Without question, Sony has been the leader of the mirrorless and bridge camera market for many years. Undoubtedly, they produce the very best cameras for video recording and filmmakers.
As a professional photographer based in Hong Kong, I have photographed hundreds of weddings, and this has opened my eyes to the world of videography as well.
In this article, I will suggest what to consider when picking the best Sony cameras for video. Together with my recommendations for cameras which great for film making, videography, and vlogging, I will also give you some insider tips to help your decision making.
Best Sony Camera for Video: Quick Summary
Why Should You Trust Me?
I am Ali G, a professional photographer based in Hong Kong and director of Ali G Studios for over 12 years. Time and time again, I've worked with videographers who use Sony cameras, and even though I am a Nikon user myself, I have to admit the quality of Sony is unparalleled in the video industry.
You can find my work in different major media and exhibitions, such as:
Producing high-quality videos for my clients is part of my job of course, and I get to work with some amazing videographers who produce world class content and quality.
In this article, I will share some great tips about choosing the best Sony camera for video.
There are many reasons for us to fall in love with Sony cameras and their video functions:
- Sony cameras can use almost any third-party lens (via separate mount)
- Photographers can take advantage of Sony’s class-leading camera tech for videography
- Sony cameras offer exceptional time-lapse capabilities and high-resolution cinematography
- Sony’s innovative mirrorless cameras (which are renowned as outstanding for video recording) come with a smaller form factor as compared to many other cameras allowing ease of portability
Best Sony Cameras for Video: What to Consider
Consider the following factors before making your purchasing decision:
How Do You Want to Use the Camera?
Take into account what type of videos you are planning to produce. You may need a lightweight camera, which are perfect for travel bloggers and wedding photographers because they need to be very portable.
However, if you will need to do a lot of post-production work and editing, you may need a camera with firm log profiles or even one that can record up to 10-bit because you need a larger depth of color for post-production color correction.
Think about how you want to use your camera, then based on the videos you want to produce, pick the most suitable one.
Resolution means the number of horizontal and vertical pixel lines contained within video or broadcast footage. The higher the number, the more crisp and sharp the details!
The most common resolutions these days can be classified as follows:
- 360p, meaning 480 x 360 pixels, known as low resolution and are suitable to view on your phones
- 480p, 720×480 pixels, known as the standard resolution for burning to DVDs
- 720p, 1280 x 720 pixels, known as high resolution for viewing on most TVs
- 1080p, 1920 x 1080 pixels, also known as full HD (High Definition), suitable for high-res TVs
- Ultra 4K HD, 3840 x 2160 pixels, great for 16:9 TV resolution for 4K broadcast
- Cinema 4K, 4096 x 2160 pixels, a high resolution for 1.9:1 cinema projection
The higher the “p,” the higher the recording resolution, the better quality of the output as well, depending on your screen of course.
Nowadays, the trend has been further developed into 8K resolution.
Frame rate means the speed at which the images are shown in the video, and this is usually expressed as fps, “frames per second.” The higher the fps, the smoother the video would be, especially in slow motion videography.
Processors, Sensor and Image Stabilization Function
If you plan to shoot in low light conditions or may need to do a lot of handheld shots due to time and space conditions, make sure you get a camera with powerful processors, great sensors, and an in-body image stabilization function.
The faster the processor, the quicker your camera will perform; the larger the sensor, the more light can pass through to create a scene's image.
Together with better in-body image stabilization, you can produce sharp and steady footage for the video.
Check if the camera supports log profiles because it is primarily related to the depth of color captured, which is a significant factor for post-production color correction.
Usually, I would recommend getting a camera that can capture high res videos from 60 fps, i.e. 60 distinct still images will be shown per second.
Always consider the availability of compatible accessories. You want to get a camera that can be upgraded, such as what sorts of microphones and headphones can be supported?
Mirrorlss Cameras vs DSLRs
Mirrorless cameras have a certain advantage over typical DSLR cameras. The lack of a mirror makes it easier to take image after image since the simple mechanics of mirrorless cameras allow them to shoot more photos per second at higher shutter speeds.
- High number of Autofocus (AF) points potentially increase the quality of overall videos with less aberration per pixel
- Try to get a camera with phase detection to minimize the familiar blurry look in the middle of a video when the camera starts hunting for the right focus
Best Sony Camera for Video: Top 3 Picks
Best All-Round Sony Camera: Sony Alpha A7r III
The Sony Alpha A7R III made it to the all-around camera spot because it serves you well if you are a photographer and a cinematographer. It captures fantastic videos and improves on many of the features from the earlier models.
Camera Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: 42.4MP Full-Frame Exmor R BSI CMOS Sensor, which means it can produce high resolution and quality videos with low power consumption
Resolution: 7952 x 5304 Resolution ensures excellent high quality of captured videos
- 399 Point AF System & 10 fps continuous shooting, results in minimizing chromatic aberrations and noise in videos
- Excellent sharpness from corner-to-corner
- 4- Bit depth, great to retain the full dynamic range captured by the sensor
- 4k @30 fps, and this will allow a smooth viewing experience
- 1080p @ 120fps (High fps increases the sampling rate of the video, which in turn increases the overall smoothness of video and saves a ton of time in post-production)
Recommended User Level: Professional or Expert
This camera combines high resolution with high speed and fast autofocus capabilities to an unprecedented degree. While some of the changes are subtle, they quickly combine to produce a hugely capable and highly usable camera.
