Michael Reichmann is one of the most thoughtful and articulate voices writing about photography and photographic gear today. Every time I read a piece by him,
I cannot help but feel that I am learning from a master.
So it was with no small measure of anticipation that I read his latest review of a camera particularly interesting to videographers: the brand new Sony A7s, capable of shooting up to 409,600 ISO and recording at 8-bit 4:2:2 4K.
If you’ve seen any of the test footage, you’ve already been blown away: it’s simply stunning.
But with this written, what does it all mean? What can you actually do with this
camera, with what trade-offs, and compared to what alternatives?
Reichmann has a knack for cutting to what is truly important, and over the course of this review gets into specifics around what it actually takes to record 4K (more cumbersome than you might have thought); the limitations of the only 12mp sensor (less limited than you might think); lens selection; maximum useful ISO and what it means in concrete terms; and, ultimately, for whom the camera is best suited.
He summarizes this truly excellent review thusly:
“My parting thought is that the A7s is neither the holy grail of cameras, nor a
This is no easy-way-out conclusion, but rather a carefully considered opinion. Read the full article and get schooled!
The Sony A7s – What is it and Who it is For?
In a word or two – the A7s is a small full-frame 12 Megapixel mirrorless stills camera, using the same body and design as the 24 Megapixel A7 and the 36 Megapixel A7r. The camera is also capable of shooting 4K video while delivering it to an external recorder in 8 bit 4:2:2. It takes Sony's FE mount lenses (if you want full frame) and other A7 series accessories.
Since in many respects the camera is similar to the A7 and A7r there is little point in discussing the camera's common features, as the Net abounds with detailed reviews, including here on this site.
So – you may well ask the obvious question – in 2014 who would want a 12 Megapixel camera, and why? The answer is two-fold.
Firstly, by making the sensor just 12MP, along with its full frame size, each sensel (or pixel) is relatively huge. This means that its light gathering power is tremendous compared to sensors with higher pixel density. This is evidenced by the A7s' ability to shoot at up to ISO 409,200, though as we'll see, you wouldn't necessarily want to.
The camera is also aimed at videographers. In 4K video shooting mode, 3840 × 2160 (30p/24p) the pixel ratio is 1:1. In other words, no line skipping, binning, or compression is needed. The sensor itself is 4240 x 2832 pixels, at full frame's standard 3:2 aspect ratio, while 4K video has, like HD, an aspect ratio of 16:9.
Read full review on Luminous Landscape’s article “Sony A7s First Impressions Review”
(cover photo credit: snap from Luminous Landscape)