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Andrew Reid

Sony A7S II Review Part 1 - Major Sunspot Defect

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8bit in cameras that can shoot 4k with 13 stops of dynamic range is a joke. An A7sII costs double the resale value of an A7s in Aus. Is it twice the camera? No way, you can't even accurately focus manually, lulz. I'm hanging for the Blackmagic micro cinema camera, 8bit and rolling shutter is so 2007. In the meantime magic lantern delivers.

Yeah s-log is a real pain in the arse to grade, that's where film convert comes in really handy. Nailing exposure with s-log is critical, raw is more forgiving. Andrew try film convert Arri log c profile on the s-log 3 shots. Worked well on your first shot of the couple standing next to the pole with some minor tweaking. Is the banding just as bad in 1080p mode and 4k pro res?

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

 

I have noticed it's almost all European shooters who are reporting the sunspot bug.

Sure enough I switch to NTSC 24p and problem is gone.

Looks like to only be a 25p bug.

So as a temporary workaround until Sony respond just set the camera to NTSC.

Is this argue could explain A7S II Black Sun issue ? 
 

• Pal is 25 i/s and NTSC 30 i/s making a 1/50 more expose than a 1/60 
As Black Sun is due to an over exposure, is the slightly difference of speed exposure could result that "UE" are more subject to the issue ?

The C-Mos black sun clearly explained by the screenshot below
 

Black_Sun.thumb.jpg.b97ac3f953a8e86c0a24

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This is different than I've seen on Blackmagic cameras. There, the blown highlights just turn black. Easy to fix with one click in Resolve. Here, there's this gunky purple transition from normal overexposure to black hole. I don't know how well Resolve will handle that. 

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Thank goodness I caught a link to this review on the GH4 Forum in fb.
I've been honing my major hybrid upgrade strategy for weeks now and the Issues that you bring up with the A7SII simply never showed up in other reviews. I'm definitely getting the A7RII but was hoping the A7SII would be my backup and video centric version. No more.
Thanks for saving me $3K
Cheers.

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I'm left wondering what solid reasons are there for getting an A7s mk2 over an A7r mk2?!?!

S-log 3 would be a huge *huge* reason why for the A7s mk2. 

As I really like what people have been doing with S-log 3 in the FS7/F5/F55.

But in the case of the A7s mk2, it is in a 8bit 420 camera! Which appears to be a little bit pointless from what I've read, if only they put 10bit 422 in it (even if only via externally).

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I've had the a7sII since launch (bought it from BH), and I'm not getting the sunspot issue you're getting.  I've tried pretty hard to re-create it... and nothing.  Just white, bright, light...

I'm also not having an issue with heat, either.  I've used it on 4 pretty long (12-15hr) shoot days, and never have I had it overheat.  *I should note, I wasn't recording continuously.  Each take was between 20 seconds - 2 minutes max.  But the camera was running mostly all day, recording 4k, powered through v-mount, running video to a SmallHD 502 and a Paralinx Triton and I never had any heat issues. 

I do agree that the Gamma Assist LUT should be adjustable.  It mainly hangs in the dead center for me.  I never had an issue under-exposing, but I was mainly checking exposure through the 502 and using a quick, LUT I built in Resolve.

As far as adapters go, I recently learned to love E-mount lenses after picking up a used 35mm Sonnar, and I'm a bit blown away by the auto-focusing and face tracking modes.  I've set Focus Hold to C1 and I like it enough to double down and sell my 24-105 Art for a Sony 24-70 Vario-Tessar.  It isn't as sharp, but offers better contrast and is also nearly 1 1/2 lbs lighter.

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I was at PhotoPlus talking to a senior Sony technical lead (who was integral to the release of the FS7 as a consumer advocate to management, as I understand it). Won't name him as not sure he'd be comfortable with it. He admitted that Sony is doing a terrible job of educating people about how to work with S-Log. He recommends Sony's own coloring solution (Catalyst) for preliminary color correction during the ingestion process. 

I'm starting to feel less inadequate about my difficulty with coloring it, especially since I've never had a problem with Canon's Log. 

