November 16, 2014

New Footage from the Sony FS7 & First Impressions from a Working DP

Sony FS7 - 180fps
When the fully-featured Sony FS7 was announced back in September, we knew it was going to be incredibly popular.

Now that it is starting to make its way out into the world, what are people saying about the FS7, and what are they shooting with it? NY-based cinematographer Ed David recently got his hands on an FS7 for a day, and he made the most of that day, putting together two short pieces that showcase the features and overall image quality of this new camera.

First up is a fun video profile of one of NYC's preeminent "sidewalk artists," a furry little fella named Charlie Chicken:

https://vimeo.com/112062119

And a video that showcases the internal 1080p/180fps footage:

https://vimeo.com/111979231

I asked Ed to give us the technical lowdown on how he shot the above clips, as well as his overall impressions of the FS7, including what he liked about it and what he didn't. Here's what he had to say:

Technical Details

Shot on FS7 to internal media - XQD 32gb card.  Camera was donated by Omega Broadcast.  Shot s-log 3 with S gamut.cine gamma.  Recorded to AVC-Intra codec. 4k recording up to 60fps. For 1080p/180fps shots - went with the same AVC-Intra. Used 2 lenses - Leica-R 50mm  f1.4 and Leica 24mm f2.0. Set the ISO to 1600 and for the 180fps shots, it was set to 800. Graded in DaVinci Resolve with Visioncolor Impulz LUT Kodak Vision3 50D. Did some slight modifications to this - nothing that crazy. The goal was speed - to get these pieces out into the world as soon as possible.  

The Great:

Camera is incredibly ergonomic, small, and intuitive. The viewfinder - the weight - the balance - everything feels great.

The Bad:

I couldn't find out if it had a waveform - so I was just protecting for the highlights.  The zebra feature doesn't seem intuitive - it's hard to see if it's blowing out - also hard to tell if it was working like it should. I hope there is a future firmware upgrade to fix this.  There is some jello from the rolling shutter - not too bad, but not as good as the ALEXA. Shooting super slo-mo had some pretty blocky noise - maybe going to an external recorder will be better.

Overall 

Can you really complain with a camera that costs 9k and is basically is a hybrid between the sony F5 and F55? This thing is going to sell like hotcakes - I am going to order one.

Like most new cameras, the FS7 clearly has a few usability issues, especially with its software exposure tools. Luckily, it sounds like most of these issues are software issues, and Sony has an excellent track record of rolling out timely and feature-packed software updates for the F5 and F55. I would expect the first major firmware update for the FS7 to address those usability issues. What's of more concern, however, is just how noisy the 180fps footage is. A few of those shots had an atrocious amount of noise in shadows and midtones, and that's with a relatively low ISO (for this particular sensor) of 800. Again, like Ed mentioned, the results from an external recorder might very well prove to be far superior.

Overall, the footage from the FS7 looks and feels incredibly similar to the Sony F5, and for good reason — the two cameras both feature the same Sony sensor. That image quality, especially when combined with the ergonomic design, will undoubtedly make the FS7 incredibly popular for a wide range of video production styles and niches, especially documentary. Until someone gets their hands on the XDCA-FS7 extension unit — which enables RAW output and ProRes recording, among many other features — it's hard to say just how versatile the FS7 will prove to be.

If you have any questions for Ed regarding these videos or his experiences with the FS7, please leave them down in the comments.     

Your Comment

46 Comments

Looks really really noisy. Even the stuff that isn't slo mo is super noisy. Maybe it's the color grade? Seems kind of soft too. Maybe it's vimeo, but it just doesn't seem any better than a dslr.

November 16, 2014 at 9:20PM

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Jonesy Jones
Storymaker
698

I think it's my grade Jonesy - I went back in this morning and switched out 2 shots to make the story better and I did a bigger s curve and it brought down the noise. Also I'm shooting a super black dog - super black. So that makes it tough. And also I didn't know how to black balance it and also I only was able to shoot at 2000 ASA - I couldn't figure out how to monitor at like 800 ASA - all learning curves. I have tons of faith in the cleanness of the image - I should post an ungraded version. The softness is by choice - I am using vintage glass! Look at the positive though - that dynamic range - the saturation - the motion - it all looks very very nice. I have so much faith in so many people to pull wonderful images out of this camera. And if I had more time to mess with it - I think I could make a spot that you would be proud of. Charlie too. He also commented on how noisy the image was.

