Sony A7S Review: A low-light powerhouse with professional, 4K video capabilities


posted Friday, December 12, 2014 at 3:39 PM EDT


We've finally wrapped up our Sony A7S review, the unique 12-megapixel, 4K-shooting, high ISO monster! After spending a lot of time shooting with camera and running it through our testing lab, the A7S is undoubtedly a very impressive camera. The A7S has excellent dynamic range and the ability to shoot photos and video in practically any lighting conditions, including near darkness, thanks to a maximum ISO sensitivity of 409,600!

Of course, the Sony A7S is more than just a stills camera; it's a souped-up hybrid camera with a host of professional-level video features, including impressive 4K video capture, higher bitrate Full HD, and customizable Picture Profiles with SLog2 gamma -- straight from Sony's pro-line of camcorders. While 4K video does indeed look spectacular -- with lots of fine detail and great dynamic range -- the convenience factor for shooting 4K on this camera is significantly hampered by the requirement an external HDMI recorder to capture the 4K signal. In short, 4K capture on a full-frame sensor packed into such a small body simply generates too much heat to record internally simultaneously. With 4K HDMI recorders relatively few and far between at this point in time, not to mention expensive, the A7S is, unfortunately, reserved for more high-end, professional users if 4K is your thing.

In terms of other features, as well as physical and ergonomic qualities, the Sony A7S is nearly identical to its A7 and A7R brethren, with similar good and bad qualities. The ergonomics are okay, but not great in terms of the placement of some controls and buttons, and the shutter is still notoriously noisy (though there are settings available to lessen that).

A7S + FE 70-200mm F4: 116mm, f/4, 1/125s, ISO 20,000 

All in all, the Sony A7S is a fantastic camera plain and simple, though pricier than the two earlier models. The unique, low-resolution-large-pixel full-frame sensor is capable of capturing stunning images -- both moving and still -- in pretty much any lighting. If you want one of the best available-light cameras around with stunning high ISO performance, excellent Full HD and 4K video, all in a very compact design, the Sony A7S is a top choice. 

If you've followed our review process with the Sony A7S and already read our Sony A7S Shooter's Report, go ahead and jump over to our Sony A7S Conclusion for our final verdict. If you're just getting acquainted with the A7S, head over to the Sony A7S Overview for all the details!

A7S + FE 24-70mm F4: 70mm, f/4, 1/640s, ISO 100
A7S + FE 70-200mm F4: 70mm, f/5.6, 1/80s, ISO 125