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A Changing of the Guard: Or How I learned to Stop Worrying, Break up with Canon and Love the Sony FS7

The end of an era; Adam sells his C100 and parts ways with Canon Cameras.

The total package.

To say I'm an industry veteran would be an absurd and outlandish statement. However, during my time in the film industry I have interacted with more cameras than I care to count. Of all of them, only one stole my heart and the contents of my savings account.. until now.

Ergonomic, lightweight, easy to rig and good in the cold too!

Ergonomic, lightweight, easy to rig and good in the cold too!

For those of you familiar with the C100, you don't need me to tell you what makes it so special. It's uncomplicated, ergonomic, simple to use and absorbs light. It can be as big or small as you need, as light or heavy as you want and captures beautiful images at a great compression rate. Most importantly, the C100 was the first camera I ever used that felt so technologically advanced while being so lightweight and small that it allowed me to be as creative as I wanted without having to worry about many of the unnecessary technicalities of filmmaking. 

Even without rigging the C100 is great for handheld cinematography.

Unfortunately, this is a business and even when you want to focus on your craft and telling stories, you also need to pay rent, bring in new clients and make sure the current crop doesn't jump ship. That means you need a camera with a recognizable brand name, a hot off the press model number and buzzword features like 4K, Raw and Slow-Mo. 

I knew I would need to upgrade sometime before the end of 2015 and so in April of this year as NAB was around the corner, I impatiently waited for the announcement of the Canon C300 MKII. Like many young filmmakers, I started shooting on a Canon DSLR. I've been shooting Canon for years now and the trust and comfort I have in their product line has never wavered-- so theoretically I was excited to continue on with the brand. But month after month, announcement after announcement, Canon continued to disappoint. Like many of you I feel they are beginning to seriously lose touch with the market, specifically with owner operators and indie filmmakers. On a brand wide level it feels like Canon has given up on trying to appeal to us, much in the same way that Apple has (Final Cut X, etc). So when the C300 MKII was advertised with a price tag of over $16K and appeared to be missing many of the key features needed to beat its significantly cheaper competition, I knew it was time to look for other options.

My first Canon, a 60D which I still own and use for stills. But probably not for long. 

The Black Magic URSA Mini seems appealing in many ways. It's relatively cheap for its specs, ergonomic, lightweight, uses standard V-Mount Batteries and the soon to be standard C-Fast cards for data. But I've been shooting with Black Magic Cameras since they started shipping (months after they should have) and while you can certainly get a beautiful image from them, their biggest flaw is the hardest one to ignore; unreliability. I've had whole days of footage vanish as if it were never shot, cameras that overheat and shutdown in the middle of shoots, multi-cam projects with identical settings and lenses producing completely different color images and worst of all, a computer bricked during a file transfer. What good is a tool that you can't trust?

A still from CAPTAIN CRASH - the first film I shot with the SONY FS7

A RED, ARRI or Panasonic Varicam were far out of my price range, leaving me with only one real option if I wanted to truly upgrade my gear and not simply replace it; the Sony FS7. Brand name? Check. New model? Check. 4K, Raw, Slow-Mo? Check, Check, Check. I was hesitant at first, and concerned about moving to a whole new camera system but within a few hours of testing the camera in the field (and a few more hours spent watching Doug Jensen's Masterclass) I was sold. Not by the brand name, not by the model number, not by the buzz words, but by the ergonomics, the low light capabilities, the ability to break down or build up, the multitude of powering options and the reliability. There is no perfect camera for every job. There is no perfect camera for every operator. But there is such thing as a camera that is so versatile that it frees you to innovate and tell stories in whatever way you want or need. For me, at this time and in this place, that camera is the Sony FS7. 

So I bid a fond farewell to my C100. It's off in Brooklyn with the talented James Cernero, a fellow filmmaker I met on Craigslist (no, not that part of craigslist). I hope it's as perfect for him now as it was for me. 

On set with the FS7.