Two full size high ISO JPEG images from the Sony A7s. ISO 3200 and 64,000.

Two full size high ISO JPEG images from the Sony A7s. ISO 3200 and 64,000.

Hey guys! Been busy all day shooting this Sony A7s and wow, I am impressed with the low ISO (up to 10,000 or so) more so than the high ISO (above 10,000). Shooting at base ISO is beautiful and I will have loads of images in my full review but I have had a few messages asking me for full size images, from raw, in color at higher ISO. Below are two shots, and both are from RAW, in color and shot with the Leica 50 APO on the A7s using the Voigtlander Adapter. 

You can see the ISO 3200 shot is quite nice. The ISO 64,000 is noisy, yes..but better than ANY other camera today at ISO 64000. This was in a dark area in the zoo today and again, they are JPEGs out of camera. The ISO 3200 shot was at 1/60th of a second. NR in camera was set to low.

The 50 APO is gorgeous on the A7s





and a couple with the 50 APO at ISO 100. Click it for larger. 




  1. Steve!! These are the most simple and almost silly shots ever on this site. Yet I look at them over and over again, I’m in love with this cameras rendering. You are always spot on with your photography. This camera just edges it that much further. I love the high ISO rendering, makes me think that night photos of all sort are more than within reach. Cheers steve to the Best reviews on the whole damn internet.

  2. We must all admit that technology has come on in leaps and bounds especially in the area of ever increasing ISO capabilities.
    We can all now have an excuse for spending our time in dingy night clubs so new areas of photography can possibly open up?
    However we must remember not to confuse quantity of light with quality of light which I suppose is why flash is still used -not to mention the fact that film set lighting is still an art form.
    I will leave you with a quote from a famous Artist / Photographer who said ” Nature is mostly green and poorly lit”
    Can that now be challenged ?

  3. While Sony’s sensors are impressive, and the low light capability of the A7s sensor is tremendous, my money is on Fuji/Panasonic’s forthcoming organic sensor. From everything I’ve read, most of the technical challenges have been overcome … it’s now down to cost and manufacturing issues.

    What’s so great about the organic tech? Imagine a sensor that is m4/3 or APS-C sized with the same (or greater) high ISO and dynamic range as the A7s … AND with 24-40 megapixels!

    That’s what they’re claiming. If they implement it successfully, it will be a quantum leap forward. (For anyone curious, an in-depth tech discussion about it can be found here >>

    I’ve no doubt Sony will come up with something to counter this (if they don’t, they’ll bleed market share fast); at the end of the day such an advancement will be good for everyone.

    Meanwhile, at the price point they’re asking, Fuji is building out a system as fast as they can. Soon their lens lineup will be the most complete in mirrorless, and their current lenses already outperform much of what the big guns are offering right now in terms of IQ … and increasingly in terms of technology and fit & finish as well. I believe Fuji have the single most complete lineup of APS-C lenses available now, while Canon and Nikon have all but abandoned dedicated crop sensor lenses.

  4. Ah, my GAS seems to have ended; i can see clearly that this new sony mtfcknxxx wouldn’t satisfy me any more than those models from several years ago i currently own, most often combined with cheap sigma or old manual rokkor. Still, of course, very nice camera and impressive results here, just nothing that would do any difference for anyone who is going to be here waiting for another next superfabulous sony next year. I bet that many who consider buying this already has something like A7 or RX1, cameras that now only have their market value left when the bestcameratherewilleverbe is out.

    This is not a rant, i honestly just feel grateful not having to hang and drool every new model that comes out anymore. A lot less stress. I hope the same for everyone… Buy new camera when you need one.

    • @Youngster:

      I do not get your ‘rant’.

      Looking at an extra camera like the A7S because it caters for use cases one’s current portfolio does not cover is a sensible thing to do – take it to fill a capability gap.

      The replacement approach you mention may be followed by some (thanks to them, I got some interesting gear very cheaply, f. i. my RX1), but most would see the three cameras you mention in your ‘rant’ as complementary, and not exclusive…

      My RX1 has filled the slot I used to cover (in the heday of film) with an analogue Leica M4P with Summilux 35, but this does not mean that I have been selling off the latter – no, the RX1 complements and does not fully replace the analogue set-up.

