Optimizing Your Sony NEX 5n/7 For Shooting Video

The Sony NEX 5n and NEX 7 cameras are quite capable video cameras but because they are more designed for consumers, the out-of-the-box video isn’t optimized for production use. With a few simple tips, we can help make our video more edit-friendly for more professional use.

View the correct aspect ratio

By default, the LCD viewfinder will display a more square (3:2 ratio) aspect ratio. When shooting video, the recording aspect ratio is 16:9 (widescreen). To view the correct aspect ratio on the LCD, go to Image Size and then Aspect Ratio and change the setting to 16:9.

Set the correct shutter speed

For the right cinematic look, the shutter speed needs to be the inverse of double the frame rate. If we are shooting at 24 fps, then the shutter should be at 1/48th second (actually, the closest you can get with the camera is 1/50th, but its close enough). If you are shooting at 60 fps, then set the shutter at 1/120th second. For more information about this please read Why Shutter Speed Matters With DSLR Video.

White Balance

Automatic white balance will usually do a pretty good job but does not seem to correct well in lower light conditions. To ensure a good white balance, shoot a few seconds of a gray card so that you can use that to correct the final white balance in post production.

Get Your Exposure Dialed In

Since your shutter will be set based on the frame rate, this leaves ISO speed and aperture. If you are shooting in bright sunlight and you want to use larger apertures then you should pick up a variable neutral density filter to enable you to dial down the exposure regardless of your other settings.

Lock in your focus

Your best bet with video is to use manual focus, or at least use autofocus to get the focus set and then switch to manual. This will keep the autofocus from doing any tracking while you are filming.

Use a tripod

Shakey video is really distracting and will put off viewers very quickly. Unless you are using some form of stabilizer or glide cam system, then make sure you are using a tripod. Be sure and turn off OSS (optical stabilization system) when using your tripod.

Flatten the image

For the best results in post production, you want to flatten the image somewhat by turning down some of the color settings. Go to Brightness and ColorCreative StylePortrait, then go to Options and use the following settings:  Contrast = -3,  Color = 0, Sharpness = -3. These settings will give you more dynamic range to work with when color correcting (grading) during post production. The following video from   was done using these settings and then corrected during post:

“>Autumn – Getting Cinematic with the Sony NEX-5N from lvisual”>Manuel A. Calle on Vimeo.

Get Good Audio

If everything else is top-notch but your audio is poor, you will lose your audience faster than anything else. For the NEX 5n, you can use the Sony ECM SST1 Microphone for improved audio. For best results, record to a second audio device such as a ZOOM H1 and then sync the video and audio together during post production.


If you have been trying to get the most out of your NEX 5n or NEX 7 video, this article should have put you down the right track. We will be doing even more articles on getting the most out of your NEX cameras, in the meantime, if you have any tips please share them in the comments.


Kerry Garrison lives in Castle Rock, Colorado with his wife and two dogs. With 10 years of experience shooting products and 5 years of experience in the wedding industry, Kerry brings a good deal of technical know-how and can explain topics in easy-to-understand terms.

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14 Responses

  1. Abe says:

    Thank you SO VERY MUCH! This is the most comprehensive and helpful post Ive seen for this camera! Appreciate it so much.!

  2. Juan Herrera says:

    Thank you

  3. NIck says:

    Hello! Thanks for these tips! Do you know if there are any issues with using the Juiced Link RA333 mixer/preamp with the NEX7? Looks like a good option to be able to use quality XLR mics to record in-camera.

    • kgarrison says:

      The RA333 is a great option. I love the control and quality. I haven't played with the video much on the NEX7 but if you can manually set the audio controls or disable AGC it is ideal, otherwise it will still give you better audio, it will just take a little more fiddling with settings to get the ideal balance.

  4. Tales Lima says:

    I need to set my Sony Nex 5N to record videos for youtube, but my videos are getting bad after upload to youtube. How can I configure the Nex 5N for recording videos for Youtube? What's the difference between 1080p and 1080pi?

    • kgarrison says:

      Are you going right from the camera to YouTube? If so, don't do that. You need to edit the videos and them save them in H264 format for best results.

  5. Gayland says:

    What is H264 format? When I save I don't see that option on Serif MoviePlus.
    Also, I get jerky videos. What are some possible reasons?

    • kgarrison says:

      I have never heard of Serif MoviePlus so I cant really help you there. You might want to look at Adobe Premiere Elements. H264 is an industry standard and YouTube's preferred format. When you say "jerky videos" are you referring to camera shake or stuttering on playback?

  6. Cameron says:

    Great thanks for the reply… more research needed…

  7. John says:

    Very cool camera for video. I use my NEX 7 on a video rig. And the best accessory i've got for it is.. a way to start/stop video recording right from my rigs handle, and tripod handle. Its called WIRED redNEX, and its simply a remote button for video recording that you can strap anywhere in your rig.
    Check WIRED redNEX at: http://wrednex.bymac.org

  8. Steve says:

    I use my Nex 7 on a UAV. I love the footage it can capture, But I always have set to auto focus. I dont know how / understand how to set the focus so it keeps everything in focus all the time.
    Is it possible to set the Nex7 to some kind of infinity focus so everything is in focus?
    Please keep in mind that the camera is attached to a UAV and the subjects being filmed are from a whole range of distances in any one shoot.
    also if Auto is likely to be the best setting, would i be better witter multispot focusing or centrespot focusing ?
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • kgarrison says:

      You could set it to manual focus in the settings and then pre-focus but you will be stuck with a particular focus point. You could also use aperture priority mode and set it to the highest aperture number for the greatest depth of field but your focus still might shift. Its a real problem because the camera isnt really smart enough to know what it is you want to focus on.

  9. Steve says:

    Thank you Kgarrison. I think I am going to have to just stick with Auto Focus.
    If i just it leave on auto Focus, would it be better to set auto focus, to focus on many areas or spot focus?
    Thanks again

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