September 15, 2014 at 12:02AM

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α7s - GH4 - 5DIII - Black Magic

Between these 4 cameras, which one would you buy and why?

7 Comments

I had this debate not long ago (except for the Mark III) and ended up with the a7s. Here is why:

First, how and what I shoot. I shoot solo 70% of the time. The other 30% is normally a second person, rarely more than that. What I shoot is corporate videos from my day job as a in-house video guy, and promotional and documentary freelance content, with some weddings thrown in. As of right now, I very, very rarely shoot narrative.

So the a7s won for me because it's the best camera I could find for all of these.

For one-man shoots, the low-light means I can depend on ambient light more and use minimal additional lighting for shaping the tone of a shot. For personal uses, low-light means better indoor photos at night, and for shots of kids and such, that's huge. And the APS-C mode meant I could punch in 1.5x on any lens, avoiding a lens change, matte box adjustment, and potentially steadicam rebalancing. Also, the optional XLR attachment means solid in-camera audio when I need it.

It beat the Blackmagic cameras because of file size, low light, and the speed of use—having to dive into menus to change ISO was a deal-breaker for me and the BMPCC. Also, I like taking stills and the Blackmagic is a proper video camera, so no stills.

It beat the GH4 because of low-light, better codec, and sensor size. It's not that I want to go depth-of-field crazy, but, in my situation, to buy a GH4 + wide angle glass to match what I have for full frame would have cost me significantly more money. 4K doesn't matter to me, right now, plus the GH4 is a dirt cheap rental if I ever felt a need to use 4K for something.

It beat the 5D Mark III because there is absolutely nothing about the Mark III I want compared to these other cameras. The only thing going for it is the Magic Lantern raw, which I used for one project and never will again.

Things I miss while using the a7s:

- I'm jealous of the GH4's rear LCD and battery life
- I miss solid weather sealing. The 5D line and the GH4 are all so nicely weather sealed
- a7s has a lot of quirks, like the awfully positioned record button and the inability to program several things to the custom functions, like APS-C mode
- a7s is picky about SD cards—they MUST be SDXC, regardless of speed

Hope this helps.

September 15, 2014 at 2:52PM

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David S.
3378

Two more comments I forgot to include:

- On the a7s, I love the power of the picture profile settings, but there is a steep learning curve involved. S-log is fantastic, but not for everything. I'm learning as I go.

- NFC and WiFi on the GH4 and a7s is really great. I use it all the time, largely for personal stuff like taking a shot and sending it to Instagram.

- Related to that, one more thing I'm envious of the GH4 for—the mobile app for remote functions. The Sony one sucks. You have virtually no control over picture profile settings, and the app really only gives you monitoring, exposure compensation, and stop/start. The Panasonic one is much more robust.

September 15, 2014 at 2:58PM

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David S.
3378

David makes a great analysis but if you want a film look, not doubt, blackmagic camera cinema.

October 1, 2014 at 3:06AM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
6994

Yep - Raw is great on the BM line of cameras. If doing narrative work, go with the BMCC or BMPCC. 13 stops of DR over 12 with the 4k Production Camera or the newer URSA cam.

November 3, 2014 at 2:54PM

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Only problem with the URSA is the weight, It takes an entire infrastructure upgrade to support it. I shot a feature for 30 days with red ones and that was a huge pain in the neck! (and shoulder) :P

February 9, 2015 at 10:01AM

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Luke Jennings
Director of photography
168

If its really film you want then BMPCC... If you are at all concerned with quality then you will not use space a great markup to make a camera decision, sure space is relevant but the best value for your buck is BMPCC. The A7s is really good for what it does. Th eone thing that really sucks is the rolling shutter... to me its worse than the BMPCC. Canon 5D, i wont swear for it, ah mean i have the 7D and 6D but i dont even use them for video anymore but do your own research and make sure you get something that caters to your needs.

February 9, 2015 at 8:36PM

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Wentworth Kelly
Director/DP/Colorist/Drone Op
1896

For event work I'd choose the a7s as I'd probably never worry about the lighting of the event. For narrative, I'd go Black Magic (which I did). I don't see any reason for the 5dMark 3 to even exist anymore for video, until they catch up with the other companies (I know, strong wording). Gh4 is the only one of these cameras I have yet to use, so no comment on that.

February 11, 2015 at 5:35PM

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Don Way
Writer/Director of Photography
954

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