Shooting 4K with Sony Mirrorless

July 29, 2016

If you’ve read some of our previous blogs, you know that MCOMM often uses DSLR rigs for video acquisition. When outfitted with quality “glass” and other peripheral gear, DSLR equipment is capable of capturing amazing footage.

Now it’s important to note that MCOMM has several camera platforms at its disposal, including Sony broadcast cams and Canon’s Cinema line, and most often looks to a project’s concept to decide what equipment is to be utilized. We rely on DSLR equipment when we must move quickly on location, or when a job requires extensive travel. DSLRs can easily be carried onto an airplane and readily pass through Customs with little, if any, issues.

Over the years we’ve been extremely pleased with the HD footage we’ve gathered using our Canon DSLR gear, but we recently decided to check out the new Sony mirrorless products and their 4K capabilities. MCOMM began by renting a Sony A7S II and A7R II, and then after booking several projects that required we fly to various locations, purchased an A6300. Here’s what we’ve learned.

First, the quality of the Sony Alpha line is amazing. There’s simply something remarkable about the texture of a Sony mirrorless image. 4K is equally as remarkable. The ability to slightly adjust composition, or even dramatically crop an image in post, is liberating. Admittedly, file size greatly increases so storage can become a concern, and fitting 4K footage into an HD workflow requires additional time, but those issues are well worth the trouble for certain projects. And that’s an important caveat. You see, not all productions require the additional image size and “quality” of 4K, or allow for the additional time required in post production. So at MCOMM, we currently find ourselves evaluating which projects truly NEED Ultra HD.

And now the cons of the Sony mirrorless systems. There aren’t many.

Certainly we’ve experienced the overheating issues that have been well documented with the A6300. On a recent shoot in hot and humid Rio De Janeiro, for example, (check out a clip here) we encountered many unexpected “shut downs” and had to be very conscious of protecting our gear from direct sun… especially when shooting HD slow motion.

Another con of Sony mirrorless is the menu. The menu is less than intuitive, in fact when compared to Canon, it’s downright frustrating. We’ve found this to be true with other Sony products as well, including our high-end XDCAM.

Lastly is the anemic audio capability of the A6300, a concern that for MCOMM is really a non-issue. That’s because when shooting video with any DSLR style gear, our crews always rely on out-board audio devices to capture professional sound. ZOOM happens to be our preference.

So that’s our first step into the world of Sony mirrorless. These are exciting times for anyone in the video production industry. Video acquisition tools, and all of our processes, continue to change and develop at an accelerated pace. At MCOMM, we’re ready to put all of them to use as we create captivating presentations for our clients.

Until next time.

Ray Monell