      Again, an A7S would fill my bill for available light photography, as it has eminently usable high ISO capability, much more so than my A7 or any other digital camera in my portfolio… still, I have not got a strong business need for the high ISO capability – so, for the time being, I shall not fall for it…

      .And this the situation for many potential buyers.

      • I get what you’re saying, although it doesn’t show in my first post. And yes, the cameras i mentioned do not replace each other in all situations. Especially the rx1, which i can’t imagine being nessessary for anyone who also owns some of the a7 -versions, except for the beautiful lens character of course, do you?
        The point of view for me was the money. Sure, you get something new AND very useful and great if you buy something new like this, but for who are the new features self-justified reason to purchase the fifht or fourth or even third FF digital concidering the price? If i had alot of money, then, i would also think of updating my gear! To me people seem to act like there’s no financial limit when sony or leica or zeiss or what ever releases something new, and that sure can’t be true?
        It feels like the perspective is lost, FOR SOME, not all who plans to buy this. And i feel that the focus is in the wrong place, again, in some cases, not all.

        If it was possible i might buy my first digital FF and the one i would choose could very well be this one, because i like the low mpix approach. But because it’s not, i stick with my nex and am happy with it. My reaction here came from the mental image of people here waiting for this one like the features of this one could add a whole new world to their photography or even more, the value of their photos, even if they already own many FF digitals.

  5. Hi, Steve. Could you also test the rolling shutter when using the silent shutter? This would be a great feature but I’m just worrying how practical it is regarding rolling shutter (and potentially reduced image quality in the case of GH4 with silent shutter, that has 10-bit only).

    • You can not use the Electronic Shutter in many situations. I tested it in low light, high ISO and with a band on stage – horrible results. I would only use the electronic shutter in some situations but fast action or super low light/high iso is not one of them.

          • Why? Simple answer: Sony’s focal plane shutter is noisy (as are most focal plane shutters). That’s why all motion picture and television unit stills photographers are required to enclose their cameras inside a sound blimp — either a Jacobson ( or an AquaTech — in order to silence them.

            But shooting with sound blimps is about as ergonomic and pleasurable as skiing downhill with a monkey strapped to your chest.

            The electronic shutter would have solved this issue, but since it’s largely ineffective at high ISOs (where unit photographers often live), then it’s a moot point.

            Fuji X-T1 remains the best choice: not silent, but the quietest focal plane shutter I’ve heard so far. And usable image quality at ISO 6400.

          • The X-T1 and A7s shutter are pretty close in volume/sound. Not far off at all. If the X-T1 can be used, so could the A7. But lets face it..that part of the photo industry is TINY..TINY TEENY TINY in comparison to the numbers of those who buy these cameras for pleasure, passion or work. I wouldn’t use an X-T1 for that kind of work though, there are better choices to be had with even quieter shutters and better performance.

          • It is a tiny niche … but it’s a significant niche that’s long been in need of a better solution than the one everyone’s been using.

            Interesting to hear that the Sony focal plane shutter is as quiet as the X-T1, though. I’ll have to investigate that.

            All that aside, I’m not aware of a better choice than the X-T1 at the moment. The full frame low light monsters are in need of being blimped, whereas cameras like the GH4 (with its electronic shutter) have similar limitations on max shutter speed and ISO when in electronic shutter mode. Plus all the m4/3 cameras just doesn’t produce good enough image quality for motion picture or television clients in low light at ISO 3200 or 6400 … whereas the Fuji sensor is acceptable.

            Believe me, I’m studying all of this like a hawk, as I’m entering this field.

  6. I’m seeing a lot of jpg compression that’s taking away from what type of grain it actually has. I’m looking forward to the RAW conversions as I’m sure they should be much better. I realise that there probably isn’t a converter for the files yet so all we get are jpg’s for the moment.

    • Wait, I’m confused. The title says Jpg’s, but the post says they are from RAWS and then says they are JPG’s again. Hmmmm, too much compression either way.

