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A Great Secondary Camera Option for Video

pictured: Sony NEX-5

The Sony NEX camera’s are great secondary camera options for still shooters getting into video. I have been using a Sony NEX-5N  for about a month now for my documentary film The Board Of Education and it has been a great companion to our $5K Sony FS100. The size alone makes it ultra portable, and it actually fits into a normal sized pocket or easily in cargo pants. It has an APS-C sized sensor and the ability to shoot RAW, both of which are great features for this small camera. I took it with me on a recent trip to Washington DC as our only back up camera system. This felt like a big risk for me as I always bring along my Canon 5D MKII. This was the first time we did not bring the 5D MKII, and honestly, I did not miss it one bit.

As far as lenses go, I picked up a used 16mm f2.8 Sony E-Mount lens and typically keep that on the camera. For the video clip above, I used an older Contax 28-70mm f3.5 zoom lens. Although the Sony NEX cameras have Auto-focus in video mode, and that may work some of the time for you, I would not rely on it for moving shots. A good manual focus lens gives you more precision and control. I recommend checking out the older used Contax prime lenses, and purchasing a Contax to Sony E-Mount adapter. In the case of my recent shoot, tripods were not allowed so I used the tripod bag for stability (see photo below) and shot with the Contax 28-70mm f3.5 at 60P, 1920 X 1080, at 28mm, f3.5, and ISO 800. The image held up quite well and the motion of the cars in the background are as smooth as butter.

The Sony NEX (5N) is a truly multi-use camera with features like AF in video mode, full 1920 X 1080 HD at 60P, and a huge APS-C sensor. All of these features in such a small package for under a thousand bucks makes this a great “Director’s” camera. It will also serve the still photographer who is now forced to shoot “a little” video for every still session (if you are not already doing this, then you should be). Behind the scenes footage is a great way to add value to your customers and a very effective way to promote your work and yourself. I also highly recommend getting some type of additional separate system to use for video because trying to switch back and forth during a shoot can be maddening.

Contributor Bio: Jared Abrams is a filmmaker based in Hollywood, California. When he is not out in the field, he writes daily for various websites and blogs. He has worked on many projects including The Sopranos, House of 1000 Corpses, Planet of The Apes, and The Mothman Prophecies. He has worked with Director’s such as Martin Scorsese, Tim Burton, Spike Lee, Errol Morris and Albert Maysles. He is also the main force behind the production and design company Wide Open Camera.

P.S.- Jared is currently working on the documentary film The Board of Education, and it’s currently being funded on Kickstarter. You can find all the information here:


One comment

  1. Footage looks great Jared!

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