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Andrew Reid

Evolving Sony A7S Review (Part 1)

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That was a challenging little pattern on there.... the 5D Mark III couldn't handle it either.

 

In 4K I'd expect it to be gone on the A7S.

 

Don't forget that the internal 1080p is going to be bettered in just 2 months... and it is already pretty good as it is!

What's suppose to change with the internal 1080p in 2 months?

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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

Nothing, he's just saying that a 4k option will then be widely available.

 

hmm.???. He said better internal 1080p.  I would think he knows better than to mistake mentioning 4k. I could be wrong but it is what he said. :-) maybe he knows something.

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Thanks for the great first part of the review.. been waiting with bated breath all week! Looks like I was right to order one. 

 

Question: what is the workflow like shooting at 3200 all the time? My understanding is S-Log 2 only works at 3200 and above? Did you use NDs? Were you able to achieve shallow depth of field in the middle of the day? I've got a six stop variable ND but not sure how much flexibility six stops would give me in bright light. 

 

I'd love to see a video comparison of non-S-Log vs S-log, to see if it is such a compromise as to be unusable. It seems like the lack of LUT monitoring in camera and the high ISO requirement would severely limit the functionality of S-Log 2. 

 

Also, what's your take on Sony's 35mm FE mount lens? I'm looking to use this as a travel photo and filmmaking tool, and I like that lens for its size and it's AF compatibility. Obviously for video I dislike its lack of OIS, but it seems like an okay compromise for the size advantage for me, plus with the high quality crop mode, the lens could switch between a 35 and 50mm, which is a nice combo for my shooting. 

 

Finally, I'd just like to note something I see but find it hard to describe. It's the subtle video-looking quality in movement that is probably a symptom of rolling shutter. I notice it in the movement of the woman around 4:40 on both cameras. Just a general, hard-to-describe warbly, cheap quality to the movement that feels uncinematic. I notice it on most DSLR footage, so I'm assuming it's a symptom of rolling shutter rendered in micro. Can't wait for them to resolve this problem. I feel like the look and feel of motion is not given it's due in reviews, generally. Everyone's obsessed with moire and banding, but the movement issue is just as distracting for me, visually. Only a true global shutter could resolve it, but a software solution like Andrew mentioned last week that Sony's got in the works would be great, too. 

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Nice test Andrew. Don't forget you compare a 2 years old camera with a new one. 

 

Strong rumors say Canon has developed a completely new sensor tech, that will be first seen on 7D2 at photokina, with much improved video features, and then come to the 5D4 in 2015. 

 

If they just manage to put their sensor up to date (D800, A7R level in term of DR and so on), with improved video features (A7S like) then I am sold. And imagine it does 4K internally (more space in a DSLR so possible in term of heat..) 

Just speculating of course. 

 

But I don't know, I want to love this A7S and thought it was a god send when it was announced but I am not sold. 

 

Still a great camera

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Thanks for the great first part of the review.. been waiting with bated breath all week! Looks like I was right to order one. 

 

Question: what is the workflow like shooting at 3200 all the time? My understanding is S-Log 2 only works at 3200 and above? Did you use NDs? Were you able to achieve shallow depth of field in the middle of the day? I've got a six stop variable ND but not sure how much flexibility six stops would give me in bright light. 

 

I'd love to see a video comparison of non-S-Log vs S-log, to see if it is such a compromise as to be unusable. It seems like the lack of LUT monitoring in camera and the high ISO requirement would severely limit the functionality of S-Log 2. 

 

Also, what's your take on Sony's 35mm FE mount lens? I'm looking to use this as a travel photo and filmmaking tool, and I like that lens for its size and it's AF compatibility. Obviously for video I dislike its lack of OIS, but it seems like an okay compromise for the size advantage for me, plus with the high quality crop mode, the lens could switch between a 35 and 50mm, which is a nice combo for my shooting. 

 

Finally, I'd just like to note something I see but find it hard to describe. It's the subtle video-looking quality in movement that is probably a symptom of rolling shutter. I notice it in the movement of the woman around 4:40 on both cameras. Just a general, hard-to-describe warbly, cheap quality to the movement that feels uncinematic. I notice it on most DSLR footage, so I'm assuming it's a symptom of rolling shutter rendered in micro. Can't wait for them to resolve this problem. I feel like the look and feel of motion is not given it's due in reviews, generally. Everyone's obsessed with moire and banding, but the movement issue is just as distracting for me, visually. Only a true global shutter could resolve it, but a software solution like Andrew mentioned last week that Sony's got in the works would be great, too. 

