A quick heads up… this is a technical review. I won’t be offended if you prefer to watch the more interesting, visual representation of this article, above!
So I recently received some new gear consisting of the Sony a6300 4K mirrorless camera, Sigma Art 30mm 1.4 Lens and a Zhiyun Crane-M gimbal. I decided to drive to the New Forest in Hampshire and film my friend, who is a drone operator and pilots the DJI Inspire. Here’s a review on the gear and my initial reaction to how I got on.
For me, the most important aspect of the Sony a6300 camera is the in-video autofocus tracking. I am a ‘run and gun’ videographer and it’s essential at occasions like weddings that I’m not fiddling around with focus. I often have 2 cameras at weddings and having one that can track people, whilst I operate another camera is super-important.
After one session with this camera I am confident in it’s autofocus tracking and you can see how effective it is throughout the film. The A6300 changed focus between different subjects without problems and it also tracked autofocus as the drone moved towards/away from the camera. I can’t rate the autofocus highly enough. The focus tracking allows me to use the camera without hesitation with a gimbal, because there’s no need to adjust the focus ring during filming (more about the gimbal later).
I chose to shoot the film in 1080p with the Sony a6300, because this gives the opportunity to shoot super slow-motion (120 fps). This gives a lot of flexibility in post production to slow down the fast moving drone and I think slow-motion always looks awesome. Slow-motion can also reduce the effect of camera shake, which was something that I expected from my first use of an electronic stabiliser; the Zhiyun Crane-M.
That said I found the Zhiyun Crane-M is easy enough to use once I spent an hour balancing the camera (the average individual will probably take half the time to set-up!). I wanted a good idea of the capabilities so I testing a variety of functions in addition to the basic stabilising option. Pans and tilts, were easy enough and smooth. However, panning is especially sensitive so tracking your subject can be difficult. It is much easier to have the gimbal in ‘follow mode’ and rotate the handle, which causes a panning movement.
The only issue I have with the gimbal is the Android App. In short, it doesn’t work. This is not essential, but it will allow me to pan an tilt the camera remotely. This will have it’s uses for me as I will be able to more easily operate two cameras; one in my hands and one through my phone.
Last but not least. The Sigma 30mm 1.4 Art lens. I bought this because it was the most highly ranked lens for Sony E-mount on DXOmark and it was a focal length that I love (45mm equivalent on full frame). The aperture is ideal for dimly lit rooms, like churches and ceremony rooms so this was a big plus.
The Sigma is a prime lens, but with the 4K option I can crop and have an full frame equivalent focal length of 90mm, so there is a degree of flexibility in that respect. I can’t compare the lens to other lenses very fairly, because I don’t own any other e-mount lenses for the a6300.
My second camera is a Nikon D750 and that’s got different lenses altogether. That said, I can’t tell apart the a6300 + Sigma stills from the Nikon with a prime like the well regarded Nikkor 85mm 1.8. Fair to say I am happy considering it’s a crop sensor camera and the Nikon is full frame. The autofocus is partly due to camera and partly due to lens, so dues to the Sigma lens for the aforementioned in video focus discussed earlier.
In conclusion, the camera, lens, gimbal combo were all I was hoping for and more. I am confident to take them to the next wedding or event I film. They function perfectly and their combine weight and size makes them discrete and comfortable to carry around all day.
On a side note, a big shout out to my friend Henry for the drone footage from his DJI Inspire drone. You can check out more of his work on under the ‘credits’ section of the original video.