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Old October 23rd, 2012, 06:46 PM   #1
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Subaru BRZ, Britain and the A77

Mod Note: can we get a Sony Alpha Video forum? Nowhere else to really stick stuff like this.

With one week notice, I received an invitation to a UK press drive for the new Subaru BRZ. I already had my Sony NX5U listed on eBay and hadn't yet decided on what camera I was going to replace it with (though I had my suspects).

Two days before I had to ship out to Britain I bought a lightly used Sony A77 along with the kit 16-50 SSM lens from a guy on Craigslist. 48 hours later, I started shooting in the UK with an unfamiliar camera, one lens, a monopod, H4N and a set of GoPros. Since filming this, I've put in hundreds of hours of shooting with the A77 and have a much better hold on it's limitations. I also purchased a 70-200 2.8 as soon as I got back.

Overall, I love working with the camera. In the best situations the color and sharpness trump anything my NX5U could produce. However, the compression algorithm has more issues. It could be a different encoder, or trying to stuff 60fps of 1080p into 28mb/s (vs. the NX5U putting 30fps in similar), but the shadows and fast action have significantly more compression artifacts with the A77. It gets even worse if I try to push things around in color correction. But in the end, I prefer the image of the A77 to the NX5U, though the NX5U was a lot easier to work with (for the obvious reasons: built-in XLR, NDs, etc.)


Exteriors (with one exception) are other journalists driving (cut to look like its me), all the GoPro footage is me behind the wheel. Press trips don't give a lot of extra time since they're designed to cater more to writers than video crews, so I end up with a lot of single-takes, especially when we have to drive across a country in two days time.

I also visited the Goodwood Revival when I was there, but that's the subject of a separate video.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 07:24 PM   #2
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Re: Subaru BRZ, Britain and the A77

Great work, it will definitely be an inspiration for the project I'm working on.

Is there a reason you prefer the DSLR to a VG20?
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 07:34 PM   #3
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Re: Subaru BRZ, Britain and the A77

Thanks Jay.

I would actually prefer the form-factor of the VG20/30. However, the lack of Steadyshot is a potential issue and I really need at least one camera with weather sealing (I often film in harsh conditions). The A77 also allows me to function as a pro photog (without excuses) which is something I used to do, but kind of set aside when I went all-in to video a few years ago. It's nice to have the option once again.

I do plan to add a FS100 to my kit later this year, which will give me the sweet sensor in one body, and hand-held, ruggedized shooting in another.
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Old October 24th, 2012, 02:24 AM   #4
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Re: Subaru BRZ, Britain and the A77

Agreed that it would be nice to have a dedicated Alpha/NEX area, not sure if it's because us Sony users use our cameras strangely or what, but we sort of end up having to post where we can!

I definitley identify with your reaction to the 77, I've got the A65 and picked up an A57 just to "play" with, find myself really wanting to shoot more stills, and liking the video results from these cams as well. Somehow they feel very "natural" to me, for want of a better word...
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Old October 24th, 2012, 12:49 PM   #5
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Re: Need an Alpha section

3rd vote for an Alpha section.
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Old October 24th, 2012, 06:11 PM   #6
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Re: Subaru BRZ, Britain and the A77

Here's the second short from my trip to Britain. Again, shot with the A77 - here, all of it was hand-held. A couple of the track shots are licensed (low res) footage (for a hefty fee), since they forbid video crews to shoot the track.

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Old October 24th, 2012, 10:49 PM   #7
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Re: Subaru BRZ, Britain and the A77

Another vote for an alpha section... the A99 has really stepped things up, especially with clean HDMI and manual audio so I think more people will start using them seriously.

I love the BRZ video. I used my A77 with a very cheap 55-200 to shoot this video of a friend in his Nissan Skyline.
While it is not very cool to say this 1080P60 and autofocus were the main things that attracted me to the A77


Unfortunately Vimeo is blocked at work, but I look forward to checking out the Goodwood Revival video tonight.
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Last edited by Laurence Janus; October 24th, 2012 at 10:57 PM. Reason: Vimeo
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Old October 25th, 2012, 01:38 PM   #8
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Re: Subaru BRZ, Britain and the A77

Great videos guys!

Tell me more about the a77- especially how it differs from the ever popular Canon DSLRs.

thanks,
~Jay
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Old October 25th, 2012, 02:11 PM   #9
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Re: Subaru BRZ, Britain and the A77

The major issue for motorsports is that the Sony cameras shoot at 1080/60p which gives the option for smooth slow-motion. Canons can only do 1080/30p max (or 720/60p iirc). That right there turned me away from even considering a Canon... for what I do, even a moderate slow-mo option is a must. (keep in mind I was moving from a camera that already did 1080/30 and 720/60p)

The built-in steadycam function in the A77 allows any lens to be "stabilized" which is nice. No need to drop $2000 on a stabilized version of a good lens. Major plus over the VG30. I bought a 70-200mm Tamron 2.8 for $750 and I've really enjoyed using it - stabilized in-body with the A77. The throw on the manual focus is a bit on the short side, but I'm getting used to it.

