Sony A7 Field Tests

Sony A7S Field Test Part I

First impressions, handling and oh my, high ISO!

by William Brawley |

Initial impressions.The moment I heard about the Sony A7S and its significantly larger pixels and low-light capabilities, I was very intrigued. Eschewing the ever-increasing megapixel race of many modern digital cameras, the Sony A7S packs a "measly" 12-megapixel resolution. However, these 12 megapixels are spread over a large 35mm full-frame sensor area thanks to larger individual pixels. What this means is that while you probably won't want to print billboard-sized images from an A7S, you can shoot in vastly lower lighting with much higher ISOs, as the sensor has much more light-gathering capabilities thanks to its larger photo-sites.

With a background in photojournalism, I often found myself on assignments shooting in situations where using a flash was disruptive or downright forbidden, such as in courtrooms or on the sidelines of football or basketball games. As such, having to shoot at higher ISOs was very common, and I often wished I could bump up the ISO a little more to get a more usable exposure, but I was limited to my cameras' high ISO capabilities. Now, with the A7S, my first thought was could this camera be the perfect photojournalist camera?

For pretty much all shooting situations but sports -- where traditional phase detect AF systems still come out on top against mirrorless cameras for continuous AF performance -- the Sony A7S could be an ideal solution, for journalists, for street shooters, for travel photographers, and even landscape and astrophotographers: compact and lightweight for much better portability than a DSLR while still keeping a full-frame sensor and with practically a "shoot-in-any-lighting" ISO sensitivity range.

Read more about my hands-on experience and the high ISO performance of the Sony A7S.

Read Field Test Part I

Sony A7S Field Test Part II

Dynamic Range Performance & Video Recording

by William Brawley |

Sony A7S shooter's report photo

Apart from the absolutely stunning high ISO performance of the new Sony A7S camera, another hallmark feature Sony is touting its dynamic range performance. At a stated 15.3-stops of dynamic range, the A7S should give photographers plenty of flexibility to reign in those highlights without clipping and lift up and reveal shadow details without a lot of noise. The primary reason why I personally shoot in RAW is the extra latitude it gives me to adjust images as I see fit, especially shadow and highlight details, as well as white balance, sharpness and noise reduction. In this installment of my A7S Field Test, I'll put the dynamic range capabilities of the camera to the test. I took the A7S along with me to Photokina in Germany, and I made sure to capture some challenging photos with strong highlights and deep shadows.

And last but not least, I'll go into detail with the other major feature of the A7S: video recording. With the specially-designed "4K-optimized" sensor with full-pixel readout, as well as a new higher quality XAVC-S video format, like the Panasonic GH4 I reviewed earlier this year, the Sony A7S is clearly designed to do double duty for both stills and video shooters. Let's see how it stacks up.

See the A7S's impressive dynamic range and video chops!

Read Field Test Part II



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