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Andrew Reid

Evolving Sony A7S Review (Part 1)

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Also, this is not a complete review. Says in the title. "Evolving". And "Part 1". I also clearly admit in the article that GH4 and Blackmagic owners might have a difficult decision on their hands here. Is that my fault? No!

 

I bought an A7R which I now need to sell. In a perfect would, all the cameras would come out at the same time. They don't.

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I'm not sure i understand the comments I've been reading of the A7s being a "different price bracket" to GH4...

 

Cheapest GH4 bodies about £1200 pounds her in UK, cheapest A7S about £1400. That's the definition of the same league!

 

When it comes to grading the footage of both, the A7S gives you so much easier a time from my experience so far, I don't think the 4K internal is really worth it, as the Panasonic loses out on every other useful point.

 

The crop mode in A7S is 2.8k to 1080p Just like the Alexa, it's the closest you'll get to an Alexa for 1400! Dammit everyone, go buy em, show Sony this is what we want.

 

Stick your old cameras on eBay before they're worthless paperweights ;)

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Jeez I feel kinda bad posting that link from Eriks site, but it does help to get a look at all the different aspects of a camera....especially if you are going to shell out bucks and buy it, its good to be well informed of strengths and weaknesses,

I don't think you should.  I found Erik's blog post very informative.  I'm glad you posted it, because I may not have seen it otherwise. (thumbs up).

 

Not all blog posts have to be positive.  The negative aspects are from the perspective of the blogger, which may or may not align exactly with your usage.  Remember Andrew's blog on the Nikon D5300, where he said "As of today, DSLR video is over. Dead. Kaput!"?  It doesn't get much more negative than that.  However, Andrew did point out that the D5300 produces an excellent image and low light performance for the price point.  People here are still buying D5300's and producing good work, even though it's "dead".  A negative blog doesn't mean the product isn't right for your criteria.

 

Michael

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I'm not sure i understand the comments I've been reading of the A7s being a "different price bracket" to GH4.... 

 

I've never understood why some people say "If you can afford this, then you can afford something more expensive".  Some people do have budgets.  Many people don't want to buy a $2500 camera without a factory warranty.  Not worth the risk.  The a7S body is 50% more than a GH4 body (+$800).  Then add the expensive Sony lenses.  Then extra batteries.  Then a flash if you are doing still work.  Then a $2000 Shogun if you are doing $4K.  Then whatever grading software is required, which is still undetermined at this point.

 

I'm not saying it isn't worth it for some people, but it is certainly out of the budget of others.

 

Michael

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I've never understood why some people say "If you can afford this, then you can afford something more expensive".  Some people do have budgets.  Many people don't want to buy a $2500 camera without a factory warranty.  Not worth the risk.  The a7S body is 50% more than a GH4 body (+$800).  Then add the expensive Sony lenses.  Then extra batteries.  Then a flash if you are doing still work.  Then a $2000 Shogun if you are doing $4K.  Then whatever grading software is required, which is still undetermined at this point.

 

I'm not saying it isn't worth it for some people, but it is certainly out of the budget of others.

 

Michael

 

It's all subjective. For me, a7s is also similarly priced as gh4:

- gh4 nedds 400$ SpeedBooster to get closer with sensor size

Lens options look better and can be cheaper for a7s

- a7s native lenses are the same price as gh4 equivalent native lenses or little pricier, but better quality: 

35/2.8 FF Zeiss vs 12/2 m43 Olympus

50/1.8 FF Zeiss vs 25/0.95 m43 Voigtlander

24-70/4 FF Zeiss vs 12-35/2.8 m43 Panasonic

Not to mention lenses with adapters, even Speedbooster.. It is much easier and cheaper to get fast wide lens for a7s. And that what's important for me.

 

It's just my point of view. Everybody want something else from their camera.

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Looking at this a second time. Despite all it's limitations in very basic functionality, the image out of the BMPCC is still mind-bogglingly good. It strikes me as the most filmic of them all in this test. It's amazing that it's now $500. You're basically buying a sensor in a box, since the user experience is so godawful. But at that price, who can complain?

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When it comes to grading the footage of both, the A7S gives you so much easier a time from my experience so far, I don't think the 4K internal is really worth it, as the Panasonic loses out on every other useful point.

 

I think the ergonomics, massive native lens library, and relatively minor rolling shutter are another huge advantage on the GH4s side. But that's why this is a frustrating scenario.. too many great, and competing qualities for both cameras!

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A little perspective would'nt hurt... In the stills world, every single int. Lens camera does raw, and yet not every person with such camera can take good pictures. Move up a notch: not every photographer with a 5d3 or a d800 is a "pro" or "prosumer" or what have you and the camera by itself doesn't equal getting a job or taking good pictures. Up another step and a 1d X or a d4s won't make you better, they are just better built.

Now, very few months back Andrew posted about Kendy and his aproach to video creation with "basic" equipment and in several ways the same creations might never be possible for him had he were using an Amira (as i think everyone here agrees is a better camera with good ergonomics for that type of shooting and has a "beggining of the end" image compared to a t2i) as it would have cost him a kidney, and be extemely dangerous to go out and shoot with one alone in many parts of the world.

