The Sony A7s Review. Wow. Period.
The most creative digital photographic tool ever made for my uses!
You can order the Sony A7s at Amazon HERE or B&H Photo HERE.
It has been almost a year since the Sony A7 and A7r have been released (See my review HERE) and in that time many have jumped in and purchased one of the A7 cameras. What they have brought to photographers is a chance to get into full frame sensor performance while keeping the size small and the weight much lighter than a DSLR camera. The A7 series has been fantastic but at the same time, they have had their quirks and problems from time to time.
My video intro and overview of the Sony A7s
The Sony A7s and the 15mm Voigtlander in action for a quick selfie while out shooting in the Domes of Casa Grande
I was very close to dumping my Leica M 240 for an A7 or A7r at that time but ultimately decided that would not be a good idea. But I was SO CLOSE. The AF speed and file size and loud shutter of the A7 and A7r soon made me realize even more the beauty of the Leica M system, even if the IQ of the Sony was just as good, and in many ways it was and in some ways it was even better.
A7s and 55 1.8
OOC JPEG – Sony A7s with the Sony 55 1.8 using C-AF
The Sony A7r also had the file size issue for many and while you could crop to your hearts content, managing those files meant you needed a pretty nice and powerful computer (which many of us DO have). Let us not forget the very loud shutter on the A7r and the less but still loud shutter of the A7 which irritated many who used the cameras.
Well, Sony seemed to listen to what many of the A7 users wanted and now we have yet another new model from them.
Yep, Sony brings us the A7s with ISO capability to over ISO 400,000 (Usable 102k)
So now Sony has released the A7s and it has just started shipping TODAY, July 1st 2014. I have been shooting with one for the past 2-3 weeks as I am lucky to be a camera reviewer, so I get them a little early 😉 For me the Sony A7s ticks all of the right boxes on paper..again, FOR ME. Only 12MP resolution which offers us nice details, pretty large print size and SMALL file size (one of my fave cameras of the past is the Nikon D2hs at 4MP). Because of this small megapixel count Sony has managed to give us the best low light performance of any camera made today, and this is a fact. While not a huge massive jump from the Nikon Df for low light, it is for sure definite bump up, especially when you start getting to extremes. ISO on the A7s can go up to over 400,000 and is usable for me in LOW LOW light up to 102,400. This is huge. This is a game changer for me, and will be for many others as well. In this review I will go over what is new and changed or improved over the A7 and A7r instead of doing a whole huge review that rehashes the camera. At its heart it is an A7. Same body, same feel, same LCD and EVF and same controls and menu. All that is new is the Sensor, and because of the sensor we now benefit from massive improvements such as a new silent electronic shutter that can be turned on or off, world class nothing quite like it high ISO and low light capabilities, faster Auto Focus over the A7 and A7s and insane video capabilities in ANY lighting scenario. The A7s is 4K video capable.
The A7s with an old $30 Jupiter Russian Leica screw mount lens. Gorgeous rendering on the cheap.
So what is new in the A7s from the A7 and A7r?
- New 12Mp High Performance Sensor with superb color, Dynamic Range and low light Capability. Bionz X processor.
- Silent Shooting mode with electronic shutter allowing you to shoot in total silence.
- Shoots 4K Video with external recorder. Full pixel read out.
- 120 FPS video for slow motion.
- Customizable Color Profiles and S-Log2 Gamma for video.
- Audio Input & Headphone Jack
- ISO Capability up to 402,000 ISO. Usable at 102,000!
- Faster AF speed over A7 and A7r with Sony lenses.
- Seems like the shutter is quieter as well, more damped.
Other than that, the A7s is just like the A7 and A7r in body, build, and feel. Controls are the same and LCD and EVF are the same. Basically what you are getting is a supercharged A7 with intense low light capabilities as well as stellar video options. Leica M mount lenses also seem to work much better on this body than the A7 or A7r.
ISO 8,000 with the 15mm Voigtlander.
So first, let us talk about the #1 main reason to like the A7s. LOW LIGHT capability.
FACT: With the Sony A7s I am now able to shoot in near darkness without a flash and without even using the annoying red AF light! The A7s simply rocks and is in its element in low light scenarios. I had this camera in almost pitch black conditions. The camera still managed to auto focus without using the AF assist light! AMAZING! Below is one image sample that was shot in a VERY VERY low light room. In the room it was what I would call “dark” with some slight ambient lighting but when looking at the scene, I could not make out anyones faces. I cranked the camera to ISO 80,000 to get 1/10s with the Voigtlander 15 VM at f/4.5 (wide open). I had the silent shutter activated and no one knew that I snapped a picture. In fact, if I told anyone that I did they would never have believed me as most would think it to be impossible without a flash. The image looks like the room was bright but it was in NO WAY bright! It was super dim and near dark. In fact, I also was shooting video with my camcorder in this room and I had to engage night vision with an external IR light. The image below is the result of the ISO 80,000 at 1/10s with the 15 VM. Click it for larger.
Sony A7s, Voigtlander 15VM (with M adapter) and 1/10s. OOC JPEG, NR on lowest in cam setting.
Sure you will see some noise and loss of detail but THIS IS 80,000 ISO! No other camera in this price range could even get close to this. In fact, I am not so sure any other camera at all could get this type of performance at ISO 80,000. If so, I have not seen it. Even MC Hammer would say that the Nikon Df can’t touch this. Others who say that the A7r or A7 or Canon 5D MkIII can do this..well, they are 100% incorrect. From noise to Af in this kind of light, they can not do it, period.
ISO 4000, Sony A7s, 35 2.8 Zeiss
The A7s in real world near darkness use – Photo.–
When the camera arrived my 1st order of business was to take this A7s and find a place I can shoot it at that has something interesting to shoot, in literally near darkness. A local friend of mine, Bill Goodman, who is also a photographer (shoots with many cameras but loves his Canon 6D) recommended I go shoot some music clubs in town. He recommended a few places and away I went, and I loved it! The people, the music, the beer, the ambience and the experience was rather therapeutic for me and started to bring back some of the fun of photography for me after so many years of doing reviews (yes, six years of shooting for reviews can start to take away some of the fun in photography). The A7s never gave me a problem, even in situations that had me shooting at ISO 102k with AF and the AF assist light turned OFF. The Af of the A7s is amazingly good..and accurate. It is not a blazing speed demon in darkness but it gets the job done. I also tested the Mitakon 50 0.95, serial #00001 and this lens along with the A7s is a match made for the night. Not “Noctilux” quality but at $795 a no brainer for low light work if you have an A7 or A7s camera. It is a full frame 50 0.95 lens and built like a tank.
Some low light samples at high ISO. Keep in mind that this club was near dark. It was tough to see this band, Copper & Congress with my own eyes! The club is the “Lost Leaf” in Phx AZ and there is live music every night. I tested the A7s here so it could be like a torture test “worst of the worst” conditions. I had to crank the ISO and use the Mitakon 50 0.95 lens. Below are some OOC JPEGS in B&W. ISO is listed above each photo.
Katie from Copper & Congress doing a sound check at the Lost Leaf in Phx AZ. ISO – Mitakon 50 0.95 was used for these.
All were shot as JPEG
1st image is at ISO 32,000 – f/0.95 – click for larger!
ISO 25,600 – f/0.95
ISO 25,600 – f/0.95
ISO 25,600 – f/0.95
ISO 25,600 f 0.95
ISO 1600 for the next two. 1st one was using the 35 2.8 and 2nd the Mitakon wide open
The A7s is TRULY the new King of the Nighttime World – in Color or B&W!
The more I used the A7s the more I started to appreciate it for what it can do, in any light..and I mean ANY light. It showed me that it excelled in bright light with an amazing Dynamic Range and it showed me it can do any light scenario in between from bright to almost total darkness. Below are three more photos showing ISO 64,000, ISO 12,800, 4000 and ISO 1600. All look fantastic. All are OOC JPEGS!
The A7s with 15 VM..ISO 64,000 in Boiler Room #3 abroad the Queen Mary at around 3 AM all by my lonesome. Color remains rich at this high ISO which is unheard of. **OOC JPEG**
THIS IS A FULL SIZE 12MP FILE so you get to see the nitty gritty of ISO 64,000 – OOC JPEG! Yes, look at the color and DR at ISO 64,000. THIS IS HUGE and I have never seen anything like it. VIVID MODE
ISO 12,800 hand held in the desert at midnight.
Below a measly ISO 4000 which does not even make the A7s break a sweat. OOC JPEG here..35 2.8
Using the Leica 50 APO at ISO 3200 and F/2, the color is sublime even at ISO 3200! This was shot in a very low light location.
ISO 1600? Looks like base ISO of some cameras 🙂 – 35 2.8 – MUST click for larger! Color is FANTASTIC as is the AWB in this tricky lighting! VIVID MODE
Ok, so what about using the A7s for other thing such as in normal light, action shooting or video?
Of course many will say “I do not need high ISO capability” – why would I want a Sony A7s? My answer to you is “you probably wouldn’t”!
In all seriousness, the A7s is the best low light camera I have ever used, period. It beats any other digital from Leica, any previous Sony and any Canon, Nikon or other brand of camera as of July of 2014. But what about if you do not need low light use? Well, I used to say all of the time that I never needed more than ISO 3200. I now realize that while true (it is not NEEDED)…after using the A7s I realize that I have no more limitations. After I realized the situations where I could now shoot images, using the Sony A7s, in total silence and in near darkness, it opened up new possibilities that I never even thought of. Total darkness, hand held shooting. AMAZING! ISO 80,000 is similar to ISO 1600 in the film world. This is huge. Believe me, it is. I am flabbergasted at what this A7s can do.
So while I never “needed” more than ISO 3200 in life, I realized that after a couple of weeks with the A7s that I loved having that capability. Photos in the dark or video in the dark. It was and is easy for the A7s. This opens up ALL KINDS of possibilities. But what if you never ever shoot in low light?
Well, the kicker here is that the A7s also does amazingly good in normal light. The Auto White Balance is superb, probably the best I have seen to date and beats the pats off of my Leica M 240 in this area. Color is nice and seemingly changed a bit from previous Sony cameras.
This review will be more on photo’s than words this time around as I said so much in my A7 and A7r reviews. This time I will let the photos speak for themselves, and keep in mind, 98% of these are OOC JPEGS so it only gets better. As for action shooting, no, the A7s will not be the end all of sports shooting for a couple of reasons. First, there are not yet any long telephoto lenses out for sports shooting and the Continuous AF is not as blazing as something like a pro Canon 1d or Nikon D4 series camera. (Many new lenses are on the way though in 2014 and 2015). I did shoot some kids at a skate park using C-AF (some samples in this review) and while all I had was the 55 1.8, it seemed to do the job well though some shots were missed as the kids were flying in the sky.
Below are quite a few image samples in good light, ALL JPEGS! Click them to see them correctly!
Low ISO has the pop you would expect from any full frame camera.
Using C-AF and the 55 1.8 I was able to get some cool action shots with depth and great color and bite. The A7s was responsive and felt great while shooting.
The Mitakon at 0.95
A mother and daughter on the way to the beach – Zeiss 45 f/2 Planar (using M mount adapter) – Vivid
The 55 1.8 at f/2, OOC JPEG
Saw this cute guy on the beach in Summerland, CA. He only had three legs but was having a great time in the water and sand. Used a manual focus Zeiss Planar 45 f/2 that a reader sent in for me to test.
With the Zeiss 45 f/2 Planar. Great color out of camera! JPEG!
Another with the Ziess Planar 45
Look at the reds and the way this one rendered with the 35 2.8 – Gorgeous color and tone!
The Voigtlander 15 is AWESOME with the A7s. Click it to see the sharpness in the eyes here.
So my thoughts on the A7s in normal light is just as positive as it is for low light. Great AF speed, responsive overall feel and great color and IQ.
How about video? This camera shoots 4k?
The A7s is 4K capable with an external recorder but I am not a video guy who is serious enough to use that at this time in my life. I can say that shooting normal video is fantastic. Good light or low light, ISO 80,000? Sure. I shot a few video clips at varying ISO ranges but have not delved into the serious video tools such as the gamma color options. But this camera is a serious video tool and full frame to boot. Below is a sample video clip with clips ranging from base ISO to ISO 102,000 just using 1080P at 24 fps.
Only 12MP? Is that enough for larger prints?
I have been getting the megapixel question on this camera at least 5X a day. So, is 12MP enough for todays hobbyist, enthusiast or even pro? OF COURSE IT IS! Many get hung up on viewing images at 100% on screen, a way that NO ONE views your photos. We get “addicted” in a way to looking at the files at 100% and saying “WOW, look! I can see every eyelash on her face in extreme detail”! But in reality, none of that makes a good photo! All it does is make for a good WOW moment to YOU when viewing at 100% or sharing crops. In actual photography, 10MP is plenty and 12 is more than enough. My favorite sweet spot is 16MP but the Sony’s 12 MP here is a very very good 12mp.
Back in the day I had a ikon D2hs that was 4 MP and I printed 20X30’s from that camera all the time (was in a print frenzy at the time to prove that yes, a good 4MP cam print large) so the Sony A7s will never leave me wanting for Megapixels unless I am looking for that 100% screen viewing WOW moment, which you will not get with the A7s as you will with an A7r. I also really love the little Nikon V1 which is 10 MP. Never had an issue with images or the few prints I made. I think I have a 16X20 from the V1 that is gorgeous.
The A7s does so much right…”a jack of all trades and master of all” sort of camera…well, except for super crazy blazing Canon 1D style fast C-Af sports or action, but it is still not bad at all in that area. It has taken ANYTHING I have thrown at it, spitted it out and said “Is that all you got”? For me, there are way too many positives to having 12MP here that going back to 16, 24 or 36 would take away most of it. Sony knew what they were doing when they gave this camera a 12MP sensor. I am here to tell you that massive MP counts is not required for normal photography and large prints. Even with prints on a wall, who walks up to them to study details 2″ from the print? No one, except the ones who made the prints if they are obsessed with this sort of thing.
12 MP is a good number for me. May not be for you but for me, I really do not need more than 12 and the A7s is what has showed me this fact. I may not see every super fine detail or hair in a full size image but what I do see is good enough for 99.6% of anything I will ever shoot.
Below is a 100% OOC JPEG..yes, JPEG. So this will not be as sharp as the RAW file, but this is an idea of what you can get out of the camera. You must click it to see the crop correctly!
Shooting with the Voigtlander 15 VM Leica Mount Lens
The one lens that is pretty popular due to its small size and price and total lack of wide distortion is the Voigtlander 15mm Vm Lens. It is one of my faves and I have used one since my Leica M 7 days. On the M8, M9 and previous Sony A7’s the lens was virtually unusable due to color shifts and edges but here on the A7s the color shifts are 98% gone. This means that this is the first full frame digital that this lens will work on! The lens is $600 or so and can be bought at Cameraquest HERE. I highly recommend it for Leica Monochrome users or those with a crop sensor. But now, for the A7s, it is a great lens to have. Below are some shots with the 15mm on the A7s. Some are at very high ISO and the EXIF is there.
I have not been able to use any other Leica M mount wide angles yet but had a blast using the 15. I will test more soon and post that at a later date.
Below are all JPEGS from camera.
Side by side with the Leica M 240
Below is a quick comparison I shot just for fun and due to many requests. It is with the Sony A7s and 55 1.8, then with the Zeiss 50 Sonnar and then one with the Leica M 240 and 50 Summicron APO. The Leica kit comes in at $15,000. The Sony kit at $3600. This is a just for fun test BTW..click them for larger. I posted this as a “Crazy Comparison” here. These were from RAW.
Below, Sony A7s with Zeiss 50 1.5 Sonnar at 1.5 – beautiful rendering.
Issues with the Sony A7s?
The Sony A7s really has no deal breaker issues but there are some things to be aware of.
First, when using the Electronic Silent shutter in extreme situations, such as very high ISO and shooting moving subjects, there can be a rolling shutter effect that will ruin your shot. If you are shooting fast moving subjects in low light, just use the standard shutter. Second, well, there really is no second issue as that is the only one I have found.
Bottom Line Conclusion on the Sony A7s
The quick answer? The best camera, for my purposes, that I have ever tested, used, or reviewed. Period. Ever. Notice that I said “My Purposes”!
