A7S Hands on experiences and samples

Started Jun 14, 2014 | Discussions
abortabort Senior Member • Posts: 1,734
A7S Hands on experiences and samples
29

So I got to play with an A7S the other night in a low lit bar and wanted to share some of my experiences with the camera as still not that much is known about it and there seems to be very little samples etc even from the major review sites etc (though I am sure more will come out in the next few days as a guess).

I have some RAW and JPEG samples to share which I will have up shortly and will add to this thread.

But first for some experiences:

1. Body: Better than the A7, similar to the A7R but the mount does 'feel' more solid. Other than that it is exactly what you would expect from the A7R.

2. AF: Noticeably quicker than the A7 and A7R in this dimly lit environment. It had about zero trouble locking on to anything, I find my A7 is super quick in good light but becomes quite poor in low light. The A7S had no trouble here and was at least equal to my previous 6D using centre point AF (where it is better in low light than any Canon as far as I am aware). This was true whether using the FE55 (the fastest aperture lens they have) or the FE 70-200mm f4 (I was absolutely thrilled by the performance of this combo for it's fast and accurate AF and the high ISO abilities of the A7S you could just about shoot anything, f4 with the A7S is not slow) and the FE35 was like lightning. In dim light the A7S was noticeably better than the a6000 which would hunt a bit more in certain scenarios.

3. I ONLY really got to test the high ISO performance of the camera, because there was not a lot of light to be found anywhere. 3200 was the absolute lowest you could reasonably use and if your subject was moving then that was miles too low. So pretty much everything was ISO 3200 and above in my test shots - Not a big deal as that is where I wanted to test it anyway, in 'real' low light.

4. Silent Shutter: It works as advertised, silently. I am sure it probably has some rolling shutter issues as all electronic rolling shutters do, but the big thing is that noise and colour etc all seemed to be relatively similar to using the EFCS mode. This is usually a big problem for electronic shutters and they 'normally' output at a lower bitrate, this doesn't 'seem' to be the case, however as I mention above I was only able to test at higher ISOs where in this range a loss of DR etc will be the case anyway, which might explain why there isn't much difference. Shooting at low ISOs there may still be a noticeable gap between the two... Will have to wait for further testing.

5. Video: I couldn't test the XAVC-S as the card I had was too slow and the A7S refused to work with the slow card - probably a good thing rather than 'trying and failing' to be honest.

6. Shutter sound: Same as A7 when in EFCS mode, maybe 'slightly' more damped by the more solid body / mount, but only slightly.

7. Viewfinder: Noticeably cleaner than A7 in lower light. This comes down to the sensor's cleaner output / live view feed. Otherwise very much the same as A7/R.

8. High ISO output: What can I say? Dumbfounded. I expected high ISO to be good, just not this good. All the JPEGs you have seen give no real idea how usable the ISO is on this thing! I will let you play with the RAW and JPEGs yourselves to determine what your own 'usable limits' are as everyone is different, but to me ISO 51,200 is about where 6400-12,800 is on my A7. It is cleaner than my old A77 was at 1600, in fact I would say that 102,400 is my usable in a pinch ISO and everything from 51,200 down is perfectly acceptable. But what is really scary is how clean 'normal' high ISOs are around 1600-6400. 3200 looks like 400 on my A7, really! But ignoring just noise for a minute, the other thing that impressed me is just how much DR and colour is retained at higher ISO levels, this is where it is really king of the night. Most FF cameras are pretty 'ok' up to about 12,800, some of the slightly better ones 25,600... for noise. But they dramatically lose DR and colour information. The A7S just soaks in light and seems to maintain colour and DR so much better than anything I have ever used. 6D manages to stay fairly clean but you end up with 'muddy' shots that struggle with any post work. A7 retains colour better but gets noisier earlier than 6D so even if the colour sticks around it has to compete with the noise, so also gets washed out.

Everything else seems very much the same as it's sister models. I can say it is quite a surreal experience, for someone who has been shooting for 20 years, to be in the situation in that low a light level to be hitting up against the 1/8000th shutter limit! Never, ever have I experienced that and I got caught out when shooting some of the really upper ISO levels because it is just not something that has ever occurred to me to be a problem in this lighting.

As I mention I will link some samples shortly to play with. I will also explain some of the caveats of trying to play around with the RAWs which are basically unsupported at this time - Though Brian from Iridient Developer has been playing around with them to get try and get support happening properly (thanks Brian!).

