I ordered this camera because the GH4 has been on backorder for about a month and I must say, this camera is a beast! I use it almost exclusively for video. Nothing in a controlled environment, so the low light performance is useful to me.
First off, this camera is not noise free at 80,000 ISO. It can be if there is enough light but under low light where 80,000 ISO would expose the image correctly, there will be a good amount of noise. This will be usable, which is remarkable, but I would avoid this ISO by either using a faster lens or dropping shutter speed. 51,200 ISO however is a different story! It is not noise free, but very comparable to 3200 ISO on other cameras. At 25,600 I would say this camera is noise free.
This is fantastic because you are no longer limited to super fast lenses in low light! In fact, I can use a 24-70 2.8 all day and not worry about my recordings being dark or noisy! Another nice feature is the APS-C crop. This gives you a little extra reach when you need it. A 24-70 is now a 36-105. Still wide, but a better long end. If you are in a controlled environment, this doesn’t matter, but for shooting events, sometimes you can’t get any closer, so that little crop is great! In crop mode you do have some sort of performance hit in terms of low light, but I haven’t tested this to see the limits.
- Sony Alpha A7S Digital Camera
- Sony Alpha A7S – Great Camera Period
- Sony Alpha A7S – First Pro Level Mirrorless Camera
The camera has a good feel to it. I like the GH3 feel more, but I like this more than a 7D and 5D. Build quality wise, it feels nice and solid and has good weight. Not a toy for sure, but not a tank either. I think it is a good tradeoff. The GH3 feels a little more hollow. The dials on the camera are easy to use and in nice spots. The only one that is off is the menu button. It is on the left side… I think it’s a bad place but shouldn’t affect use much as most functions can be assigned to a custom button.
My biggest fear with this camera has been that it may overheat. I have used NEX cameras and those overheat quite easily. This one does not! It has a 30 minute record limit, but you can press record again and it does not even give a warning. I think you can kill a battery before overheating the sensor. This is great because it allows you to use this camera in live events.
This cannot be your only camera however. There is maybe a 5 second delay form when the camera stops to when you can hit record again. That’s not a big loss, but if you are recording an important speech or something, make sure you have a reliable backup (GH3/4 or video camera). I believe I got 90 minutes of recording almost continuous on this camera with no issue.
During that time I changed batteries twice, start and stop recording 4 times and change SD card once, so maybe 5 minutes of non-record time? Another thing that is interesting about this camera is that you can change the gamma curves. Some of them allow you to overexpose an incredible amount, but not lose highlight detail. What it does is give you a lot of detail in the shadows. If you increase ISO too much, this adds noise in the shadows, but it does not hinder low light performance much.
I don’t understant how they work exactly, but say I am shooting into a bright light, when I change to slog, it will behave as if I closed the aperature, but the scene does not get darkers… It can turn a light blob into a sunstar! I do not know the limits, but it seems like that can be very useful in backlit situations. I will have to experiment. There are some bad things to this camera. The battery life is not great. I get anywhere from 60 – 90 minutes on a full charge.
This means you need multiple batteries and a charger with you at shoots (don’t forgot your safety cam either). Said battery is made in china… NEX batteries are the same, but made in Japan. The NEX batteries hold their charge very well when not in use and I have not noticed any loss of performance in over a year of use! These are still to be seen. As mentioned, the menu button on the left side. You have to let go of the camera with your right hand in order to press the button. It’s a little odd. Lenses for this camera are all expensive.
Not so bad for me since I am using old lenses and Nikon, but those that want autofocus, have only a few lenses to choose from and they are on the pricey end. I can’t figure out how to turn off the record beep when you hit the movie record button. Maybe it’s in the manual but maybe Sony doesn’t allow it to be turned off… So much for silent shooting.
The A7s is Outstanding
I have compared this unit as a camera to my Leica m9 and the colour rendition plus dynamic range is excellent. Combine this with the ISO capability and this has quickly become my go to camera. The 55m and 35 mm Sony and leica lens work like a charm. Hopefully Sony will work towards building a sensor with the same ISO capabilities at 24 MP.
Another note, the audio of the Video is very nice much better than any camera I have owned with an internal Mic. Overall I would give this machine very high marks. I can’t comment too much on the video but it looks great in HD. Waiting for the External 4K drive system. Sony, give us more 2.8 FE Lens choices !