The real Sony Video question

Started Oct 13, 2015 | Discussions thread
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smorgasbord Regular Member • Posts: 261
The real Sony Video question

I believe the real question is between the almost-available A7S II and the just announced FS5. I know this forum is mostly populated with stills photographers, but since the A7S is often recommended for primarily video use (often with a separate camera for stills since the A7s is low on MP count and slow on AF), it's worth comparing.

My thinking is that it seems people have been buying A7S's (and GH4's) to only shoot video. Well, not a purpose built video camera then? OK, first off is that the FS5 is about $5500 while the A7S II is about $3000. The difference buys you a couple nice lenses.

Why deal with a form factor designed for stills when a form factor designed for video would be easier to use? For instance, the A7S II's LCD only tilts, the FS5's LCD tilts, rotates, and is even repositionable on the body. The FS5 has a rotatable hand grip with controls ergonomically placed.

The FS5 has a native ISO of 3200, a built-in variable ND filter, SLog2 and SLog 3, and 10-bit 4:2:2 instead of 8-bit 4:2:0. The FS5's got real audio inputs (such as XLR) and controls. Heck, the FS5 doesn't even have the 30 minute time recording limit.

It'll be interesting to see how well the FS5 autofocuses - the A7S II is supposed to be improved from the A7S. This may not be important for narrative filmmaking, but for documentaries (and the not the Ken Burns talking heads with zoom and pan on photos docs) having good autofocus in rapidly changing situations is important.

The FS5 does 30fps in 4K, 60fs in UHD - with up to 960 fps in burst mode for UHD.

Now, the Super-35mm sensor in the FS5 is smaller than the A7S II's full frame, but way larger than the GH4's. Here's a comparison picture:

So, the FS5 might strike a better compromise in terms of noise versus DOF. With Super-35 you can still get shallow DOF if you want, but if you want a large DOF (for run and gun shooting, for instance), you can get that, too. And the larger sensor should (we'll have wait and see) have better low light performance than the GH4, if not the see in the dark capability of the A7S.

The FS5 takes the same E-mount lenses as the A7 series cameras, so if you're willing to buy a body for stills as well, you can at least leverage your lens investment.

OK, so I think I've convinced myself that the FS5 is the better video camera. Is it $2500 better? My point here isn't to bash the A7S II, it's to discuss the pros and cons of a camera so aimed at video but lacking some real video nice to haves, versus a video camera that doesn't pretend to do stills.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 Sony a7 Sony a7S Sony a7S II
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