Early Sony A7S footage shows incredible dynamic range and high-ISO capabilities

by Felix Esser

posted Friday, April 11, 2014 at 12:15 PM EDT

It's only been a couple of days since the Sony A7S has been announced at NAB, but there's already a first batch of Full HD and 4K footage taken with the camera available. Den Lennie from fstopacademy was lucky enough to be asked by Sony whether he wanted to test-drive the new 4K shooter, and so he took it to some beautiful places in Scotland and Japan to test its video capabilities. The footage he came back with clearly shows that Sony has made a winner with the A7S.

While on location in the town of Arbroath, Scotland, Den and his team shot the A7S in Full HD with various A- and E-mount lenses, documenting the local fishing culture and traditional craft of fish smoking. Part of the documentary was shot inside a fishing boat using Sony's S-Log2 function for extended dynamic range, and those scene really show off the great dynamic range that the A7S's new 12 megapixel full-frame sensor is able to capture.

The Sony A7S has impressive dynamic range.

In Kochi, Japan, they hooked the camera up to a 4K recorder, so that they could get some Ultra HD footage. This time around, some of the shooting was done inside a shrine, where the ISO had to be cranked up considerably to yield a balanced exposure with the lens slightly stopped down for maximum sharpness. Den recalls, "we’ve been using it very comfortably at 12,600 ISO and the images are clean and have great resolution." Looking at the footage on a MacBook Pro with Retina display, we can confirm that there is no evident noise, which is pretty amazing.

They also made another high ISO test when in Arbroath, cranking the A7S's sensitivity up all the way from a pitch-black ISO 1600 to a daylight-bright ISO 409,600. Granted, at its highest sensitivity, the A7S does develop quite a bit of noise, and detail, color and dynamic range all suffer considerably. But the images are far from unusable. To put things into perspective, the scene was shot at f/2.8 and 1/50th of a second, and it was lit only by moonlight and a small fire.

While noisy, the A7S's ISO 409,600 output is still usable.

Den's full report can be found over at fstopacademy, including a behind-the-scenes video on how they made the video in Arbroath, Scotland.

In other news, the A7S has received a first hint at a possible price tag, which has yet to be officially announced by Sony. As Sony Alpha Rumors reports, British retailer Wex Photographic lists (or rather listed, because apparently the listing has been taken down in the meantime) the A7S for GBP 2,499, claiming upon inquiry that this is the price they were stated by Sony. Comparing it to the UK price for the A7R, Sony Alpha Rumors concludes that the A7S might end up costing about US$3,450 once it hits the US.

That is, provided the price stated by Wex Photographic is accurate. But these things are often prone to change until an official announcement, and the A7S might end up retailing for less. Still, it isn't unreasonable to assume that it will be slightly more expensive than the A7R, considering that it comes with 4K video capabilities and a new sensor that is vastly superior in terms of sensitivity and dynamic range.

(via PetaPixel)