As a video production company, a question we get a lot is “What do you shoot on?”. The answer? It depends. Every shoot is different and each little detail plays a part in determining the right camera. Here are a few of our go-to models.
1. Sony FS5
The Sony FS5 has been in our camera family for years. What we love about the Sony FS5 is its versatility. It’s capable of shooting in 4k and has 14 stops of dynamic range that allow for a shallow depth of field. One of our favourite features of the Sony FS5 is its ability to shoot slow motion. It allows for up to 60 frames per second shooting in 4K or 240 frames per second in HD (we typically shoot slow motion is HD). If you need to go really, really slow, the FS5 can handle up to 960 frames per second in reduced resolution.
This camera comes out with us a lot because it’s lightweight (only 0.8kg) and breaks down into a small and manageable carrying case and fits most airlines’ carry-on requirements.
ProTip: Although the Sony FS5 has an E-Mount, with the right adapter, almost any lens will work on this model.
2. RED Weapon Helium
We’ve always been a fan of Red cameras, but the Helium sensor they released in 2016 really changed the game. DxOMark, a trusted online reference for image quality, gave this sensor an all-time high score. The biggest innovation the Helium sensor brought was its ability to shoot in 8K. In our Red camera body, the Red Weapon, the 8K capability extends to up to 75 frames per second.
Along with unimaginably clear resolution, the Red Weapon also boasts 16.5 stops of dynamic range. This gives the operator a huge amount of control over their depth of field and the overall look of the shot. On top of that, the colour depth and low-light capabilities far surpass its predecessor, the Red Dragon sensor.
Pro Tip: While 8K resolution is great if you’re shooting a feature film, for the smaller screen you might want to scale back a bit. That’s because 8K footage takes up a lot of space. Unless you want to fill up terabytes of valuable storage space, we recommend sticking to 4K or HD. You’ll still reap all the benefits of this upgraded sensor without unnecessarily large file sizes.
This artist highlight we created for Autodesk Sketchbook was shot on the Red Weapon.
3. Sony A7S
At first glance, the Sony A7s doesn’t seem like much but don’t be fooled: a lot is packed into this 5 by 3 3/4 inch camera body. Like the other, bigger cameras on this list, the A7s has 4K capabilities, a full-frame sensor and 14 stops of dynamic range. But what really sets this camera apart is its light sensitivity. It can capture up to ISO 409600 with ultra-low noise, meaning image quality doesn’t become grainy when using a high ISO. Because of this, the Sony A7s a great option when shooting outside at night or when your lighting setup is minimal or non-existent.
We also love the Sony A7s because of its transportability. Like the other Sony model on our list, this is a great camera for travel shoots, or in instances when you want to be discreet with your shooting.
Pro Tip: The Sony A7S is the perfect camera choice if you’re using a gimbal. It’s lightweight (less than .5kgs) and won’t bog down your setup and give you the ability to move with ease but you aren’t compromising image quality as you might with an equally small DSLR alternative.
When we shot this event with Intel and Autodesk, we were faced with a very dimly lit room. By shooting on the Sony A7s, we were able to capture clear picture without a ton of natural light.
4. Arri Alexa Classic
The Arri Alexa, and the entire Arri family, is known in cinema circles as the ultimate documentary camera. It shoots up to 2K resolution and has 14+ stops of dynamic range plus it’s rugged and can hold up in the most extreme weather conditions. What really stands out about the Alexa is its image quality. Arri has a reputation for outstanding colour science and the result is a very natural and film-like colour reproduction. This allows a cinematographer to capture beautifully rich and realistic skin tones.
Pro Tip: The Arri Alexa is built with a PL-mount, which helps it securely hold heavier lenses without issue. Canon EF-mounts, however, are much more versatile and allow for a wider range of lenses to be used with it. Unless you’re shooting with a huge telephoto lens, you might want to consider switching to an EF-mount for added flexibility.
The Body is Just the Beginning
Deciding on the right camera body is only half the battle when it comes to achieving the perfect look for your shoot. Whether to use a tripod, a gimbal or go handheld is something you’ll also want to consider. But even the best camera with the best support won’t achieve the result you want unless you have the right lens for the situation. Tune in soon for a post about lens sizes, types and brands and what we’re using these days.