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ThomHaig

Using an external monitor to make using a6500 a better shooting experience?

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Hi everyone,

I've ordered a Sony a6500, which is currently on the way to me. I get the impression it's not a wildly popular camera among many people on here, and I can see why: whilst feature-rich it appears to lack in the reliability department. I'm thinking it'll make a good stills camera which will be it's primary use, however I do make the odd video, but nothing too serious.

For video use, I'm trying to work around the camera's shortcomings: I'm looking to get a Saramonic CAmixer for a headphone jack. I'm also considering going the dummy / external battery route for longer recordings: am I right in thinking this will move heat away from the camera body itself, and prevent overheating?

One thing I'm stumped on though is using an external monitor, and if it will help me:

- I've heard the a6500's LCD massively darkens when shooting 4k, would a monitor solve this problem?

- The touch-screen focusing on the a6500 looks good. Is this still possible with a monitor? I take it I'd be touching the camera's rear LCD, or do any monitors support touch-screen and communicate with the camera in this way?

-I've seen the a6300 outputs a clean signal from the HDMI (no idea about the a6500) - however for my use I'd still want the monitor to display all the interface information / peaking etc. Is this possible?

Using an external monitor is very new territory for me, but I'm wondering if it'll be worth the expense to solve some of the above problems. Also, if you think a monitor would be helpful and can recommend any models that don't break the bank and add too much bulk to the camera, I'd be very grateful!

Thanks

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

Yeah not much love on here for the A6500. Soft 1080p, overheating, no headphone jack, Sony color, etc. But for the money it is a good camera, especially at 4k if you get one at a good deal.  Are you looking for Just a Monitor, or External Recorder? Lots of cheap Monitors around. Though you get what you pay for. Cheap recorders, Black Magic are winners on that.

I am not up on the A6500 to answer your specific questions, sorry.

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A6500 screen turns off when recording and using monitor.  You can still use on camera monitor to touch focus, except you won't see what you are touching... 

Also overheats.  I used it for first time on a gig a few days ago.  I got the temperature warning but luckily I was almost done for the day.

I'm not sure if you can get 4K output with overlays.  But if you output clean 4k you can focus pretty well depending on the monitor.  I have an older CT760HO or something, it takes a 4K signal and is quite sharp.  

Waiting for Sony to make a "real" version of this camera instead of these beta test versions.  Can't be beat for sharpness and noise but you pay the price with all the other short comings.

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Thanks for getting back to me, guys.

 

3 hours ago, scotchtape said:

instead of these beta test versions.

... but... but... wouldn't a Betacam be for industry veterans?!? ;)

5 hours ago, webrunner5 said:

Are you looking for Just a Monitor, or External Recorder?

I guess I'm just considering a monitor. I'm used to recording internally and transcoding, but I'm guessing a recorder records straight to a higher quality codec (prores) so you'd ultimately get better quality footage that shooting h264 and transcoding, is that right? Looks like the best option at a first glance for a recorder one be the black magic video assist 4k, which looks a bit beyond my budget, and the scope of what I'm looking to do currently. Maybe just an inexpensive monitor would be helpful for me at the moment though.

4 hours ago, scotchtape said:

Also overheats.  I used it for first time on a gig a few days ago.  I got the temperature warning but luckily I was almost done for the day.

Do you think using an external battery would mitigate overheating issues? Would be good to know if you were recording with an internal or external battery for the gig.

 

4 hours ago, scotchtape said:

have an older CT760HO or something

I can't find anything on that model - what is the manufacturer?

Thanks for the help, guys.

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Unfortunately I just returned my a6500, not because it isn't an amazing camera... it really is... the resolution is mind blowing, the IQ is crazy good. I have been evaluating what I really need and I don't need both the RX10ii and the a6500 and since I found a "new other, open box" RX10ii for less than $900, I decided to keep that one instead. Now I just need to decide between buying a Nikon D500 or a BMPCC, but that's for another discussion...

Onto the a6500...

The screen isn't as hard to see when you set it for rec709 output while shooting 4K in sLog2. It's still faint but it's easier.

Supposedly a cage will help dissipate the heat. Smallrig is releasing their a6500 cage and it looks like a great option.

There probably is some type of dummy battery adapter that would help to get a major source of heat out of the camera... but I'm not sure  

With manual lenses, you have full 5-axis IBIS and it works really, really well, so if you plan on shooting handheld... which you will once you try it, you will not want to make your rig any heavier with an added monitor... imo.

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I got the A6500 mainly for stills, but I've been using it a lot more for video actually. 

I'll give you a breakdown: 

1. The 4K image is outstanding. Better than my FS5. Special sauce here. 

2. Color isn't an issue. White balance, grade well and the results are fantastic. This includes Slog2 - worth it for the lovely highlight rolloff. (Try Omeneo Primers as a base). 