After having some actual hands on time with the A7S and seeing the output I will definitely be buying, replacing my A7 is a complete no brainer for me (I predominantly shoot events). Yes it is more expensive, but for the 'small' FE system it makes the most sense. The lenses aren't super fast, but when they are strapped to a sensor like this they don't need to be. In my view A7S is by far the best A7 series camera yet. The others are amazing and if you need resolution there is no comparison, but the fast AF in almost any light, the files that need far less work, the (relatively) slow lenses to keep the system small, the completely silent (and seemingly) very usable electronic shutter mode, the smaller files sizes (bigger buffer, faster processing, less storage), cleaner EVF and better video make all make it more than worthwhile for me... and I haven't spoken about the 4K video once (which most seem to think is the only selling point of this camera).

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mathlawguy Forum Member • Posts: 79
Re: A7S Hands on experiences and samples
6

This threatens to be a very expensive post

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OP abortabort Senior Member • Posts: 1,734
Re: A7S Hands on experiences and samples

mathlawguy wrote:

This threatens to be a very expensive post

Haha yes it turned out to be an expensive hands on for me!

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Jerry Fusselman
Jerry Fusselman Contributing Member • Posts: 859
Re: A7S Hands on experiences and samples
1

Thanks for the report.  Very much appreciated.

-- hide signature --

Jerry Fusselman

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OP abortabort Senior Member • Posts: 1,734
Re: A7S Hands on experiences and samples

Thanks for the report.  Very much appreciated.

No problem, I was finding a complete lack of information on the net about it, so thought it would be worth sharing.

Samples are uploading now.

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EinsteinsGhost
EinsteinsGhost Forum Pro • Posts: 11,977
Re: A7S Hands on experiences and samples

abortabort wrote:

Thanks for the report. Very much appreciated.

No problem, I was finding a complete lack of information on the net about it, so thought it would be worth sharing.

Samples are uploading now.

Was about to ask for those... thanks for sharing!

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OP abortabort Senior Member • Posts: 1,734
Re: A7S Hands on experiences and samples

abortabort wrote:

Thanks for the report. Very much appreciated.

No problem, I was finding a complete lack of information on the net about it, so thought it would be worth sharing.

Samples are uploading now.

Was about to ask for those... thanks for sharing!

No problem, they make take a little while I'm not on a super speedy connection. Will post a link as soon as they are up.

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NektonFi Regular Member • Posts: 143
Re: A7S Hands on experiences and samples

This post has raised my hopes for A7s, on the other hand the samples on dcfever were a bit disappointing.

I have already preordered A7s to go along with my A7 which I like. Hope it won't be a disappointment.

spacemn Senior Member • Posts: 1,743
Re: A7S Hands on experiences and samples

Amazing 1st impression post. Thanks.

I am extremely tempted now. If it did tracking AF as we'll as the A7 and maybe if it had a higher burst rate it would be a no brainer for me.

dquangt Senior Member • Posts: 2,504
Re: A7S Hands on experiences and samples

Squeeze in the af/tracking of the a6000 with the pdaf in the next iteration and I'm in. For now I'll wait since I'm already invested in e lenses and not fe lenses.

OP abortabort Senior Member • Posts: 1,734
Re: A7S Hands on experiences and samples
8

Apologies for the delay, I have loads of other things on today - I would have posted earlier but they were still uploading at the time. I haven't managed to upload the matching JPEGs yet, not even sure anyone would be interested in more JPEGs?

Ok so the good:

RAW files can be opened with Iridient Developer and seem to work very well. Sony's developer looks terrible!

The bad:

Some of the files seem to have a weird exposure issue in ID. I have been speaking with Brian Griffith the developer of ID and he isn't sure yet what the exact cause is. Basically the shots 'develop' underexposed by around 2-3 stops, the embedded JPEGs (and separate JPEGs) look fine, but once ID (and RPP for that matter) develop their own previews it is much darker. It isn't a huge issue, especially at this early stage where none are shipping and Brian is working on it so should have it sorted soon.

The issue 'seems' to be caused by the electronic shutter mode. It's a bit hard to identify for certain as I know I was testing both with and without fully electronic shutter (silent shutter) but things were a bit rushed and there is nothing I can see in the EXIF to say which is which, so I am going from memory. I believe that the images that develop 'darker' are in fact the shots using electronic shutter.

