Field Test: Sony A7S for Still Photographers – Part 1

Sony A7S on Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

As World Cup Fever sweeps across the soccer world, I jumped at the chance to head down to Brazil, to put the new Sony A7S (Amazon | B&H) through the paces for a week. Sony wisely positioned the 12.2mp Sony A7S to meet the demands of photographers who want low noise at extremely high ISOs joining the 24.3mp Sony A7 (Amazon | B&H) and 36.4mp Sony A7R (Amazon | B&H) in Sony’s line-up of fullframe mirrorless cameras.

This seems like a great strategy – just like offering different films for different lighting.

In theory, the A7S would appear to be the perfect choice when shooting in low light, while the A7R would be the perfect choice for maximum detail and resolution (See A7R Field Test).

Would they play together like a great team, each complimenting the others’ strengths? I packed up the A7S along with my A7R and headed to Brazil to find out.

Game On

Natal, Brazil
Cornell Grads hit the beach in Natal, Brazil before the match against Ghana
Sony A7S | FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS at 24mm | 1/500 | F/5 | ISO 200

World Cup Ghana fan in Brazil
Turns out that Ghana Fans L-O-V-E Bruce Willis Movies. Who knew?
Sony A7S | SAL 70-400mm F4-5.6 G II at 90mm with LA-EA4 adapter | 1/200 | F/5 | ISO 6400
(CLICK TO SEE 100% CROP)

Natal, Brazil
Sony A7S | SAL 70-400mm F4-5.6 G II at 110mm using LA-EA4 adapter | 1/125 | F/5 | ISO 2500

USA World Cup Brazil
Team USA celebrates Clint Dempsey’s World Cup goal against Ghana.
Sony A7S | SAL 70-400mm F4-5.6 G II at 210mm using LA-EA4 adapter | 1/320 | F/5 | ISO 3200

Futbol Fever

Soccer in Natal, Brazil
Kickin’ it in the favela in Natal, Brazil
Sony A7S | FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS at 55mm | 1/640 | F/8 | ISO 800

Soccer on Natal Beach
Futbol on the beach in Natal, Brazil
Sony A7S | FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS at 200mm | 1/1000 | F/5 | ISO 200

Soccer mural in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Futbol Mural in Rio de Janeiro’s Horto neighborhood
Sony A7S | FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS at 55mm | 1/200 | F/5 | ISO 200

Futbol
King of Pop and Futbol collide in Favela Santa Marta, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sony A7S | FE 35mm F2.8 ZA | 1/250 | F/4 | ISO 800

Soccer on Ipanema Beach Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro
Sony A7S | FE 35mm F2.8 ZA | 1/800 | F/8 | ISO 400

A7S and A7R Play Well Together

Just as I had hoped, having both the A7S and A7R in my bag proved to be the perfect combination of speed and resolution. The A7S, like the A7, has electronic front curtain shutter so the response time is a beat faster than A7R which is a plus for shooting action. For portraits I love the A7R, so shortly after shooting football on Ipanema Beach with the A7S, I pulled one of the players aside for a quick portrait with with the A7R.

Soccer player on Ipanema Beach
Sony A7R | FE 55mm F1.8 ZA | 1/100 | F/11 | ISO 200

On a rainy morning, I headed out to shoot action of surfers using the Sony A7S and FE 70-400mm F4-5.6
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sony A7S | SAL 70-400mm F4-5.6 G II at 400mm using LA-EA4 adapter | 1/500 | F/6.3 | ISO 800

…and grabbed this shot surfers with the A7R and 35mm hanging around my neck.
Brazil_A7R_0955
Sony A7R | FE 35mm F2.8 ZA | 1/100 | F/9 | ISO 200

When Resolution Counts

It’s fairly likely that 90 percent of the time you’ll be just fine with the resolution of a 12.2mp camera – but for those times you need more detail – no 35mm digital camera beats the resolution of the Sony A7R. This makes it the perfect camera to pair with the A7S when you want more detail in massive 4×6 foot prints

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sony A7R | FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS at 24mm | 1/30 | F/4 | ISO 200

Sugarloaf Mountain Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sony A7R | FE 35mm F2.8 ZA | 1/125 | F/8 | ISO 100

Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sony A7R | FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS at 200mm | 1/800 | F/7.1 | ISO 100


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 2 – HIGH ISO. LOW NOISE

 

Sony-a7-Snapshots-bookFor 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

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29 thoughts on “Field Test: Sony A7S for Still Photographers – Part 1”

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  16. Hi Brian. Would you share landscapes picts shoot with a7s? this will strength my dilemmas for choosing a7ii instead the favourite a7s i had blankly think is good. Reason why i want a7s is, for a limited budget, at least i had a “king” on my hand 🙂 but since i also like taking beach and city views, i need more landsapce photos taken with a7s to convinces me. Im just a regular hobbyists btw. Thanksss

      1. Always wanted to get good sunrise and sunset picts. Especially in Bali where my wife came from. I like your a7r vs a7s comparisson of Rio city. Would you share any picts like that (even just a test one) so i can test printing it out? If its good enough for my family room, than i will go for a7s 🙂 Thanks

  17. Hi Brian, I have been shooting with my new A7s ii with an Fotodex Adaptor and a Nikkor F/1,4 I have been noticing a good amount of noise in my photographs. Do you have any starting point for me. Great blog by the way I will try some of your settings in similar locations in the mean time.

    1. Everyone’s taste is different – but I find noise to be extremely low up to 25,600 or even to 51,200. Always shoot RAW. I prefer processing in Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw.

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