Say Hello to Sony’s New and Improved Low-Light Monster!
Sony a7S II (Available Now!) is the sixth camera the rapidly growing Sony a7 Series line-up that was first announced with a7/a7R just two years ago. That’s about a decade of cameras for the other guys”¦
Improving upon the original a7S, which was designed for 4K video, but quickly earned a following from still photographers and photojournalists for its incredible high ISO capabilities, Sony a7S II maintains the same ISO range 100-102,400 (expanded to 50-409,600) but improves noise reduction by about a stop while improving dynamic range.
The combination of low noise at extremely high ISOs, great dynamic range to hold detail in both deep shadows and brightest highlights and 5-Axis Image Stabilization makes this an ideal camera for photojournalists working in difficult lighting conditions.
Sony a7S II includes a few totally new features many users asked for.
Sony a7S II adds Uncompressed RAW
Yup, you asked for it and Sony added an Uncompressed RAW as a menu option on a7SII
Menu > Camera Settings > RAW File Type > Uncompressed
If you find compressed RAWs too small and uncompressed RAWs too big, you can run uncompressed RAWs through Adobe DNG Converter 9.2:
Sony a7S II adds S-Log 3 Picture Profile
In addition to S-Log 2 from the previous generation, Sony a7S II adds S-Log 3 Picture Profile found on high-end Sony cinema cameras:
Menu > Camera Settings > Picture Profiles > PP8
169-point Contrast AF
Sony a7S II Contrast AF has been improved from 25 to 169 point Contrast AF by segmenting the central contrast AF points into smaller sectors for smoother and more accurate contrast AF than a7S when shooting video. For those shooting stills this is still noticeably slower than a7II and a7RII.
There are also a bunch of new settings from a7II and a7R II that are new for a7S users Including:
Auto ISO Minimum Shutter Speed
Select Fast or Faster auto setting for 1 or 2 stops faster than normal defaults or Slow or Slower auto setting for 1 or 2 stops slower than normal defaults. Or choose the exact shutter speed you wish to set as your default no matter the lens by selecting any full shutter speed between 1/8000th to 30 Seconds. This is particularly when shooting action if you wish to select a minimum shutter speed like 1/500 – no matter what lens you’ve selected.
5-Axis Image Stabilization
Last year, Sony a7 II became the first fullframe mirrorless camera with 5-Axis Image Stabilization, so it should not come as a surprise that Sony a7S II adds this to provide image stabilization for any lens you can mount on a7S II.
More Bracketing modes and Self-Timer with Bracket
Sony a7S II adds more bracketing modes than first generation cameras along with the option to select self-timer release of 2-, 5- or 10-seconds when shooting in bracketed exposures.
Embed your Copyright
As with a7R II, you can embed copyright information in the EXIF data.
Menu > Setup > Copyright info
More Custom Key and Function Menu Options
As with a7R II, you can program the Custom Buttons (C1-C4) for more options than previous models like a7S – including Movie Record and Silent Shutter.
Sony a7S II RAW Support
For these tests I shot RAW and processed in Lightroom CC 2015.2. Sony a7S II RAW files are also supported in Lightroom 6.2.1, Photoshop 2015.01 and Adobe DNG Converter 9.2.
I had a chance to put a production camera to the test for a couple days and here’s what I found.
The thing that I like best is how the combination of low noise at extremely high ISOs and great dynamic range allows you to hold detail in both deep shadows and brightest highlights at night allowing me to capture detail that I couldn’t see with eyes and see that in real time through the EVF and LCD.
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 a7R II 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