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The new Sony A7s mini review

 

So I finally got my hands on the Sony A7s about three weeks ago and I’ve been messing around with it ever since. This is a hot camera at the moment especially with serious videographers but because it retails for $2500 making it the most expensive Alpha 7-series camera with only 12.2 million pixels I don’t think it will appeal to many photographers unless they want a little of both worlds. The images coming out of this little camera is amazing. I would say it looks as good if not better than my Sony FS700 in terms of detail although I can’t confirm that but it’s what appears to my eyes when looking at the monitor. For me the advantage of using the A7s with my FS700 is the ability to cut and match shots easily between both cameras in post.

 

I just want to point out that this is not an in-depth review but more like a mini review of the A7s. Sony didn't throw a lot of money at me to say nice things about their camera. This is my honest opinion based on my experience with the A7s. So let me start off with some of the things that I don't like or can be improved on and get those out of the way before I tell you what makes the A7s shine.

 

The Bad:

 

1. Moiré and Aliasing- Yep it still around and noticeable even in 24P it’s not as bad as my Canon 7D but its there. You  can do things to avoid these funky artifacts like moving back, forward, recomposing  stop down or open up the lens but really in this day and age why do we have to put up with this?

 

2. Rolling shutter- There’s been a lot of whining and bellyaching on forums about rolling shutter I’m not going to talk about this it’s old news already. Anyway it’s not a big problem for me because I don’t whip pan my shots however if you’re a run-n-gun shooter then you might want to rent first and try it out before buying to see if it suits your shooting style.

 

3. Battery life- Nice….not thrilling but nice! Battery will last about an hour more or less. For an afternoon shoot have at least 4 batteries. They coast about $60 each which adds up.

 

4. Record button- Couldn’t the Sony Engineers come up with a better place to put the record button? It’s in an awkward spot making it difficult to reach with my thumb. If I’m looking through the view finder it’s hard to locate the button by feel it doesn’t stick out so I find myself moving my eye away from the view finder and having to eyeball the back of the camera to see where it is is which is a real pain. It would be nice if I could reassign the record button via the custom key settings to another button on the back of the camera but this isn't possible.

 

5. No internal 4k- Now if it only had this it would have blown away the big hairy GH4. Hopefully Sony will support internal 4k in the next generation of the A7s.

 

That’s it! Let’s move on to what makes this camera great. Here’s what matters to me and what I LOVE about the A7s.

 

The Good:

 

1. Full frame sensor - Full frame is wonderful you have more control over DOF and I just love the aesthetics of full frame. It can do a full pixel read-out without the pixel binning process.

 

2. XAVCH at 50Mbps - This is a more robust codec which has done away with banding at least I haven’t seen any so far.

 

3. Ultra compact and light-weight- You can just throw the camera in your bag and fuhgeddaboudit! Film all day without destroying your back.

 

4. SLOG-2 Gamma- For some people this is the icing on the cake.  Here’s the thing when using SLOG-2 it might be a little tricky to nail the exposure by simply looking on the back of the LCD but not impossible. The A7s also comes with a S-gamut color mode which I use a lot.

 

5. APS-C- One of the things I really like about the A7s is the APS-C size capture settings within the menu. I find myself using this a lot to simply zoom in and crop the image. I wish I could reassign a button via custom key settings to use this feature but I can’t maybe in a firmware update?

 

6 White Balance Adjustment- Here you can fine tune the color temperature in REAL-TIME! Try doing that with the Canon 7D

 

7. High ISO sensitivity range-ᅠLast but not least in the high sensitivity ISO range from 50- 409600. I think this is the A7s biggest selling point. Now you don't have to call it quits after sunset.

 

So is this the best camera out there for under $2500? Well for me yes for you I don’t know. The main reason for buying this camera in the first place was for the image it’s absolutely gorgeous it blew me away no exaggeration. IMO this camera has the best HD image out there. If it looks this good in HD I can’t even imagine what the 4k image will look like. Overall the Sony A7s is a great camera for the price and I'm very happy with it so far. Agree or disagree with anything I said? Let me know! kadshah.tumblr.com or sweetproductionmedia.blogspot.com

 

Additional info:

 

Camera settings:

 

PP7- Black level -1

Gamma Cine4

Black gamma Range narrow, Level +7

Knee auto

Color mode S-Gamut

Saturation -1

Color Phase-1

Color depth R+1,G-1,B0,C-1,M+2,Y0

Detail -7

 

Color graded with Filmconvert. Converted to FJ Ast 100.

 

Gear:

 

Monopod, Baby T1 tripod, Canon 24m F/1.4, 24-70mm, F/4.0, 70-300mm F/4.0-5.6, Carl Zeiss F/1.4 50m ZF (love this little lens) Metabones adapter (If using the Metabones smart adapter it must be a Mark IV with firmware 32 or above) Fotodiox pro nik(G) NEX d-click adapter, Zacuto EVF Z-finder, Atomos Full HDMI Coiled Cable, Tiffens variable ND filter, B+W grad 25% filter, Hoya polarizer filter. Lockport micro HDMI. Edited in Adobe Premiere Pro CS6

 

 

 

 

 

 

On a side note I couldn't get the micro HDMI mini cable to fit through the A7s cable protector (supplied item). Maybe a Sony proprietary cable is needed. Anyway it was a good excuse for buying the more elegant design LockPort, this is a better solution. The last thing you want to do is to accidentally hit the cable with your hands or something and yank the cable out damaging your micro HDMI jack and causing damage to the electronic board.

 

The Lockport is listed for around $180 but its a good investment. BTW if your using a Manfrotto 394 quick release adapter like I do don't set it up the way I have it in the picture. The quick release should face the back of the camera.

 

 

 

Review

 

Tips

At first it might be a little confusing to find the files you're looking for buried in the directory hopefully this will help you locate your particular file format. I'll also walk you through my own workflow using Premiere Pro.

2. If you’re not transferring images via wi-fi then turn it off.

3. Turn off the LCD screen and use the viewfinder which is an excellent EVF.

 

4. I’m not sure if this will help extend battery life but it doesn’t hurt to disable the SteadyShot if you’re camera is on a tripod.

1.If you’re not recording audio disable it.

The Sony A7s batteries will last about an hour more or less but here are a few things you can do to extend your batteries life.

5. I never use auto focus while filming but if you do keep in mind that Auto-focus drains power quickly especially in low light situation where the lens struggles to achieve focus.

 

6. You can also help your batteries last longer by keeping them warm. Put them in your pocket

or in a bag in cold climate.

 

7. Make sure you drain your battery completely before charging them to extend their lives.

That’s it for now.

 

Download free PDF

Extending Battery life on your Sony A7s

In this tutorial I quickly explain each Filmconvert settings and what it's used for. This is a good introduction for those who aren't familiar with this plug-in. My apologies for the sloppy editing it was done in a hurry next one will be better I promise:-) The full edited version of this video 'La Vie en Rose' can be found here.

 

 

Filmconvert Quick Overview

The Sony A7s Folder Structure

Sony A7s official manual, documentation and guide.

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Copyright © Kadshah Nagibe 2012