 

The FE 2.8/35 is an excellent lens, no surprises, it just performs superbly.  Take a look at the FE 4/24-70 if you're using the A7S for video & stills, it really is very good on that body, the OSS is superb for video and it's small and compact.  The zoom is as good at f/8 as the prime on the A7S if sharpness is part of your criteria.

 

On the A7S the FE 4/24-70 really is worth a look at, it performs better on that sensor.  Both the FE 2.8/35 & FE 1.8/55 are top flight optics for stills on the A7S & A7R.  I shoot a great deal on the A7R and use both primes exclusively but on the A7S I'll reach for the FE 4/24-70 for the OSS.

 

Chris

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Thanks for doing this. Slog is looking impressive for sure.  I'm really glad you did the 5d3 h264 as well as RAW. This makes me want to get an a7s once the Shogun comes out. Do you think the DR of the GH4 will go up even further with the 422 10bit in 4k? What settings were you using for the GH4? were the levels range 16-235?

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I've heard very different reports about the slog2. Some say it adds large amounts of noise in the shadows, so much so as to be not worth using. What is your take on that, Andrew? You didn't see a lot of noise with slog2 at high ISOs? Maybe those who report this aren't grading/exposing properly? I am very interested in the high DR possibilities of this camera through the use of slog2, but not if it means I give up the low-light advantage by bringing noise back in..

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This is a dilemma for me.  I don't shoot professionally but have a 5d3 to make videos, which I enjoy very much.  I'm very tempted with the a7s because of the image quality.  The only reason I'm hesitant is that, Sony will probably release one in a year or so, with internal 4k and improved rolling shutter and I'm unfamiliar with the resale value of such a camera.  With canon, you know that the resale value of a camera won't take a huge hit because of the enormous customer base they have.  I'm not sure who you could sell the a7s to if a newer version with internal 4k comes out.  I don't think photographers will be looking to buy a 12mp camera, and videographers will surely want to move on to the newer version.  So what are your opinions on the resale value, do you think it could fall by 1k this time next year?

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Andrew, thank you for the comparison test.  It's always great to see how cameras perform next to each other.

 

Someone please help me out here.  I am looking at the dynamic range test, but am not seeing what variable is fixed for comparison purposes.  The Sony's sky is a bright, vibrant blue compared to the washed out 5DMkIII, but the shadows are much darker than those of the 5DMkIII.  In fact, the tree goes to black on the Sony, while I see green in the 5DIII tree image.  If the 5DMkIII was exposed that dark, would the sky saturation come back?  If the tree had more exposure on the Sony, would the sky turn pale?

 

GH4 was awesome in the resolution test at 4K.  It was as if a veil had been removed.  Like to see additional GH4 comparisons.  a7S vs. GH4 seems to be on everyone's mind these days.

 

Enjoy these reviews.  Looking forward to Part 2.  

 

Michael

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Really seems to be a lot of headroom for grading and good quality footage at such a low bitrate. I hope these features will drop down to more affordable sony cameras soon enough. My nex-5 will need an upgrade soon enough :)

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

Silly question:  when you use the APS-C mode do you get the depth of field of a super 35mm sensor?  Or is it same depth of field as full frame, just cropped?

You get the depth of field characteristics of s35 sensor when is s35 mode. It "becomes" a s35 sensor.

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Mainly they are ergonomic quirks like not being able to assign APS-C or silent shutter mode to a custom button, or even the function menu for quicker access.

....

The video record button is really awkwardly placed, but bafflingly cannot be assigned to the C1 button next to the shutter release or the shutter button itself in video mode.

These two annoy me so much about Sony. They know that they can EASILY fix these by the time the a7s came out. This was the same thing I was complaining about on the a7r!

Let us customize those Custom buttons!

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Andrew, while it's relatively easy to get great color and especially skintones from 5D3 RAW, the same cannot be said for the A7S. While the A7S can look great, especially with post work (sometimes a lot of post work), it has a problem with green that can make skintones a challenge. Have also seen examples online where the highlights make skin look like plastic (something I don't recall seeing with 5D3 RAW examples online (certainly not with anything we have shot)).

 

When the A7S can produce something like this:

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Great test.  Thanks.

 

One note... in the dynamic range test I believe the Blackmagic pocket would have done better if you had used the native iso of 800 instead of 400.   Obviously doesn't change the results overall... but, you know.

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