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The math (kit requirements) on both systems is interesting, but I think its being spun by both sides in favor of one or another.  For years with the 5D2 video shooters complained and asked for better audio, i.e. XLR's, now we have TWO choices.  Just factor in the basic professional kit with one lens:

 

1.  Camera body

2.  24-70 field of view

3.  XLR audio adaptor

4.  Shotgun mic

5.  Batteries to run it all 

6.  External recorder with built-in monitor

 

Forget all the other bits & pieces, you'd need them for whatever.  But get that kit I've mentioned in your hand rolling video and recording quality XLR sound and note the cost.

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Looking at this a second time. Despite all it's limitations in very basic functionality, the image out of the BMPCC is still mind-bogglingly good. It strikes me as the most filmic of them all in this test. It's amazing that it's now $500. You're basically buying a sensor in a box, since the user experience is so godawful. But at that price, who can complain?

 You haven't learned anything from these forums. You cant be a "PRO" with a five hundred camera. LOL.

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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

The FE 4/24-70 have huge distortion on both ends of the zoom scale. Does the A7S do lens correction ( distortion, vignetting, ca ) in video mode ?

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If people are buying a product based on a single person's perspective and then pissed after the original reviewer changed their mind thus infuriating the buyer of the said product, the buyer should see mental help ASAP. 

 

 

I enjoying asking questions, getting responses, and taking a long time to decide.  But if I went out and bought an a7s based on Andrew's video and commentary alongside whatever Philip Bloom says, and realize my 5d3 was a better choice for me due to aesthetics in the video I would not be pissed at them and use it as a learning experience.

 

Some of you give too much credit to individuals, it is scary.  Then again this is how masses follow religion :)

 

I like these comments very much Jason. I've been eagerly awaiting this review - and as soon as the price drops a bit, I'll probably get the A7s.

 

The suggestion of Andrew toning down enthusiasm and being more tactful to camera owners of other brands, is a bit overly emotional to say the least. The truth is that I certainly don't have the best camera available and value the enthusiasm shown for the A7s as I do the honest criticism Eric showed.

 

Andrews post is a personal account of his attitude to the camera, that is coupled with some advice to those who may need to deal with the required grading and it's woes. Andrew prefers full frame - others are perfectly satisfied with four thirds. Toning down his writing style to cater for Buyers remorse is definitely not what I'd want to see on here. It is probably only felt by those who keep their cameras in glass cabinets, as we very well know the next version of the A7s will be a greater improvement yet.

 

And as far as "trashing" other cameras. I think if you actually use your camera and are happy with it's performance, it shouldn't make a difference to you at all. I don't think 5D Mark 3 owners need to panic at all - whether the A7s is better or not.

 

Keep it up Andrew. I love the energy you put into your reviews.

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Really? 

 

His piece, especially the first half of it makes no logic sense. It makes him sound like yet another narrow-sighted gadget nerd. I agree with him about two pretty obvious things, though, that the piece is only his opinion, and that the A7s and himself aren't a good match. 

 

I don't think this is fair in the slightest. He gave very fair reasons as to what he didn't like about the A7s. Imagine if we have to start every post with a disclaimer like:

 

"Please note: This is just my opinion, I prefer not to generalize, everything is relative"

 

Obviously its just his opinion. But it's the opinion of a video professional that may or may not balance the enthusiasm shown by other video professionals. I see no lack of logic or "narrow sighted gadget nerd" tone in the post Eric did. I don't think thats called for. It was just some valid points for those who may be in his boat.

 

I'm a huge fan of the new A7s. will most likely buy it, and although not all of the "problems" mentioned are as important to me, Eric's review still made a load of sense to me.

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I've never understood why some people say "If you can afford this, then you can afford something more expensive".  Some people do have budgets.  Many people don't want to buy a $2500 camera without a factory warranty.  Not worth the risk.  The a7S body is 50% more than a GH4 body (+$800).  Then add the expensive Sony lenses.  Then extra batteries.  Then a flash if you are doing still work.  Then a $2000 Shogun if you are doing $4K.  Then whatever grading software is required, which is still undetermined at this point.

 

I'm not saying it isn't worth it for some people, but it is certainly out of the budget of others.

 

Michael

 

Quite right, I didn't really think it through in those terms, more as an investment for a business.

 

But since that isn't the reality for a large portion of purchasers my comment only applies to a small section of that market in retrospect, and was too sweeping, cheers for putting it a better perspective!

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I don't think this is fair in the slightest. He gave very fair reasons as to what he didn't like about the A7s. Imagine if we have to start every post with a disclaimer like:

 

"Please note: This is just my opinion, I prefer not to generalize, everything is relative"

 

Obviously its just his opinion. But it's the opinion of a video professional that may or may not balance the enthusiasm shown by other video professionals. I see no lack of logic or "narrow sighted gadget nerd" tone in the post Eric did. I don't think thats called for. It was just some valid points for those who may be in his boat.