Still, as much as this review makes me disappointed that the a7s too is less than the perfect camera I had fantasized about, I'm overall in favor of Sony's approach, with frequent iterations. I mean the 5D Mark III is 3.5 years old, and it was pretty underspec'd when it came out. We'd probably have a horse race between Sony and Canon if Canon would update more frequently. Sony iterates at probably double the speed, but the jumps are more incremental, with each version stuffed with some new features. This means that wherever you are in your buying cycle, you'll have a pretty recent update to pick from Sony. Maybe the incarnations are not as polished, but at least they are packed with the latest technology.

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Why does the consensus seem to be that it is harder to grade S-LOG?  Because it's 8-bit, 4:2:0?  Are people confusing color grading with color correcting?

It isn't raw.  You have to set the white balance correctly for every lighting change.  That is as easy as holding up a grey card or using an expo disk and shooting a custom white balance. Done.

I find it is much more difficult to do a final color correction on Red footage because no body ever shoots a grey card.  I might have a bit more room to tweak colors, but I HAVE to do a job that someone COULD have done in the field.

I haven't noticed any banding.

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I switched from GH4 to A7S MKII bought last week in Paris.

Until the review came out I didn't tried and noticed the sunspot issue. But I can confirm that it's here in both mode PAL/NTSC but only in certain ISO range…

The only mode without this problem seems to be the HD 50p.

(I wanted to try again in NTSC but strangely the sunspot disappear the second time I switched on.)

Did some quick test, lens used SK Edixa Curtagon 35mm f2.8.

 

Below the ISO range with sunspot:

PAL:

4K 1/50 @ f2.8 : 160-8000 ISO

4K 1/50 @ f22 : 160-1250 ISO

4K 1/8000 @ 2.8 : 125-8000

4K 1/8000 @ 22 : 125-1000

HD 25P 1/50 @ 2.8 : 160-10 000

HD 25P 1/50 @ 22 : 160-1250

HD 25P 1/8000 @ 2.8 : 160-10 000

HD 25P 1/8000 @ 22 : 125-1000

 

I really hopes thats is only a software issue…

 

Another very quick test with anamorphic lens made yesterday.

Footage straight from card, shot in PP6 HD 50p

code: test

 

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While I love to see your findings, I've not run across the BSS (Black Sun Spot) issue with my new a7sII. I do understand with working with C-MOS sensors this is a common trate among C-MOS cameras. Look at BMPC, GoPro, etc.., I think even canon had an issue with the first production units of the 5DMrkII. This is a simple Firmware update that adjust the sensors sensitivity to light and become white.
 
I've not seen the A7RII so I couldn't give you any feedback on noise at the same ISO settings, However 4K sounds good to my ears at 800ISO instead of 1600ISO. (lots of VND filters to buy)
 
The one thing I would love for you to tackle on Part 2 is the bad screen that Sony picked to used on their cameras, My Gh4 is a much nicer screen in every way shape and form, I can actually see what im shooting. While I do like the Sony Digital Viewfinder a lot more then the GH4's The screen just feels cheap and I'm sure it will be the first thing to break. I would also like the camera record button to move to the front of the camera, WTFare they thinking with placing it in the palm of your hand????? "(Confusion)"
 
I did notice that Gamma assistance really does make it harder to determine things when shooting those flat profiles like S-Log2/3, it does add one feature I think is cool, the ability to play back your footage in camera with different gamma assistant profiles. So if you take a clip, you set your cameras assistance to other profiles and can see the potential of a clip before you get to post.
 
I would also love to see sony make some manual lenses, I don't mind jumping ship from canon EF lens, but i will never buy a digital lens in my life, they are cheap and hard to use for perfect focus, I want to be able to RACK my focus.

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I'm left wondering what solid reasons are there for getting an A7s mk2 over an A7r mk2?!?!

S-log 3 would be a huge *huge* reason why for the A7s mk2. 

As I really like what people have been doing with S-log 3 in the FS7/F5/F55.

But in the case of the A7s mk2, it is in a 8bit 420 camera! Which appears to be a little bit pointless from what I've read, if only they put 10bit 422 in it (even if only via externally).

S-LOG 3 is banding hell on the A7S II.

Fine for high contrast scenes but as soon as you have a plain sky or wall in a large part of the frame, forget about it.

I have turned it off and am back on S-LOG 2.

The FS7 and F55 are 10bit for S-LOG 3. The F5 is not 10bit in 4K but it is in 1080p.

I've had the a7sII since launch (bought it from BH), and I'm not getting the sunspot issue you're getting.  I've tried pretty hard to re-create it... and nothing.  Just white, bright, light...

