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A7S II in Stock at Samy's LA - Quick Review


jcs
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Just walked into Samy's on La Brea and picked up an A7S II and 24-240 FE lens. While it looked like they have a bunch in stock, there may be a waiting list, so perhaps call before heading over.

The A7SII+24-240 lens replaces the A7S+18-200 as our small run & gun camera. The new combo is quite a bit heavier and the zoom ring is very stiff- not clear yet if it will get smoother with some use. The body did start to get hot after a few minutes of 4K use- haven't used it long enough to check for overheating.

Quick 4K test in PP CC: colors in Slog3+SGamute3.cine looked better than SLog2 on A7S, though I did see some banding on a gray background.

4K resolution and detail: will need to do more tests however it appears the GH4 provides more actual resolution. Additionally, PP CC can play 4K GH4 in real-time while the A7SII 4K required 1/2 resolution (12 Core Mac Pro, 980ti GTX, dual 4K displays).

Stills- skintone colors appear a bit better than A7S (non scientific test).

Will test MB IV adapter with Canon L lenses next.

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

Skin tones look a lot better than the A7s yellow/green spactula! 

Samples show very good natural red in the skin. S-Log3.SGamute3 Cine is the Curve and colour science most used on the FS7, F5 and F55. 

S-Log3 is even more squished than S-Log2. More than a stop squished on top of the waveform and also the bottom, so with an 8bit codec banding on smooth areas is just inevitable. I'd much rather have good skin tones + some banding than the a7s colours with less banding anyway. 

Will be getting one as soon as this is all confirmed, especially the a7rII overheating issue. Seems like a killer camera if it doesn't over heat in the same league as Canons/Panasonics/Nikons etc, 

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Sony's AUTO WB is improved. While I don't really use it, it's an improvement.

Metabones IV EF-E adapter: tried first with firmware version before the latest: focused OK but slow. Updated to the latest firmware: focus drive is very fast, but fails to focus almost every time. For stills, best to use a native Sony lens or stick to Canon or Nikon for stills.

4K: viewed fullscreen on a 32" Dell 4K monitor: the A7SII's 4K is good, looks organic and not over sharpened (using stock PP6).

If high dynamic range isn't needed, CINE1/2/4 can work OK (to reduce banding issues).

For 120+fps slomo, we'll use the FS700. 60p on the A7S worked fine for our needs in HD. Our work is currently online only, and not many people can even view 4K at home (4K being useful for really nice 1080p, reframing/cropping etc.).

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Skin tones look a lot better than the A7s yellow/green spactula! 

Samples show very good natural red in the skin. S-Log3.SGamute3 Cine is the Curve and colour science most used on the FS7, F5 and F55. 

good to hear! would someone be kind enough to post/link to examples?

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Crop only, sadly. 
The quality 120P quality is better than the original, but still not that great.

Jordan,

Do you know if 60P in 1080 is also 2.2 crop?  And, if so what is the quality of the 60P?

Last question if I may:  I noticed you used the Zeiss Loxias 35 and 50mm.  How would you rate the Loxias for serious film work? Especially as compared to the Milvus line for Zeiss? 

Thanks man, great work as always.

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Jordan,

Do you know if 60P in 1080 is also 2.2 crop?  And, if so what is the quality of the 60P?

Last question if I may:  I noticed you used the Zeiss Loxias 35 and 50mm.  How would you rate the Loxias for serious film work? Especially as compared to the Milvus line for Zeiss? 

Thanks man, great work as always.

I didn't have a chance to test the 60P recording, it was pretty decent on the A7S, so I'd expect it to be very nice on the new one.

The Loxias are beautiful lenses, great contrast and flare characterics. They do breath like crazy though, so avoid large focus pulls mid-shot.  I haven't had a chance to test the Milvus line yet, but I use ZE lenses a lot. They're wonderful as well, but the appeal of the Loxias for me was the smaller size when traveling.

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PP8 (Slog3+SGamut.cine) looks pretty good straight out of camera with PP CC ARRI LUTs (Lumetri panel). Pretty nice skintones without any tweaking. Nice to see Sony making good progress with color!

Regarding 4K playback, I transcoded to QuickTime and PP CC (latest version) still can't play in real-time full resolution (from an SSD). This is the first time working with 4K on Windows 10 and the GTX 980ti (previously used Win7 with GTX 770). Properly coded GPU decoding and processing should be able to handle 4K like butter. Will try on OSX.

