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Header image for article Sony F3 Signal Routing 101

Sony F3 Signal Routing 101

While it may seem like a straightforward topic, the Sony PMW-F3 actually has several video routing options, which I'm often asked about during our F3 workshops. Between the SDI, HDMI and dual link SDI ports, the various options can be confusing at first. Hopefully, this guide will help illustrate some of the different scenarios you might find yourself in and how to best configure the output options on your F3.

First things first - there are three HD outputs on the F3. The SDI Out, HDMI and the Dual Link SDI. Of these three HD outputs, you can only have two outputs on simultaneously. That means your possible output combinations are as follows:

  1. SDI & Dual Link SDI
  2. SDI & HDMI
  3. HDMI & Dual Link SDI

External Monitor & EVF

If you're not interested in recording to an external recorder, you can leave your F3 in the default setting, which has both the SDI and HDMI outputs enabled (Video Set -> SDI/HDMI/i.LINK I/O Select -> HD SDI & HDMI). This mode allows you to specify if you want on-screen characters and allows you to toggle the output between 23.98PsF or 59.94i, if you're shooting 23.98P. Note that any changes you make will effect both the SDI and HDMI outputs, so if you're trying to send characters to your HDMI EVF, but you want to send a clean signal to your SDI client monitor, you can use the Dual Link 'A' output, as I detail below.

External Monitor or EVF & External Recorder

This is probably the most common situation I'm asked about. If you are shooting to an external recorder like the Ki Pro Mini or PIX 240, there are several outputs you can use from the camera. Naturally, you can use the HDMI or SDI Out in the back to feed your recorder, but I actually prefer and recommend using the Dual Link 'A' port. The Dual Link outputs are always "clean," meaning there will never be any on-screen characters burned in. Another advantage of the Dual Link outputs is that they always come out at the same frequency as the rest of the camera - if you're shooting 1920x1080 23.98p, it'll output 1920x1080 23.9 PsF. This way, you can use the standard SDI Out port to feed your external on-board monitor or to send a picture to a client monitor, or alternatively use the HDMI port to feed an EVF. Remember, since you can only choose two of the three HD outputs and you're already using the Dual Link out in this scenario, you'll have to choose between SDI or HDMI. This is also ideal for those using monitors or EVFs that do not support 23.98PsF, because you can set the F3 to output with 2-3 PullDown (59.94i) via the SDI Out or HDMI. In the "Video Set" menu, you'll want to make sure your Dual Link and Gamma Select is set to 1.5G YPbPr422 & Video.

The same is true if you are recording S-Log to a 4:2:2 recorder, the only difference is that you'll want to make sure your Dual Link and Gamma Select is set to 1.5G YPbPr422 & S-Log in the Video Set menu.

If you are using a 4:4:4 recorder, you're presented with several options in the Dual Link menu:

  1. 1.5G RGB444 & Video
  2. 1.5G RGB444 & S-Log
  3. 3G RGB444 & Video
  4. 3G RGB444 & S-Log

The one difference to pay attention to is the 1.5G or 3G setting. When using 1.5G mode, you'll be using both the 'A' and 'B' connections for a dual link connection. The 3G indicates 3Gbps, or double the data throughput of 1.5G, so if you have a 3G capable recorder you can use one SDI cable ('A' port) instead of two. When you're shooting S-LOG (either in 4:2:2 or 4:4:4), you can apply a monitor LUT to the SDI or HDMI outputs, which will not affect the dual link outputs.

This is just one of the many topics we cover in our F3 workshops, if you're interested in learning more you should consider attending one of our courses or leaving questions in the comments below.

Jeff Lee
National Training Manager / Camera Tech Specialist, AbelCine NY

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