Field Test: Sony A7S for Still Photographers – Part 3

High Dynamic Range

Sony A7S‘s high dynamic range doesn’t mean images shot on it appear flat – it just means you have lots shadow and highlight detail that can be recovered if you need it.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Straight capture (left) and with Lightroom 5.5 shadow and clarity adjustments (right). (Click to Enlarge)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sony A7S | SAL 70-400mm F4-5.6 G II at 210mm using LA-EA4 adapter | 1/1000 | F5.0 | ISO 100

HDR photographers are going to love the A7S dynamic range! This is a 32-bit HDR image created from a four shot bracket then edited in Photoshop HDR Pro.
Sony A7S 32bit HDR
32-bit HDR edited in Photoshop HDR Pro
Sony A7S HDR
Sony A7S | FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS at 25mm | 4 sec, 1 sec, 1/4 sec, 1/15 sec | F8 | ISO 100

Here’s another 32-bit HDR image created from 3-shot +/-2-stop bracket edited in Photoshop HDR Pro.
Sony A7S Natal Brazil
32-bit HDR edited in Photoshop HDR Pro
3-shot capture merged in HDR Pro
Sony A7S | FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS at 28mm | 1/200, 1/800, 1/1600 | F5.6 | ISO 100 (Click to Enlarge)

Imagine being able to capture HDR in a single RAW capture. With the A7S it’s not that far-fetched.
Here’s the -2 stop exposure with the shadows opened and clarity added in Lightroom 5.5:
A7S Lightroom Adjust single exposure
Sony A7S | FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS at 28mm | 1/1600 | F5.6 | ISO 100 (adjusted in Lightroom 5.5)
Natal, Brazil
Here’s the 3-shot HDR and adjusted single capture side-by-side. (Click to Enlarge)

In low light, Sony A7S’s dynamic range even exceeds the impressive dynamic range of Sony A7 and A7R.

LR-shadows-highlightsImages of the same scene in Rio de Janeiro shot on Sony A7R and A7S were processed in Adobe Lightroom 5.5 (Amazon | B&H) and adjusted for maximum dynamic range. Highlights were pulled down to -100 and Shadows were opened up +100

I know these look flat at this point – just bear with me…

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sony A7R | ISO 100 | Processed in Lightroom 5.5: Shadows +100 / Highlights -100 | (Click to Enlarge)

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sony A7S | ISO 100 | Processed in Lightroom 5.5: Shadows +100 / Highlights -100 | (Click to Enlarge)

With mid-tones equal, the A7S image appears to hold an extra 1/2 stop of detail in both highlights and shadows – resulting in more shadow detail in the leaves of the trees without clipping highlights on the beach where the sand and water meet.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sony A7R and Sony A7S | ISO 100 | Lightroom 5.5: Shadows +100 / Highlights -100 | (Click to Enlarge)

Since the images adjusted for maximum dynamic range appear flatter than I like, I’d add contrast, midtone clarity and a bit of vibrance (saturation) to put the snap back.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Final Sony A7S image after Lightroom Adjustments

This means you can confidently shoot away knowing the final images will match you vision.
Ana's hands in Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Ana’s hands in Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sony A7SSony FE 35mm F2.8 ZA | 1/200 | F/5.6 | ISO 400

EQUIPMENT LIST:

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

CONTINUE TO PART 4: FAST FOCUS IN LOW LIGHT

 

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16 thoughts on “Field Test: Sony A7S for Still Photographers – Part 3”

  1. Pingback: Field Test: Sony A7S for Still Photographers - Part 2

  2. Pingback: Field Test: Sony A7S for Still Photographers - Part 4

  3. Hi Brian,

    Thank you for the review. I will be buying this little camera for sure.

    About the dynamic range, some peope seem to think that Sony never mentions the 15,3 stops anywhere. That is simply not true, it is in a lot of their promotional material on for instance Amazon. It is also in their press release from 30. May about the new firmware that expanded the DR to 15,3 stops.

    A lot of us were very surprised by the DxOMark DR test, mostly because it showed the A7s as having a stop less DR than the other A7 cameras. The exact number of stops of DR is one thing, it will vary by test method, but testing camera vs camera should be consistent. I find it hard to believe that Sony would market the A7s as having “unprecedented dynamic range” without measuring it against their other cameras. The DxOMark test kind of torpedoed a big part of Sonys marketing claims, and there must be some explanation. Perhaps they were using the old firmware from before 30. May or something.

    Could you please help shed some light on how Sony testet the DR of the A7s? I understand you have seen the tests that arrived at 15,3 stops. I have to admit a huge part of my interest in this camera initialy was for the improved DR. With the DxOMark test, I and others are confused about wether the DR of the A7s is better or worse than the other A7 cameras.

    Some sort of reply from Sony addressing these issues, perhaps sharing their DR tests, would be very helpful.

    1. Hello Espen, yes, I’m referring to Sony’s specs not DxOs. I’m not certain what the differences are in their testing methods.

      But I have noticed that many people claim DxO is a sham whenever Sony ranks above Nikon and Canon, so I take it all with a grain of salt.

  4. Pingback: Sony a7s – going wide with a Leica 28mm f2.8 Elmarit-M III | (-_-')

  5. Hi, great review, thanks! Is it just me, or does each of the long shots of the city/beach have more sharpness and detail in the A7s shots than the A7r? I’m surprised by this, but it seems that way in the trees in the foreground, and the boats in the bay. Are these definitely labelled the right way round? I would have expected the A7r to trounce the A7s in out and out detail, but I’d love it if the pics are correctly attributed as I’d rather get the A7s for other reasons.

    1. Hello James, all the A7 series cameras do a great job. To my eyes the A7R captures the finest detail though I wouldn’t say it trounces the others – it simply fills in finer detail.

  6. Hi Brian, thanks for the reply – overall, I really like the A7s, but a lot of my shots are seascapes and landscapes where I really try to capture the fine texture in foreground sand, and grasses on the edges of cliffs, etc., and I was just concerned it would have enough resolution to resolve these. When I had a D700 I found myself wanting ever so slightly more sometimes. However, in all other respects, particularly dynamic range, AF, and overwhelmingly video, the A7s looks nicer, so I’m trying to decide whether I can step back to 12mp and live with it, or get an A7, and a separate A6000 for video (the combined cost is not that different).

  7. Thanks – I’d considered the A7r, but was put off by all the reports of ‘shutter shock’ – have you encountered this at all?

    1. I’ve shot with the A7R for over a year now and never seen a single example of ‘shutter shock’. While the shutter sounds like a DSLR, I don’t see any effect on image quality.

  8. Pingback: Field Test: Sony A7S for Still Photographers - Part 1

  9. Pingback: Field Test: Sony A7S for Still Photographers - Part 5

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