November 16, 2014 at 9:42PM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1676

regraded - less noise! https://vimeo.com/112062119

November 17, 2014 at 10:23AM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1676

Great work. I'd love to dive more into the world of vintage glass because they seem to pair really well the brand new cameras we have nowadays.

November 17, 2014 at 11:46AM, Edited November 17, 11:46AM

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Josh Paul
Most often DP, Direct or Gaff
1165

For me, I like the vintage glass look bro! - I'm a bit sick of outrageously sharp images, depending on the project it can sometimes feel too clinical. I'm amazed at the image from this camera! Do you have the ungraded shots anywhere? I'm interested in the colour coming off the sensor. Really nice work dude!

November 19, 2014 at 5:12PM, Edited November 19, 5:12PM

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Lloyd Will
Film maker
163

I agree Jonesy. I love the pooch but found the camera to be rather uninspiring for the price.

November 16, 2014 at 10:29PM

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now you can download the files - if you look at some of the other scenes - like the subway scene it's clean as heck - the first shots are in available light shooting at the butt end of exposure - I didn't have a waveform that's working and its noisy - but if I had some of my exposure tools I'm sure it would be cleaner. I feel bad if this is the take away from my film - I hope its more a starting point for more doc people to use it and pull beautiful things from it. Poorly exposed log footage will look bad no matter what the camera is - but it's funny because I didn't notice the noise until you said it - but its extremely good and useful that you said that - this is how we improve in this modern era - honest real opinions - and that's how we can improve so thank you Jonesy and Anthony for this! It's already proved quite useful to me.

November 16, 2014 at 10:41PM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1676

Hey Ed, great videos!
I can't be the only person that noticed this but the dog clip is still in 720p on vimeo as it doesn't fully cover the screen for me. That's probably why people are calling it 'soft' or 'noisy', though for my tastes it looks lovely :)

November 17, 2014 at 5:56AM

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Lucas Ferreira
Cinematographer
441

I love it! I was super relieved to see your work. I had this terrible fear that the FS7 would just have this "video" look simply because you usually have choose between ENG features or an awesome image.

This seems to be a beast of an ENG camera with a movie quality image.

November 17, 2014 at 11:39AM

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Josh Paul
Most often DP, Direct or Gaff
1165

Noisy, yes. But I think with improved firmware, you can probably get a more confident image from it while operating it. This footage looks far superior to dslr footage. The dynamic range is fantastic and there is no way you can pull off that amount of movement with a dslr with out getting some kind of glitchy footage. Thanks Ed for putting this together! I'm still a little skeptical about this camera, but I can't wait to see more of what this camera can do in the next few months!

November 16, 2014 at 11:58PM

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Matt Marrs
Director / Camera Operator
205

Impulz luts in my experience bring out a lot of noise

November 17, 2014 at 6:50AM

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matt
908

thank you for this feedback - I am regrading with FILMCONVERT AND SO MUCH CLEANER - posting in 15 minutes

November 17, 2014 at 8:29AM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1676

I regraded - and here it is as a 1080p version - https://vimeo.com/112062119

November 17, 2014 at 10:06AM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1676

you should watch the top one 'charlie chicken' just because it's funny as heck.

November 16, 2014 at 10:24PM

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Jacques Adelle-Boix
Director
166

Great camera. But (out of topic) reading nfs on mobile it's almost impossible nowadays. Had to go back to Firefox and reader mode to read something here.
Nice design but not functional.

November 17, 2014 at 3:01AM

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Agreed!

November 17, 2014 at 5:55AM

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Jack Hextall
Videographer
151

The reading mode on iPhone works great with these blogs, it just doesn't include the comments section, which sucks.

November 17, 2014 at 9:19AM

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Kyle Sanders
Editor
272

I've been getting really excited about this camera, so this was good to see and thanks for sharing. Some really nice stuff coming from the FS7, though I thought the stuff in the flat (sorry, apartment) was underexposed. I read about your issues with metering/avoiding clipping, would it not come up easily in Resolve?

