Sony Alpha A7S Hands-On Session With Den Lennie
Sony Alpha A7S with FE2470Z

Sony Alpha A7S Hands-On Session With Den Lennie

Sony Singapore organized a hands-on session for its new Sony Alpha A7S on Monday, 25 Jun 2014, at Sony Store at 313 Somerset Singapore. I’m so glad to be invited to participate in this event with many other professional photographers and photography amateurs. The most important thing is, the host of this hands-on session is the famous Den Lennie!

Sony A7 Series Cameras and 5 FE Lenses
Sony A7 Series Cameras and 5 FE Lenses

It is an honor to have Den Lennie as the A7S hands-on session host. Den Lennie is an industry expert who has played as a producer, director, colorist, director of photography, and lighting cameraman. He shared his valuable insight into the Sony Alpha A7S during the hands-on session.

Den Lennie
Den Lennie

The New Sony A7S

The new Sony Alpha A7S “S” represents the high sensitivity. It is the sales point of this latest full-frame camera. It is capable of shooting from ISO 50 to an unbelievable ISO 409600, yes, 400K of ISO!

Sony Alpha A7S with FE2470Z
Sony Alpha A7S with FE2470Z

The A7S equips with a 12 MP image sensor with the new BIONZ X processing chip. It uses the contrast-detection as its only focus system, but the focusing speed is fast and accurate with the FE55F18Z and the FE2470Z. The A7S uses the same physical body design and menu system as the A7 and A7R. The shutter sounds loud but not as aggressive as its A7/7R brothers. There is good news for wildlife photographers. The A7S also provides a silent shutter mode that uses the electronic shutter instead of the mechanical shutter. In this case, you won’t scare your subject away when you press the shutter.

Sony Alpha A7S with FE2470Z
Sony Alpha A7S with FE2470Z

Sony Alpha A7S is the third full-frame mirrorless camera. It is the top camera among the other two brothers, the A7 and the A7R. The new Sony A7S has great dynamic range from EV -4 to EV 20. It is sensitive enough to shoot the night scene as shooting in the daylight scene.

Sony Alpha A7S Equipped with 4K Recording Accessories
Sony Alpha A7S Equipped with 4K Recording Accessories

Special Notes

Please note that the Sony Alpha A7S can only do 4K video recording with the third-party 4K video recorder. The Sony Alpha A7S can do the video recording in the S-Log2 format. It is great news for videographers as it provides greater dynamic range for video recording.

Den Lennie
Den Lennie

Den Lennie had done some fantastic A7S review videos, and the videos are available online as well.

Well, I took the shots above with my Sony NEX-6 (read the review here) and SEL24F18Z (read the review here), not the A7S. Don’t be disappointed yet. At the end of the session, I managed to play the new A7S and tested the various ISO. I believe that this is the part that you want to know the most.

ISO Test Shot By Sony A7S With FE2470Z

The Sony Alpha A7S provides 1/3 stop throughout its ISO range, which means there are 40 shots from ISO 50 – ISO 409600. That’s a lot! I cropped all the shots into 600×400 and compiled them into single images, so remember to download them to view the full resolution comparison!

ISO Comparison 1

I took the shots below as the first comparison. We will see how well the A7S handles medium-size details (around palm size) at high ISO.

Original Shot for ISO Comparison 1
Original Shot for ISO Comparison 1

I cropped the center area from the shot above. Let’s see the word “Gran Turismo 6” on the top right area below.

ISO Comparison 1
ISO Comparison 1

When shot at ISO 25600, the result is still clean and clear, and the word details are maintained excellently. Details at the maximum recommended ISO 102400 are still pretty usable with more noise. While bumping the ISO into the expended range, the shots lost the details significantly, and the word “Gran Turismo 6” became hardly recognized from ISO 204800 onward.

ISO Comparison 2

I took the second ISO comparison (yes, another 40 shots). Now we are going to see how well the A7S handles the tiny details at high ISO.

Original Shot for ISO Comparison 2
Original Shot for ISO Comparison 2

The second comparison is cropped at the center-right area where the camera and lens are attached. Let’s look at the lens’ indicator word “20- 50-” at the top right spot in the comparison shots below.

ISO Comparison 2
ISO Comparison 2

The Sony A7S handles the details of the tiny words well at ISO 25600. But this time around, the little details become hardly recognized from ISO 80000 onward and become unrecognizable from ISO 204800 ahead.

Ok, there is no third ISO comparison here because the extra 40 shots and compilation will give me a nightmare 😉 A short conclusion, the Sony A7S is capable of producing a fairly clean result at ISO 25600, and the ISO 64000 are still pretty usable. I’ll avoid bumping the ISO beyond the ISO 64000 because the image will lose those tiny details significantly. Nonetheless, Sony A7S performance and high ISO capability has impressed me. Sony has brought a new era of high ISO to the digital camera world!

Impression For the A7S

When Sony passed me the A7S, it was in the Continuous-Focus mode. The A7S was attached with the FE55F18Z, and it kept changing the focus insanely fast but doing it silently. I guessed that’s the reason why the guy before me only played with it for less than a minute and then passed it to me with an unbelievable face. Once I switched to the Single-Focus mode, the A7S locked on to the target fast and accurately.

The new menu system is welcome to the new series of Alpha E-mount cameras. Dedicated aperture, shutter, and ISO wheels provide faster and more efficient control for shooting. I like the new memory card slot placement that is located at the backside of the camera. It is more convenient and easier to access than the old NEX series memory card slot placement located at the bottom side and squeezed together with the battery compartment.

** Updated on 28 Jun 2014 **

Thanks for the clarification by the PR agency that handles Sony Electronics Asia Pacific. The weird RAW file behavior is most likely due to the incompatibility of RAW processing application. The only compatible RAW processing application is the Image Data Converter by Sony at the current moment.

The Sony A7S will be sold at SGD 2,999 (body only) and available on 26 Jun 2014 in Singapore, where the A7R is sold at SGD 2,799 (body only), and the A7 is sold at SGD 1,999 (body only) currently.

Are you impressed by the high ISO performance of the Sony Alpha A7S? Will it be your first full-frame camera or replace your current gear as your primary camera? You’re welcome to share your thoughts and comments here.

That’s all for today, I hope you enjoy the reading and like it =)

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Hey James,
    Thanks for sharing this. You mentioned available 26th June, meaning it’s available in SG stores now?

      1. Thanks for this James! Hoping they’re stocked up!

        1. You’re welcome FuGZ. Hope you love the performance of A7S

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