The Sony A7s

The Sony A7s

  |   Adam Carroll Blog

A couple of years ago Sony announced Alpha 7 series of cameras. These are all full frame cameras and the greatest of them all for filmmakers is the A7s. This camera sees in the dark. Please see this review by Phillip Bloom

It’s a wonderful camera and produces the best 1080 image in a  DSLR. Although fiddly and not as ergonomically designed as say the GH4, it is my favourite camera. The low light capability is ground breaking and the image is beautiful. Matching that of many of Sony’s high end video cameras. This is wiki’s description.

The Sony ILCE-7ILCE-7R and ILCE-7S (α7/α7R/α7S) are three closely related digital cameras. The first two were announced on 16 October 2013[2] and the third on 6 April 2014. Externally they are identical except for the model number. They are Sony’s first full-frame mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras and share the E-mount with the company’s smaller sensor NEX series. The ILCE-7m2 (α7II) was announced in November 2014, and is the first in the family to revise the original body and ergonomics. The a7 series is targeted at experienced users, enthusiasts and professionals.[3]

Sony’s new model naming prefix strives to unify model names. “ILC” indicates Interchangeable Lens Camera followed by an indicator of A-mount “A” or E-mount “E”[4]

The products are more commonly known as the α7, α7R and α7S. Pre-announcement rumours speculated that the new camera would be named Sony NEX-9.[5]

Although the α7 series uses full-frame sensors and have a DSLR-shaped design, their sizes and weights are less than Olympus OM-D E-M1 with its small micro four thirds sensor and can also be compared with the lightest Fullframe DSLR.[6] Compared to the smallest and lightest APS-C DSLR Canon EOS 100D, the α7 is 67 grams heavier and a bit larger, but the thickness is only two thirds of Canon’s.[7] The α7 price is significantly lower than a comparative Fullframe DSLR price, but still higher than that of a low or mid-end compact camera price.[8] Compared to the Nikon D800E, the weight of Sony α7R is only about a half and the price is about two-thirds.[9]

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What is a Director of Photography?

  |   Adam Carroll Blog

This is what Wiki has to say.

cinematographer or director of photography (sometimes shortened to DP or DOP) is the chief over the camera and lighting crews working on a film, television production or other live action piece and is responsible for achieving artistic and technical decisions related to the image. The study and practice of this field is referred to as cinematography. Some filmmakers say that the cinematographer is just the chief over the camera and lighting, and the Director of Photography is the chief over the all photography components of film, including framing, costumes, makeup, and lighting, and it’s the assistant of the post producer for color correction and grading.

The cinematographer selects the film stocklensfilters, etc., to realize the scene in accordance with the intentions of the director. Relations between the cinematographer and director vary; in some instances the director will allow the cinematographer complete independence; in others, the director allows little to none, even going so far as to specify exact camera placement and lens selection. Such a level of involvement is not common once the director and cinematographer have become comfortable with each other; the director will typically convey to the cinematographer what is wanted from a scene visually, and allow the cinematographer latitude in achieving that effect.

Several American cinematographers have become directors, including Barry Sonnenfeld, originally the Coen brothers’ DP; Jan de Bont, cinematographer on films as Die Hard and Basic Instinct, directed Speed and Twister. Recently Wally Pfister, cinematographer on Christopher Nolan‘s three Batman films made his directorial debut with Transcendence.


In the infancy of motion pictures, the cinematographer was usually also the director and the person physically handling the camera. As the art form and technology evolved, a separation between director and camera operator emerged. With the advent of artificial lighting and faster (more light sensitive) film stocks, in addition to technological advancements in optics, the technical aspects of cinematography necessitated a specialist in that area.

Cinematography was key during the silent movie era—with no sound apart from background music and no dialogue, the films depended on lighting, acting, and set.

In 1919, in Hollywood, the new motion picture capital of the world, one of the first (and still existing) trade societies was formed: the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), which stood to recognize the cinematographer’s contribution to the art and science of motion picture making. Similar trade associations have been established in other countries too.

