What's been working for me


At the beginning of the year I decided I wanted/needed to get into the "big sensor" swing of things.

In the scheme of things I'm a middle of the road type freelancer.

I do regular work for CBS network, maybe once a month, and have had some success growing more into the corporate side of video as well. In the old days I was all news. Still love news but only an out of touch person would think the days of only working for broadcast news has much of a long term future. That's not meant to insult any of my more talented friends who have a bigger toy box on wheels they travel with to news gigs.

Anyway...I live within a budget. I know the old adage about losing out if you wait for clients to ask for a camera before you go buy it. However I take a big picture to my small little company. With that in mind I bought a really well set up, complete Sony F3 which came with a lot of nice extras.

I shoot two cameras. My trusty old EX3 and the F3. Both shoot to an identical video file format. I can synch timecode and client's editors don't have to play games synching audio from my EX3 to a DSLR.

Both my cameras have Roger Macie color in them and they look identical...except for the difference in sensor.

I shoot a fair amount of two camera shoots for both US and Latin American clients. The bigger sensor on the F3, even though it's not a 4K camera, has helped me grow quite a bit...and stay in budget. Business wise I like seeing my business grow at a nice steady pace.

I just finished a two day corporate shoot using both cameras.

I consider the F3 my "interview camera" and then shoot b-roll with the EX3. I pull the SXS card from the F3 and plug it directly into the EX3 and off I go. All of the material from both cameras quickly and easily on the same card. This really helps me when I dump the raw camera files to the clients hard drive at the end of a shoot.

Yes, I know the world is gradually going to all 4K but there are so many clients which are thrilled with good HD video. And then they see the wide sensor images which has been directly responsible for me getting additional work from them.

To be clear. The freelance life is a never ending "feast or famine" experience. I still have a week or two of famine...and then it all gets made up the following week or two. I'm not going to be a millionaire but I'm doing so much better than when I was a staff television photog...which is how I judge my success.

At the end of yesterday's shoot the producer could not say enough nice things about the product we created. It's those moments, working with experienced people who appreciate a professional effort with professional gear...which gives me the confidence for the future.

Yes, I know there are better cameras I could be working...but I know so many others who have made big money investments in cameras year after year, keeping up with the latest flavor of the month, and they struggle. They aren't failing by any means but they have more headaches and stress keeping their heads above water in difficult economic times...which affect all business', not just video production.

I also use this mindset with the lights I have. Full two camera set-ups in both tungsten and LED. And three good HMIs.

There's a market out there which is still a good slice of the "good pay" pie. I know my limitations...and rent what I need on those occasions.

My goal is...be happy doing something I love while I make a nice, fair check and avoid stress by not overspending...buying too many toys I don't really need, leaving me which would leave me worrying about debt.

Several really big companies call me and, for them, the big sell is good work with a relatively small "footprint" doing production on site. They've actually been paying extra for that.

Simply sharing some thoughts with the rest of you. Wondering if others have paired cameras they've owned to produce a "package" which entices customers looking for quality work at a very fair price.

I don't work for bottom of the barrel scammers or newbies wanting free or "close to free". ;)

Necktie Boy

Well-known member

You are doing well. F3's are dirt cheap. You have posted pictures of your tricked out EX-3. You have both angles covered. A large sensor camera and an ENG camera for the run&gun. Sounds it working great for you. I see nothing wrong with that. If the client is happy, you are happy. More money in your pocket.

Sure 4k(UHD) is around the corner, but OTA will take a bit longer and UHD players are not on the market. Then we have the FCC's repacking. In a nutshell, stations will be sharing a channel. We know that digital channels can have subs. The catch is the main channel HD, while the sub's are SD. Also, the more sub channels, the main channel quality drops.

HD products will last as long as SD products did. Heck, in my market, the top station just went HD in the field. They were the last one in the market, but first in the studio. I think it took at least 10 years.

I think you have a great workflow going.

Thanks for sharing!

Capt. Slo-mo

Well-known member
John: I've been using the same F3/EX-3 combo for almost a couple of years now, for almost the same reasons. I do more cable programming, but some corporate work.

