InCinematographer - Issue 3 - 42
www.incinematographer.com | Issue 3
Sony PXW-FS7 Braves
Australian cinematographer Pieter de Vries opted for Sony's
PXW-FS7 as his go to cameras for an Antarctic shoot...
ecently Pieter de Vries, one of Australia's
best known and most well respected
cinematographers, had an important choice to make.
The shoot was a challenging one - the Antarctic. The
choice was which cameras to use. In the end de Vries
chose the Sony PXW-FS7.
He explained, "The camera needed to be compact,
suited to handheld cinematography and able to
accept any lenses. It also had to be affordable so that
I could take two camera bodies. These days we just
take it for granted that it can record in 4K. A lot of
filming was done on Zodiac inflatable watercraft and
this meant that the camera had to be well balanced
on the shoulder just to keep it safe if nothing else.
The FS7, in my opinion, was the perfect choice."
De Vries knows his camera equipment. He also
knows what to look for and what will work in the
most challenging of environments.
"The extension handle on the FS7 is perfect and
I was able to keep the camera balanced on my
shoulder - this being so important from a safety
aspect and also for the ability to pan around and look
in all directions very quickly. The camera is compact,
in fact it's the ideal size to fulfil its role in Antarctic
Indeed it was the "Antarctic conditions" that not
only posed the biggest production problems but also
the most amazing images.
"I've used a Sony PXW-FS7 for quite a few years,
and as I own one, I'm very familiar with it so I had
no second thoughts about using this camera for
this shoot. All Sony professional video cameras are
reliable, in fact more reliable than film cameras.
I've never had an issue working with a Sony camera
anywhere I've ever filmed hot or cold wet or dry, and
this shoot was very cold.
"The best feedback that I can give about the choice
of this particular camera on this job was simply
that I was able to get everything that I wanted and
Pieter de Vries in the Antarctic
with Sony PXW-FS7 cameras
that there was no shooting situation out of reach.
Shooting on the ship or in cold weather on the ice
or rocking about in Zodiacs with salt
water splashing around, I was able to
effortlessly get the video sequences
without any issues whatsoever."
In addition to Sony FS7 cameras de Vries
used a variety of other cameras GoPros,
Zenmuse X5R's with Inspire drones and various stills
cameras mounted in gimbals including the Sony
A7S Mk2 a Sony A7R Mk2, Sony RX100 Mk4 and a
With the FS7s as his main cameras there was
filming on board the ship in common spaces, in
cabins, in the engine room, on the bridge, on the
ship decks in icy minus 10 degree conditions and an
incredible amount of scenes shot on the ice and on
a large snowfield where de Vries and his crew had to
climb uphill carrying all of their equipment.
He added: "That uphill climb alone made the
compact and lightweight FS7 the right camera for
this job. I shot in Cine EI mode which gave me the
maximum dynamic range required especially in
the bright conditions of Antarctica. We transferred
our footage at the end of each day using dedicated
software to back up the various cards and to then
make backups of those backups. One of the drives
was then secured in a pelican case and they were not
touched for the remainder of the voyage. There were
approximately 65 hard drives containing all the 4K
footage. We reviewed our rushes whenever we could
on one of the other drives dedicated only to viewing
For a cinematographer of de Vries' experience
the choice of camera is absolutely key and on this
particular shoot he simply couldn't have been
happier than with his choice of Sony FS7.
"The Sony PXW-FS7 is a
perfect documentary camera,"
Pieter de Vries
"The Sony PXW-FS7 is a perfect
documentary camera in many
respects because of its compact size
and weight, the quality of the images
and the various technical specifications of the
camera. The quality of our images on this shoot
was excellent and being able to use lenses from
different lens makers, as you can with the FS7, is
a big plus. Both FS7 cameras performed without
fault in the warm humid conditions on board the
ship and the extremely cold outside temperatures.
Condensation is always a consideration in extreme
cold but because there are so few moving parts, if
any, aside from the neutral density filter wheel it was
never an issue for the FS7s. All of my Sony cameras
were handpicked for this shoot and they didn't miss
Between assignments, Pieter conducts training that
is ideal for anyone who wants to take their expertise
beyond menus and dials. Using Sony cameras, his
philosophy is that one-to-one training or being
part of small group is the fastest way to gain the
techniques that enable you to tell compelling stories
with a video or DSLR-style camera.