I was always intrigued by film making but the technical side made it very unattractive. Then Sony released the A7 III. Admittedly, I was initially attracted to it for photography reasons but soon after playing the camera, I started to fall in love with the video side of storytelling.
In this blog post, I am going to share all the things that I have learnt about the Sony a7 III because I am sure that we have some overlapping questions.
The Sony Alpha 7 III (ILCE-7M3) has a 24 megapixel CMOS sensor. It can film UHD 8-bit 4K resolution (3840×2160) in 30p, 25p and 24p as well as in full HD (1920×1080) in 120p, 100p, 60p, 60i, 50p, 50i, 30p, 25p and 24p. It can film videos in the following file formats: XAVC S, AVCHD 2.0, and MP4. When filming in 4K 30p (available only in NTSC mode), footage is cropped in by about 1.2x. When filming video in 25p and 24p, no cropping of the sensor readout occurs. The Sony a7 III does not offer 4K 60p although at the time of writing, rumors are that the anticipated Sony a7 SIII may have 4K 60p.
What file format should I use for filming video on the Sony a7 III?
I personally like to film in the highest quality possible even though most of my content is viewed at 720p on mobile devices. This means choosing 4K XAVC S 4K at the highest bitrate that my memory cards will let me (100M).
I also film in 30p and take the crop factor hit. I do this because my typical video timeline is set to 24fps and by having 30p footage, I can natively slow down the footage by 80% without taking a hit in quality. Filming in 30p also forces me to film in NTSC (even though I’m in a PAL region).
Can the Sony a7 III film in 4K slow motion?
The answer to this question ultimately depends on what you determine to be slow motion. When I was doing my research, I had no idea how slow motion was achieved in post processing. Now I have a better understanding. I think ..
I should have spent some time watching this video first! It would have removed a lot of my initial confusion.
The short answer is no, the Sony a7 III does not offer 4K 120p/100p. 120p/100p is only available in 8-bit 1080p.
By the way, PAL = 100p while NTSC = 120p (it took me a while to get this).
The beauty of S&Q mode is that you can playback in slow motion. That is, you can film a scene in S&Q mode and show your client immediately how the slow motion looks like. However, there are downsides to S&Q mode.
In the following video, Miguel Quiles explains Sony’s S&Q mode. He is using a Sony a7 RIII in the video but it is essentially the same to the Sony a7 III for S&Q mode.
According to Jason Vong, S&Q mode does not record any audio. Then again, do you really want slowed down audio? I always have a laugh when I listen to slowed down audio. You should try it.
When I need slow motion, I’ll record in XAVC S HD (1080) 60p to get the highest quality from my footage. Since my video timelines are typically 24fps, 60p will allow me to halve the speed of the footage without any quality loss. But to be honest, I rarely film in slow motion as I feel as it is overused as a crux – similar to super shallow depth of field.
What is eye AF and how does it work?
Eye AF was one of the biggest reasons why I bought the Sony a7 III. As a wedding photographer who needs to capture a lot of natural interactions between people on a wedding day, eye AF makes my job almost redundant. I simply point the camera in a vague direction and it does all the hard work for me.
What is eye AF like on the Sony a7 III?
I can confirm that eye AF works just as magically at wide apertures (f/1.8 – f/2.8) as it does in the video above (f/6.3).
Based on my personal experiences, using eye AF for the very first time feels weird. As a DSLR photographer for 8+ years, I am used to carefully picking the AF point in-camera and making sure that the subject rarely strays from the AF point.
Using eye AF is like relearning composition – almost like driving in USA versus driving in UK. Same thing but different!
Does eye AF work with adapted Canon/Nikon lenses on the a7 III?
Does eye AF work in video mode?
Sadly, no. Eye AF does not carry across into video mode. The Sony a7 III does however track faces, people and moving objects quite well. Here’s some proof:
Sony picture profiles
If you are considering a Sony a7 III as your first Sony mirrorless camera for film making, the picture profiles found on the a7 III should be of particular interest to you.
As a photographer, I didn’t quite understand what picture profiles were. I simply shot in raw and in Lightroom, I would make the necessary adjustments to white balance, contrast, sharpness, individual HSL adjustments, saturation, tone curves etc. Little did I know that when recording video, the flexibility I had with raw files was no longer available.
