Just a quick warning, this is a gear post. When I received an email letting me know that the sony FS7 was in I was pretty excited. I ordered the camera about a month ago and with NAB just finishing I was starting to grow a little impatient waiting for it. I picked up the camera and came back to the office with it and began setting it up. I have used a Sony FS700 for a few shoots so there wasn’t anything that I was really stumped on menu wise, but with that said, there are lots of things I have to learn in order to use this camera to the fullest. After a few test shots around the office, figuring out simple things like the cameras white balance, iris controls, zebras and all those little user preferences (which I recommend doing before you do any field testing) I was ready to go. With that, I called my wife and asked if she wanted to head on a little adventure. She agreed.
We jumped in the car and headed over to the Cleveland Dam, which borders the Capilano Lake, and shot the above video. The sky was a beautiful blue and the warm sun was slowly setting behind a few trees. If there was anytime to test a camera out, this was it. For this shoot I took the camera, metabones EF adapter and my trusty canon 24-70mm 2.8 (the old version). That was it. No monopod, no ronin, no slider, just the camera and a lens. I have been shooting with DSLRS for the last 5-6 years. I was used to always having some sort of rig or monopod, but today, it was just the camera and I. I attached the control arm, the monitor and within a minute I was ready to shoot handheld and most importantly, it was comfortable.
We ended up spending about an hour at the Cleveland dam and almost everything I shot involved the camera on my shoulder. With the control arm and the camera resting on my shoulder, there was no discomfort. The controls and buttons on the camera are very well laid out. Other than focusing my manual canon lens, I could operate the camera just about entirely from the control arm, with my right hand. There is a record button, zoom magnification to check your focus, and a dial that you can set to control the cameras aperture. The only thing that I really needed to touch the body of the camera for was to turn on an ND filters, which I have terribly missed from the old days of shooting the Panasonic DVX100. The first few minutes were a little bit rough getting used to where everything was, but after 15-20 minutes I felt right at home shooting with the FS7. I found it easy to jump around and capture different shots while in the documentary style shooting configuration I was in.
I experimented shooting a few different formats, such as 4K at 60fps. This looked beautiful after on the computer, but took up way too much cardspace. I was using dual 64gb XQD cards and I could get about 7 minutes of footage on a 64gb card. The rest of the footage I shot in 1080 at 180fps for that beautiful slow motion. This also allowed me to do some walking shots and the higher framerates were able to hide a bit of the camera shake. I also did some driving shots through Vancouver with the 180fps and was really pleased with how those came out.
I ended up shooting about 40gbs of footage, all shot in Slog3 for grading in mind. Most of it was 1080 at 1080fps and about 3 shots were at 4K at 60fps. These 4K shots took much longer to grade and render, as there is an obvious size difference, but they turned out very clean and crisp. I used film convert to grade the footage and only applied about 10% grain, as I wanted to keep the picture as clean as possible. The Slog3 gives you so much room for grading, much more than what I’m used to with the canon 5dm3 and GH4. I put a few clips together and rendered it out to one of my favourite Bon Iver songs and uploaded it to Vimeo. I then took a watch on my TV, via my appleTV and was blown away with the detail. Even the 1080 180fps looked extremely sharp and clean.
This camera has impressed me greatly and I’ve only had it for less than a day. Its ergonomics, its specs and most of all, its image quality is outstanding. I’m excited to shoot more with this camera and I know that I still have lots to learn about it.