So I’ve just purchased the Sony PXW-Z90. If you’ve never heard of it then here are a few basic stats that helped to sell it to me:

– 4K right out of the box
– 3G-SDI and HDMI outputs
– 1” Exmor RS sensor
– Amazing autofocus
– 12x optical zoom

I’ve been shooting with a Sony A7S and a6300 for a while and I love them…But, I have really started to miss having a decent zoom lens with built-in ND filters. I also find the autofocus on my A7S (yes, it’s a mark 1) a bit rubbish.

IMG_7864

I am 40 (very) soon and in recent years I have started to use the auto-focus more and more on my cameras when running and gunning. For me, good face-detection auto-focus is a really big deal in a camera and the Z90 ticks that box, and then some. I am no techie and so won’t go into how the auto-focus works, but trust me it does.

 

For interviews with a busy background or with lots of people then I use the “spot-focus” option and have set assignable button 2 to bring up the “focus area” where I can quickly switch the focus from wide to spot and zero in on my target. This works perfectly.

Below is the first film I made with the camera while on a recent assignment in South Sudan:

There are a few super wide shots in the above piece and they were from my A7S with a 10-18mm lens attached. The lens on the Z90 could be a bit wider for my liking but as I like to carry a second camera anyway it’s no hardship to pull it out and get the super wide shots that I love when I need to.

If the lack of a wide-angle lens is a deal breaker for you then check out this adaptor that I am hoping to purchase:

In terms of the picture quality I was blown away. For those of you, like me, who are used to B4 mount 2/3 inch sensors then the image from the Z90 will look quite familiar. I would happily place these shots next to those from a camera like the Sony PMW 350 or 400 and I doubt anyone would know the difference.

Before you ask, no I don’t shoot Log – I need good images straight out of the camera and so after a little bit of trial and error I settled for using PP4 with the Black level set at -8. I think it looks great. Please comment if you have a preferred PP for run and gun, quick turn around shooting.

The other great thing about this camera for me is the active stabilisation – it means I can go handheld and still keep the shot steady. I’ve shot a number of pieces to camera where I was handheld and people thought I was using a gimbal.

So to wrap up I am now a massive fanboy and hope to use this camera for the next few years. I want to play more with the slo-mo and time-lapse features and when I do I’ll post examples. Cheers!

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