FS7: Canon c300 guy here, can you school me on the FS6,7,9 options?

Lkorver

New member
Been with the c300 series for almost a decade now, currently own the mk2 and mk3. I have director I've never worked with who wants to avoid the c300's and is asking what I think about the Sony FS options. The shoot is going to be with a very lean crew (often just myself and the director). It's a run and gun documentary following the life and training of an Olympic wrestler. We want to make things "beautiful and cinematic" but will often have little control of our subject, lighting, etc. This is sort of my bread and butter and the c300's have served me well in this space.
I'm researching all this myself, but figured i'd find some great insight here as well:

What the key advantages and limitations of the FS series?
What thing do you think the Sony's do better or worse than the Canon's?
What issues/limitations might have have running EF lenses with the Sony body + Metabones?
What are the must have accessories for these cameras, I hear the grip and EVF aren't the best.
Which camera would you prefer in the run and gun setting? I like the size/weight and the frame rate options of the FS6, but does is it cleared for Netflix?

Thanks in advance!
 
I own the FS7 and it's great for run n' gun work. Better than the Canon C series IMO because they're built for the shoulder. The only mods I did were to swap out the stock grip for the Shape extension handle and I replaced the EVF rod with a longer one (8 inch) which puts the center of gravity further back. The key advantage of the C series cams to the FS7 is autofocus, which is a non-issue with the FX6. Both the FX6 and FS7 are Netflix approved...
 
I own the FS7 and it's great for run n' gun work. Better than the Canon C series IMO because they're built for the shoulder.

This is all great info, thank you! i'll be shooting with it from the chest/hip, like I do with the c300s, so maybe the Fs6 is best? Does the Fs6 look like a cheap camera, I wonder if certain clients/directors will underestimate its capabilities?
 
I think the FX9 is (like the FS7) too big and heavy for solo shooting long hours. The FX6 is a camera you can manage without crew.

Put it together with the 28-135 and you have a highly competent, if a little short on art, kit. Get a 50 1.8 to add that art.
 
Get the FX6.

Use your Canon EF zooms. Metabones EF to e adapter will live on the camera. Shoot in s35, not FF.

Wear a belt with 2 lens pouches on it, the rigid type pouches, not the floppy ones. While running & gunning you will work between 3 lenses. Two in pouches on your lens-belt, the third on the camera. Work without any lens front-caps or back-caps. They slow things down. As far as which 3 lenses, depends on what you own already or are willing to buy. Canon 16-35, 24-70, 70-200 is one possibility. Although the 70-200mm is a bit large for carrying on a lens belt. If you are willing to give up the length of the 70-200mm you could go 16-35, 24-70 alone or with a superwide prime that you use for big establishing shots or for poor-man’s Steadi / Movi walking shots. Say, following a walking subject around or back-peddling ahead of your subject as they travel from place to place.

Adjust the lens selection according to what can be anticipated. If your athlete is running laps you’ll want to be on the 70-200, on a tripod. If you are riding in a vehicle with the subject when they go to the store, you go with the wider selection of lenses. ( but have the 70-200mm handy when possible, in a backpack with your spare batteries. )

This is the way I shot for the Showtime sports documentary about basketball player Bed Simmons. All of the work was on Sony Fs7:




If you want to take advantage of the FX6’s AF, you’ll need to spend $10k for Sony G zooms. You’ll have more fun manually focusing, however. And the product will likely benefit from NOT being shot with AF. The camera-work will be more expressive and organic feeling with MF. Intentional blips out of focus and other creative techniques that don’t happen when one falls into relying on AF a lot. AF detaches you further from the camera / process, in my experience.
 
Get the FX6. Use your Canon EF zooms. Metabones EF to e adapter will live on the camera. Shoot in s35, not FF.

Thanks JP, great info. Did you need any other accessories for the fs6. did you use an EVF or any aftermarket grips/arms? (i'm not shooting shoulder btw)
 
JP has great suggestions but just be aware that S35 on the FX6 is HD only. If you need 4K it's only available in FF. You can use Clear Image Zoom to "crop" your sensor in FF mode enough to use S35 lenses, but you lose some functions doing that (most notably, Face AF).
 
JP has great suggestions but just be aware that S35 on the FX6 is HD only. If you need 4K it's only available in FF. You can use Clear Image Zoom to "crop" your sensor in FF mode enough to use S35 lenses, but you lose some functions doing that (most notably, Face AF).

Would I only have AF when using Sony lenses?
 
You could have AF with adapters, but on a scale of 1-10 the performance would be a 1 compared to a 10 with Sony's native lenses (or many other E-mount lenses).

Beautiful features like eye-AF or any kind of tracking, forget about it.