Strong strong words here but for me it comes down to the fact that in 3 weeks of use the Sony A7s never let me down, even when in near pitch blackness. It delivered insanely good results in any light situation. It never failed me in focusing. It adapted the M mount lenses I had on hand without major issues, even the “never worked on a full frame digital Voigtlander 15 M mount lens”. The Sony A7s opens up so many new possibilities that many never even knew existed. Sure, it is only 12MP and you will lose cropping power. Sure, that 12MP will not give pixel peepers the WOW moments and sure, it is yet another Sony camera promising big things.
But this time, the Sony A7s delivers on all promises made.
The shutter seems quieter or more damped. The new silent mode is amazing, drop dead silent. The AWB is fantastic and the focus speed is the fastest of any Sony full frame model E mount to date. It will even AF in darkness without fail. For video, it is exceptional and while I am not video whiz, it is beyond my capabilities in this area. The build, feel, manus and controls are the same on the A7s as the A7 and A7r, so the only thing that has changed is the sensor and electronic modes and video. These things open up this camera to ANYTIME, ANYWHERE use and I was not able to find any situation where I could not use the camera, NONE.
I have never in my life experienced this level of low light use. One that keeps color and DR even at ISO 80,000.
Sony has some new lenses planned for 2014 and 2015, one of then being an ultra wide zoom and a Zeiss 50 1.2. I am already drooling at the possibilities. The A7s has won my heart, much more so than the A7 and A7r. With the A7s I can use Leica glass, I can shoot in the dark, I can take gorgeous video all without worrying about color, mis-focus or other issues. Even when using C-AF I was able to shoot some kids at a skate park with great accuracy. But again, do not expect a blazing C-AF machine. This is still not a DSLR!
The A7s is not perfect though, if it had Olympus Image Stabilisation it would just about be! Yes, that, for me, would be the PERFECT camera. The A7s with the 5 Axis IS from Olympus. The A7s is a wonder. I have never seen anything like it for low light use. In good light it produces wonderful quality JPEGS and even better RAW files. Just do not expect the eye popping details that come with 36 MP cameras. Remember, images here were JPEG besides for the Leica comparison, those were shot RAW.
For me, this is the camera to beat for 2014. So far, my pick for camera of the year. For me, if I add in the Voigtlander 15, Voigtlander 35 1.2 and the Sony 55 1.8 and I have a camera and lens combo that can do just about anything I ask of it, for my needs.
It is not for long tele users or super fast action shooters. It is also not for those who need and love super resolution, pixel peepers.
Sony just keeps on pushing those limits and just like Olympus, they are pushing past the normal crowd of cameras to create something special and revolutionary, and yes, the A7s is revolutionary. Try one for a week. You will be hooked and it will be tough to go back to having limits to your photography. To those online who are saying the A&s has bad image quality and is only for video guys, well, quite frankly..they must know NOTHING about photography or image quality.
The A7s has fabulous IQ, capabilities and is my #1 these days and after over a month of constant use I still love it.
You can order the A7s at Amazon or B&H Photo using the instant links below. IT IS NOW SHIPPING!
Buy the Sony 55 1.8 Lens (great on the A7s, and highly recommended)
Buy the Gariz Sony A7 case at Amazon – beautiful cases for the A7
Buy the Voigtlander 15 VM Lens HERE, and the best M to E mount adapter I have found HERE.
I will leave you with more images from the Sony A7s. ALL JPEGS! Enjoy! BTW, I will be testing the A7s with wide angle Leica M lenses SOON and will make a new post on it when I do. I have not had access to the wide angles over the past three weeks, but should have some in July.
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Thank you all! – Steve
Steve did you review the version II of this camera?
Yes, review is here on the site. Just go to “mirrorless central” under reviews, then Sony. Or use the search tab at the top of the site or click the link below 😉 Thanks!
Like many others I don’t like to assign anything to this wheel to change settings when it is spun as I find any settings are usually removed when the camera is slung over my shoulder and rubbing against the side of my body.
It’s best to assign any changes to the settings on this wheel when clicked rather then spun. You can assign aperture changes to the fn button on top left of the wheel, much easier. The aperture wheel is always the fastest stop change I find providing it is available.
I been a long time follower of your website. I became a fan of Nex-3 which I bought after reading your review , then last year primarily weighing your review I went for A7S and just few months ago for the SEL35F14 !:) Yes, the budgeting took a lot of time , but I hope to preserve this setting for life one because I can’t afford to spend any more hehe, then I just like to use the camera for Casual portraits and street photography.
I didn’t get time to play too much on SEL 35F14 lens, I take shots in Manual mostly. However I noticed just before I left home I noticed that I am not able to control the ”Aperture” using the wheel programmed for controlling aperture. Found it strange that I had to use the ”Aperture ring” ( Though I love using the ring) and wondered why A7S isn’t able to dictate ‘Aperture setting” to a native lens.
or am I missing something.
Great Reviews and awesome website. I finally bought the a7s with 3 sony FE lenses. There are only few FE lenses available from Sony. The lenses are I bought are Sony Carl Ziess lenses 55 / 1.8, 35 / 2.8 and the 24 – 70. What do you think of this as a package? or should I be using different makes and model of lenses? Do you have any recommendations? I see you have use other lenses.
Your reviews are aaaallways handy and from a specialists point of view!
I’m from the netherlands and my favorate camera since a few years is the x100s.
What i mostly like are the fill-flash posibilities and flash sync at all shutter speeds.
Also the multi pictures is what use.
Perhaps you did mention it already but can you tell me some of your thoughts thinking about the Sony A7s
They need to put the A7S sensor in the RX1 body. That would be awesome!!
I agree with you, I’ve seen zeiss lenses on Son’y action cameras so no wonder they need to step up their game for the Alpha series too.
Hi thanks for the great review. How would a 70-200 2.8 work on this camera,thinking for short tele wildlife shots..is the body strong enough for a heavy lens?? or even a 300 4.0
Shanti, I use a canon 100-400mm ef, 70-200 f4 ef and the 100mm 2.8f IS Macro in conjunction with a Metabones converter EF to E mounts with no problems with the caveat that you always support the lens and not the body as they are heavy. All above have tripod rings which when possible should be mounted on a tripod, although on occasion have used them without one. Hope this helps.
p,s forgot to mention the Sony 70-200mm G-Lens E mount and the forthcoming 24-240mm (on sale this month) should be ideal especially the former lens, although its a bit pricey.
I finally got a lens that could really turn my A7s and A7r and maybe even the A6000 from ornaments into cameras I can really use.
The Sony/Zeiss 16-35mm FE zoom. Not the most compact or lightweight lens, but it ‘s beautifully made and balances well on the a7s and A7r, though the A6000 is a bit front-heavy. Looking forward to getting out in the cool weather this weekend and trying it out.
Hi Steve. Thanks for the great write up, I’ve been a fan of yours for some time now. I’ve just got my A7s! Replaced my Nex 5ND. With my M lenses, the results have been stunning especially in ambient lighting. I also use the Sony Zeiss 35 f2.8. Superb lens as well. This kit of mine is definitely a keeper.
Thanks so much again and keep up the fantastic work. It’s folks like you who makes it all worthwhile.
Congrats! With M lenses it is so nice. Love mine to death.
First of all, thatnk you for a fantastic review and – as far as I can see, after hours of fruitless searching – THE only one that deals with the stills capabilities of this camera in any detail (in fact you blow every other review out of the water in this regard). Like you I am not a video person at all so I’m just happy to know this camera will be up to the job if I ever decide to become such a person. My main interest is seeing how the A7S renders with original Leica lenses and in the review you mention that you intend to test it out with wider Leica glass (by which I assume you mean original Leica) and show us the results. Did you ever get around to doing so?
The squirrel shot with the 50 APO (unfortunately out of my league in terms of price) is astounding so I’m assuming that only good things can come when that baby is armed with, say, a 35mm Summilux shot wide open. Would love to see some more sample shots soon. Keep up the great work! Many thanks from Berlin!
Thanks for the great review. How about battery life on the a7s? How many shots you can get on a single charge with LCD on and off?
Anyone have experience with the A7s and the FujiXT-1? I am interested in knowing your thoughts about the two cameras. Thinking about trading my Fuji for the A7s.
I have an A7 and A7S, but the A7 stays at home 99% of the time….
Hi Steve, I know, variations of my question have been put and answered before, anyway: Will A 7 s files be good enough to be printed in magazines up to a size of a double page? (300 ppi?). Would they need some push in the post then? Where are the absolute limits in print size for magazines? (Given: Canon L-lenses, Metabones adapter.) Thanks in advance, Bernard
Anyone recalls the 1st public shot of a B2 Spirit, published on NatGeo and done with a 6-megapixel camera? 😉 I’ve seen photos taken with an Oly E-M1 and printed at 300dpi, in 16″x24″ size… Nowadays we underestimate camera capabilities…
Hi Steve & all
Would you recommend the mirrorless system a7s, with really great glass, for PROFESSIONAL equipment for female with carpal tunnel, neck & shoulder issues. The size and weight is a huge determining factor for me!!! Thanks in advance for input! ds
Yes of course. It performs up there with the best but is lighter and smaller than a DSLR.
Hello there Mr. Huff,
We are looking for our first real camera and do spend most of our time using our phones. I know, lame.. However, I am hoping I can post a few links to photos we have taken with my phone so you can see what types of photos we take. Basically I would like your input on which camera we should get based on what we take photos of. The majority are sunsets and sunrises from a distance and would also love to know which lens to get so we can zoom in without pixelation or it getting grainy. Yep I am a noob.. Any information is appreciated.
Thanks for any information you can offer and specific items would be great so I know exactly what to purchase.
Thanks again to you and anyone else..
Those photos can be taken with almost any camera made today. An iPhone has such a large depth of field it basically replaces a point and shoot cameras these days, which is why so many of those are going away. Cameras such as the A7s will offer you so much more than an iPhone, allowing you to shoot in ANY light from bright to dark, to use hundreds of lenses including M mount glass and some artistic lenses for special effects. You can do anything with an A7s which would take you outside your box a bit 🙂 If you are happy with your phone though, stick with that if it delivers the goods for you.
Thanks for the information. I am using a galaxy s3 for those images above. However, I still do want a real camera, so if you have a moment and have seen my photos, can you please indicate which camera you would suggest and a first lens to go with it? Thanks!
Excellent reviews. I am upgrading from an Olympus E-510 and had decided on the OM-D E-M1. My mind was made up TILL I read your review of the A7s. Now you have me confused.
I am an enthusiast photographer but not a professional. I don’t intend to shoot any video with my camera. I need a camera for travel, wedding and portrait work and quite a bit of evening / night photography indoors at events. I am not a pixel peeper. Budget is not an issue.
If the A7s had IBIS, I would have bought it without a moment’s hesitation. Given that it does not, I have two VERY specific questions for you.
1. If I buy the E-M1, the IBIS would give me a 3-4 stop benefit. So I could shoot at ISO 6400 when in low light with a longer shutter speed as compared to the A7s. With the A7s, I would be able to shoot at somewhere around ISO 51,200 but a faster shutter speed (since it does not have IBIS). Given this situation, wouldn’t the Olympus be able to shoot the same picture in low light conditions with similar IQ?
2. If YOU had to choose between the E-M1 and the A7s (no choice here, no ifs, no buts) which would you ditch?
I prefer the A7s over ANY camera today. It is my #1 camera and has been since it was delivered to me. I enjoy it and use it with Leica M mount lenses as well as the Sony lenses and a few other oddball lenses. It is full frame so no crop effect. I have not found one situation where I could not use the A7s. For example, for low light there is no comparison, the Sony can do so much more than the Olympus. The Olympus even with the 5 Axis IS could not shoot in the situations that I shoot the A7s in. ISO 6400 is as high as you will want to go on the E-M1 (3200 is where many stop) and that is not enough for some super low light scenarios. If you do not shoot in really low light though, the E-M1 is great. It’s in my top 3-4 cameras of all time.
It is obvious that the A7s is a fantastic camera which you would choose over the E-M1. If you had to choose between the A7s and something like a Leica Monochrome, which would win? Thanks again for your great reviews and commentary!!
Well, if it was to be your ONLY camera, the A7s as some will not get along well with B&W all of the time.
If you have some great Zuiko 4/3 pro glasses, buy the adapter and stay with the E-M1. There is simply no equivalent lens in the Sony camp, you’ll miss the quality…
Steve, can you recommend a good microphone for the A7S if I want to record myself singing and playing the guitar, or using the A7S for doing interviews. I’m trying to obtain excellent sound quality. Thanks!
Hi Steve, I’ve been referring to your article multiple times to make my decision in buying the a7s, thank you for your hard work!!
However one question, you didn’t have problems in outside bright light with the 55 1.8 and 35 2.8 Zeisses? Or does bright outside light only cause problems shooting video in S-Log 2?
I have not shot much video at all with the A7s, not my thing but never had an issue with images in any kind of light. What issues should I be having? Have not had a single issue in ANY light.
Well that says it all, I was concerned with bright parts of the still image being blown out.
as a low light shooter myself- i may pull the trigger on this depending on what comes out of Photokina in a few weeks that would be a second option. My only fault on the Sony is I did not warm up to the feel in my hand compared to my M6 & X100 but I can over look that for the right results….
Maybe not for everyone, but I love the A7s since it arrived July 3. Just did an available light photo shoot with the A7s and the client was supremely happy with the results for their promotional material. Used silent shutter (not intimidating) and the tilting screen helped with shot angles and framing. I avoid cropping too much and shoot RAW and 12 megapixels is enough for me. My E-M1 is staying but I’m starting to consider selling my big DSLR gear.
Last night I watched your a7s review on you tube on my smart TV and was so impressed that I ordered one from B&H photo. Today I visited your web site and see I made one mistake, I did not order the a7s using your web site link to B&H photo. How do I arrange it so you get credit for that order?
Thanks! Glad the video was useful to you. Unfortunately if you already ordered there is no way for me to get credit but that is ok! No problem-o, just enjoy the camera and let me know how you like it.
Steve, if pixel peeping is bad – why did you find the RX1R a better camera than the RX1?
Pixel Peeping is not “bad’ it is un-necessary. Those who stare at 100% crops on their screen instead of printing or looking at the image correctly. Many STRESS over this, and it has nothing to do with photos at all! With that said, the RX1R is better than the RX1 because even in small resized shots it has more snap and pop. To me, the files look better in small prints or small JPEGS. Same price as the RX1 so it would be a no brainer for me to buy an RX1R over an RX1. The A7s is also superb, with only 12 MP. 10 MP is good, 12 MP is good, 18 is good and 24 is good. Once we start getting to 36 it is getting a but un-necessary. I am happy shooting anything from 10-24 MP. Over that then I find it hampers things a bit and really is not needed. For example, I was not a fan of the Nikon D800 or the new D810. To me, the sweet spot is 16MP but I am happy with as little as 10.
+1. What a coincidence that the guys in the “Bigger is good, smaller is bad” camp are usually NOT professionals that earn they fare with their photos, but “forum squatters”? 😉
Hey Steve, amazing page, just wondering if you’ve ever put any Minolta glass on it, like the rokkor 58mm 1.2 legendary glass?
curious how Rokkors and Maxxums perform.
I do not have any Minolta glass to try..
Hi Curtis. I have quite a bit of Minolta and Sony glass, from primes to zooms and macros. Everything I have tried with the LA-EA4 adaptor works well, and the results have been good. Quite a few lenses don’t work in aautofocus with the LA-EA3 adaptor, which is a bit less bulky. Frankly the larger lenses are a bit ungainly on the front of the A7 body, particularly with the sdsptor in place.
If there’s a combination you’d like to find out more about, please let me know and if I have it I’ll try ot out for you.
Hi Rodger, I own a 58mm 1.2, just wondering how that performs on A7s/A7?
and also, the Maxxum G APO AF lenses?
and the 35mm 1.8 MC HH rokkor?
if you have em?
The 24-70 focuses fast (I prefer Pre-AF off in settings Gear icon tab 3) and is sharp. My initial test shots indoors and out with the Sony 24-70mm F4 Vario-Tessar T* FE OSS have been MUCH BETTER on the A7s than some reviews of it on the A7 and A7r suggest. I’m very pleased with the performance for outdoor shooting and even indoor shooting. I also have the native 35mm and 55mm which are excellent and the better choice for indoor available light shooting. I also shoot a Canon 5D3 and Olympus EM-1 using both primes and zooms so I have other benchmarks on performance. Primes are generally smaller, lighter, faster, and sharper but there are situations where a zoom is the better choice. On the A7s, this zoom performs surprisingly well.
thanx great review !
i own a A7r and i m disturbed by the loud shutter especially when shooting indoor
anyway did you try to downsize the A7r files at 12mp and compare the results at high iso? there is big difference in noise?
last question: body is exacly the same? my angelo pelle leather half case will fit A7s also i hope ,if buttons and screen are in the same position it must fit i think, i have one of this :
Body is exactly the same.
