‘Don’t just shoot what you see’… how to get the best from the Sony FS7

Thu 6 Jun 2019 | Working in TV - tips & tricks | 2 comments

Nine times out of ten, when a company asks us here at Talented People to find them a great PD, they need to be a strong self-shooter. Nine times out of ten, when we ask what camera they’re using, it’s an FS7. So how and why has this particular camera become the go-to favourite in unscripted over the C300, or indeed anything else? We asked exactly that to the talented Jeremy Humphries, award winning DOP and camera trainer from Skills2Film…

An immersive experience. That’s what Sony called the FS7 when it came out. For me that means we have a camera that can record colour, contrast and detail in a way that starts to emulate what we can see with the human eye… just! With the added appeal of shallow depth of field. As I teach on my workshops, the ability to provide focus on one point of interest in our frame, means that up to 80% of our audience’s attention goes to what is in focus as opposed to what isn’t.

But there’s no such thing as a free lunch of course! It’s an amazing camera, but if we are not careful, back comes footage that is soft (to editors with heads in hands). And it is perhaps the most menu-driven camera I have known. Set up the User menu incorrectly – or not at all – and pay the price! And that’s all before we talk about choice of lenses…

I have this saying: ‘Just don’t film what you see, but film how you feel.’ Because I film instinctively, yes I get the shots the editor needs, but I also film what feels right in my gut. When I filmed Harry Patch – the last survivor of World War One – going back to Passchendaele, I was alone with him, filming, as he sat in a wheelchair on a bitterly cold February day at the very spot where his machine gunner mates had died next to him 90 years before. I filmed his face of course, but also his hands as they shook… And with this ergonomic camera sitting snugly on my shoulder, with the buttons set up correctly, the Expanded Focus button at my fingertips, and a Prime Lens on the front utilising the 4K sensor to its full, I have a camera that is truly immersive – allowing the viewer to feel what I’m feeling right there in that moment.

The FS7 is certainly the industry darling right now. I’ve noticed a wonderfully diverse range of people and levels using it. It may be a coincidence but I train more women than men, but whatever the gender or experience level, I advocate that the FS7 is the camera where you provide inspiration and button pressing, and the camera will do the work for you.

I am lucky to be a Sony certified trainer. I know how hard they have worked to get this camera right. I joke that it feels like an extension of me – it’s my brush and palette. Trained how to use it properly, you too can prove to be an artist. It wants you to be.

Jeremy Humphries runs Skills2Film. He teaches regular Sony FS7 Workshops throughout the year. For more details, and to book, visit https://www.yourskills2film.com/downloads/ 

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