Booths and Bodies: Short documentary shot on Sony NEX 5N

Right off the back of shooting an Epic (forgive the pun) corporate doco for Kessler Crane with the Epic, F3, AF100, on my way back home I stopped off at a friend of Sarah’s from when she lived in the US, Anthony Vizzari.

Anthony has an amazing story to tell, and you can read about it on his blog here.  When she told me about his story I wanted to make a short documentary on him, just touching on a small part of his life. Mainly his business. The vintage camera shop,  photobooth business and of course what drives him.

I have been wanting to try out the NEX5N for a proper project for ages but didn’t trust it enough for a paid gig, so this was perfect. It has an APS-C chip in it, takes Nikon lenses with my MTF Services adaptor and shoots AVCHD. My version is an EU one so shoots 25p and 50p in full HD.

So we popped over to Anthony’s shop in the Chicago Suburbs to make the film and of course buy some of his incredible vintage cameras. We spent around 6 hours there. 2 hours or so for the interview then set ups and b-roll.

Kit wise I used my Kessler Crane PB Pocket Dolly, Miller Compass 20 tripod, Shape semi cage (so I had somewhere to mount the monitor!), the amazing 5.6″ TV Logic monitor, the Switronix Torch LED as my only light which did a sterling job, Tascam DR100 and Sanken COS-11DBP XLR lav mic.

The cage of course made the rig bigger but with no not shoe mount on the NEX5N I couldn’t just stick it on top of the camera which would have been my number one option for a camera of this size.

Lenses were the Samyang 35mm F1.4, Tokina 11-16, Zeiss 85mm F1,4 and Zeiss 100mm Macro.


Music is from and the new Vimeo Music Service.

The main track is by Cars and trains. Check out the rest of the album here. It’s was only $99 to license the track for the piece so well worth it.

The end track is Spring by Daniel Dixon available again from here


I graded it all with Red Giant Software’s Magic Bullet Looks and gave it a some film grain too. Don’t forget you can get 20% off all Magic Bullet products with the code bloom20 at checkout!

I am very happy with the documentary, though I will probably do some further tweaks later this week (EDIT: done 7 revisions. Now it’s done and am happy!). It’s long at just over 9 minutes, but I think it should hold your attention, especially if you love cameras.

Big thanks to Sarah Estela and of course Anthony himself. Check out his site at, his vintage camera shop site here and his photobooth business here.

I will of course give the camera a full write up in the more detailed blog to follow in the next few days, I just wanted to get the film up first. I am really pleased with the image, very filmic…although it overheated quite a few times which was a massive pain, and this was with or without the monitor plugged in.

Oh and before you ask…yes I bought a number of cameras from him, love that Horizon!

A warning though there are some disturbing images in the film and one f bomb so be aware before watching!























  1. I noticed from your pictures that you have the rear screen on your nex-5n flush against the body. Personally, I seem to have far less overheating issues when I have my 5n’s screen flipped up, or at least positioned away from the main body. Eventually the camera still overheats, but it takes much longer, and also appears to cool a bit faster.

    I guess it could be an anomaly with my particular 5n, but it might be worth experimenting with.

  2. Ciao Philip

    love the way this little camera is filming!
    again you show us that is only about the eye standing behind the camera 🙂
    i just bought one in HK sending to me next week,
    i will post some images with some really nice and strange lenses.
    keep making this!
    thank you


  3. Hi Philip. Thanks for this short film. I was waiting for this film since I knew about it, because of the “Story” itself and also I was interested of the 5N too. Can you please tell me the beginning of your work flow? Are you working with native .mts media in your time line or you change it to ProRes … before editing? I am using FCP X. Also, as I have the EU version like yourself might you know any way around to get 24, 30 and 60p in any ways on the same camera?? 🙂 Thanks again! Take care,

  4. Nice work, probably everyone who reads this blog can relate to this guy. Only question, what was the cancer thing about, it seemed to be set up as a reveal of some sort and then never went anywhere. Does he have cancer or is he talking about his affinity for cameras as a fatal condition? Anyways, appreciate your work as always.

  5. My girlfriend woke super early for a flight so I thought I’d check some for an update whilst she was getting ready. Very nice film, very moving. Very impressed with that little camera as well. Are you using one of the lights that you are giving away during movember?