  7. I was fairly decided on a Sony R1R, but the sony A7S seems to have some technical advantages like the viewfinder and firmware. I was wondering about how the performance would compare with similar lenses.

  8. Nice image samples of the A7S showing off the impressive ISO capabilities.

    I’m wondering, with this 12mp FF sensor and it’s great light gathering ability, I feel less disappointed in the fact that a lot of the native FE lenses were what I considered “conservative” in terms of max aperture, for example the Zeiss 35mm f/2.8, Zeiss 24-70mm f/4 & Sony G 70-200mm f/4 lenses.

    I believe they kept the max aperture to f/4 for the zooms to keep the relative size to camera ratio small and close together, otherwise, you could fit a constant f/2.8 zoom in those 2 comparable zoom lenses, but it would be quite big, unbalanced and heavy for such a small compact system. I guess it makes sense to keep constant aperture for native A7/FE lenses for the larger focal ranges to f/4 so they would be within reasonable size for such a system.

    That being said, with the new A7S about to be released and it’s impressive light gathering ability, would I be right in believing that the added light gathering ability of the A7S to be enough to negate the fact that f/4 lenses, for example, would not behave as slow as if they were on another less light sensitive sensor such as on the A7 & A7R?

    Did I state this question clearly? Let me restate or amend the question below…

    Might you have a better performance with an f/4 lens (and probably any other lens for that matter) on an A7S body vs an A7 & A7R? I’m not talking about resolution/detail as I would expect the higher megapixel A7/A7R to have more detail, of course, but cleaner image and better dynamic range? Perhaps, since the A7S is also more sensitive to light, it may also be a lot more reliable & faster locking focus, especially in lower lit situations where F/4 may be considered too slow to use? It can simply see bright and clearly and has less hunting and can pinpoint the AF better?

    So, ultimately what I think I’m trying to ask is: On an A7S body, F/4 actually acts as a relatively fast (or faster) lens compared to being used on a A7 or A7R body?

  9. Stanley Kubrik filmed just with candle light and 0.7 Zeiss Planar (Barry Lyndon)

    Stanley wouldve love the A7S

  10. Those files look plain gorgeous Steve!
    I’m wondering how does the A7s handle wideangle rangefinder primes, such as Zeiss Biogon 21mm f2.8 zm or 12/15/21mm Voigtlanders.
    A7 seems much less troublesome than A7r in this regard (both color shifting and smearing in the corners), so A7s has high chances to excell in this field. It would be great if you found some time to test that.

    • I agree….the performance with Zeiss/Voigtlander wide angle M mount primes is what I am interested in too (rather than the ISO performance)…although I don’t know why the A7S would be significantly better than the A7 in this regard.

  11. Gotta say…after looking at some side by sides of the A7r vs A7s (on another fine site) I was struck by how much more apparent punch the 7r shots had. The color on the 7s (by comparison) looked a bit washy… Don’t know which was the more accurate/true though…

  12. Hi Steve,
    have you shot with Leica wide angles? Is the smearing problem also present with this camera?

  13. Hi Steve, How is the A7s pairing with a wide angle range finder lens? I’m eager to find out. Thanks

  14. Hi Steve,

    I would appreciate if you could do some handhold shots at the ISO range of 6400 – 12800, using a 50mm and a 85mm at f 3.2 or f 4 in low light conditions like a bar or a badly lit dark and dirty work shop. I shot reportage and the A7s could fit the bill perfectly.

    Thank you for your continuous stubborn test work.
    Erik Neu

  15. I am bias, I don’t like Sony and I hate EVF but this little camera is just……darn good. Why do you need a fast lens anyway?

  16. 3200 looks great… but i still really don’t like the “texture” of the Sony sensors, will never have one i believe.
    As for printing sizes, i usually print at 20×30 with my M8 (12M sensor), so no probem here.

    • Not to nitpick…but your M8 is only 10.2MP. I agree though, prints from my M8 blow up beautifully…but then again the files are crisp to begin with and using world class lenses.

  17. You call that 64,000 picture noisy ? No. Not at all. With my camera, I wouldn’t even dare to go more than 6,400 and your 64,000 level is much much better than my 6,400 !!!.

