Sony Surprises with 5-Axis In-Body Image Stabilization, XAVC-S & S-Log2 Though Not 4K, Yet

by Karin Gottschalk4 Comments

Well I didn’t quite see this one coming, though I was aware of the rumour that new Sony Alphas are to appear early 2015. Yesterday, in Japan, Sony announced the A7II, a brand new midrange full-frame mirrorless with some seductive features for moviemakers bar one, 4K.

Actually, make that bar two as the Alpha7II doesn’t have the amazing low-light, large photosite, smallish megapixel count sensor that has made the A7S such a hit with moviemakers everywhere. As such, the Sony A7II looks like a replacement for Sony’s A7 that also comes equipped with a 24.3MP sensor.

Like the A7, the A7II is an in-betweener, a great stills camera that does damned fine 1080p video. 24+ megapixels is more than enough for most professional stills assignments as Canon’s and Nikon’s 21+MP DSLRs have proven. 12MP is enough for most magazine assignments for that matter.

If you need to up the megapixel count for really big blow-ups though then swap the Sony A7II for the 36.4MP A7R and keep on shooting. Or the A7R’s presumably soon-to-come replacement which, no doubt, will be named the A7RII. And surely will be coming with 5-axis in-body stabilization too.

And on that basis can we assume that the replacement for the A7S will be named the A7SII? That moniker will do for now at least between you and me. And just between the two of us, if I were selling off the last of my Canon DSLRs and wanted to stay with full-frame then I would definitely be buying into next year’s Sony Alpha system full-frame mirrorless cameras. Mark II.

No more mirror slap for one thing. Despite the Canon 5D mk II and 5d mkIII being great at low light for their respective eras, too often I was plagued by unwanted camera motion when shooting hand-held stills at events  under available darkness. Fujifilm’s mirrorless X-series cameras showed me there is another way, one where a slapping mirror never risk image acuity ‘cos there is none.

Add that lack of slap to Sony’s excellent though far-too-few Zeiss-designed E-series lenses to shooting full-frame and you have something special that Canon and Nikon should have pursued years ago. My experience earlier this year with an all-too-brief loan of an A7S during a long spell of illness taught me the myriad joys of a large-sized though low pixel-count sensor mated with XAVC-S and S-Log2.

It also made me feel cheated by the camera’s inability to record 4K video shot with that codec and that gamma curve. Talk about great promise defeated by not-quite-there execution. I loved the Zeiss lens supplied with the loaner A7S – the Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS lens – even if it did not have the f/2.8 maximum aperture moviemakers have come to expect from zooms.

Yes, Sony does need to pull its finger out on lenses suitable for shooting video but surely they have been told that a million times too many already? I would be horrified if they are not already working on more to come. If the A7II is anything to go by, lenses aside, the direction Sony is taking now is seductive and I want in via the A7SII.

Image this – 5-axis IBIS, full-frame, super-sensitive image sensor, XAVC-S, S-Log2, 4K, on-board 4K recording, no more silly movie-recording button in the silliest of locations, a bigger EVF than the A7II, a fully-articulated monitor like that on my GH4, a way better finish and grip than this year’s Alpha full-frame mirrorless cameras and no need for all those rigs that I have been looking at and found wanting over the past few months.

Then imagine this – faster versions of the two current Sony/Zeiss Vario-Tessar 24-70mm f/4 and 16-35mm f/4 lenses, a set of fast Zeiss primes and moviemaker heaven. With all this, we really have entered that era of accessible moviemaking that Canon’s 5DmkII and subsequent cameras hinted at but failed to really deliver on.

With a revamped A7S and A7R and some great Zeiss lenses I am increasingly tempted indeed to consider going back into professional photography and moviemaking at the same time. I love my Panasonic GH4 – it really is the Swiss Army Knife of MTF hybrid cameras – but what Sony is hinting may be about to come with the A7II looks priceless.

Sony Alpha a7II Mirrorless Digital Camera

Via Phoblographer:

Though the Sony A7 series cameras haven’t been out for very long, the company has just announced a newer version: the A7 Mk II–and only in Japan. The camera has the same 24.3MP Full frame sensor that the A7 has but this camera features a five axis stabilization. According to B&H Photo, it also has “improved handling, faster AF, enhanced weather sealing, and the addition of the XAVC S video codec along with the S-Log2 gamma curve.” Indeed, one of the first things that we notice is the new front dial.

Sony A7II image 1

The camera boasts 117 phase detection points, 25 contrast detection points, and the same ISO 25600 at the top end plus 5fps shooting capabilities. Otherwise, the new camera sports the same 3.0”1,228k-dot resolution tilting LCD monito and the XGA OLED Tru-Finder with 2.36m-dot resolution. According to the Verge, the company states that the A7 Mk II will lock focus 30% faster.

The company also announced a new 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 G SSM II lens for the A mount. The lens features a new nano AR coating to prevent ghosting and flare, enhanced contrast, a new AF motor, weather resistance,

Sony A7II image 2

This updated telephoto zoom lens employs a new nano AR coating to better reduce flare and ghosting for improved clarity and contrast. The AF motor has also received a notable upgrade to quicken its overall performance, which pairs well with the weather-resistant design to benefit its use in difficult shooting conditions.

