Having sold one of my two GH4’s I decided to buy a Sony A7s because I needed camera that would perform well in lower lighting conditions. The first thing I tested was the cameras colour compatibility with using the A7s beside my GH4.
Next was choosing a lens, I looked at all the options before plumbing for the 16-70mm f4 ZEISS T* a cracking all rounder though I was not prepared to discover that this lens using APSC crop would also increase the noise at higher ISOs.
There has been a fair bit of confusion over the lens I chose, firstly its not a “Full Frame” lens as there is no FF equivalent. When I had my Canon 5D I had a 24-105mm lens and it ticked a lot of my boxes therefore I chose the 16-70mm lens knowing it would give me a 1.5x crop, what I was not aware of is that 1.5x crop would also increase the noise, thanks to Chris for pointing this out but indeed when I film with a full frame Nikon lens on an MTF adapter the noise is less than using the Sony non FF lens. The ISO was set to 12800 and the croped Sony lens is indeed a tad noisier, interesting. Update. I have decided to return the 16-70mm APS-C to WEX who are kindly exchanging it for the 24-70mm Full Frame version, its not due in till the end of the month and I will re-evaluate the ISO when I get my new lens.
I also bought a 60mm f2.8 Sigma lens which gets terrific reviews and is also a very sharp lens. The last item I bought was the hand grip which allows you to use a second Lion “W” battery extending your total video battery life to about 4 hours.
The worst feature of the A7s is the video record button, not only is it in the wrong place but its your only option unlike the GH4 where the shutter release button doubles up as the video record button, lets hope Sony do something about this in the next FW upgrade.
To solve the problem I bought a Sony RM-VPR1 remote that works a dream with a nice big video record button off camera making the A7s a lot more pleasurable to work with in video mode.
How does the Sony A7s compare with the Panasonic GH4…I used them only last week on a major NHS job filming side by side using the A7s as a wide locked off shot and the GH4 for a medium close up. The GH4 has the YAGH and the A7s was relying on its inbuilt mic for sound syncing. This worked well on the timeline but you have to remember to crank up the A7s to make sure you get enough volume to sync the two cameras together.
I have as I write ordered the £500 Sony XLR-K2M adapter kit, this fits onto the top of the A7s unlike the first Sony carbuncle that sits on a bracket.
Back to the colour compatibility…you can get them fairly close but FCPX nails the slight incompatibility with a great feature called “Match Color” and the XAVC-S file loads into FCPX a dream, this confused me at first when I tried to import XAVC LongGOP (PXW-X70).
There is a lot of nonsense being banded about the net as to the A7s ability to see in the dark…well it can but at the cost of noise…I find you can run the ISO up to 8000 happily before it starts to get noisy (APSC Sony lens) with a Full Frame lens (Sony only have 3 full frame E mount lenses to date) you should expect the ISO to climb to 12800 before noticeable noise kicks in. Videos on the internet hide a lot of noise wether its the compression used to convert the video who knows but I prefer to use my monitor in my edit suite and my trusty JVC reference monitor.
Here is a job we did recently, its still in its editing stage but gives you a look at the Sony A7s performing at ISO 8000
For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions