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Shooting run and gun video with a compact camera (Sony RX100 ii)

 

I love shooting travel videos, I also love having a small, light and easy to carry setup while I'm doing it because I want to enjoy the time exploring and not feel like I'm on a corporate shoot.

I'm off on honeymoon to Thailand next year and will want to document it with a nice little package that shoots 1080p HD video at 25fps, takes photos, and fits in my pocket so it's always there. I started doing a little research on Vimeo to see what people were using and came across some travel videos by a talented guy called Brandon Li, who shoots professionally with the Sony RX100. I was blown away by the quality and when I googled the camera was shocked to see that it was a fixed lens compact with a 1 inch sensor! I was sold there and then on it's size and video performance and purchased the newer RX100 ii, because of it's 25fps capability and hotshoe add on for accessories.

I recently went on a short break to the Lake District with my fiancee and thought this would be a great location to try out it's video and photo quality. It certainly didn't dissapoint! The video is available at the bottom of the post.

 

PROS

The active image stabiliser on the camera is superb; in fact one of the best I've seen! The camera is tiny yet needs no rigging at all to keep the image nice and smooth, even when zoomed in. This is great for light, run and gun travel scenario because you can literally just hold the camera in your hand and film away, getting perfectly usable steady shots.

Low light performance is surprisingly good with the cameras 1 inch sensor, which is an impressive size for such a small body. It worked well at night and indoors for both video and photos. Any image noise had a film grain quality to it rather than blocky colour artifacts.

The camera has full manual control and good button accessability to change settings on the fly. It's as easy as filming with a Canon DSLR on full manual mode. And for times when you need very quick shooting you can go semi auto or full auto and let the camera do the work, including pretty responsive auto focus. You can also add 3 different presets to the camera for quick changes - I currently have a 25fps video setup, 50fps video set up, and semi auto shutter priority mode for my fiancee to shoot with.

Quick and edit friendly AVCHD format with full 1080p slowmo at 50fps! A nice extra to have.

IT'S JUST SO SMALL! The image quality is beutiful, and the entire package is tiny, you can take it anywhere and it doesn't add any weight. It is truly the ultimate run and gun compact travel camera for video and photos.

 

CONS

No ND filter. I struggled a bit with this one on my trip to the lakes. There were lots of bright moments outdoors and I needed to crank the f stop up to max (which is only f/11). The camera is capable of some excellent depth of field at it's wide end of f/1.8 but that wasn't possible with this particular trip. I've since purchased a Magfilter Carryspeed magnetic adapter that sticks to the front of the camera lens allowing me to magnetically snap a vari ND filter on and off as and when I need it. An essential purchase with this camera I think.

No constant aperture. The lens starts off at an impressive f/1.8 at the wide end but quickly drops down to f/4.9 when fully zoomed which is a real problem for video shooting. You work around this but almost entirely just shooting at the widest focal length, but can be frustrating at times. Not neccessarily a problem shooting in bright outdoor situations when your f stop is already at about f/5.6 but indoors it's a killer.

 

That however is quite honestly the only 2 issues I've come across with the camera when using it, and they are minor issues that you learn to work around. All in all this camera is just fantastic in terms of image quality, control and portability, as well as being a lot of fun to shoot with!

Have a watch of the lakes video below and decide for yourself what you think.

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