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Andrew Reid

Evolving Sony A7S Review (Part 1)

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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.

 

You might feel a little different after grading 4k footage ;)

 

For me, I'm gonna wait a little while longer - at least until I see the Canon ship pull into port and what the ML magicians do with it

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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 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.

 

Canon C100/C300 have real-time peripheral-illumination (vignetting) correction for lenses in camera, but not distortion correction.

 

I've never found it a huge worry though. Video is moving, stills aren't, so it stands out more in stills. I add vignettes often anyway.

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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.

 

Wow, interesting thanks!

 

I'd gotten into this with a few video guys previously, there's a little disconnect with some of them reference lensing/reality.  When we get into this whole "wide-angle equivalence issue" things get a little convoluted.  A 24 is a tough lens to make without all the nasties, CA, distortions, vignetting etc.  Try making a 24-70 perform the same, that's even tougher, add OSS it gets worse and then try making it smaller and your going to have to compromise somewhere.  So yes, it makes perfect sense for Sony to work a little magic behind the shutter curtain..........

 

Now take all the above, substitute a 12-35, add in a third party lens adaptor (speed booster) and see how you'd stand comparing/correcting that moving image, that's ten times tougher.  Don't even get me started on these f/.85 CCD TV camera optics..........(:-)

 

All things being equal, maybe that Sony FE 4/24-70 OSS is a pretty good compromise for a video shooter on the A7S, especially one who wants to shoot with as little pissing around as possible in post?  

 

What I can tell you, the FE 4/24-70 OSS is a good little lens for stills on the A7S, and we're taking about assessing it at 12MP without corrections applied, with corrections applied and its very nice!

 

Chris 

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I am a very satisfied GH4 owner....... that does not mean i don't drool over A7s full frame glory.

 

Would love to find out how they intercut in 4K mode. i guess i have to wait till the Shogun to hit the market.

 

If the footage are indistinguishable,  An A7s is going to be in my tool box as B camera no matter what my wife says  ;)

 

The Great thing is i can use the same lenses with speed boosters.

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I've been looking for an opportunity to purchase an affordable small camera with a larger sensor, wide dynamic range, decent low light, high frame rates and not as essential but curious - a 4k option. Sounds just like the a7S?  

 

I own a GH3 to film the bulk of my work. It's absolutely fine really. I only ever buy a new camera if I'm looking for something drastically different for creative possibilities. A breath of fresh air. But don't quite have the cash yet to get the a7S.

 

So until then.... my GH3 will continue to be my beast. The imaging tool of experimental techniques and new discoveries. The gadget to help me financially acquire a more beastly gadget for my work. And it goes on....and on....

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Still having a problem with the Sony full frame lens options.  The prices are out of whack.

 

Lens Nikkor AF-S 50mm f1.8G
Full Frame Equivalent 50
Price $199.95
DXOMark 30
DXOMark Resolution 16MP
DXOMark Transmission 2
DXOMark Distortion 0.40%
DXOMark Vignetting -1.7 EV
DXOMark Chromatic Aberation 8um

 

 

Lens Sony FE Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 55mm F1.8 ZA
Full Frame Equivalent 55
Price $1,000
DXOMark 42
DXOMark Resolution 29MP
DXOMark Transmission 1.8
DXOMark Distortion 0.40%
DXOMark Vignetting -1.6 EV
DXOMark Chromatic Aberation 9um

 

 

Five times more for the Sony lens.

 

Michael

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Michael1,

 

Canon 50/1.8II is only $125 compared to the Nikon 50/1.8G.

 

Leica 50/2 APO just got a $1000 price increase to north of $8K.

 

Sigma 50/1.4 ART is about $1000.

 

Zeiss Otus 50/1.4 is about $4000.

 

Lots of choices for consumers, with many tradeoffs across those choices.

 

The Otus is four times the price of the FE 55 or Sigma Art 50.

 

Some consider the FE 55 and Sigma Art 50 among the greatest bargains in lenses.

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Some consider the FE 55 and Sigma Art 50 among the greatest bargains in lenses.

