So I just shot and edited my first real estate video with the brand new Sony a7siii in 4K 120 fps and in this post I’m going to let you guys know my thoughts on how it went.
So if you follow this channel then you probably already know that I just got my new Sony a7siii recently and that I’ve been excited to try out it’s new video features and capabilities such as the ability to shoot in 4K 120 fps. I said I would keep you guys updated on this new camera and how it performs for those of you that are interested so here we are. Now that I had the opportunity to test this baby out in the real world I wanted to make this video and update you all about it.
Before owning this camera I was using the a7iii and the a7sii and both of those cameras only had the capability to shoot in HD at 120 fps, not 4K. So up until now I have been shooting my real estate videos in 1080 HD at either 60 or 120 fps which has worked great pretty much but now that I have the ability to shoot in those same frame rates in 4K with this new camera I have been excited to take advantage of that capability and the benefits it can offer.
So let me first start by saying that I’m not exporting the video in 4K. I wouldn’t deliver a video in 4K to a client because that’s still overboard for real estate clients. I’m editing it on a 1920x1080 HD timeline and exporting in that same resolution. So what’s the point of shooting it in 4K if you aren’t exporting in 4K you may be wondering. There’s a couple of benefits. For one it allows you flexibility in editing because it allows you to punch in on your footage up to 50% and recompose your shots with no loss of quality which is definitely an advantage. Also, shooting in 4k and downsizing it to an HD timeline like we are discussing still yields better looking footage than just shooting in HD. Now, I haven’t compared downsized 4K footage to native 1080 HD footage with this specific camera as of yet but judging on past experience with previous cameras this has been the case. I will have to run that experiment when I get a moment. Are we talking about a huge jump in quality? No, but an increase in the quality of the footage nonetheless and we of course want our footage to look the best it can be.
Also, we definitely need to acknowledge the fantastic low light and low noise performance of this camera. This house may have not been spectacular or had the greatest lighting so sometimes I pushed the ISO but I think the footage looked cleaner and higher quality compared to what I’m used to from the a7iii. Also, the a7siii is shooting in 10 bit 4:2:2 vs 8 bit 4:2:0 on the a7iii so there is more color information there as well.
So those are the upsides to shooting in 4K but what are the downsides? Really the biggest downside was the file sizes. Shooting at 4K 120 fps in XAVC-S has a bitrate of 280 MBPS which is no joke. The footage for this shoot was just about 80 GB and that will definitely take up some room on your hard drives. Also because of this high bit rate footage, if you don’t have a super computer then you’re going to have a hard time editing it. I just had to convert the files into proxy files and then I was able to cut through it like butter. Not that big a deal but it is an extra step. I just set it up to convert to proxies while I’m sleeping or out shooting and when I get back it's ready to go. The other slight downside I experienced is that shooting in 4K 120 gobbles up your battery. I imagine It’s a lot of work for the camera to process that footage so it’s hard on your battery. I put a fresh one before I started shooting and it was pretty much depleted by the time I finished which was only like a little over an hour. If you’re unfamiliar, these batteries are really good too. I can usually do a whole day of 5 or 6 photoshoots with just one battery.
So will I continue to shoot my videos in 4K 120? Yeah, I’m thinking the benefits and flexibility of it is worth it to me. What do you think? Worth it or not worth it? I’m also definitely going to experiment with some different picture profiles and see what kind of dynamic range I can squeeze out of this thing. I shot this video on PP1 which is what I’ve been using but now that the base ISO for s-log 3 can go as low as 160 that can open some doors in the dynamic range department so stay tuned for those findings. I am definitely on a quest to find the best possible settings for this camera to get the best quality for real estate videos.