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The Night’s Watch Sony Alpha 7S Review

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9/14/2014 10:33:00 AM
With ISO that high, we’d expect the Alpha 7S to have night vision. We take a shot in the dark with it

Sony’s been up to some crazy mad-scientist stuff again. Not content to have the smallest full-frame interchangeable lens cameras with the A7 and the A7R, they’ve followed up with the introduction of the A7S, which in a nutshell is this - half the megapixels, but many more times the light sensitivity. Its ISO count goes up to such heights that we’re surprised they even bothered putting the full numbers down. Probably just to show off, we imagine. But is this new package different enough from its predecessors to warrant its higher price and more importantly, your attention? How much of that ISO is actually usable?

Description: Sony Alpha 7S rear view

Sony Alpha 7S rear view

Build

Like the A7 and the A7R before it, the A7S is a solid piece of kit. A weather-sealed black magnesium alloy body with a nice sheen, its viewfinder sticks out up top like a periscope. Popping out the lens of the A7S, its 35mm sensor is almost comically oversized in comparison to the body’s modest heft, which is enough to make other full-frame cameras feel overweight.

Design

Was there an explosion at the button factory? Because there are buttons everywhere, probably because its brilliant and quite sizeable tilty LCD screen isn’t touch-operated. Breaking the sleek lines of its body is a deeply recessed leathery grip which sits snugly in your right hand. There are also two customisable multifunction dials, which are useful for quick adjustments on the fly.

Description: Sony Alpha 7S top view

Sony Alpha 7S top view

Shooting 

The OLED electronic viewfinder looks terrific and performs well in low light, no doubt due to the sensor’s incredible sensitivity. Autofocus is snappy and accurate even in the dark, although the bevy of autofocus modes does take some messing about with. The A7S is also a surprisingly decent action camera, going up to 5fps with an AF system that’ll track moving objects with ease.

Images

Images from the A7S are sharp, vibrant and rich in detail with stellar dynamic range. On top of that the camera takes some incredible images in low light with ISO up to 409,600, enabling shots in near-complete darkness, though you won’t usually need to go that high unless you’re photographing the paranormal. Images will rain largely noise free up to ISO 30,000 too.

Description: Sony Alpha 7S back view

Sony Alpha 7S back view

Features

The A7S comes with a ton of features: built-in Wi-Fi, NFC, sweep panorama. But its party trick has to be the ability to output 4K video via HDMI. Sure, you need to add a separate module, but imagine – shooting full 4K movies on a device barely larger than a paperback novel. Sony’s packed the camera with other video shooting goodies too, including 120fps HD video.

Tech specs

·         Sensor 12.2MP 35mm Full Frame Exmor CMOS

·         File format JPEG, RAW

·         Media Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PROHG Duo, Memory Stick XC-HG Duo, SD, SDHC, SDXC

·         Max burst speed: 5fps

·         Video: 720p@120fps, 1080p@60fps, 4K (with an external adaptor)

·         ISO sensitivity: 100-409600

·         AF points: 25

·         LCD: 3in. approx.921k-dot TFT

·         Dimensions: 26.9x94.4x48.2mm, 446g (body only)

·         Price: $2,999

 

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