A Powerful Smile: Sarah Bellagha, video shoot with the Sony A7 and A7r

A Powerful Smile: Sarah Bellagha, video shoot with the Sony A7 and A7r

a powerful smile from Mike Kobal on Vimeo.

Sarah Bellagha is a passionate girl. There is a shyness about her. Look into her beautiful eyes and you will see compassion, love and stars. Lots of stars. A fun shoot with the Sony A7 and A7r and lots of manual glass
more after the break

First time shooting a video portrait exclusively with the A7 and A7r, which I rented from Adorama.
Lenses: Nikkor 58mm 1.4, the 50-150mm Series E, the FE Zeiss 24-70mm and the Nikkor 18-35mm.
The biggest challenge was to capture the movement in the ring, the Zeiss FE 24-70mm didn’t have the reach, even in crop mode, however, I was impressed with the image stabilization and af, a fine lens for general shooting. I ended up with the 50-150mm Nikkor Series E for most the sparring shots and found the push/pull zoom/focus ring very useful for quick frame/focus changes. For the shots shooting up at the ceiling fan, the Nikkor 18-35mm was perfect.
The Studio had large windows, decent daylight and I used one of my two kino flo divas for fill.
Working impressions:
Advantage, small foot print. This shoot would have taken much longer with large cameras. The high resolution EVF made focusing a breeze, esp with tele lenses, the image practically jumped into focus. The articulated screen was great for low angle shots. Focus peaking was enabled, set to red and medium. Having two bodies on set helped speed things up, one set up for wide, the other for tele shots.
We shot the interview in a different room, recording directly into the camera via Juicedlink and the compact Rode Pro Mic.

White balance: A typical mixed light situation, a must for custom wb. I am not sure why this option doesn’t exist in video mode, I had to switch to still mode to get custom wb to work. Not a deal breaker but certainly annoying.

Shooting 1080/60p and 24P, full frame and crop mode.
Even the 50-150mm didn’t have the reach and I ended up in crop mode for the majority of shots. I noticed the quality varied greatly depending on frame rate, 60p clearly worse then 24p. In full frame mode, the difference wasn’t as obvious. For best results
I stayed in 24p mode.
When comparing footage with clips from the Canon 5Dmk3, Nikon D800 and 5Dmk2, the Sony’s perform about as well as the 5DmkII, sometimes closer to the D800 but not quite at the level of the 5Dmk3. In terms of mobility and ease of use, the Sony’s have a clear advantage.

Profile set up: portrait mode, contrast -3, saturation 0 and sharpness +3. No post sharpening.
ISO: between ISO 400 and 1600.

Support: beanbags and monopod and handheld. A tripod was used for the interview only.

I think most of us agree that it is time for companies to implement better codec options. I made an effort to get as close to the final look as possible and only had to tweak the color to get the vintage film look. No major exposure corrections.

A7/A7r: in this particular shooting situation with lots of shallow depth of field, I couldn’t tell the footage apart between the two bodies.

Overall, a very capable video camera with a huge sensor in a tiny body, very good dynamic range and decent low light capabilities, as long as you are aware of the limitations, like moirĂ© and codec issues, it will produce impressive results. For my type of shooting the pros far outweigh the con’s and I am keeping this one in my bag.

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11 thoughts on “A Powerful Smile: Sarah Bellagha, video shoot with the Sony A7 and A7r

  1. mark

    Hi mike, thats what I really needed to hear! Where I am at they often go for like 200-250 usd fresh out the box from peeps that picked up the a7 kit and wanna get rid of it fast. Will definitely pick it up for video since the 24-70 is almost 1k more.

  2. mike.kobal Post author

    Hi Mark, some claim the 24-70mm has better IS, I honestly can’t see a difference. The only reason to get the Zeiss 24-70mm would be f4 and the slightly wider angle. If you can live with 5.6, the iris transition is very smooth if you set the aperture to 5.6 and zoom across the range. I rarely use the zoom for stills and I am seriously considering returning the 24-70mm, the kit lens is a gem, you can alrady find used ones here on ebay!

  3. mark

    Hi Mike, great work! I am considering between the 28-70 vs the 24-70 for video, as I am finr with the 55 1.8 for stills. In your opinion, how does the OSS compare on both for video? I read that the 24-70 has better OSS, but that could be related to just stills. I am really looking for a lens to use occaisionally for quick run and gun where I wont have time for a monopod or post stabilising. More for quick videos to be edited on an ipad and used on instagram / facebook. Cheers.

  4. Robert K.

    Thanks for the answer, Mike. I shoot a lot of video and the built-in stabilization is very attractive on the A99. But from the footage I’ve seen of the A7 and A7R, they tend to handle higher ISO’s somewhat better. A tough conundrum.

  5. mike.kobal Post author

    Thank you, Robert. I really liked the A99, both have advantages. Image/video quality differences are negligible, I think it would come down to lens selection and size. Starting fresh, I would pick the A7/A7r, if I had the A99 I wouldn’t upgrade, I still like the articulated LCD movement better on the A99.

  6. mike.kobal Post author

    Thank you so much, Bill. You are absolutely right, the Blackmagic got that right, footage looks amazing. However, in the real world, low ISO, battery power and sound issues keep me away from it for now.
    And if you are after thin focus, it is quite difficult to get shallow depth of field shots, like in this clip for instance, the limited space to move around would have made it a real pain to isolate the subject from the background and to get somewhat close to that full frame look. The main reason I am using it. FF.

  7. mike.kobal Post author

    I like them as hybrid cameras, frustrating to realize how close they are to perfection, Sony could have done it and killed the competition. Maybe next time :)

  8. Bill

    Really enjoyed the video, Mike. Great job. And thanks for the readout on the A7 as a video camera. I agree with you – in 2014, it’s time for companies to implement better codec options. But I would add this distinction, it’s time for *some* companies to implement better codec options. Blackmagic has already moved us to 10 bit ProRes and 12 bit RAW. And Panasonic is moving to higher bit rates and more color space as well. Now we need APS-C and full frame cameras with better codecs.



  9. Mike C.

    I can’t understand why Sony, a company synonymous with all things video from camcorders to cinema cameras cannot give us better compression in their flagship, fullframe mirrorless camera. They could really be out front in this regard. They really haven’t innovated in video since the 5N was launched IMO. I still love the A7(R) as a stills camera.

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