___

It is bizarre the C300 Mark III is even being questioned.

It's not the camera for me and I couldn't care less about it, but it's still one of the best cameras in the world.
 
Would I only have AF when using Sony lenses?

You can get AF with non-Sony lenses. It really will depend on the lens though. I've used the Sigma 100-400mm and 150-600mm (EF mounts) and the AF wasn't bad. It's not a 10 (like with Sony lenses) but it's not a 1, either.

For reliable AF and a good range (at a very reasonable price) the Sony 24-105 is great. Manual focusing isn't ideal and it lacks an aperture ring, but for the price and performance it's a perfect "all-rounder."

EDIT: also, AF will tend to be noisier with non-Sony lenses. That may not matter to you, but it's good to be aware of it.
 
I forgot that s35 on FX6 is HD only.

We used Fs7 on that doc, s35 4k.

The Sony 24-138 is “slow”, f/4. It is also physically large-ish. I’d likely take a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 over the Sony 28-135mm. For the smaller physical size and the faster max aperture. The 24-138 is an odd lens. Focus on it is weird. I much prefer riding focus with Canon EF lenses than with the 24-138mm. I have owned the 28-135 since 2017, used it less than a handful of times. One reason I do not use the 24-138mm for run & Gun shooting is that it is too large in diameter to easily carry in a lens-pouch. Quick-draw, being able to swap lenses in 3 seconds or less, is crucial when not on a zoom that covers wide to tele. With doc-style things happen so fast. A rapid lens swap could mean catching a key moment that you would have missed had the lens swap taken 1 second longer than it did.



Even if you go with the FX6, I would not let AF compatibility influence lens selection. I’d shoot manual focus for most everything. When you go AF focus is no longer a stylistic tool. And you are more detached from the shooting / subject. Something about manually riding focus connects you to the subject, you are following their every lean, you learn their habits in movement, you are paying attention to such things where with AF you are less cued in on such things or not cued in at all. Focus is a tool in your creative arsenal. Think hard before surrendering it to automation. If you are trying to hold focus on an athletic event, sure, go to AF. But don’t surrender to it completely, is my advice. I’d rather footage with style that misses focus once in a while than vanilla footage where focus is always spot-on.

Even with ability to use higher ISO’s without image degradation, that f/4 Sony 28-135mm is going to frustrate you in low-light situations. It will be “twice as dark” as a f/2.8 lens. I shot at night last week with a Canon 24-70 f/2.8 and I was wanting for more light. Aesthetically, just about all f/4 lenses are “meh” anyway. On that doc, on Canon L glass, I was almost always trying to be at f/2.8, using internal ND and / or ND in front of the lens.

I do not recall if you said the director wants FF or is okay with s35. That is a big factor in camera choice. If you are going to shoot in s35 and are not wed to AF, you could just buy a pre-owned Fs7 for less than the price of a new FX6. That said, I’d likely find a new camera more attractive than an older model that is pre-owned. Unboxing a used camera just isn’t as fun as unboxing a new camera!

Don’t fall into thinking that whatever you buy for this doc is your forever camera. You could buy the FX6, use it for the doc, sell it after the doc is done and you are only out the difference between what you paid and what you can sell it for. If that is, say, $1000, then you just rented an FX6 for several months for only $1000.

The image below is roughly how I configured my Fs7 on that documentary, fitted for shooting from the shoulder if desired, but I also regularly shoot with it cradled under my right arm, camera body against my ribs, eyepiece used pointing straight up and adding another point of contact for stability:

[ I’ll have to upload from my laptop, later. Trying it from iPhone I always get the “invalid file” message. ]
 
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^ How do you keep dust off of your lenses when you're swapping them holster style without the caps? I keep them capped and obsessively blow off my lenses and I still get the occasional speck on them...
 
You can get AF with non-Sony lenses. It really will depend on the lens though. I've used the Sigma 100-400mm and 150-600mm (EF mounts) and the AF wasn't bad. It's not a 10 (like with Sony lenses) but it's not a 1, either.

For reliable AF and a good range (at a very reasonable price) the Sony 24-105 is great. Manual focusing isn't ideal and it lacks an aperture ring, but for the price and performance it's a perfect "all-rounder."

EDIT: also, AF will tend to be noisier with non-Sony lenses. That may not matter to you, but it's good to be aware of it.

Agreed, it's a lot better than the the Canon equivalent.
 
One other thing to note: f/4 is indeed not very fast, but the FX6 (and FX9) are *vastly* superior in low-light than the previous FS series of cameras (FS7 and Fs5). Also the DOF of an f/4 on a FF sensor will be roughly equivalent to that of an f/2.8 on a S35 sensor.

