A Different Kit for the Day...Well Night

Ever been on a paid shoot and had to use a completely new camera system and a manual lens for the first time?

That was me about a nine months ago. At the beginning of August, I was hired for the day to be the stills photographer for a short film a friend was producing called 096 (watch it here). It was mostly a night shoot in the middle of the woods on a farm in Washington County so the only light we were going to have was within buildings and the light brought in.

I came in with my kit, a trusty 60D that has been my main camera for 6 years and new Fujifilm X-T3 and while those worked while it was light, the film shot straight into the night, ending around 2:30 a.m. and that wasn't going to work. That was the point I discovered the problem with my current kit. Luckily, the producer's had rented a Sony A7s from Resolution Rentals and I can honestly say it saved my shoot.

Wardrobe discussion on a farm in the woods on 096

A wardrobe discussion regarding one of the actors between one of the producers, Alex Cassun, and the wardrobe specialist, Danielle Volkar, taken during the day. Shot on a Canon 60D.

Director Klay Abele and actors behind the scenes of 096 late at night. Shot on a Sony A7s.

While I used my Canon and Fujifilm quite a lot as the shoot slid into night, once it was dark, without the Sony I would have been at a lost because the light was so sparse. Once I switched, there were a hurdles to overcome: using an entirely new camera system and being restricted to a manual focus 85 mm lenses on a completely new to me camera.

I'm mainly use zoom lenses and autofocus just due to nature of how things move on set. To have to switch to the complete opposite in the moment was quite a shock, but one that I quickly go under control. The only tech mistake I made on the shoot was shooting in a small sized jpeg on the Sony for the beginning part of the shoot. I actually found that I really enjoyed shooting manually and with the Sony, which feels a bit counterproductive when shooting behind the scene in a fast paced work environment. And Sony's focus peaking was honestly was made it enjoyable as someone who wears glasses. Without the focus peaking, I wouldn't have felt at all comfortable shooting on a new camera system because having worn glasses all my life I can't completely trust the clarity of what I see in camera.

The result of using the Sony a7s for the first time created some of my favorite photos I've ever taken. And while I won't be purchasing a Sony right now, because I'm already embedded into two other camera systems. It is one that I'll definitely consider renting for particular shoots. It was just so easy to pick up and use I was honestly amazed.

Watch 096 Now