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Sony NEX-EA50 (all variants)
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Old July 7th, 2013, 02:39 PM   #1
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My EA50 setup for a documentary

Hi.

That I use the EA50 for the next long documentary, I think I'll share my setup with you. Most of you seem to be in the wedding business, so you'll like it different. I ran several different setups with profiles, lenses and workarounds for the last weeks and analyzed the footage on my iMac 27'' and with my software scopes in Da Vinci Resolve.

Here's what we'll carry:


- camera: Sony NEX-EA50 @1080/25p FX

- picture profile: Abel cine AB_NORM2 or JR452
not sure yet, but AB_NORM2 gives better skin results whilst beeing a little to flat. Both should be graded/color corrected in post for best results!
(more about these here: Porting Abel cine profiles from the Sony fs100 to the Sony nex-ea50 | Sony nex ea50 user blog)
I like to have a cinematic footage with saturation down and lots of dynamic range without those digital "pinsharpness". It will fit the subject of this documentary
very well. If flat profiles on 8bit 24MBit/s footage make any sense is a difficult question.

- ISO/db settings: L=160 ISO, M=800 ISO, L=2000 ISO (if it's still to dark with f2,8 - 1/25s and 2000 ISO, I can activate AutoISO with 3200 max, which is to avoid)
shutter speed will be 1/50 most of the time, 1/25 if I need more light


- lens: Canon EF-S 17-55/2,8 IS on Metabones Smart adapter II with image stabilizing ability, aperture control, distance information on display
aperture will be set all manual using histogram and zebra (100%+)
+ Heliopan VarioND Slim 77mm (ND0,3 - ND1,8) can be kept on camera most of daytime work
+ Canon EW-83J lens hood (which wasn't included!!)
+ Sony 18-200 kit lens for safety reasons (I don't like the general "look", but the range and the stabilizer are still unbeaten)

- energy: 2 IDX replacement batteries with 7800Ah/56Wh (NP-F970 type)
+ 1 Sony NP-F770
+ standard charger (even if it's slow and without any control ability)

- memory: 2 SanDisk Ultra 32GB, SDHC class 10, 30 MB/s

- sound: Sennheiser ME64 as on camera microphone
2x Sennheiser EW112 G3 wireless set for interviews
audio-technica BP4029 M/S Stereo microphone for boom and landscape athmo sounds
2 ch XLR audio recorder Zoom H4n

- stabilizing: Sachtler DV8 tripod
monopod

- protection: Kata CC195 shoulder bag (carries everything except stabilizers and stereo sound equipment BP4029, boom, recorder)


I hope I won't miss anything when filming for about 2 weeks in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I'm still not that happy with my handheld footage. It's still a bit to shaky!
Any sort of stabilizer won't be flexible enough for my kind of work. I really don't know what kind of situations and light conditions are waiting for me as this will be a documentary. We plan to do the shootings 4 times for 2 weeks in 4 different seasons.

Editing will still be done with FinalCut Pro7 after conversion to 10bit ProRes codec.
It is also planned to do color correcting/grading in Da Vinci Resolve on my computer.


If anybody has some ideas what seems to be forgotten or far from ideal - go forward and respond!
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Old July 7th, 2013, 03:54 PM   #2
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Re: My EA50 setup for a documentary

Sounds interesting and i'm looking forward to seeing it if possible!
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Old July 7th, 2013, 03:58 PM   #3
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Re: My EA50 setup for a documentary

As we will do the shootings during 1 year, don't expect anything finished within the next 18 months...
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Old July 7th, 2013, 04:10 PM   #4
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Re: My EA50 setup for a documentary

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik Wittbusch View Post
As we will do the shootings during 1 year, don't expect anything finished within the next 18 months...
Whats the documentary about if you don't mind me asking?
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Old July 7th, 2013, 04:46 PM   #5
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Re: My EA50 setup for a documentary

Mainly about the people in one specific city.

Most of the people seem to have forgotten, that there was a war not so long ago.
We try to speak with the people how the city changed during the war and how it affected the inhabitants.

I think we'll have 3-5 protagonists, which we like to meet several times during the year.

It will really be exciting for me, as I didn't ever shoot with my own camera such a big project!
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Old July 7th, 2013, 11:47 PM   #6
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Re: My EA50 setup for a documentary

Will you be using any lighting other than natural light?
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Old July 8th, 2013, 02:21 AM   #7
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Re: My EA50 setup for a documentary

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Bobilin View Post
Will you be using any lighting other than natural light?
No.

I know it can be a big help and advantage. But for me I never used any artificial lightning for documentaries. I mean there is no need. It's no beauty shooting and if it's all to dark, an on camera light wouldn't help either.

I like natural light and hope, that we can shoot most of the film outside.

But thanks for mentioning anyway.

