Tag Archives: sony a7s

Sony A7S + Switronix PTC-A7S Coiled Powertap Cable Update

A few weeks ago I posted about the Switronix PTC-A7S Coiled Powertap Cable short circuiting inside of the Sony A7S. Switronix reached out immediately to examine the damaged cable and figure out the source of the malfunction. After running a series of tests – voltage, surge, runtime – the PTC-A7S passed all of them.

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Once they shipped the new cable, I had some downtime to test it out at NAB and discovered that the Tilta Hyperdeck Shuttle distributor plate bypassed the on/off switch when both a D-Tap and 12V cable were plugged in simultaneously. This led us to believe that there was a freak, surge of voltage that happened when the Tilta Hyperdeck Shuttle plate sent power to the Switronix PTC-A7S dummy battery even though the switch was off. This was confirmed by Tilta when we visited their booth and demonstrated the glitch.

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So shout out to Switronix for their patience with my freak out and super customer service – from testing the cable to also performing on-site quality control at their NAB booth. For the rest of the convention, the PTC-A7S D-Tap Cable performed flawlesly, providing hours of uninterrupted power with the Atomos Shogun. Look for more NAB 2015 coverage when we speak to Switronix about their new HyperCore Li-ion batteries and VoltBridge app. Stay tuned!

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Switronix PTC-A7S Coiled Powertap Cable

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Switronix XP-L90S V-Type 14.8VDC Lithium Battery

Sony A7S + Atomos Shogun 4K Recorder ISO Test

Recently, we took the Sony A7S and Atomos Shogun 4K Recorder combo for a test shoot in the middle of Times Square to compare and contrast a popular variety of focal lengths, color profiles, and ISO settings. Since the A7S is the most popular low light camera on the market right now, I wanted to see how far we could push the ISO settings in S-Log 2 from it’s native 3,200 ISO all the way up to 51,200 ISO.

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In addition to camera settings, I wanted to see how the A7S captured different skin tones in low light settings. S-Log 2 provides plenty of dynamic range to push the colors to as natural or stylistic as you want while Cine 2 provides a color profile that requires only slight grading. My favorite color profile is Cine V on the Panasonic GH4 and the Sony A7S Cine 2 comes very close to it. According to the manual, Cine 2 softens the contrast in dark parts and emphasizes gradation in bright parts to produce a relaxed color movie.

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While I haven’t spent much time recording internally at 1080p, the Shogun 4K recording in ProRes HQ seems to produce a very clean image even at higher ISO settings, although I’ve read that 12,800 ISO is the maximum range to push the A7S before noticeable noise and loss of detail. At 51,200 ISO, the A7S appears to see in the dark. The Atomos Shogun ultimately unlocks the full potential of the Sony A7S and enhances the intense low light capabilities through 4K recording.

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product information button runplayback Sony Alpha A7S Mirrorless Digital Camera

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product information button runplayback Atomos Shogun 4K HDMI/12G-SDI Recorder and 7″ Monitor

Atomos Shogun 4K Recorder 6.2 Firmware Test with the Panasonic GH4 & Sony A7S

After my first impressions with the Atomos Shogun 6.2 Firmware Update, we decided to do a Steadicam field test with the new features on both the Panasonic GH4 and Sony A7S. Using the same Canon FD lenses and Avid DNxHR 4K codec, I was able to get great results that showcase the advanced performance of both cameras when paired with the Atomos Shogun. Click the video above to compare the results.

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product information button runplayback Atomos Shogun 4K HDMI/12G-SDI Recorder and 7″ Monitor

GH4

The Panasonic GH4 was outfitted with a Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster to maximize focal length while using my custom CineLike V color profile would require very minor grading in post. With the Atomos Shogun 6.2 Firmware Update, I was also able to utilize the 4K to HD downconvert to allow passthrough to an HD monitor on the Steadicam sled. This proved to be a valuable feature since my AC could use the Shogun to easily focus and access all the features on the touchscreen.


product information button runplayback Panasonic GH4 4K Video Recording

Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster GH4Metabones FD speed booster GH4 4k adapter
Metabones Speedbooster Canon FD Lens to M43 Adapter

A7S

The Sony A7S was fitted with a Metabones E-Mount to Canon FD adapter which retained the full frame focal length while the S-Log color profile and native 3200 ISO required using a Tiffen ND 1.5 Filter and a custom LUT in post. The 3D LUT feature on the Shogun was helpful to quickly preview the color grade and assist with focusing. I can see this being a great feature for client preview since those unfamiliar with S-Log can sometimes get thrown off by the flatness.