  6. A very lovely video indeed, love the music.
    Can I ask how you did the interview? Were you interviewing from directly behind the camera so Anthony was replying into the lens or did you just direct him to deliver straight to the camera?

  7. A fine piece of work. Amazing to see something so well told and beautifully made in such a short space of time. And with such a small set of resources and crew. Technology and talent = endless possibilities. The future is now! Well done Philip.

  8. Really nice feel to the film, Philip. Really like the framing for the interviews, nice to see something different to the usual left or right of centre positioning.
    I found the mourning photographs uncomfortable – but I think it’s good to push the viewer out of their safe zone and to examine how it makes you feel to see images that ask questions.

  9. Philip, Anthony has the same facial expressions as you sometimes! Really nice peace of work. Well shot well edited! I just posted the video on the Facebook group of the postgraduate documentary students at MediaCityUK! 🙂

  10. I love how you seem to cut through the BS and capture a glimpse into the soul of the person. That’s where the magic happens for me.

    Nice one Philip.

  11. Nice work Philip.

    I couldn’t help noticing that it says on the monitor 25p at 1/60. As you’re not using the 180º rule were these settings chosen for a certain aesthetic?


      1. Hi Philip – Which TorchLED light were you using for a key? I’m headed into the Amazon for a few weeks of filming next month and am looking for a little battery powered LED for a key. Would you recommend the one you’ve got?

        Love your work – as always,

      1. Funny story about Polaroid. My Dad worked at a gas station up the road from Rule Boston that is the Jackson Man School. The in inventor if the Polaroid camera went into the gas station that my Dad worked at, and was trying to get my Dad’s boss to invest into the Polaroid camera. My Dad’s both turned down Edwin Land.

        My Dad’s both was kicking himself years later.

        I think my Dad said his boss thought it was a scam. A camera that the picture comes out.

  12. The image is unexpectedly filmic in terms of contrast and texture: is that due to inherent noise, the grade or simply a quality of the camera?

    Also any idea what’s coming out of the HDMI? Seems to me sometimes that even the manufacturers are unsure of what flows from an HDMI output in terms of framerate and signal type, as though the people who made it don’t really understand it themselves. All we really know is that scaling the connector type down and putting the word “Mini” in front of it turns a useful output into something beyond useless.

    I can’t decide if Lomos are cool. In fact I’m fairly sure that they’re not but that Horizon model is interesting, you’ll have to persuade me.

  13. Very nice. Love the idea of the shop and the story behind it. Question: when you did you interview, how many setups moves did you do? I love the fact that he moves around the frame keep it visually interesting while we listen to the story. Been wondering how to do something similar myself.

    As always, love seeing what you do.

  14. I’ll use very detailed, specific and technical words for this one : WOW, AWESOME, MOVING !
    I understand this person for having the same ‘problem’ and you showed his whole entity with this talent and humble, respectful sensitivity you have…

    Brilliant Philip 🙂

      1. Now I need to think this twice. I thought the NEX5N will be a replacement of my previous NEX5 as I already happy with older NEX5 and I only faced overheat once, and for a year, no overheat trouble…

        How long the cooling down is needed so you can continue shooting ?

            1. Hello Philip Bloom,

              I’m browsing and still decide whether to purchase it or not, because of this overheat issue.

              Now, I just recently found other user is using cheap computer memory heatsinks to make NEX5N cooler and results for more longer shooting.
              Since you already own it, perhaps you may want to try experimenting this!


  15. Hi Phillip;

    Nice work as usual, beautiful made.

    What settings in Creative Style do you use on the Nex 5n? i use Nikon glasses with it, the peak function is a bless, i decide the nex 5n over the Gh2 even when i coming from a Gh1, two proyects finished with the Nex no overheating problem yet (cross fingers).

    Another question, when do you use the TV Logic with the Nex 5n before do you press record, have the monitor less resolution? i have the Sony V55 and i have a low resolution prior to record.

    Keep the excellent work, and good luck.

