I love the Sony A7s. I own an M9 as well as an OMD-EM1. I only shoot still photography so if you are looking for a video review, please look elsewhere.The A7s has LOADS going for it over these two cameras.
Here are a few of those things:
1. Low light abilities – The Sony A7s has an amazing ability to focus in pitch blackness, even without the AF assist light. You will never be in a situation where the A7s cannot focus. How cool is that! I took pics at a wedding reception in almost darkness an was constantly amazed.
2. High ISO – No other camera I have used comes close to touching this cameras high ISO ability! I can now go up to ISO 25,600 and have a usable image. The great color stays as the dynamic range. Even at 52,000 ISO images can be manipulated and made useful. Amazing. ISO 6400 is like many cameras at ISO 400. This opens up all kinds of creative possibilities and things no one has ever been able to do before.
3. AF Speed. While not as fast as the OMD EM1, it is very close and, of cpurse, at high ISOs is untouchable.
4. Quiet – This camera is much quieter than theOMD EM1 and Leica M9 as it can be shot in silence. As in ZERO noise. I shot a scene at ISO 50,000 in a dark room. No one knew I took the shot and it was quiet in a room that echoed severely. No one believed me when I told them I took the shot as it was seemingly impossible to do without a flash.
5. AWB and color – The AWB and color is dramatically better than the M9 and to me at least much more natural than the OMD EM1.The Sony A7s earns its 5 stars!
Amazing filmmaking tool
As a filmmaker’s camera, it’s amazing. This is more of a review for anyone using the camera for it’s video capabilities. Let me explain the things I like and don’t like.First off, LCD screen is awesome, colors are very accurate and I like that it comes out a bit and tilts up and down.
- Sony Alpha A7S – Best digital camera for my uses
- Sony Alpha a7R III Digital Camera
- Sony Alpha A7S – So far so excited
Sucks that it doesn’t flip out to the side for those overkill quality selfies but that’s ok. Buttons are very responsive and feel good, you can change settings really fast once you have some muscle memory going. Doesn’t lag.Camera feels very solid, grip feels solid. Camera looks pretty awesome as well.The internal stereo mic is actually amazing, not thin, reproduces bass very well and you can hear details well.
The interface is easy to use. Once you get used to it, everything is in the right place and makes sense. Took me some time to figure out the color profiles, apparently for picture profiles you have to go to menu, the camera icon, and #5, and switch it from off to PP7 if you want to use s-log2 for extended dynamic range. Which, by the way, is a fantastic tool, even if the minimum iso is at 3200.
One small thing I really liked was that instead of it just showing you a battery with three or four bars as battery life indicators, it shows a percentage! And even when it says it’s at basically 0%, you still have a few more minutes that the camera can stay on. But I wouldn’t trust that all the time.
Another small but good thing is that if you mount this camera on a cookie mount for your tripod and need to change the battery, the thread is far enough away from the battery compartment on the bottom so you don’t have to remove the cookie to replace the battery – which, by the way, this camera comes with 2 batteries.
Dynamic range is fabulous but only really in PP7’s S-log2, and I’ve found that the noise in s-log2, after the footage is color corrected and what not, looks more like film grain (to me) than noise, when I process footage my way at least. So the noise is not a major distractor when trying to tell a story.
One thing I don’t like about this camera: there is a bit of Moire in high detailed things off in the distance. This is mostly in 720p 120fps mode but I have noticed a bit in 1080p 60fps. I have less moire in my hacked GH2 but at the cost of that footage not holding up well in post and not neeearly as good dynamic range.
Make sure you turn the sharpness on your picture profile down (and if you are in PP7, you’ll need to snoop around with the settings to get it where you want, I suggest going through them thoroughly.) The moire really isn’t a big problem with the sharpness down and the footage is perfectly usable, so don’t let that turn you off from this camera.
That’s another thing, this footage, even in just xavc format, holds up very well when altering colors. Not perfectly, but very acceptably. Imagine what it would be like like if recorded in 4:2:2.Real quick I will say this: if you have no need of slow motion, you might be better off with anything from Blackmagic.
I need slow motion for most things I shoot.Which, by the way, this camera does 120fps. However, it is a 720p crop from 1080p (it zooms in further). It does full 1080p at 60 30 and 20 though.Very shallow depth of field due to the Full-frame sensor.Pretty bad rolling shutter, but it only gets worse with longer focal lengths. So I recommend wider angle lenses when there’s a lot of directional motion in your shots that could end up looking strange.
Also, it sucks that there are almost no lenses that you can use with this camera unless you buy an adapter. I got my self a perfectly great Rokinon 85mm f1.4 (Rokinon just released a line of lenses specifically for FE (full-frame E-mount) lenses) and it only cost me $. There is some color fringing when there’s bright light illuminating something out of focus, but if exposed properly it won’t show up as much and it’s perfectly usable if graded the right way as well.
But in terms of FE mount lenses, the ones available right now are expensive and the zooms are not fast so you’re better off with an adapter and a lens that can do full-frame cameras.And to clarify, this camera has an FE mount. It’s the same exact thing as an E-mount. Except the F in front means Full Frame, which is telling you only full frame lenses will work with this camera, unless you want seriously unusable vignetting if you use aps-c lenses.
This is VERY important: MAKE SURE YOU ONLY USE 64gb+ SDXC (not SDHC) cards that can write at speeds at least 50mb/s or faster (I am using a transcend that I got for $ that writes at 65mb/s) if you want to film with the xavc codec. Otherwise, it won’t work.Oh, and low-light performance? I CAN SEE STARS at night with this thing. Leagues better than my own eyes. It’ll blow your mind. And it’s totally usable footage. Even if there is some grain in the footage, youtube is my final destination for footage shot with this camera. The compression gets rid of some of the noise.
But yeah, best low-light performance from any camera I’ve ever seen to be quite honest, SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE RED EPIC if you want to do anything in low light.Also: I’m ok with it not recording 4k in-camera. Instead of upgrading to a 4k camera in the future, I’m ok with spending is $2k on an Atomos Shogun.
And by the time I need it, it should be cheaper.You might ask, why not the GH4? It’s cheaper and does internal 4k. To answer that: the a7S blows the GH4 out of the water with low light performance. I’d rather be able to film a story no matter how dark it gets whenever wherever, rather only during certain lighting conditions with a GH4. And also, 120fps vs 96fps, full frame vs micro 4/3.I probably missed a few things, but I’ve only had it for a day, and this is what I’ve noticed right off the back.
Will have this camera for a good while. Because bottom line, regardless of pixel peeping, it has all the tools I need (totally visible scenes in low-light without heaps of distracting noise, slow motion up to 120fps, s-log2 gamma that makes highlight detail much more visible) to make great stories with that aren’t limited to only being able to see footage in certain conditions.