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Central Church Utilizes Sony Cameras for Video Initiatives and Inspires Others to Switch to Sony

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Central Church Utilizes Sony Cameras for Video Initiatives and Inspires Others to Switch to Sony
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I’m an Elder at Central Church in Ewing, NJ, overseeing our video initiatives. We host three Sunday services, drawing around 600 attendees in person and approximately 200 online. Our contemporary services, which include announcements, worship, and sermons are livestreamed at 9:30am each week. We do this with a 5-person video team: a director and four camera operators using a mix of Sony FS5 and Sony FX30 cameras with 24-105G, 70-200GM, and 18-105 PZ lenses. We utilize HDMI-out, converting to 12G SDI that’s sent to our BlackMagic system. This system, operating in 4K, streams to YouTube in 4K and downscales to 1080p for Facebook. We manage IMAG projection in our worship center with just a 2-3 frame latency.

For our social media, we use a Sony FX30 and a Sony A7iii for stills. Our church’s social media manager saw what we were doing with the Sony cameras in our livestream, said, “I want that!”, and sold his previous camera setup. He’s never looked back! Sony’s color science, the IBIS and autofocus are a dream for him to use, and the efficiencies of shooting vertically for social are enhanced in the FX30, which he loves.

Seven years ago, Facebook Live happened, and the pastor of my church approached me to set up a livestream since I was “that techy guy” and work in advertising (I’m an Associate Creative Director, Art). But I knew nothing about video. The first camera we bought was a Sony PXW-X70, mainly for its feature set (HDMI/SDI, 4K capabilities, long zoom + AF). Over the next couple of years, we bought a second X70, then added a PXW-Z150 to the mix.

The Pandemic happened and while other churches rushed and struggled to get basic video set up for the first time, we’d been handling video pretty well, and this allowed us to help out other churches in the area to get on their feet. Since we loved our Sony camcorders so much (the colors were fantastic, easy to operate, all the right I/O), we kept recommending them to those other churches and they became Sony churches too!

Around fall 2020, lots of volunteers started raising their hands to help out. We sought lenses with easy control over manual focus and shallow depth-of-field to pair with our video technology. We purchased some legacy Sony models, including the FS5 that provided the power and functionality that our church needed at a fraction of the cost. The FS5s shared the same generation of color science with the X70 and Z150, so mixing and matching during the transition was really easy.

We ran with four Sony FS5s for a couple years, but our handheld operators sought a more ergonomic option, and that’s when we turned to the Sony FX30. Its form factor meant operators could balance their grip a lot better. They still had the same color profiles available as our FS5s (we use Cine2 gamma to Rec709), incredible autofocus (constant manual focus was always a challenge with the FS5) and IBIS which helped minimize the shaky-cam aspect of things. If our budget ever allows (miracles do happen, we can dream!), we’ll replace our two remaining FS5 cameras with FX6 models, replace our crop-sensor lenses, and expand to 5 and 6 camera operators per week.

I’ll say it again: throughout the history of video at Central Church, we’ve always stuck with Sony cameras. Their reliability, incredible color science, consistency and interchangeability with other Sony models over the years, amazing I/O options, lens offerings, and now the IBIS and autofocus have always impressed. All those features have made it easy for us to train volunteers with no skill and get them up and running fast with great results. In our region (central NJ, east-central PA), Central Church in Ewing is known for our excellence in video production, even exceeding the quality of other churches with budgets 10x our size. We remain a resource for other churches who want to level up their video capabilities. Many of those churches are using other competitive brands, but many of them have switched to Sony if their budget allows, after hearing about our successes.

My story is a testament to how Sony’s products are helping nonprofits like our church attain high standards in our video production. We wouldn’t be doing it this well without Sony’s products, and we’ll continue to get better and better with Sony’s gear at the heart of our video efforts.