View Full Version : Still Photographer Seeking Advice


Chuck Scott
September 9th, 2014, 08:16 AM
My question can really be proposed in any of the HD Camcorder threads, but since I’m really interested in the FS700, I’ll start here. You guys may lead me to another path all together, but that’s OK, that’s why I’m posting.

I’m a still photographer and have included several links of the type and style of shooting I mostly am commissioned to do. In my photography club/guild, there have been a couple of my colleagues purchase some really nice HD Camcorders and are introducing them in their shoots. This will certainly set my work apart, it will offer my clients another aspect to their shoot and I’m totally into it, it fascinates me how awesome these higher end camcorders perform. The slowmo is extremely captivating!

The bad thing is, I have very little experience in filming – the good thing is, I know lighting, ISO/aperture relations, posing – just to name a couple. My point is, with 20+ years of shooting, I have a solid base at still photography and consider myself more of a technical shooter than an artistic shooter. I know that knowing ISO, aperture, lighting will not make this a seamless transition, but I would hope that it can help to some degree.

Is the FS700 a little more camera than necessary or is this a decent/user friendly camera for one to learn on?

My budget is approx. $8k and will likely be making this purchase around February/March of 2015.

The features I really like are:

35mm sensor
HD SLOWMO
ND filters built in
Ability to use my Nikkor lenses – 85mmf/1.4 – 105mmf/2 – 200mmf/2 – 28-70f/2.8 zoom

To have had an HD Camcorder that shoots incredible slowmo would’ve been used in every one of these shoots!!

FITNESS
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BOATING
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Beauty/Fashion
www.cs2photography.com/m1.jpg

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www.cs2photography.com/Ace19.jpg

www.cs2photography.com/m2.jpg

www.cs2photography.com/patriotic_5.jpg

Suit maker – Master Tailor JIN LEE
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Phil Goetz
September 10th, 2014, 08:16 AM
The good thing about pro cameras is you can run them on all AUTO or all MANUAL. That means you can start slowly getting predictable results when shooting. If the action gets too intense and the scene is changing too fast, switch to AUTO...

Noah Yuan-Vogel
September 10th, 2014, 08:44 AM
I'd wait and see what Sony is announcing this Friday. The FS700 is a 2 year old camera already. It is still a very nice camera and probably will be for a while, but I wouldn't buy one new these days. With the speed of camera technology evolution, if you are looking to purchase 6 months from now, by that time the landscape may change significantly by then.

Do you need super high framerates? You mentioned you like slow mo, but do you need 240fps or is 60fps enough? 240fps is very nice but if you don't need it and are more comfortable with still cameras, perhaps a Sony A7S with a nikon lens adapter that has a built in variable ND filter would be a more cost effective option.

Frankly the primary strengths of the FS700 in the current market are its 4K RAW output and its 240fps 2K/HD capability. If you don't need >60fps slow motion and won't ever be buying/renting a Convergent 7Q or Sony R5 RAW recorder to hook your camera up to, the strengths of the FS700 may be somewhat diminished. Otherwise the A7S has similar or better internal-recording and image quality. The FS700 is better for handheld shooting but you can build out and add size and shape to an A7S as needed. Also the A7S is the best low light stills or video camera out there at the moment which might be useful to you.

Then again, the FS700 is a really great camera for high speed slow motion footage that is very easy and accessible, which I have found to be extremely useful for shooting alongside still photography setups. You get that super slow "moving still" look and you can shoot seconds of footage between strobe flashes if shooting in parallel with stills. There really isnt another camera that does what it can do for the price. And it will only be more affordable in 6months.

Chuck Scott
September 10th, 2014, 09:16 AM
Thanks for the insight Noah.

I have indeed looked at the A7s and I still come back to saying to myself "it's still a hybrid". I'm sure it's wonderful at shooting video in low light conditions and it's probably a darn good still shooter - it seems to be a very nice all in one unit. However, I'd like something far better at doing one thing than a hybrid that does quite a few things really nice.

The 240fps is just very appealing and I'd like to have something capable of doing that at higher resolutions.

