Video review of the Sony A7S from Philip Bloom Reviews & Tutorials on Vimeo. Few…
Was there ever any doubt that sooner or later Sony Electronics would release the replacement for the A7S? Or that it would be called the A7S II? Last month they replaced the venerable A7R with the A7R II, a major upgrade in almost every way. Everything about the A7R II improved over the previous camera, admittedly at a substantially increased price. Today, at IBS 2015, Sony has announced the A7S II, scheduled presently to ship in the United States in October.
Without actually testing one in my hands, it is hard to comment about new camera announcements. The best one can do is give an opinion of how the specifications look, and defer most comment until a unit can actually be tested.
Five Good Reasons To Want An A7S II:
- UHD 4K internal recording
- Full HD 120fps recording and 4x/5x slow motion recording
- In-camera 5-axis optical image stabilisation
- 14-stop latitude in the S-Log3 gamma setting
My disappointments? Only three, at first glance. There are always things I’ve wanted that didn’t get included in every camera upgrade since the dawn of time. For my work I can see the A7S II does not appear to have inherited the fabulous phase detect autofocus system from the A7R II or the Eye Tracking. Both of those sure would have been nice to have.
Instead, the autofocus system on the a7S II now features 169 AF points with improved contrast detection in low light environments down to -4EV. The AF performance is also twice as fast as the original a7S during video shooting, Sony claims. Sounds great to have, but not much help in those situations when what you really need is phase detect autofocus like the A7R II has. When I am trying to land tack sharp on an eyeball, that Eye Tracking would have been a wonderful addition to the astounding low light capability also! But alas, not this time.
My third gripe, as always, Sony has increased the MSRP for the a7S II substantially, to $3,000. Is it worth it? We will have to wait and see. While touted as a video powerhouse, the very similar A7R II has problems recording UHD 4K for longer than a couple of minutes due to overheating issues. This could be a serious problem here in Hollywood where the high today is forecast to reach 97 degrees F. In the original A7S internal 4k recording was not possible for the same overheating issues. I guess time will tell if the new A7S II will suffer this same debilitating problem.
If Sony delivers an A7S II upgrade that lives up to all of the Sony marketing claims, as they did with the original A7S, $3,000 USD will look cheap for everything it delivers.
Full Sony Press Release Follows:
Out of darkness cometh light
A7SII Features and Functions
- Ultra-high sensitivity up to 409600i with low noise across the whole range
- Wide dynamic range across entire ISO range delivering smooth tonal gradation from dark to bright conditions
- In-camera 5-axis optical image stabilisation for expanded shooting possibilities
- Internal 4K movie recording featuring full pixel readout without pixel binning in full-frame format
- Wide range of professional movie functionality including S-Gamut3.Cine/S-Log3, new Gamma Assist Display, enhanced Zebra Function, Full HD 120fps recording and 4x/5x slow motion recording and full pixel readout without pixel binning in full-frame format
- High-speed AF with enhanced accuracy in wide ranging scenes and advanced shooting functions
Sony today announced the latest addition to its award winning series of compact, full-frame α7 cameras with the introduction of the α7S II. Offering ultra-high sensitivity and wide dynamic range across the entire ISO range and 5-axis image stabilisation for greater shooting control, the α7S II delivers stunning image quality for photographers who shoot in the most challenging light conditions. Be it the brightest of mornings or darkest of nights, the α7S II enables new levels of photographic expression at whatever shutter speed you wish to deploy. The α7SII also incorporates a host of pro-style movie functions including the ability to shoot 4K video with full pixel readout and no pixel binning in full-frame format, making it an extremely appealing proposition for photographers and videographers alike.
The α7S II delivers an awe-inspiring sensitivity range of ISO 50-409600[i], thanks to the combination of its 35mm full-frame 12.2 megapixel[ii]image sensor and BIONZ X image processing engine. The sensor optimises the dynamic range across the entire ISO range and broadens the range of tonal gradation in bright environments and minimises noise in dark scenes meaning that it delivers impressive results even in the most extreme conditions. The upgraded image processing algorithm of BIONZ X maximises the sensor’s capabilities and improves depiction throughout the full sensitivity range with particular emphasis on the mid-to-high range. This means that the resulting stills and movies demonstrate extra-fine detail with minimal noise.