Announced in July 2020, the Sony A7S iii is the long-awaited great news for Vloggers, YouTubers, and travelers because it finally comes with a flip screen!
This is a reliable camera great for both video and stills, producing excellent image quality and a great autofocus function. A significant upgrade of the viewfinder is also very welcomed!
Camera Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: 12.1MP back-illuminated full-frame sensor, which is probably one of the best options you can find in the market to shoot 4k video under low light conditions
Processor: Brand new Bionz XR processor, which will boost up performance to 8 times faster and an expandable ISO from 40 to 409,600
- 759 phase-detection AF points
- 16-Bit Raw Output, HLG & S-Cinetone for excellent color depth
- Eye-tracking functions, which makes it excellent for shooting humans and animals
- It comes with excellent in-body image stabilization (IBIS), active stabilization, small crop-factor optical and electronic system; making the Sony A7S iii 30% quicker than A7S II (according to Sony)
- Impressive ISO, even you set it at ISO 6400, it produces smooth footage like setting at ISO 400
- Extra-long battery life can capture 4k video for up to 80 mins, again, probably one of the best options in the current market
- Easy-to-use menu, which is very important for Vloggers and YouTubers
Recommended User Level: Advanced hobbyist, backups for experts or professionals, and travelers who want to take their video to the next level
What is not that nice?
- Because of the 12.1 MP sensor resolution, A7S III cannot record 6k and 8k videos. However, it is the best camera to shoot for a long time under low light conditions.
- The price of Sony A7S iii is on the higher side, pretty much like all other Sony’s leading cameras.
The Sony A7S iii is the first camera that pops up on my mind when my social media workshop students ask me the question, “Which cameras should I get for my Youtube channels?”
This is a fantastic hybrid camera that can produce world-class videos, with excellent autofocus, handling, image stabilization, low light shooting capabilities, light weight plus the flip screen! What else do you need for a Vlogging camera?
The Sony Alpha a6500 is such a reasonably priced that it's almost a steal! You can get some incredibly cinematic footage for next to nothing.
This is a solid-built camera, and the construction of the lens mount and stabilization is superior to the lower-end Sony models.
Camera type: Mirrorless
Sensors: 24.2MP Exmor CMOS image sensor
Resolution: 6000 x 4000, which is excellent for vibrant and high-quality videography
- 14-Bit Depth (Helps retain the full dynamic range captured by the sensor)
- Extensive control over depth of field and hence allows the photographer to focus on specific points
- Good Autofocus function, just not that nice under low light performance
- 4K 30fps, therefore it’s able to capture vivid colors and details,
- 1080p @ 120fps (Buttery smooth videos and helps a lot in post-production)
- Excellent Time-lapse capabilities
- Huge buffer which can hold up to 307 images
- Dust and moisture-resistant design for increased protection from the elements
- Comes with a 360-degree screen, and it is super useful for vlogging and travel videos
Recommended User Level: Beginner, enthusiast photographer and seasoned videography
What is not that nice?
- The screen is still a bit small.
- Unfortunately, it is not Full mount, which may result in more performance challenges under low light conditions
This camera has a lot to offer, especially considering the modest price tag. It has excellent picture profiles and additional settings inside the camera.
It may perform less under low light conditions, but then consider the overall performance and you will see it's a great piece of technology. The Sony Alpha a6500 is probably the best value for money option after all.
This is an excellent camera for beginners too, functional and easy to control, plus you can grow with this camera.
Best Sony Cameras for Video - Additional Tips
Below are some useful tips regarding videography which I've gained from working with all of my colleagues.
Prepare and Procure Your Gear
You need more gear than just a good camera for videography. Here are some great accessories that every videographer should have:
- A high-quality Tripod with excellent fluid pan/tilt head, panhandles, and adjustable drag to make sure your footage is steady
- High-quality external microphones
- Headphones, preferably over the ear type to isolate all the noise
- Light modifiers, from reflectors to three-point lighting kits to softboxes which can help you control light
- Extra batteries, at least 3 - 4 spare batteries
- Compatible lenses, think about what you are shooting, and prepare the suitable lenses
- Gaffer’s tape, used to secure all parts together
- Fast memory cards
Mastering Post-Production Skills
Post-production is a big part of videography; when you invest in a great camera for videography, part of your investment should go into learning post-production and editing. Make sure you are at least familiar with video editing software such as Adobe Premiere Pro, PowerDirector 365, DaVinci Resolve and so on.
Best Sony Cameras for Video - Final Words
If you are looking to get into videography and produce some fantastic videos, you should definitely consider picking up a Sony camera.
In this article, I gave you three options that are all great, just pick the one that fits your needs and start making amazing videos!!
I would love to hear your feedback on the Sony cameras, and if you have any suggestions for future blogs, please let me know!
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A big thanks to Phottix for the professional lighting equipment provided to Ali G Studios.
All photos are © Ali Ghorbani and Ali G Studios
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