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product information button runplayback Sony Alpha A7S Mirrorless Digital Camera

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product information button runplayback Metabones Canon FD to Sony NEX Camera Lens Adapter

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product information button runplayback Tiffen 77mm Neutral Density 1.5 Filter

GH4_2

This is also the first time I’ve used the Avid DNxHR 4K codec which uses a 4:4:4 color space for high quality color correction and finishing. I had to download and install the codec from the Avid website to make it compatible with Adobe Premiere Pro CC. While I can’t tell the difference between DNxHR and ProRes just yet, it’s always good to have options for the different flavors of NLE.

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Overall, I’m very pleased with the new Shogun firmware and how easily it adapts to the quirks of both the GH4 and A7S. While it’s no surprise that the GH4 performs consistently everytime, I was definitely pleased with the amount of dynamic range the A7S is capable of, especially when paired with the Shogun. Next, I look forward to testing out the Shogun’s new firmware features at night.

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PVGear also just announced a full metal cage system that protects the plastic housing of the Atomos Shogun, locks down and protects fragile HDMI Ports, and provides several mounting threads for additional accessories that are often used with the Shogun. To further protect the Shogun Audio Input Cable, PVGear has designed a custom block that surrounds and protects the cable from accidental damage. I’ve always felt the Shogun housing feels very fragile and a bit exposed so this will definitely become an essential part of my rig. Look for the PVGear Shogun Cage to start shipping this April.

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Cage for Atomos Shogun 4K Recorder

Atomos Shogun 4K Recorder 6.2 Firmware Update First Impressions

Atomos just released another major firmware update for the Shogun 4K Recorder. I’ve been using the Shogun pretty heavily on my last few shoots with both the Panasonic GH4 and Sony A7S so this update has definitely increased it’s potential. The 6.2 firmware updates include custom 3D LUTs that provide an instant color grade preview when shooting with flat picture profiles, Avid DNxHR and DNxHD codecs and 4K to HD downscaling which allows for HD passthrough for external video playback on HD equipment. I definitely look forward to trying these new features out on the field and check out the video above for a closer look.

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product information button runplayback Atomos Shogun 4K HDMI/12G-SDI Recorder and 7″ Monitor

This Dangerous Switronix PTC-A7S D-Tap Cable Could Brick Your Sony A7S

UPDATE: Switronix reached out to me about an hour after this post went live. I sent in the cable to be tested and examined by their technicians and the video below are the results.

It’s no secret that the Sony A7S has very dismal battery life so one solution that I was excited about was the Switronix PTC-A7S Coiled Powertap Cable which would have be a great addition to my rig. However, there was one major issue – the dummy battery block short circuited and blew its fuse inside of the camera body! I own the Switronix GH4 Powertap cable which performs fine, so I know this issue is far from normal. The above video has a further explanation of what happened.

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Having 14.8 volts zap past the dummy battery and into the camera is a serious and dangerous issue. While the A7S continued working after suffering only a hard reset, I have no doubt the short could have bricked it. Besides internal damage, an explosive battery is just not something to take lightly whatsoever. Will I purchase a new D-Tap cable to do another test? Absolute not. That’s just not a risk I’m comfortable with taking.

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I would highly suggest other ways to get extended battery life from the A7S such as Cheesycam’s Canon battery grip mod, Varavon’s A7S 7.2v battery pack, or aftermarket A7S Wasabi batteries which have a solid reputation for compatibility. I do hope the D-Tap cable was only a defective product as my Switronix Li-Ion batteries have performed flawlessly with the Atomos Shogun. But with 2 weeks of radio silence from Switronix about this serious issue I can only assume that the A7S voltage regulator is a manufacturer defect.

