Sony Fs7 real world camera review

This Sony FS7 review is intended to provide my initial thoughts on what it’s like to shoot out on location in a fast paced production environment. It is a not a scientific test. 

When i get my hands on a new camera for paid work i always like to have at least a few weeks in advance to have a play around with it in the real world or at least do a quick simple shoot in order to get a feel for it and how it works. 

Unfortunately, with this Sony FS7, i received delivery of the camera 5 days before setting off on an 8 day shoot in Singapore & Thailand to DOP on series 1 of “Habitus House of the Year” for MWC / Channel 7 here in Australia. Along with a new microphone setup (Sony dual channel UWD), it was safe to say i didn’t know the equipment as well as i liked to before boarding the plane.

I paid a visit to one of my Adelaide based DP mates, Dave Gregan who does some work at a camera hire house. He gave me a quick run down on the settings and his normal operating setup which proved to be extremely helpful once the first frame started to roll, more on that later.

My previous workhorse - the sony fs700

Over the past few years, the Sony FS700 has been my workhorse camera paired with an Odyssey 7Q when 4k / Pro-res etc was required. 

Apart from creating beautiful pictures, this setup was an absolute nightmare when I wasn’t shooting structured, tripod setups and doing a bit more movement / off the shoulder work. The rig weighed quite a bit and was just not very enjoyable to use for extended periods of time. 

Here is a short video I produced with the FS700 & Odyssey

Sony fs700 with Odyssey
The Sony FS700 paired with an Odyssey 7Q - great pictures but a challenging form factor. Image: Paul Moses

fs7 Form factor and ergonomics


The moment i started using the Sony FS7, i knew i was going to like the form factor and knew that i wouldn’t need to build a huge rig with loads of add-ons to make this camera work the way i like – minimal, light with not much fuss. 

The camera felt comfortable on my shoulder when doing a bit of run and gun around Bangkok City, I do suffer from a bit of elbow & shoulder pain sometimes on heavy setups but on this shoot – i was not uncomfortable at all – this made me very happy!

Overall verdict on the form factor is great, i’m very happy with how it feels, the weight and how comfortable it feels on the shoulder.

viewfinder & hand grip


In my opinion, the viewfinder felt about 1 inch too long, i had the viewfinder extended forward on the rod as far as it would go and still needed to tilt my had back a tad in order to position my eye correctly down the viewfinder. These types of Sony loupe’s have been around for 6-7 years now and it would have been nice if Sony released an updated version that would allow me to adjust the length without needing to pull the whole thing apart.

It’s great to have a dedicated peaking button on the viewfinder, in enables me to check focus quickly by pressing the focus zoom button on the handgrip with me right hand and toggle peaking on an off if i wish with my left hand. It makes checking critical focus super quick and reliable.

The only extras i have purchased for the camera is the shape arm extender which allows me to extend and ‘collapse’ the arm without the need for any tools. The extender is well build and solid. There were however, two occasions during the 8 day shoot when the handle ‘slipped’ out of its grip without me releasing it on purpose. At this stage i’m not 100% sure if this is a fault by myself or a slight weak point in the extended arm.


“The moment i started using the Sony FS7, i knew i was going to like the form factor and knew that i wouldn’t need to build a huge rig with loads of add-ons to make this camera work the way i like – minimal, light with not much fuss.”

The Sony FS7 paired with the Shape Arm made for a comfortable shoot in Bangkok. Image: Steve Sweet



For the shoot days which were quite long with the camera being on and recording for up to 6 hours a day the batteries held up well. I took 2 of the large Sony BPU-60 batteries and 1 of the smaller BPU-30 ones.

In reflection, i ideally would have taken an extra small one to get me through without needing to stress about the possibility of running out of batteries. It didn’t happen but there were 2 or 3 days when i was down to my last battery for the last scenes of the day and it’s not a position i like to be in.

I should mention that i was running the microphone receiver off the camera battery (i loved the fact i wasn’t burning through AA batteries, both for my pocket and for the planet). The receiver was taking in two wireless feeds so i can imagine it was quite hungry for power from the battery. On longer days i was running the receiver off AA’s to lengthen the battery life.