Read full article at Phoblographer “The New Sony A7 Mk II Features 5-Axis” Stabilization

 

Sony Alpha a7II Official Video Release

Sony Alpha a7II 5-axis SteadyShot

 

Sony Alpha a7II Tech Specs

Via B&H Photo:

Lens Mount Sony E (Full Frame)
Image Sensor Exmor CMOS; 35.8 x 23.9 mm
Effective Pixels 24.3MP
Total Pixels 24.7MP
Still Image File Format JPEG, RAW
Storage Media SD/SDHC/SDXC, Memory Stick PRO Duo/PRO-HG Duo/XC-HG Duo
Card Slot 1x memory card slot
Viewfinder Type XGA OLED Tru-Finder electronic viewfinder
Viewfinder Resolution 2,359,296 dot
Frame Coverage 100%
Magnification Approx. 0.71x
Shutter Type Electronic first curtain shutter available
Shutter Speed 30 to 1/8000 sec.
Flash Sync Speed 1/250 sec
Image Stabilization 5-axis in-body image stabilization equivalent to 4.5 stops
Drive Modes Single shot, Continuous High, Continuous Low
Top Continuous Shooting Rate Up to 5 fps in continuous high; 2.5 fps in continuous low
Exposure Metering System Advanced 1200-zone evaluative metering
Metering Method Multi-metering, center-weighted, spot
Metering Range -1 – +20 EV
Exposure Modes Aperture-Priority (A), Manual (M), Programmed auto (P), Shutter-Priority Auto (S)
ISO Sensitivity ISO 100-25600 (expandable to ISO 50-51200 with multi-shot NR)
Autofocus System Fast Hybrid AF
Number of Focus Points Phase detection: 117 / contrast-detection: 25
Autofocus Sensitivity -1 – +20 EV
Built-In Flash No; Multi-Interface Shoe to accept optional external flash
Movie Recording 1920 x 1080; 60p, 60i, 24p
File Format XAVC S, AVCHD Ver. 2.0, MP4 (YCbCr 4:2:2 8-bit, RGB 8-bit)
Video Data Rate XAVC S: 50 Mbps
AVCHD: 28 Mbps (60p, PS), 24 Mbps (60i & 24p, FX), 17 Mbps (60i & 24p, FH)
MP4: 12 Mbps (1440 x 1080, 30 fps), 3 Mbps (640 x 480, 30 fps)
Audio Recording Built-in stereo microphone, optional external stereo microphone
Audio File Format XAVC S: Linear PCM, 2 channel
AVCHD: Dolby Digital AC3 2 channel
MP4: MPEG-4 AAC-LC 2 channel
Maximum Recording Time 29 min.
Monitor 3.0″ 1.228.8k-dot TFT LCD monitor
Tilting Design 107° upward; 41° downward
Interface HDMI micro (type D), multi/micro USB, Multi-interface Shoe, 3.5mm stereo microphone jack, 3.5mm stereo headphone jack
Wi-Fi Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity (IEEE 802.11b/g/n, 2.4GHz band); NFC Forum Type 3 Tag
Power Source NP-FW50 rechargeable lithium-ion battery
Battery Life With Viewfinder: 270 shots
With LCD Screen: 330 shots
Operating Environment 32-104 °F / 0-40 °C
Dimensions 5.0 x 3.8 x 2.4″ / 126.9 x 95.7 x 59.7mm
Weight 1.3lb / 599g (with battery and memory card)

 

(cover photo credit: snap from Phoblographer)


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Comments

  1. ODDGEIR

    What about that (pardon my French) shutter lag of A7r? The biggest disappointment in years when I just one year ago took the wonder out of the box, put a battery into the house, one of my beloved Leica lenses on the Novoflex adapter and . . discovered a shutter lag close to half a second! I’d been waiting for this revelation since I got my first NEX-7 and saw the light beginning of 2012, so – that discovery certainly took some of the joy linked to an otherwise fantastic camera. (80% of my motives are rapidly moving into or out of focus; no lenses w/AF.)

  2. planetMitch

    ODDGEIR well, the shutter lag you mention isn’t because of the camera, it is from the adapter. I tested the Sony A7s (thanks to B&H) and had the metabones adapter on it and there was a lag. Using Sony lenses isn’t a problem as far as I know.

  3. ODDGEIR

    planetMitch ODDGEIR 
    planetMitch ODDGEIR
    Hate to break it to you . . the shutter lag on the A7r has nothing to
    do with any adapter. For some weird, incomprehensible reason they have
    chosen a solution which reminds me of my old Hasselblad 500C, when you
    push the release button, the open shutter closes, then it opens again to
    take your picture! The NEX-7 has an electronic shutter – no lag (thank
    God)Reading the specs for the A7II: Shutter type: Electronic
    first curtain shutter available. Obviously they have registered sour
    remarks apart from mine about this, and have decided to do something
    about it. I wish to God that could be changed by some firmware update on my A7r as well, but .. I fear not.

  4. planetMitch

    ODDGEIR well, I tried the Sony A7s with an adapter and it lagged… I assume it was the adapter. Didn’t have a sony lens to test with

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