 

That might be true for still photography with an 36 mp sensor..  Others considered any ol' AIS 50 as good enough, in their vision content is king...

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Still having a problem with the Sony full frame lens options.  The prices are out of whack.

 

Lens Nikkor AF-S 50mm f1.8G
Full Frame Equivalent 50
Price $199.95
DXOMark 30
DXOMark Resolution 16MP
DXOMark Transmission 2
DXOMark Distortion 0.40%
DXOMark Vignetting -1.7 EV
DXOMark Chromatic Aberation 8um

 

 

Lens Sony FE Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 55mm F1.8 ZA
Full Frame Equivalent 55
Price $1,000
DXOMark 42
DXOMark Resolution 29MP
DXOMark Transmission 1.8
DXOMark Distortion 0.40%
DXOMark Vignetting -1.6 EV
DXOMark Chromatic Aberation 9um

 

 

Five times more for the Sony lens.

 

Michael

 

 

Look at the Canon 24-70 f4 IS - $1500 and Sony has their equivalent at $1200.  They are pricing around the market.

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Still having a problem with the Sony full frame lens options.  The prices are out of whack.

 

Lens Nikkor AF-S 50mm f1.8G
Full Frame Equivalent 50
Price $199.95
DXOMark 30
DXOMark Resolution 16MP
DXOMark Transmission 2
DXOMark Distortion 0.40%
DXOMark Vignetting -1.7 EV
DXOMark Chromatic Aberation 8um

 

 

Lens Sony FE Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 55mm F1.8 ZA
Full Frame Equivalent 55
Price $1,000
DXOMark 42
DXOMark Resolution 29MP
DXOMark Transmission 1.8
DXOMark Distortion 0.40%
DXOMark Vignetting -1.6 EV
DXOMark Chromatic Aberation 9um

 

 

Five times more for the Sony lens.

 

Michael

 

You'd have to rent them each, perform some real-word tests and see which meets your minimum requirement.  You get what you pay for with glass but the FE 1.8/55 IMO is actually quite a bargain.  DXO is akin to a "job interview for a lens"  a lenses character is only revealed when stressed under different/challenging shooting conditions.  Just like a persons character is!

 

And by magic, this just appeared over on TOP:

 

How To Get the Best Performance from Your Camera Lens, Parts I and II (TOP Classic)

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Ha! Thats pretty funny!

I'm not "narrow-sighted in the least. Maybe you should check out the rest of my blog eriknaso.com. I write more about other stuff than just cameras.

 

I wrote about what I felt are issues with the A7s for me and I'm finding that others do feel the same. Not everyone of course. The single biggest issue is the price. It's a hybrid camera so for me I want it to work as one. If it only becomes a video tool then I prefer other cameras to use. I actually want to keep it for it's strengths but to really get the most from the A7s I would have to spend a whole lot more on Sony lenses to take full advantage of auto focus for stills and maybe even video. I think I made that pretty clear in my article. 

 

A little about that "Erik guy." I'm a broadcast DP in San Diego. I work in local broadcast shooting commercials and news image promos. I use a lot of different cameras to get the job done. At work it's the C300 and C100. I just added the GH4 too. I have lots of lenses for it since I also used to shoot with the AF-100. 

 

My thinking in writing the article was a wake up call for myself. It's good to know the bad things too right? Good to know how much you need to invest to get the camera usable for you right? Thats pretty much it. Thanks for reading the article.

Erik, I follow your blog. I buy much of what you say from the perspective of a fellow working cameraman who pays his mortgage with TV work. Many of the user unfriendly features become a deal breaker on field. While acceptable for the personal art project, when the meter's running high, delays with gear futzing or failure loses you clients fast.  I'll probably end up getting an A7s but won't use it for work until it's rigged right. I use on board monitors with DSLR's because I'm expected to get virtually everything in focus. So I'd go the Shogun route. Now if I can find a reliable way to secure HDMI.

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I am a very satisfied GH4 owner....... that does not mean i don't drool over A7s full frame glory.

 

Would love to find out how they intercut in 4K mode. i guess i have to wait till the Shogun to hit the market.