I was also using mainly prime lens’ which were not taking any battery power for servo zooms etc.


Nothing much to say about the media, I took 384Gb worth of cards and there was only one day i used more than one 128Gb card (shooting in HD XAVC-I 25p)

shooting with the camera


As with the nature of filming  series on architecture, we filmed indoors in a lot in magnificent houses with huge windows, skylights, pool lights, basements, and garden canopies. 

We decided it was best to shoot the series in Sony’s s-log3 gamma curve for the added dynamic range to help soften the difference between inside and outside while capturing these houses.

The first thing i learned was when shooting in CINE EI S-LOG3, was that i couldn’t do a colour balance when arriving in a new scene / light setup. 

I was restricted to 3 pre defined settings on the camera (3200, 4700 & 5600k) initially i was a tad worried about this but having since seen the images in post, very little harsh colour correction was needed. They were a little warm for my liking when on 5600k but i could just pull the temperature down slightly in Premiere.

I enabled a LUT in the viewfinder and basically kept a keen eye on my waveform monitor while using the HI/LOW key that Dave had setup on one of the custom buttons to monitor hi-lights and low-lights. I thought this feature was great! It really enabled me to quickly see how much i was capturing in the extreme lighting ends of the picture and to make sure i wasn’t clipping. 

I missed the ability to be able to assign a custom button to quickly turn the LUT in the viewfinder on & off (As far as i know this cannot be done? Maybe i have missed this as i’m still new to this camera, please comment below if it’s possible to do this). My work around to check the s-log picture being recorded to the media was to turn on S&Q motion which disables the LUT before pressing record just to check. 

PLEASE NOTE: If you try to do this, make sure your S&Q frame rate is the same as the frame rate that you’re shooting in, i got caught with this once and ended up over exposing the shot because when i checked the slog picture the shutter speed was increased due to the slow motion frame rate so the log picture i saw was dark so i adjusted my aperture to compensate. 

When i exited out of the Log view (S&Q motion) the shutter speed went back to 50 for the 25p setting and i didn’t quite notice that the LUT was showing slightly clipping highlights. Learnt my lesson there!

If anyone has a better way to quickly check the s-log picture being recorded while a LUT is enabled on the monitor please let me know in the comments.

The controls and buttons on the camera seem like second nature to me having used Sony camera’s for the past 13 years, things seemed natural and it’s a well designed camera for usability.

The Sony FS7 was a fast and nimble camera on the go. Image: Steve Sweet
Shooting a scene in Bangkok with the Sony FS7. Image: Steve Sweet

SONY S-LOG before and after grading


Below are a few raw screen grabs from the camera before grading and after i have done a bit of playing around in Premiere. The S-LOG certainly has given us a lot more freedom in the range of light gathered before the picture breaks down.

I tried to expose most of the images about 1 stop over to allow us to crush down slightly in the grade to remove the small about of noise generated by the native 2000ISO


As the saying goes, audio is 50% of the picture. There is nothing like having a dedicated sound recordist on projects like these. But as we all know with some budgets, it’s not always possible.

Since 2013 i have been using a pair of sennheiser G3 wireless lapel microphone packs. They have served me very well and have rarely let me down. Recently, I have noticed that the range was going on them and i was getting a lot of static spikes in the audio. 

After speaking to the techs at sennheiser support it was deduced that the antenna’s on the transmitters were on the way out. They need repairing but i didn’t have time so i decided to buy a pair of Sony’s wireless transmitters and a dual channel receiver. 

After shooting with them for 8 days i have to say i’m very impressed with them. The range was fantastic and usability was simple and straightforward. I could do a quick scan once arriving at a new location in about 20 seconds and the ability to run the receiver off the camera batteries will save me around $200 a year in AA batteries*. 

The first time i used the microphones was in fairly central Singapore on day 1 and i did have trouble finding a free channel and was getting a bit of static. My immediate thought was “these are terrible, what a waste of $2k and i want my money back!” But i later realised it was most probably a result of so many radio frequencies being used in the tiny country that is Singapore. 

