VANCOUVER, Canada—I’m an award-winning documentary filmmaker working on high-end specials and series for major networks including Discovery Channel, National Geographic, BBC, ITV, CBC, PBS, History and Animal Planet. My programs highlight wildlife, the environment, explorer biographies, social justice topics and more.
Given the range of extreme environments and subjects I work with, it’s extremely important to have a camera and lens that help enhance my storytelling abilities and enable me to nimbly capture unpredictable situations and subjects.
As a long-time Sony camera user, when I needed a "run and gun" camera for my DP Todd Southgate to use for our “Biggest & Baddest” series in 2019, I looked no further than the streamlined, robustly designed PXW-Z450 (and later PXW-Z750) 4K shoulder camcorder.
4K ON A 2/3-INCH CHIP
The “Biggest & Baddest” series with wildlife biologist Niall McCann takes us to the world’s toughest terrain (this season, North America and India) as we seek to better understand the sometimes deadly relationship between humans and animals, in our changing world. The 4K abilities of the camera were also key. There is no other shoulder camera on the market that I’m aware of that provides the high-resolution output coming from a 2/3-inch chip.
The Sony PXW-Z750 (now with 3 chip CCD sensor) is a serious, durable shoulder-mounted camera that is an ideal companion for shooting an outdoor adventure series where you’re constantly on the move. The latitude, visuals and colors are crisp and sharp and the camera is sensitive enough to perform well in low light.
Another area where the 2/3-inch sensor comes in is providing readily available “tele-sports-lenses” at a reasonable rental price, that also achieve focal lengths for the size that are impossible to get with larger sensor cameras. The 46x Fujinon compact lens we had was equivalent to 2100 mm in the larger frame/super 35mm world. What’s more, the lenses are par-focal, very controllable, water-resistant and make the images pop.
In these volatile scenarios, which can include anything from tracking a polar bear, to capturing stampeding elephants or an alligator trapped in a storm drain, there isn’t a better camera than the Z750.
FOCUS ON THE SNAKE
One of the greatest shots I’ve gotten with this camera was when tracking a King Cobra moving through the forest. The huge 14-foot snake suddenly came out on the path about 50 yards in front of our host. Given the ergonomic design of the camera and quick access to zoom and focus controls, my DP Todd was able to snap zoom into a closeup of the snake to establish its position, then slowly crawl back with the zoom to reveal our host speaking about the encounter. This would not have been possible with the limited zoom range, and slow controls available on most current large sensor cameras I’ve used.
With three fingers I can zoom, simultaneously rack focus and manually control the aperture with incredible precision.
The Z450/750 allows me to quickly respond and go into certain situations that I may not have been able to in the past to easily capture fast-moving objects or slow-mo at a moment’s notice. What is so great about the PXW-Z750 is its versatile ability to handle both styles effortlessly, making it a welcome addition to all of my journeys.
For additional information visit Sony's website at pro.sony.
Peter Von Puttkamer has executive produced, written and directed dozens of international award-winning series and specials over the last 35 years, including `Biggest & Baddest,’ which is airing on Discovery Channel Networks worldwide. The impactful series explores how and why human-animal conflict is increasing due to global warming.
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