Just receive my A7S. Good surprise on unboxing. 2 batteries and a wall charger include in the box.
Any update on how this performs with zeiss ZM 21? Also, have you been able to print anything “large” with a7s?
I used it with the 21 2.8 for a day or so and had no real issues with color. There was some slight smearing but overall, best I have seen this lens on digital full frame.
My A7s arrived a couple of days ago, and I had the chance to take it out with me for a trip to Downtown Dubai for dinner on Wednesday night, with the 35mm FE lens in place. decided to experiment with setting ISO to full range auto and then set shutter speed and aperture manually to allow me to handhold and choose my depth of field. I’ve never been able to do this before with any other camera, and it worked very well until things for very dark and the pictures suddenly got very grainy. When I got home and got the RAW pictures up on the computer I was amazed to see how little noise there was when the camera had cranked the ISO up – nothing that DXO couldn’t handle.
Thanks for your review, it made me decide to finally say goodbye to my D700 with Zeiss ZF2 lenses.
But I’m left with one concern; I love those ZF2 lenses (35mm f2 & 100mm f2), they are why I held on to the D700 for so long. What to replace them with?
How does the Sony/Zeiss FE 35/2.8 compare to my 35mm f2 ZF2? Would it be in the same ballpark or should a spoiled person like myself consider buying the Leica M adaptor with a 35/2 Biogon ZM or a second hand Leica 35mm Summicron?
Just wanted to say I used the same lenses.
When I moved to a7 I changed them with Sony FE 35mm f/2.8, Contax Zeiss 45mm f/2 and Contax Zeiss 90mm f/2.8
Couldn’t resist its tiny size.
Really really wonderful lenses, it makes me wonder why they’re left so unknown
Probably at Photokina (September), Zeiss will launch special manual focus lenses for the Sony A7 family. Those would be the perfect lenses to replace the ZF2 lenses with. In the meanwhile, you can buy a Novoflex adapter to mount the ZF2 glass on your A7 right now, because those ZF2’s are great (but big indeed…). So I’d just have a bit of patientce. 🙂
I would be surprised if they launched a manual focus line for the A7x… they have not for the Alpha and all of their mirrorless (Touit) offerings have been autofocus. I would think that their ZM line would already be well positioned for the A7x if the market wanted small, full frame manual lenses as there are some great adapters out there (Novaflex, Voigtlander, etc.)
… I would hang on those those ZF2 lenses… I have the ZE versions and the wide ZF/ZE’s are one of the few ways to get a great wide angle option for the Sony. I know the Leica WAIT is quite good but very expensive… but, although heavy, the Wide Zeiss ZF, ZE’s seem to work great. Here’s an 21mm example. https://www.flickr.com/photos/jusgreat/12166289635/
Indeed, as far as wide angles are concerned, the ZF2/ZE lenses are a great option. Still I expect Zeiss to come up with FE manual lenses, since they have announced it themselves. Anyway, Fotokina will be very soon. We’ll see…
I know there was a reference to one being in stores at the end of 2014… and they seemed to only mention it’s ability to send EXIF data to camera but you never know.. maybe it’s a modification of their ZM line. Hopefully they do release something, especially 21mm and 24mm’s.
Thanks everyone for the replies!
Doing a little on going review myself if any wanna see how its going.
Was going to buy it..
But seems it only has a 30 min max vid recording time…
Maybe there will be a US version w/more recording time…
But as of now..this kills the sale for me..
My A7s takes a staggering 8.4 seconds to startup from cold and warm with a variety of lenses, in flight mode etc etc. I owned the A7 so know this is too slow. Anyone else have this problem?
I played around with a A7s and it’s startup time didn’t seem to be much different from my A7r… definitely not 8+ seconds. I was using the Zeiss 55 and 35… try it without a lens to check if there’s something going on with with the lens power up sequence?
OK, Steve, now I have a dilemma. I have an Olympus E-M1 with multiple Olympus lenses and I was thinking of getting a 42.5mm f/1.2 per your review. For the price of this lens, I would be well on my way to getting an a7s or a Leica T. Between investing in the lens for the E-M1, the a7s, or the Leica T, which is the best investment in your opinion.
Go for the Nocticron..
+1. You can find on the net excellent examples shot with that lens, it is really a quality product.
Hey Steve. Great review. It seems like most of the things that put me off buying the A7 and A7r have been addressed here with this new version of the camera. My question that i am wondering is what this is like for shooting landscapes? In particular would this be a good camera for HDR photography of landscapes given the 12mp sensor? I do like to crop my images in post to get them the way i like but i would in no way say I’m a pixel peeper! I also like to make prints of my images no bigger then A3/A2 size. What do you think? Is this the perfect camera for this type of photography?
Keep up the great reviews Steve:-)
No yes or no answer here. Interesting landscapes can be taken even with an iPhone and certainly with the A7s. The best sunset I ever shot was with an iPhone (mostly because a great photo op presented itself). However, serious landscape photographers tend to favor very high resolution cameras like the A7r, D810, or medium format with tripod shooting for low ISO, camera shake issues, and slow shutter speeds for streams and waterfalls. So it depends on the look you are hoping to get and how you want to shoot. Can’t comment on HDR since I don’t do it. We’ll see what Steve has to say.
Liking the A7s even more with increased use. Files are very smooth even with cropping and have great color. For fill flash in bright sun people shots, the Sony HVL-F20AM flash works well for me and is very small. Keep batteries fresh as cycle time is a bit slow. For some Sony camera models, the ADPMAA hot shoe adapter may be needed. Still experimenting with post processing, but to my eyes, files are so smooth I feel that adding a little more grit/grain or perhaps sharpening may be beneficial for some subjects.
Steve, I have a A7R and borrowed an A7S from Sony. I tried 28 Elmarit M, 21 Summilux M and 35 Summilux M. I down sampled files from A7R to match the resolution of A7S and I can see the IQ (in terms of colour shift and sharpness) at the corners the same for those lenses (shooting at f/5.6). I don’t see much difference there to my surprise. Can you look into this further. The hardest M lens to work on the Sony A7R was the Super Elmar M 18mm (which I no longer have).
Steve, I am interested in your thoughts on the A7S for BW photography. Looks great to me. I figure I can control the “grain” using ISO and shutter speed. Maybe I missed it but did not find anything in the review. Your thoughts?
how will the AF be affected with the use of the LEA4 adapter? i really like this camera but all my glass is A mount. will i still get the same good night time AF with the adapter? or will i be reverted to the worse AF of the A65 that the adapter is based off?
It’s pretty amazing how much better overall the a7s is compared to the other recent A7 models. Whirlwire seems to rate it much higher than even the A7R.. (http://www.whirlwire.com/compare/a7-vs-a7r-vs-a7s) but then again it is much more expensive I suppose.
I wonder if the price will come down anytime soon?
first, thanks to you and all the contributors for running this site. been beyond helpful.
anyway, I got my A7S last week, through your b&h link, but can’t view the RAW files yet. I’m not in a position to change over to lightroom yet, was hoping to make it work in aperture for now, just updated, updated the camera raw bit, but still no go.
any suggestions, or something I’m missing?
Aperture won’t be updating any more..so unless you switch to Lightroom you will not be able to convert them..but you can use the free Sony software, which is slow and horrible but does the job.
Apple updates their RAW engine regardless of Aperture and they patch the OS each time they add a new RAW format. You should be able to see A7s RAW files as soon. Also, Apple didn’t really handle the Aperture news well… they have iPhoto of course and It seems they are just merging iPhoto and Aperture into the new image manager built into the new O/S. There’s a good chance it will have many of the features that Aperture did but is distributed with the OS. They have been moving this way for a long time.
Thank you for this awesome article. I have the A7r and have enjoyed shooting with it so much. I see you have a great shot from the Queen Mary in Long Beach. I’m the Cruise Director on board the Carnival Imagination and if you ever would like to come aboard for the day we are in twice a week in Long Beach. Would be happy to meet up and just hang. Thank you again for the inspriing article and keep up the great work your doing.
Great! Will be in touch when I am in Long Beach again! Would be fun.
Thank you for you great review (as always).
The high ISO capabilities are indeed spectacular.
If I would not own a Ricoh GR, which cured me from some mild G.A.S., I would have a serious financial problem now…
First of all Steve, thanks for a great, inspiring review! Love to read when someones enthusiasm just shines right through! I want to ask about the manual focus assists available. What assists do we get, and how well do they work? This is of major importance to me since the range of native Sony lenses is so limited, I need to feel confident to go manual via third party lenses! Thanks again for the review and all your hard work.
I have all my RAW files from the first day I got my first digital, Nikon’s D70. I got D200 as second camera and Fuji S5 as complement. I still ow Fuji S5, and that one does better in high ISO than NEX-7. If today I look back to my shots, I still find that Nikon’s D200 – 10 mpix sensor was one of the best sensors I ever had, the pictures are real huge despite the huge colors that the S5 produces.
With a fractal magnifying software, I made billboards for beach resorts in huge quality, so resolution is more than enough. I like the shots of A7S, and as you say, for the family album and view on decent size on a computer screen, there is more than enough resolution.24 and 36 have the advantage that you can crop with sufficient resolution left, but for family pictures and holiday trips, and all event shooting, A7S is a real good choice, as you say, the perfect all round and in any situation tool. I was surprised by the huge detail and colors on the view of the cruise ship you shot.
Even if in many situation I prefer a higher resolution myself, I am really tempted by this camera, just for this all round ability, a workhorse for every situation. And, for those who play with that, not to forget the good video skills it offers.
Steve, thank you for a passionate and informative review (yes, they can exist together)!
I have a few questions and comments which anyone is welcome to answer.
– David mentioned flash photography. To me, flash is only useful as a special effect and even then, no special TTL modes are necessary.
– bgood mentioned the D40 with regards to pixel count. Well, I agree with Steve that even the D2H was a great camera in its day, especially considering it was aimed at newspapers and magazine photographers (it still holds up to a large degree, though I wouldn´t actually buy one now). It was my favourite DSLR for a few years, despite the D1X or the 1DmkII.
– You mentioned the electronic rolling shutter. My question is, does it produce any colour fringing? This photographer found serious issues with the NEX-5N – and that just has an electronic first curtain:
– (Off-topic): You mentioned your interest in the paranormal. A few years ago I got properly interested in parapsychology research. After weighing up arguments for and against, even the sophisticated ones, I am satisfied that psi exists. It is interesting that both Christians and atheists can be very skeptical and occasionally antagonistic towards parapsychology. It´s an unhealthy mentality that flatly denies phenomena that have overwhelming empirical support. As far as anything beyond formal studies, such as poltergeists, I´m open-minded but no less curious.
Flash can be like HDR or wide dynamic range. Do it correctly, and it’s not the subject of the photo but the creative addition that can make an average photo great. You can look for great light all your life and try to capture it when it occurs. You can also create it yourself. They are not mutually exclusive.
(Off Topic) What empirical evidence? I haven’t paid a lot of attention to the subject but there has been no evidence that has stood up to any reasonable amount of testing. There’s actually a foundation out there offering $1 mil to anyone that can prove it. The guy is interviewed on a number of podcasts. It’s an interesting listen regardless of the side you come down on. http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/1m-challenge.html
Does α7s have 4:4:4 lossless jpeg option?
Any smearing with ZM 21mm 25mm 35mm and M cron 35mm asph?
I’m VERY curious about the dynamic range for VIDEO. I shoot interiors with a 5DIII, and it’s… Canon. You know what it is: great image, but “poor” dynamic range.
With Magic Lantern, I now have RAW video, but the processing is VERY cumbersome. There’s also the Dual-ISO (higher DR) RAW video, but that has MORE processing, and I’m still getting frames with color shifts, flickering, and other problems– so it’s unusable.
Anyone know what the A7S has for dynamic range at, say, 3200 ISO VIDEO? I’m not that techy, but if I could get a couple (2-3?) more stops dynamic range at 3200 ISO video, I’d use this for sure.
Why the “It is not for long tele users” comment? With 12 MPixels and a long lens I would consider it the ideal combo… In my particular application for astrophotography I consider the A7R ideal for wide-field and the A7S ideal for long lenses/telescopes and with the A7S’s high sensitivity/low noise, ideal for those slower lengths!
BTW, I have both the A7R and A7S… and love them both! Horrible thing for me to say considering I’ve used Canon for decades!
I second that. The bigger pixels offer distinct advantages as well in the context of residual aberrations of long focal length lenses…
Although I’m not in the market for a camera, I thoroughly enjoyed your review and seeing what this camera is capable. Stunning images. And I applaud Sony for thinking differently by offering 3 different sensors for the same camera model. Gutsy and smart move on their part. Can’t wait to see a couple Daily Inspirations from this camera; and more specifically, use during an evening wedding. Wedding photographers have got to be drooling over this camera, no?
RAW files are still “Baked” (and lossy) on this camera like the other two A7 models, correct?
Never noticed they were “lossy’ or “baked” on the A7 or A7r, or any other camera for that matter.
First time I’ve ever heard that RAW files are lossy, since when? I thought Raw was written in stone And what exactly does “Baked” mean?
Yeah, the A7 cameras all save their final RAW file using a lossy form of compression. They were supposed to add back the lossless setting but I don’t believe they ever did. Regardless, I find the JPEGs ooc to be very satisfying so it may not be all that much of an issue. The lossy raw format causes some mottling in the image in some circumstances.
When a camera offers lossless RAW I never enable it as it raises file size yet offers almost no real visible difference in the final product/file/print. I’ve never ever seen anything “mottling” about any RAW file, Sony or others.
Exactly, well said Corey
I’m not Corey… 😉
Sorry about that Frank but when I pressed your reply button it had Corey name on it which was another reply I wanted to post to. Don’t know why that happened.
I wanted to ask what you meant by a Raw file was baked or lossy as I was under the impression that RAW is a permanent format unlike Jpegs which are lossy.
What you mean by, “baked”? Isn’t a RAW file a RAW file? What do you think Sony does?
Got great images with a 6 megapixel cropped sensor Nikon D40.
are u using raw or OOC jpeg?
JPEG. Recently sold the 6 megapixel D40 but the point is that for most situations, the 12 megapixels that the Sony A7s has is plenty.
Great review as always Steve and thanks for making my mind up to get one. Most of the reviews I read seem to be banging on about it’s video capabilities, which is fair enough, but it still is a stills camera nevertheless and your review went a long way to point this out with your great images. Cant wait to to process RAW files when I eventually find one to buy in the UK.
Thanks, and yes, it is much much more than just a camera for video, it’s an astonishing still camera as well.
Cool, but the truth is 12MP is simply not enough… and within a few days you will be left wanting….. more….
especial if you have already shot with anything with more megapixels than that…
Is this camera capable of shooting high ISO? Yes… but, based on what I’ve seen, and just like any other Camera…. you will not want to shoot past iso 3200 because of image degradation…. why shoot at iso 6400 when you can get a better IQ at 1600 using a tripod?
Steve what you should say is that this is a great supplemental camera…I think once you’ll get past the honeymoon phase with the a7s, you’d agree with me
Sorry, just not true. Im 3 weeks in of daily use and love it more every day. I still use my 10MP Nikon 1 camera as well. More MP is NOT needed, period. Ive also been using it at 6400 comfortably and without issues or without problem, and they look clean in print. Better than not getting the shot at all due to having a camera that can’t do 6400 cleanly.
Ive waited to order to make sure and I just can’t imagine not having this camera due to the capabilities. It’s my new #1, without question.
It is not just a great supplemental camera, it is great as a MAIN camera, period. Again, unless you are a pixel peeper and do not really care more about the actual act of photography than you do the art of pixel peeping. Sounds to me like you are in camp B..as in you prefer the art of pixel peeping than actually making and enjoying photography. MP is not an issue here at all unless you are out to create super high res landscapes. In that case, go with a Pentax 645.
“Cool, but the truth is 12MP is simply not enough… and within a few days you will be left wanting….. more….”
