Moonlight and the Sony A7S: Kiss Goodbye to Day for Night

by Karin Gottschalk3 Comments

When esteemed cinematographer/educator Philip Bloom published his side-by-side comparison of what his eyes and the Sony A7S saw on a Brighton beach at night, his verdict was direct and simple: “This camera is a low light monster.” Carbon Studios recently shot a short movie under moonlight and proved Mr Bloom’s observation all over again. The result is stunning.

Day for night aka nuit américaine is a long established moviemaking tradition. During the analog film era it was done by shooting with tungsten-balanced film stock in daylight combined with gross underexposure or dark blue filters made for the purpose. Nowadays it is most often done via digital grading. For all that the results I have seen have always been less than 100% convincing, a simulation no matter the technical skill being applied.

Moonlight by Carbon Films is no simulation. It is the real thing. I have walked on beaches like the one depicted on moonlit nights in summer. I have seen the difference between sunlight bounced off the moon and direct sunlight underexposed and filtered through dark blue.

Smaller light sources and reflected light always possesses a different character to powerful direct light like that straight from the sun. Years of observation bear that out. Moonlight really was shot and shared minus grading, sharpening and noise reduction.

As Carbon Studios commented below the movie, “Sony has done an amazing job in creating this camera especially after seeing the quality that has come out of this camera.” I could not agree more.

I look forward to the next version of the A7S, the one that surely will record 4K video onboard. And congratulations to Carbon Studios for sharing further evidence of the amazing low light capabilities of the Sony A7S. A new world has been opened up to us by this remarkable little camera.

Moonlight | Sony A7s ISO test

Via Vimeo Description:

Our goal was to set out and shoot a short film that was lit entirely by moonlight. We waited for the moon to become full and on the night of September 8th we set out to explore the coast in California and see what we could find.

When we arrived at our location, the timing couldn't have been more perfect! It was around 12:30 AM and the moon was barely lighting the beautiful beach. The entire shoot took place between 12:30 AM- 2:00 AM.

For the first two scenes were shot at a different location a few days before the moon became full. The first scene was shot at 1/25th, f/1.4, 25,600 ISO,

The second scene was shot at 1/25th, f/1.4, 32,000 ISO

Our settings for the rest of the video were around 1/30th, f/1.4, ISO 12,800. To give you a perspective of how dark it was, there are a couple photos in the behind the scenes below.

We did not add any color grading, noise reduction, or sharpness.
All of the clips are straight out of the camera shot in the PP2 setting.

You will notice some purple fringing around the left side, The Metabones adapter that we rented had a light leak issue from what it looks like.

Sony has done an amazing job in creating this camera especially after seeing the quality that has come out of this camera.

Song used:
Clouds over hills by A. Taylor

Gear used:
Sony A7s
Metabones EF to NEX Smart Adapter II
Zeiss 55mm 1.4 Otus
Zeiss 28mm 2.0

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)


  1. It doesn’t look like Moonlight. It looks like underexposed daylight.
    You need to show a shot taken under a clear sky, so there’s no question about it.

  2. Looks unbelievable. But… but it Night for Day. It seems it cannot be used for night scenes.

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