  16. Well crafted Philip as usual. Surprisingly, the length of just over 9 minutes doesn’t feel as long as it sounds. I believe it worked, because of the way at which you unfolded his story. Just when my brain was saying “ok I’ve had enough of this thought”, is when you seemed to move to the next chapter, which led me to hang on to the next thought, and so on.
    Really well paced, aesthetics are always on point, and the music choice was great and neatly tucked into the bg.
    The portraits were indeed slightly disturbing yet intriguing-
    Interesting piece


  17. Really nice documentary. I liked the way you told the story. And the rig for that small camera thingy sure is crazy ))

    How did you handle the Tokina 11-16 (canon/nikon mount?) since it does not have the aperture ring? Thank you.

  18. Great piece of work, Philip. Curious to learn what lens mount you have on the NEX-5N. Can you mount Canon glass to it? If so, what’s the crop factor? I’m flying out to Indonesia soon and am considering purchasing the NEX-5N as an additional camera (especially for the 1080p 50fps feature). How much is the total spend (w/o lenses)?

    1. hi richard, it’s the mtf nikon adaptor as mentioned in the post. it’s the same mount as the fs100 so Canon lenses need an electronic adaptor for it, hence the wait for Birger and MTF to make an electronic one.

      1. Problem is that I just don’t want to invest in additional glass, just because it doesn’t fit right now…

        Buying additional glass means I have to carry around even more weight. Of course, I could use a Canon camera just for the sake of changing the aperture, but that sounds cumbersome to me as well. Maybe use VariND to control the light instead and just set it to a fixed aperture? I really like to have 1080 slomo footage.

          1. It will work fine.

            mike24p is very well known on Vimeo and YouTube. I’ll take him at his word. He uses the Bower Canon Eos to micro four thirds m43 adapter with aperture control on his GH2 all the time now.

  19. That’s a really nice piece of story telling. I found the duration just right – It held my attention all the way through. A well told story about a likeable camera collector, shot in an creative way with the latest camera. I liked the mix of past and present and found the link between Anthony’s own sense of destiny and his photo collection quite thought provoking.

  20. Probably just me – waited for you to post an edited version, just tried to view it on iPad, but only get audio, no video (2 attempts). About to watch it on Mac – sure it will be great as always!

  21. Excellent story telling! Your visuals are always great, and I appreciate the minimalist approach to Anthony’s story. He did a great job of talking to the camera, and the twist the story took was intriguing. I had no idea by what the title of the piece was alluding to. Love it.

      1. Yeah, judging from the video I thought you were using your EyeDirect. He performs very natural looking straight into that lens.

        Do you know how to transform the EyeDirect into a auto-cue with an iPad? I tried to find info but there’s none on the website and Steve doesn’t respond to his e-mail.

  22. Great stuff, Philip. Anthony and his cameras are a very interesting pair of subjects. It is nice to see somebody who is so passionate about what he does. Finding happiness in his chosen life in spite of the fact that he knows he is closer to death than he should be if the world were more just.

  23. One of your best Phil, really nicely put together peice – v.nice cut – which in turn gives it a fantastic flow and feel – would love to see more of these!

    Look forward to reading how you went about the actual interview itself – Has a really nice natural relaxed feel that you do not see much.

    Loved it !

    PS shot at 07:20 = samyang 35 ?

  24. Wow, this becomes so much more than a camera test. Really good job. Well captured and well told. The sections fit together so well: cameras freezing the moment, the funeral photos (I never knew about that), and Anthony’s own sense of mortality. I’d love to come across this at a festival. I think the whole room would be moved.

  25. I tested this camera for an afternoon in hopes of purchasing it for a trip to the Amazon.

    Reason I loved it was how small and minimal it was. Great for filming delicate tribes who have never seen a camera before and practicing good etiquette.

    However, it was a disaster for one reason only…this camera overheats. Forget about flipping up the sick swivel monitor and holding it hand-held…it’ll last about 5 consecutive recording minutes before it shuts off. *Tear*

    So bummed, because this camera offers a better alternative (even better internal sound) than a “big clunky” 5d/7d with a giant lens that looks like a bazooka.

    Anyone have other suggestions that won’t overheat in Amazon humidity?