My intentions are to marry these on a shoot, so having a fantastic still and a fantastic HD recorder is my goal. I also intend on getting the Odyssey 7, that monitor looks super if when outfitted with the FS700. I see no point out of the gates to get the 7Q, due to how I'll be using the camera for starters.

I will certainly wait to see what is announced soon and go from there. If it's a nice step up from the FS700 as the FS700 was to the FS100, then hopefully the price of the FS700 is driven down.

Darren Levine
September 10th, 2014, 09:31 AM
fs700, no doubt very capable and produces a great image... but.... as noah pointed out there are new cameras popping up, that, and the fs700 is an economical brick, which many don't like and is probably the only reason i never got one.

Chris Medico
September 10th, 2014, 10:33 AM
My thoughts..

There is always going to be a new camera around the corner. That is just the way of the world right now. My advice is to not chase the bleeding edge if you are doing this for a living. Buying the latest and unknown is a sure way to get your buns burned.

For event videogrpahy I would recommend not buying anything that isn't a known quantity. I would also say that using a hybrid camera for a fast moving event isn't the best idea for a budding videographer. I would recommend buying a solid usable camera that has some helpful features such as auto exposure, auto focus, and built in NDs. The FS700 is a great camera in all regards. The auto focus isn't perfect but it is quite usable.

The FS700 is an established product. Its strengths and weaknesses are well known. It has some room to grow with the 4k RAW ability. You can adapt practically any lens to it. It would make a good first camera for what you are looking to do.

Chuck Scott
September 10th, 2014, 10:45 AM
Chris, good usable info here. I agree, there is always going to be a new/better unit around the corner, there's no way around that. I do see a lot of FS700s in the classifieds, not sure whether this is due to upgrades or the camera is not meeting expectations, that would be hard to determine.

Anyway, I am indeed looking for a solid camera that has a good following, potential for necessary upgrades to keep up with new technology and one that is very reputible with little complaints. The ones that have the FS700 are very pleased and delighted with its results.

This may indeed be what I'm looking for based on the reviews and research I've read.

Phil Goetz
September 10th, 2014, 11:04 AM
Darren Levine "fs700 is an economical brick."

Did you mean "ergonomical brick"? Ergonomical doesn't seem to be a word... hmmm...

Chris Medico
September 10th, 2014, 11:12 AM
Chris, good usable info here. I agree, there is always going to be a new/better unit around the corner, there's no way around that. I do see a lot of FS700s in the classifieds, not sure whether this is due to upgrades or the camera is not meeting expectations, that would be hard to determine.

Anyway, I am indeed looking for a solid camera that has a good following, potential for necessary upgrades to keep up with new technology and one that is very reputible with little complaints. The ones that have the FS700 are very pleased and delighted with its results.

This may indeed be what I'm looking for based on the reviews and research I've read.

I suspect some of those sales are to stay a jump ahead of the next camera from Sony. It could be a good time to pick up a deal with the smell of blood in the water.

Regardless of what you do end up getting built in ND filters is a feature I can't stress strongly enough having in a camera used for event video. Rapidly changing lighting is a certainty and fiddling with external NDs is not what I want to be doing when the important stuff is happening. I would make that a top priority feature. You'll be very glad you did.

Shaun Roemich
September 10th, 2014, 11:29 AM
The bad thing is, I have very little experience in filming – the good thing is, I know lighting, ISO/aperture relations, posing – just to name a couple. My point is, with 20+ years of shooting, I have a solid base at still photography and consider myself more of a technical shooter than an artistic shooter. I know that knowing ISO, aperture, lighting will not make this a seamless transition, but I would hope that it can help to some degree.

Is the FS700 a little more camera than necessary or is this a decent/user friendly camera for one to learn on?

As a former stills photog that got into video the "right" way (by going to school), the first question I have for you is:

- when you shoot stills, do you manual focus 99% of the time?

Because if you DON'T, the move to HD with an S35 sensor (and the anticipated shallow depth of field that everyone seems to "need" these days) is going to be a lesson in HURT.

I would suggest that 80% of enthusiast to "pro" footage I see these days is out of focus.

