Hands-on with the Sony a7S II
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Hands-on with the Sony a7S II

Sony has gradually been updating its Alpha line of full frame mirrorless cameras, and the a7S II is the latest to get the update treatment. The original a7S gained a bit of a cult following as an outstanding HD video camera, thanks to its full sensor readout, outstanding HD video, and impressive low light capability. As a result, it should come as no surprise that Sony has largely aimed the a7S II at the videography crowd, many of whom embraced the a7S for the reasons noted above. The a7S II builds on this strong foundation and addresses many common requests from users. 

Most notably, the a7S II can now record 4K video internally - something that previously required an external recorder, such as the Atomos Shogun, to achieve. Along with 4K recording, the new model also supports Sony’s S-Gamut3.Cine/S-Log3, which it claims will widen dynamic range for smoother gradations and provide more flexible color grading. In practice, we've found that the biggest impact of S-Log is stops of highlight retention: the camera automatically decreases the focal plane exposure - by setting itself to a higher ISO - but then intelligently brightens shadows far more than highlights, keeping dark tones from clipping to black while preserving highlights. S-Log essentially takes advantage of the largely ISO-invariant nature of Sony cameras. We were able to see a couple of real world examples of this and the results are indeed as impressive as what we've already noted with S-Log2 modes on the a7R II and RX100 IV. We look forward to performing detailed tests in our lab.

Also of interest to both videographers and still photographers is the addition of Sony’s 5-axis in body image stabilization, which brings the a7S II in line with Sony’s other ‘II’ series Alpha models.