Mar 23, 2023
As we learned from our recent camera survey from the filmmakers at the SXSW Film Festival, the camera you pick for your project matters.
Now, don’t misconstrue this to mean that you have to use the best and most expensive camera for every project, but for feature films and shorts, the vast majority of filmmakers chose to use high-end cinema cameras like the Arri ALEXA Mini.
However, while the ALEXA might be a top choice for up-and-coming indies, the Sony VENICE 2 has proven to be one of the rising industry favorites for high-end commercials, corporate work, and Hollywood blockbuster films.
On the other end of the Sony camera spectrum we also have the quite popular Sony a7R, which battles against the likes of other brands’ flagship mirrorless cameras like the Canon R5 and the Panasonic SH1.
But what makes both these Sony cameras great in their own right? And, more specifically for all of those deciding on the right camera packages for your own shoots, why might you consider one of these two?
Let’s explore how the Sony a7RV stacks up to the VENICE 2 to find out which one might be right for you.
Now, I’m not a super mathematical wizard here, but it seems like a difference of almost $56,000 in price is quite significant and should be addressed upfront. For example, in many cases, a film or video project might not even have a budget close to the total price tag for purchasing a Sony VENICE 2 (much less building it out with everything it should include).
Whereas at $4,000 for an 8K capable quality video camera like the Sony a7RV seems like a slam dunk investment if you’re using it often for shoots (many of which you can pass of its cost to your client for several hundred dollars a day).
Still, with this price disparity, you’d think the VENICE 2 would be 10x better than the a7RV in every way… which simply isn’t true. As you can see in our side-by-side comparison test above, the team finds out that in many instances the video quality looks almost the same.
Now, that’s just an eye test of course, once you get into the editing room you’ll find a lot more to like about the VENICE 2 than the a7RV, but with the increasing quality of today’s “cheaper” flagship models it should be no surprise that an 8K a7RV will look great for most uses.
Let’s first look at the Sony a7RV which punches way above its weight in this contest. As our YouTube team points out in their review, the fact that this camera includes a 61MP full-frame sensor capable of 8K video (or 4K 16-bit raw output) is quite insane for today’s market. Add in 8-stops of image stabilization and an all-new AI-based autofocus system, it should be no surprise that the a7RV is quite popular with all manner of photo and video professionals.
What is perhaps most surprising is, when put through the same lighting tests as the VENICE 2 (with some mentioned handicaps with filters and whatnot), is that the colors in particular stand up quite admirably against its higher end competition.
A testament both to Sony’s improved color science technology (long associated solely with Canon cameras) and a much-improved full-frame sensor, the a7R has come along way with its fifth-generation and should honestly be great for a variety of web-based video shoots or projects.
Here’s the full spec list and price if you’re curious to learn more.
Meanwhile, on the other hand, we have the Sony VENICE 2 (which we also recently put through the paces against the Canon C500 Mark II — which you can read more about here). It should be of no surprise that the VENICE 2 represents the absolute latest and greatest in modern cinema camera technology.
Even with the indie film popularity of cameras like the Arri ALEXA, there is no brand or camera which has any super great specs or tech that the VENICE 2 doesn’t offer itself. In fact, in many ways the VENICE 2 truly is the best cinema camera currently on the market as its predecessor, the Sony VENICE was already hugely popular — and the VENICE 2 just improved on that design.
With 16-stops of dynamic range, internal recording ability onto high-speed ASX cards, and recording formats up to ProRes 4K 4444 and 422, the 8K capable Sony VENICE 2 has about every bell and whistle your camera crew could hope to use for any production type.
Every inch of the camera is designed for the highest-end use and with the sophisticated DP in mind with 8 integrated ND filters plus even assistant-side info screens and controls so your entire crew can work in any situation. (Although for this camera test we used the same ND filter for both cameras for more accurate comparison.)
At this point, the biggest drawback to the VENICE 2 has to do with its price point, and the fact that for some situations it doesn’t quite outperform its cheaper alternatives by 10x. If you’d like to see some more specs and features to compare to the a7RV, here’s everything the VENICE 2 is packing.
At the end of the day, the discussion between these two cameras is going to come down to the functionality both on set and in the editing room. While the Sony a7RV is much smaller, more compact, and easier to take on the run, the VENICE 2 is truly designed for a full production setup. If you have a crew that knows what it’s doing, the VENICE 2 can record high-end, quality video in any set or setting.
And, once you get your footage into the editing room (or to your editor), you’ll really see the biggest differences. With so much more dynamic range, the VENICE 2 will give your editor and colorist just so much more data to work with. The brights will be less blown out and the darks will be crushed less. Everything will be on the table for any type of color grade that your heart will desire.
The a7RV, while quite capable and powerful itself, will still be at the mercy of its lighting setups on set, if it’s too dark it will be less usable and if it’s too bright at certain points, that info will be lost forever.
As pointed out at the end of our video comparison, in a perfect world the Sony VENICE 2 and the a7RV would work ideally as a perfect A-cam and B-cam combo on a high-end shoot. The VENICE 2 doing the heavy lifting for interviews or high-impact shooting situations, where the a7VR fills in admirably for the side shots and behind-the-scenes featurettes backing the production.
However, for many looking to check their budgets and shoot for the stars, the decision to buy or rent between the two is perhaps more of a tough decision than you previously thought. So it’s up to you!
Finally, as always, be sure to follow us on YouTube to check out our latest camera reviews and tutorials.