Guest post by Christian Parkinson:
Last week I posted a short blog post detailing the kit that I’m currently using to shoot short features on. I decided to use the Sony A7S as my camera of choice as I was looking for something I could shoot high quality video on while still being discrete and able to move fast. There are many similar cameras on the market but a lot of shooters I respect have the A7S and convinced me to go for it. (arse covering note – This was purely my decision based on the type of work I will mainly be doing and is not an “officially” endorsed choice by my employer)
So far I’ve now shot three films on it and a number of short interviews etc. Below are two of my most recent pieces, they are available in 1080 on Youtube so please change your Youtube settings to get the best quality.
I’m no pixel peeper, these thoughts here are purely based on first impressions and my own experiences in the real world. The first thing you may want to know is why did I choose the Sony 18-200 power zoom lens? Well, as you may know it is a lens built for APSC size sensors and therefore is cheaper and lighter. To be honest I was willing to sacrifice the ultra shallow depth of field look in favour of versatility and less rolling shuttter (which I’m told can be more of an issue on the A7S in full frame mode). So far I’ve found the lens really good, its width and image stabilisation allows a lot of hand held movement which suits my style perfectly. The power zoom on it though is incredibly slow so I’ve taken to using it in manual zoom mode. At the long end of the lens I have noticed some rolling shutter while reframing but frankly who cares? I never understand people moaning about rolling shutter in tests while whip panning, how often do you use a whip pan or a reframe in your films?
For focus I’m switching a lot between manual and auto. I like the auto but wouldn’t trust it for interviews as it can drift if the person glances down or similar. I think I will buy a full frame Prime lens for interviews as I’m not totally happy with the look I’ve been able to achieve with this lens ie. It’s a struggle to knock the background out.
Picture profile is the next thing. I would love to shoot S-log 2 but there are two main reasons why I don’t (so far). Firstly much of my work is quick turn around and I don’t want the pain of having to grade all of my pics. Secondly I’m now working in the African sunshine and often at 200 ISO. For Log I’m told the lowest ISO you can use is 3200 which kills it as an option to me. I have been playing a little but a good place to start is to follow Philip Blooms settings that he recommends in his seminar below:
I’m currently using Picture Profile 1 with Gamma at Cine 3 and colour mode as Pro. To be honest I’ve found it looks great indoors and in low light but I’m not totally happy with my colours and blacks outdoors, especially in the sunshine. In the films above I had to lush and crush a bit in FCPX (ie bring down the blacks and add a bit of saturation). I would love any advice about settings that you think would be best for me working in bright sunshine a lot.
For sound I’m switching between the camera’s internal mic for simple GV’s or discrete/undercover shooting and then adding the sony xlr-k1m adaptor with radio mics for interviews etc. I found this rig fairly decent though I had to play with the settings on my mics a lot before I could get rid of most of the hiss I was getting. I still sometimes have to use a bit of background noise reduction in FCPX. I also have a simple Sony radio mic adaptor that allows me to plug a receiver straight into the camera’s hot shoe, this is actually lovely and for many interviews is all I need.
You can get in contact with me at http://www.imagejunkies.com