Yup. People will deny it or try to say it is an aesthetic decision but out of focus or focus seeking IS out of focus - I too am a "technical" imager first and creative/artistic second.

Moving targets and short throw focus rings make S35 shooting difficult enough for those of us with years (or decades) of practice; starting out that isn't what I'd suggest.

Now... if you've been a live sports photog professionally, you can probably ignore the above OR if you only intend to shoot seated interviews or beauty shots of non-moving objects in a repeatable scenario, have at 'er!

Just walk in with realistic expectations and realize there is a significant learning curve.

Good luck!

Shaun Roemich
September 10th, 2014, 11:39 AM
By the way, I took a look at some of the portfolio pieces you linked to - very nice! I especially like your use of rim lighting.

Which leads me to my next observation - it sure looks like you use a fair bit of flash in your work, at least the pictures I opened. Remember that hot lights for video require significantly more power to get the same output - strobes need only be bright for a mere fraction of a second and are very bright for that fraction of a second. Hot lights needed for the same exposure will be VERY high powered indeed in order to "beat" daylight for outdoor shoot. Of course, studio lighting can be more controlled. A $200 LED light isn't going to give you that beautiful wraparound rim lighting I'm seeing in your work.

Chuck Scott
September 10th, 2014, 02:17 PM
As a former stills photog that got into video the "right" way (by going to school), the first question I have for you is:

- when you shoot stills, do you manual focus 99% of the time?

Because if you DON'T, the move to HD with an S35 sensor (and the anticipated shallow depth of field that everyone seems to "need" these days) is going to be a lesson in HURT.

I would suggest that 80% of enthusiast to "pro" footage I see these days is out of focus.

Yup. People will deny it or try to say it is an aesthetic decision but out of focus or focus seeking IS out of focus - I too am a "technical" imager first and creative/artistic second.

Moving targets and short throw focus rings make S35 shooting difficult enough for those of us with years (or decades) of practice; starting out that isn't what I'd suggest.

Now... if you've been a live sports photog professionally, you can probably ignore the above OR if you only intend to shoot seated interviews or beauty shots of non-moving objects in a repeatable scenario, have at 'er!

Just walk in with realistic expectations and realize there is a significant learning curve.

Good luck!

Shaun, based on your question of manual focus and the rest of the information you've provided, renting said FS700 may be an option to consider since:

A - I do not shoot 99% manual focus
B - My intentions are not to shoot sitting interviews
C - I would like a shallow depth of field with my existing fast glass
D - I'm not a live sports action photog


So, based on these pointers, renting the FS700 or a comparable unit may be a cheap way to find out if the results are not as expected and the learning curve seems to be too steep to delve in to. This may prevent "my lesson in HURT".

Thanks for the heads up.

Noa Put
September 10th, 2014, 03:28 PM
Some interesting articles about shooting at high framerates with the fs700 that you might find interesting:

Slow Motion with the Sony FS700 - TBJ Productions - TBJ Productions (http://www.tbjproductions.com/site/slow-motion-with-the-sony-fs700/)
What You Need to Know Before Shooting Slow Motion with the FS700, and Some Recent Examples (http://nofilmschool.com/2012/07/shooting-slow-motion-fs700-examples)

There is more to fing online through a google search that can help you get the best results when shooting slow motion.

Leonard Levy
September 10th, 2014, 04:00 PM
Just be aware that if $8000 is your real total budget then you will have a lot more expenses going into video than just a camera.
Monitors are expensive and you should have at least one 127" and I like a small one also 5-7",\. That can set you back $3K right there.
You'll need a good tripod - expensive.
You'll need a lot more wider lenses than an 85.
Add to that batteries, cards for recording , lights, and some grip gear and you can figure a few more K.
If you want to get fancier its great to have a matte box and grad filters..... it just goes on.

Lenny

Chris Medico
September 10th, 2014, 05:54 PM
That is a good point about the budget. I have about $14k in my FS700 kit.

Shaun Roemich
September 10th, 2014, 10:12 PM
So, based on these pointers, renting the FS700 or a comparable unit may be a cheap way to find out if the results are not as expected and the learning curve seems to be too steep to delve in to. This may prevent "my lesson in HURT".


