Sunday, February 17, 2013


As Sony fanboys go, I am definitely one of them. Started out as a Minolta user but also got the first Sony HDV camera that landed in Israel, and I've always enjoyed the superb image quality that Sony had to offer over the competition.
That said, the video on the Sony A99 is still in some ways, half baked. It's a great stills camera but some of the video features are lacking. I don't understand why the Modes for video are in a menu separate from the modes dial for video. How come continuous auto focus that was supposed to be a great selling point for Sony SLTs is only available in P mode. There is nothing more bumming out than having the camera switch erratically it's exposure during shoot, sometimes veering to radical shutter settings that are unusable. Even in P mode, I found out during an interview shoot that focus will just not stick, the camera searching frantically for the focus on the wall. I would expect some focus "Search" on a fast moving target, say a person walking towards the camera, but not a rather static interview. This seems to happen if the person being interviewed leans right a little bit, since it seems that the focus relies on a center point in video.
Sony should rewrite or seriously upgrade their video code for the A99, if possible at all, or simply mention that video on a DSLR is still a limited feature. Sure, I could use manual focus, and I do, but in some situations, I would rather have a reliable auto focus on my camera, especially when using a lens such as the 50 1.4.
Now for some positive feedback: Shooting with the EX1,a "real" video camera on the same shoot, it seems that the A99 is much better in some ways. The color is much more accurate, skin tones are betters and highlights do not get overblown.
So I guess we're simply in some sort technological limbo at this point. All the technology exists for creating a great everything-is-included camera, but nobody seem to have the Steve Jobs qualities that you would need to bring out a product that does it all with little compromise.
Last thing about continuous focus. I tried it out on a stills shoot and it looked good at first, but then it  sort of broke apart. I had a person walk down the street, dance a little, turn around. During the turn, focus was definitely lost. Doesn't really matter in terms of a stills shoot, I just told the model to do it again, but in a video documentary situation, sometimes there is no re-doing and you're stuck with an out of focus shot.
So, my recommendation is - don't use the continuous focus feature if you can avoid it, and definitely don't rely on it. Use a monitor and reliable focus pulling and budget for it, you can. I'm still hoping Sony would provide Wi-fi tethering and image viewing on a remote laptop, but that will probably not happen for the A99.

Update: Had another video shoot outside with a young woman hanging from a rope. It was a seriously bright day, but I didn't have to use a ND filter to get a shallow depth of field with my 90mm 2.8 lens, I simply adjusted to M mode and set the shutter to a very fast one. In daylight, unlike my tests with indoor office lighting , the shots looked spectacular.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)