Examining the 100Mbps XAVC-S 4K up close: there's quite a bit of macroblocking (400%). Thought perhaps it was a PP issue, not performing deblocking (an advanced feature of H.264 decoders, which blends out macroblock edges). ffmpeg transcode didn't do any better. Macroblocking wasn't as visible with PP6 vs. PP8+Lumetri LUT. Not visible when not pixel peeping, just checking encoder/decoder quality. Using an external recorder is still a good option for those wanting max quality.

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I didn't have a chance to test the 60P recording, it was pretty decent on the A7S, so I'd expect it to be very nice on the new one.

The Loxias are beautiful lenses, great contrast and flare characterics. They do breath like crazy though, so avoid large focus pulls mid-shot.  I haven't had a chance to test the Milvus line yet, but I use ZE lenses a lot. They're wonderful as well, but the appeal of the Loxias for me was the smaller size when traveling.

Thank you sir. Appreciate the feedback.

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4K 100Mbps, stock picture profile 3 (ITU709 gamma, Pro color), iPhone light, AWB (mixed color light sources), handheld, 24-240 lens, no color correction, quick cut-only editing (limited time test & edit after a long day of still photography):

Found that the 24-240 won't focus as close as the 18-200 (APS-C only), however the lens appears otherwise decent.

A still from one of the photoshoots today (Canon 5D3 with 85mm F1.2 @1.2). While Sony's color is improving, Canon is still preferred when the best skintones are desired:ElenaKimono2_AZ1C1753.thumb.jpg.468229e7

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As I predicted, the rolling shutter skew has been greatly reduced.  No way that is 30ms like the original A7s.   Has to be at most 8.3 milliseconds mathematically.  It looks even less.  I'm still dubious about the overall look though.

I take it back. Looking at other clips, the RS still looks shitty.  Sony were lying when they said the sensor reads out 120 times a second.  If they meant in crop mode then they should have specified the crop.  Otherwise you could say it has a 0.001ms readout speed then turn round and say its only for a crop of 1 pixel.

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I'm still dubious about the overall look though.

In the Sushi video, to the naked eye everything had a red cast: the A7S II did a pretty good job in mixed lighting- incandescent + red neon + iPhone LED. Other footage shot in the studio (sorry can't share it) looks really good under very high quality LED light (Aputure Light Storm, 95+ CRI). While still not up to Canon, the skin tones are pretty good.

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Hi jcs, about how long does the A7Sii battery last shooting at 4K?

Total continuous 4K recording time, brand new Sony factory battery fully charged: 1 hour 20 minutes

Number of overheat events, 74F ambient air temp: 2. First overheat event shut off camera. 2nd occurred as battery was nearing empty: displayed temp alert (orange thermometer + triangle), battery drained before shutdown.

Camera must be restarted every 29m59s to perform this test.

I never used the A7S this way, and will never use the A7S II this way, as I tend to turn off the camera between takes to save battery power. In a hot environment this could be an issue.

The improved color and 5-axis stabilizer makes the A7S II worth the upgrade even if not using 4K. Given the heavy macroblocking, the best results for 4K must be done with an external 4K recorder. For indie projects, this is a decent camera. For a paid, higher end shoot, a pro camera with 10-bit and higher bitrate is needed for 4K. We're looking forward to the C300 II production version reviews.

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Slog3 isn't usable any time there's a relatively continuous color/luma, such as indoor paint/walls, etc. However, there's an easy solution that looks pretty good. Use PP9, which is Slog3 and SGamut3 (not usable for anything, way too wide a color space), change SLog3 to Slog2, then change SGamut3 to SGamut3.cine, use any of the ARRI LUTs in PP CC, or just using a curve to pull the blacks down and pull up the mids a bit, add saturation, and it looks very similar to the ARRI LUTs.

SLog3 + SGamut3.cine (JPEG on this site looks worse than in PP CC: click on the first image and view full size for better results):

Slog3SG3.thumb.jpg.eaf4b062a8c2278990321

SLog2 + SGamut3.cine:

SLog2SGCa1properexp.thumb.jpg.4dd7f5d670

Another look for SLog2 + SGamut3.cine:

Slog2SGC2.thumb.jpg.bcd10d4ec3e73051429d

SLog2 + SGamut3.cine with Alexa DCIP3 LUT (+ other Lumetri panel tweaks):

AlexaStyled.thumb.jpg.d462525a88ba5accd4

I think the camera did reasonably well for these bathroom lights: CREE daylight 100w eq. LEDs, with a strong green spike, mixed with incandescents. After I've shot with models in the studio with the high CRI Light Storms, I'll post some images.

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