Gotta agree with Steve here. Unless you’re making wall-sized prints for a fine art gallery, or you’re a chronic cropper (bad technique, perhaps?), 12 megapixels is more than enough. Consider:
Large Print Magazine Cover
11”x14” at 240dpi needs a file just under 9 megapixels
Print Magazine Cover
8.5”x11” at 240dpi needs a file just over 5 megapixels
Print Magazine Interior
8”x10” at 240dpi needs a file just over 4.6 megapixels
iPad 3 (Retina Display)
9.7” wide at 264dpi needs a file just over 3 megapixel
Gotta pity all those National Geographic photographers who have had to complete their assignments with cameras under 12 megapixels. lol
It’s always amusing when folks chime in about not having enough megapixels. Rookie mistake. A beautifully sharp, high resolution picture of your cat in the midday sun (posted to Facebook) is still a picture of your cat in the midday sun. 😉
Ha! Well said, Robert!
THANK YOU. I was eager for some sanity
+1. Remember that the “holy grail” for professional photographers was the Kodak 560/570, a DSLR that offered resolution on par with slide film.
All the rest is corp speak and forum squatter moaning.
well said. I agree with your conclusion.
However, I have to add some cosmetic correction, just to keep the argumentation on a fair level: I worked for magazines, and for the best possible quality you need 2×2 pixels for one raster point. So if you are printing with 70-80 lpcm print raster, you need roughly 350-400 dpi image resolution for best quality. 240 dpi is usable but way too low by todays standard. Add to this, that an image from a bayer sensor is not sharp at pixel level (lower effective resolution).
12 -16 megapixels will still be enough for that. But barely, and NOT plenty.
And comparing todays photography with 1.3 megapixel days or even the film days, is just unfair, if not totally wrong. The image quality requirements have been raised quite alot since then. The offset printing has evolved and the digital prepress workflow is way more demanding than 20 years ago. You can’t survive with your film camera or your Nikon D1 in print publishing these days.
It is also simply not true that you need the highest resolution for the biggest prints. The most demanding print sizes are big glossy fashion magazines, because they are hold in the hands (means very low viewing distance). You can print a billboard from a 4 megapixel file (because of golf ball sized raster points), but not a high quality magazine cover.
Just my 2 (or 3) ct.
As I said, for 99.5% of users who will buy this, MP are a non issue. 99.5% of those who buy this will not be working for a magazine require super high res files. If they did, they would obviously not buy this camera. The people buying this are mostly enthusiasts, which is the largest share of the market and outnumber pro’s by a large matin. Then the hobbyists and then those who are just curious. Many pros will buy one as a 2nd body for various uses. No one will buy this to do high res magazine work, so again, for 99.5% of users, this is plenty. Magazines are a dying breed and there are not very many left these days compared to just 10 years ago. Within another 5-10 they will be almost extinct and everything will be online where 4MP would be plenty.
“You can print a billboard from a 4 megapixel file (because of golf ball sized raster points), but not a high quality magazine cover.”
I understand what you’re driving at here re pixels and raster points, but it’s not entirely accurate and you’re getting a bit lost in the weeds.
Moreover, the technical image quality requirements for publications like National Geographic haven’t been raised one iota. Granted fashion magazines are a bit of a different beast, but not editorial and reportage >>
Shot for the cover of National Geographic, with lovely prints that have been enlarged to 20×30. Shot with the Nikon D1X and its 2.7 megapixel CCD sensor … technology that would be considered primitive even compared to an entry level m4/3 sensor today, yet the first digital sensor that came close to emulating the color reproduction of Kodachrome.
I know professional photographers who make competition level prints from today’s state-of-the-art m4/3 cameras. Mastery of light and quality of lens will dictate final IQ more than today’s sensor differentials (I’m excluding sensors smaller than m4/3 in this evaluation).
Yes, the “holy grail” of digital for pro photography was reached by the Kodak 560/570, the first 5mp cameras able to have the characteristics of slide film. From that point onward, all it was only icing on the cake…
What “holy grail”? Do you really think the only goal of digital is/was to mach image quality of 35mm film?
Digital IQ has evolved way beyond film IQ, and I think it is quite unfair to mark everyone, who appreciate more than 12 megapixels, as pixelpeepers who have no interest in photography. (this goes to Steve too)
Steve wrote a HUGE review just about the merits if the RX1R in comparison to the RX1. Does that make him a pixelpeeper who is not interested in photography? I think not!
I’ve just expressed the opinion of many professional shooters that the point of goodness was reached many years ago. Never talked about pixelpeepers. But I see you are so full of yourself that you reply amen to your own assertion…
Steve. Once again, thank you for a great review. One question: if you would have to choose between A7s with 50 summicron APO and M 240 with non-apo 50 summicron, which kit would you choose?
A7s with APO, you will get better quality photos. The APO lens is very very special and is a work of art in itself.
Oh man I have not had gear envy this bad for maybe 10 years or more. I have to get me an A7s
Very good review. Now, even the full-frame aficionados will have a big reason to abandon bulky mirrors and outdated OVFs.
I wish there is going to be Sony RX1s, I love the small RX body and A7s high ISO capability.
Is that anyway Sony going to make RX1s Steve?
Received it today and set the auto iso up limit in the 12000 range and starting at 100. Without worrying about what the iso was doing, I took inside shots. Some of them, using the 35 fe at 3.2, got up to 8,000 iso, which was ENTIRELY usuable for a good print size. I would have been screwed with my old A7. Normal lighting conditions yield great results and I LOVE the clear corners with the 35 wide open. Hard to tell if dials are plastic or not. I don’t have my A7 to compare, though they have the radial machining. I’m not sure it matters. Will try Canon FD 17 tomorrow, possibly with fireworks. Great great camera. I 100℅ agree with the author. THIS camera does everything well.
Upon closer inspection the dials are metal. They have the diagonal stippling. I also find that the lenses are a lot tighter to screw on than my previous A7.
Hi Steve thanks for the review. I currently have an Sony A7R and it took about 2 months and allot of shooting to really like this camera it beats my D800 which is now gone and I never use anything wider than
35mm I really need the megapixels and not 26000 ISO .i find your shots of the women singing way to grainy for my taste but allot of the others are great love the shots of the airstream but then again I love airstreams .I sold my sony 55 1.8 it was ok but had no real vibe to it if you know what I mean.i won’t be buying this camera but will probably wait for the update to the A7r and never give up my good glass
Just received my camera and am setting it up.
First, is there a firmware update I need to install? Mine has version 1.00
Second, those of you already using the camera,what settings are you using for jpegs for the best results? Standard?, neutral/ And are you adding any saturation or sharpness at those settings.
Thx a million,
If you are primarily a very (very very) low light shooter maybe this would have appeal, but for most people, existing cameras are already better at shooting at reasonable ISO’s then people need ( full frame cameras not crop). This camera is over kill and you are making huge compromises vs the a7 or a7r. If you are a portrait shooter, a sports shooter, a wildlife shooter or especially landscape shooter then there are much better choices (I wouldn’t put any of the sony’s on my list due to horrible lens support). If you primarily shoot the inside of your closet, this is your camera. Personally I gave up on digital except for sports. I shoot the Leica mp and Leica 3G instead.I sold my m9 and my a7r and have been happy. If you do get this camera, I’m sure it will still work well, all cameras today are excellent, but some are better them others.
You are making huge compromises by shooting the A7 or A7r, not the A7s. This does everything better from speed, to color, to low light to AWB, to..well, even more. The MP counts is a non issue for non pixel peeper types. For photography is is almost perfect (16 would be perfect)
Computers have not caught up to the MP race. In my mind, 24 MP would be perfect, as long as our computers and processors can compute the files and store the files in a fast and efficient manner. It will be a few years but the previous statement will happen. If you said that 16 MP is a fine file size, 20 years from now, the whole would think we are talking about technology as antiquated as the wagon wheel.
I edit and browse through 1000’s of A7r files as well as 100MB+ scanned medium and large format film scans with no issues. I use mostly SSDs and Thunderbolt externals but don’t have a lot of trouble with USB 3.0 drives. Maybe it’s time to upgrade, there are significant speed advantages with USB 3 and Thunderbolt as most performance issues are storage based. Modern CPUs are rarely challenged today with 2D image manipulation. As far as more is better… obviously there is a declining advantage for most applications but there are obvious advantages to 24 vs. 16bit as many 11×14 prints can show. 36 vs 24 might not offer the same jump but it does allow for cropping, etc. especially when doing 1 and 2 shot panos.
THANK YOU Steve for trying to end this pixel debate. More isn’t necessarily better and for many things its worse.
First test shots with the A7s & Sony 35mm f2.8 very much confirm Steve’s positive results for daytime normal lighting – outdoor, indoor, and fill flash too based on OOC jpegs. No high ISO testing yet. I’m used to shooting an EM-1, and 5D3, and the A7s daytime focus seems VERY fast to me. The images look very appealing with good color. Manual mode is great with auto ISO and exposure compensation so it’s easy to control everything. I suspect I will bond with this camera very quickly – like 15 more minutes with it (smile).
My strategy is to start with the A7s and one native lens. I have a Metabones III adapter on order for my Canon lenses until fast native lenses that I want are released. When the next generation A7r is released with stabilization (I hope), fast autofocus, and a quiet shutter, I hope to be able to add that high megapixel body.
I normally would not post with less than an hour of shooting, but I assume many of you are trying to decide whether to buy and are eager for information on the A7s. Even with such brief use, I give it a thumbs up.
Great! Good to hear.
As usual your reviews are the best. Most important is that I will follow up with a donation in 2 weeks and I suggest all those that click on to your site do the same.
In using my Leica lens 21mm super elmar and my 35mm summilux double aspherical on the A7R I found the results were poor vs on my M 240. If I mount these lens on the A7S do suspect that they will be sharp without color changes on the edges? The biggest problem with using Leica lens on a non M body is that no bodies have algorithms to take into account the Leica lens?
The results are not very good on the A7 or A7r, but they are the worst on the R. On the A7s you will get the best results but I have yet to try any wide angles besides the 15, which did great on the A7s and not so good on the R or normal 7. 50’s do great on the A7s as do 35’s. It’s due to the sensor. The 15 works way better on the A7s than it does on the M 240. The 45 f/2 Zeiss I tested (M mount) also did better on the S than the M 240.
Bob, “ditto” on the donation and buying through the links on this site to support Steve/Brandon! BTW Steve when making a donation a few weeks ago through paypal it did not like American Express but had no problem when changing it from my checking account??? Is this a paypal or a Steve issue? I do use AmEX via paypal for buying stuff w/o and problems???
Bob- the Leica lenses will out resolve the sony S camera. You should see a huge drop off in detail from your m240 vs the sony. The sony will have less noise as ISO rises but it doesn’t have enough mp’s to show the same level of detail. I would think those lenses are wasted on this camera.
Not really. Did you not see the crop of the food machines in the review? One using the M 240 and 50 APO and one using the A7s and 55 1.8. Not far off at all. I have shot more and really do not see much more detail at all with the M 240. There is but it is minor, in my tests so far. Lenses like the 50 APO, Noctilux 35 Lux..work VERY well on the A7s and provide the same character and signature as you would expect, but with better color..
yes, but the problem with the a7r is that the center is great the outer parts are fuzzy, but if the A7s is not I would use it liek a 2nd body?
The A7S sensor is way tempting for night time photography – apart from that, it’s worse compared to the A7R and A7 in absolute Image Quality terms, check out DxOMark. I usually need very rarely ISO3200,
even less ISO6400, so the A7 is the cheaper, better alternative, personally, period.
… and the a7 has phase detection auto focus. Still terrible TTL flash support, however.
But the A7s is faster to AF…it is the fastest to Af of any A7 series or RX1 series. It also has an ability to AF in the dark, without the AF assist.
Thanks, Steve. Yes, this is very interesting indeed. This may be the first time in the history of cameras that contrast detection auto-focus is BETTER than phase detection auto-focus! I am not doubting you. I just don’t get how this works?
that might come in handy, steve…but i don’t photograph sports, only static objects or monoments. so i don’t need fast af, for instance i use mostly MF all the time, makes much more fun, but not with today’s plastique lenses and 1/4 turn ring for MF function…but with old primes, it’s pure fun.
DxO never tells the whole story and while on paper they have numbers, when it comes to real world use, DxO means nothing to me as i have seen time and time again that the numbers they give are for those who really never shoot a camera. The A7s beats the A7 and A7r in many many many ways.
1. Speed. The A7s will AF much faster than the A7r and faster than the A7. It will also AF in near pitch blackness, without the use of the AF assist. The A7r and A7 cannot do this. So the A7s is the fastest of the bunch.
2. Use of wide angle M mount lenses – This goes to the S without question.
3. Low light/High Iso – With the amazing high ISO capability that can not be touched by ANY camera made today and the ability to AF in darkness, this easily beats the A7 and A7r
4. Quiet – The A7s is quiet or can be 100% dead silent. Neither the A7 or A7r can do this.
5. Best color and AWB of the three. The A7 and A7r were sort of on the cool side and the A7s is richer and warmer, providing a more pleasing color tone.
As for the rest, the DR is up there with the best and you will never see the difference between the A7s and others in real world use unless you shoot at 100k ISO and push the hell out of it, but who does that?
So with the A7s you have amazing IQ, fast AF, insane low light capabilities in every way, great build, a silent mode and a camera that opens up new possibilities. Much better than the A7 or A7r FOR ME. The 12MP is PLENTY for even large prints. Those who complain about 12MP, I would bet good money than 98% of them do not ever print and 99.5% never print large.
Again, DXO is not the be all end all, real work use experience is and once again, real world use shows that you should never go by DxO numbers when choosing a camera.
Your seriously making me consider this thing. Just tell me this..as a pure shooting experience (aside from IQ)- what do you find more enjoyable now? EM1 or A7S?
Well, the E-M1 offers a more enjoyable shooting experience for me but I am biased as it is one of m y most used and fave cameras. Been using one since before it was even released. With that said, the A7s does things the E-M1 could never ever do (low light and no light scenarios and using Leica M mount glass in full frame).
The A7s feels different but is a very solid and well made camera, just very “square” feeling. It doesn’t have the MoJo of the E-M1 in the feel department. It is also not weather sealed. But it is one hell of a versatile camera that does things no other camera can do, and for me, that is exciting 🙂
Can you please clarify?
A7s if not weather sealed?
A7 and A7r are … did they change it for the A7s?
The IQ of the A7 is very good (RAW only), and as for the JPG Shooters, the quality is better since the Firmware 1.02 Update – but who shoots JPG with a A7 Series DSLM? Kinda joke…
I know that Steve does not talk about flash photography here but if you want to shoot in TTL with the A7s, you’ll have to use the Sony HVLF60M. Check out the reviews for this flash. They are pretty dismal! Yes, I love the A7s but until Sony puts some effort into making proper flashes, Nikon and Canon won’t have much of a threat. It’s too bad because Sony is really innovating camera technology.
who needs flash when you can shoot at 400,000 ISO? 🙂
I’m more impressed with Steve’s wonderful personality than the camera itself.
I will agree with that! 🙂
Come on Sony, you already have fantastic bodies! Now give us some more good glass!
Great writeup! I raelly want to try it out for myself! Low ISO-capabilities is the only thing I miss after I sold my 5D MkII and turned to the Olympus EM-1. Other than that I am so pleased with my kit. I still have a Canon version och the brilliant Voigtlander 40mm f2 and a Canon USM 100 macro left from my old Canon days because these lenses are fantastic with adapters on my EM-1 so I found no reason selling them. Now I wonder if there is an adapter from Canon EF to SONY that allows the camera to at least control the apperture in these lenses. I don´t really mind manual focus.
Is there anyone her that have tried an adapter like that on a Sony A-camera?
I´m almost hope it is impossible because if it turns out there is such an adapter I just have to take the plunge…
Hello Stefan, I’m afraid there is! 🙂 It’s from Metabones. I have tried it and wrote down my findings in an article about the Zeiss Otus, that Steve has published on this very site. You’ll find the information on the adapter in the chapter “Which one to choose?” I hope it’ll help you. Here’s the link.
I will go to the store when A7s comes along and I will try it out with my lenses on a metabones adapter. If that works for me, my wife will have yet another reason for yelling at me! Just kidding! Have a great summer.