3. IBIS is great with a native lens. Good with adapted lenses, although I find that it's much better to use Sony lenses as adapted ones make it very front heavy. 

4. Autofocus is very useful on a gimbal! (Get the Zhiyun Crane - amazing gimbal). 

5. When handheld, don't whip the camera around too much, be smooth and steady - rolling shutter is poor. 

6. The camera is best operated bare bones due to the small size. Buy a bigger camera otherwise. 

7. The camera has not overheated, but has one up with a warning twice. 

8. Use the normal Sony batteries, about 4-5. Get a dual charger. Buy a USB power bank for backup. 

9. The screen does dim when recording 4K. Use zebras and histogram to judge Exposure. 

10. It's really fun to use. 

As a video making tool, the A6500 is a very capable camera. 

The image quality can be outstanding. 

The GH5 might be a better fit - although I'm keeping the A6500 because I have an FS5. The workflow is easier. 

We'll see how the GH5 pans out over the next few months. 

 

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I used internal battery and external USB battery at the same time to increase battery life and reducing need for switching.  I have a dummy battery I didn't try yet.

 

Monitor was from Neway on PV. It's OK.  There are some newer models and a half priced smallhd clone but I don't think that one takes 4k signal.  A6500 is just not right for monitor use imo.  It can work with manual focusing if you need it though.  

 

Smallrig cage is already on eBay for a6500 but I am waiting for it to drop to $50usd. I like that it has arca plate built into the bottom.

 

You just have to accept the reality that the camera is what it is.  Many things are half baked and frankly I don't feel comfortable not having a backup on anything longer than a 1-2 hour shoot (and I mean shooting clips only and not constantly on).  Maybe they will fix this on next version or their FF a9 rumored camera.

 

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17 hours ago, ThomHaig said:

I've ordered a Sony a6500, which is currently on the way to me. I get the impression it's not a wildly popular camera among many people on here ...

Congratulation. I have mine since 4 weeks now, and I had been among those who never considered buying a Sony again.

17 hours ago, ThomHaig said:

I'm also considering going the dummy / external battery route for longer recordings: am I right in thinking this will move heat away from the camera body itself, and prevent overheating?

The camera can be powered and the battery inside charged via USB (BTW: there is no battery charger included!) - which means you can completely power it with a smartphone charger, which are cheap and small - no need for a dummy.

I don't think it will prevent the camera from overheating. You can override the protective shutdown in the menu, but if it records continuously for 30 minutes, I think I wouldn't like to touch the camera, and I'd seriously worry for the sensor. This is no camera for "longer recordings" - be aware of that!

That said, if you're from Europe and have the 29 minutes limit, there is a free hack called open memory tweak (an app you install on the A6500), which allows to bypass this limitation and also stops the silly warning Recording in NTSC (for 24p and 30p). No risk there.

17 hours ago, ThomHaig said:

I've heard the a6500's LCD massively darkens when shooting 4k, would a monitor solve this problem?

I hope so. I also bought the Zhiyun Crane as a gimbal for this camera. Outside in bright daylight you really can see shit! I bought a special JJC sunhood, but it doesn't help, so I will need an external monitor.

17 hours ago, ThomHaig said:

The touch-screen focusing on the a6500 looks good. Is this still possible with a monitor? I take it I'd be touching the camera's rear LCD, or do any monitors support touch-screen and communicate with the camera in this way?

Afaik touch focus won't work with any HDMI monitor (well, it works on an iPhone over WiFi, with the Smart Remote app, but only in stills mode). However, the focus system of the A6500 is really, really good IF THERE IS ENOUGH CONTRAST - that means in daylight. You just need to spend some time to learn how to program it properly. And if you shoot handheld, you can also look through the viewfinder and use the wheel ("cursor") to point to the object in the frame that you want focussed. You can combine several focussing methods (i.e. AFC with focus tracking and face detection, with various combinations of sensitivity and focussing speeds), and that's all you probably need.

6 hours ago, ThomHaig said:

I'm used to recording internally and transcoding, but I'm guessing a recorder records straight to a higher quality codec (prores) so you'd ultimately get better quality footage that shooting h264 and transcoding, is that right?

In theory yes. In reality you will see no difference. I am not talking about H.264 and possible compression artifacts in general. I'm talking about XAVC in particular. Take this camera comparison (A6300 is 3'05"), view fullscreen and watch her neck. Note that most of the other cameras use Raw or ProRes natively. Compressed noise looks terrible, and more so with H.264. Avoid the noise floor, shoot ETTR with S-log, and the images will look clean enough and with almost as few artifacts as if shot with the big guys. Or: shoot in Cine2, dial down detail and ETTC - this makes your life easy with "just" round about 11 stops DR ...