 

If the footage are indistinguishable,  An A7s is going to be in my tool box as B camera no matter what my wife says  ;)

 

The Great thing is i can use the same lenses with speed boosters.

Hopefully, the footage is distinguishable  or what's the point?

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I have the GH4 but I certainly didn't buy it on Andrews recommendation tho.

However the mood of this article came across to me as being a little bit fickle.

The GH4 was the best thing that happened only a month or so ago, and suddenly its now the Beginning of the end for that camera...wow!! OK

Maybe he could have waited a few more weeks LOL!!

We know the GH4 has some flaws and weaknesses and so does the A7S...as many have pointed out..

But after reading his article, it does read a little bit like "New Toy" and as you said that will definitely piss people off that bought the GH4 based, or part based on his previous enthusiasm...just a matter of weeks ago.

The end result? People will be suspicious that his views are highly changeable and a bit fickle at best.

I know Andrew loves Full Frame Cameras and all that, and I know technology moves fast, and I am sure the Sony fits the scope of his work very well, but the radical switching of opinion and the "Beginning of the End" stuff is really not necessary.

 

 At the end of the day, look at the footage it makes. Test one out if you've the opportunity and then pull the trigger or not. You have to take much of the gushing here with a grain of salt and go straight to the footage. My favorite footage on this site is still from the the 5d Mk3 Raw. Despite the praises I just couldn't muster any enthusiasm for any of the footage I saw from the GH4. It reminded me of my experience with the GH2 and the GH3 - Clipped and contrasty, dubious color accuracy. While some can afford to be camera fickle, most cannot. Do due diligence, weigh your options and pocket book and don't believe the hype.

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Erik, I follow your blog. I buy much of what you say from the perspective of a fellow working cameraman who pays his mortgage with TV work. Many of the user unfriendly features become a deal breaker on field. While acceptable for the personal art project, when the meter's running high, delays with gear futzing or failure loses you clients fast.  I'll probably end up getting an A7s but won't use it for work until it's rigged right. I use on board monitors with DSLR's because I'm expected to get virtually everything in focus. So I'd go the Shogun route. Now if I can find a reliable way to secure HDMI.

Thanks Tim!

 

I'm still playing with the A7s and I'm getting closer to an image I like with it. I just did a post about shooting in studio news updates and grading with Colorista II. Check it out. http://eriknaso.com/2014/07/25/using-the-sony-alpha-a7s-for-news-topicals-and-grading-the-footage/

 

The camera requires more fussing than I'm used to and Slog2 is very different than Canon log. I'm liking the CINE gammas a lot more and Pro color mode is a little more saturated. Cinema is nice too. A little less saturated.  

 

I'm going to play around again with 120 fps but not in Slog2 with lower ISO settings. I think this will look much better and yield cleaner images. 

 

Remember folks. Slog2 is really for scenes that are contrasty Those scenes need more shadow detail. If the scene is more even then a cine gamma might be a better (easier to grade) choice. The cool thing is you have a lot of options with the A7s as far as looks go. Learn them and exploit them. Push the camera to the point of breaking it. (image wise of course) and then you will know how to control it. I'm still trying to tame this beast. 

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Heheh, I knew this was going to come back to bite me in the derriere, and fair enough, I deserved it.  :)

 

I wasn't really calling you "narrow-sighted," but I did say that particular blog post may make you sound like a proverbial narrow-sighted gadget nerd. There's a difference, you know. But perhaps that remark sounded grumpier than it needed to be.

 

As for checking out the rest of your blog, that's a deal. I will do just that at some point. 

 

 

What I was referring to with the not making logical sense remark was the part under the Lenses header in particular, but explaining that in full would be a bit too long a story for this thread. Suffice to say I didn't agree with some parts of the piece, but that's okay, it's just life. As said, it was nothing personal, just differences in viewpoints.

 

I totally agree about needing to invest in native lenses for a new system, be that a Sony, Canon or whichever one. That's always the ideal case, isn't it. Whichever system you go for, you are likely to invest quite a bit in its lenses, too. Otherwise it makes not much sense, except in some special cases.

