Basic video production with the Sony A7siii

This is a quick guide I made for students using the Land Grant Films’ A7 kits.

The Sony A7 kit comes with everything you need to do high-quality video production, while maintain a small footprint and single-person setup. The kit comes with the following:

  1. Sony A7siii body

I’ll walk through adding all the pieces; then walk through basic camera functioning.

Attaching the Monitor

The kits have slightly different monitors, but they are both pretty straight forward. 1) Attach the monitor to the camera using the SmallRig adaptor. 2) Attach the HDMI cable to monitor’s “HDMI In” port and then attach the HDMI to the HDMI port on the side of the camera.

The kit should come with batteries and a charger. Make you fully charge the batteries before you go out in the field.

If for some reason the monitor isn’t working, you might need to go into Menu > Setup > External Output. The setting should be: HDMI Resolution > Auto; HDMI Output Setting > you shouldn’t have to worry about; HDMI Info. Display > Off; CTRL FOR HDMI > On.

Attaching the Shotgun Mic

Depending on how you have your rig setup, you can attach the shotgun mic to the cold shoe on either the cage or the handle. Once it is attached, you can connect the 1/8 inch cable to the “Mic In” port, right next to the HDMI port.

If you are using the Rode Video Mic Pro, you will have to turn on the mic’s power on the back of the mic.

Once your mic is attached, you should be able to see that it is working by looking at the audio levels on the camera LCD screen or by monitoring the audio with the headphones in the kit.

You can adjust the audio levels by hitting the “Function” button on the back of the camera. Then hit the “Audio Level” button (highlighted in Step 1 photo). Then you can adjust the audio levels up and down in Step 2.

Attaching the Wireless Lavalier

The wireless mic kit has two parts: the transmitter on the left and the receiver on the right. The transmitter attaches to the subject. The receiver attaches to the camera. You attach the receiver in the same manner in which you attached the shotgun mic. You also adjust the audio levels using the same controls.

You turn on both the receiver and the transmitter by holding in the “zero with a line though it” button. The receiver and transmitter should pair automatically.

If for some reason it isn’t pairing, try pushing the power button on the transmitter while holding in the pairing button on the receiver.

Additionally, it the audio come out of the mic in to the camera is very loud, you can adjust the audio output using the dB button. It has low, medium and high output. When you push the button, you will see an indicator on the bottom of the display screen change.

Basic Camera Functioning

The A7 has two video modes. The first is the filmstrip. The second is the S&Q mode. The filmstrip is basic shooting; S&Q is for slow motion or time lapse.

I generally have my camera setup with the filmstrip mode at 4k at 30 fps and the S&Q mode set at 4K at 120fps, recorded at 30 fps. This means that in the S&Q mode the footage will end up at one-fourth speed.

To adjust these settings, hit the menu button and go to the “Shooting” menu. To change the filmstrip (or basic shooting) mode, choose “1) Image Quality.”

First, you want to check the “File Format.” It should be set to XAVC S 4K. Then go to “Movie Settings” and choose “30p” and “140M 4:2:2 10bit.”

Following those settings, when you turn to the filmstrip mode you will be shooting in 4k at 30 frames per second recording at a data rate of 140 MBS in 10-bit color.

To set the S&Q mode, go back to the “Image Quality” menu and go down to “S&Q Settings.” In the picture is Step 3, it’s set as a described above. It is shooting at 120 fps and recording at 30 fps. Making it 4x slow motion, as you can see in the bottom of the menu screen.

Most of the other settings you need to adjust can be accessed through the function menu. Going from left to right:

  1. Audio level — discussed above

The final thing you might need to adjust is the ISO or film speed. You’ll find the ISO button on the back of the camera. You can manual dial in a film speed anywhere from 40 up to 409,600, but you can also set it to automatic.

Personally, I generally set the ISO to automatic and then set all the other exposure settings manually. While I am shooting, I keep my eye on the ISO and if the camera is putting it anywhere above 6,400, I go in and adjust my exposure settings so it comes back down. If the ISO gets too high, the image will get noisy and pixelated.

That covers about 75% of the issues you might have while using this camera. Another 5% are weird idiosyncratic things that will come up in the field, and the final 20% are just getting used to the settings above and adjusting appropriately.

If you have any questions about this guide or about the camera, please feel free to reach out to me.



Associate Professor of Journalism and Director of Land Grant Films (@LandGrantFilms) at the University of Tennessee.

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Nick Geidner

Associate Professor of Journalism and Director of Land Grant Films (@LandGrantFilms) at the University of Tennessee.