Well there's no denying it looks the part. This is the Sony A7 + 28-70mm zoom kitted out with battery grip, Carry Speed viewfinder and Rode microphone. I wanted to see how this outfit worked for hand holding with the zoom. As you can see it's pretty good and the OSS works well. I manually focused for this test and was impressed by the lack of glitching. Its not quite as good for stability as the surprisingly good Fuji X-E2 and 18-55mm combination and the quality is not up to what my Panasonic GH3 produces, but it's a very nice addition to what is turning out to be a pretty comprehensive set of features on a camera system that's one of the best all-rounders that you can buy these days.
Certainly that mirrorless advantage kicks in here. This was really easy to shoot. Though the kit looks pretty bulky, it's still not that heavy and everything falls to hand nicely. I should mention a nice little handling feature. With the grip attached it's really easy to change both batteries and get SD cards in and out without having to dismantle the camera. You can even leave it on a tripod and do the same.
And in terms of how I shoot video and what I shoot it for, it's these little things that make life easier. And if I am going out to shoot some video then I'm more likely to pick this up than my GH3 or Fuji's.
The vast majority of us don't shoot broadcast video nor are ever likely to. None of the video I've shot commercially has ever been for that and was always destined for internet playback. And that's why I like the mirrorless camera option. To me the whole point of that and DSLR / stills camera video is that it should be quick, easy but still capable of excellent quality. It makes producing and editing video almost as easy as taking stills (well almost is perhaps an overstatement!).
And as well as the obvious life recording possibilities there is the capacity for owners of these cameras to produce something more advanced. Wedding and event videos, commercial and industrial footage for training and advertising, music videos, travel and location shooting are all possible with rigs like this and with the internet as their destination the quality these cameras produce now is easily good enough.
For myself I don't need the possibility to shoot raw footage and use all these fancy frame rates and codecs, it's the opportunity to add moving footage to what I shoot on stills. For example in the new year, my nephew and I are planning to put together some tutorial videos on aspects of photography and videography that we know well. After an initial free download and getting feedback from prospective customers the idea is to offer a series of training videos for a small fee. Something below £10 per item. I'm currently in the process of scripting a series on shooting for stock. What it entails, how to do it, what sells and what doesn't, the work involved, Photoshop tricks etc. My point being that we can do all of that ourselves. From the shooting, through editing, making it available online and supplying the finished product to anyone who wants it. All it will cost us is time and by shooting in HD we have no problem with quality. No big deal, no high ambitions on special effects etc. just something entertaining, informative and hopefully useful.
My further point here is that people get just as carried away with the minutae and detail of video shooting in exactly the same way that they do with stills. And like photography, shooting video is much more about imagination and execution than it is about kit. Apart from what's in the pictures above all we would add is one of our video tripods and editing software. And that's how I like my video shooting to be.
I've been on large-scale video shoots, back in the days when I was composing music for commercial clients and the overall slowness of it and the mind-numbing tedium has to be endured to be appreciated. But there are now alternatives. And just like there are alternatives to the Annie Leibowitz type celebrity shoot with all its over-indulgence, so there are simpler and easier ways of shooting video, even for a commercial purpose. The less complicated it is, the more I like it. And probably the more interesting it looks.
So, my hopes to use the A7 for shooting video seem to be fulfilled and I was delaying making a decision on my other cameras until I'd sorted this out. So I'm definitely pleased with what I got and now have to come to some decision as to what to keep. (Apart from the Sony's of course)
Finally, those of you who live in sunny warm dry climates can now get an idea of why the UK is so green and lush. Welcome to a typical British day. Howling winds and non-stop rain. But then here on 'mud island' we wouldn't know what to do with perpetual sun anyway. (Oh yes we would!!) But just remember when the world starts to run out of water who will hold the whip hand. We've got trillions of gallons of the stuff though to be honest, in terms of what we've endured today you're welcome to it!
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