Although the Sony A7s is one of the most popular compact mirrorless cameras of 2014 so far, many filmmakers, especially those who have made the switch from Canon DSLRs, still complain about the accessibility of the functions of A7s and the way the menus inside the camera are organized.
Like any other camera system, the one from Sony also has particular workflow requirements and specifications. However, as long as you get familiar with those features, it is a lot easier to operate the camera in the more user-friendly way. The next in-depth video will give us some quick tips on how to properly set up the camera and access more easily the movie settings and better explore the functions that are built-in.
First and foremost, it’s a bit of a challenge to get used to the A7s external dials and buttons. From the weird placement of the Movie Record button on the right side of the grip to the additional Exposure Compensation Dial placed on the top, through the three custom buttons and the different control dials, one definitely would need to invest some time before getting used to these controls.
There are two ways to start recording video on the A7s. When the Shooting Mode Dial is set to one of the Still Shooting modes such as P, A, S, M, etc. you still will be able to start recording video, however, the camera will use the auto settings to control and set the right exposure. Further, if you set the Movie Mode (the film icon) on the same dial, you will be able to control the different settings manually.
As many of you are already familiar with the shooting formats of Sony A7s, it is good to know that you also have the ability to record video in two different formats at the same time. You can choose to record XAVC-S and MP4 video or AVCHD and MP4 in the so-called Dual Video REC mode simultaneously.
If you want to activate this function you need to enter the main menu, navigate to the second tab of the camera settings, and you’ll find the Dual Video REC right below the Recording Settings.
Nevertheless, if you set the XAVC-S format at 60p or 120p or AVCHD format at 60p MP4, keep in mind that you won’t be able to record in Dual Video REC mode.
Regarding evaluating proper exposure and better framing while shooting, the A7s features a couple of useful professional tools such as Zebras, Marker Display, Manual Focus Assist and Peaking Level that you can access in Tab 1 and Tab 2 under the Gear Icon of the Camera Settings in the Main Menu.
With the Sony A7s, you have a plenty of options to control the audio in-camera recording by manually setting a particular input signal level.
Just enter the Camera Settings section and navigate to the bottom of Tab 7 where you will find the Audio Recording and Audio Rec Level functions. The camera features some advanced audio features as well such as Audio Out Timing and Wind Noise Reduction that could be quite useful in certain shooting situations.
Ultimately, you can see the audio level meter on the display before recording only when you are in Movie Mode.
And last, but not least, one of the most advanced modes is the Picture Profile Setting, which will give you the access by default to 7 different fully customizable picture profiles. The last one PP7 features by default the Sony’s S-Log2 gamma setting that will give you the maximum dynamic range of the camera when selected.
As we can see, Sony A7s is a complicated hybrid mirrorless camera that features many advanced settings dedicated to filmmakers who tend to use the camera in different shooting situations where complex workflows and scenarios are involved.
Getting used to its functionality and knowing well its pros and cons are essential for better understanding the camera’s functionality, thus making your experience more user-friendly while shooting with it.