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Achieving All Time High with Sony's PMW-F55

Achieving All Time High with Sony's PMW-F55

Holding a particular interest towards the art of cinematography, Chia Meng Chee delicately crafts his frames and lightings around stories while carefully building visuals of the film piece-by-piece. With a belief that cinematography is more than just creating beautiful imageries, Chia does his upmost to create purposeful and appealing images that enhance and expand the narrative beyond.

More recently, Chia was invited as the director of photography behind the lens for the music video (MV), All Time High. The third single of Singapore’s rising indie-pop band, The Sam Willows, achieved more than 400,000 views on its YouTube channel to date with its visual narrative. Chia was pleased with the performance of the PMW-F55 and recounted his experience with the CineAlta camera.

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“I have always enjoyed my experience with Sony’s CineAlta cameras,” said Chia. “Previously, I was able to film using the PMW-F55 in Taiwan when I participated in the Golden Horse Film Academy in 2013 as well as the PMW-F5 for a couple of short films.”

The F55 features a Super 35mm 4K CMOS sensor, allowing users to shoot in High Definition (HD), 2K, Quad Full HD or 4K while achieving superb dynamic range, widest colour gamut, and pristine image quality. This was extremely useful for the dimly-lit opening scene in a club. “With the performance of the F55 in low light environment, we were able to employ minimum lighting to achieve the look we want.” The CineAlta camera excels in extraordinary low-light sensitivity and extremely low noise in the blacks, with an impressive 14 stops of exposure latitude. This equipped users with the ability to render tones from deepest shadows to brightest highlights, a crucial test of any digital camera.

This is also evident at the rooftop scenes where Chia utilized the difference between day and night to further illustrate the emotions of the characters. “It was easy to adjust the camera to suit different settings and environment. With the huge array of colour space coupled with the sensor’s performance, I was able to operate with ease.” The F55 incorporates the same advanced colour filter array technology used by Sony’s Flagship model the F65. Users get a colour gamut that is not only wider than other digital cameras; it is even wider than motion picture print film. The S-Gamut/S-Log3 option further enhances users’ experience in the Cineon workflow to start grading more easily.

The MV also comprised room scenes where space was a constraint inevitably. Nonetheless, the CineAlta camera is exceptionally small, light and modular with its chassis only slightly wider than a typical PL-mount prime lens. “The room was fitted with furniture and we had limited room space to place the camera. However, I was able to put the F55 in places where other cameras might not be able to do so. This greatly increased my shoot options.”

Chia also experimented with the CineAlta camera by shooting fast moving scene in the car. “The frame image scan of the camera allows me to shoot fast moving object without the ‘jello’ effect.” The F55 features high-data-rate on-board XAVC HD recordings (up to 60fps) with options to upgrade to XAVC 4K, QFHD and 2K (up to 60fps) and XAVC 2K/HD (up to 180fps). Further, the F55 is equipped with the revolutionary electronic Frame Image Scan that eliminates rolling shutter distortion. “I don’t have to worry that the car is moving too quickly and I could push for the vehicle to go as fast as we needed for the performance of the scene.”

The overall experience with the CineAlta camera was remarkable for Chia. “The lightweight design and shape of the F55 makes it very suitable for carrying on the shoulder, making it a very viable option for projects that require a lot of handhelding. The design of the buttons layout on the side also makes it very easy for me to access the camera options. Further, the firmware update enhanced the functionality of the camera. My experience with the Sony F series camera has always been a good one and I look forward to working with the F55 again on other projects.”

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Kheng and Narelle Kheng