What works and what doesn’t
The Sony a7s and Atomos Assassin are a great combo when shooting together. Though some might say the a7s ii is a better camera because of internal 4k I say yes and no. While its true the a7s ii can record 4k internally it does so in a more compressed lossy format. Theres just no way around that. Being a newer camera it is also priced more than the a7s. Because I wanted a high quality signal in 4k without having to buy an Black magic Ursa (which is heavy and media is still expensive!) I still stick by my decision of of picking up the assassin and a7s. Recently I was in Mexico and decided it was a great opportunity to test my equipment overseas and see how it performs as well as see if I could make a kit that was versitile and easy to work with.
I packed my a7s, a few lenses (ive been partial to the rokinon lenses) a Canon EF to Sony E mount adapter (a passive one) a hot shoe adapter, the assassin and media, a couple Watson Sony L series batteries and a pretty crappy tripod to take on a trip to Mexico. I was originally going to pack a V mount battery and small rig setup but decided against it. Learn why in my other post- Traveling overseas with Equipment
I’m going to go into detail about what worked and what didn’t here but as a final conclusion: Because of key issues I ended up filming with my iPhone more than the assassin and a7s combo.
The camera and lenses.
I brought 2 lenses for this trip to Mexico- a cine prime rokinon 50 mm and a canon 18-135. I wanted to keep this kit as light as possible as I was walking 10+ miles a day. The very first thing I noticed when shooting in the very bright Daylight of Mexico was that it was very hard to focus even with the focus assist. Often times I would spend time setting up the shot and losing it because I wasn’t quick enough. With my Rokinon there was no other choice- as it is a manual prime lens, but my Canon lens would have auto focus if I had a Active lens adapter. Overall it worked out, but it just took more time to focus shots and make sure everything looked great before I started to shoot.
For the variety of shots I found myself using the Canon zoom lens more than the Rokinon prime because I had the flexibility of length. However when I DID shoot with the Rokinon prime, I was able to get a more “cinematic look” due to the low F stop of the lens. In the end I wish I had just got an Active lens adapter to use the autofocus and iris control with the Canon lens and the Sony a7s.
Shooting with the Assassin and Sony combo-
I decided to capture a sunrise on the beaches of soliridad with the Atomos assassin and Sony a7s. I brought a gorilla pod with me and set up on the beach. One thing to note about my setup was that I had each unit powered seperately. The Sony was powered internally by its sony battery and the Assassin was powered by the Watson – Sony L series battery.
Normally I have both units powered from the same battery- a v mount rail rig setup mounted on a tripod- mostly to ensure I have enough juice to last everything. I also wanted to test the batteries themselves alone.
The Sony battery and the Watson battery both lasted a bit over an hour. I found that to be an OK situation but Ive gotten a lot less time out of the Sony batteries when recording to the sony itself. Im thinking that because the Sony wasn’t actually recording- but merely feeding the video to the assassin the power consumption was less.
Interested in what power options are available for the Assassin? I have a whole video talking about that here:-
The Atomos Assassin is rock solid as far as recording. No issues whatsoever but mounting the assassin TO the sony proved to be the biggest problem.
I used this Hotshoe adapter- and it almost ruined the trip.
In fact, Due to this adapter, I used my assassin and Sony very little. Attaching the Atomos Ninja Assassin to the adapter was fine But The hotshoe adapted refused to stay mounted into the Sony a7s! It was very loose and wobbly and if i moved or adjust the unit at all it would slide and shake loose.
I recently picked up this hotshoe mount instead and I’m hoping for better results- as I would love to be able to shoot with the combo.
Elvid Heavy Duty Camera Shoe Mount Adapter with Ball Head for Monitors
Due to the fact that it wasn’t secure I found myself holding the Assassin in one hand and trying to frame the shot and focus with the other hand. This became vastly unwieldy and in the end I shot more with my iPhone 6+ as a result.
So to Sum up everything-
Shooting with the a7s and assassin as a Run and Gun configuration CAN work- but if you are looking to shoot with just the assassin and a7s without a rig or cage- Make sure your mounting hardware is rock solid.