Update: My Metabones Smart adapter II has firmware 16. The latest is 24 and helps with holding the "advanced mode", where I can have push auto iris and focus distance in the display. Now, the mode changes back to "green mode" every time I switch of the camera. So I need to push the wide open switch on the adapter every time while turning the power of the EA50 on.
Metabones will flash the new firmware for free - but there isn't enough time left. :( My fault, as I emailed them too late this weekend. But I am glad, the Metabones is still working on the firmware to make it better and updates are still for free.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 05:02 PM   #8
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Re: My EA50 setup for a documentary

Not having any resource at all for supplemental lighting is a big risk in my opinion. You may miss golden opportunities without it. And supplemental lighting is not inherently bad, it is what shooters do with it that can make it bad.

For less than a couple hundred dollars you could have a cheap LED light, a table top tripod, and a small collapsible reflector to bounce it off of. It would all fit in your bag and add less than two or three pounds. You do not have to use it….but if you NEED it you will be glad you have it.

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Old July 9th, 2013, 06:19 AM   #9
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Re: My EA50 setup for a documentary

Thats very much true with the light.

I might be young but old fashioned in the way of doing documentaries.
I like the camera and all the technical stuff to be almost invisible for the people. A light wouldn't help that much with that. I hope to do most of the shootings with people involved handheld with 24-35mm as I am just somebody involved in a talk.

In this film a sensitive way of people treatment is absolutely neccessary. I have done all my documentaries that way, but my camera was the Sony Z1 or E-X1/3.

This won't be true for other cameramen/women but that's one of the most important rules for me doing documentaries. Don't touch "reality"!

It might seem stupid as you do touch automaticly when framing and recording to your own likings. For me, it's cinema verité or direct cinema style which I adopted from my "idols". I mean directors like the Maysles Brothers, Richard Leacock, Klaus Wildenhahn and many others which introduced this way of documenting "real" people in their environments in the 50s.

Okay, I'm born in the 70s but don't like the modern style you see in TV these days. Please forgive in being a dinosaur in that specific topic...

Last edited by Erik Wittbusch; July 9th, 2013 at 09:44 AM.
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Old July 11th, 2013, 04:23 PM   #10
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Re: My EA50 setup for a documentary

One thing to add:

Today, my Heliopan VarioND slim arrived in 77mm.

Sadly, the lens hood of the 17-55 can't be attached when the Heliopan is already.
This will end in a fiddly way of putting those things on and off the lens...

I decided to take the Canon 80-200/2,8L in addition if long shots will be needed. I thought of taking the kitlens instead, but in the end the Canon won. On the long end it's so much better!

I'll start saturday morning. Hope I didn't miss anything.
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Old July 14th, 2013, 01:08 PM   #11
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Re: My EA50 setup for a documentary

Are you saying you are going on the road and leaving the kit lens behind? Why would you put yourself in a position where you are completely dependent on a metebones (or any) adapter to be able to shoot? I back up every system I can.

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Old July 14th, 2013, 01:26 PM   #12
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Re: My EA50 setup for a documentary

I"d agree with Steve, you are putting yourself in a risczone by relying on a piece of hardware that is not designed by Sony for this camera, if the adapter fails and you are not able to find a replacement on spot your best bet would be the stocklens that at least would secure you to take the shot.
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Old July 29th, 2013, 04:48 PM   #13
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Re: My EA50 setup for a documentary

Short notice:

I returned from the 2 week shooting trip today.

I worked on the picture profile during the shooting even more to squeeze the best possible quality out of the EA50. The profile is still based on the AB_NORM2 with adjusted knee and black level. I allowed the people to sit in the shadow while the background was under full sunlight - the footage is still usable and nice.

My overall impression with the EA50 was close to great. A bit smaller would have been great, adjustable ISO's via scroll button would made the ISO's more and faster usable. Battery life was great (no comment on stock charger :( ).

The Heliopan VarioND was the best investment for the EA50. I was able to adjust exposure stepless during changing light conditions (clouds/sun). Sadly the lens hood of the Canon 17-55/2,8 IS didn't fit over the Heliopan, so that I used it only at nighttime when there was no need for the ND.

Fortunately, there was no need for other lenses... ;)

All in all, I shot over 25h of footage in 10 days. I will have a closer look at it within the next weeks and write my impression down here. But so far I know that the picture profile and the lens is the most important part for the picture. The codec is still sort of a mess, but usable. The Canon C300, which I would like to have too, has the better codec and lowlight capabilities and some nice extra features, but costs 3x more, is heavier and makes much more noise (fan + button clicks).

Best greetings,

Erik
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Old July 29th, 2013, 05:16 PM   #14
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Re: My EA50 setup for a documentary

I agree with you about not bringing any light. It forces you to work with your surroundings. Good choice.
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Old July 29th, 2013, 05:40 PM   #15
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Re: My EA50 setup for a documentary

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik Wittbusch View Post
The Canon C300, which I would like to have too, has the better codec and lowlight capabilities and some nice extra features, but costs 3x more
Make that almost 5 times more expensive and then you still only have a body...
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