I don't know why Vimeo will only stream it in 720p. It was worth downloading the 1080p version.

November 17, 2014 at 4:56AM, Edited November 17, 4:56AM

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Adrian Graham-Smith
Camera Operator/Editor
29

Well, despite its flaws, I think the fact that it's super ergonomic just makes up for its shortcomings. I'd rather have a camera that shoots DSLR-like footage but is super ergonomic, than a camera that shoots nice raw images but is an absolute chore to shoot with.

November 17, 2014 at 6:08AM, Edited November 17, 6:08AM

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Miguel Sotto
Cinematographer
260

A lot of that noise may be due to Slog3. It doesn't increase the noise of the sensor but, makes it more noticeable as it raises exposure in the shadows. Proper exposure is important for the F5, 55 and, I would imagine, this camera, too. I own an F5 and have gone back to using Slog2 as I like the image out of the camera better and the noise is less apparent.

I think a lot of the noise arguments between different cameras don't take into account that some like the Sony F's, in some shooting modes, do not have noise reduction built in. Purposely, so it can be administered in post when needed rather than applied in camera, blanket-style to all the footage, typical of most dslr's, whether it needs it or not.

In the right hands (no offense Ed), I'm sure this camera, like the F5, is capable of stellar results. Like any professional tool, it has to be handled correctly.

November 17, 2014 at 9:45AM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
1545

Much discussion about Slog3 and noise over at the Sony site, http://community.sony.com/t5/F5-F55/S-Log3-vs-S-Log2/m-p/282689#M12364

November 17, 2014 at 9:49AM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
1545

no offense taken. but Charlie is upset. anyway check out my regrade here - much cleaner - https://vimeo.com/112062119

November 17, 2014 at 10:23AM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1676

I *really*, no **REALLY** wish some of these early test videos from any camera would stop slapping film convert or similar onto their shots. when you do this people can't really judge or see how the camera is rendering images. I got it you shot in Slog, but often all that you need is a basic S curve correction to bring the image to a more or less neutral tonal range. Its ok to mess up exposure because you may learn more from that then "perfect" exposure. You get to see how the camera handles more extremes in the image and if they are savable or not. In fact a split screen of neutralized vs looked would be ok too…. maybe a slight rant but when everyone slaps film convert onto these videos they often all wind up looking very much the same for better or worse and the differences between cameras is reduced. It really makes comparisons of cameras far less useful if you can't really see what the camera is doing.

I suppose in some respects thats a compliment to various camera makers that their gear has gotten that good but it would be nice to see the nuances better between cameras…and if they make a difference or not.

Of course comments about noise here - film convert adds grain so in some respects you are defeating the purpose of doing a video like this to show the camera's native noise level. That said, vimeo and YT compression often reduce and flatten this fine detail out in compression.

November 17, 2014 at 1:45PM

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Steve Oakley
DP • Audio Mixer • Colorist • VFX Artist
426

Steve I completely agree with you - it feels cheap to use a "preset" lut over footage and not just do it on my own - but filmconvert remaps digital sensors to color charts shot on film - so it's a good starting point. Which is what I used then modified. Did I spend as much time coloring as I could ? No - because I wanted my "turd" of art to get to the world as soon as possible so I could feel good. That's what art is to me. And Charlie too. Get it out there and then move on.

November 17, 2014 at 4:21PM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1676

Well that's a little unfair. He's providing content for free and seems like the kind of chap who would supply an ungraded version if you asked nicely. REALLY nicely.

On another nite the grain intensity is fully diallable in film convert so that's actually wrong.

I think you're right though that it's hard to judge camera tests when shots are heavily graded but most end users will be doing exactly this and slapping luts on. Like everything else in our business, it'a all becoming commoditised.

But hey let's bash a guy for giving us free content, he probably should have paid us to watch it come to think of it.

November 17, 2014 at 4:25PM

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Robin Schmidt
Director
238

no it's fine - this is my giving back to the community. I love it. I do my other work to make money. I love the discussion and it helped me make the piece better so thank you all for being critical.

