3 Months with Sony a7rii - An update

So, not much action on the blog front due to a hectic schedule, but lots and lots of shooting with the new Sony. We're just shy of 3 months since the A7rii was released and I switched over from the Canon 5dmkiii and so far... so good! The 5d still get's taken on shoots but only as an emergency spare body or dedicated time-lapse camera but it's rarely if ever used. I'll be replacing it with an A7sII as soon as I can (and using the R as Timelapse camera when needed). It'll be interesting to see once having both the R and the S version which would become my main camera of choice...

I've had a variety of shoots of late, from cosy studio shoots, to hectic nightclubs, to dusty construction sites, freezing outdoors and boiling hot offices. The Ninja Assassin has been extremely helpful throughout in bi-passing the overheating issue the camera has when shooting long takes in 4k. If you're going to be shooting testimonials, in unventilated hot rooms then you are going to have issues with overheating unless you record to an external source i.e. the Atomos Ninja Assassin. However for general B-roll gathering i've had no issues.

Battery life is bad, we all know this. It's an hour tops really before i'm onto 10-20% and start to want to swap batteries. As a solution to this I've grabbed a Varavon Battery pack with an A7s coupler (same connections) and a battery clamp. Not the most elegant solution (see photos above for some dodgy bongo tied cable cleanup) so am looking for a way to tidy this up. The battery clamp works well on the Varavon Zeus cage but I have yet to find a placement i'm 100% happy with. Might need to grab an extra handle (I got the package with only 1). Alternatively I'm looking into getting a shoulder rig solution at some point which perhaps could allow mounting the battery to some back rails. Work in progress anyway!

The following was completely shot on the A7rii:

A combination of street shooting, nightclub and skate. Had no real issue with the camera in any of the scenarios. I was really pleased actually with the slow-mo 1080p capturing, coming from a 5d where it was downscaled to 720. 1080p mixes fine with downscaled 4k, much more so than 720 did upscaled. Very intrigued to see the A7sii and it's 100fps at 1080p now! 

The lighting of course wasn't ideal, it's a night club after all! But I thought the Sony produced really nice images throughout. I definitely could of lit the initial interview better but sometimes when you only have 5 minutes to grab someone and shoot you have to just run with it!

I'll have more videos posted soon, all different kinds of shooting, as and when I get the all clear from clients and it's publicly available. 

Any questions, drop a comment in the comment section!

Main Equipment used:
Metabones EF-E mount
Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS
Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 IS
Zeiss Sonnar 55mm f1.4
Tiffen Variable ND filters
Miller Air Tripod
Atomos Ninja Assassin
Varavon Zeus cage and battery packs

A note:

A friend of mine wants to jump straight into the Sony world from Canon and Panasonic and immediately begin shooting for client work. This is fine in theory, all cameras have the same basic principle of exposure and once you work out what format you like and how to white balance, you'll be getting useable images in no time. However, well, I'll just paste what I wrote to him: 

"There's lots of quirks with the a7r2. A lot of fumbling in menu systems at first. But also a lot of weird work arounds. For instance, you can't shoot stills in video mode but you can shoot video in stills mode. If you shoot video in stills mode you don't get audio meters and headphone audio monitoring until you hit record. The magnification zoom is way better in stills mode than in video mode. But an external reference monitor could sort this. Super 35 mode is way better for low light noise and moire, but rolling shutter is worse. Full frame moire is barely noticeable, but the noise is quite bad in low light compared to super 35. If you want to do a custom white balance with a grey card you can only do that in stills mode."

There's also probably a ton of other things, but either way I thought it was worth noting. There's definitely a learning curve jumping from another system. Almost three months on and I'm finding out new things out whenever I use it. And i've barely scratched the surface of using S-Log and drilling down into more in-depth customising picture profiles. This is not meant to scare you off but it is the reason I've held onto my Canon all this time just in case!

 

Distractions

Been slacking on the blog of late due to other commitments but will have some updates on the way. Plenty of shooting with the A7rii and even bought some native glass. In the meantime, a quick snappy... Who knew the A7rii shot stills?! ;)

ISO 200, 40mm, f2.8,  1/50  - Sony a7rii, Canon 40mm 2.8 STM (Metabones IV Adaptor)

The aforementioned native glass. All shiny and Zeissy. Updates when I've had a play...

