Jonah Plank is no stranger to making ambitious travel vlogs; his popular, self-titled YouTube channel is filled with a mixture of review and travel content. But recently, he and two friends returned from a month-long road trip from Berlin to the North Cape of Norway, during which he made a two-hour documentary filmed mostly using the new Sony α6600.
My setup is quite simple,” Jonah tells us, “I have the Sony α6600 in front of me on a tripod filming, then a main key-light and back light. I shoot around 90% of my videos using the same setup, so I can just sit down and hit record.
Despite Jonah also shooting with the Sony α7 III, α7R III and α7S II cameras, the α6600 is still one of his cameras of choice for filming himself. “It’s the flip-up screen that makes it for me,” he reveals, “it’s just so useful for being able to see myself when recording.”
It was this function, and the Eye AF feature that Jonah found especially useful on his recent trip. “On our trip up to Norway we filmed a lot with the Sony α6600,” he says, “there were three of us in one car, and when we were talking to the camera the focus automatically went to our faces or eyes thanks to the Real-time tracking technology. I always set the autofocus response up to its highest setting in this type of scenario, as it means that when I move the camera it instantly reacts and refocuses. It’s very, very helpful for this type of documentary film making that I do.”
Although Jonah shoots mainly in 4K, he also makes use of the Full HD 120p feature to capture slow motion footage, and like the cameras in the full frame α7 line, the α6600 can shoot with an S-Log Picture Profile, to capture every last bit of dynamic range. “I do shoot a lot using S-Log,” Jonah explains, “when I am really crafting a shot,or sequence, but for more run-and-gun documentary and vlogging content I actually use PP0, so no Picture Profile! This may sound a bit strange, but I like the colours from PP0, and I don’t have to do a lot to colour grade the footage. It’s just quick and convenient and the image works perfectly. It means I can just hit record and start shooting, which really suits my style of filmmaking.”
When it comes to lenses for the α6600, Jonah does have a few favourites, with some being FE lenses designed for the larger sensor of his α7 cameras, such as the Sony FE 28mm f/2, the FE 50mm f/1.8 and the FE 85mm f1/.8 to create separation between his subject and the background.
I always use SteadyShot, but it comes into its own when I am using the FE 85mm f/1.8 lens,” he says. “The lens and camera are a little tricky to balance on my gimbal, so I will often use that handheld, especially for slow-motion B-Roll footage.
Native to the APS-C sensor of the α6600 are the E 10-18mm f/4 OSS wide-angle zoom lens and the E 16-55mm f/2.8 G lens, both of which provide Jonah with a lot of flexibility for their size.
And audio is taken care of thanks to the Sony ECM-B1M Shotgun microphone. “It’s a great microphone for quickly setting up to do YouTube videos, Jonah explains. “It makes everything so easy. I’ve even used it for voiceovers, getting in very close and recording a video on the camera with a lens cap on, just so it can record my voice!”
It has taken Jonah a few years to get to the point where he is working on the projects and making the videos that he loves, but he remembers when he started out, and offers some advice to those who want to start creating videos of their own:
Just start. Start doing and start talking about what you love. It doesn’t matter how many people you reach, how many views you have or how many subscribers, the only thing you have to think about is your message and why you are doing what you are doing.