I was lucky enough to go on a short holiday with the wife in Seoul, South Korea just when I took delivery of my Sony a7 III. Wanting to vlog, I brought my a7 III and FE 24-105mm f/4G OSS. Let’s just say that I won’t be showing any of the videos that I shot in South Korea.
Not wanting to color grade, I followed the advice of many YouTubers to shoot in Cine4. They had convinced me that SLOG was too much work. For a while I followed Henbu’s recommendations (see below video).
For you convenience, I have written out the settings down below.
Black level: +5
Black gamma: Range Middle, Level +6
Knee: Manual (80%, slope +2)
Color mode: S-Gamut3.Cine
Color phase: +3
Color depth: R +1, G -2, B +3, C +3, M +3, Y 0
The following two videos were filmed using pretty much the above picture profile cine4 settings.
Looking back, I’m not a big fan of the colors that came out of it. But using those cine4 settings allowed me to think more about the actual filming than worrying about color.
Then I filmed this prewedding in Sydney, Australia.
Ultimately unhappy with how the colors were turning out, I decided to use my wallet and pay for something: EOSHD Pro Color V4 HDR.
I had really low expectations going into this. To be honest, I didn’t get the hype about achieving ‘Canon’ colors.
I was so so wrong.
EOSHD blew my mind.
Canon colors! I LOVE YOU.
As you can see in the above video, I am pretty lazy when it comes to editing color in video. Perhaps lazy is the wrong word. I simply do not have the experience or skill set to manipulate color in video footage compared to the experience I have with manipulating color in raw still images. But using auto white balance (I know right!!?!) with EOSHD Pro Color V4 HDR, I am happy with the results out-of-the-box.
I originally bought two Sony a7 III bodies for photography work. Whilst eye AF continues to blow my mind, I still prefer using my trusty workhorse Nikon D750 for photography and use the Sony a7 III for filming video.
Would I recommend the Sony a7 III?
It is an incredible machine. Not perfect but it is close enough.
Thinking of buying the Sony a7 III but not quite ready yet?
It may be just $2,000 but $2,000 is still a whole lot of money! Especially considering that if you’re switching across to Sony across from Nikon or Fujifilm, you’re in a whole world of pain when buying an entire new set of lenses (click here for a full list of Sony E-mount lenses).
These were the reviews that I watched in my research phase that ultimately pushed me across the line to not just purchase one Sony a7 III but two!
Most wedding photographers, myself included, always want to book more wedding photography clients. There are many ways to get more wedding photography clients.
You could learn how to use the Facebook ads platform. You could learn to understand human psychology and why people buy things. You could spend hundreds of hours watching webinars produced by Facebook marketing gurus. You could invest in posting Instagram stories every single day and engaging with Instagram users. You could try many things.
You should actually try all these things.
Because being a wedding photographer is the same as being an entrepreneur.
But what about Facebook Ads?
There has never been a better platform for targeting users. Facebook knows everything about you and about your ideal customer.
For full disclosure, I use Facebook Ads as part of my overall marketing strategy. I use it because it does what it promises.
But the one problem with relying on Facebook ads is that once you stop running the ads, you lose 100% of your website traffic.
Once you stop running the Facebook ads, you lose 100% of the attention.
To get more wedding photography clients without spending any money on Facebook advertising, you will need to follow these 5 steps:
Step 1. Identify a local wedding venue that has an existing customer base that you wish to attract.
Step 2. Identify a local wedding stylist and/or wedding florist and/or wedding planner that works frequently with the local wedding venue that you identified in step #1.
Step 3. Reach out to the wedding stylist and/or wedding florist and/or wedding planner via Instagram DM, Facebook Messenger, email, or through an old fashioned phone call. Introduce yourself as a wedding photographer and tell them some recent work of theirs that you admire. Then offer them with an irresistible proposition.
Step 4. On the day, take the most amazing of photographs. Edit them and have them ready for download within 24-hours.
Step 5. Send a copy of the images to the event manager of the wedding venue.
Step 6. Follow up with the event manager and start building a personal relationship with him/her.
Let me break down the very same process that I apply in my own wedding photography business. Are you ready to get started? Let’s go!
Step 1: Identify a local wedding venue that has an existing customer base that you wish to attract
What is the first thing that most couples do when they get engaged?
