The Sony a7S Continues To Impress With Its Perspective Changing Tech

by Bret Hoy3 Comments

Can you remember a camera that was as exciting as the a7S has been for digital filmmakers? If you’re from my generation, probably not. The Canon 5D Mk II opened up a whole new world, and the Sony a7S changed our perspective yet again on how we can capture and create.

Videos like these are a testament to the doors that are wide open because of the technology created by Sony and other companies that have pushed the industry this direction. While the video isn’t amazing in its content or execution, it is amazing when you add in the fact that it’s lit exclusively by glow sticks. Thousands of glow sticks. If your rig allows you to use such small sources such as glow sticks as your light source, the possibilities are nearly limitless.

A few decades ago, the standard set for low light capture was the Kubrick film, Barry Lyndon, which was lit mostly by candlelight. Of course, the look is a sum of the stock, camera and the glass, but the lenses used for this film were the story in this case. Most famously, the Zeiss f/0.7 lens he used.

Now we can look at the Sony a7S in a similar light. All of those films in which filmmakers and cinematographers struggled to get the look they desired, now it’s all packaged into a small handheld package. The future is here. Hover cars not included.

MOUNTAIN BIKE GLOW STICKS! Sony A7s Low light test 102,400 ISO

Via Vimeo Description:

The team at Glean got their hands on the new Sony A7s camera and thought it'd be fun to test it out using a whole lot of glow sticks. We turned this mountain bike run into a trippy, glow stick illuminated dreamscape and set the riders loose. We filmed with 2x handheld units and one on the DJI Ronin with a Nikon 28-70mm (needed the weight to make the Ronin work properly).

Location: Alberta, Canada
Cameras: 4 A7s, 55mm 1.8, Nikon 24-70 2.8, Rokinon 24mm t/1.5
Gimbal: DJI Ronin
Jib: iFootage Carbon
Music by:

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)

Bret Hoy

Bret Hoy is a filmmaker, photographer and writer based out of St. Louis, Missouri. Mainly focused on documentary and experimental film, he has produced, directed, shot and edited many short films and a few long form works.

He shoots a lot and often.
Bret Hoy


  1. Impressive. Thanks for sharing it. Now I’ll share a tip to save some typing time: “Its” in your headline is not a contraction of “it is” and is not spelled with an apostrophe, just like his, hers, ours, yours or theirs aren’t. I know, off topic, but misspelling is distracting to some of us in the generation who were eager high-school filmmakers when Barry Lyndon was released. And yes, it was unbelievable.

  2. eclux thanks. I don’t blame you. I failed to proofread this one very well. I agree with you completely and I issue humble apologies for not catching this one. 

    Bless you for reading and making time to help us be better!

  3. Thanks for posting Brett.  Pretty freaking amazing!  A few of the shots are a little noisy – but not as noisy as you expect at 102,400 ISO.  The dynamic visual effect of the lighting is well worth the trade off.  The A7S is just unbeatable in low light high ISO situations.  Clean looking high ISO cameras really do open up new territory for what is possible with lighting.  Shooting scenes lit with candles only is now a viable choice for filmmakers at all budget levels.  As Brett alludes to, it’s now possible to easily achieve a natural candle light look that would make a younger Kubrick envious.  

    I remember when Barry Lyndon came out and all of us young filmmakers were amazed by the technical and artistic achievement of that film – in particular the candle light scene.  It is still quite impressive considering that the film stock was ASA (ISO) 100 or perhaps even slower.  The DP, John Alcott had to gain exposure wherever he could.  In addition to the ultra fast lens, The film stock was forced developed 1 stop.  He also used double wick candles to create a brighter flame.  Contrary to popular belief, the two actors were lit by more than the candles that appeared on the table.  Just off camera, groups of candles with a reflector behind them (to increase the intensity) were used to supplement the table candles with the right color temperature and subtle flicker.  

    Of course Kubrick had to make compromises to achieve this first of it’s kind natural look.  The actors had to remain incredibly still  and perhaps a little stiff.  Keeping focus was also incredibly challenging.  The scene is also fairly grainy (by today’s standards) due to the forced processing.  But what a feat Kubrick and Alcott accomplished. 

    Perhaps that scene in Barry Lyndon is why I subconsciously chose candle light to test the dynamic range and low light capability of the Sony A7S when I first got it:

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