Sony a7S

12.2MP full-frame CMOS sensor | 3” articulating 921.6k-dot LCD | ISO 100-409,600

What we like:

  • Class-leading ISO performance
  • Strong video quality and features 
  • Completely silent shooting
  • Inclusion of Wi-Fi and NFC

What we don't:

  • Slow AF in low light 
  • Lower Raw dynamic range than a7/R
  • No programmable Auto ISO
  • No built-in flash

The Sony a7S is a full-frame interchangeable lens camera sporting a 12.2MP CMOS sensor. It is identical in body design to the Sony a7 and Sony a7R, but don’t let that fool you. Unlike the other two, the a7S is specially geared toward video and low-light shooters. 

The a7s has the lowest pixel count of the three, with the a7 and a7R offering resolutions of 24.3 and 36.4MP, respectively. By limiting pixel count, aggregate noise from reading pixels can be lower, while less inter-pixel spacing potentially means light can be more efficiently gathered into pixel wells. This translates to better low light / high ISO performance. For this reason, the a7S offers a higher maximum ISO than its peers, all the way up to a whopping ISO 409,600. The tradeoff is lower resolution and, somewhat surprisingly, slightly decreased Raw dynamic range compared to its siblings (albeit still well ahead of much of the competition). 

"The a7S reads out the entire sensor when capturing video, meaning that there is no line skipping or pixel binning occurring on the sensor."

There's another benefit of lowering the pixel count - it enables the a7S to read out the entire sensor when capturing video, meaning that there is no line skipping or pixel binning going on. Video can be captured at up to 60fps in 1080p, and 120fps in 720p. It can also be recorded in the XAVC S codec, which offers a bit rate of 50Mbps for finer detail and lower risk of compression artifacts. Other standout video specs include the ability to churn out uncompressed 4k footage to an external recorder over HDMI. Videographers will appreciate the flexibility of the FE-mount: the short flange distance guarantees that a host of 3rd-party lenses can be used via adapters.

If you are serious about video and particularly 4K, and are looking for the largest sensor in the smallest body possible, or just want a camera that can hold up in the darkness of the night, the a7S is a very solid option. 

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