March 3, 2016 at 11:46PM, Edited March 4, 12:15AM

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A7SII Overheating Woes

I shoot a lot outside in the Australian sun and the a7SII shuts itself off regularly to cool down when shooting 4k 25 or 30p. For every 2 minutes of shooting I have to wait for 2 minutes of cooling. It also overheats indoors after about 40 minutes of continuous recording in 4k. As you can imagine, it's tricky to work around these conditions! I am running the latest a7S II 2.0 firmware.

The only solution I have is switching batteries to one that isn't cooking hot. Sometimes I'll also replace the SD card in order to help cool it down.

Anyone got any pointers, tips, solutions?

I'm wondering if the camera will stop overheating if it's recording 4k to an external recorder (like an Atomos or a Blackmagic Video Assist)?

Or by using a battery grip – perhaps having the batteries further away from electronics would help it stay cool. Has anyone tried this?

18 Comments

The Atomos SHOGUN will almost certainly solve your overheating problem. But it will also mean that you have to enter an entirely new realm with respect to ergonomics and media.

March 4, 2016 at 5:56AM

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you bought the wrong piece of equipment. It's not designed to shoot 40 minutes of continuous shooting. It's a stills camera that happens to shoot great video. Use it for it's strengths. You should have bought a camcorder.

March 5, 2016 at 12:53PM

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Steve chase
Director
205

Seriously? "a camcorder"?

It's 2016, we have been using DSLR and mirroless video for TV/Documentary and even feature files for almost a decade...

Jackie Loggan

March 6, 2016 at 12:15PM

Let me firstly just clear up that I haven't personally invested in anything and that the gear I use is from my place of employment. I've been shooting real estate on DSLR's for 5 years and never had issues with overheating from the Canon 5D MkII or MkIII. I'd never use a camcorder as with a fixed lens it would simply be unsuitable for filming architecture.

Jake H. Harris

March 6, 2016 at 8:33PM

Wrong piece of gear for the job, you need something non DSLR. All DSLR's have some type of restriction for long shooting because of heat. Camcorders or cinema camera's will be better. If you're using the A7sii you're used to higher bitrates, so a jump to a cinema camera shouldn't be too big.

My advice would be sell the camera, make $2500 +-, take that plus the money for a shogun $1500 = $4000 and get an FS5 or an URSA mini. Wait for a while for the 4.6k version to be stable and then jump on it. Fantastic colors, with a great price.

March 5, 2016 at 12:56PM, Edited March 5, 12:58PM

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Clark McCauley
Spaceman
2024

My advise would be listen to actual professionals who've used DSLRs/Mirrorless in these and even worse conditions.

Not all DSLR "have some type of restriction for long shooting because of heat". Some DSLRs have heat issues, others do not (including cameras like the URSA).

A restriction some DSLR's have is a 29 mins limit for continuous shooting -- which is something entirely different, and done for tax purposes (so they are not classified as video cameras in Europe and get a higher tax rate).

Jackie Loggan

March 6, 2016 at 12:25PM, Edited March 6, 12:25PM

Unfortunately I wouldn't be able to use a camcorder because of the fixed lens factor (I often use very wide lenses and a tilt-shift while shoot architecture). Generally I've found cinema camera's ergonomics unsuitable for architecture – with the exception of the C100, which unfortunately doesn't meet the tech spec requirements for my agency (or 2016 for that matter). I've had payload issues in the past mounting cinema cameras to slider/tripod combos, not to mention most cinema cameras have native ISO's so high that ND filtering is essential. But even if Blackmagic Design had included an ND wheel on the URSA Mini, I'm almost certain there would still be payload issues with the slider/tripod combo due to weight of the v-lock battery.

Jake H. Harris

March 6, 2016 at 9:04PM

@jackie, because DSLR's don't have a fans (let me know of one that does), they will overheat at some point, my old T3i had a cap of 13 minutes I think?

@jake, What about an FS100 or 700? It's about the same form factor of a camcorder except larger and interchangeable lenses, without knowing all your companies specs I really couldn't help you though.

