A Video Test using the Sony a99 Camera.

Anton Nel. An interview done with the Sony a99. A snippet. from Kirk Tuck & Will van Overbeek on Vimeo.

I'd read a lot of stuff on the web about the Sony a99 being "soft." The contention is that the new camera doesn't render details and sharpness well. Here we come to the nasty part of the web. Everything gets compressed and re-sized when it hits the web in a way that lends itself to mass distribution. That means the images I saw from the full resolution HD files (1080p @ 24 fps, lowest compression) had to be sized to 720 HD for uploading into Vimeo, which I use as sharing source.  Then Vimeo does some file processing as well. And God only knows what's really happening when our ISPs rush all this stuff down the pipes.

All of that to say that the embedded video is only 500 pixels wide but if you click on the "HD" symbol in the bottom right corner of the video frame you'll be presented with the option of seeing the 720HD version at Vimeo. Just click on the link.

I'll never be able to settle everyone's concerns about video sharpness. Not without inviting them over to the studio to watch the footage before we transcode the ACVHD files into Final Cut Pro X. But if you want a verbal take here is is: It looks a bit better than my files did from my Canon 5D mk2. It has lots of detail for the application I was using it for. While I don't like the ACVHD files and wished there were more options I do know how to convert the files to formats that are easier to edit. It just takes time.

Where the camera really excels is in the ease of sound recording (and live monitoring) and the quality of the sounds recorded.  It's the first DSLR video camera I've used that has a headphone jack and it's the right way to monitor the audio. Yes, I heard the door slams and the cars outside during some of the sample takes.

This is not a finished video product and has not been "graded" (video cinema lingo for "post production").  It is presented here and on Vimeo as a controlled, real world sample. That's all.

Hope it's helpful.  Kirk


Graham said...

While the free Vimeo account does limit one as you describe, their premium accounts allow 1080p, albeit limited to 20,000 kbps (https://vimeo.com/52032200). One may also use popular online galleries, e.g. Zenfolio, that also allow HD video posts for their premium accounts.

Perhaps the best online a99 videos I've seen are the 2 promotional films from photographer David McLain, The Calling (https://vimeo.com/52031763 ), and the behind-the-scenes of the film (https://vimeo.com/52032200).

I personally like ACVHD files (from my a77), but then I use Adobe Premiere Pro on the superior PC platform (a friendly jab at your recent Mac hyperbole blog ;-)).


Richard said...

I wish you well on your video work.

But I need to comment. I was a small-time, video producer-director for many years. Video is so much more than the video feature in the camera. Is there a simpler way to say it--we are very sophisticated viewers and that means that videos need a level of sophistication far beyond what these mere cameras can offer. Sure there is all the photographic stuff, lighting, composition, exposure, f/stop, color balance and so on. But with video there is so much more. Audio quality is probably more important than video quality. Editing is profoundly important and fundamental to video. Every video should look like it was shot with two cameras so you can do basic cutting from angle to another. Then there is movement of either the camera (panning or trucking, but never, ever zooming) or the subject in front of the lens needs to move, can't forget that. Talent is very important, too, both on-camera and voice talent. Critical to success are planning, logistics, scripting. A good video producer writes scripts. It is the most fundamental aspect of a good video. So, video so much more than the quality of the camera alone. I just don't think people get this.

Anonymous said...

If you upload the original 1080p24 video to vimeo, then anyone can download the original video using the "download" link. That's the best way to share videos on vimeo because no processing, downsampling, or compression will interfere with the image quality.

Chris Malcolm said...

A lot of people are saying in effect "All this compression downsizing etc doesn't matter, because my video files from my XQ99 camera went through exactly the same process and they just look a lot better than the A99 files.". They forget that it isn't the same process, because how much compression downsizing etc needs to be done affects how it is done, plus there can be nasty quirks depending on whether reductions are by integral or fractional divisors etc..

These problems have all come up before in the stills world when compressing and downsizing large images in various editors by various methods, letting browsers and slideshows resize them, letting printer drivers resize them, etc..

Of course if what you want from your camera is videos that easily look good when pushed through the various sausage machinery of web video sharing then the A99 may be a bad choice. But that doesn't necessarily mean it's not a good video camera. What's more (sigh) pointing out that a certain test doesn't necessarily mean it's bad doesn't mean it's good either. It means the test isn't good enough to tell either way.

On the other hand it's an ideal test if what you want is plenty of heated controversial speculation :-)

Kirk Tuck said...

I give up. I'm just using my iPhone for everything from now on. Does anyone make like an Instagram App for video? I'll just use that...