It's no secret around here that I am a huge fan of Sony's mirrorless line of cameras . They have a series of camera's designed for different specialties. The Sony A7r leans towards photography and stills while the Sony A7s leans towards video. I personally have a Sony A7s which has ISO ranges up to 409,600. It basically means that it can record clean footage in low light situations. Attach the right lens and all you need is moonlight. The stills won't win any awards, but still manage to look really good.
Before I fawn over the marvels of mirrrorless cameras, let me get a few gripes out of the way. The current A7S has a lot of little quirks that take some getting used to. There isn't a huge selection of native lenses, but you can snap on an adapter and your canon lenses if you have some laying around. The autofocus is absolute garbage with the native lenses. Even slower with an adapter,so manual focusing is a must which is a pain when compared to other competitors. The batteries are useless and and don't last all that long. I have 7 spare batteries for the dang thing and I have gone through all of them in a day when doing a lot of heavy shooting. In order to record in the best video quality, you need a 64 GB memory card with high write and read speeds. The menus are perplexing and poorly designed. The camera has an APS-C cropped sensor mode and also have a button remap feature, but you can't map APS-C mode to a button for quick access. The record button is in a terrible place and you difficult to press. That and it's so small that it's difficult to show up to a professional job and be taken seriously by non camera geeks. Adding a battery grip and a large lens helps make the camera seem more impressive, but that is a minor gripe for those of us who have to maintain the appearance of being a professional. Shooting in S-Log2 has a minimum ISO of 3,200 which means you need to put on an ND filter (sunglasses for your lens) so your image won't be overexposed if you're shooting outdoors in daylight. The camera also only ha a 12 megapixel sensor for pictures, but unless you're making enormous prints, you won't run into too many issues. Just make you compose your shot because you also won't having any room for cropping. The camera features the ability to record in 4k, but you need an external recorder and hard drives. The whole setup easily adds an extra $2,000 to the $2,300 camera and becomes rather bulky.
Now, those are a lot of complaints, so why is the camera so amazing? There's a lot to say, but I'll go through a quick list of what makes the A7s my favorite go to camera. The A7s is a full sensor camera which means you get a wider field of view when compared to a crop sensor camera. It features an efficeint video codec that means you get crisper and celaner video than a Canon 5D III. The camera frame is light and easy to handhold for hours. Lowlight performance is unbelievable. It has eliminated my need to use flash in order to add absent light. Flash is still an artistic tool that can enhance photo's , but is often used as a last resort when shooting on the run. The thing doesn't overheat. It does have a timelimit on video, but you can continously use it unlike many DSLR's that overheat. It features a silent shutter mode for situations where having a loud shutter is distracting. The dynamic range (being able to see details in shadows and bright areas at the same time) is also phenominal thanks to S-Log2. It's basically shooting mode where the camera captures video in muted colors that also makes color grading easier in post production. Overall, this camera gives me the freedom of being able to shoot in any sitaution without having to worry about lighting. It even has zebras and focus peaking to help with exposure and focusing. Situations which often times have me taking cosplay photo's in poorly lit exhibit halls at conventions, would make my Canon cameras cry.. I love the thing and can't imagine life without it at my side. Once you use the camera on a weekly or daily basis, you learn to quickly flick through the menus and work with all the quirks. It needs a lot of love at times, but the rewards are worth any little frustration.
So I have been eagerly been waiting for the announcement of the successor to the A7s and Sony has delivered. The first thing I need to address is that the camera maintains its 12 megapixel sensor for photos. I would have liked to see it bumped to 20, but the camera is touted as more of a video camera, so lets see what has improved on that front.
All new features at a glance:
- Strong lowlight capabilities at 409600 ISO
- 5-axis optical in-camera stabilization
- Internal 4K recording to XAVC S (up to 30fps)
- Internal 120fps to 1080p
- clean 8-bit HDMI output in 4:2:2
The biggest draws have to be internal 4k recording without the need to buy an expensive external recorder. The original didn't have any in body stabilization, so you had to rely on a lens with it built in or a tripod/steaycam. Another cool addition is recording 120 frames per second at 1080p. The original could only record 120 fps at 720p. If you're wondering why anyone wants such a high frame rate when we all know how bad 48 fps looks for movies, it's so we can slow down the footage and it looks buttery smooth. It's how we achieve slow motion for video. The original A7s had S-log2, but the A7sII will include S-log2 and the newly added S-log3 which offers greater dynamic range. The viewfinder also received an upgrade and touts the worlds highest viewfinder magnification. I won't be able to form a final conclusion until I get my hands on one and compare it with Sony's recently released A7rII. The A7sII is schedules for release October 16 for $3,000.