The kit lens that comes with the A77 isn't perfect, but it's well above the standard kit lens. It's even parfocal - meaning I can zoom in, focus, and recompose like a proper video camera. I still get moire and some CF in video, but nothing worse than what Ive seen from Canons (same for rolling shutter.)

I wished the A77 had audio levels, but alas, can't have everything I guess. That's my biggest gripe. I do have a cable running from my H4N that steps down the audio and that works pretty good. I also have the little snap-on Alpha mic which is much better than the stock mic, but not great. However, for run-and-gun in the middle of nowhere, sometimes traveling light is the only or best option. I have to admit I swooned when I saw the audio control on the A99.

Oh, a note on the Goodwood video. That entire video was shot with the kit lens, handheld, with sound from the snap-on alpha mic. The only exceptions were the interview with the Goodwood Manager (I used the H4N with a lav for that) and the obviously telephoto head-on shots of cars, which were licensed from the Goodwood media team (and supplied only as standard def).
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Old October 27th, 2012, 08:40 AM   #10
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Re: Subaru BRZ, Britain and the A77

+1 on the Alpha camera board since I'm getting ready to order the A99.

With the A99 you can get a clean, uncompressed HDMI out and use recorders like the Ninja or Pix 220i and get 10-bit Prores at 220mb/s. If you go with the Pix, it also has built in Sound Devices pro audio with dual XLR's - that's the one I'm getting for the A99. I'm not running dual audio and synching in post anymore. The only major drawback is you lose 1080/60p, though 720/60p at those bitrates would still be really, really good. I'm replacing my FS100 with the A99 because of steadyshot, the Zeiss lenses and the stills capability. I keep getting jobs that are as much photo as video and juggling cameras when you're a one-man-band is a hassle.

Cool job with the BRZ. Got to drive one a few weeks ago and it was cool, didn't get to break the rear loose since I was on city streets and I wasn't going to buy the car.
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Old October 27th, 2012, 06:10 PM   #11
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Re: Subaru BRZ, Britain and the A77

I'm in San Francisco right now and as I roam the city I'm being reminded of how nice it is to have stills and video in the same camera. My current camera is a Nikon D90. Video on the D90 is pretty bad.

Maybe the A77 would be an ideal upgrade for me.

My question is, is there a good 18-200 lens for it?

Thanks,
~Jay
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Old October 28th, 2012, 02:31 PM   #12
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Re: Subaru BRZ, Britain and the A77

The kit A77 16-50 is excellent. Buy it with that, then for 70-200 or longer you have several options in the 2.8 range (or f4 if you're so inclined.) So, not really a one lens solution there, but far better to have 2.8 then to have 18-200 with a 5.6 (or worse) on the long end.

This is the 70-200 2.8 I went with:
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro AF Lens AF001S-700 B&H

I wanted to get the Sony G model, but for $2000 the lens NEEDS to be weather sealed. It's not (yet - rumored to have a weather sealed version coming soon.) So, instead I spent $800 on a different non-weather sealed unit that focuses slower (I use it mostly in manual mode, so again not a big deal for me), but overall is a very nice lens. DPReview even raves about it.

One thing to note, even with IBIS, you won't likely be shooting at 370mm handheld (the 200mm side with the sensor multiplier). You need to be on a rock-solid tripod at that range (as with all lenses that long). Perfectly usable for hand-held photography though. On the short side, hand-held is definitely do-able with video.
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Old October 29th, 2012, 01:12 AM   #13
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Re: Subaru BRZ, Britain and the A77

Just posted a new video i shot with both the A77 kit lens and the Tamron 70-200. Also a few GoPro shots (of course.)

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Old October 29th, 2012, 01:38 AM   #14
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Re: Subaru BRZ, Britain and the A77

Hi Ryan,

What did you use to capture the audio from the presenter in the car? Sorry the presenter is you. I should have realised.
One other question... what light are you using in the car and how is this mounted? Looks light a Gopro style mount but it's a bit hard for me to determine.

Cheers,

Last edited by Simon Denny; October 29th, 2012 at 03:26 AM.
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Old October 29th, 2012, 07:17 AM   #15
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Re: Subaru BRZ, Britain and the A77

I'm attached to a Zoom H4N with a wired lav mic. The light is an ancient Sony unit. Not my favorite but its really compact so it sometimes will make it in the bag when my panel lights won't fit. It's simply screwed into a suction mount using its built-in tripod thread.
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