How to record 4K from the Sony A7s and what’s the cheapest way?

There are currently four ways to record 4K from the Sony A7s:

  • Atomos Shogun ($1,995+)
  • Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q+ ($2,295+)
  • Blackmagic Design Ultrastudio 4K ($945.25)
  • Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro 4K ($199)

The most inconvenient way for field use is the Ultrastudio 4K, which needs a rack system. The best bang for the buck is the Atomos Shogun.

The cheapest is the newly launched Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro 4K:

Blackmagic Intensity Pro 4K

Obviously, you need a computer with this thing, because it is a PCI-Express card. To work in the field, you can either use a Windows machine that houses this, or use an expansion chassis, like the Akitio Thunder2 PCIe Expansion Chassis ($219.99), for Macs (also sold rebranded as OWC):


It’s not small, but you can connect it to a Macbook Pro, iMac or Mac Pro in the field. So, if you already have a laptop, the cheapest way to record 4K is to use an Intensity Pro 4K card ($199) and an Akitio expansion chassis ($219.99) = $419.

The smallest footprint would be to use a small Windows machine or Hackintosh in an HTPC enclosure like the hec Black Media Center with 300W power supply ($60). You will need to build your PC with a Micro ATX motherboard (like the ASUS Q87M-E/CSM ($123), an i7 processor, RAM, etc.

What are the main disadvantages of going this cheap route?

The main disadvantages are:

  • They are bulky and difficult to travel with
  • They need cables and computers to run
  • Your camera is always tethered to your laptop
  • You need an external AC power outlet always

If you’re in an indoor-always studio environment, this solution is perfect.

What are the main advantages of the Shogun or 7Q+?

  • You get a full 100% Rec. 709 field monitor
  • You get 3D LUTs
  • You get to record in Prores or DNxHD
  • Your system is totally portable and small
  • You can power the device using a small battery or one power solution for your rig
  • You have scopes and other important reference tools
  • You can record and monitor audio as well

Click on the link below to the next lesson or head over to the main menu (above). If you need help with something, feel free to send me an email. I’ll try to get back to you as soon as possible.