Sony A7rii - free 4k sample footage for download

So i've had a few requests asking for Sony a7rii samples and as there doesn't seem to be a lot out there in the way of raw footage so I thought i'd share a bunch of files with the world. Link below:

http://we.tl/TlS1DVfMD7

All very random and unscientific test footage, some footage you may recognise from my first two a7rii videos and some is completely new. There is one S-Log2 clip in there, the rest are customised versions of Picture Profile 2. These by no means represent the be all and end all of what the camera can do but hopefully a nice lot to have a play about with! If this is your first mess around with 4K it might simple serve as a way to see if your current editing setup can handle the files smoothly. Everything is 4k (UHD 3840x2160) at 100mb/s 25p, except for one clip that is 23.98p 100mb/s. As I said, not scientific! 

All footage shot using Metabones EF-E mount adaptor:
Canon 40mm 2.8 USM
Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS
Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 IS
Canon 50mm f1.4 + Tiffen Variable ND

And for comparison:

A Youtube and Vimeo embed of the footage, it may be useful to serve just as a comparison between the full quality files you'll have on your computer and what it ends up looking like once on the web. 


Feel free to grade, cut, flip, flop, add a sepia look, improve and completely ruin my footage. If you do decide to re-upload it to the web please credit myself and a link to the site. This is for personal use only, thanks!

Sony a7rii - Internal 4k Overheating, 'THINGS', Screen Protection and Canon 40mm 2.8 USM

My screen exploded (it didn't).

My screen exploded (it didn't).

Yes the rumours are true, there is an 'issue' concerning overheating with the a7rii. How big an issue you think it is really depends on what you want to use the camera for and in what scenarios you place it in. For me, so far I've only tended to shoot in short bursts of 10 seconds to 2 minutes at a time and have had no issues whatsoever. So it was time for a test:

With the LCD screen open and away from the body (to maximise heat dissipation) I was able to shoot at 4k 25p 100mb/s in Super 35 mode with Zebra, Steadyshot and Peaking all set to on for the full (tax limited) 29 minutes. I then switched to Full Frame mode immediately and repeated the test. Again another full 29 minutes elapsed with no problem. 1 hour continuous record more or less. Great so far.

At this point I changed the battery and switched back into Super 35 mode and at about 10 minutes in I got the dreaded warning message followed by an immediate shut down. No early warning system, just a black screen of death. Ooo err.

So what does this mean? Well to put it into perspective, a lot of far more expensive camera systems have had this exact same problem, so technically this is nothing new. For me it's not something that's going to make me ask for my money back but it is going to have to be something to keep an eye on when shooting. It's also really 'only' an issue when you're recording long takes back to back. For example, interviews would be my main concern at this point. Perhaps I go back to the trusty Canon 5Diii for this?!?! Or just shoot in HD, which is bound to cause less heat. There's always been give and take with film making so for me it's just a hurdle to overcome. 


Update. It seems like using an external recorder may possibly be a solution (will update when I know for sure). Which to be fair if you're shooting takes as long as an hour and 10 minutes with little to no breaks then an external monitor/recorder would be ideal anyway. I just wish there was an early warning signal, even 30 seconds just so you can prepare. On Sonys part it would just be a firmware update to display a warning when the camera is a degree or so below the maximum safe operating temperature... add it to the list!


Screen Protection

An example of a THING

An example of a THING

There are always so many THINGS to buy when you invest in a new camera system, THINGS that you just don't consider until suddenly you realise "I need a thing to...". Screen protection very much falls into that THINGS category. Why manufacturers like Sony or Canon can't include some kind of more robust screen protection from the get-go I don't know but luckily there are great (and cheap) solutions available online.

By way of googling I found Expert Shield, checked out the reviews and was happy to make a purchase at their Amazon store. Installation was easy but I did find one corner to be a bit troublesome and lose adhesiveness. This was completely my fault as I was peeling it on and off like a mad man trying to get rid of dust. (They recommend installing it in a steamy bathroom, away from dust... I just couldn't be bothered to walk upstairs and so paid the price for my laziness!).

A quick email to them and they sent over a replacement no questions asked. Solid product and great customer service. 


Canon 40mm 2.8 USM (Pancake Lens)

Compact

Compact

On something of a whim I decided to purchase a 40mm pancake lens. My reasoning... I wanted to use the camera more and a small light weight portable lens would help me do that. (Noticing a pattern of laziness here). Not the most financial responsible decision but then again it was 'only' £100. A hundred pound lens on a £3k camera. Doesn't seem right. But onwards...

Well again it's early days with it but i'm liking what I'm getting so far. 40mm is an odd length but with a Super35 punch in you're getting a 60mm if my math is correct (x1.5) which can be helpful in some situations. It's not quite as useful as my Canon 50mm 1.4 but then again it's a lot smaller, lighter, and arguably less intimidating for subjects. One thing that's frustrating me at the moment though is I need another THING. That THING would be an ND for it, for that nice low shutter 1/50th film look we all like. At the moment i'm forced to shoot super high speeds and the results are ok, but not ideal, pretty videoy as you'd expect. So it looks like i'll have to bulk it up a little after all. So much for that cheap price! At least i'm getting more time with the camera.

