Pro Tips

Pro Tip: Shoot 4K Video in Manual Mode for a Brighter Screen on Sony Alpha Cameras

Alright, so I love my Sony cameras. And I love shooting in 4K resolution. However, if you’re a Sony shooter, you know that Sony’s cameras have a tendency to overheat. And, in an attempt to prevent that, Sony automatically dims the brightness of the screen when shooting in 4K.

Now this can make it obviously more difficult to judge your exposure, and can make the screen really hard to see if you’re shooting outside or in bright conditions, and it forces you to rely more on your metering, etc. etc.

However, there is somewhat of a workaround for this. Shooting in Manual mode instead of video mode will keep the screen at its normal brightness until you press record. During recording, the screen brightness will dip down to the level of luminance you're probably used to, and as soon as you’re done recording, it will raise back up again.

This can be super-helpful if you really need to see your screen and are annoyed by how dark it gets.

Also, there’s another feature available in Manual mode that’s not available in Movie mode, and that’s Manual Focus Assist. I’ve already made a video about this, but in case you haven’t seen it, MF Assist is a really cool feature that will zoom in your image every time you adjust the focus ring on your lens so you can make sure your focus is as sharp as possible when not using autofocus.

Just make sure that in your settings, the “Movie button” option is set to “always,” otherwise you won’t be able to shoot anything but stills while in Manual mode.

And that’s it guys, let me know what you think about shooting video in Manual mode, and if the brighter screen helps out while shooting in 4K. 

Pro Tip: Using Manual Focus Assist for Video on Sony Alpha Cameras

Today I want to talk about one of my favorite settings on Sony Alpha cameras, the Manual Focus Assist, and how it can help you get your shots in focus even if you’re shooting video.

Manual Focus Assist, or MF Assist as it’s referred to in the menu, is a really cool feature that I think a lot of video shooters overlook, thinking that it’s only for photographers.

What it does is zoom in the image every time you adjust the manual focus ring on the lens. You can scroll around with the control wheel, and you can zoom in even further by pressing the center button. When you’re done, simply press the shutter button half way.

To turn on MF Assist on a Sony a6500, navigate to the first section, Camera Settings, and then to page 13. If you don’t like having to press the shutter button when you’re done focusing, you can pop up to Focus Magnification Time, and change it from No Limit to either 2 seconds or 5 seconds.

On a Sony a7S II, MF Assist can be found in the second section, Custom Settings, on the first page. Additionally, Focus Magnification Time can be found directly below it.

Now, a few caveats: one, this works with native Sony lenses, or with an electronic adapter like the Metabones T smart adapter, and two, this works in Manual mode only, not in video mode, which is why I think a lot of videographers overlook it. So if you want to use MF Assist, make sure you’re mode dial is set to “M,” and make sure in your settings, the MOVIE Button option is set to “Always,” otherwise, you won’t be able to shoot video in Manual mode. 

And actually, in addition to MF Assist, there is another advantage to shooting video in Manual mode, and it’s this: every Sony shooter out there knows the frustration of having a dimly-lit monitor while shooting in 4K. Sony does this because they know their cameras tend to overheat while shooting in 4K, so they automatically dim the brightness of the screen to help prevent that.

BUT, if you’re shooting video in “Manual” mode, the screen stays at the normal brightness until you press record. And as soon as you’re done shooting, it gets brighter again. So keep that in mind if you’re frustrated by the dark screen when shooting in 4K.

And that’s it guys, I hope you enjoy using MF Assist, I know it was a huge help to me when I discovered it, and let me know what you think down in the comments section below.


Pro Tip: Use Gamma Display Assist When Shooting S-Log

Hey guys, Steve here back with another pro tip. Today I want to talk about something I use on almost every shoot I go on: the Gamma Display Assist Function on the Sony a7S II and the a6500.

Lots of Sony cameras come with the ability to shoot in Log formats, such as S-Log2 and S-Log3 on Sony cameras, V-Log on Panasonic cameras, D-Log on DJI drones, and so on.

Shooting in a Log format can be tricky. The resulting image is always way undersaturated and low contrast, almost to the point of appearing monochromatic. Of course this is gives us great latitude in post-production, but shooting in it can make judging your exposure and your white balance difficult.

As a remedy, Sony has built in a very useful function into many of their cameras called Gamma Display Assist. What this does is translate your image from a Log color space into a more “normal” or linear color space such as Rec.709 when you look at it in the monitor or the  viewfinder. 

Now, you’re still shooting in Log, but what you’re seeing on the screen is a fairly accurate representation of what your image will look like after you’ve color-corrected it. Saturation looks normal, skin tones look normal, etc. This will make it way easier to judge your exposure and your white balance. 

Another Pro tip: If you’re like me, and you shoot in a Log format a lot, it’s a good idea to take advantage of the high level of customization Sony cameras offer and set one of your Custom buttons or your Function menu to toggle the Gamma Display Assist function on and off. 

There you go guys! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below, and let me know if Gamma Display Assist improves your shooting!