The α7S II can record 4K[iii] movies internally in the XAVC S format[iv] meaning that content is wonderfully detailed. Because information from all pixels is utilised without line skipping or pixel binning, the camera can maximise the expanded power of the full-frame image sensor and produce 4K movies with higher image clarity and negligible moiré. Full pixel readout without pixel binning is also employed when shooting Full HD[v]movies which means that it collects information from approximately five times as many pixels that are required to generate Full HD[vi] and condenses the information to produce extremely high quality movies.
In a first for the α7 series, the α7S IIcan record 120fps at 100Mbps[vii] with full pixel readout without pixel binning in full frame format which can be edited into wonderful 4x/5x slow motion footage[viii] in Full HD. The α7S II also has the ability to shoot 4x/5x slow motion footage internally which can be immediately reviewed on the camera screen.
Video functionality has been further enhanced with new profiles; S-Gamut3.Cine/S-Log3 and S-Gamut3/S-Log3. These new profiles deliver wide dynamic range and colour correction is easier to perform. The α7S ll even offers impressive 14-stop latitude in the S-Log3 gamma setting. The camera also supports S-Gamut/S-Log2 which is very popular among cinematographers and videographers. Gamma Display Assist is a new function that allows users to monitor images or check focus when recording S-Log movies and the Zebra function has been improved for even greater control.
5-Axis Image Stabilisation
The new α7S II is equipped with the innovative 5-axis image stabilisation system that is proving extremely popular in the α7 II and α7R II cameras. The system corrects camera shake along five axes during shooting, including angular shake (pitch and yaw) which has the greatest impact on image quality and tends to occur with a telephoto lens, shift shake (X and Y axes) which becomes noticeable as magnification increases, and rotational shake (roll) that often affects night shooting or video recording.
The autofocus system on the α7S II has been upgraded and now offers 169 AF points for fast, precise focusing with greater accuracy.[ix] The power of the image sensor means that the absence of noise in images generated, enables the Fast Intelligent AF to detect contrast more easily and react speedily even in low-light situations (as low as EV-4), when it’s even tough to check with the naked eye. When shooting video, the AF performance is twice as fast as the predecessor model.[x]
The XGA OLED Tru-Finder in the α7S II has been upgraded and offers the world’s highest viewfinder magnification[xi] of 0.78x (roughly 38.5 degrees in diagonal field of view) and shows clear images across the entire display area. The use of ZEISS T* Coating ensures sharp reduction of reflections on the viewfinder and unlike an optical viewfinder, the OLED Tru-Finder can be used to instantly show how exposure compensation, white balance and other selected settings are affecting the displayed image.
A number of enhancements have been made to the look and feel of the α7S II to make it more user friendly, reliable and intuitive. Its magnesium-alloy body is both light and highly robust and the grip and shutter buttons have been re-designed so that the camera feels more natural in the hand. For situations when you just want to blend into the background, silent shooting mode can be activated for 5fps continuous shooting[xii]and reliability has been enhanced with reduced-vibration shutter movement.[xiii] The lens mount has been further reinforced to ensure greater resilience, particularly when attaching third party lenses and users can now charge the camera via a USB power supply whilst the camera is in operation, thus extending battery life. For greater comfort and safety, Sony is also launching the LCS-EBF; a new premium leather body case for the α7S II which is also compatible with the α7R II and α7 II.
The α7S II is also Wi-Fi® and NFC compatible and fully functional with Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile application available for Android™ and iOS™ platforms, as well as Sony’s growing range of PlayMemories Camera Apps, which add a range of fun creative capabilities to the camera. Learn more at www.sony.net/pmca.
The new α7S II full-frame interchangeable lens digital camera from Sony will be available in Europe in November 2015, priced at approximately €3,400.
[i]Standard ISO 100 – 102400, Expandable to ISO 50-409600
[ii] Approximate effective megapixels
[iii] QFHD: 3840 x 2160. Internal recording and HDMI output, both at 4K resolution, are available in full-frame
[iv]SDXC memory card higher than Class 10 is required for movie recording in XAVC S format
[vi] 1920 x 1080
[vii] UHS Class 3 memory card is required for recording at 100Mbps
[viii] 30p (25p) or 24p
[ix] Compared to α7S
[x]Compared to the α7S, when shooting Full HD movies.
[xi]Amongst digital cameras. The viewfinder magnification is approx. 0.78x (with 50mm lens at infinity, -1m-1). As of date of press release, based on Sony research.
[xii]Speed Priority Continuous mode. Focus and exposure settings fixed at first shot.
[xiii] 500,000-cycle durability. According to Sony internal testing, with the electronic front curtain shutter activated.