A plus side is, I've been shooting more photos. Here's an image I shot, making the most of the high shutter speeds and brilliant (and rare) British sun...

ISO: 200 f/3.2 1/4000 Sec / Lee Santer wall ride, Sheerness. Photo: Alex Pasquini

The USM (Ultra Sonic Motor) works a treat, super silent and very slick. Takes a little getting used to in Video mode as it becomes a manual focus using fly-by-wire. Hopefully some example test footage coming soon!

Sony a7rii, from Canon to Sony, day 4

I've been trying to shoot as much as possible with the new beast, trying to get to grips with the little quirks, the Sony menu interface, the physical feeling of operating. Skip to the chase, here's some footage, some graded, most raw, from the last few days:

Download the original file here: https://vimeo.com/135418762

This is not a scientific test, more me just trying everything all at once and seeing what sticks. As you can tell from the footage, it's a mix of tripod and hand-held. The only shots that were 'setup' were the car 'scene' with my girlfriend playing the part of 'girl whimsically staring into the sun'. (Thanks Sarah!) Otherwise it's all very handycam esque.

Discoveries so far:

There are a LOT of cool things about this camera but for now I'm just going to concentrate on some negatives.

  • Switching between Full Frame and Super 35 has to be through the menu. You're unable to assign it to a shortcut. Sony please fix this through a firmware update!
  • I've found Peaking to be a little buggy, sometimes it just stops working, haven't narrowed it down to why just yet! (UPDATE: when autofocus is enabled on a lens, (physical switch) this will disable peaking in camera. I guess it makes sense, but would be nice to have the option.
  • Magnify during recording to check focus is awesome. Downside is, it's still quite hard to tell without peaking. In the Canon 5dMk3 the image kind of popped into focus. With the Sony it's a little more subtle. Need to get used to this.
  • You can't take photos in video mode. Pretty annoying. 
  • When shooting 4k it can be a little slow to start. Not an instance record, a lag of a second or so. A bit frustrating when shooting fast action like skateboarding but not a massive deal. 

Equipment used:
Metabones EF-E mount 
Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS
Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 IS
Canon 50mm f1.4 
Tiffen Variable ND filters
Miller Air Tripod

Instagram: @alexpas86

Instagram: @alexpas86

Stay tuned for some more gear reviews and thoughts on the a7rii!

Going 4k with the new Sony a7rii - Real World Test Footage

UPDATE 4th August: I'll be updating this blog in the next few days with my findings and experience with shooting with the Sony a7rii, stay tuned!

4k is upon us! Well it's creeping slowly over the horizon at least. I won't bore you with a long winded essay about the pro's and cons of 4k, so let's skip straight to some real world footage. Before I take any new piece of equipment on a commercial job I like to know it inside and out. Moving from Canon to Sony is a bit of a jump, so I thought a great way of testing the waters was down the local skate park, a relaxed Saturday afternoon skate with some friends.

Technical Details:

No color correction or grading applied. I used a customised version of Picture Profile 2 (details below and in the video), this is the footage straight out of the camera. It could do with some post grading but I wanted to keep it simple and concentrating more on gaining that crucial muscle memory for the new button layout and getting familiar with lens swaps and exposure. This is a mix of Full Frame and Super35 modes. 

Tripod and hand-held. 5 Axis Steadyshot was used with non IS lenses. Shutter Speeds: Various (Sometimes very High). ISO: 200 almost exclusively. Spot Metering. Occasional use of ND Filter on the 50mm 1.4 to achieve 180 degree shutter (1/50). I wanted this to be as run and gun and as fluid as possible. Shot in 4k 25p. Slow motion has been upsized. Original in-camera audio. Editing in FCPX on a 5k imac.

Original Export File:
http://we.tl/opFZPBCUg4
https://vimeo.com/135155227

File Formats:
XAVC S 4K 25p 100M

Slowmotion:
XAVC S HD 50p 50M (1080p)
XAVC S HD 100p 50M (720p)

Picture Profile 2 (Customised)
Black Level: 0
Gamma: Cine4
Color Mode: S-Gamut
Saturation: +2
Detail: Level +2

Lenses:
Metabones EF-E mount 
Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS
Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 IS
Canon 15mm f2.8 Fisheye 
Canon 50mm f1.4 + Tiffen Variable ND

Vans Shop Riot 2015

Last weekend saw the annual Vans shop riot take place at Pioneer Skatepark in St Albans. 27 shop teams from all over the country came to battle it out for the grand prize of £1500 and an expenses paid trip to the European final later this year. The Black Sheep walked away with the top spot, here is what went down.

