I have been an avid Canon 5dmkII video shooter for the last 3 years and have made educational dvds, mini-documentaries, music videos, and behind the scenes videos which have reached an audience of nearly one million people. After 5 years with the 5DmkII it was time to look into a smaller, more feature-rich camera. I’ve gone over a few of my initial comparisons for you below.
The 5D’s full frame, low light and depth of field capabilities are unrivaled. The color profiles and Magic Lantern firmware hacks allowed for even more control and depth to the quality of the video. To use with the 5D I had a complete L lens package, extra batteries, cards, lights, eye pieces, shoulder harnesses, tripods and audio recorders. In total it was over $10,000 investment and came out to be about 50 pounds with a laptop, chargers, and cables in a backpack. After two tours around the United States and countless trips around the western US, the bulk of the equipment became a burden to the capture and creation of the intimate moments I was trying to capture.
So in the end of 2012 I sold my entire production rig (with a few exceptions) and replaced it with the Sony NEX-7. Here’s some initial things I’ve noticed after using it for a few shots.
First of all, it’s TINY. With the 18-200mm lens it is still half the size of the 5D and a 50mm 1.8 prime (it’s smallest configuration). Less than a third of the weight too. The articulating screen helps get better angles. It autofocuses; not the fastes at times, but it does it where as the 5D does not. It shoots 1080 50/60p which is not currently available on the 5DmkII. The buttons are well placed and easy to use. Waiting on the software is a minor draw compared to changing settings on the 5D physically, but the difference in made up in how quickly you can have it out of a case and shooting because of it’s size. The bit rate is a bit lower than the 5D but the low light capabilities are similar which is surprising considering the micro-four-thirds sensor in the NEX-7. The dynamic range is amazing, but there is not color profile for shooting “flat” light there was for the 5D to my knowledge. The Sony microphone works wonderfully even at concerts standing in front of a huge sound system, the sound is clear and undistorted. Shutter lag and moire are apparent at times but with slow movements and using a tripod it can be avoided almost completely. I also got a 35mm 1.8 lens for low light and some depth of field shots. Haven’t had to use it yet once. Also interested in getting an 8mm fisheye for some extremely wide shots.
In the end I still kept my audio rig which is very lightweight and simple. A Zoom H4n recorder, wired lav, and the Rode Videomic Pro all mounted on a single accessory bar. No matter how much you simplify video and shrink the camera, audio is still just as if not more important in the moment and needs to be just as big a priority. Having the smaller camera makes it that much easier to handle both.
I also kept my Manfrotto 501HDV tripod and sticks because you always need a good fluid tripod. The weight of the NEX-7 is a bit light for the 501, but it is smooth and does the job.
I’ll be posting my first video with the NEX-7 from the first night of the Heatseekers tour with Iration, Pasafire and Pacific Dub later this week.