Hi, I don’t understand a lot of the numbers – I’m a painter, but I visit this site to keep up to date with what cameras are doing spatially. I send maybe a picture a week from here to my girlfriend and although beautifully photographed, nothing from this camera is send-worthy. It’s similar to soundstage in audio and I know it’s lens/cartridge dependent but Leica, although well beyond my means creates a stage in which I salivate. This camera can do remarkable things – but there is a lack of poetry. Art takes years to assess and its mediums also. The squirrel picture however was gorgeous – the colour rendering was emotional for me.
I don’t understand you. How can the same camera make you emotional with one picture (squirrel) and have a lack of poetry in others? It’s the same camera and a camera is not subjected to mood swings, as far as I know. 🙂 Don’t you think the poetry comes from the photographer?
But what do you really expect from a product review? A reviewer wants and needs to publish asap. Steve is doing a great job here, showing us so many different fine pictures. But it’s not fair to demand that the pictures that he publishes to illustrate features of the camera are all artworks as well. I think what he shows us in this limited time span with a camera that’s still new to him is outright amazing.
Quick question for anyone who can help. Will the Voigtlander 12mm work With the A7s?
I have spoken with a guy who uses that along with a 24 Lux on the S and has had no issues.
that’s what I’ve been waiting/wanting to hear :)) Thanks for sharing Voigt 12mm on the S!!!
“Bottom line? The fact that the A7s is discussed in the company of the Leica M says it all.”
Steve, Just look at your own review, you thought the A7/7r did not cut the mustard after thinking of dumping the M240. After a few months, you will forget the A7s and move on to the RX2 or the A7m or the RX1m. What redeeming features the M240 have other than being atrociously priced and once bought you are stuck with it. At least the over priced NEX5n remake the T has hours of polishing done to the aluminum body.
No one can escape your enthusiasm. It is great but it needs big walleted individuals to follow through with your recommendations. The A7s is way over priced, offers too little for still photography and is just for those who absolutely need 4k video and will spend another few thousands to make an unwieldy set up for it.
I have shot with the A7s 10X as much as I did with the A7 and A7r. The A7r and A7 had slower AF, could not focus in the dark, had no where near as good high ISO capability, had a cooler color cast and not as good of AWB. The A7s, for me, trumps the A7r and A7 in every way – from the silent mode, to quieter shutter to speed, to low light, to opening up many possibilities. I tried to shoot in a music club with me Leica M and a 50 1.4..I couldn’t..was much too dark and even pushed to ISO 6400 (M 240 max) I could not get better than 1/5 second.
When using the A7s in this situation it is not even a problem (and the A7 and A7r could not shoot here either).
Sometimes a camera comes along that is special in almost every way. The Olympus E-M1 is one of them. The Sony RX1 is another. The Sony A7s is the next for me. I still own an E-M1 and an RX1 though they have been sitting for a few months due to the use of the Leica and now the A7s. BUT, none can do what the A7s does, none of them.
Sure there will be new cameras and they will always get better and better, but for now, July 2014, nothing can touch the Sony A7s for low light use for stills and video, and the photos this guy makes in good light are just as fantastic as what comes from the A7 or A7r or even Leica.
Those who get caught up in the MP race are not really into the photography aspect but the gear/geeking aspect. The A7s is an amazing photographic tool, and the 1st to use wide angle leica lenses without any real issues. That alone is fantastic. So far I have seen results from the Voigtlander 12, 15 and 35 1.2 and 50 1.5. I have seen images from the A7s with 24 Lux and 50 Noct. All look amazing.
So when taking all of this into account, the fact that there are zero light limitations now and you can use Leica glass with great results, even close focus them..well, for me, there is not much more needed. Just add some IS in body (great for video) and a few new lenses and it’s about all anyone would ever really need. (except the pixel peepers).
HI Steve, thanks for the great review.
I was looking for a camera to take pics of my kids running around inside the house. So i need a fast AF low light performance camera. I also use the camera to take picture when my kids have performance at school. So i would use a zoom lens mostly.
I was eyeing on either Oly’s EM1 or Fuji’s XT1. I am using NEX 7 at the moment and frankly speaking, not really satisfied with the AF. Especially in low light.
After reviewing your review, i am interested in a7s and was just wondering on the A7s AF performance comparing to let say EM1 and XT1.
If you could give a scale from 1-10 with 10 is the fastest, how would you rate this a7s comparing to Em1 and Xt1? If you could rate them using their own brand’s zoom lenses, that would be great!
Thanks much for the reply Steve!
Well, many say the E_M1 does not have good continuous AF..
Truth be told, I rarely EVER use continuous AF and I always only use the center point. I have no issues with the E-M1 and I have no issues with the A7s. The A7 and A7r were on the slower side but the A7s is not a blazing fast AF camera. It is faster than the Nikon Df I had for a few weeks with Af (when using the kit 50 or 58 1.2 on the Df) and can focus in darkness. But lets say you delved in to a cave at midnight and tried to take pics of your running kids..not going to happen with ANY camera. None. But if you have some decent light coming in from windows, sure it is doable.
The Fuji is quick, but depends on the lens you are using. The 35 1.4 will focus slow and the A7s will give faster Af.
So all depends on lens used, light you have available, etc.
I really can’t give a number as I do not have an X-T1 on hand to test side by side. Maybe rent an A7s and give it a shot?
Thanks for the reply.
I understand fast or slow AF will depends on the lens you use. Thats why i asked u if u can rate them using their own respective brand lenses to have a fair ground as a “standard speed”
Since u dont have xt1, lets take that out of the equation.
In short, which one do u think is faster for AF in low light using? EM1 or a7s?
HI Steve. Many thanks for a great review and the fascinating photographs. I have made the move almost completely from SLR to mirrorless (I can’t bear to part with my A99) but have hung on to my A mount lenses and some old Olympus OM lenses. It has been fascinating using these lenses with my A7r and I can’t wait to try them with an A7s. My favourite photography is after sunset, and I love working with wide angle lenses, so the A7s sound perfect for the job, especially since I won’t need to carry a tripod. As I write this, my UPS package from B&H is in Cologne, for delivery on Sunday morning. I’m also looking forward to using it with the FE lenses for some street photography at night, once the temperatures drop a bit (it was 41C at 8:30 last night). The low light capability plus the silent shutter should make it a dream for this kind of work. What are the limitations of the silent shutter mode?
When using silent shutter just make sure you are not moving around when pressing the shutter (out of a moving car for example) or shooting something that is moving very fast. I have only run into the issue once, but just switched to the normal shutter and was fine.
Why at ISO 25,600 and above, the sample pictures are in B&W?
What do you think?
Hi to Steve or anybody else who has just received this camera!
I did post this earlier but it seems to have gone unnoticed 🙁
I am desperately hoping that someone may be able to answer the one burning question I have with regards to this camera? Is there any way of setting a minimum shutter speed in aperture priority mode? I have the A7R and this feature is sorely missed on this camera.. Would be very interested to know whether or not Sony listened to when people complained about this feature lacking on the A7 and A7R..
This feature is found in other cameras and for weddings/social type of photography is very important!
Ok, thanks so much!
Andrew — Setting a minimum shutter speed in aperture priority mode? Not that I’ve found yet.
You can in auto ISO with a D800 and other cameras; the A7’s don’t offer this???
I don’t think so. I’ve seen A7/r complaints about it but, so far, I haven’t discovered that the option has been included with the A7s. Seems like it would be an easy addition via a firmware update. Regarding my shooting, though, its absence is just a minor annoyance.
with manual lenses there is an easy trick – it works on A7, A7R, A7S and NEX7 without any hassle:
Choose shutter priority (S), select your desired shutter speed, select your aperture, and (within available or set limits) the rest is done by Auto ISO.
With AF lenses, same game works in manual setting (M) – just choose your initial aperture and shutter speed to allow Auto ISO to work in a sensible range.
Remember the NEX5, the first one? I don`t know whether Sony spit out a dozen or so Nex (or is it Nexes?) since. In less then one year they made the world happy with three A7. I suggest to wait for the next greatest thing, the A7x with IBIS, touch screen, AA filter free, iso 500000 capable MF sensor included. No, I have no beef with Sony, I own three of them. But sometimes it`s good to remember how relatively unimportant a new Sony camera body is as it will be superseded very very soon. Unlike a Leica M or Nikon DF.
But if it is better than the Leica (debatable I know) or the Df (can make a strong case here) it will *still* be better than those two cameras even after Sony releases something that is better still. Why complain about innovation? No one is forcing you to upgrade.
Will someone Sony/knowledgeable educate me on adapting Sony A Mount lenses on the A7 cameras? I’ve seen several references to greatly increased autofocus speed when using telephoto lenses. Does the performance approach that of a DSLR?
I use the Sony LA-EA4 adapter. It basically turns it back into a small DSLR but uses their translucent mirror technology so the mirror doesn’t have to move out of the way; it can be made smaller. It also allows for phase focus support for those traditional SLR lenses which seems about as fast as their other SLRs. Basically, any Sony Alpha lense will work on a A7x like they would a native Sony DSLR but of course, those lenses are heavier and larger even though the adapter is quite light.
Do you have any specific questions about it?
Daniel — No additional questions. Thanks for the helpful info. For my particular shooting requirements, the A7s is ideal but it would be nice to have DSLR–like tele autofocus speed for fast action. I’ve found that I can get the job done with current FE lenses but miss the auto-focus speed and reliability of the Nikon big iron I’ve previously used. But since action is only a fraction of what I shoot, no biggie. Still, I’ll look for someone with that adapter and an A-Mount lens to let me try them out.
Actually, I do have a question: Do you think an LA-EA4 adapter and the Sony 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 G SSM lens would get me to Nikon D600-like, DSLR autofocus speed and reliability on an A7s? Seems a stretch but your explainer above suggests it might. Hope springs eternal! It would be for lots-of-light, outdoor action so f/5.6 is no problem. I know this scheme somewhat negates the small size and weight advantages (to me) of the A7s but at least I wouldn’t have to drag along another camera body and lens to get improved autofocus performance.
There is a native FE 70-200 f/4 of course but as far as I can tell, almost every DSLR lense I have used has focused about the same speed as they did on a Sony SLR body. I didn’t have them at the same time to do a serious comparison and most of the lenses I have used have been primes… so a big zoom could be slower… but again, as far as I can tell, it seems to basically give the A7 series a relatively fast phase detection focus ability. Most of the time I have a 135mm STF on it which is a very interesting lens that’s worth looking into for anyone looking for great bokeh in ports, etc. but it’s a manual focus lens. I should probably use the slightly smaller LA-EA3 but the ‘4’ is very light.
Daniel — Thanks for the insight. I’ve just obtained an LA-EA4 and 70-300mm Sony A-Mount lens. On the A7s, the combo seems plenty speedy but I’ll give them a workout on moving subjects within the next several days.
Let us know how well it worked if you have a chance. I mostly shoot static subjects but found that it locked on rather fast but I didn’t try focus tracking, etc. I also tried the 24mm A mount for a few days… I liked it but really hope they bring something wide out in native FE soon. I would go for the A-24 but I have a Zeiss EF 21mm that works really well on the A7r to hold me over until (hopefully) a native FE 21-24mm shows up.
Mine arrived this morning. LOVE IT!!! I took in into a nearly black closet and shot video with ISO 25600, the images looked great. As hard as I tried I saw no noise. JUST AMAZING. The total game changer. By the way, go look at the Canon C300 & C500 specs/prices. Get ready to be shocked as how the Sony a7s holds up to cameras costing nearly 10 times as much.
The new 7s inspired me to go out and shoot a show last night. What a Great camera! Here is a link to some of the photos. I have include the metadata so you can see the settings:)
Wow, those are some really really nice shots Jim! The last one with musician looking to heavens under lights is frame-able. Not to taking anything away from the cam, but the dirty/grungy/band season really does lend itself well to high ISO, lots of noise/grainy pics. The camera is still managing to do a great job here but hard to really get a good feel for how well this is truly performing in relation to other high end, similarly priced bodies such as the Nikon D610, Canon 6D, Nikon DF, etc.
If anything, your great photography skills I think might just be masking the limitations of this body (if any). Sony should hire you! 😉
^^^^ what he said. +1 🙂
Sony Lens lineup is a joke … when fuji lens lineup is a dream come true
But Micro 4/3 has the BEST lineup, bar none. Best made, fastest AF, superb quality and vast selection. 🙂
Can you confirm if you heard the rumor about Zeiss releasing a 50mm 1.2 soon? Your on SAR today and we’re all wondering. Where did you hear that from?
Here it is again! Did you assume the 50mm 1.2 off of the supposedly fake FE roadmap?
I did not even know about that roadmap fake, never saw it in my life 🙂 Seriously.
That’s what I thought. Well, the dream is still alive!!! 50mm 1.2 on FE mount would be awesome. Heck, I just can’t wait for the announcement of the 5 Zeiss manual focus lenses at Photokina. This year just keeps getting better and better.
The 55 f/1.8 is amazing, I really hope they release 24mm and especially a 85 / 135mm prime before they go for a second 50’ish. Yes, a f/1.2 on a full frame is nice (I like the Canon 50mm f/1.2) but they really should fill out FE lens system before they double back to another 50. If they wait much longer, I might go for that alpha 24mm. Except for the added bulk, Alpha lenses focus fast and work great with the Sony adapter on the A7x’s.
I want my D700 back… 😉
Excellent review Steve. As a user of all 3 cams, I can agree and say my experience with the A7s is the best of the lot. I enjoyed the A7 (did a user review here) but traded up for its big brother tempted by the mega resolution, but the reality is mega big files choking hdd, a long pause (hang) to review photos/record video after 3pfs, super heavy moire on video (vimeo.com/95653162), and probably the most annoying issue is getting stares at quiet locations.
Like what Steve mentioned, the only great thing I get from the A7r is the Wow when pixel peep. Now with the A7s, I get useable high ISO images, faster processing, faster AF and the silent mode is a killer – the dog is no longer startled by the shutter, oblivious to what I’m doing he goes on watching the world cup – http://www.flickr.com/photos/115776367@N08/14372895817/in/photostream/
If Sony know what they are doing and 12Mp are enough (which I don’t contest), why do they overburden the RX100 with 20? Sorry, but I don’t think Sony have much of a clue, generally. They throw a very large amount of mud around, and some sticks.
The RX100 (..the various versions of it..) use(s) a fairly short zoom. With 20 mlxl you can crop (chop away the outside area) of, say, a 100mm shot to provide what looks like a 200mm shot, without losing too much resolution.
So it’s not “overburdening” the RX100 ..it’s making it a far more flexible camera than it seems at first glance, and giving better resolution than other comparably-sized compact cameras.
Yes they have had a hit and miss approach but now I think they are offering better choices for a wider range of photographers (although the lens line up needs work). A7r for those demanding super high resolution, A7 for the middle ground, A7s for lowlight freaks and snappier af etc as Steve mentioned and those who don’t want huge files. RX100 seems fine with 20mp and remember it is a fixed lens so the ability to crop is helpful, especially as they have shortened the lens to 70mm now. The RX100 iii with the pop up evf and wide 24mm lens at f2.8 is meeting the needs of many photographers, even more than previous models I would think. But you can’t please every one. : )
Nice photos, but I don’t think they’re any better than those that I can get with one of my Leicas/Leica lenses. As we approach infinity, there is little difference between one camera/lens and any other. The photo becomes the work of the photographer and not the technology of the camera or lens. Just my opinion.
The Sony A7 has 117 point phase detection and 25 point contrast detection auto-focus. The A7r and A7s only has detection auto-focus. Why the change? Have you noticed any auto-focus problems in low, even light?
better AF regardless of IQ…
Steve, I’m wondering about those low-light capabilities: the high ISO performance is amazing! But at the same time, the a7s does not have IBIS. IBIS can give you shutter speeds of up to 3-4 EV steps longer. I don’t know if the 55mm ƒ/1.8 has OIS, but IBIS tends to be a little more efficient still, so lets say it gives you 1EV more.
Now for those concert photos you need higher shutter speeds anyway, meaning IS isn’t that much use there (unless it’s a big concert and you’re using a telephoto lens). The a7s seems to be the perfect concert camera, considering the new silent eShutter! But what about other low-light shots, for example when out with friends? When sticking to the traditional rule, you’d probably stay above 1/50s with a 50mm lens. With IBIS you can get steady shots at 1/15s, maybe 1/10s, which is a difference of roughly 2 stops. Now I have an Olympus E-M5, even with the advantage of IBIS it is gonna fare far worse obviously. But what about for example the Alpha 99? It has a full frame sensor AND IBIS! So my question is: how big is the low-light advantage of the a7s really, compared to other systems with better IS?
