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New Sony 4K Cameras Start at Just Under $20,000

Sony PMW-F5 CineAlta 4K Camera - H 2012

The F5 will list for $19,400 and F55 for $34,900 when they ship in February.

Sony is aiming to make 4K cinematography a more cost effective option.

The company revealed that its developing PMW-F5 4K camera would list for $19,400, and PMW-F55 would be priced at $34,900. Both 4K cameras were announced last month and are scheduled to ship in February.

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This places both cameras in the general price range with Red’s Epic cameras, which last month were given a price reduction.

Sony previewed its new cameras and related accessories at a crowded customer event Wednesday night on the Sony lot in Los Angeles. In addition to allowing time to check out the new gear, Sony debuted new shorts that were lensed using prototypes of the cameras.

“We believe 4K will be as significant and impactful as HD,” said Phil Molyneux, president and COO of Sony Electronics, in his introductory remarks.

Both of the new Sony cameras are equipped with (different) 4K Super35mm CMOS sensors that Sony reported would capture 14-stops of exposure latitude with high resolution.

The Sony F65 camera—which has already been used on several productions including M. Night Shyamalan’s 2013 release After Earth—uses an 8K sensor and remains Sony’s top of line camera model at $65,000. The manufacturer’s large sensor camera options also include its high speed NEX-FS700 camcorder. Sony’s director of marketing for large-image sensor cameras Rob Willox said the range, including the new cameras, “gives content creators incredible flexibility and creative options for acquisition in HD, 2K, 4K and beyond.”

During Wednesday’s event, the shorts were presented at a standing room only screening in the lot’s Cary Grant Theater that was attended by some of the filmmakers, including director and cinematographer Sam Nicholson.

Nicholson teamed with Stargate Studios to produce Mahout, which follows an orphan girl who helps a baby elephant escape an abusive owner and return to his herd in the wild. Nicholson directed and Dana Christiaansen lensed the short using the F55. It was made on location in Sri Lanka.

Calling 4K “totally addictive,” Nicholson said, "It gives you a tremendous amount of options in post. It is almost like being [on the shoot] again.” Others emphasized the flexibility of the lightweight camera body, which weighs roughly 4.5 pounds, according to Sony.

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Three additional shorts were screening that incorporated some use of the F5 or F55 during production. They included Tribeca Enterprises’ 7x6x2, a collaborative effort involving Gary Krieg, Tribeca’s executive vp, content development and production; graphic novelist Paul Pope and filmmaker Sridhar Reddy, who directed; and cinematographer Jesse Green. Also shown were a pair from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Safety Zone and The Contract.

On Wednesday at the Plus Camerimage cinematography festival in Bydgoszcz, Poland, Sony screened two additional shorts that used the prototype cameras during production.