 

But apparently I was skimming the blog post too quickly, because that part didn't actually seem too clear in that article. Maybe I shoud re-read it with more time. FWIW, what stuck in my mind from that part of your blog post was your complaining about how bad the A7s was with Canon lenses, and how you'd have to spend a fortune on native Sony lenses, which you were not willing to do.

 

That would beg the question why would one invest in an expensive Sony camera in the first place, then, if that was an issue? If one had a significant collection of existing EF lenses and one had no intention of ever trading them for something else, or even investing in the native lenses, wouldn't it make more sense to stick with the Canon system, and not wasting money on a new one?

After all, it's not really the A7s's fault if the native Canon lenses aren't ideal for it, because they haven't been designed for it. As you no doubt know, the fact that you can use them as, say, in MF mode in the first place is a great thing.

 

A Canon camera would be equally bad with Sony lenses, provided that  was even technically feasible, with flange distances being similar and all. Whichever way it goes, using non-native lenses is always a compromise. But as you know, that compromise is sometimes worth having, and the camera can deliver beautiful footage, even with Canon lenses. 

 

No need to answer the rhetoric questions above, though, I'm just trying to clarify my previous talking points. However hasty my first read may have been. It was not about you personally, it wasn't about defending the Sony camera, it was more about choosing the right camera for each of us. And I do get your point now. 

 

 

 

Yes and yes. 

You're welcome, and I'll read more, whether I agree with your views or not. :) Judging by this reply, I'll probably disagree less than some people here might think.

Peace & rock'n'roll.  ;)

All good. Me and Quirky are having tea soon and going for massages. See how easy it is to get along.

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You'd have to rent them each, perform some real-word tests and see which meets your minimum requirement.  You get what you pay for with glass but the FE 1.8/55 IMO is actually quite a bargain.  DXO is akin to a "job interview for a lens"  a lenses character is only revealed when stressed under different/challenging shooting conditions.  Just like a persons character is!

 

And by magic, this just appeared over on TOP:

 

How To Get the Best Performance from Your Camera Lens, Parts I and II (TOP Classic)

I like the way you put DXOMark as the "job interview" for the lens.

 

Thanks for the tips and link.

 

Michael

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Michael1,

 

Canon 50/1.8II is only $125 compared to the Nikon 50/1.8G.

 

Leica 50/2 APO just got a $1000 price increase to north of $8K.

 

Sigma 50/1.4 ART is about $1000.

 

Zeiss Otus 50/1.4 is about $4000.

 

Lots of choices for consumers, with many tradeoffs across those choices.

 

The Otus is four times the price of the FE 55 or Sigma Art 50.

 

Some consider the FE 55 and Sigma Art 50 among the greatest bargains in lenses.

I can confidently say an $8000 Leica prime is well beyond my skill level. :)

 

Good points and comparison, though.

 

Michael

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Andrew you are really a huge help for us all in making sense of this difficult trade. Thank you! I have a question about the dynamic range comparisons. Where do you decide the middle is for each camera? I assume you did that because neither the highlights nor the shadows match for any of the cameras. My thinking was that if I matched them all for the highlights or for the blacks, then you would see the difference at the other end of the curve. I know exposure is such critical thing, a third of a stop makes a big difference one way or another, so if the cameras don't match in the blacks, how can you decide if they are blowing out comparatively in the highlights?

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I've shot a fair amount of test footage, and ETTR by +1 always seems to give me the best images. I've never had an issue with getting a reading?

 

( I know it sounds silly, I'm coming from shooting on  5d mk3 and always used the histogram for exposure. I tried that approach with the A7s and everything I shot looked horrible. As soon as switched to ETTR +1, the a7s finally became the camera i wanted it to be.)

 

hmm.. is it even possible to use the ETTR +1 method without an external monitor with a histogram? the internal histogram is a joke, particularly in S-LOG2 where there isn't even a line to indicate clipping! seems like pretty poor implementation to me.. also seems tricky to me to get a spot on exposure in S-LOG without an external monitor. but if anyone has any tips or i'm overlooking anything, i would love to hear it!

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