Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video Recording movies in-camera, part of Learning to Shoot with the Sony Alpha a7 Series.
- Recording video with the Sony a7S is very straightforward, as you've been learning. In fact, with that dedicated button right on the side, it's obvious that they intend for this to be a perfectly capable video camera. Push that button in any record mode, and it will actually start to write video. So it doesn't matter what shooting mode you're in. Video is just one push away. But I can't recommend strongly enough, switch to that dedicated movie mode that we've talked about now. Turn the command dial to movie, and you will get the most control over settings.
When you press record, the camera will automatically use the previous settings. Now in this case, the apeture is not being read, because I am using a manual aperture control lens that allows me to adjust the aperture physically on the lens itself. But the shutter speed is controlled by the camera. And in this case, at 1/200 of a second, that's not ideal. So let's change that shutter speed to something more natural for video. I should be at 1/50 here.
And you see that we're a bit overexposed. So let's adjust the ISO sensitivity... and take that down. There we go. It's looking good. We have a properly exposed video shot. In fact, it's reading a third of a stop underexposed, but I like this slightly darker shot. So the black in the background falls off, and the colors are nice and rich. You notice that I was able to make adjustments to the settings while it recorded. So if you do find yourself needing to make a last-minute change, you can do that.
Now, I'm gonna switch to a auto-focus type lens. My camera is powered down. (camera clicks) And now that we power back up, I'll just adjust the aperture slightly... so we're not so overexposed. There we go. Back to 1/3 stop under. The camera in movie mode is automatically gonna focus on the foreground subject or whatever is most dominant.
If you press the shutter button down halfway, it will attempt to refocus the camera, if you want to manually engage the autofocus. To record, just hit the record button. And even while recording, you can still tap that button to have it refocus the camera. Just keep in mind it creates a little bit of on-camera movement, so don't do it in the middle of something like a video interview. Do it in between questions. While recording, the focus box essentially seems to disappear. Now, we could change the display modes here as well.
So if we don't want all of these overlays, pushing the display button will button will cycle modes to a more minimal mode... or one with a histogram and audio overlays, getting the just exposure information and audio information, as well as the record time. So, three different modes to choose from. Pick the one that works best for you. I prefer to work with this one, where I'm not distracted by a lot of additional elements. Look in the bottom of the display. You should see a red record icon and the duration of the video clip, in minutes and seconds, in the lower left corner.
Generally speaking, it's best to record movies in shorter bursts. The continuous record time of a movie will depend on a lot of factors, including the ambient temperature of the shooting environment, as well as how hot the camera's gotten. If the camera starts to overheat, it's gonna stop recording. And of course, you're gonna be limited by how much record space you have on your memory card. Now, if the camera gets too hot, you might see a warning icon up here. And in this case, you need to shut down the camera and let it cool off. This is not a common problem, but if you've go the camera out in direct sunlight or you're letting it record for a very extended period of time, it is possible to overheat.
And in that case, the camera's gonna want to shut down, to prevent any damage. Now, if you are relatively new to shooting video, stick with the autofocus features. They work pretty well on the camera. And what's gonna happen is is that the camera will use continuous autofocus during video recording. This allows it to follow the subject around, and if they move slightly, the camera can adjust. Or if you recompose the frame, it adjust. But there can be problems if somebody leaves or enters the frame. Let me show you. Let me stop recording here for a second.
And I'll make a fresh clip. And in this case... you see that we're on autofocus-continuous. Well, our choices on this series' camera are continuous and manual focus. So, let's start with continuous. As we make slight changes or recompose the shot, it's still focusing on the dominant subject. But if I go to autofocus, it could trigger that as a problem. You could push the top custom button and actually move that focus box, to position it where you want, and then reengage a new autofocus.
So the ability to move the focus box is quite handy. But with that continuous autofocus, if something were to come into the frame, it might try to refocus the camera. See there how it racks in and focuses on my hand. And then that moves, and now it's got to readjust for the background. And then, let's say something came walking through the frame and passed in front of my camera. Well, it's confused for a bit, and then it needs to adjust again. Relatively speaking, compared to autofocus controls in the past, this is much better than most.
It's relatively smooth with how it transitioned, but you still don't necessarily want the camera autofocusing on something that becomes the new dominant foreground object. Or it picking what it focuses on. Make sure you consider using that manual focus method that's built into the camera, to precisely control. In this case, you could use the manual focus option or the direct manual focus option, as well as options like focus peaking that we discussed earlier. Let me show you how to switch. I'll press that function button and change my focus mode to manual focus.
Now, I can use that lens and adjust my focus controls. Remember, if you do leave it in autofocus, you can use that half-press of the shutter button to trigger it. Or you can go with a pure, manual focus method. But I recommend that you don't rely upon the screens on the back of the camera. Instead, plug into a larger monitor with your HDMI cable. While I discourage chipping, the process of constantly checking to see what you got when shooting stills, I actually change my opinion for video.
I recommend after you roll a long shot that it's a good idea to check it back. Look at the clip. Is it the duration that you expected? Does it seem okay? Because we've got great playback controls, you could easily skip through the clip and spot-check parts of it. And we'll learn more about that in just a moment.
- Taking shots in auto mode
- Using the in-camera guide
- Using lens controls and zoom
- Changing image size and quality
- Changing ISO in programmed auto mode
- Exploring autofocus
- Shooting in continuous (burst) mode
- Switching exposure modes
- Shooting with an external flash
- Recording video
- Remote controlling and tethering your a7 camera via Wi-Fi