Societies and trade organizations[edit]

There are a number of national associations of cinematographers which represent members (irrespective of their official titles) and which are dedicated to the advancement of cinematography. These include:

The ASC defines cinematography as:

a creative and interpretive process that culminates in the authorship of an original work of art rather than the simple recording of a physical event. Cinematography is not a subcategory of photography. Rather, photography is but one craft that the cinematographer uses in addition to other physical, organizational, managerial, interpretive and image-manipulating techniques to effect one coherent process.[1]
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What is a Camera Operator or Cameraman?

  |   Adam Carroll Blog

This is what Wiki has to say:

camera operator, also called a cameraman or a camerawoman, is a professional operator of a film or video camera. In filmmaking, the leading camera operator is usually called a cinematographer, while a camera operator in a video production may be known as a television camera operatorvideo camera operator, or videographer, depending on the context and technology involved, usually operating a professional video camera.

The camera operator is responsible for physically operating the camera and maintaining composition and camera angles throughout a given scene or shot. In narrative filmmaking, the camera operator will collaborate with the director, director of photography, actors and crew to make technical and creative decisions. In this setting, a camera operator is part of a film crew consisting of the director of photography and one or more camera assistants. In documentary filmmaking and news, the camera is often called on to film unfolding, unscripted events. In 2006, there were approximately 27,000 television, video, and motion picture camera operators employed in the United States.[1]

Important camera operator skills include choreographing and framing shots, knowledge of and the ability to select appropriate camera lenses, and other equipment (dolliescamera cranes, etc.) to portray dramatic scenes. The principles of dramatic story telling and film editing fundamentals are important skills as well. The camera operator is required to communicate clearly and concisely on sets where time and film budget constraints are ever present.

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What is a Videographer?

  |   Adam Carroll Blog

This is what Wiki has to say

Strictly speaking, a videographer is a person who works in the field of videographyvideo production — recording moving images and sound on video tape, disk, other electro-mechanical device. News broadcasting relies heavily on live television where videographers engage in electronic news gathering (ENG) of local news stories. On a set, in a television studio, the videographer is usually a camera operator of a professional video camera, sound, and lighting. As part of a typical electronic field production (EFP) television crew, videographers usually work with a television producer. However, for smaller productions (e.g. corporate and event videography), a videographer often works alone with a single-camera setup or in the case of a multiple-camera setup, as part of a larger television crew with lighting techniciangrips and sound operators.

Typically, videographers are distinguished from cinematographers in that they use digital hard-drive, flash cards or tape drive video cameras vs. 70mm IMAX, 35mm, 16mm or Super 8mm mechanical film cameras. Videographers manage smaller, event scale productions (commercials, documentaries, live events, short films, training videos, weddings), differing from individualized large production team members. The advent of high definition digital video cameras, however, has blurred this distinction.

Further, it is becoming more and more common for people to talk about “filming” with a camcorder even though no “film” is involved. Similarly, the term “taping” is often used (for lack of a better term) though no tape (or film) is involved, where live video is recorded directly to video tape, a direct to disk recording using a hard disk recorder, or a tapeless camcorder using flash media. A minor note is that the cameraman or camerawoman is called a DIT (Director of Information Technology) not a DP (Director of Photography).

Videographers maintain and operate a variety of video camera equipment, sound recording devices, edit footage, and stay up to date with technological advances. With modern video camcorders, professional studio quality videos can be produced at low cost rivaling large studios. Many major studios have stopped using film as a medium due to linear-editing devices no longer being made and the availability for amateurs to produce acceptable videos using DSLRs(Digital single-lens reflex camera[1]). Videographers use non-linear editors aka. software and PC/Apple home computers.

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The Voigtlander 25mm f0.95 MFT Lens

  |   Adam Carroll Blog

I generally work as a cameraman and videographer around London but I travel extensively when works requires. I use three principal cameras systems the Sony PMW F3 a Sony PXW FS7 and DSLRs. One of my favourite lenses is Micro Four Thirds Voigtlander Nokton 25 mm F/0.95. It gives such a beautiful creamy image and with a GH4 is just great to hold what a super smooth focus ring. I love this lens and reckon I could shoot most of my films on a GH4 and this lens. However, it is without doubt that the Sony A7s is the greatest image you can get out of a DSLR and with a Sony 35mm 1.8 OSS ithe system is great for handheld. My opinion though for best design is the GH4. It’s perfectly weighted. Perfect to hold and a great camera. I am marvelled by the A7s. I love it. But it is fiddly. Its ergonomics are not as good. If you slap on a heavy lens, you are struggling. Put on the Sony 28-135 f4 you have a very unique (and uncomfortable – unless you have great rig) experience. Anyway back to the Voigtlander 25mm. If you can afford this lens, buy it.