To me it feels like Sony’s switch away from IBIS to OIS is a mistake.
I would never buy an A99 for my use. MUCH too large bulky and heavy. Also, different sensor, so different high ISO performance. As I said, if the A7s had in body IS like the ply, it would be my perfect camera and un-replaceable. But I would never compare it to a large DSLR as that is just not an option for me..I would never ever take it with me.
I think you might be missing out. It’s not really that bulky or heavy. The LCD screen and other features make it really flexible to use. I get your point about more flexibility with a smaller camera- especially street photography.
Just, thanks 🙂 Can i use the silent shutter with any lens? I love my RX1 with the silent shutter and the outstanding quality….
Yes, any lens.
While the photos do look impressive, the video mode leaves me completely cold: Very jittery and lots of nasty rolling shutter. It even shows in Steve’s video (at the end), but other videos with more motion in them look almost as awful as the Leica M. This might be a good video camera for people who attach an external 4K recorder and put the thing on a Steadycam or tripod, but as a normal consumer video camera for hand-held use it absolutely fails in my opinion. From everything I’ve seen I’d say even an Olympus camera is better for video!
Well, don’t go by my shaky handheld video which was mostly shot at 80k and 102k ISO, without IBIS you need a tripod or stabilization for best results. If you see rolling shutter its due to insane high ISO being used.
I don’t see any advantages of A7S over A7 or A7R if using solely for still photography.
A7S “shines” in video using wide dynamic range of s-log picture style and ability to pass 4K thru HDMI.
Plus – still not much to choose from natively supported lenses.
Even for video as a “run-and-gun” style it would require some rig to stabilize the camera shake.
I have A7 but very interested in A7s as a complementary camera for the following reasons:
1. Silent shutter- I frequently shoot theater and dance productions.
2. Better high ISO performance, especially in crucial (for my purposes) 3200-12800 range.
3. Better low light AF. A7s focuses down to -4eV as we here A7 works only down to 0eV.
A “complimentary” 2400 dollar camera- that’s ridiculous for the minor improvement in speed.
Ridiculous for you maybe! I used to shoot theatre and if I still did it would be well worth the cost. Live events like that are a small niche but for that niche these aren’t small improvements.
@John Lee: I’m curious how it goes for you. It does sound very ideal! Will you use the FE70200 or wait for Sony to release some fast telephoto primes?
Thanks for this great review, Steve!
But I’d really like to ask you something about the Zeiss Planar 45mm. I guess this must be a converted Contax G lens. I have that lens too, but I need to mount it with a Techart adapter, that transmits the electronic data. But the focusing doesn’t really work for me. You use it with an M-adapter, as I understand, so without data transfer. But what about the focusing? In my version, the focusing needs to be done with a small wheel on the adapter, or by AF. It’s not really good for MF, IMO, pretty battery consuming as well and no magnification mode in the EVF. How does that work for you? How do you focus this lens?
This lens is an all manual lens, converted for M use. I used the M to E adapter to use it on the A7s. Just anaul focus. Not the lens you are thinking of.
I suspected something like that. But honestly, I know of only one Zeiss Planar 45mm f/2, and aparently so does the internet. 🙂 So I’m extremely curious about this lens…
Dirk, the Techart adaptor works fine for me with this camera and G2 lenses: autofocusing with the Techart and G2 lenses is much faster than with the Techart and G2 lenses on my NEX F3 (..maybe more AF points on the A7S sensor than on the little F3 sensor, and it’s more recent technology). It never fails ..for me.
The adaptor – and camera – work great with the Zeiss G2 21mm wide-angle (as well as with all the other G2 lenses): no vignetting, clear and sharp to the edges. A really wonderful combination of excellent – and small – and cheap! – autofocus lenses, with a capture-anything camera!
David, does the Biogon G 21 really work well with the A7s? (no smearing in the corner, say around f/5.6 or f/8) This would be the first since the lens is among the most problematic ones to be adapted on a sony mirrorless. This would open up a lot of other small WA RF lenses. I would love to see a sample shot. Thank you.
I don’t have my iPhoto Library with me today (..on a separate disc, and I’m travelling..) so I can’t post you a picture right now, and I haven’t used the 21mm at “..around f/5.6 or f/8..” ..I’ve been using it only at its max aperture of f2.8.
But scenes, people or things I shoot have not all been at the same distance from the lens, so only what I’ve wanted to be pin sharp has been, and the rest falls away into softness: that’s how I use a lens, especially a wide aperture lens; things are sharp at the edges only if I’ve focused on what’s at the edge! ..And I don’t shoot brick walls or newsprint to see if lenses work well with particular cameras ..I’m a “real world shooter”, like Steve, not an obsessive, what’s the term, er, “pixel peeper”.
So I won’t be able to show you examples for a few days ..and they’ve been shot at f2.8 anyway! Sorry.
P.S: The design, or “field curvature”, of the 21mm f2.8 means that things which are further away than whatever’s in the centre of the image will be in sharp focus at the edges. That’s a feature which delivers sharpness of backgrounds with the 21mm when you focus on something closer near to the centre of the photo.
It just struck me that you wrote about “..smearing in the corner..” ..but “smearing” isn’t noticeable – to me, anyway – if you take into account how the lens works: if you shoot a person in the centre of the image, with a cupboard at the edge of the frame at the same distance from the lens as the person, then the cupboard will appear “smeared”, as it’ll be out of focus.
But if you shoot a person at the centre of the frame, with a cupboard some distance behind them at the edge of the picture, then the cupboard will NOT look “smeared”, because it, too, will be in sharp focus ..at any aperture.
So you do need to take into account the characteristics of the particular lens. Like using the little Leica 16-18-21mm lens: anything at the edges that’s nearer than whatever’s in the centre will look extremely -s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d- (..such as a person’s hand which may be nearer to the camera than their face..) ..but if what’s at the edge is NO CLOSER than what’s in the centre, then it won’t look disproportionately stretched.
And so I’m dubious about people saying that the Zeiss G2 21mm f2.8 may give “smearing” in the corners, or at edges; it may be that some people who are using it don’t quite understand how the lens normally behaves, and what they need to be aware of when using it. In other words, it focuses further away at the edges than it does in the centre.
David, thank you for the response. I was using the old Contax Distagon 21 mostly for landscape, so I’m quite interested in the performance for such application. Smearing is quite distracting for the symmetrical design (like this biogon) even without pixel-peeping. Personally, I don’t shoot brick wall or newspaper either, but I do look for quite a uniform character at f/5.6 or f/8 (maybe f/11 though I would do focus stack instead). Much appreciated if you can test it out real quick. I’m traveling right now and will be back mid-August to test out the A7s and the Biogon. Thank you once again.
Thanks for your reply David. But…
DOES ANYBODY KNOW WHAT ZEISS LENS STEVE USED HERE?? I can’t find any info on a manual focus Planar 45/2. A great thanks in advance for any information!
Concerning the AF of the G Planar, mine works alright too. Yet it’s not fast at all. I will focus faster with a manual ZM lens. But I’m a MF guy. I had hoped I could use this lens in MF as well – in about the same way that I use my ZM lenses. But it can only be focused manually through the small wheel of the adapter. First of all, this is a lot slower than with a real MF lens like the ZMs, but it’s also not as precise as a genuine MF lens. There’s no smooth adjusting, it goes in “steps”. Optically, I love this lens, but IMO it’s not a modern lens, as far as ergonomics are concerned. BUT… it’s still a real Zeiss lens. And one can buy for a very interesting price.
Well, only Steve can tell you which lens he used!
He said “..This lens is an all manual lens, converted for M use. I used the M to E adapter to use it on the A7s..”
Note: “..converted for M use..” ..so it may have been originally built for some other mount.
Mr Miyazaki of MS Optical converts some of the Contax G lenses to fit on other mounts, such as Leica – although I bought his ‘Sonnetar’ 50mm f1 lens which was pretty silly and poor, and I immediately sent it back and got a refund!
Perhaps Steve was using one of those conversions. You can see one or two of them if you Google for “Contax G to Leica M Lens Conversions”.
There are various manual focus convertors available (..so that you can use the autofocus Contax G Zeiss lenses on different camera bodies..) such as the Techart, Metabones, Kipon and other brands which you can find new on eBay. The Metabones seems to have the easiest focus adjustment (a big collar) compared with the awkward little wheels used on the others.
You say “..mine works alright too. Yet it’s not fast at all..” ..no, it’s not as fast as, say, the instantaneous autofocus of an Oly E-M1. But you just have to allow for that. ‘Pre-focus’, if possible; allow half a second or so for the focus, so squeeze the focus / shooting button halfway down BEFORE you intend to shoot, so that the lens is already focused and you’re just waiting for the right moment to squeeze it all the way down to actually shoot your picture. It just takes a bit of practice, that’s all. It’s just like allowing for the time it takes to ‘double-declutch’ when driving an old manual ‘stick-shift’ vehicle. It becomes second-nature after a while.
Hello David. Steve said this lens was not the AF G Planar, the one that I own. It was a real MF lens, he said. But I know of no other Zeiss 45mm f/2 Planar than the AF G model. So my question is: does anybody know of a MF 45/2 Planar?
Concerning the AF: I simply don’t like to use it in the way you discribe it. I have tried it in the past, exactly in that way, but it doesn’t do the job for me. Sorry. I can work faster in MF. And I find it a lot more joyful, … with better results.
Dirk, I think what Steve meant is that it is *no longer* a Conax G lens. The full lens conversion keeps the optics but has a whole new housing and it manual focus only with a manual focus ring like you’d get on any Leica, CV, etc. lens. It is optically the same but in every other way a different beast.
My point regarding pixel peepers on this site Dirk, is that most commenters on this site have NEVER used the camera they are commenting on. And thinking that 12 megapixels is not an adequate amount is ludicrous. How can I judge the qualities of a camera that I have never used? By looking at a 100% blow up of a pixel? Looking at Steves photos provided in this review, THE WHOLE IMAGE, and not a fraction of it.. and in reality a print, is the only way to get a true measure of what the camera is capable of. Did Ansel Adams judge his images by looking at blow up of grain structure? No. He stood back at the proper distance depending on the size of a particular print, and then judged its qualities. And 12 megapixels on a full frame camera will render clearer and cleaner 11X 14 prints than I used to get from my 4X5 camera 4 decades ago. IMHO if one has not owned a camera over a reasonable period of time, they are not qualified to render a verdict regarding its ultimate usefulness. PARTICULARLY by pixel peeping. No offense intended.
Well, yes…and no. As much as I appreciate the qualities of the A7s, the demands of photographers are relentless. Try telling Thomas Struth or Gregory Crewdson that 12 MP is enough. For them, it is clearly not.
I’m really surprised by the interest in this camera. Sony has made this to compete in video, where they had dropped the ball with the a7 and a7r. They purposely made this camera to not be in the same ball park as the a7 and a7r in terms of picture quality. If you don’t primarily use this for video, you are paying for a lot of features for no reason. Sony would be better served by supporting the a7 and a7r with a complete lens system.
12MP is better than the absurd pixel count of the a7r. The larger photo sites of the a7s will equal greater dynamic range and most importantly prints that look more organic and transparent. Picture quality is NOT better with more megapixels..you just clog your hard drive and increase your processing time, and hugely increase developing artifacts.
Go watch the Camera Store review 😉
He concurs with David that for video, this camera is superb, but for stills it is somewhat lacking. The silent mode seems to have some quality issues also…
Sadly they did not use it enough for taking real photos. The camera, for photos is superb and I concur that it is a double whammy, amazing for photos and for video. In fact, I prefer this camera for photos that any other camera I have used in years. Just different opinions but I have used this thing for weeks day in and day out, for taking photos. It has not left me disappointed in any way, shape or form. I mentioned the issues I had with silent shutter on one rare occasion. Was an easy fix, use the normal shutter. The A7s is the most capable/versatile/creative 35mm camera I have ever used.
For Steve this is a great camera, and for some others it will be too. For most people this is not a compelling camera. Sony knows this, they aren’t marketing this for photos. In fact the reviews outside of Steve’s have been quite poor.
The quality speaks for itself. Most reviewers do not actually USE the camera. They go out and snap a few random shots of trees or bricks. They use it for a few hours at most and write up a review based on stats and what they see in the camera. I use the camera, have taken a load of photos with it and have seen what it can do. I know my cameras and the A7s is probably my favorite all around camera that I have ever reviewed, ever. Highly capable, great IQ, nice speed, superb video, great color and pop, M mount use..there is really NOTHING to not like about it, or love about it. Any reviewer who says it is poor for photos has not really used it to its potential, plain and simple. Or they are pixel peepers who get off on high res crops. I have more to lose than to gain by raving about this camera..90% of my advertisers are Leica based sellers 🙂
But me, I am buying the A7s as I have never seen a more capable digital camera ever. I am NOT saying dump a Leica M, as the A7s is a different tool altogether. I love the Leica M and always will (unless they release a stinker model) but the A7s is in reality (and I am always real and honest) a more versatile camera, but with lower MP. The E-M1 is more versatile as well over an M. But an M is an M, you do not get that experience or build with anything else.
Bottom line? The fact that the A7s is discussed in the company of the Leica M says it all. It is superb for photos just as much as it is video, unless you have a MP thing going on and truly feel you can’t take a good pic with a lower MP camera 😉
I couldn’t agree more with Steve. This camera is capable of extraordinary stills in challenging light. Mine arrived yesterday and I’ve been shooting under all types of conditions, particularly in an indoor, dog- training room lit by daylight-balanced fluorescents. The results I’m getting far surpass any camera I’ve used there over the years including a Nikon D3s, D600, the Oly E-M1, a Leica M9 and the Sony A7. “Quite poor” reviews notwithstanding, the A7s is amazing for those of us who want less noise and a wider range of shutter speed/aperture combos at higher ISOs. In the environment I referenced above, I see virtually no noise at 1600, 3200 and 6400 — even pixel peeping at 1:1. Last night I grabbed some shots of my dog in a darkened, basement theater room at 20,000 ISO that are terrific. Yes, getting usable stuff at nose-bleed ISOs is fun but I’m far more interested in high IQ with the least amount of noise at reasonable ISOs like those I’ve mentioned. Say what you will but, like Steve, I’m finding the A7s is dynamite for my particular work. Quality judgments are subjective and requirements vary, I guess, but you’ve got to try it to believe it. Steve, you are spot-on.
Actually the lower mp help the poor photographer, which might explain some of the appeal of the camera. Thank you for the info on all other camera reviews, I didn’t realize that you were the only one who’s opinion counts.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have one. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Leica M 240 sucks in low light. In fact, I can see the difference when it’s shot above base ISO 200. A nice camera but Meh, I prefer my Monochrom. Now if the A7s can do better with wider Leica glass, I’d sell the M 240 tomorrow and get an A7s for color work…
A pixel peeper will never be a great photographer. One is inconsistent with the other. One is science the other is photographic vision. A great photographer, and there are VERY few, would take great photographs with any camera. W. Eugene Smith, and other great photographers of his time, used 35mm slr’s and twin lens reflex 6X6 film cameras. Their images changed the political and cultural landscape. Pixel peeping to gauge a cameras qualities is as useless as commenting on a film cameras ability by viewing the grain structure of the film in it. LOOK AT THE PHOTOGRAPHS THAT STEVE TOOK WITH IT. That’s is all you need to know. My cropped sensor X Pro makes exquisite 20X30 prints. And there are many reviewers who think it is a pile of crap. But I have learned OVER TIME, to maximize its capabilities. Personally, and this is just my personal opinion, the more I stay away from pixel peeping, the better my photographs get.
Of course a “pixel peeper” can be a great photographer. It seems to be a common misconception that an artist must be a technological simpleton who doesn’t care how the magic black box works and it’s potential quality. Most great artist were very knowledgeable about their tools and chose their tools though extensive evaluation. Of course, they sometimes gave up quality for convenience but most of the great photographers of the past were using some of the best equipment of their time. I know it’s common for photographers to state how great their 4mp cameras were and they could print huge prints that were great but I wonder why these people rarely continue to shoot these cameras today except for nostalgia reasons? I actually doubt there are few great photographers / artist who did not care deeply about the quality of their material or tools. Even Banksy probably picks the all-weather spray paint over the cheep stuff.