I would like another stop (and it's a good idea to have a fast prime or two), but in all but the darkest situations f/4 can get the job done with the FX6 (on doc work, at least, where the tolerance for noise is generally higher).
 
drboffa;1986865115[I said:
]One other thing to note: f/4 is indeed not very fast, but the FX6 (and FX9) are *vastly* superior in low-light than the previous FS series of cameras (FS7 and Fs5). Also the DOF of an f/4 on a FF sensor will be roughly equivalent to that of an f/2.8 on a S35 sensor.
I would like another stop (and it's a good idea to have a fast prime or two), but in all but the darkest situations f/4 can get the job done with the FX6 (on doc work, at least, where the tolerance for noise is generally higher).

I agree.
Sadly using your Canon lenses is a waste of the AF capabilities of the Sony's. The only non Sony lenses i know that work well with Sony AF are the sigmas and they are very good. The 28-135 is a beast and the only advantage to using it over the small and pleasant 24-105 is that its parfocdal. I like for events, meetings etc nwhere its important to be parfocalk but its not fun to carry or shoot with. For doc work i think that's very important. The way you want to hold the camera, I think you'll hate the 28-135. The Sony f4 16-35 is a great companion to the 24-105 and a very fun lens. But if you think you will be indoors at night unlit, often you still might want one more stop with the Sigma 24-70 f2.8 with an FX9 in Slog. i don't know if the FX6 is faster or not. F4 is still pretty good with these cameras though. Also on a doc i'd rather be in focus at f4 than impress with a marginally extra stop of boka. Those AF lenses are a dream with the new Sony cameras.
 
^ Tamron lenses have excellent AF with Sony cams. Sony owns a piece of Tamron, so they share tech. I own the Tamron 28-75 and the AF is excellent on my A7SIII.
 
^ Tamron lenses have excellent AF with Sony cams. Sony owns a piece of Tamron, so they share tech. I own the Tamron 28-75 and the AF is excellent on my A7SIII.

Ah, that explains why my Tamron 70-300 does so well :smile:

That said, my expectations for AF were set pretty low with my previous A cam, the Fs5 (which actually wasn't atrocious in Face mode).
 
^ How do you keep dust off of your lenses when you're swapping them holster style without the caps?

I took a Camera Assistant course years ago, at the Maine Workshops. The instructor was Doug Hart, sort of a legend among camera assistants, author of The Camera Assistant’s Handbook. I recall being taken aback when Hart talked about over-cleaning lenses, saying we should clean as little as possible. What?? I had it in my mind that Hollywood AC’s were meticulously thorough and would never allow there to be dust on a lens. I mean, they all have those cool cans of air, with the fancy chrome trigger attachment. And bulb-blowers, and Rosco lens tissue and that expensive Panchro lens cleaning fluid. But here was Camera Assistant royalty, THE Doug Hart, instructing us not to clean. Or rather, to clean less. Hart’s reasoning was that in his experience obsessive cleaning of the front element can damage the coatings on the from element, particularly with lenses that were made prior to more modern era coatings that are more durable. Damage to the coating was far more debilitating to the image than dust. So if the dust was minimal and the aperture & focal length were where the dust would never show, he’d let the dust be if it could not be removed with a shot of air. He didn’t want to be cleaning with physical contact on the element many times during each day’s shooting because it all adds up over time and can result in the coating being worn away, even when done expertly and with the very best tools.

So, as to your question, I don’t keep dust off the lenses when going sans caps. But getting shots is higher priority than clean lenses. And dust has to be pretty bad before it significantly degraded the image, due to refraction.

I once saw a video where a test was performed wherein a piece of black paper-tape roughly the size of a pea was placed on the front element of a zoom lens. At wide apertures you couldn’t see the piece of tape in the images, particularly at longer focal lengths. It was sorta mind-bending, this light-bending. I’ve played around with the phenomena myself, placing a black light-stand column vertically in front of the lens, roughly a foot away. At wide aperture and longer focal length it was very difficult to see the light stand in the image, even though the stand was running right through the middle of the light path. The light bent around it, making it near “invisible”.

Here is a video where they demonstrate how dust does not show in the image. Or rather, does not significantly show under certain conditions that are common conditions, wide ap & long lens:

https://petapixel.com/2020/06/18/testing-the-impact-of-scratches-dust-and-finger-prints-on-image-quality/

And from another source:

“ Clean your lens as little as possible

Remember, your equipment will get a little dirty sometimes, but if you’re constantly keeping up with every spec of dust, you can end up doing more damage than what was there to begin with.

Your camera lens is very sensitive, so only clean it, if it’s a must.”

https://www.studiobinder.com/blog/how-to-clean-camera-lens/
 
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