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Varavon A7S Battery Package

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Wasabi Power Battery (2-Pack) and Charger for Sony A7S

Sony A7S Lowlight and Grading Test Part I

After finally receiving the Sony A7S, we decided to test it out on the streets of New York City for a promotional RunPlayBack spot. The low light capabilities of the Sony A7S has reached an almost mythical status and I wanted to jump right into the party.

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product information button runplayback Sony Alpha A7S Mirrorless Digital Camera

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Since the A7S has the standard Sony E-Mount, I picked up a Metabones E-Mount to Canon FD adapter so I could use the same glass as my GH4. Because the Sony A7S has a full-frame CMOS sensor, my Canon FD’s stayed true to their focal lengths.

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product information button runplayback Metabones Canon FD Mount Lens to Sony NEX Camera Lens Mount Adapter (Black)

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Unfortunately the Sony A7S can’t record 4K internally, but with an external recorder like the Atomos Shogun, you can record 10-bit 4K in ProRes. After rigging the Shogun to the shoulder mount, I powered it up with a Switronix Li-Ion battery. This entire setup was mounted onto my modded SR-1000 shoulder rig which I broke down here.

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product information button runplayback Atomos Shogun 4K HDMI/12G-SDI Recorder and 7″ Monitor

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Switronix XP-L90S V-Type 14.8VDC Lithium Battery

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Now let’s get to the good stuff – sensitivity range and noise control. The Sony A7S has a sensitivity range of ISO 100 all the way up to ISO 409,600. Another cool feature is the ability to customize Picture Profiles with a multitude of values. I decided to shoot with the S-Log picture profile along with these custom settings from Ed David:

Black Level: 0
Gamma S-Log: 2
Black Gamma > Range: Middle, Level: -3
Knee > Mode: Auto, Auto Set > Max Point: 95, Sensitivity: Mid
Color Mode: Pro
Saturation: +8
Color Phase: -2
Color Depth > R +1, G -1, B +2, C -2, M -1, Y -3
Detail > Level, -5 Adjust > Mode: Manual, V/H Balance: -2, B/W Balance Type 3, Limit: 0, Crispening: 0, Hi-Light Detail: 0

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Our shoot was brief since it was unusually cold and rainy but we were able to capture a variety of handheld shots in different lighting conditions within Manhattan. I definitely wouldn’t recommend taking the Sony A7S out during wet conditions as it isn’t completely weather resistant. After a quick grading using RGB Curves in Adobe Premiere CC, I was blown away by the amount of dynamic range in the footage. Highlights, shadows and color detail were preserved even when overexposed by 1 or 2 stops which is recommended. Our next Sony A7S test will be a more controlled setting to push the lowlight and grading settings. Overall I’m really excited about the performance of this camera. While it certainly won’t replace the GH4, it is definitely one of the best low light cameras I’ve ever shot with. Stay tuned!

Shooting a Profoto Spot with the Sony A7S

Good friend and filmmaker Yahya Ismail recently sent me this spot he made for Profoto using the Sony A7S which highlights the new Profoto B2 off-camera flash with super talented photographer Jaleel King. Here’s what Yahya said about the shoot:

This video shoot was a part of Profoto’s “On To Light Shaping” series that they just began where 18 photographers were hand picked to endorse and test their new B2 off camera flash lights. Philadelphia native photographer Jaleel King was one of the photographers and he asked if I could do the spotlight video, which was an easy yes since we are friends and collaborated before. I used the Sony A7S which was very new to me at the time. We went to the Ben Franklin bridge in Philly to do the first scene. I shot this piece in SLOG2 which forces the ISO to 3200, f/2.0 on a Canon 35mm IS lens. I used Impulz Luts to do color correction, even though recently I find myself just using custom color correction with RGB curves on the A7S footage. It was freezing cold that day but we had a great time. Afterwards, Jaleel and I went back to my house and recorded the narration audio in ProTools. This was my first time using the Sony A7S on a professional project and I’ve gotten used to the settings and color correction workflow. Since then and I can officially say that Sony has outdone themselves with the quality, build, and functionality of the A7S.