Renting/borrowing before buying when possible is ALWAYS the best approach.

I do hope that you took my pointers in the spirit in which they were offered - I started shooting in SD on 2/3" Betacams and THAT was a wakeup call for me.

Don't get me wrong, you may get good fast but coming into a large format sensor like the FS700 and expecting to shoot f2 or faster is a HUMBLING experience. Trust me.

I'm shooting exactly that tomorrow, but I'm shooting seated interviews!

Thankfully, you have a couple of months to make your decision.

Cheers

Chuck Scott
September 11th, 2014, 04:19 AM
Shaun, yes I did indeed take you pointers in positive spirits, more of a "heads up" really.

It appears that I'll have to find someone that shoots an S35 sensor so that I can see in a real world application the difficulty they're having with shallow depth of field and focusing.

It would be ideal if were to view some footage of a beginner shooting on fast glass on the FS700.

Would the Odyssey 7 monitor help with nailing the focus or is this monitor intended to be used more for bright (outside) conditions?

Dan Keaton
September 11th, 2014, 10:55 AM
Dear Chuck,

(I work for Convergent Design, and the Odyssey7Q is our product.)

The Odyssey7Q is a very nice addition to the Sony FS700 for many reasons.

It provides state-of-the-art Focus Assist (3 modes), professional Waveform Monitoring, Zebras, False Color, Histogram, Pixel Zoom (1:1 and 2:1) and more.

Please note that you will need the Odyssey7Q (and not the Odyssey7) for the following.

It allows you to record Raw, up to 240 fps in 2K, 12-Bit, and up to 60 fps in 4K 12-Bit Raw.

And it allows you to record in Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) up to 60 fps.

We have a special mode that may be very important to you. We can take the 4K 12-Bit Raw, up to 60 fps, and record to Apple ProRes 422 (HQ).

This special mode greatly improves the quality of images (in HD) from the FS700.

Also, stay tuned for a announcement, concerning recording 4K to a compressed codec!


I feel that this may help you, as recording to a 4K compressed codec allows you to record in high-quality 4K for a much longer time (and saves disk space in post) compared to shooting 4K Raw.

We provide 24 hour support.

I will be happy to assist you personally, as I have experience with the FS700 and our Odyssey7Q.

You may reach me by calling: seven one nine -- nine three zero -- one three seven six.

I am in the Eastern Time Zone.

Respectfully,

Bruce Watson
September 11th, 2014, 05:24 PM
The bad thing is, I have very little experience in filming the good thing is, I know lighting, ISO/aperture relations, posing just to name a couple. My point is, with 20+ years of shooting, I have a solid base at still photography and consider myself more of a technical shooter than an artistic shooter. I know that knowing ISO, aperture, lighting will not make this a seamless transition, but I would hope that it can help to some degree.

It will help. To a very small degree. Motion is a completely new ballgame. I suspect you are underestimating what it takes to do this video thing. Just like I did years ago.

With stills, you're used to having time to set your shot, set your exposure, set your focus, get your lighting just so, then trip your shutter and you're done. Video isn't like this. At all. In motion pictures, it's about motion. Something has to move, either the subject, the camera, or both. And this raises the complexity by an order of magnitude. Yes, I know, you don't believe it. Deep down inside you're thinking, how hard can it be? Been there, done that, and I do know where you're coming from. I'm just telling you what I learned.

What's interesting and difficult about motion is that it's not static. It refuses to sit still. For example, when you pan a shot, you almost always go from one kind of light to another. You have to change exposure as you move. And focus. While you're framing on the fly. This is why Hollywood made camera assistants. Find out what a focus puller does. To make it possible to do this with a single camera operator, we have auto exposure and auto focus. You'll think you can do it all manually. And... you can't.

But motion is only half your battle. No one posting on this thread has posted anything about sound yet. But sound is more than half what people perceive when they watch a motion picture. People will forgive all kinds of visual artifacts, from grainy footage, to crushed blacks, to out of focus, etc. but they will get up and walk out if the sound is bad. You know this is true because you've experienced it yourself at some point. And good sound is more difficult than good video. And you've not had to deal with sound at all in the stills world. Just sayin'.