 

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6 hours ago, Oliver Daniel said:

2. Color isn't an issue. White balance, grade well and the results are fantastic. This includes Slog2 - worth it for the lovely highlight rolloff. (Try Omeneo Primers as a base).

Demo looks very good. Will try this.

Thanks!

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Hey, thanks for getting back to me with so many great suggestions, guys!

10 hours ago, mercer said:

The screen isn't as hard to see when you set it for rec709 output while shooting 4K in sLog2. It's still faint but it's easier.

oh cool, didn't know you could monitor rec709 and record log. I bet that will help a lot.

 

10 hours ago, mercer said:

Supposedly a cage will help dissipate the heat. Smallrig is releasing their a6500 cage and it looks like a great option.

Good to know. I was considering picking up a cage. I'm curious how it works that it should dissipate heat? Does surround the camera with a large metal contact effectively act as a great big heatsink?

9 hours ago, Oliver Daniel said:

Use the normal Sony batteries, about 4-5.

Thanks for all the great tips, Oliver. When you say this, do you mean the normal camera's battery cells, or specifically sony branded ones? I heard some off brand ones can be better.

 

7 hours ago, Axel said:

I don't think it will prevent the camera from overheating.

aha... I guess going down the dummy battery route doesn't necessarily move hear away from the camera body, since all the necessary charge will ultimately have to flow through the dummy battery. Maybe the standard + USB bank powering method makes the most sense. I saw this setup which looks pretty nice and neat:

 

And yeah, I'm based in the UK, so that software to remove the 30 min limit sounds good. (Though I seldom film for more than 30 mins)

7 hours ago, Axel said:

Avoid the noise floor, shoot ETTR with S-log

nice, that example is a pretty good reason to shoot ETTR - is ETTR display / histograms a setting in the menus? Maybe this will makes sense to me when I have the camera in my hands.

And those Primers LUTS look great. Pretty subtle compared to a lot out there.

Regarding my original question, it looks like a monitor isn't worth it so much for me at the moment, then. I heard outputting signal via HDMI will overall increase the temperature also!

Thanks again for all the help!

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3 hours ago, ThomHaig said:

Hey, thanks for getting back to me with so many great suggestions, guys!

oh cool, didn't know you could monitor rec709 and record log. I bet that will help a lot.

 

Good to know. I was considering picking up a cage. I'm curious how it works that it should dissipate heat? Does surround the camera with a large metal contact effectively act as a great big heatsink?

Thanks for all the great tips, Oliver. When you say this, do you mean the normal camera's battery cells, or specifically sony branded ones? I heard some off brand ones can be better.

 

aha... I guess going down the dummy battery route doesn't necessarily move hear away from the camera body, since all the necessary charge will ultimately have to flow through the dummy battery. Maybe the standard + USB bank powering method makes the most sense. I saw this setup which looks pretty nice and neat:

 

And yeah, I'm based in the UK, so that software to remove the 30 min limit sounds good. (Though I seldom film for more than 30 mins)

nice, that example is a pretty good reason to shoot ETTR - is ETTR display / histograms a setting in the menus? Maybe this will makes sense to me when I have the camera in my hands.

And those Primers LUTS look great. Pretty subtle compared to a lot out there.

Regarding my original question, it looks like a monitor isn't worth it so much for me at the moment, then. I heard outputting signal via HDMI will overall increase the temperature also!

Thanks again for all the help!

Yeah monitoring rec709 helps a little, the screen is still faded but between that and focus peaking, which works great with the a6500, it is doable.

And yes, the metal from the cage works as a heat sink.

I didn't have any issues with Wasabi Brand batteries, but I only used the camera a few times, so I concede to Oliver's suggestion.

With the IBIS, I found using a neck strap, keeping my elbows at my sides and pulling the strap taut helped. As Oliver said earlier, subtle slow movements are your friend... any quick pans or jerks and RS jello will invade the shot. 

Also, experiment with the sLog2 settings but don't obsess over them. A minor tweak here or there won't make much of a difference. In the end, with my RX10ii, I ended up using a combination of GeoffCB's GFilm and Flaat for the a7s...

http://www.similaar.com/foto/flaat-a7s/download.html

sLog3 is awesome but I almost recommend not even bother trying it because once you do you'll be chasing those 14 stops of DR and just end up in banding hell on half of your shots... but the ones that don't have any banding will look amazing.

Also cine2 profile is your friend if you don't want to correct and grade sLog2... in fact a lot of people suggest using it over sLog due to the potential artifacts using sLog with an 8 bit codec.

With a light hand in post, you shouldn't have too many issues with sLog... but overexpose by 1.3 or 1.7 stops, depending upon your light for best results.