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product information button runplayback Sony Alpha A7S Mirrorless Digital Camera

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product information button runplayback Profoto B2 Off-Camera Flash Head

Lightweight Defy G2x Camera Gimbal Now Available

Today the Defy G2x camera gimbal has been officially launched for a retail price of $1,995.00. Since checking out the G2x prototype back in October, the final launch version looks to be very similar, at least cosmetically. The gimbal is designed for lightweight mirrorless cameras such as the Sony A7s or Panasonic GH4 and features the following specs:

  • Holds camera and lens combinations up to 3.5lbs
  • Built in stand for ability to balance in 3 minutes
  • Pre-selected auto tuned mode selections
  • Dual IMU sensors for auto sensing camera orientation
  • Extremely compact and lightweight at only 4.5lbs
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    Defy G2x Camera Gimbal

    Sony A7S + Atomos Shogun 4K Test

    Fellow filmmaker and Sony A7S owner Yahya Ismail recently shot this very clean and dynamic 4K video test video using the long awaited Atomos Shogun 4K Video Recorder. With a 1920×1200 IPS touchscreen display, 4K up to 30fps, 1080p up to 120fps and realtime ProRes encoding, this is the must have accessory for all Panasonic GH4 and Sony A7S owners. Here’s what Yahya has to say about the Shogun:

    The Shogun is very user friendly, the layouts and menus are easily accessible and all controlled by touch screen. Using a solid state drive with one of the five drive caddies that come with the system is way easier to use than I thought before I got it. Once you screw it in the caddie, it pretty much works just like a CF card, just screwing it in the case and its ready to go.

    My favorite thing as a growing cinematographer is the monitor assist options which are excellent. The color focus peaking and other options allows one to be way more confident when focusing especially while moving. The battery life is the only thing I dislike about the shogun, It’s AWFUL, and lasts less than 40 minutes, no matter what codec you’re recording at is.

    However, it’s well built, easy to use and you get 4k for a good price. It is 8 bit for A7S users, 10bit for GH4 I believe and comes in a nice carrying case which is well worth the investment. We’re in a weird transition period, and soon all cameras will natively record 4k, but still, it functions as both a monitor and a video recorder which is a plus.

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    product information button runplayback Atomos Shogun 4K HDMI/12G-SDI Recorder and 7″ Monitor

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    product information button runplayback Sony Alpha A7S Mirrorless Digital Camera

    New Sony A7S Test Footage

    Filmmaker Yahya Ismail posted some new Sony A7S test footage captured on the streets of New York City and shared some of his detailed settings.


    Sony A7S Test Footage

    Yahya enabled the S-Log2 SGamut color profile at 3200 ISO with a few slow motion shots at 120fps mixed in. He also used some custom LUTS and did some light color correction in post. I personally love the quality of the 120fps on the A7S and would love to see it’s performance in low light situations. And at 3200 ISO, the noise has some very nice character. For candid, off the cuff, shooting, this footage is quite impressive. Fun Fact: Yahya also produced the background music that blends perfectly with the Big Apple. What do you guys think? Send us more Yahya!

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    product information button runplaybackSony Alpha A7S Mirrorless Digital Camera

    Pre-Order the CoolLCD Sony A7S Smallrig Cage Today

    CoolLCD made their Sony A7S SMALLRIG Cage 1518 available for pre-order for half the retail price. The Sony A7S mirrorless digital camera is a hot item at the moment and I can see this cage as a great option for those trying to save a few bucks. From the pictures it seems like the cage only covers 75% of the Sony A7S. I’m not sure why CoolLCD would do that but if you A7S owners have any opinions on the design of this cage please drop me a line in the comments.

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    product information button runplaybackCoolLCD SmallRig Cage 1518 (Sony A7S A7R A7)

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    product information button runplaybackSony Alpha A7S Mirrorless Digital Camera