Last point on this camera… It’s advantage is its low resolution and low light abilities … There is no reason to use good glass on this. Find a decent kit zoom and go to town, this camera can’t resolve fine details well enough to benefit from anything better. Don’t spend extra on a 1.4, or god forbid a 1.2 etc… Why would you? Just jack the ISO up. enjoy the camera I’m sure it’s good.
Wrong!! Using good glass on ANY camera will yield benefits, so not sure how you could say this when it is 100% incorrect! There are people out there using the $11k Notcilux on this camera and getting beautiful results, magical in some cases..rich color, massive character, and the signature look that “jacking up the ISO and using any old lens” will NEVER get you. I have see the character come out of many lenses on this body, the 35 1.2 for example is gorgeous. 12 MP is plenty for 99.9% of people in reality. But again, if you are a pixel peeper and view your photos at 100% for the WOW moment (seeing mass detail at 100%) then this is not going to please you, but then again, that has nothing..nothing to do with photography.
But using good lenses is an absolute necessity with this camera, just as it is with others if you want the best quality, character and color.
I choose lenses mainly for their character and a kit zoom will NEVER EVER get you anywhere close to what this guy is capable of.
I think a lot of the rave for this camera has to do with Sony’s shortcomings with the A7/R. What I love about my EP5 is fast focusing speed, silent and fast recording times. I see the A7S and upping the ante as far as the cameras performance goes. This is just a byproduct of the smaller files at 12MP. I just hope they can build a A7S/R as nice as my EP5- now that would be something.
“A pixel peeper will never be a great photographer. One is inconsistent with the other…” ???
This statement is so very wrong. If you’d make a parallel statement in music, you’d say: “A pianist that plays no fair amount of false notes will never be a great musician.” Are you serious?
Personally, I prefer a player that from time to time misses a note but really tells a story above a sterile perfectionist. But I recently heard Krystian Zimerman play in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and I can assure you: he’s about the worlds greatest poet on the piano and at the same time, his play is superhumanly perfect.
Why would it be different with photography? IMO: without ever forgetting your story(!), don’t use it as an excuse to neglect your technique.
Thanks for all your work Steve, I love your reviews! You made me buy many leica M glass 😉
I have an A7 and I’d like to know how good is this camera with old rangefinder glass but not only wideangles but 50mm. Specially “smearing” in the borders. A test using a summarit in the A7s against Leica M240 would be great ! thanks!
Got the A7S yesterday (already have the A7R), and right away did a torture test shooting a nighttime soccer game with my 70-200 f/4 FE lens mostly at around 25000-40000 ISO. Unbelievable results. When I want to go out and shoot landscape or other photos where I think I may want to print big, I will use my A7R, but the other 90% of my time when I am shooting family, friends and casual events I will be using the A7S, and I love the smaller file size. The shutter sound and feel (when I am not shooting in silent mode) is much nicer than the A7R too – almost sounds like my old Leica M9 or a film camera – more of a quieter “snick” than a “thump.”
Thanks for the review! Now I’m very very tempted to get the A7s.
So Steve, do you think it’s worth it to sell all of my Nikon gear and go to Sony all the way?
Only you can answer that!
Yes, you right about that…
Btw Steve, can you share more of your experience with VC 15mm and VC 12mm? I remember you use the latter one briefly in the past. I can’t decide between the two. I’ve search for the answer online, it’s still inconclusive.
I’ve used both, and the 15mm is definitely more useful on full frame. It gives usable pictures. The 12mm is really TOO wide for most shots, and makes things which are close to the camera at the edges of the frame look really distended and grotesque. You need to be sure, with the 12mm, that anything at the edges of the frame is further away than what’s at the centre, otherwise the whole appearance is odd and peculiar ..on full frame, anyway. The stretching can be corrected with software (e.g; DxO Viewpoint, Fisheye-Hemi, Photo Ninja) but the correction tends to make horizontal lines curved!
On the other hand, if you’re using a smaller APS or m4/3 sensor, the 12mm’s edges are cropped away, and thus give the appearance of a 18mm (on APS) or 24mm (on m4/3).
Note that the 15mm has an aperture of f5.6, but the 15mm has a slightly wider maximum aperture of f4.5, so can be used at a slightly faster shutter speed.
I hardly ever use the 12mm, except as a workable wide-angle on a smaller-than-full-frame (APS or m4/3) camera. The 15mm is much more useful on a full frame camera like the A7S, whereas the 12mm is really just a hardly-ever-used gimmick for when you just can’t step backwards in a very confined space..
CORRECTION: “Note that the 12mm has an aperture of f5.6, but the 15mm has a slightly wider maximum aperture of f4.5″
Hi David. Thank you for your answer! It’s a very useful information for my consideration
Thanks for the great review.
At last peace has broken out in the war of the pixels! Thanks for a super review!
Your A7S with those 3 lenses Steve is still a $5000 proposition. 🙂 I mean it’s good that you think it’s comparable to your $12,000 Leica set up, don’t get me wrong…..buuuuuuut……
Well, a Leica M with three lenses…$7K body and three comparable lenses (can’t use the 15 on the M for color work) will come in at around $15k So, $10k less…for less capability in many situations. $10k is a lot of cash, at least in my world!
Thank you very much, Steve, for superb as always review. I am still sitting on Pentax K-5II with the set of its FA Limited fantastic lenses waiting for the native FF. You know very well all nowadays tendencies in camera building business. So how do you think if we could expect something really overcoming the results of A7s, Df meaning size (relatively) and especially PICTURE (color, noise, etc.)? I did not mention d80*0* and others of the kind because they are really special instruments. So in principle can we expect real improvement in the near future from above point of view? Though it seems to me Pentax put a lot in 645Z, so will not be able – as always, unfortunately, – to present FF this year…
Great review as always! I am hoping you may be able to answer the one burning question I have with regards to this camera? Is there any way of setting a minimum shutter speed in aperture priority mode? I have the A7R and this feature is sorely missed on this camera.. Would be very interested to know whether or not SOny listened to when people complained about this feature lacking on the A7 and A7R..
Ok, thanks so much!
Is it possible to take photos while recording video?
any intend to do a crazy / fun comparison between sony A7s + 35mm f2.8 vs Olympus EM1 + 17mm F1.8?
Thanks for the review! Sony doesn’t seem to put much emphasis into stabilization. Any idea why? I thought they did some technology sharing with Olympus. I know it can shoot high ISO but sometimes you want slower shutter speeds. The lenses are already slower than some would like and like you mentioned the 5 axis stabilization would make this a very complete camera.
I love this review and the camera. Thank you so much, Steve. Is there a way to use a flash on this camera in TTL mode? What flash would it be? I am not quite convinced to ditch my Fuji X100S but, unless Fuji comes up with an answer to the Sony A7S, I will switch my brand loyalty to Sony. Also, does the A7S use phase detection auto-focus? Thanks.
Me and my friends used to be argue about megapixels. Then we agreed, it doesn’t matter anymore. Because we found out, that some of our favourite movies are mastered in 2K, which mean it’s just 2048×1080 in resolution. It’s look great on a big screen. Some movies are in 4K (4096×2160).
So 12 megapixels in this camera is more than enough for consumer, if it already plenty for Hollywood.
This is just an opinion.
Shooting in normal light give you the best color quality but under low light and kind of artificial light sources, you’ll get degrade quality of image, the images start become a bit flat, harsh, too contrast, color shift, color noises, losing ‘POP’ surface, smudging, etc.
Correct me if i am wrong. it just my observation
Thanks again Steve, another great review! Do you mind posting more pics of the A7s with the 50APO? I remembered seeing one shot of a squirrel. Can’t wait to see how leica classes work on the A7s. cheers!
For an excellent, professional and thorough comparison among the three A7 models, check out “The Sony a7 Series: Which Model Suits You Best?” from B&H —
There are thoughtful application recommendations and direct comparisons of stills and videos for the three. I found the differences not to be as great as I expected.
John, I am not sure what you are expecting. Not only the A7s has better ISO performance compared to other two (together with what Steve already pointed out), it also manages to have higher DR at base ISO (that’s what the D3s and Df couldn’t manage when compete with a higher MP camera). In short, it has better DR than the other two at all ISO with better SNR as well. This is the 1st review I have seen showing that the DR of the A7s is indeed as advertised (15.2 stops). I suspect that the DxO A7s sample was not updated with the DR firmware.
Sony A7s vs. Fuji XT-1? AF? EVF? Thought I was sold on the Fuji, now I’m not so sure. Thanks man!
A7 series, any of the models.
Try it – take a few hours to compare side by side, and to compare results from RAW.
So you selling your M240 then?
Steve, one of the most pressing questions for me is how much better the A7S sensor is with RF lenses than the A7/A7R. The CV 15 works well, which is very promising. Would be great to hear a bit more about other RF lenses. Thank you.
Amazing photos..excellent review..looks like 80% talent and 20% A7s
Mine arrived today via B&H. Got a metabones nikon g to e mount adapter and threw the 50 1.4G, 85 1.4G and zeiss 100 f2 makro at it. This camera makes manual focusing so easy. Optical viewfinders from my nikon DSLR’s make me feel like I’m going blind, but this sony, wow, what a joy to use. I got this camera primarily for manageable file size and great low light performance. I went around and shot a bit in the dark at 102k iso with the zeiss and just amazed how well this thing sees in the dark. Really happy and impressed, can’t wait to take this to manhattan tomorrow. The pics so far bring a smile to my face when reviewing the images after every shot.
Enjoyed and followed your reviews and updates on the a7s, keep up the awesome work, Steve!
This is the coolest photo you have EVER taken Steve. I am saving for this camera and will use an affiliate link of yours BECAUSE of that amazing photo. Be proud.
I love your enthusiasm! Breath of fresh air vs all the negative photo websites on the web.
Love you –
Cindy from Seattle
Hey Steve, movie mode in 1080 is downsampled from full sensor readout?
how practical is it to manual focus with focus peaking? i’m thinking about buying this camera but want to keep all my eos lenses, and some of them would loose autofocus.
thx in advance
Hello Arturo. If you wanna use eos lenses on the Sony, you absolutely need to use the Metabones adapter that transfers all electronic data. It works great, although I suspect the AF to be somewhat slower than on a “native” Canon body. But I used autofocus, it beeped and focused perfectly…
Steve, great review. Two questions I have:
1) you say the A7S has the “same body and same feel as the A7.” The A7 has plastic dials and front body, while the A7R is all metal with metal dials. Which does the A7S have?
2) do you know whether the A7S sensor has an AA filter or not?
These are two questions i am interested in, too. I could not find the answers on the web.
BTW… if you haven’t done firmware update 1.02 yet you need to.
Corrects AWB yellow/Blue casts at lower light, improves auto focus and other anomalies.
Appreciate the review Steve, very much enjoy your site and check back frequently. Despite the praise, every time I consider making the jump to the Sony A7x system, I always come up short when taking a look at their meager native lens selection. Sure, if I want some fast and oddball primes I could get adapters and search around eBay but why Sony is lacking SO FAR behind in the native lens dept is really confusing.
Not to mention the fact that the reviews for their native lenses are not really overwhelmingly convincing that the glass is really all that great. This compared to some of the Fuji X or Olympus M43 lenses which (though expensive) really do receive high praise.
Why are the Sony’s limited, expensive, and relatively slow (F4 70-200 zoom, 1.8 prime, etc).
Sony would do themselves a TON of good if they could get off their buts and put out some really stellar, reasonably priced fast glass for this system.
I think the Canon 6D got this beat in low light.
IQ is somewhat subjective, but IMO the A7s is much better after iso 10000. AF in low light the 6D center point is good, but the A7s is much better (not subjective).
QBNY- I can tell you without question that the low light capabilities of the A7s easily surpass that of the 6d by roughly 1.5-2 stops depending on the situation (ie: 25,600 on 6d looks roughly like 80,000-102,400 on the A7s). Clearly noise patterns are all subjective and some are more pleasing than others. I tend to prefer the Canon noise patterns (fine and film like) however the picture degradation on the Canon above 25,600 makes it completely unusable. I don’t feel the same way about the A7s until I surpass 102,400.
I own both cameras and have been shooting with the 6d on a weekly basis for the last year. I just replaced it with the A7s for the bulk of what I do. So much of my shooting is documentary style in poor light so this is the key factor for me. I think the DXOMark measurements are pretty spot on to my subjective opinion for DR and SNR at ISOs above 6400 (in their comparison tool for these two cameras). I only switched because the high ISO improvement is at least 1 stop, sometimes 2 (replacing my 2.8 lens with the 4.0 offering from Sony – I needed to get that stop back somewhere and I do it by upping the ISO)
Steve, thanks so much for all you do!
Long time fan, first time comment. I do have a burning question about the A7s… does it have back button focus? Will it let you release the shutter without having to go into manual focus mode? I’m so used to all the Canon DSLRs allowing back-button focusing that my Fuji’s inability to drives me mad. I feel like though the Sony’s are amazing, the inability to back-button focus might drive me mad as well. Excellent and thorough post, thank you!
Nice review as always, but I have to say I am not so enthusiastic about the high ISO shots. I don’t think they are really that good. It tells a lot that most of the high ISO shots shot in the dark are black and white.
I somewhat take back my comment. After looking at them some more they are pretty good although I expected somewhat better.
IMHO it still blocks up the color pretty horribly at ultra-high ISOs under artificial light … which means such files are still really only useful for web resolution.
I think the most important accomplishment here is cleaner files at normal ISO values, and “traditionally” higher ISOs, like 6400. I’ve yet to shoot with a camera that really delivers fully useable, no-compromise files past ISO 6400 (and I include the D3s and Df — both of which I shoot/have shot with — in that appraisal).
There’s no question that Sony builds superlative sensors. Cameras? They still have quite a ways to go when it comes to ergonomics, IMO. Compare the A7 beside and E-M1 and it quickly becomes obvious which company has a history of building cameras … and which does not.
btw: If a “professional” is asking you if 12 megapixels is enough resolution, then they’re not a professional. 🙂
Not really sure, a range of ISOs would be great. It would be interesting to see how high one can push it before noise becomes an issue. Many thanks for doing this!
(Not sure why my previous reply didn’t show up as a reply to post #2…)
Another great review Steve, thank you! In one of your pre-review posts you talked about another credible reviewer’s assessment of the A7s images being so good that they had a medium format quality to them. The images you’ve posted here are very impressive, would you compare the A7s’ output to MF?
Speaking of medium format, have you heard anything verifiable about Sony and Fujifilm leaping into the format?
Well, I will be real curious when mine arrives tomorrow.
Perhaps I’ll find that I’m a ‘size queeen’ though, as these A7r images just don’t quit….and SERIOUS dynamic range!!!
I don’t even THINK about the shutter sound…
To be clear… I have the Canon glass. The funds from the M240 will cover the bodies, but not much more.
The question you should really ask is are you satisfied with your current setup and have you really fully exploited it’s potential?
satisfied… yes… curious too…!!!
So, if I sell my M240 body there should be enough for an a7s and a7r. Lots of Canon glass. Metabones IV and keep most of my Leica lenses when I don’t need AF. Add a sweet Zeiss 15mm… Oh Good Lord, what torture…!
Keep my 6D for when I need/want a mirrored system…
Holy Smokes Steve…! You really got my flummoxed now. Put my Noctulux on an a7s for black cats in a coal mine and my 50 cron with this ISO monster should cover almost everything else…
Dammit Steve… you are an engine of discontent …
Wish you could get the Voigtländer 35 1.2 for the wide angle post. And one of the Zeiss ZM lenses. Would be amazing.
Thanks for your reviews. In a way, they are the best.
Fabulous writeup and I think you’re absolutely spot on as the A7S and 55 1.8 for AF seems like the best choice/combo. One dumb question…I thought the A7 series have the option of FF or crop mode. Is that just for the AF sony lenses or for all manual focus lenses too. If so, would cropping a ultra ultra wide lens make the vignetting issue moot? Just wondering.
Seems like an amazing camera!
Just ordered mine with the 35mm since I mostly shoot wide. Thanks for the review and such a fun site.
Respectfully, Steve, you need a proofreader. Your posts all have a lot of spelling and punctuation mistakes. Anyway, thanks for the thoughtful article.
Ive been mis-spelling for 6 years, part of the secret to my success. 🙂 All that matters is that you know what I am saying, and I think you do. Thanks
It is indeed part of the secret of his success. It gives the impression we’re talking with him in a casual situation. It makes it look like real life conversation.