November 17, 2014 at 8:12PM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1676

Ed said he didn't want to buy a camera until he saw some footage. Here was a thought, hey, Ed shoots footage,... and here we are. :)

November 17, 2014 at 2:34PM

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Omega Broadcast
Equipment sales and rentals
74

Whats the release date on this bad boy?

November 17, 2014 at 5:56PM

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I think December something.

November 17, 2014 at 8:12PM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1676

how did the people at maria hernandez park feel about a random dude shooting them?

November 17, 2014 at 8:35PM

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I think they will be fine.

November 18, 2014 at 1:17AM

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matt
908

This is a good question. one of the basketball players wants me to now shoot his nephew's Christening and texted me a lot. the volleyball players loved it - they were laughing a ton. People actually say hi to me now more in the area and especially in the park - it got me to meet some of my neighbors so a camera is a wonderful ice breaker. But I do always wonder how people feel if I film them - I think they understand that me and my friends are shooting an art film - a lot of artists shoot in the park - and no one really cares too much. How do you feel if you're in a film that some people are filming? Does it make you feel awkward or weird or indifferent or do you enjoy it? How do people feel when Bill Cunningham for the New York Times photographs them and their fashion on the street? Or Billy Eichner for Billy on the Street? And I worked with Billy before - people love it - I never say anyone say - well actually - in all my years just doing street photography no one has ever once come up to me after shooting or during shooting and said anything- a few guys will cover their face - or make an indication that they don't want to be filmed and I stop filming them. I think personally that's the best thing to do. But it is something that floats in my head especially as a documentarian - how does the camera affect those? And I feel in this day and age of the selfie - of people being filmed constantly by themselves and others and police surveillance, more and more people care less about being filmed - and embrace it more.

November 18, 2014 at 6:55AM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1676

how did the people at maria hernandez park feel about a random dude shooting them?

November 17, 2014 at 8:35PM, Edited November 17, 8:35PM

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The subway scenes looked awesome, but to me the overall footage looks exactly like the fs700. I expected a lot more, and it appears so did everyone else.

November 18, 2014 at 3:15PM, Edited November 18, 3:15PM

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Kaster Troy
Director, DP, Editor
1001

that maybe the best thing someone could say then about the fs700 - that maybe the camera in your hands right now is as good as the hot new toy? Hence why I own 2 f35s and 2 red ones. because to me they are just as good and cheaper. I haven't messed with the fs700 in a while but I think for one - the ergonomics alone make the fs7 worth it - also being able to record slo mo up to 4k 60fps internally - plus the more robust internal codec and then the raw options will be much better. If you can't tell the difference of its potential then that's great - be happy with what you have or get a used f3 for like 5k . I think that's a big point - early adopters have it hard - they get a product before it's matured and they suffer for it. But for me, the ergonomics alone make the fs7 a better investment than the fs700 or for that matter, the c300 or the c500. also if I did real DP things like a resolution chart and dynamic range test and color chart - I'm sure the fs7 would beat up the fs700.

November 18, 2014 at 3:51PM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1676

On specs alone the fs7 definitely has the edge over the fs700. But I gotta tell you, it all depends on who's behind the camera or any camera for that matter. Just like the other cams you mentioned, you're well versed with them, so I'm sure you get a killer image. High end cameras these days produce such good quality that when something new like this comes out everyone including myself expects the next step in camera evolution which is unrealistic. I recently shot a commercial with the fs100 & 700, and when the editor got his hands on the footage, he thought it was all shot on a Red. The FS series are absolute monsters! It will be interesting to see some comparison vidz in the future. Ergonomically the fs7 looks more friendly, but is almost double the price of the newly reduced 700, especially since the fs7 doesn't come with a mic or battery, and the recoding media is more expensive. But hey, if you've got the extra cash, why not get the newest and hottest toy!

