I shot ‘Nomad’ with my friend Susanna and the Sony A7S a few days ago, in 120fps slow-mo mode.

Light sources were only a candle, iPhone torch and an old industrial German desk lamp with red filter on the front. I am amazed at the clean results. ISO levels were pushing on for 12,800 in most of the shots.

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I’ve had the A7S for over a week now and can share my initial thoughts, even some firm conclusions. Here’s one I’ve come to already – the Sony A7S is the best consumer camera Sony have ever made.

For $2500 the video performance of the A7S sits between the FS700 ($8000) and F5 ($17,000) yet the full frame sensor lends more character and allows for groundbreaking low light performance.

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Only a few years ago S-LOG was a $3800 upgrade for the Sony CineAlta F3, itself a $15,000 camera. S-LOG made its debut on the Sony F35, a workhorse of Hollywood.

Now Sony have put this on a $2500 consumer camera along with the best full frame sensor I have ever used for video. How good is it? Very!!

I am sharing a pack of LUTs for the A7S which can be applied in Premiere, Resolve, etc. for an instant cinematic look to your A7S S-LOG 2 footage.

Download

Three LUTs are provided in the zip. Dynamic – for best dynamic range, will suit a low contrast shot requiring high dynamic range and plenty of shadow detail. Also good for low light. Vivid will give a punchier look to those shots that benefit from it like a sunset and where some dynamic range can be scarified for higher contrast and saturation. S-GAMUT is for when shooting S-LOG with the Color Mode of S-GAMUT and compensates for the purple tint to reds I find I am getting in this mode. For the Dynamic and Vivid LUTs you must set the camera colour mode in PP7 to ITU709 Matrix.

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Sony A7S with Atomos Ninja Star

The A7S is so close to being a ‘complete’ system for high end video quality in a small prosumer camera, but there’s one issue that has quite rightly been highlighted by filmmakers such as Andrew Wonder and that is the rolling shutter distortion. The A7S actually has a very fast sensor with high efficiency made possible by the latest technology but because it does not skip any lines when reading out the image the net result is a scan that takes roughly as long as the older 5D Mark II, which does line-skip.

Sony plan to fix this by introducing a new sensor technology which can read entire lines of pixels in batches of 4 simultaneously.

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buddy-james-miller---cyp-4k-hdmi-scaler

Picture (“Buddy”) courtesy of James Miller, inset – the CYP 4K HDMI scaler

The picture above (click for 1080p original) is from the 4K full frame sensor inside the Sony A7S (ISO 3200, S-LOG2).

Internally the camera does a simple downscale of the 4K signal to 2K for standard 1080p XAVC or HDMI recording – but James discovered adding a hardware scaler on the end of the 4K HDMI signal results in a more detailed 1080p image which is light and day different. The great news is this scaler is only £167 in the UK.

Add to that an Atomos Ninja Blade or Ninja Star for taking the image from the scaler and recording it to ProRes – and you have one of the best 1080p images available at any price.

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a7s-metabones

Slashcam have chart tested the A7S internal recording modes and the results for the regular frame rates 24-30p are incredibly positive.

However it seems that in 60p the camera cannot utilise the full pixel readout of the sensor, which results in a worse image with moire and aliasing.

You can read my take on this below or head over to Slashcam to read the original piece (Google translated)

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All footage by Ed David on the EOSHD forum

I’m surprised at how nice the quality is from APS-C (Super 35mm) mode on the A7S. I expected it to be a lot softer! There’s no signs of significant moire or aliasing either.

The smaller window from the sensor allows the shutter to expose the whole pixel readout more quickly than in full frame 12MP mode, so less jello for us.

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Now I See” by Philip Bloom shot on the Sony A7S

Though the Shogun has not yet been released you can still obtain one of the best HD signals available on the market from the GH4′s HDMI port. This is 10bit 4:2:2 and oversampled internally from 4K, a bit like on the Sony FS700 but for only $1699. The video above shows how to setup the camera for recording 10bit 1080p onto the Atomos Blade.

In the next few days I should receive my Atomos Ninja Star which is a tiny low-profile recorder with no screen, for when you want to use the screen on the camera but benefit from the higher image quality of 10bit 4:2:2. Check EOSHD soon for a review.

Just how is the rolling shutter exactly on the A7S - intolerable or similar to what we’re used to on other DSLRs?

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A7S would be beautiful with the Canon 50mm F1.2L

This began as a 10 point list. It grew…

I am huge fan of the 1D C’s image but not the camera itself and especially not the price. The 1D C when it was introduced offered an absolutely lovely image and still does but now the playing field is rapidly changing.

Exactly how does the Sony A7S compare on paper to the 1D C?

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Canon C300

View the price drop on the C300 at B&H here
View the price drop on the 1D C at B&H here

C300 and 1D C drop $2000

This is an interesting move by Canon. The 1D C I expected really to drop further in price because of intense competition from Panasonic and Sony at much lower prices. The C300 however has been selling very well but now apparently Canon want to shift stock faster. Is this to make way for a replacement? Based on specs alone it is certainly due one. Based on the real world and how this camera has been accepted by videographers and filmmakers, people seem pretty happy with what they have!

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Don’t fancy the GH4? Then the full frame Sony A7S is now in-stock at B&H

Philip Bloom has his take on the Panasonic GH4 ready, the highlight for me is the footage – it simply looks superb. Great job on the grading as well.

Reviewing cameras is a difficult business at the moment with so much choice, so many variables and so many different needs. However Mr Bloom does a good job in putting the strengths and weaknesses out there for your consideration. The final decision is up to you!

Head over to Philip’s blog for the fully evolved review

Meanwhile Steve Huff has his Sony A7S review out – in short he loves it but did not test video fully

Nikon D810 HD-SLR video features

Along with such disappointing video quality on both of Nikon’s flagship models the D4S and D810, it’s suggested by some that Nikon do not care about video on DSLRs because it is a small market. They make stills cameras! Video is a tiny niche. And so it goes, on and on (from people on photography forums and not actual working pros)…

So I was surprised to see 34 mentions of “video”, 14 mentions of “cinema” and 10 mentions of “broadcast” in Nikon’s official press release for the D810.

That compares to just 18 mentions of “photographer”, 4 mentions of “photography” and zero mention at all of the words “still” or “stills” in the entire release.

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Nikon D810

Source: Trusted Reviews

So far, so predictable.

Like the Sony A7R the D810 will feature 1080/60p.

And you may as well stop reading now!

For all the claim to ‘go after video pros’ after the dramatic improvement we saw with the D800, the new D810 does the absolutely minimum to excite us. I really don’t see the point of buying one, especially with the A7S release next week!

I do currently have a Nikon D600 which satisfies my needs for stills and Nikon lenses. Video is terrible on that too. I think Nikon really need to up their game.

I don’t feel the need to add much more information at this time.

Check back later for the official announcement and sample videos.


The EOSHD Panasonic GH4 Shooter's Guide
The EOSHD 5D Mark III Raw Shooter's Guide
The EOSHD Sony A7 Series Guide to Full Frame Lenses
The EOSHD Panasonic GH3 Shooter's Guide
The EOSHD Anamorphic Shooter's Guide - Second Edition
More EOSHD Guides