Sarah Stephenson shoots with the PXW-Z280

Factual entertainment and documentary maker Sarah Stephenson explains why the PWX-Z280 4K XDCAM handheld camcorder holds such appeal.

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Sharing real-life stories

Producer/director Sarah Stephenson specialises in factual entertainment and documentaries, exploring the lives of some of society’s most fascinating people and sharing their stories with the world.

In this video interview Sarah explains why she enjoys shooting with the PXW-Z280 camcorder that offers class-leading 4K HDR picture performance in a uniquely versatile handheld package.

Great pictures, less to carry

“The Z280 has given me the possibility to film in very small spaces on the go, not having to change lenses and not needing a whole crew with me” says Sarah. “Being able to take in something this small and compact, where I’ve got everything I need on it… who wouldn’t want that?”

“Before with big cameras you can’t get down low – you can’t crash zoom in because you’ve got a fixed lens on. The 17x zoom on the Z280 is one of my favourite things about it. You can go from your nice wide shot, where you can see all the action with your presenter in the middle telling you all about it. But then you can also get into the really fine detail.”

Maintain iris settings with variable ND filter

Sarah also values the flexibility offered by the camera’s electronic variable ND (Neutral Density) filter, allowing her to shoot in changing lighting conditions without affecting iris settings: “If I’m outside, I’m definitely putting some of that ND in. I want to try and keep the camera around F4 if I can. Using that variable ND filter means that I don’t change my depth of field – but I still get that image I’m looking for.”

Easy 4K HDR workflows

Sarah’s particularly impressed with the 4K image quality and highly practical HDR workflow options offered by the PXW-Z280:

“What’s fascinating is that Sony have made a 10-bit 4:2:2 camera in this size. I can shoot S-log, so I can actually create those images that I need to take into the grade. You can play around with them, just as we love to do on the FS7. It’s also got Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) which is very much like S-log but you don’t have to grade it. It does means that if you are pressed for your budget, you can still get that range and all those lovely colours that you often see only in S-log.”

“This is exactly what you need as a self-shooter” says Sarah. “It really is a workhorse that gives you so many different options.”

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