The Wilderness Nearby
A Sony FX6 Short Film

James Glancy

My name is James Glancy and I am a self-shooting presenter and wildlife conservationist. Seven years ago, I left the British military and embarked on a new career in conservation and television. I have presented and filmed shows for the Discovery Channel and National Geographic and produced an environmental series for the Mail Plus in the UK. I have a passion for wildlife both on land and at sea, and whilst I love to work on natural history productions, I’ve felt compelled to visually tell the stories of the damage that has been inflicted on the environment by human activity and to shine a light on those people who protect our planet. I have just returned from America where I was filming a shark documentary for National Geographic.

The Wilderness Nearby

2020 has served as a reminder of how detached from the natural world many of us have become. Restrictions on our life have given people the opportunity to discover the beauty of nature that often lies so close to home. It’s demonstrated the importance of conserving wildlife and the environment, without which we cannot survive. I wanted to make a short film celebrating the stunning wild spaces that have provided many people in Southern England with respite from this year’s pandemic, and for it to serve as a visual illustration that it pays to look after the wilderness nearby.

james glancy with his FX6 perched in a tree

First impressions shooting with the Sony FX6

My favourite thing about shooting with the Sony FX6 was the 4K slow motion capabilities at 120fps. It is perfect for capturing dramatic moments when filming wildlife. You can decompose movements of animals and bring emotions to your content.

Another requirement of my assignments shooting wildlife is the footprint and weight of my equipment needs to be minimal as I need to shoot from different angles up high in trees or at ground level. The FX6 is an extremely robust and small camera. It makes it ideal for shooting on the move and so light for a camera of this calibre. You would think you compromise somewhere with such a small body but yet it still gives you amazing picture quality in all lighting conditions thanks to the 4K full frame sensor.

sony fx6 on a tripod with 24-70 GM lens attached

Another aspect I appreciated was its modular design which allows me to be quickly set up on my different accessories like a gimbal, vehicle mount or tripod. With wildlife filmmaking, you don’t get another chance for your shot, so it is essential in my style of shooting.

For this shoot – I used a variety of wide long lenses due to the nature of wildlife. For a very tight shot of wild animals without disrupting them – I mainly used the Sony 70-200mm F/2.8 GM, 600mm F/4GM and 200-600mm G lenses. The latter gives a lot of versatility on the telephoto end to quickly reframe your shots. I have also used wider lenses like the Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM to have more contextual shots to tell the story.

james glancy holding his fx6 with sony 70-200 f2.8 gm attached

Shooting tips with the Sony FX6 and last thoughts

First of all - I find essential to use Sony E mount native lenses as these allow you to take full advantage the FX6’s exceptional autofocus capabilities. Whilst I still shoot with a combination of manual and autofocus lenses in my filmmaking, I found the new autofocus system excellent for tracking wildlife.

The menus will be familiar to those that have used the Sony FS7, however the FX6 has multiple options for storing pre-set functions. It’s worth taking time to set these up for shooting on the move when you have limited time to prepare for a shot.

Regarding accessories, I would recommend include a handheld gimbal, as the FX6 is small and light. Its modular design allows it to be easily mounted to a range of manufacturer’s gimbals. I also would include a viewfinder in my kit to attach to the FX6’s monitor.

It’s fantastic that the FX6 has joined the amazing Sony Alpha range. I believe the FX6 is about to become the go-to camera for documentary filmmakers, particularly those who capture fast paced unfolding stories. Like the FS7 it has a tough build for use in challenging environments, yet it’s far smaller and provides a much higher picture quality. 

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