Now upping the exposure in ID to match where it should have been (how it was taken) appears to not have a negative impact on the image quality, but is why I didn't want to post them until I had had a bit more of a play with them.

You will notice the thumbnail is brighter and then gets darker after developing it's own preview.

The other minor issue is that ID struggles to correctly read the ISO settings above about ISO 64,000, so I have added the ISO to the filename and 'ES' to those taken with electronic shutter (from memory).

Apologies for any shaky shots... There may have been whiskey involved

I think that is all there is to say. I have some more samples if need be (and JPEGs as mentioned).

Please feel free to have a play around and let me know your thoughts.

https://app.box.com/s/enh2b0m89rvjas9zg5il

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Astrophotographer 10 Forum Pro • Posts: 13,764
Re: A7S Hands on experiences and samples

Thanks for the review and the samples. I am interested in this camera for doing nightscapes.

Is the drop in DR very noticeable when going up in ISO? Compared to A7?

Greg.

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OP abortabort Senior Member • Posts: 1,734
Re: A7S Hands on experiences and samples

Astrophotographer 10 wrote:

Thanks for the review and the samples. I am interested in this camera for doing nightscapes.

Is the drop in DR very noticeable when going up in ISO? Compared to A7?

Greg.

I think it drops much less than the A7. You are welcome to play around with the RAWs. Trying at the moment to figure out how to cheat LR into reading them.

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fzrTom Senior Member • Posts: 2,302
Re: A7S Hands on experiences and samples
1

8. High ISO output: What can I say? Dumbfounded. I expected high ISO to be good, just not this good. All the JPEGs you have seen give no real idea how usable the ISO is on this thing! I will let you play with the RAW and JPEGs yourselves to determine what your own 'usable limits' are as everyone is different, but to me ISO 51,200 is about where 6400-12,800 is on my A7. It is cleaner than my old A77 was at 1600, in fact I would say that 102,400 is my usable in a pinch ISO and everything from 51,200 down is perfectly acceptable. But what is really scary is how clean 'normal' high ISOs are around 1600-6400. 3200 looks like 400 on my A7, really!

Whouauooouu !

I often use 1600 ISO and need 3200 or 6400 to get what I want. This sound like a dream for me.

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OP abortabort Senior Member • Posts: 1,734
Re: A7S Hands on experiences and samples

fzrTom wrote:

8. High ISO output: What can I say? Dumbfounded. I expected high ISO to be good, just not this good. All the JPEGs you have seen give no real idea how usable the ISO is on this thing! I will let you play with the RAW and JPEGs yourselves to determine what your own 'usable limits' are as everyone is different, but to me ISO 51,200 is about where 6400-12,800 is on my A7. It is cleaner than my old A77 was at 1600, in fact I would say that 102,400 is my usable in a pinch ISO and everything from 51,200 down is perfectly acceptable. But what is really scary is how clean 'normal' high ISOs are around 1600-6400. 3200 looks like 400 on my A7, really!

Whouauooouu !

I often use 1600 ISO and need 3200 or 6400 to get what I want. This sound like a dream for me.

ISO 3200 looks insanely clean to me, 6400 has the slightest hint of noise creeping in.

I am currently uploading some additional screen captures at 1:1 for those that don't want to open the RAWs or can't open them. These are just using the screen capture tool on OS X and show the camera settings, they are the .png files. Unfortunately there is a bit of camera shake (did I mention the whiskeys?) in the low shutter speed ranges. I only noticed in these shots after I started doing them, I might go back and do a different sample set that doesn't have this problem. So keep in mind these are 100% 1:1 screen grabs NOT the full sized image.

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OP abortabort Senior Member • Posts: 1,734
Re: A7S Hands on experiences and samples

fzrTom wrote:

8. High ISO output: What can I say? Dumbfounded. I expected high ISO to be good, just not this good. All the JPEGs you have seen give no real idea how usable the ISO is on this thing! I will let you play with the RAW and JPEGs yourselves to determine what your own 'usable limits' are as everyone is different, but to me ISO 51,200 is about where 6400-12,800 is on my A7. It is cleaner than my old A77 was at 1600, in fact I would say that 102,400 is my usable in a pinch ISO and everything from 51,200 down is perfectly acceptable. But what is really scary is how clean 'normal' high ISOs are around 1600-6400. 3200 looks like 400 on my A7, really!

Whouauooouu !