If I were in your shoes, and I had an 8k budget, I wouldn't think about spending it all on a camera. You're going to need (not want, but need) a good solid tripod and fluid head. It's going to put the cost of a stills camera tripod to shame. Pay it. A good Sachtler, Vinton, Miller, etc. tripod is just required if you want a smooth and controllable tilt or pan, especially when it comes to starting and ending your motion. Then, you're going to have to put some money into sound. Way more than you want to. But it's way more important than you want to believe. Again, been there, done that.

I'm just telling you what I wish someone had told me years ago. It would have been nice (and way less expensive) to not have had to learn it all the hard way. But then, I probably wouldn't have listened.

Thing is, it's worth it. Video is tougher than most people imagine, but it's also a heck of a lot of fun.

Chuck Scott
September 11th, 2014, 06:32 PM
Thanks for the info Bruce, with all the posts and replies I'm starting to get conflicting statements, which is ok because I'm assuming these are opinions that are based on different approaches/experiences/types and styles of shooting. For example - I was given advice to start shooting manually with my DSLR because this will help the transition, however your suggestion is to use the auto exposure/focus settings because "it can't" be done manually (without an assistant).

It is now up to me to sift through the posts and come up with a game plan in terms of what type of gear/camera/accessories to start out with, if any.

I'm putting sound at the bottom of my list of priorities should I go forward on shooting vid. My subjects will not be recorded for sound, there is simply going to be video in my still slideshow with background music. I know I'm doing the camera a huge disservice by not putting sound at the top of the list, but in time, as I learn to shoot, sound will become more necessary.

I mostly shoot fitness/fashion/high school seniors/models, so interviewing them during a shoot is not part of the production.

Again, thanks for the cautions and what to be weary of Bruce. I'm seeing more red flags than the Chinese Army as I seek aadvice for attempting to shoot some video while trying to incorporate them into my shoots.

Chuck Scott
February 16th, 2015, 02:54 PM
It's not been quite 6 months, but it has been 5. Have you seen the "landscape change significantly" or is the FS700 still a good camera to look at for a beginner transitioning from still photography?

Thank you

I'd wait and see what Sony is announcing this Friday. The FS700 is a 2 year old camera already. It is still a very nice camera and probably will be for a while, but I wouldn't buy one new these days. With the speed of camera technology evolution, if you are looking to purchase 6 months from now, by that time the landscape may change significantly by then.

Do you need super high framerates? You mentioned you like slow mo, but do you need 240fps or is 60fps enough? 240fps is very nice but if you don't need it and are more comfortable with still cameras, perhaps a Sony A7S with a nikon lens adapter that has a built in variable ND filter would be a more cost effective option.

Frankly the primary strengths of the FS700 in the current market are its 4K RAW output and its 240fps 2K/HD capability. If you don't need >60fps slow motion and won't ever be buying/renting a Convergent 7Q or Sony R5 RAW recorder to hook your camera up to, the strengths of the FS700 may be somewhat diminished. Otherwise the A7S has similar or better internal-recording and image quality. The FS700 is better for handheld shooting but you can build out and add size and shape to an A7S as needed. Also the A7S is the best low light stills or video camera out there at the moment which might be useful to you.

Then again, the FS700 is a really great camera for high speed slow motion footage that is very easy and accessible, which I have found to be extremely useful for shooting alongside still photography setups. You get that super slow "moving still" look and you can shoot seconds of footage between strobe flashes if shooting in parallel with stills. There really isnt another camera that does what it can do for the price. And it will only be more affordable in 6months.

John Wiley
February 16th, 2015, 05:01 PM
There's better camera out there now, but as a result the price of the FS700 has come down (especially used) which makes it a good deal right now.

As always though, something else is always just around the corner - and NAB is coming up in a few months time, where many people are assuming Sony will release something new. Whatever it is might be much better or it much cheaper, but it won't change the fact that the FS700 is still a great camera and will serve you for many years to come.

Did you end up renting one to test it out?