November 18, 2014 at 6:28PM

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Kaster Troy
Director, DP, Editor
1001

the only way to know the difference is to do real tests - real geeky tests only Dps watch - like the hard stuff on CML - with test charts - testing resolution, color, dynamic range - the videos I made - are to shot the artistic potential of the cameras - they aren't true tests - they are end goals - to make a film with the tool that you have. If I did it right I would have made a comparison video between the red one, f35, f3, and fs7 - but I decided instead to make a film to make people laugh. But I agree with everyone - my grade and my films don't show the full potential of the camera. Actually my goal was to create an organic pleasing image that didn't feel flat or "sterile" - did I achieve that? To me, yes I did. To some of you guys - probably not - and that's good - it's good you guys have opinions that differ from mine - that's the point of art - to disagree - then we can talk and then we can get somewhere.

November 19, 2014 at 8:51AM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1676

You're good man, no need to defend this video to anyone on here. I checked out your website and you're the real F***ing deal lol. I didn't even think twice about the color grade until I started reading other peoples posts, and still your grade is just fine to me. It's too noisy for my taste in most parts, but it's also very cinematic and clean in others. Would I have preferred to have seen a raw version? Sure, but once this camera is released there will be an overload of tests on YT. People tend to be over critical when it comes to stuff like this. I was just watching it with an eye for overall quality and to see what this camera has to offer.

November 19, 2014 at 5:43PM

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Kaster Troy
Director, DP, Editor
1001

As an fs700 shooter I disagree. This has significantly better highlight handling. I don't understand all the people bitching about this image. I think it looks very cinematic and I prefer the 'noiser' original grade.

November 18, 2014 at 6:13PM

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Stu Mannion
writer/dir/dp
766

Overly graded footage is useless to form an opinion on a camera's image quality. TEAL ORANGE OVERLOOOOOOADDDD !

November 18, 2014 at 8:16PM

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my goal was to create an image that wasn't sterile - to show people what is possible if you want your film to evoke a different look and style. Did I succeed? The jury is out on that. And that's a good thing. If there was only one look, one viewpoint, god life would be boring.

November 19, 2014 at 8:53AM, Edited November 19, 8:53AM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1676

thank you Ed for making these and all your replies. It's very helpful for everyone. I am in agreement that you SHOULD grade your pieces to how you want them as for me it's simply part of the "art". Like someone saying (not about this) "I wish you hadn't lit it so i could see how it handles bad lighting situations"

I will most likely share a couple of native clips I shot recently just for people to download but I won't put up edits ungraded personally.

Anyway I have just wrapped a 10 day doco shoot in the South Pacific using this camera instead of my usual F55. All I can say is I won't be using my F55 for the rest of this series as the FS7 footage looks practically the same and in a way more ergonomic form and with better battery life. Both really important in this series.

P

November 19, 2014 at 11:52AM

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Philip Bloom
Filmmaker
67

thanks Philip - it's especially amazing to hear this from you - the master :) Thanks that I think would be really useful for people to see what this little camera is capable of. My next "camera nerd video" will be once the raw recorder comes out. That's when I ready to come back to the world with another video. Charlie will be onto other things. My next film will be about the Q&A sessions after a film is shown. That to me is the best part of the film. All the different cliches - the man who hogs the conversation, the old lady in the back who is eating too loudly, the person who doesn't speak fully into the mic, the guy who has his hand up the whole time and no one picks on him, the moderator who is always under control. I can't wait to make that one.

November 19, 2014 at 4:06PM, Edited November 19, 4:06PM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1676

With all of the new sensor developments I am hearing about from Sony, I am hoping that we see something more than just Log modes. Once I can do RAW with these cameras, I'll be selling my 5D MKIII RAW setup to grab one of these. My past problems with Sony's sensors have been primarily in their color science (I think they render reds as too magenta) but all of these complaints can be mitigated with a RAW sensor record where I can mold the color science to my liking. Don't cheap out on us, Sony. We know what we want. I want 14 bit RAW.

If I can't get RAW, can I at least get ProResXQ as SLog-2 or SLog-3?

November 19, 2014 at 11:52AM, Edited November 19, 11:52AM

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Harry Pray IV
Director of Photography/Lighting Technician/Colorist
453

it will have a raw recorder in december. then you can use it with the odyssey 7q and go RAW wild!

November 19, 2014 at 4:07PM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1676

I had the same no-histogram issue when using this camera recently. Annoying. Zebras are so ENG.

September 27, 2015 at 2:47PM, Edited September 27, 2:47PM

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Chris Santucci
Cinematographer
265