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!


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:

File Formats:
XAVC S 4K 25p 100M

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

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.