I've been lucky enough to travel all around Australia with my Sony F55 since I purchased it in February 2013. The nature of my work means that I travel to some of this country's most remote regions. This has given me the opportunity to really test the F55 by exposing it to extremely harsh conditions, while at the same time allowing me to capture some truly remarkable 4K imagery.
Screen grab from F55. The Hidden Valley.
I remember hearing rumors of 'The New F' camera in late 2012. At the time I was looking around for a new lightweight camera kit to purchase. I settled on the Sony F3 after thinking long and hard about it but decided to put a hold on it when I began hearing about 'The New F'. I'm glad I did. The possibilities that the F55 offers in a single camera is unheard of, and the prospects are very exciting.
In late February my F55 arrived two days before I was heading out on a two week film trip in the Australian Simpson Desert. I had my other camera kit all set for the shoot but decided not to waste the opportunity of probably being the first person to take the F55 to the Simpson Desert. So, it was a crash course, teaching myself all the ins and outs of the F55 and it was time to head off.
I remember the first shot I filmed with the F55. It was at the top of the largest sand dune in the Simpson Desert; Big Red. The environment just leant itself to being filmed in 4K. I combined the 4K shooting with Canon's 30-105 light weight zoom and the F55 produced some remarkable imagery (see 4K video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUP4c19EpXI). I shot the whole trip in SLog2 with S-Gamut color space and was blown away with the possibilities in post! The F55 also stood up to some tremendous temperatures in the desert over the two weeks. Most days reached 48 degrees Celsius (118° F) in the shade and the camera was not bothered! The fan kicked in when it needed to and that was it. I was also using Sony's new OLED viewfinder. The clarity of that viewfinder is just amazing!
Gavin framing up a shot on the salt lakes in the Simpson Desert.
Shortly after this trip I was sent off to southern Western Australia where we spent a week following a river system through a 10,000 hectare (24,710 acres) property right out to the ocean. The weather was temperamental starting off very dry and dusty then leading to storms not seen in that area for a long time. Once again, the F55 seemed to have no problems with the conditions and was able to produce some magnificent 4K imagery in areas not many people get to see. One of my favorite memories from the trip was being able to get close to dozens of black swans in the water. I was able to spend about 20 minutes filming them from close and far, all in 4K! It was a magical moment when I startled them and they took off, flying past me no further than ten meters in front of the lens. One of my favorite shots!
Screen grab from F55. Swans just before take off.
Screen grab from F55. Graham Cahill delivering PTC.
My next few trips involved heading up to Cape York at the top of Australia, heading over to the Gulf of Carpentaria in the Northern Territory and even heading overseas to Vietnam. During these trips I developed a real appreciation of the benefits of using a 4K camera. Having the ability to capture these locations in such high quality is truly a privilege. It's important to consider storage on these trips too. We only have a limited number of drives that we can take with us. The beauty of the XAVC codec is its very efficient. Even in 4K! The fact that it can all be recorded on small SxS cards is a big plus too.
Screen grab from F55. Pelicans at sunset in the Gulf.
The capabilities of the F55 have really allowed me to push myself and change my approach to cinematography. Being able to take advantage of the large sensor, huge dynamic range, codecs as well as an endless list of future upgrades is a magnificent capability in a single camera.
I really believe Sony has listened to their market and done an amazing job with this camera. Happy shooting!
Gavin Rawlings is a Sydney based lighting cameraman.
Follow him on Twitter: @RawlingsGavin