We’ve been living with the FS7 for a few months now and they are inevitably becoming more visible when we’re out and about. I think we’ve shown with our camera tests that you can deliver superb images with this very cheap camera, so what if any has been the fallout from the introduction of Sony’s latest offering?

For me, the major change has been a slight shift in attitude to the way we buy and own the key tool of our trade. We’ve chatted about the traditional way of buying and charging for kit you buy. A digibeta could be paid off in 3 years and then earn the owner/operator an income for another 4, but what business model works for these newer and cheaper cameras? A very busy cameraman could pay off the purchase of a Sony FS7 or even a Canon C300 in less than a year. This would at first glance look like the perfect opportunity to get a great return on your investment, however, production managers and companies know the cost of these cameras and possibly even own them too. This can knock down your potential daily rate reducing your income.

The other battle we face is the rapid introduction of new kit. This year at NAB look out for a new Canon C300 replacement. Even though you may be paying off your camera quicker, you may be buying another one sooner than you would like to. So what kit can help us stand out form the crowd and let us keep that daily rate ticking over?

In my opinion it’s going to be all about the lenses you can offer. We have had some initial issues regarding EF vs Pl mount which has made some decisions tricky but I believe it won’t be long until we will reach a point where most cameras will offer you a flexible choice of mounts. Combine this with the very high and increasingly equal standards the cameras are reaching and you may decide the body doesn’t matter.

Your flexibility and USP will come in the range and qaulity of images you can offer the client. These images are directly influenced by your choice of lens. What would you consider a basic kit? Focal lengths covering 10mm to 300mm? The fastest lenses you can buy? Or keep the bag small and light and invest in one of the new servo lenses?

Well made lenses could and should last your career. You may love the look of a Sony or be a Canon fan. Last week I was working with a great cameraman who owned an F55 and a C300. He didn’t mind which body he was using that day, but there was only one bag of lenses and the right glass for the right shot made this particular client a very happy bunny!

The BVE show in February is the start of the 2015 exhibition season, so get out there, get hands on, and think long term about what kit you want to invest in. In our recent survey, we asked what your most desirable piece of kit was and in first place were Cooke Lenses, so perhaps the tide is turning already.

Let us know what’s in your lens kit and what you would like to get your hands on.



  1. Interesting article sir.. for me this was the biggest hurdle with going from ENG camera,s.. Betasp/digibeta/HDX900/PMW500 to now Sony F5. Doc,s and even a lot of corps.. changing primes is just not going to work,or you,ll lose a lot of shots,and maybe lenses ! on the way..alot of people might want a set of Cooks to look loving at.. but unless they are shooting drama or commercials and have an assistant and focus puller it.. would be a total waste of money….so that was my problem,I wanted to shoot the same as I had… with one wide angle ENG zoom .. first was Cabrio rented.. but 19-90 not ideal.. then came the Canon CN7.. 17-120.. so thats what i went for.. its heavy but you do have all your lenses in one.. even up to 240mm if not shooting 4K.. expensive.. but worth it.. and will hold its value.. I hope !

  2. Hi Robyn
    Thanks for your comment. It’s great to hear a real world example illustrating the dilemmas we face. For you, and to be honest me too, being flexible and quick to react on location can make or break a shoot.

    Just need to get down the gym and work those biceps!


    • haha Yes borrowing the sound recordists wallet can work well as a counter weight.. I dont know how other people are dealing with using s35mm sensor camera,s in the doc/ corp world .. I have tried with primes and bought a few.. but its totally impossible .. you miss half the shots.. corps more control.. but the schedules are often more like a doc.. recently I was on a huge container ship.. shoot it mooring,only a few hours in port and then shoot it leaving.. impossible with out this lens.. and the directors are happy you can shoot so fast.. and not having to change lenses mid interview etc.. maybe there is another way but i couldn’t see one..

  3. Good points! the image is only as good as the lens.
    Let’s hope that the demand for good glass increases the competition and brings the price down (call me old-fashioned but i think £25,000 is still a fair chunk of money for one lens).
    One thing still in our favour is lighting: many of these 25 year old ‘DoPs’ can’t light! i’ve seen some truly awful shots. I guess they don’t have the experience of real-world situations outside of the college studio? If you can light a scene or a subject you still have the advantage and therefore can still justify your rate to clients.
    slightly off topic but another area is editing: everyone’s an editor these days because they have Final Cut on their laptop, but not many of them can actually ‘edit’. Good editors are never short of work.


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