  18. Hi Steve,
    Do you think that only 12mp from A7s is capable good enough for large print compare to M240 or A7?

  19. The high ISO is impressive but I would rather have the greater dynamic range and resolution of the A7R. For my purposes anything above iso3200 is a bonus. Honestly…I don’t really get the infatuation with super-high ISO ratings.

  20. Wow. Stunning combo. Dare I say it, but the grain on that ISO 64,000 shot (!!!) looks very filmic.

    This A7s reminds me of a happier time with one of the best cameras ever made: the D700…when 12 megapixels was more than enough for just about anyone!


    • Yes, remember how many pros and enthusiasts did amazing work with that D700 and only 12MP? Thousands of magazine spreads, billboards, fashion shows and commercial. All with 12MP 🙂 I never warmed to the D800 but adored the D700.

      • The 12 megapixels in the D700 and the D3s (the latter of which simply had better low light sensitivity) were almost magical in the way they rendered, especially when paired with lenses like the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 AF-D IF. To this day I haven’t experienced anything that can beat that combo for the sort of look it provided.

          • Uhhhh….would that be because the D3S was 4 years newer than the 5D…I would expect it to be better??? I’m with Doug on this one…when the 5D was released had pretty amazing image quality..still does in fact.

          • Sure, but the conversation was about the D700 and D3 series, so introducing the 5D Mk 1 immediately put it into comparison with the other cameras within this context.

  21. Steve, the 100 ISO shot with the APO and A7S, while very nice, does not have that insane sharpness and pop that is evident shot on the Leica M240.
    There is a reason for that, lensrentals put the APO 50 on their optical test bench, and it was the best performing lens they had ever tested. Even better than the Zeiss Otus. To harness that performance you need a sensor that can resolve that detail. The M240 has one, the A7R has one, the A7s does not.
    The ISO 3200 shot does not look any better than what I was getting from the Nikon DF. It is great, but not better. But to think that the DF does the ‘same’ as well as giving you 16mp vs 12mp, well..
    I see that you are selling an M240. If you are replacing it with the A7s, I give it a few months before you’ll be back. After a while you’ll be tired of taking photos in dark nightclubs and will want to come out into the light again…

    Best regards

    • (I have more than one M 240) and prob will not be buying an A7s. Too many cameras around here as it is. As for the 50 APO having pop on the A7s, it has more pop on the A7s than the A7 or A7r..and for some reason, better color. Took some side by sides today. Much prefer it on the A7s. Also, I have some shots of the A7s and 50 APO next to the M 240 and 50 APO..the A7s shots lack nothing and in fact, I prefer them slightly. Razor sharp, plenty of pop and color. As for the Df, the A7s beats the Df at high ISO without question. I have tons of files from the Df at all ISO’s and the A7s is superior, but not a huge difference really. A7s is smaller, and the 55 1.8 kills the Nikon 50 1.8 that comes with the Df. But all in all, I will state already that this is the best A7 made, best Sony camera made IMO and I prefer 12MP to 24 or 20 as I never crop, well, maybe 1 file out of 5000 so with the combo of color, sharpness, file sizes and low light, most M lens capability, this is the one to beat for 2014. It also AF’s faster than the Df did for me in low light. I like the Df and the A7s, but it comes down to personal preference. As for now, the A7s is the KING of low light without question.

      • Steve I was waiting this camera to use with my rangefinder lens, and I’d love to see your review showing shots with old glass, wide open and comparing borders (to see how good/bad semearing is) with M240 files (both from raw)
        thanks !

      • I just saw the scene preview tool on
        It has the A7s vs A7r vs Df vs Canon something..
        Same studio scene, same lighting, same ISOs.

        Yup, the A7s, to my eye, owns it once the ISO gets over 1600.


        Best regards

      • “I have some shots of the A7s and 50 APO next to the M 240 and 50 APO..the A7s shots lack nothing and in fact, I prefer them slightly.”

        Very interesting comment! Why? I look forward to the full review. 50mm APO and the
        A7s – some great articles coming out of in June.

        Thanks Steve!