They begin looking for a venue for their wedding ceremony and wedding reception. Some couples will jump straight into looking for a wedding planner because they are time poor. However, the majority of recently engaged couples will start their wedding planning journey by looking for their dream wedding venue.
If you are new, if you have a limited portfolio, and/or if you wish to attract a different demographic of wedding photography clients, an establish wedding venue probably has a solution for you to get more wedding photography clients,
However, because you are new and because you have a limited portfolio, very few established wedding venue event managers will take a second look at your business.
Harsh? Yes. Unfair? No.
Step 2: Identify a local wedding stylist and/or wedding florist and/or wedding planner that works frequently with the local wedding venue that you identified in step #
Instead of going directly to a wedding venue, I have found that going through a wedding stylist or wedding florist or wedding planner has delivered much more positive results.
Most wedding stylists, florists and/or wedding planners do not receive photographs that are reflective of their hard work. Even if they do, it often takes weeks if not months.
This is your opportunity as an entrepreneur to solve their problem by offering your services to them.
Using Instagram, find out which stylists, florists, and/or wedding planners frequent the wedding venue that you identified in step #1.
Over the course of the next month, like their posts and comment on their posts as much as you can. This will improve your chances in the next step of the process.
Step 3: Reach out to the person you identified in step #2
“Hi <insert name>, I have loved your floral installations for quite some time. You may have noticed my fan-boy/girl-ing on all your Instagram posts of late (sorry!). In fact, the wedding that you did at <insert location> blew my mind. I know that getting high quality images of your work is often hard to come by. It either takes forever or the quality of the images do not meet the effort that you have put into transforming the space. Would you be interested in letting me photograph you behind-the-scenes so that you can have amazing images of your work to show to your fan-base?”
Not all people are going to get back to you.<m/ark> Not all people are going to want your services. Not all people will understand the value of what you are offering to them.
And that is OK.
Keep repeating step #2 and #3 until someone replies with a Y-E-S.
From here onward, your goal is to understand what the stylist, florist and/or wedding planner wants so that on the day of the wedding, you are fully prepared to execute.
Step 4: On the day ..
Find out the best spot of parking and turn up early.
Don’t make the day about you because it isn’t about you.
Dress appropriately. It is a someone’s wedding and you are representing the stylist, florist, and/or wedding planner whilst you are on-site.
Do you job. Take your time to get it right. But do it with haste.
Find out who the event manager is. You will need this information in step #5.
I often find that it helps to show a few images on the back of my camera to the stylist, florist and/or wedding planner to get some immediate feedback. This is because the way they see their work may be very different to yours. I would rather be told that the work isn’t right early on during the shoot rather than disappoint him/her when it is too late.
Here is another pro-tip that I learnt along the way. When the official wedding photographer arrives on-site, introduce who you are and tell them why you are here and that you will not get in his/her way. Think of it as a professional courtesy as the industry is a small one.
Once you have taken all the necessary photographs, edit them. I have always found that wedding stylists, florists and/or wedding planners are so appreciative when they receive some sneak peeks within 24-hours. If possible, have all the images edited and ready for digital download (without watermarks) within 24-hours. Trust me on this point – it has worked fabulously for me.
Step 5: Send a copy of the images to the event manager of the wedding venue
In the previous step you found out the identify of the event manager at your preferred wedding venue. In this step, you are going to reach out to the event manager and send them a copy of all the images.
Many event managers are used to receiving photographs with watermarks. Just because other insecure wedding photographers feel the need to insert their watermark onto their images doesn’t mean that you should. In fact, by not having a watermark on your images, the event manager is more likely to use these images to promote their venue.
How should you contact the event manager? See the next step.
Step 6: Follow up with the event manager and start building a personal relationship with him/her
A wedding stylist recommended that I hand write a short letter to the event manager. She told me that I should introduce who I am, remind them which wedding/couple the photos relate to, and mention that they are more than welcome to use the images however they wish.
I took this advice on board immediately and it has allowed me to build real relationships with real people in charge of wedding venues that I know share the same customer avatar as my business. I suggest that you do as well.
Always give without asking for something in return.
This is an real example of what I delivered to a wedding stylist.
Attention is the currency of business
“The currency of business is attention.”<m/ark> – Gary Vaynerchuck.
In 2018/2019 – or whenever you come across this blog post – understand that marketing and advertising is essentially a game to attract attention.