Real time northern lights video

For several seasons I had wanted to make real time northern lights videos. Due to the lack of adequate equipment, I did not get a chance to do it. In March 2019, just before my last trip of that winter season, I acquired a Sony A7s mirrorless camera, which is famous for its clean very high ISO capabilities. Time to shoot real time aurora videos!

Real time aurora video gear

You can make it as expensive as you want, but it really does not have to be this way. I bought a second hand Sony A7s mirrorless camera, a camera that first came out on the market at the beginning of 2014, so 5 whole years before I got it. The more recent Sony A7S II would cost significantly more for the exact same sensor and thus similar image quality. It does though have the ability to record the footage in 4K, as well as a stabilised image sensor.

I also needed an adapter to use my Canon mount Sigma 20mm f/1.4 lens, and I was ready to go shoot my first real time aurora video!

You may wonder: why a new camera when I have an already expensive Canon 1DX Mark II? The Sony 7s cameras have a specific sensor. It works very well in low light and extremely high sensitivity. The Canon just cannot do this.

Let’s watch the videos

Enough talking about gear, let’s just watch some real time northern lights video. The music in the first video is by the wonderful Sami singer Máddji (Guhkki from the album Dobbeli). It is used with the artist’s permission.

Make sure to watch full screen and in HD. Choose 1080p on the geared wheel left of the “Vimeo” logo at the bottom of the video.

I filmed part of the footage of this second video during our northern lights photography workshop in Utsjoki in January 2020.

These are not timelapses that would show faster moving northern lights. These are the real deal, real speed auroras as you would witness them yourself while standing under the Lapland sky.

Do you want to try your luck too?

I am regularly leading winter photography workshops in the north of Finnish Lapland, so why don’t you join me up north? We’ll go chasing the northern lights, and you can try to make your own real time aurora videos! And if you prefer to just watch still images, take a look at my northern lights photos gallery.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Szabó Krisztián

    Hello! I am planning to travel to Iceland. I have a Sony A6000 MILC camera and a Panasonic HC-VX1 camcorder. Which device is better for making a real-time video of the aurora borealis?

    1. Rayann Elzein

      I’m sorry, I have neither of these cameras, so I’m not able to give advice on this :(

  2. Bob

    This is lovely. Thank you for sharing your experience. As an American who’s lived in the SE US and not traveled much, I very much hoep yo see the northern lights some day!

  3. Steve

    These videos are amazing and inspiring. I’ve been on several successful Aurora chasing trips in the past and have taken some great photos. I’m heading back out to utsjoki in a couple of weeks time, this time armed with a Sony a7s2 and 20mm f1.8 lens in the hope of doing exactly this! A real time video! Equipment wise I have a fluid head tripod, lens heater and dummy battery into a large capacity battery pack. Do you have any tips regarding iso, shutter speed and picture profiles. I’m thinking around iso 20,000 to 40,000 with a shutter speed of around 1/13 running picture profile 6. I live deep in light polluted south east England, so no chance of testing before I go. Any useful tips would be gratefully received. Thank you.

    1. Rayann

      Sorry I missed your comment, been away most of January! I’m usually going as high as 51,200 ISO with this camera. Enjoy your trip to Utsjoki!

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