I bought the Sony A7sii as a B-Camera to my Sony FS7. My thoughts were that the colours would match much easier in camera and the fact that I could shoot Slog3 on both was a huge bonus. I since noticed it's an awesome stand alone camera that produces incredible results.
I also bought it for gimbal work as previously I was using my Sony FS7 on the devinsupertramp glidecam and it was a killer on a my back. I wrote a blog post about keeping fit as a camera operator here. I won't be going into crazy detail about operating the A7sii as there's already a lot of information out there. Instead I've put together 5 tips for getting the most out of the camera.
As a tester I filmed my golden Labrador puppy in slow motion as we walked around the local nature reserve in South Manchester, UK.
This video was shot handheld using the Sony A7sii and Tamron 24-70mm 2.8 zoom lens.
I wanted a mobile run and gun setup and didn't feel the need for primes at this stage. The zoom lens was great and gave me enough variation to make the video interesting.
I bought my Tamron lens years ago when I was first shooting on Canon DSLRs. I therefore had to do what most people have done and bought an E-EF adapter. I went for the metabones as it had the best reviews. My initial thoughts were that the aperture was a little slow but that seems to have disappeared with the latest firm ware. I can only recommend an adapter for video. Get the correct mount for stills as you'll need auto focus and it's crap through an adapter.
Here are some tips for shooting video with the Sony A7sii:
1. Use the EVF (Electronic View Finder) to ascertain exposure. Numerous times I've set up my shot based on the monitor on the back of the camera; got back into the edit and it's horrendously over exposed. Basically the monitor lies. Use a combination of the EVF and waveform to make sure you're not blowing out the image.
2. Shoot in Cine 4. Cine 4 is a picture profile that produces lovely images with great dynamic range in camera. You can add a grade in post to your personal taste as I've done in my example but the footage straight from the camera looks great. I used Lumetri built into Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2017 and it was very straight forward to tweak exposure, temperature and the ever popular faded film look plus much more.
3. Use a camera strap and the built in steady shot as a poor mans tripod. I've shot entire music videos with this setup before and it's very effective. The 5 axis image stabiliser built into the camera works great for lenses that don't already have IS. Place the camera strap around your neck and extend the camera away from you to achieve super stable shots. If you get good you can even chuck in some jib shots and no-one will ever know.
4. Power all day. I used my A7sii at a conference recently and placed it at the back of the room with an Anker battery pack plugged into via USB. The powerbank charges the camera whilst turned on and recording. Thus massively extending the normal, tiny crappy Sony batteries life span. The camera was plugged into the Anker battery all day and still had a fews bars of juice left. (There is a chance this damages the cameras battery as it'll be charging and discharging at the same time but I haven't noticed any issues for far)
5. Clean your sensor like your life depends on it. I've left this until last as it's been a long arduous journey for me and hopefully you can avoid my mistakes. I've always used DSLRs or video cameras in the past and have never really seen an exposed camera sensor. In the new mirrorless age the camera sensor is right there in plain view every time you change lens. I was shocked to find out how easily dust specs, smudges and hairs can land on your sensor completely ruining your shots. It's very hard to tell on the tiny monitor and not something that is usually picked up on until in the edit.
I now religiously clean my sensor before every shoot. There are numerous way to do this and make sure you research it properly as you can irreparably damage your camera. Firstly start with a rocket blower whilst facing the sensor down toward the ground. I recommend the Giottos rocket blower as it draws air in from the back reducing the chance of drawing in the very dust particles you're trying to clean away.
If this doesn't work then you'll have to send your camera off to a pro to clean it or have a go yourself. I learnt how to clean the sensor and I'm really happy with the results. I bought a large pack of sensor swabs and cleaning fluid. You add a few small drops of fluid to the swab head and proceed to slowly swipe over the top of the sensor. Repeat the movement until the full sensor is covered. The fluid dries almost immediately and takes away all smudges and grubby finger prints you may have left behind.
And there you have it. 5 tips for using the Sony A7sii for your video shoots. I hope you found this useful. Feel free to check out my other blog posts or drop me a message if you have any questions.
(I recently became an amazon affiliate. I am in no way paid to promote these companies/ brands. It's purely my personal recommendation based on experience. I get a small commission if you click on the links on this blog and it helps toward future blog posts)