Sounds like you are in the US shooting 24p.

Like I said earlier in the thread, in my experience the problem happens with 25p PAL not 24p NTSC.

I am in Europe so need 25p.

I'm also not having an issue with heat, either.  I've used it on 4 pretty long (12-15hr) shoot days, and never have I had it overheat.  *I should note, I wasn't recording continuously.  Each take was between 20 seconds - 2 minutes max.  But the camera was running mostly all day, recording 4k, powered through v-mount, running video to a SmallHD 502 and a Paralinx Triton and I never had any heat issues.

So are you saying the heat issues don't exist at all?

They do. But it only happens with long continuous 4K recordings one after the other.

Source - http://eriknaso.com/2015/11/01/does-the-sony-a7s-ii-overheat-i-put-the-camera-to-the-test/

I do agree that the Gamma Assist LUT should be adjustable.  It mainly hangs in the dead center for me.  I never had an issue under-exposing, but I was mainly checking exposure through the 502 and using a quick, LUT I built in Resolve.

Good idea. The 502 is nice.

I am talking about the camera bare bones though using the built in features.

As far as adapters go, I recently learned to love E-mount lenses after picking up a used 35mm Sonnar, and I'm a bit blown away by the auto-focusing and face tracking modes.  I've set Focus Hold to C1 and I like it enough to double down and sell my 24-105 Art for a Sony 24-70 Vario-Tessar.  It isn't as sharp, but offers better contrast and is also nearly 1 1/2 lbs lighter.

Your 35mm prime replaces your 24-105 zoom?

Fair enough!!

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Your 35mm prime replaces your 24-105 zoom?

Fair enough!!

No No.  But the Sony 35mm 2.8 is a hell of a tiny little lightweight lens.  

Also, I've tried to reproduce the sun spot issue in PAL mode on my camera, and I can't get it to do it.  This might be an issue with the models that were sold in Europe.

 

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I took my A7s-II outside at noon today and tried for over an hour to get that black hole sun problem. I shot in rec709, slog1 and slog2. I shot with high ISO's and low. I shot with both large and small apertures. I changes lenses 3 times. I pointed at the sun, at reflections of the sun, LED lights and regular flash lights. I over exposed and under exposed....ALLOT!

Everything looked completely normal. As hard as I tried, at no time could I generate this problem whatsoever. (not even slightly)

I have no idea how your camera is doing that so easily. Maybe you got a lemon?

Mine?...after all I did today, I'd definitely say my A7s-II bullet proof. It's certainly immune to this issue. 

On another note,...Did you shoot that color-banded video in 60 or 100mbp/s?

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24p or 25p Cliff?

100Mbit/s.

It's an 8bit S-LOG 3 issue not a bitrate issue.

Switch to S-LOG 2 and the banding is much reduced.

30p

Certainly an 8 bit issue regardless of bit rate. However, lower bitrates can and will make 8-bit banding worse.

Wow, I'm just shocked that your A7s-II does this. After I read you article, I said "Oh crap!" and I ran outside to shoot an hour+ of nothing but sun. Believe me, I was VERY relieved to see that mine exhibited no "black hole sun" issues.

On the 8bit banding? Yes, I did recreate banding in SLOG-3 easily. SLOG-3 is just too flat for 8 bit. 256 shades of RGB is just too little for that kind of stretching needed to normalize SLOG-3

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30p... right.

This is a 25p-only issue. Try 25p 4K full frame and see.

On the 8bit banding? Yes, I did recreate banding in SLOG-3 easily. SLOG-3 is just too flat for 8 bit. 256 shades of RGB is just too little for that kind of stretching needed to normalize SLOG-3

Thankfully S-LOG 2 is nice.

I don't know what Sony were thinking putting S-LOG 3 in the A7S II and FS5 with their 8bit codecs... when would it be useful? Never!

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30p... right.

This is a 25p-only issue. Try 25p 4K full frame and see.

Thankfully S-LOG 2 is nice.

I don't know what Sony were thinking putting S-LOG 3 in the A7S II and FS5 with their 8bit codecs... when would it be useful? Never!

Glad SLOG 2 looks nice, are the colours easier to deal with than the original A7s?

Also, can see the banding problems in a few videos, but here it looks great.


http://vimeo.com/142764518

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