When the Sony A7S was announced at NAB, it garnered lots of attention because it’s ability to shoot native 4K video without line-skipping, pixel binning or interpolation. But it was the A7S’s ability to shoot up to ISO 409,600 that had many still photographers wondering if the A7S might just be the perfect low-light still camera.
That’s exactly what Sony engineers had in mind. The “S” stands for “sensitivity”. The 12.2mp Sony A7S (Amazon | B&H) is wisely positioned to meet the demands of photographers who want low noise at extremely high ISOs joining theÂ 24.3mp Sony A7 (Amazon | B&H) and 36.4mp Sony A7R (Amazon | B&H) in Sony’s line-up of fullframe mirrorless cameras.
High Sensitivity. Low Noise.
The A7S ISO tops out at just over a whopping FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND. That’s right ISO 400K. I’m always a skeptical when comes to top ISO ratings, rarely venturing to the top levels. So I immediately took the cameras out for a test and was amazed at that ISO 102,400 looks extremely clean. This will be a huge bonus for photojournalists, documentary and sports photographers and anyone else who shoot in low light. And paparazzi along with private eyes, spies and the guys from CSI are gonna LOVE ISO 409,600!
Here are a few shots processed in Lightroom, my post-processing software of the choice. Sony A7S RAW files are supported with the latest Lightroom 5.5 and Adobe Camera Raw 8.5 updates for Photoshop CS6 and Photoshop CC.
ISO TESTS: ISO 100-409,600
These tests shot were RAW and processed in Sony Image Data Converter 4.2.03 using the default settings to give you a baseline standard. But it’s extremely easy to fine-tune noise reduction to your taste for any given ISO. All tests were shot with both High ISO Noise Reduction and Long Exposure NR turned off in-camera. I ALWAYS suggest you TURN OFF one-size-fits-all in-camera noise reduction and instead adjust noise reduction in-post to your taste.
RAW -vs- JPEG Comparison
Despite my preference for shooting RAW, I ran a comparison between in-camera jpeg and RAW processed in Sony Image Data Converter 4.2.03 using the default settings and to my eyes they’re virtually identical. Once again, the key to good in-camera jpegs is to TURN OFF HIGH ISO NOISE REDUCTION.
Sony A7S Camera (Amazon | B&H)
Sony A7R Camera (Amazon | B&H)
Sony FE 35mm F2.8 ZA Lens (Amazon | B&H)
Sony FE 55mm F1.8 ZA Lens (Amazon | B&H)
Sony FE 24-70mm F4 ZA Lens (Amazon | B&H)
Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS Lens (Amazon | B&H)
Sony LA-EA4 Lens Mount Adapter (Amazon | B&H)
Sony SAL 70-400mm F4-5.6 G II Lens (Amazon | B&H)
Sony Sling Bag Carrying Case (Amazon | B&H)
Sony Alpha DSLR Camera/15″ Laptop Backpack (Amazon | B&H)
Sony 32GB SDHC Class 10 UHS-1 Memory Cards (Amazon | B&H)
Processed in Adobe Lightroom 5 (Amazon | B&H)
SONY A7S FIELD TEST: PART 1 – WORLD CUP FUTBOL FEVER
SONY A7S FIELD TEST: PART 2 – HIGH ISO. LOW NOISE.
SONY A7S FIELD TEST: PART 3 – HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE
SONY A7S FIELD TEST: PART 4 – FAST FOCUS IN LOW LIGHT
SONY A7S FIELD TEST: PART 5 – SILENT SHOOTING MODE
For more tips and tricks about getting the most out of your Sony a7 series camera, check out my book ‘Sony a7-Series: From Snapshots to Great Shots’. It’s your guide to all of the Sony a7 Series I & II cameras. While the camera manual explains what the camera can do, it doesn’t show how to use the camera to create great images! Starting with the Top Ten things users need to know about the cameras, author Brian Smith, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer and Sony Artisan of Imagery, carefully guides you through the operating features of Sony a7, a7R, a7S, a7II and a7RII and how to use them. Get practical advice from a pro on which settings to use when, great shooting tips, and assignments at end of chapter to practice what you’ve just learned.
‘Sony A7 Series: From Snapshots to Great Shots’ is available NOW from Amazon