Vans Classic & London

Vans Classic & London! In-store workshops, live street murals, exhibitions & live music in London. To mark the 1977 debut of the Old Skool as the first ever Vans shoe to feature the iconic sidestripe.Here in lies the inspiration behind Classic & London: a two week takeover of the city bringing together the best in creative talent that London has to offer with a series of Vans in-store workshops, live street murals, exhibitions & live music.


Berkeley Group: Behind The Scenes

Overview

Working with Matt Livey our brief was to create a short inspirational promotional video that showcased a small part of the incredibly diverse portfolio of properties built by the Berkeley Group.

Properties covered:

  • Roehampton House
  • Student Castle, Aldgate
  • Imperial Wharf
  • Edenbrook, Fleet
  • Kingshill Meadow, Cirencester
  • Riverlight, Vauxhall
  • Woodbury Down, Finsbury Park
  • Royal Arsenal Riverside, Woolwich

With a production turn around time of just three weeks we had a lot of properties to cover and many miles on the clock to rack up! One of the most exciting shoot days was at the construction site at Riverlight in Vauxhall. The aim here was to grab fast paced footage of the building work for the second half of the video. Swinging around over London in a 'man cage' attached to a crane was certainly a highlight of the day. It's safe to say I no longer have a fear of heights.

Filming during the construction at Riverlight, Vauxhall


Aerial Videography

Using aerial drone footage was really important in this project to get across the shear scale of some of the locations. Five locations were chosen for the drone treatment. Edenbrook, Kingshill Meadow, Woodbury Down, Roehampton House and Royal Arsenal Riverside. 

Random

A little bit improvisation goes along way.

 

 


Production Technicals

We chose to shoot this entirely on DSLR's for a small footprint, using multiple 5D Mkiii's with various rigs and contraptions. The Edelkrone pocket slider was as useful as ever as well as Matts jib arm. Lighting, a combination of redheads and LED's depending on the scenario. A small Marshall monitor on hand for the tricky birds-eye view shots. We were often up against the clock on most days so since teh team was most comfortable on the mk3 we rolled with those.

Music would be a key element to the film, and after a few tests we settled on two final tracks found through The Music Bed. From there a small bit of foley was added in post to highlight some key scenes and to add a new dimension to the visuals. 

Post workflow

It's these kind of projects that I feel FCPX comes into it's own. Fast capturing and keywording clips to your hearts content means your straight down to editing. 


BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO

A quick montage of some behind the scenes footage, shot on DSLR and iPhone. I never really had a 'BTS' in mind when shooting this, so hopefully future ones with be a little bit more informative! But for now, queue montage, in 3, 2, 1...


Final VIDEO

Virgin Limited Edition: Kensington Roof Gardens

Project 1 OVERVIEW: A Special Day at the roof gardens

The Kensington Roof Gardens come under the control of Virgin Limited Edition, which is part of the luxury portfolio of the Virgin Hotel Group. Working closely with the team at RG our brief was to create a promotional video showcasing the many uses of the Roof Gardens property in the theme of a 'Day In The Life'.

Background:

Located 100 ft above Kensington High Street, in London, The Roof Gardens hosts events for up to 500 guests; a Private Members Club open Friday and Saturday nights and Babylon restaurant seating 120 guests. All nestled amongst one and a half acres of stunning gardens with natural wildlife and real live flamingos and where guests enjoy breathtaking views of London's skyline!!. 

Not only the unique architecture and beautiful gardens but the staff, the kitchens and the sheer variety that can be hosted. 

Restaurant, club, cinema room and of course the gardens themselves.

 
 

FINAL VIDEO


Project 2 OVERVIEW: One day event

Back at the Roof Gardens once again, and this time for a special one off event. 

Reinforcing its reputation as one of the most cutting edge clubs in London, this year The Roof Gardens launched its first ever day club "ONE DAY". With top DJs Benny Blanco, James Levey and Kate Elsworth, beautiful gardens and delicious cocktails. Myself and the team were once again on hand to film the action!

Final video

Short Film: Emmeline

OVERVIEW

A playful, imaginative celebration of 'the other', 'Emmeline' is the sweetly comic-absurd fabulation of a girl who isn't quite like everyone else...
'Emmeline' - Produced by ANTLER, a debut collaboration with freelance Cinematographer Alex Pasquini (alexpasquini.com) -2012
Directed by Daniela Pasquini - Co-written by Daniela Pasquini & Jasmine Woodcock-Stewart