      • Hi Steve, would be really cool if you post the comparison between A7S/A7R with same lens as you say the A7S file looks better 🙂 Sounds interesting !

        • I do nt have an A7 or A7s on hand, and do not really want to buy them for a simple comparison that will show the A7r to have more resolution but in use more slow and clunky. The A7 to be the middle ground and the A7s the best in speed, response and low light but with less resolution. 🙂

    • You only need 8 megapixels to print a double-truck in National Geographic. Unless you’re shooting landscapes to enlarge to wall-sized prints or cropping like crazy (bad technique), 12 megapixels on a FF sensor is plenty.

      Michael Reichmann over at Luminous Landscape reported that there’s something about the A7s sensor that renders not unlike a medium format camera, however. Proving once again that the number of megapixels aren’t the be all and end all when it comes to final IQ.

      btw: according to DxO the A7s sensor offers only 1/6 of a stop better performance than the Nikon Df.

      • Not withstanding the difference between CMOS and CCD sensors, here is a frivolous pixel pitch comparison:

        A7r: 35.9mm / 7360 = 0.0049mm = 4.9um
        A7: 35.8mm / 6000 = 0.006mm = 6um
        A7s: 35.8mm / 4240 = 0.0084mm = 8.4um
        Leica S: 45.0mm / 7500 = 0.006mm = 6um
        H5D-60: 53.7mm / 8956 = 0.006mm = 6um

        Although a fairly unidimensional comparison, it is one reason why the A7s may be described as having ‘the medium format look’ (Michael Reichmann). Megapixels are definitely not everything.

        Anyway, fun to pair a ‘not unlike a medium format camera’ and a not unlike a medium format lens!

        • The A7s does have a MF look. Some cameras pull this off. The Leica M with the 50 APO, the Leica M9 with the 50 Lux, and yes, the Sony A7s with a good lens can look like MF, and in my opinion, better than MF at times. I find MF to be nice but sometimes “sterile” but we all have different tastes. The A7s will not have MF resolution but does give that nice look with color, pop, depth and with the insane low light capabilities in photo AND video, it is a pretty special camera. Also considering it is much faster and more responsive than any MF camera, or the A7 and A7s. When shooting it feels like a polished camera.

          • Sounds like a great reportage camera – small with clean images.

            I have primarily ascribed the medium format look to perspective cues, DOF and dynamic range. In digital land I guess pixel pitch is a reasonable proxy for dynamic range and noise performance. Here are some more numbers:

            M8: 27mm / 3936 = 0.0069mm = 6.9um
            ME: 35.8mm / 5270 = 0.0068mm = 6.8um
            M: 36mm / 5952 = 0.006mm = 6um

            and just for fun:

            D3x: 35.9mm / 6048 = 0.0059mm = 5.9um
            Df: 36mm / 4928 = 0.0073mm = 7.3mm
            D800e: 35.9mm / 7360 = 0.0049mm = 4.9um

            1Dx: 36mm / 5184 = 0.0069mm = 6.9um
            5Diii: 36mm / 5760 = 0.00625mm = 6.25um
            6D: 35.8mm / 5472 = 0.0065mm = 6.5um

            A6000: 23.5mm / 6000 = 0.0039mm = 3.9um
            Em-1: 17.3mm / 4608 = 0.0038 = 3.8um

            The A7s pixels are a fair bit larger than the competition. Glad to see the pixel size is helping with the wide angles!

  22. Wow…just wow… I finally got my 50 APO back and shot a few on the a7R (using the Novo adapter, incidentally; wondering if you prefer Voit over Novo?) Anyway, I’ve been impressed with the 50 APO and Noctilux performance on the a7R…though, I have the same focusing challenges with the Nocti 🙂 These a7S images look equally as impressive, if not superior (granted, that could be the photographer as well…) Looking forward to the full review…

  23. ISO 64,000 just looks like a VSCO preset. Its a time saver, haha.
    What other lenses are you testing with this camera?

  24. “The ISO 64,000 is noisy…”… but incredible…the noise doesn’t bother me a bit there. And that leica lens shot is beautifully saturated.

  25. Low ISO is anything below 10,000 – what a revelation!

    This is looking very promising…

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