The a6500 has the ability to use auto ISO with manual lenses. You can set a minimum and maximum ISO... I used 800 and 1600, or sometimes 800 and 800. The cool part is now, even with manual lenses, in manual mode, you can use exposure compensation to set your +1.7 stops. If you don't have enough light, or too much, the meter will blink. It makes the camera's meter act as if you were shooting in Shutter Priority mode. Then if you're using a variable ND filter, you can adjust accordingly until the blinking stops.

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On 26.2.2017 at 3:25 PM, mercer said:

The screen isn't as hard to see when you set it for rec709 output while shooting 4K in sLog2. It's still faint but it's easier.

Supposedly a cage will help dissipate the heat. Smallrig is releasing their a6500 cage and it looks like a great option.

There probably is some type of dummy battery adapter that would help to get a major source of heat out of the camera... but I'm not sure  

With manual lenses, you have full 5-axis IBIS and it works really, really well, so if you plan on shooting handheld... which you will once you try it, you will not want to make your rig any heavier with an added monitor... imo.

If it's the same screen dimming as the A6300, it works okish on cloudy days but if it's sunny (imagine on a tropical beach, in the desert, etc.) it's invsible. You'll want to use the EVF then or a screen loupe. 

About the cage, just keep in mind that you will probably not be able to balance the camera with the native lenses (16-50mm kit, 35mm 1.8, etc) on a gimbal if you put it in a cage. At least I can't get the A6300 in SmallRig cage balanced on the Zhiyun Crane.

By the way, the A6500 is supposed to show the overheating warning but not shut down like the A6300.

That's how I use it, just waiting on my UltraThin HDMI cable at the moment:

crane.jpg

I have quick release plates on the camera and the crane so they can quickly go on my mini-tripod or tripod with fluid head. I also use some small quick releases specific for accessories so I can swap the arm with the monitor between the crane and my shoulder brace.

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1 hour ago, Cubanito said:

Phil, 

Where did you buy the UltraThin HDMI cable?

I ordered from toneart-shop here in Germany, it's the Sanho HyperThin HDMI cable. There's also websites selling them in the US (way cheaper there, 20 US$ vs 32€). 

 

One disadvantage I forgot to mention: when you use a HDMI cable in the A6300 you can't plug in the angled Crane control cable.

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On 27.2.2017 at 4:48 AM, mercer said:

The a6500 has the ability to use auto ISO with manual lenses. You can set a minimum and maximum ISO... I used 800 and 1600, or sometimes 800 and 800. The cool part is now, even with manual lenses, in manual mode, you can use exposure compensation to set your +1.7 stops. If you don't have enough light, or too much, the meter will blink. It makes the camera's meter act as if you were shooting in Shutter Priority mode. Then if you're using a variable ND filter, you can adjust accordingly until the blinking stops.

Thanks, mercer, this is a very good trick for ETTR, better than using zebra. If it comes to skin tones, the best method for checking exposure would be false colors. One should check if a monitor has this feature.  

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11 minutes ago, Axel said:

Thanks, mercer, this is a very good trick for ETTR, better than using zebra. If it comes to skin tones, the best method for checking exposure would be false colors. One should check if a monitor has this feature.  

Yeah, it's a cool trick my dumb ass stumbled upon. It was one of the features that wanted me to keep the a6500, but in the end the RX10ii filled the void I needed and the BMPCC will be my main cam. If sLog3 was more usable with the a6500, I'm unsure I'd gain much with the Pocket cam, but as it is, I just want that simpler cinematic image the Pocket affords me. 

Btw, with trial and error, you can also set your zebras to work with the auto ISO/meter method if you want to make sure you're not blowing out any highlights. I didn't find a need for it in most instances but it may help with some high contrast shots. 

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2 hours ago, Phil A said:

One disadvantage I forgot to mention: when you use a HDMI cable in the A6300 you can't plug in the angled Crane control cable.

Imagine you just bought a new monitor (this would be my fourth, sold the others long ago), you bought the goddam cable, figured how best to attach it to the compact and lightweight Zhiyun and how to avoid cable spaghetti when the gimbal moves - and the next day Sony unapologetically announces a new firmware:

• fixes an issue where the poor tiny display went dark if used in movie mode ... 

- wouldn't you grind your teeth?

crane.jpg

BTW: good setup. What is it? A smallHD?

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@Axel Yes and no. It would of course make the monitor unnecessary for most applications. But then the monitor can use a sun shade (you will always struggle to see the camera screen in really sunny environments), has custom LUT preview, custom aspect ratio markers, false color, etc. so I would still find use for it. After all you can use the monitor also when on a shoulder rig or tripod, plus it has a full HD screen so it helps with manual focus.

And yes, it's the SmallHD 501. Bought it when it was on sale for like 600$ at B&H.

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 I have tried to walk under a blanket of black molliton, inspired by ancient wisdom:

Photo-Studio-vor-1900+Graphik-Szene-im-P

But of course - not easy. But I seriously consider building a large, light sunshield surrounding the display before I buy another monitor ...

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