I often use 1600 ISO and need 3200 or 6400 to get what I want. This sound like a dream for me.

Oh I should add I am looking at these on a Retina display... which can be slightly friendlier on noise (due to the pixel size) than some other displays.

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coudet Veteran Member • Posts: 4,141
Re: A7S Hands on experiences and samples

abortabort wrote:

Apologies for the delay, I have loads of other things on today - I would have posted earlier but they were still uploading at the time. I haven't managed to upload the matching JPEGs yet, not even sure anyone would be interested in more JPEGs?

Nah, don't worry about the JPEGs, not needed, and you already gave us the good stuff.

Thanks for the raw files, as far as I'm aware you are the first person to post files from this camera. I only took a quick peek at few of the files, seems their efforts to eliminate the advantage all other manufacturers had in low light are paying off. They've definitely taken a step forward. Two things that stand out - not noticing any serious thermal noise like their previous sensors had; and there is obvious banding in some of the files, though, but nothing that can't be fixed.

P.S. EXIF data not showing correctly for the high ISO is normal.

MrGubrz
MrGubrz Senior Member • Posts: 1,382
Re: A7S Hands on experiences and samples

abortabort wrote:

Apologies for the delay, I have loads of other things on today - I would have posted earlier but they were still uploading at the time. I haven't managed to upload the matching JPEGs yet, not even sure anyone would be interested in more JPEGs?

Ok so the good:

RAW files can be opened with Iridient Developer and seem to work very well. Sony's developer looks terrible!

The bad:

Some of the files seem to have a weird exposure issue in ID. I have been speaking with Brian Griffith the developer of ID and he isn't sure yet what the exact cause is. Basically the shots 'develop' underexposed by around 2-3 stops, the embedded JPEGs (and separate JPEGs) look fine, but once ID (and RPP for that matter) develop their own previews it is much darker. It isn't a huge issue, especially at this early stage where none are shipping and Brian is working on it so should have it sorted soon.

The issue 'seems' to be caused by the electronic shutter mode. It's a bit hard to identify for certain as I know I was testing both with and without fully electronic shutter (silent shutter) but things were a bit rushed and there is nothing I can see in the EXIF to say which is which, so I am going from memory. I believe that the images that develop 'darker' are in fact the shots using electronic shutter.

Now upping the exposure in ID to match where it should have been (how it was taken) appears to not have a negative impact on the image quality, but is why I didn't want to post them until I had had a bit more of a play with them.

You will notice the thumbnail is brighter and then gets darker after developing it's own preview.

The other minor issue is that ID struggles to correctly read the ISO settings above about ISO 64,000, so I have added the ISO to the filename and 'ES' to those taken with electronic shutter (from memory).

Apologies for any shaky shots... There may have been whiskey involved

I think that is all there is to say. I have some more samples if need be (and JPEGs as mentioned).

Please feel free to have a play around and let me know your thoughts.

https://app.box.com/s/enh2b0m89rvjas9zg5il

appreciated!

i wish theyd make an rx1 type camera, curved 12mp ff sensor! if i get this a7s, id be getting a mf rf lens in the 35-50 range(i have always wanted a focus tab... *whimisical look*) but if snatch up a rx1 version as well!

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OP abortabort Senior Member • Posts: 1,734
Re: A7S Hands on experiences and samples

coudet wrote:

Two things that stand out - not noticing any serious thermal noise like their previous sensors had; and there is obvious banding in some of the files, though, but nothing that can't be fixed.

I wonder if the banding is in the electronic shutter files? I 'may' have labelled them incorrectly. I know that electronic shutter often has serious downsides in terms of IQ, additionally these were shot under artificial lighting which may produce some banding without the use of a mechanical (or global) shutter.

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OP abortabort Senior Member • Posts: 1,734
Re: A7S Hands on experiences and samples

MrGubrz wrote:

appreciated!

i wish theyd make an rx1 type camera, curved 12mp ff sensor! if i get this a7s, id be getting a mf rf lens in the 35-50 range(i have always wanted a focus tab... *whimisical look*) but if snatch up a rx1 version as well!

RX1 II could be very interesting indeed, hanging out to find out about it for sure! I will be using a Voigtlander 40mm f1,4 which is very nice on the A7, but think the low pixel count on the A7S will show up far fewer of it's 'flaws'. In fact most lenses should look pretty darn good on this not-so-pixel-dense sensor

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