In Thailand and in Australia i haven’t had a single blip. Overall very happy with these and will probably fix the sennheiser’s and then sell them in the near future.

In summary

All in all my initial thoughts on the Sony FS7 is thats it’s a well designed TV production / online content camera that is perfectly usable straight out of the box. 

I would recommend getting the shape arm or similar, it just makes using the camera a lot easier on the go, it also enables me to quickly fold the arm backwards on itself to fit into the camera bag without needing to pull it apart – thats a big plus for me!

It produced beautiful looking pictures even in HD. If this show gets picked up for a second series i will most likely shoot in 4k which i’m sure will look amazing coupled with the locations and the amazing houses.


* The reason i use AA’s instead of rechargeable ones is i already have 4 cameras and numerous other batteries for portable lights etc that i need to charge nightly after a shoot day, i don’t want to think about charging AA batteries every night as well.

Hire Paulfor your next video project

Paul and his team of trusted video crew are available for day rate hire or project rate hire in Adelaide at local rate, Australia wide or Global at very competitive rates.
Camera kits can be built for custom jobs. See full kit list here 
Get in touch for availability and rates

7 accounting tips for video freelancers

I have to admit, accounting is not my strongpoint! I was one of those people who paid zero respect to being organised on the accounting side of the business when i quite my full time job and jumped into freelance life 8 years ago.

Over this time, i have gone from a chaotic mess of having faded receipts laying around the office, spending hours at tax time trying to find everything for my poor accountant & using Microsoft word invoices to knowing exactly where i am with my expenses & income, being able to compare with the previous year and spending an average of just 30 minutes per quarter doing my GST Bas statement.

This is not a definitive list, some might work for you and some might not but if I was starting over again as a freelancer, these are the things i would do from the start, so let’s go, these are the 7 accounting tips I wish I knew when i turned freelance.

1. set up a seperate business account at your bank

Bit of an obvious one to start but the sooner you do this the better, most banks (in Australia) will add on an additional account to your personal account free of charge or for around $15 a year which isn’t too bad. I have set up my internet and mobile banking to be in the same place so i can see where i am personally and where the business is financially side by side.

Set your default invoice bank details to go into this account. You can also start using this account to purchase anything you need for your freelance business.

Doing this keeps things cleaner. Use your personal account for personal things and business account for business transactions.

2. get a business credit card (optional)

Some people may be against this one as credit cards do cost money per year but, when used correctly can bring some nice rewards.

For any purchase i make for my business i will generally use my credit card. Two years ago i picked an airline in Australia that i was going to stick with for frequent flyer reasons, i also signed up to their credit card for the additional points benefits. Why was this worth it? Well it’s fairly common for me to purchase flights or pay for hotels for travel work and then bill it back to the client in the invoice, as i’m getting the money back when the invoice gets paid, it’s essentially free points. 

Make sure you keep an eye on the interest rate terms and conditions though if you get a business credit card, never spend more than you can afford!

3. sign up to a cloud accounting subscription

This is a definite in my mind. When i first went freelance i was using excel and word to do my invoices and keep track of my expenses – what a headache! I hated it and avoided it as much as possible. I signed up to Freeagent about 5 years ago and am still using it. It’s designed specifically for freelancers which means i’m paying for lightweight accounting software and not overpaying for in depth features i’m not likely to use. 

Being able to quickly see where i’m at financially is great (and even a tad addictive!) I can see what bills I have outstanding, what invoices are outstanding, quotes sent vs approved and how much revenue vs profit I have at that moment is so convenient!

There are tons of different options out there these days including free memberships like wave so it doesn’t need to cost you any money. I’m happy to pay $20 a month for my subscription as the amount of time it saves me makes it well worth it. 

If you are looking to sign up to Free agent, you can get a 10% discount on your membership here (or use this code if the link doesn’t work: 457pu5r2)

4. link accounting software to your business bank account

Most accounting platforms allow you to sync all transactions that occur in your bank account and/or credit card to the accounting software. 

Transactions usually sync about 24-48 later. What this does is forces you to keep tabs on all outgoing and incoming transactions within your business. I try to set aside 1-2 hours per fortnight to go through the transactions and explain them within the software. Make sure you keep your receipts from any shop front type transactions (such as meals or taxi fares etc) until you reconcile within the software. 

