Video: Canal Bank Walk - Another Sony A6000 with XAVCs Test
After my first rather unprofessional test of the A6000 with the new XAVC codec last week, I set out to create a better video on Friday. This time I used my good Nikon 24-120 lens and a tripod. Unfortunately I still had a few issues, but they were entirely my own fault. Still, I think it's a nice result, and I was lucky as some interesting things happened while I was filming.
The biggest problem that I had, was that I brought the wrong tripod. I have a very small, compact tripod from Manfrotto called the Modo, and I thought that it would be fine as it's a small camera. Unfortunately, when combined with the weight of the 24-120, the end result was not that stable, especially as it was a little windy that day too. Like I said, this was entirely my own fault. I was just trying to travel light. Anyway, there's a couple of shaky shots, most of which were easily corrected in Premiere with the warp stabiliser.
For the shoot itself I headed to the Grand canal in the centre of Dublin. The canal is one of my favourite spots for taking photos and videos. There's a lovely walk by the banks of the canal and it's covered with rich greenery and there's lots of activity. It's a beautiful spot, and I like it very much. One of Irelands most famous poets, Patrick Kavanagh wrote one of his most famous poems about this stretch of water.
I shot on the A6000 with the camera set to the standard picture profile, but with contrast and sharpness turned down to flatten the image, and maximise the quality for post production. Some have suggested using Portrait or Neutral, but I like the colours in Standard, and it was a overcast day so most of the time thee wasn't much contrast anyway.
I used my Nikon 24-120 which was attached using a Novaflex adaptor. This was both a good and a bad thing. On the good side, it's a great lens, but it has one big flaw, which leads me to the bad thing. Critically focussing is difficult, because the focus ring is focus by wire, and there's quite a degree of play in it. The ring isn't too tight and it "slips" making focussing tricky. It's not too bad if you stop down a bit, but I was shooting wide open for most of it. Also, there's one thing about the a6000 that's kind of a pain. When you're in movie mode, the focus assist zoom in function only zooms in to the video feed to the live view display, so you're only zooming into a lower resolution preview than when in photo mode. This makes it very difficult to focus, especially on the back screen. I ended up switching back to photo mode, and setting the photo aspect to 16:9 so there isn't a change in framing when you shoot. I got the hang of it, but it's a bit f a pain. I think if the screen was better you could probably work in Photo mode ok. I'm going to look at getting a proper EVF like one of the Zacuto ones.
Post production wise, I edited and graded in Premiere Pro. I used the new colour tools in Premiere Pro 2015, and I mostly just used the grade to unify the shots as much as possible. I wasn't trying to add a "look" and the colour is pretty much the colour that came out of the camera, which is pretty nice for the most part. I added a little sharpness too, and I also used FilmConvert, but just to add some grain.
Overall I'm happy with the image quality, although it was a little soft. It has a weird kind of texture to it, that's kind of hard to describe. It's clean, but has a kind of plasticy look, which is why I added some grain. I'll upload the ungraded version when I get a chance. In terms of the new codec, the XAVC s is so much better than AVCHD. There's no comparison. The old codec was awful. You ended up with aliasing and edge issues that are gone when shooting with XAVCs. It holds up well to post production too. AVCHD would fall apart with only a few tweaks.
For my next test I'm going to order a metabones adaptor so I can use my canon glass on it, as it has much better focus rings (sorry Nikon, I do love the 24-120, but the focus ring is terrible)