Clark McCauley

March 7, 2016 at 9:33AM

Clark McCauley, I don't think your T3i was overheating after 13 min - did you have to wait for it to cool down afterwards? I never did (with a 60D). All the old video-enabled Canon DSLR's (5D mark II, 7D, 60D, 600D's etc) had a file size limit of 4gb, which equaled roughly 11-13 minutes of compressed 1080p. Those cameras were not smart enough to start a new file without dropped frames. Thus the recording cut out at 4gb.

The 5D mark III and onwards were able to stitch files together seamlessly, so there the limit was just the 30 minutes for tax purposes.

One of the very few benefits of Canon refusing to push their tech to the limit, is that it they work as advertized under most conditions - rarely heard of an overheating Canon.

Einar Bjarni Davidsson

March 7, 2016 at 1:09PM, Edited March 7, 1:09PM

Yeah I've overheated before. Not common, I hit the cap more than I overheat but when I used to shoot with it during the summer I would have to throw it in a cooler or an AC car for a few minutes to keep it going.

Clark McCauley

March 7, 2016 at 7:05PM

Thanks for your thoughts, Clark! I've not used an FS700 before and if it were several grand cheaper I'd certainly consider it. We also have a Sony PMW-F5 CineAlta, so I'm keen to stick with Sony in order to keep the PP's similar. What's your experience with the FS100 been like?

Jake H. Harris

March 7, 2016 at 9:30PM

my panasonic gh4 doesnt have this problem - of course its a dslr-style mirrorless camera. i can shoot as long as my battery lasts and have never had any overheating. this is likely due to its smaller micro 4/3 sensor size

aubrey jackson

March 3, 2017 at 8:21AM, Edited March 3, 8:21AM

As far as I know the Panasonic GH4 is the only current DSLR/Mirrorless camera that has an unlimited recording limit and performs well in high ambient temperatures. ( the GH4R is the European model with no recording time limit )

I would suggest that you either rent or buy a second A7SII body for these situations, so you can immediately switch to the second camera when the first one overheats. Then by the time the second camera starts to overheat, you switch back to the first camera. Yes, it's an expensive solution but you will get to keep the compact rig size and you won't have to worry about powering an external recorder along with the camera.

March 6, 2016 at 7:45PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30538

Thanks Guy, this is what I'm thinking too. Not ideal – but certainly an option.

March 6, 2016 at 9:33PM

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Jake H. Harris
Filmmaker
119

Hi Jake, I just finished a production with two Sony A7SII's where we used the cameras for all B-Roll and 4 4K interviews. The cameras recorded to SanDisk 64GB Extreme Pro SD (SDXC) Card UHS-II 280MB/s.

From the rental house (LensProToGo), we were told these are the only SD cards that don't cause overheating with internal 4K recording.

I would suggest trying these SD cards out before investing into another solution.

Best regards -George

George Mihaly

March 7, 2016 at 3:58PM, Edited March 7, 3:58PM

Hi George, that's really interesting – we purchased several of the SanDisk 64GB Extreme Pro SD (SDXC) Card UHS-II 280MB/s for use with the A7SII which I've been using on the field over past month. It's probably a combination of you shooting in Portland in winter verses me shooting in Melbourne during summer as to why our experiences have been so different... It's 39 degrees outside (102.2°F)!

Jake H. Harris

March 7, 2016 at 7:47PM

There are a variety of recorders and recorder/monitor hybrids. Depending on your actual shooting style (tripod, handheld, shoulder rig, gimbal, etc.), they may have little to no impact on your setup. (They could also have a massive impact.)

If you're willing to buy a second camera, though, it might be worth looking into a recorder, since it will cost you less and can completely negate the heat issues. With at least some recorders (probably all, though I can't say from experience), you can just record just from the recorder and never need to set the camera to record at all, meaning no overheating. Plus, you'll have a recorder and possibly a really good monitor as well, if you pick up something like the Oddysey 7Q+.

March 7, 2016 at 9:13AM

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Alec Kubas-Meyer
Writer/Director/DP
273

Some recommend removing the battery cover flap entirely to help the heat escape a little better. (there is a small flip switch on the inside of the cover which you can use to remove it)

May 13, 2016 at 11:56AM

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Alex James
Editor
185

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