My Next Camera Revealed

I have finally decided on my next cinema camera: the Sony FS7M2. Find out why.

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After months of deliberation (and a bit of saving up), I finally decided on my next cinema camera. Upgrading from my old Blackmagic Cinema Camera 2.5K EF I purchased in 2013, plus some heavy lifting by the DVX200 and 6D, I felt it was time for a change.

Considering all the types of digital video work I do, I am in need of a Swiss Army knife: a camera that can be used both for ENG and film-style work. A camera that feels just at home with a servo-zoom broadcast lens or a fast cine prime. A camera that can give me UHD at 4:2:2 10-bit with an Intra-frame codec at reasonable Mbps rates, but also give me an option for DCI 4K raw if I need it at a later time. A camera that works right out of the box without a lot of rigging. Plus, I do not want to be handicapped by a miniscule option of lens mounts.

I decided on the Sony PXW-FS7M2.

Here’s why.

The main reason is the Lever Locking E-mount. That versatile mount sits in front of the same Super 35 sensor used in the F5 CineAlta, but in the more compact body of an enhanced FS7.

Second reason is the incredible electronic ND with stepless intensity from two to seven stops of light reduction without perceptable color shifts or other degradation.

Third reason is as much as I’d enjoy an EVA1, by the time I’ve purchased other bits to rig it up to the out-of-the-box level of an FS7, I might as well have purchased an FS7. Also, I feel the price difference between the FS7 and FS7M2, given that both items from the first two reasons above are both exclusively for the FS7M2, is a justifiable price for a worthwhile upgrade.

Also, I believe the FS7M2 will provide a suitable platform for ‘future-proofing,’ including further customization and expansion such as cinema rigging, various lens mount adapters, monitoring, brick battery system integration, power and signal distribution systems, wireless video taps, and other modifications, all of which may be securely bolted into the system so it behaves as an integrated unit rather than a DIY ‘frankenrig’.

Though I have long been vocal of my dislike for “Sony colors”, the FS7-series’ CineEI mode and the ability to view or bake in LUTs, has changed my mind. Even the classic Custom mode with it’s SLOG options and matrix flexibility have won me over in recent tests with the fully upgraded mark one FS7, particularly tweaks to match color between FS7 and Arri Amira. I believe FS7M2 is clearly a tool that is only as good as the human using it. I always look forward to using a tool that works just as hard as I do.

I intend to purchase my Sony PXW-FS7M2 next week in Austin. Did someone say ‘roadtrip?’

By Jason R. Johnston

Jason is an award-winning cinematographer, and director of commercials, branding films, native content, music videos, documentaries, and narrative films. As a full-time freelancer, he can be hired to DP or direct almost any project you have in mind. He is based in Sparta, Tennessee, and ready to travel for any gig.

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