 

I'm a huge fan of the new A7s. will most likely buy it, and although not all of the "problems" mentioned are as important to me, Eric's review still made a load of sense to me.

 

I'm not too interested in the perceived 'fairness' of  that one deliberately snarkastic line when it's being taken out of its original context. That particular discussion has since ended good while ago, anyway. What was literally in that linked blog was not the point. It was not about him. It was more about how and why that blog post was brought into the debate in the first place. I said what I said, people can and will interpret it as they wish, and life goes on. 

 

FWIW, the point I was trying to make was basically the same you wrote about in your previous post above, and therefore I fully agree with it. That is, overly sensitive readers projecting their own insecurities on Andrew's blog post, big kids having tantrums because the new toy gets all the attention now and they don't have it. Just another typical day in the gadgetkindergarden. 

I presented more or less the same talking points you did. I just did it in a bit less PC and much less concise manner. Anyway, take it as you wish, but after that, let's just move on, shall we.

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I said i wouldn't get an A7S based on my irritation at Sony for they lack of delivering good enough video quality on the a7r and a7 - at the time I felt it was on purpose to make the A7S more appealing and more likely for me to upgrade from my A7R - which i couldnt afford to do anyway.

 

I then saw the camera advertised for £1400 shipped (£700 less than on the sony website!!!) and decided it was time to invest in something that I could realistically use for showing lens performance (for Dog Schidt Optics purposes), since the A7R hadn't come up with what I had hoped for in video terms.  I wouldn't have bought it if it weren't £1400 and a piece of equipment that can be claimed against earnings, and even so, I will still be struggling for a while after paying for it on the credit card.

 

What I will say is I 100% empathise with Andrews somewhat flippant disregard for other cameras since using the A7S.  It is justified.  It's a marvel having such dynamic range on tap.  In a system that is so user friendly.  Which doesnt need rigging or silly evf's added.  It doesn;t feel real to me using this camera and seeing imagery I am used to seeing taking up 2-5gb per minute, and it's doing it in 300mb/min!, and doesnt need transcoding to a editable format for workability on my 2 year old hackintosh.

 

Ultimately you should buy a camera that fulfils your requirements at the time.  If something new comes along after you decide on a camera it doesnt mean you can no longer use your outdated (in blogging terms) equipment.  Being gear heads we all fall fowl to the desire for the newest thing...- and if it upsets you, make it a rule to not read reviews of new gear otherwise you'll get caught up in the consumer side of things again.   Instead pop out for a few hours and shoot something.    

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The FE 4/24-70 have huge distortion on both ends of the zoom scale. Does the A7S do lens correction ( distortion, vignetting, ca ) in video mode ?

 

Those huge distortions are hugely exaggerated if you ask me.  I'm a stills guy, I don't shoot charts or architecture, often times I actually prefer the uncorrected RAW to what LR thinks it should look like.  It's kinda nice how a 24 pulls the image center when you want that effect.

 

I was asked about the "auto-correct" feature for video, I ran a few "real world" tests and it looked like it was correcting for distortion and vignetting on the 24mm end.  If I wanted huge distortions (from a stills guys perspective) I'd go have a play with those speed boosters. (:-)

 

EDIT:  You know they must correct internally, remember when Sony offered the firmware upgrade for the A7R and said it was for the FE 4/70-200, they made a big deal out of that fact.  This was one of my reasons for not wanting to play around with all these off-brand lenses on the A7 cameras, its often a PITA to correct for that stuff in LR or PS.  How on earth are you video guys doing it for motion?  Even Resolve "looks" basic compared to a high end stills editor where correction is concerned?

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Those huge distortions are hugely exaggerated if you ask me.  I'm a stills guy, I don't shoot charts or architecture, often times I actually prefer the uncorrected RAW to what LR thinks it should look like.  It's kinda nice how a 24 pulls the image center when you want that effect.

 

I was asked about the "auto-correct" feature for video, I ran a few "real world" tests and it looked like it was correcting for distortion and vignetting on the 24mm end.  If I wanted huge distortions (from a stills guys perspective) I'd go have a play with those speed boosters. (:-)

 

EDIT:  You know they must correct internally, remember when Sony offered the firmware upgrade for the A7R and said it was for the FE 4/70-200, they made a big deal out of that fact.  This was one of my reasons for not wanting to play around with all these off-brand lenses on the A7 cameras, its often a PITA to correct for that stuff in LR or PS.  How on earth are you video guys doing it for motion?  Even Resolve "looks" basic compared to a high end stills editor where correction is concerned?

I have also seen the following statement in a different A7S review:

 

"Unfortunately at the time of this writing, no video editing NLEs offer lens and camera specific CA, distortion, and light fall-off correction so these IQ issues can be real concerns that affect videographers more than photographers, who have more options to correct them. While correcting for IQ issues is not new for photography, it is in videography and the Sony α7S is one of the first cameras that support lens corrections in-camera in video mode."

 

Can any of the video guys that have tested the A7S confirm this statement.

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