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Sony PXW-FS7 Goes Offroad

Sony, Sydney, 29 November 2016: Recently freelance producer, camera operator, editor and owner of New Life Media Shaun Walker was tasked with finding a camera to shoot segments for popular outdoor lifestyle programme The Offroad Adventure Show. After a period of evaluation and assessment Walker chose the Sony PXW-FS7.
Here Walker explains why, “I was initially looking at purchasing the Sony FS5 for shooting the fishing and adventure segments for The Offroad Adventure Show because I shoot in a lot of different and challenging environments. For the fishing segments I shoot in various types of boats, from small tinnies to large charter vessels and in all sorts of weather conditions such as rain, snow and tropical heat. With my adventure shoots I have shot off the back of jet skis and snowmobiles, in bi-planes, while abseiling and zip lining and caving. I also would often be required to trek fair distances to get to our locations. For the first two seasons of our show I shot on a Sony PMW-160 and the form factor of the smaller handycam meant it was easy for me to move around small boats or shoot while hurtling over the jungle canopy on a zip-line, as well as carry the camera and the other equipment I needed for the shoots. For this reason I felt that perhaps the smaller FS5 would suit my purposes perfectly but one of my peers thought otherwise.”
In fact it was one of Walker’s colleagues that encouraged him to explore the FS7 as he continued, “The other cameraman who shoots the 4WD segments on our show was shooting on an FS7 and I was really impressed with the images he was getting, so when we were asked to shoot a corporate video for one of our show’s sponsors I decided I would hire an FS7 kit from Videocraft and put the camera through its paces to see if I could throw the camera around as easily as I could the smaller handycams. In truth I was very impressed. The larger size was actually a help rather than a hinderance because I was able to get far steadier shots handheld than I could achieve with the smaller handycams. After that commercial shoot I decided that rather than getting an FS5 I needed to buy an FS7 instead. Having shot with the FS7 for the entirety of Season 3 of our show I am so happy that I made that decision. The images from the FS7 are simply stunning.”
The majority of what Walker shoots for The Offroad Adventure Show is handheld, so the FS7 having the centre of gravity on his shoulder rather than at his elbow meant that he could comfortably shoot for longer periods.
He added, “The hand grip on the FS7’s extension handle also means that it is much more comfortable shooting handheld for long periods of time. When shooting fishing the ‘money shot’ is capturing the moment a fish is hooked, so I need to have the camera on my shoulder and framed up for long periods of time before I actually button on and start recording. This means comfort is extremely important, especially on a day long shoot.”
Walker’s decision to purchase and use an FS7 has led to comments from clients and colleagues that surpassed even his own expectation of what the camera could achieve.
He continued, “The feedback over the image quality of the FS7 has been extremely positive. The larger sensor in the camera, coupled with my Metabones adaptor and DSLR lenses gives me that shallow depth of field that I was missing in the other cameras I was using and now gives our show a more filmic look compared to previous seasons.
As I mentioned earlier, when shooting fishing it is vitally important that I capture the moment a fish is hooked, and this is where the picture cache record function of the FS7 is a real lifesaver. I set my cache record to 6-8 seconds, which means that I never miss a hook-up. The nature of fishing is that it may be some time between fish, so if I want to get the shot of the fish being hooked I need to be ready and recording instantly. The beauty of the cache record is that even if I am not ready the camera is.”
Walker’s use of the FS7’s functionality doesn’t stop there as he added, “The other thing I love about the FS7 is the slow motion function. I have been able to capture incredible 150fps slow motion footage of our host fly-casting. The slo-mo function is also vital for the Adventure activities I shoot. Every episode has an adventure segment, from jet skiing, to zip-lining, sand boarding and surfing, and having the ability to slip into slo-mo mode to capture the action sets the FS7 apart from many other cameras. That leads me on to the ability to be able to shoot in 4K, which is a Godsend. I use a Canon 24-105 lens as my main lens, and because I am always shooting hand-held I don’t have the ability to use my longer 70-200 lens to get close shots of the fish as they are being reeled in. So shooting in 4K allows me to be able to zoom in in the edit so I can get that closer shot while the fish is in the water.”
For Walker on The Offroad Adventure Show a typical fishing shoot starts with establishing shots of the crew arriving at the location, meeting their guides and heading off to their location.
Walker continued, “I will shoot our host, Steve Starling, setting up his rig then various overlay shots of our location. Once the lines are in the water I set myself up so that I am able to capture the hook ups by utilising the cache record function. Once a fish is hooked I will capture the action, then Steve will do a piece to camera with the fish in his hands. I will then shoot close ups of the fish, paying attention to any features that Steve has pointed out such as how what type of lure he used or the fish’s sharp teeth or colouring. This is where the shallow depth of field makes a huge difference compared to our previous series. I shoot in many and varied environments for our show. One week I will be shooting in snow blizzards, and the next week I will be on a tropical beach on Cape York. The FS7 is remarkably resilient to adverse conditions. The camera has never missed a beat, despite weathering sand storms, sea spray and torrential rain. Of course I always use a wet weather cover whenever I need to, but regardless of what conditions I am shooting in the FS7 always comes out unscathed.”
For Walker the fact that he has shot with most cameras available today means his decision to purchase the FS7 as his main camera was validated through experience as he explained, “The FS7 is in my opinion one of the best cameras out there. I shoot on pretty much all cine cameras, various XDCAM and other broadcast cameras and I would say that the FS7 compares more than favourably with all of them and as far as form factor is concerned, I believe that the FS7 beats most of them. The FS7 gives me the ability to capture incredible images as they happen in front of me. Unlike many shooting situations where the operator has the ability to capture several takes, if I don’t get the shot the first time then the story may not be able to be completed. Initially I was concerned that the FS7 wouldn’t be able to achieve this, but I have not had any issues at all in capturing everything in front of me. Using DSLR lenses means that when I adjust the aperture the exposure noticeably steps, but this is where shooting in S-log3/Cine EI is a Godsend. With the 14 stops of dynamic range I can easily adjust exposure in the edit if need be, without having to stop up or down when I’m shooting and getting that noticeable exposure change.”
Whether in extreme weather or in more moderate conditions Walker says his FS7, so far, hasn’t let him down and as far as he can see it doesn’t look likely to as he concluded, “The FS7 performs incredibly in all environments. The completed segments look lush and cinematic and even after just a few episodes of season 3 having aired people are already saying that our show has stepped up a gear compared to previous seasons. I’m delighted to say the FS7 is a major part of this increase in production quality.”
Sony has just announced an upgrade to the FS7, the new FS7 II which will available from January 2017 onwards. For more information about Sony’s professional camcorders, please click here.
About Sony: With a diverse portfolio of businesses across electronics, music, film, gaming and telecommunications, Sony is uniquely positioned to be the world’s largest technology and entertainment company. Sony Australia Limited and Sony New Zealand Limited are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Sony Corporation of Japan, a leading manufacturer of audio, video, communications and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. Committed to producing innovative and quality electronic products, the range includes BRAVIA TVs, Cyber-shot digital cameras, Handycam camcorders, α digital SLR cameras and Walkman MP3 players as well as professional broadcast and production equipment. For more information on Sony, visit www.sony.co.nz

Product Information: For further Sony professional and broadcast and production product information or stockist details, readers can contact Sony New Zealand on 09 488 6188 or visit pro.sony.co.nz

Top image: Shaun Walker shooting The Offroad Adventure Show with his new Sony PXW-FS7.

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