The Voigtlander Nokton 25 mm F/0.95 is an ultra fast lens with an equivalent aperture of F/1.9 and an equivalent focal length of 50 mm. However, its light gathering capacity is associated with its actual F/0.95 aperture. This combination of factors means that, when shooting wide open, the Voigtlander lens has the capacity to achieve a significantly shallow depth of field. The Voigtlander Nokton is a manual focus, manual aperture lens with a native Micro Four Thirds (MFT) mount. Furthermore, the Voigtlander lens consists of 11 elements in 8 groups, and has a close focus of 17 cm. The Voigtlander Nokton 25 mm F/0.95 weighs 410 g and measures 70 x 58 mm. In addition, the Voigtlander Nokton is solid and metal in construction, and comes with a metal lenshade, a cap for the lens, and a cap for the lenshade. The Voigtlander Nokton 25 mm F/0.95 also has a barrel shaped hood to minimise flare.

Many cameramen and DOPs love to pickup up a small camera with a great lens. This lens on a GH4 satisfies most. Me. I’m one of the converted, I bought a GH1 when I needed a DSLR that could shoot 25fps when the 5D could only shoot 30. Since then, I’ve bought every one. I also started resuming my Panasonic IOS lenses recently and was blown away by the effectiveness of the stabilisation. On 300mm I could still get good footage. mmm

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Sony PMW F3

  |   Adam Carroll Blog

I generally work as a cameraman and videographer around London but I travel extensively when works requires. I use three principal cameras systems the Sony PMW F3 a Sony PXW FS7 and DSLRs.

One of my favourite cameras (it has a beautiful sensor) and was one of the first shallow dedicated cameras in this price bracket following the success of the Canon 5D Mark II. The PMW-F3 is part of the CineAlta 24P family of digital cinematography products and its support for multiple frame rates includes a filmic 23.98P as well as S-Log workflows.

Sony’s Exmor™ Super35 CMOS sensor was designed with the benefit of two decades experience in Digital Cinematography, pioneering digital HD acquisition for feature films and broadcast TV through the legendary CineAlta product range. It brings a true ‘film look’ and superior image quality into reach for independent movies, pop promos, commercials and other applications, as well as making the PMW-F3 an ideal B-camera for high-end feature film production.

The PMW-F3K is supplied with three high quality Sony lenses and an industry standard PL Mount adaptor providing compatibility with industry standard 35mm lenses. (Also available is the lens-less PMW-F3L.)

Exceptional flexibility is a key feature of the F3 along with with multiple workflow options. XDCAM EX’s proven high-speed, intuitive workflow offers seamless integration with leading nonlinear editing software – as standard. In addition, a 10bit 4:2:2 HD-SDI output opens up hybrid recording possibilities with a variety of external recording devices. And from April 2011, a Dual Link HD-SDI option will enable 10bit RGB uncompressed signal output – ideal for the high-end film production.

My last shoot in the Southeast of the UK (a single cameraman and soundman crew) was shot with the Sony F3 specifically chose for what the producer called a classic look when using Zeiss lenses).

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London based Camera Operator

  |   Adam Carroll Blog

I generally work as a cameraman and videographer around London but I travel extensively when works requires. I use three principal cameras systems the Sony PMW F3 a Sony PXW FS7 and DSLRs.

The PXW-FS7 XDCAM camera has an ergonomic grip design for easy handling and operability, making it ideal for one-man operation in situations where the extraordinary flexibility of its α Mount lens system and compatible interchangeable lenses can be used to maximum advantage. The PXW-FS7 features a 4K Super 35mm Exmor CMOS sensor and support for shooting in 60p or Full HD at high frame rates up to 180 fps (frames per second). Selectable recording formats include XAVC, which supports 4K* 60p, Full HD 60p even in 4:2:2 10-bit recording, as well as the common MPEG-2 HD 422 format used by many broadcast stations around the world. Attach an optional Extension Unit (XDCA-FS7) to open up the possibilities of multi-camera shooting and ProRes 422 encoding. Connect an HXR-IFR5 interface and AXS-R5 recorder to support parallel recording and 4K/2K RAW recordings up to 240fps in 2K. It’s perfect for a one-man cameraman or multi crew. Great also for handheld use. A lot of Videographers are using handheld more and more these days as stabilisation software improves and that 4K gives far more latitude in post for a 2K production. My last shoot in London (and that was a three cameraman crew) was shot entirely in 4K with a final out put in 720p! That gave a huge amount of freedom to correct shaky footage in the grade and reframe shot when required.

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