Not since the Canon 5D Mark II hit the market have we seen a camera series as a technology revolutionary as the Sony Alpha series. I’m speaking specifically about the a7S, a7S II, a7R II and the a6300. Let’s look at the a6300 for example, 4K video output, great low light capability, an awesome autofocus capability, frame rate options and lens options, all for under $1,000. All those options are packed into a camera that weights 14.3 ounces with a battery.
However, with all those perks, one of the biggest complaints about using a Sony Alpha series camera is the location of the record on/off switch, especially when you’re using a cage or shoulder rig. As an alternative, Sony users have opted to run a Remote Control, like the Sony RM-VPR1 Remote and literally tape it to their grips. Unfortunately, it’s not the most ergonomic (or professional looking) solution and the tape eventually disengages We can all hope that when it eventually happens, you’re not on set.
Truth be told, there aren’t a ton of practical solutions for hand controls if you’re using Sony Alpha series cameras, but I finally have a solution for those you interested in investing in a Sony Alpha series camera for video.
So let me preface this article by noting that I wouldn’t have been able to conduct research on this topic without the help from my friends at B&H. You guys are always amazing and I cannot thank Val enough for all of his help.
The Sony Alpha series cameras can all be controlled by the Sony’s proprietary Multi-Terminal Connection. Most small remotes like the Sony RM-VPR1 remote will all have this same connection. However, most professional hand controls, like the ones that come with the Sony FS7 use LANC controls. Unfortunately, your Sony Alpha series cameras are not LANC compatible.
Fortunately, MOVCAM developed a LANC Cable to be used in conjunction with their Anti-Skid Controlling Handgrip. You can use this same cable with the stock FS7 controls and still retain the Start/Stop and Zoom functions if you’re using Sony PZ (Power Zoom) lenses, like the Sony E PZ 18-105mm f/4, Sony E PZ 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 or Sony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4. As anyone who’s looked for FS7 controls can tell you, finding a replacement or standalone unit is literally impossible. Which leaves us with one solution: Finding LANC controls that are compatible with the converter and Sony Alpha series.
After about two hours of testing different lenses and hand control combinations, I found that the reliable and consistent performing solution was one of two options: The FS7 Hand Control or the cheaper solution: The Sony RM1BP Remote Commander. Both would need to be used with the MOVCAM a7S LANC Cable. Both the FS7 hand controls and the Remote Commander allow for Recorder On/Off and Zoom Control (with a compatible PZ lens). Neither unit seems to control focus.
Follow this link for a list of Hand Controls that are compatible and not compatible with the Sony Alpha series.