Investing in the New Sony FS100 – NH Video Production

Investing in the New Sony FS100 – NH Video Production

Recently we made an enormous investment in the company, purchasing a new Sony FS100 Professional super 35 video camera.  For the last 4 or so years, we have been production our video production and commercial projects using Canon DSLR’s, and while we love the look of the camera, the amount of video work that we have has made it essential that we move forward and purchase a proper video camera.  We chose the Sony FS100 over the Canon C100 for several reasons, the most important being:

  • Price
  • Slow motion
  • meta bones rebate

As a small business, price is always the first thing we look at when making any investment in the company.  When the FS100 first came out, it was priced far out of our budget range, so we went with the Canon 5dmk3, and this also allowed us to utilize the beautiful full frame sensor for food photography and the fps for ski photography.  It was the perfect all in one camera for a little video production company like Earl Studios.  But using the camera on several professional video shoots we could see where the camera was falling short as our dedicated video camera.  Audio was a nightmare with no xlr inputs, the codec and down sampling of the image made grading and post production difficult.  Ergonomically, the camera was a challenge at times to rig up and shoot with.  Plus, people would ALWAYS ask me to “take their picture” and I had to inform them, to the point where I had it put on a t-shirt, that I was shooting video!

About a year ago, we saw the price come down slowly on the Sony FS100, so we watched the price and our budget until somewhere they met in the middle.  The current rebate included a Metabones adaptor which would allow us to use our Canon glass on the camera which was essential.  Around this time I attended the Alex Buno seminar on filmmaking, and he spoke in great detail to the benefits of using the C100 with an external recorder to achieve the same image as the Canon C300, a camera used with great results by him and some of my other clients when on large scale shoots.  So we researched the Canon C100, but it was always 2 things that kept me from committing to that camera, Price and the lack of a 60p option.  A great deal of my work relies on slow motion for effect and storytelling, and without it I don’t think I could achieve similar results and the identity of my work would suffer.  Then there is the price, about $6000, and the added kick that all sales on the Canon C100 are final, so if I got it, went out and shot with it and hated it, i was stuck with it.

So last month, after a whirlwind of video production projects, we made the decision to save our pennies and do our best to purchase the Sony FS100 before the metabones rebate ended at the end of March, and now here we are.

Sony FS100 on location, Earl Studios NH Video Production

Sony FS100 on location, Earl Studios NH Video Production

My first impressions of shooting with the FS100 are mostly outstanding, with some subtle changes I need to make in my shooting style coming from the world of the DSLR.  Small things like being able to adjust iso quickly, common white balance settings, and adjusting f stop while rolling are all things I developed as a habit from filming with the 5dmk3.  But those pale in comparison to the benefits of the FS100.

Audio

Anyone coming from the world of HD DSLR’s will understand the hell that is audio synching.  Capturing audio requires a zoom h4n, and you have to pack and prepare for this, as well as ensuring that its rolling all the time.  I’ve had a couple of shoots where I had to fib an excuse to restart the scene because the audio recorder wasn’t’ rolling.  Now with the FS100 we have the 2 xlr inputs, and audio is captured in camera.  This alone reduced the prep needed to roll extensively.

Image Quality

The picture from the Sony FS100 is just beautiful.  Gone is the banding, aliasing, moire and other image quality issues I used to have to deal with when trying to do anything in post with the footage we shot for our video production clients.  Creatively, we always performed at the level of much higher Boston based video production agencies, but now we can compete on a image quality level as well.

1080p Slow Motion

I make no excuses for my love of slow mo.  I use it extensively and esthetically its a tool in film making that I utilize often.  My 5dmk3 has slo mo at 720p which is great, the C100 offers no REAL slow mo (interlaced is not real :-)), and so to have full HD in 60p on the FS100 was an absolute plus.  The majority of the time we are exporting at 720p, so to be able to shoot at 1080p for overscan and still have the ability to do slow motion is a huge benefit to the video work we do.  We’ve tried the super slow motion, and while it impressed my kids with slow motion shots of eggs hitting the floor and Prof. Peepers flying through the air, its not at the quality we could see using for our commercial video clients.  But we’ll hold out hope for some sort of firmware upgrade at some point.

A REAL Video Camera

This one is mostly a benefit for my ego.  I’ve shown up to alot of shoots and there is always a bit of me that feels slightly off about pulling out the 5dmk3 to shoot with.  I can’t tell you how many times people have asked if I was taking photos, and I had to explain to them, “no, its video”.  There is some small part of having a proper video camera that makes me feel just a tinsie bit better when shooting video.  But I also mix mayo and ketchup to dip my fries in, so I guess I was a little off to start with 🙂

Sony FS100 on location, Earl Studios NH Video Production

Sony FS100 on location, Earl Studios NH Video Production

What Does This Mean For Our Video Production Clients?

In the end, all that really matters is what does this mean for our video production clients? Well, it means:

  1. Earl Studios is a professional video production studio with big plans for the future.
    Since I started this company in 1997, I have always said “video is the future of Earl Studios”.  I have shot films and videos since I was 12, it has always been my passion and my dream career.  By making the investment in the Sony FS100 we are committing to a future for the company that places video production as the foundation of what we do.  We are not a “jack of all trades” company, we are a video production company whose future will be built upon this investment, and will continue to grown and expand within the video production focus.  We do not shoot videos because we have a camera that can ALSO do video, this is not a hobby for us, this is who we are and what we do.  We took a big risk with this investment, and to ensure we made the right decision, we are going to work twice as hard for our clients to show them why Earl Studios is an amazing video production company.
  2. More options for your video production projects.
    With the investment in the Sony FS100 we plan to teir our projects.  The Sony FS100 is not a “run and gun” camera, its not a camera I’ll be skiing down a mountain with, or taking along for long walks on the beach.  This camera is a production camera, and projects we shoot with it will be bigger production wise.  Now our clients have the option to work with Earl Studios do shoot the projects we normally do, but also now we can produced the bigger productions.  For thos clients that have, perhaps, seen Earl Studios as a video production company to small to handle a larger commercial shoot, we’ll look to ensure them that just like the larger Boson based video production companies, we have the equipment and production procedures in place to produce their spots now.
Sony FS100 on location, Earl Studios NH Video Production

Sony FS100 on location, Earl Studios NH Video Production

All of us here at Earl Studios are extremely excited by this new camera, and we are planning a lot of great personal creative projects to show off what we can offer to our video production clients now.  And to all of our clients that made this possible, to Southern New Hampshire University, Crotched Mountain, Loon Mountain, Stony field Yogurt, Hancock Gourmet Lobster, Tuscan Kitchen, College Bound Movers, Chunkys Theater, and Fredericks Pastries, from all of us here at Earl Studios, thank you for the opportunity to work with you, and for working with our little awesome video production company.

About The Author

earlstudios
I'm Jeremy Earl Mayhew, the owner and creative director of Earl Studios. The "Studios" represents both my love of film making but also my ability to accomplish all aspects of film making, from script writing, directing, cinematography through to editing. I am a studio of one.

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