The F3 still takes a fantastic picture for broad/cablecast. Since almost everything I do is two-camera, my main producer and I had a camera discussion last week, and I ended up hooking a second F3, nicely equipped, for a fraction of what I paid for the first one. (We worked on a project where we rented a second F3, and the genie was out of the bottle)

I can share lenses, matching profiles and shallow DoF. It's not the latest and greatest. We had the FS-7, F5, F55 discussion, but for the series we're shooting right now, the budgets we work with and a likely season two in early 2016, the older cameras look marvelous and will easily last another year.

After that, who knows? But for right now, going with the matching lower priced camera will also let me upgrade audio, monitor and lighting from my original freelance gear bought in 2001. And that's not a bad thing.


One of my best friends is also a freelancer. Quite successful for more years than I have been "on my own".

He's the one who showed me how well using the two cameras worked.

In fact he's got two of each and does regular 4 cam shoots. Two EX3s and Two F3s.

Last week he was working for ABC 20/20 with the cameras! And that job is a very regular gig he gets from all three of the traditional "big 3 nets".

He also has nano flash recorders to mount on the camera in case someone wants a higher bit rate. But even those cases have been rare. They are still happy with the 35mb HD image...and paying well for it.

I will admit I only use the PL mount lenses with my F3. The 85mm and 35mm co everything I want...though it would like one of the 135mm PL mount lenses!

No, these are not high end commercial production companies. But they are the biggest television networks in the United States who are still happy to pay good money for a good image. Especially when the image from all the cameras matches so well and streamlines the editing process!

Again...no wasted time synching audio from a DSLR or two, then play with color correction, to achieve a good HD multi-cam interview. ;)


Well-known member
That is great, I am happy for you and your colleague. I have only been freelancing for 15 years, so I have yet to land the big national clients such as ABC network and the big three. For now, I am doing a lot of corporate work, and sports, in addition to some reality and documentary type programming. Sometimes, my camera is provided to me by the client (if it is reality or doc-drama) Other times, I provide the camera. I have been using my Canon C300, or HPX370 P2 with a Nano Flash the most often. My HDX900 also still gets some calls with the Nano. I also do shoot stills with my Canon 5D MKIII, and sometimes get asked to shoot video with it. I do not have all my eggs in one basket, but I like it this way because I can stay busy if, say sports is slow, I have corporate, or, if it is summer, hardly have any shoots, so I book some editing gigs.

I do shoot a couple of crime shows that are national or syndicated, and clients either like to: use my C300, make me rent two Sony F3's, or they want me to rent two EX3/1 or similar. So for now, I rent XDCAM's that shoot on SxS cards if I need it. If I was renting an XDCAM every week, then I would definitely consider buying one soon, but for now my needs are sporadic. I am closely looking at the Sony FS7 as the "next" EX3 in both terms of popularity and client requests, I am somewhat less inclined to look at PMW200/300, but I have a feeling that large sensor cameras may phase these out, but since I am not sure what clients will start asking for next, I am waiting before I buy any new camera, and would rather rent Sony for now.
I freelanced for 3 years, and while I did enjoy it, there just wasn't enough demand in my market. But fortunately I just recently got a full-time gig at a production company here in town. Anyway, I noticed this thread was a few months old, and I thought I'd just mention that since then the Sony FS5 was announced. Have you considered it?


Well-known member
The Sony FS7 and F55 are big around here, but not for run and gun. I don't do r&g anymore. Too old. :>) Fox News has been calling me on occasion to go do a breaking news story and it seems the camera is not that important, but I have another network client that will only accept 4:2:2, 1920x1080 and 50 Mbps. I am glad your setups are working for you!


For what it's worth...both the Sony EX3 and F3 send full 4:2:2 1920 X 1080 out 9f the rear SDI video connection.

I can slap my trusty Nanos lash on the back and record the desired Mbps (or higher)for the client...no problem! ;)


For what it's worth...both the Sony EX3 and F3 send full 4:2:2 1920 X 1080 out of the rear SDI video connection.

I can slap my trusty Nanoflash on the back and record the desired 50 Mbps (or higher) for the client...no problem! ;)