When reconciling transactions, i take a photo of the receipts with my phone and airdrop them to my desktop to attach them to the transaction, that way if you lose the receipt or they fade you have a digital copy stored in the cloud.

There are services that automate this but i still prefer to make myself a coffee on a quiet morning and doing my reconciling manually.

Another benefit to syncing your bank account is in the overview page of your accounting software, you can see a semi live (about 24-48 delay as explained above) display of your account bank balances without needing to log onto internet banking.

5. setup expense and income categories

Setting up expense and income categories from day one helps you obtain a birds eye view on how your are earning your income and what you are spending the businesses money on by generating profit and loss statements.

When i quote for a new project, I attach each item to an income category. For example: If I quoted for:

  • 1 day shoot for myself including standard camera equipment.
  • A sound recordist
  • A drone
  • 2 days of post production

There would be 4 income categories assigned here (In house Production, Freelance crew (sound), Equipment – production & In house post production)  

What this does is provide me a revenue breakdown at the end of each year.

The same reasoning applies to expense categories, for example, i can see that from July 2018 – November 2018 i spent $71.41 on AA batteries for the equipment – that’s about $150 per year so it’s a good idea for me to buy in bulk and save a few dollars or look into rechargeable solutions. 

The main categories I tend to use are:

  • Insurance (separate for public liability, equipment & car etc)
  • Travel (separate for Uber, Taxi, Parking, Flights, Hotel & Public Transport
  • Communications (separate for Internet, Phone, Mobile etc)
  • Equipment purchases (Pre, Production & Post production)
  • Subscriptions (separate for each subscription)
  • Professional Fees (Bank fees, accountant fees, business registration fees etc)

Depending on your industry and needs, you can set up as many or as little categories as you like.

Good to know: try and find an accounting software that has a mobile app, i frequently take photos of my receipts on the go and attach them to the job in the app. When i send the invoice, the expense is automatically added!

6. setup recurring expenses and bills

For any bills or expenses that are recurring that you won’t be paying via your business account, it’s a good idea to set them up in your accounting software. These will be added to your expenses every time you specify (daily, weekly, monthly etc).

The reason i do this is to save time and also to stop me from forgetting to add them. For example, I use a home office at least one day per week so i have set up a weekly expense for the cost of use of my home office. Once i set it up, it deducts this amount in the background without me having to worry about it. When it comes to tax time at the end of the year, it’s all there ready.

7. create quoting, invoice and email reminder templates

In the spirit of maximising your time, spend a few hours creating a quote & invoicing templates. You should be able to easily add your income categories when creating your quotes and invoices (remember what we talked about in step 5!)

You can even setup automatic invoicing if you have landed a retainer contract or have an agreement to invoice the same amount weekly.

Email reminder templates can save you a lot of time in the long run. In my accounting software i have set up the following based on 30 day invoicing terms:

Day 1

Send invoice on day one using an email template that displays the invoice reference, amount due, invoice date & the due date.

Day 23

An automatic email template is sent with a friendly reminder that payment is due in 7 days.

Day 29

An automatic email template is sent with a friendly reminder that payment is due tomorrow. The email contains the same information as the original email.

Thank you email

This is sent to confirm payment had been received. This is triggered when the received amount is ticked off in the software from the automatic bank feed we were talking about in step 4.


So thats it! There are a ton of things you can do to make your workflow save you time in the long run. Everyone will have different way of working and some of these will work better for certain types of industries. I work as a video producer which means i travel a lot and am frequently paying for unexpected things while out and about. 

Using a cloud based accounting software means i can even take a photo of receipts on the go and they will be listen on the invoice automatically when the time comes to send the invoice, perfect!

If you have any more tips or shortcuts, add them in the comments, I always like to learn more!

Hire Paulfor your next video project

Paul and his team of trusted video crew are available for day rate hire or project rate hire in Adelaide at local rate, Australia wide or Global at very competitive rates.
Camera kits can be built for custom jobs. See full kit list here 
Get in touch for availability and rates