  26. hey philip, congratulations for the inspiring work! i’ve been meaning to buy a nex-5n over a gh2, but the overheating problem really worries me. you said it happened to you a dozen times during the shoot, but once it happens do you have to wait to start the next clip or not? how long does the camera let you shoot before it starts overheating? cheers + thanks! oliver

  27. Dear Philip!

    Thanks for this wonderful Short! May I ask one thing? I’ve tried to find out what Cage you’ve used. Maybe I’ve missed it somewhere on this site, but could you please tell me the manufacturer? During my research I found several Cages for the 5D, but somehow I had the feeling they are way too big for Nex5n. Thanks in advance, keep up the great work!

  28. Dear Philip!

    Thank you for sharing this short documentary, I liked the story and the way it is shot. How did you sync sound from Tascam DR100 with video? I read that there is no mic input (apart from hot shoe adapter) on Nex 5n, it probably records some sound using internal mic, but how reliable is it for sync? I guess it would only work if one is relatively close to subject so that 5n can pick up sound well, what is your experience?

  29. Hey Philip, great work!! I love what you did with the NEX-5N.

    I have a question about the VG20. Have you had time to play with it? There’s a bunch of disgruntled buyers claiming that Sony has participated in false advertising. Everywhere they state, including in Sony’s website, that as the 5N, the VG20 has 6 creative picture styles, but yet nobody has been able to find the function on their camera, nor is it mentioned in the manual. There are only 2 setting, standard, and Cinetone, which cannot be tweaked. Also, they can’t find the Dynamic Range Optimizer.

    What is up with Sony? How can they lie, and how can the 5N have more features for shooting video? HELP!!

      1. No, not at all, I know how to do fades, but somehow, I don’t like the way the regular FCP fades look… I don’t know if I made myself clear…
        I did like how those fades on this video look, maybe I’m just going crazy…

  30. I enjoyed the video but J just have a quick question. Which lens did you have on the Sony NEX-5N when you were talking about the sensor during the Choosing the right camera for the right job part 1 video?

  31. Hi Philip,

    Do you know if there is any problem with flickering lights if you are shooting with the US 24/60P version of the NEX-5N in the UK?

    Can you avoid flicker when shooting both 24P & 60P for Slo-mo under 50hz lighting?


  32. Great work Philip!

    I LOVE the look of the Tokina in this. The framing of him in front of all those cameras on the shelves is beautiful.

    I scored a great deal on one of those lenses from a guy who said it was “imposible to shoot video with that lens.” Sucker. I hope to find a way to use it as nicely as you have in this short.

  33. PB.

    Just got the NEX-5N yesterday. Looks really good, but I think you may already know that when you shoot in 1080p/60p …. the footage cannot be imported into iMovie or FCP6. Any ideas on other editing software that might work? Thank you. Stan

  34. lovely. thanks for sharing

    video lags behind the audio. audio can lag the video a little, but not the reverse. I wonder why. has a slightly disturbing effect, nice if you mean to generate tension.

    the audio is round and full. i liked it so much I listed extremely carefully to it. very quiet set, or highly selective microphone. The shooting looks so easy. 🙂 mark of talent.

  35. This is one of the most brilliantly shot short documentaries I’ve seen! Brilliant work! I must say that your work has inspired me to stop being just a student of film, film theory and aesthetics and to stop waiting for some opportunity to come by itself and get out of the chair and make stuff by myself. Your work inspired me to get into the whole DSLR end to end filmmaking business. And I am glad to say that yesterday I finally got my first DSLR (I’ve been doing some stuff with HV20 before, but I’ve been mostly dealing with theory). I got a Canon 650D, and I see a lot of people talking bad things about it but I thought that the new DIGIC 5 processor, and 1920by1080 output via hdmi had more potential for hackers to improve the camera (Magic Lantern). But the moment I watched this documentary today I realized that I may have made a mistake. Can I get this kind of image quality and this kind of look from the Canon? I’m really hoping that I can or even better from the 650d since it was much more expensive than the 5N. I realize of course that 90 percent of the look of this video was achieved by brilliant lighting. In fact what I’m trying to ask is, if you shot this with a 650D would it have looked similar, better or worse? I know it would have looked much worse if I shot it. 🙂 All the best to you Philip and thank you for waking me up. Cheers.

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