Setting Up A Sony A7S For Hybrid Storytelling With Video And Stills
Phillip Bloom is certainly a known brand in photography circles, and for good reason. Phillip is one of the hardest working professionals I follow regularly. I find his information always spot on, with great reasoning behind his choices. Much like the rest of us, Phillip is a picky perfectionist in selecting his personal gear. Phillip thinks the Sony A7S is an amazing little camera for what it does well, high ISO, and quite a good camera for most everything else when setup the right way. Initially setting up a Sony A7S the right way for your own use is the subject of Phillips video above.
Phillip and I differ in Initially setting up a Sony A7S, and I will explain why. Phillip is today primarily a video shooter who came over to the “dark side” or the video force from several years working as a photojournalist. One of the reasons I feel his particular filmmaking style is so good is that still photography background. Phillip, like all good photojournalists, had to develop his ability to see. Still photographers see differently than videographers who started with video. Their esthetic is different. I am biased, admittedly, however I still maintain that a still photography understanding and background is at least as important to making good video as painting is, and for many of the same reasons to do with composition. But I digress.
Phillip explains how setting up a Sony A7S he sets his up for video shoots. As a Hybrid Storyteller, I prefer a set of settings that are equally weighted towards shooting stills as they are to video. I also don’t want the camera getting in my way, so I mostly shoot either M or A mode. I find A mode the most interesting, and for myself and my style, the best mode for Hybrid Storytelling as it is nearly neutrally weighted and only slightly biased for stills.
That slight bias being the automatic shutter speed, which allows the camera to automatically select the correct shutter speeds. If you wish to maintain the highly desirable 180 degree shutter angle, then your options are limited to M or manual settings for everything. It is your film, your production, so you get to decide which mode you prefer. I strongly encourage everyone to experiment with the camera when they first receive it, and decide for themselves what settings ultimately work best for their particular use.
Personally, I find I do a better job of framing when I don’t additionally need to constantly monitor my highlight exposure settings, as is necessary when using manual mode in bright, outdoor settings when often moving from full sun to shade. So for my needs, setting up a Sony A7S begins with setting the “A” mode, and PP7 to evoke Slog-2 profile for the maximum gamut and dynamic range. The Sony A7S is quite smooth with its shutter speed adjustments when set to A, for A(perture) Priority mode, so always seems to give a very nice transition from darks to light and back again for my short video clips while giving me complete control shooting stills.
The thing to remember when setting up your camera initially is that nothing you do needs to stay that way, so experiment with everything in learning your camera. Sony menus are not the most user friendly UI on the market, so be prepared to spend some time hunting, pecking, and testing each of the setup features until you land on a set that fits your needs. Whatever works for Phillip or myself are only starting points for you. Your own needs will in the end determine which settings are best overall as your initial A7S starting setup for every shoot.
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