows and still handled the highlights beautifully.”

The Sony F65 was developed for several reasons, according to Wedick.“

The idea was to make a picture that blows HD away,” he said. “HD is not even in the same ballpark against this camera. It was also developed as direct competition to the highly regarded Red Epic camera. The goal also was to create the effect of a 65mm camera in a small body. The F65 is a 4K camera but the sensor on this 4K is four times the size of HD.”

The sensor, Wedick said, is “far in advance of any camera out there.”

“The amount of detail it holds and dynamic range has a beautiful color palette and is very advanced in terms of its realism,” he said. “It’s able to capture more colors than you can get on 35mm film.”

Ideal use of the Sony F65 is for feature films and nature cinematography where clarity of the image is paramount, said Wedick.

At 12 pounds, the camera is light enough to be handheld because it has a magnesium body instead of heavy steel. Fully equipped, the F65 weighs about 17 pounds.

The F65 exceeds the resolution of any previous digital motion picture camera, the result of the Sony Super 35 image sensor. The company’s goal has always been to match the photographic quality of 35mm film. Now Sony is setting its sights much higher: to surpass the limits of human vision, Wedick said.

Sony began shipping its F65 in January with roughly 400 pre-orders worldwide. Nearly 100 have already shipped in the U.S., including to rental houses Otto Nemenz, Clairmont Camera and Abel Cine.

“It’s really incredible,” said a smiling Carrillo. “The picture quality is truly beyond believable.”

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