I just assumed it was an Arizona accent coming through…
Thanks for the review Steve! I’m currently shooting with a GX7… how does the AF speed of the native mount primes on the A7S compare to a GX7 with a relatively fast focusing lens like the olympus 25 f/1.8 or 45 f/1.8?
thank you very much for your work!
I am deciding between a7r – a7s and leica T ( not easy).
My focus is architectural and landscape ( Zeiss 15mm …)
I appreciate What do you suggest?
For architecture and landscape, I would go with the A7R.
Can you explain more why A7R? In his review Steve said it’d be better with A7 for wider angle lens
I still question the difference in noise between this and a A7R file down sampled to 12mp…
what do you think Steve?
Not sure but its a different camera. Faster AF, Better Video, MUCH better at extreme ISO’s (A7r can’t go to the extremes) and Quieter.
The A7r will have better acuity when down-sampled, but the noise performance will be better on the A7s.
Larger photosites and slightly newer tech specifically designed for low light performance.
Hi, Steve, nice review, one thing I like to mention, I saw a big dust spot or stain on the LCD screen of the Sony. Did you notice that, does this Sony has a dust removal function for the sensor ?
Wonderfull review, and pictures, Steve!
Good stuff. I can’t say I like the noise rendition at very high ISOs much especial the BW images of the musicians. Certainly looks very clean up to ISO 6400 which is good for 95% of my photography and nice to have the extra when required. Sony colours look nice and neutral but not quite as nice as my Fuji X100.
Love the rendering with the 15 Voigtlander. One thing I have heard Steve is some people do not enjoy the handling of the A7 series. You seem happy with it though. Thanks for the review.
Great review Steve! The A7S is perhaps the true successor to that legendary camera – the Nikon D700.
I’m a little conflicted because I love to shoot night images (my favourite genre) and this camera is absolutely ideal for that!! However, I also like to have the ability to crop. So it may be that the A7 is the best option for me right now… but I’m definitely glad Sony has come to market with this (bold!) design. In future, I may well switch from the A7 to a dual, A7S/A7R combo.
Very nice images as usual. Cool shot of Brandon… and fantastic night images.
I’ve heard rumour (from a pretty reliable source) that there’s some fast glass on the way (over the next year) that I think will complement the A7S very nicely.
What an interesting time we live in!
All the best!
I have been considering the A7 as affordable upgrade to the M8, but still i cannot imagine shooting with a camera that has no optical VF.
These days, for me, EVF’s are better than optical. With an optical you would never be able to see in dark locations when shooting. The EVF brightens it all up. Also, good EVF’s today are VERY good. Older EVF’s were lacking but the best of the lot today (Sony, Fuji X-T1, New Olympus) are fantastic.
This was awesome “Even MC Hammer would say that the Nikon Df can’t touch this” 🙂
Great review once again. How about the Mitakon? do you like this lens on the 7 and how does it compare to the Sony/Zeiss 55mm.
I realize that a major appeal of the A7s for you is its ability to produce usable images at mind-boggling ISOs. This is very cool but I’m hoping those fewer-but-fatter pixels yield higher quality (less noise) toward the lower end of the ISO spectrum, as well.
At ISOs like 6400, 8,000 and even 10,000 in less-than-ideal, indoor lighting, has it been your experience that the A7s sensor produces less noise than any of the other, high-end cameras you’ve used?
Steve showed an example at 1600 ISO that “Looks like base ISO of some cameras :)”.
I’m sure that holds true for the ISO range and conditions that you mention.
Excellent! I read the quote and saw the impressive photo but didn’t make the connection to my wish. Thanks! I am eager to try the A7s in my particular environment — not dark but certainly not ideal!
Had to grab one from B&H thanks to your inspiring review!
Already have the A7,, but this seems way more versatile and all rounded.
Many thanks Steve,, keep up the good work!
Not really sure, a range of ISOs would be great. It would be interesting to see how high one can push it before noise becomes an issue. Many thanks for doing this!
Great review Steve! Thanks for taking the time to put it together.
My A7s was just delivered, a couple observations compared to my A7. The AF is definitely faster, just roaming around my house in the middle of a typical sunny Florida afternoon – it locks faster and hunts less, especially when I point it into dark rooms. The shutter is identical in volume to the A7, but I’ve never used the A7r – which is supposed to be louder. I may record both in a soundbooth to see if there are actually any real differences, but its not an issue.
I bought the A7 & A7s to replace my giant 5d3 kit for stills and paid video gigs. It was/is a bit of a leap of faith as I’ve been using the 5d2/3 for years, but the superior DR and low light capabilities – combined with much better sharpness than Canon at 1080p – means this camera will easily replace the 5d3 and IMO will be an amazing natural light documentary camera. I’m shooting some beach tourism stuff later this summer and hopefully the A7s will be my main camera.
My wife and I are also taking a year to travel around the world starting in Dec. 2015 and I’ll be photoblogging and shooting a doc about the experience. The A7s, 3-4 lenses, and RX100m3 (or revised versions of each if they’re out before then) will be all I carry.
Keep up the great work.
Ok, I have to ask… What are those cool vintage looking electronic gadgets on your nightstand? (b&w 15mm selfie kissing shot; cute shot btw!)
Lol. Well, those are devices I use in my Paranormal work. Believe it or not, I am way more well known in the paranormal world than the photo world and have even had a few TV show offers (that I declined). Amazing stuff that most have no idea about or would want to know about 😉
That’s awesome! When I google you, I get “Steve Huff Paranormal” and “Steve Huff Mansion” in the auto fill, I clicked on the mansion and saw a 72,000 sq/ft house from someone that’s not you, and just ignored the other one because I figured it was another name twin. Too funny.
Sweet!! Would love to go on a “Ghost Hunt” with you some day. I say that thinking it will never happen, but in actuality I’d probably be too scared to go. LOL!
You ain’t kiddin’, right? I thought that was a joke, but: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=C4LifVvs5-E
That explains the light painting you did sitting in that sofa for the OMD E-M1 introduction!
well I’ve been thinking about trading in my A7 for an A7s and this has just sealed the deal for me. For me the lens issues are mute as I only use my A7 as a ‘best vehicle’ for my Leica M 50mm Summilux and occasionally my 35mm Summilux. But its nice to know that Ziess are coming out with fast primes for this mount. I love shooting in low light! Glad to hear its more responsive too, the A7 is slow at everything, trying to review a magnified image takes forever! Nice review!!
Have you moved away from Olympus and your E-M1? You were getting astoundingly good results with that combo. I also tried the A7 and found it very very slow to focus – to the point that it just didn’t really offer me anything better for day to day use. Personally I don’t really want or need slightly more shallow DOF that I would get moving to the A7 combo over something like the Em1 + nocticron, but I would like much better (non flash) low light performance for clubs. The A7s would be in a different stratosphere to the Em1 and pretty much any other camera for this type of shooting.
@Steve : GREAT review 🙂
@Neil : I really looking forward to your next submission to this site – the last one on the Queen Elizabeth was awesome and my favourite contribution to Steve’s site in a long time 🙂
It’s going to be interesting to see how this all plays out. m4/3 may turn out to be the superior format in the end, if the organic sensor technology delivers as promised. I think the major technological hurdles have now been overcome; it’s down to reliable and cost-effective commercial and consumer application.
By superior, I mean m4/3 sensors with the same low light capability of the A7s; 14 stops of dynamic range; 24+ megapixel resolution; and a larger angle of incidence for better corner-to-corner performance and less vignetting >> http://www.extremetech.com/electronics/158209-organic-photo-sensor-dumps-silicon-promises-to-shatter-cmos-imaging-limits
All in cameras the size of Olympus’ current OM-Ds and PENs.
At that point, the philosophy of shoehorning a larger sensor into a smaller body will gather dust, I think, because even though the larger sensors will almost certainly adopt the same technology, the resolution gains at those sizes will be lost to the limits of human vision, except in rare and very specific applications.
For most photographers, having a high performance professional camera in a compact profile for easy portability and reduced shooting fatigue will be paramount, I think.
I suspect that this is a big part of why Olympus and Panasonic are continuing to build out their m4/3 lineups despite losses; they know this technology is coming, and that in the end they’ll be well-positioned to reap the benefits.
Hello, Steve — thanks for all the info. One question: How’s the finder blackout between shots? When I tried an A7, I felt the blackout seemed longer than average; hoping the A7s will be faster since it’s pushing fewer pixels and presumably gets them off the chip faster (to handle 4K video.) I know most people don’t care, but I find that finder blackout gets disorienting when I’m trying to follow fast-changing situations, which is why I still like cameras with direct optical finders; hoping for another Sony breakthrough here.
Hmmm. Well, just took some shots in my office to test for this. For me, it is not bad at all. Seems equivalent to the shutter speed but it did not bother me on the original A7 or A7r, so I may be the wrong guy to ask.
Hi Steve. Could you perhaps share your subjective views on blackout of a7s vs e-m1? I see, that the blackout at a7s did not bother you, but how does it compare to e-m1?
I never have an issue with blackout, with any camera. Never seems to affect what I am shooting or my results, ever. I think it is extremely overblown, or I fail to see how it can affect anyone. I do not shoot fast action scenes. If I did maybe I would notice it. I am a guy who usually looks for a shot, sets it up and fires. One and done and away I go. So maybe I am not the best guy to ask 😉
thanks for a prompt reply 😉
That was a very fun read, thnx.
Thanks for a very interesting review. I wonder what macro insect shooting would be like with this sensor. Sounds like it would be easier to use natural light, faster speed and higher f/stops since higher iso wouldn’t cause a lot of noise. I think a lot of macro shooters would love that, even at the cost of less cropability.
Thanks You! This is an amazing review. Just the kind i needed to read. Very tempted to buy one but would say it’s not a cheap camera. I have a 5D Mark III and feel that will go neglected if i get a smaller, more compact camera! A big confused i must admit 🙂
The Zeiss Planar 45/2 images are awesome!!! But I only know such a lense for contax G, how did you mount it with an M Adapter? Thx
Here, you can send it they will convert the lens.
Very impressive – thanks for the comprehensive review! Include the Olympus stabilizer and you have a cat eye camera 🙂
I’m not sure if Sony will be able to incorporate the IBIS system into their full frame cameras anytime soon. The way the IBIS works is that it suspends the sensor in a magnetic field when the camera is turned on, which requires a bit more size to the assembly. Probably doable, but maybe not while keeping the A7 cameras to their present size. Maybe down the road as miniaturization continues, though…
Excellent review, I will definitely be saving for the A7s. Quick question, would you happen to know which lens would be a better fit if I’m planning on shooting astrophotography? I am currently torn between the voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 and the rokinon 14mm f/2.8.
The Rokinon is cheaper, possibly sharper, but much larger and has more distortion. The voightlander is very small and virtually distortion free (while also being very sharp across most of the frame). Depends on what matters more to you: size, speed, distortion, price, and build quality.
50mm 1.2? Do YOU know something we don’t ;-P
Nah, been rumored for awhile but it all just speculation (right?!)
If you’re referring to a native 1.2 lens, ain’t gonna happen. The mount restricts to f1.8.
I wasn’t tempted by the a7/R, but as a nightcrawler this model definitely piqued my interest. Unfortunately…I can’t get past the mount. Just like the NEX, Sony continues to prioritize bodies over lenses. The NEX native lens catalog is embarrassing.
If it was A-mount, or if Sony had used a big boy mount with f1.4+ compatibility, with some top shelf professional glass, man I’d be all over the A7s.
Call me old school, but I like my cameras designed around the mount, not the other way around.
The A7 series is fully comparable with the lightweight Sony adapter. Alpha mount lenses work just as they do on SLR bodies.
I’m confused, I know very little at this point about the Sony mount, but why would e-mount be restricted when it appears there’s no problem using faster lenses adapted to e-mount like other rangefinder glass?
I use a 35mm f/1.2 Voit on mine … I don’t think Sony would be limited to f/1.8, I think they chose these smaller apertures because they wanted to make lighter-weight lenses for the small body for now, thus the 35mm, f/2.8, and the f/4 zooms.
And I don’t see any evidence of sensor reflections that can affect the A7/R models.
Steve, can you confirm that the A7S does in fact have a bit more DR than the A7 and A7R at base ISO?
I can not scientifically confirm or deny it as I do not have an A7 or A7r here to do a side by side. I can say I had no DR issues and there seems to be plenty of DR 🙂
Thanks Steve. As always, I love your style and your reviews. Thanks for the work you do. Oh, and you’ve taken some lovely images here.
What I was worrying was the color rendering for portraits.
Sony continues to give reddish flesh, not very flattering for portraits.
I can easily see it in all Sony models.
Here it is pronounced in DSC01344 & DSC01255 pics.
I wish I could have the bright pink flesh of Nikon models in a compact body like this
Can you remember which color profile did you use in most photos ?
Some CLEAR, Some Standard, Some NEUTRAl and some VIVID
Incorrect, those two were shot in Vivid – and other images with people were spot on, much more so than the yellowish tone from the Nikon Df with skin tones.
Steve hopefully you are someone else can help. Just go the A7s, FE 35mm 2.8 and FE 55 1.8, but I would like a fast manual lens that renders like the one on the rx1 (with a close focusing distance). Is there one out there and what adapter would it take?
Maybe the Voigtlander close focus M adapter and a Zeiss 35 Biogon? Not sure. Will focus even closer than the RX1.
thanks..also what adapter did you use with the 15mm?
The Biogon is great and so is the close adapter. But you lose almost 10cm in focus to the RX1. It’s my main combo on weddings, Sony A7+ Close adapter+ 35 Biogon. http://www.voigtlaender.de/cms/voigtlaender/voigtlaender_cms.nsf/gfx/B8C87C465D2D8339C1257C0D002A6F9B/$file/Focussing_range_VM_E_close_focus_adapterr.pdf
Awesome review – I’ll get mine from here in a few weeks. Couple of questions though:
1. Can you configure a button to turn on and off silent shooting mode?
2. Can you elaborate more when you shouldn’t use silent mode. You mentioned fast moving subjects and high ISO, but if it’s a dark environment and you’re at ISO 80,000 and the subject is not moving – is there a disadvantage of using silent mode?
I used silent mode at night at 80k, 100k ISO and had no issue. It was only when shooting band with weird lighting who were moving fast at ISO 60K and up that I had an issue. As for assigning a button to silent shooting, not possible as far as I can see.
Thanks Steve. High ISO, Silent shooting, Smaller files to deal with, and high video quality are all killer features for me. I have an A7r but will have to replace it with the A7s which is what I really wanted in the first place. It’s too bad you can’t configure silent shooting to a button – wish there was a way to get sony that feedback and perhaps have it implemented in an update.
Is there a trade off by using the silent shutter? (ie burst rate, etc)
Because if there’s none … then why not use the silent shutter 100% of the time?
I haven’t figured out how to do it yet, but you should be able to setup a silent shooting mode profile and set it to one of the 2 memory banks (with 4 memory settings in each, for a total of 8 custom camera profiles) that you can access on the main control dial.
I’ll see how that works out. I shoot everything in Manual mode and I like the idea of simply configuring one of the buttons to silent mode on/off so I can switch while the camera is to my eye with the simple push of one button.
Ha, I knew you’d love it, as do I! How big do you think you could print, A1 – A2…before you’d think that you didn’t printed it to large and it’s obviously not sharp enough!!
I love shooting at night, without flash, but I also love to shoot motorsports where heavy crop ability has saved me a lot of money on expensive long lenses.
btw, printing is usually a dream that never happens, but I have a dream of being able to print up to A2.
Images from my old 12.8Mp 5D are printed all the time on large real estate signboards and look fantastic with lots of detail.
I knew of a guy who had billboards printed with the old original 3MP Canon D30 from 2000. These days people think they need more than they ever really do. Resolution is nice, but not needed for the way 98% of us share images today.
As I said I have 20X30’s from the old APS-C Nikon D2hs which was 4MP and they are gorgeous. No one would ever know they came from 4MP. So unless you are a detail perfectionist who likes to look at large prigs from an inch or two away, you can print large without issue.
Thanks for the reply…i’m sold. I shoot hand-held night mostly, and if I want more MP I’ll just use the nex7….I can crop a lot on it with pretty good results.
WANT SO BAD NOW. ARGHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhH!!!
I suppose you will be keeping this camera 🙂
I agree. Many years ago when I was shooting Canon 300D with 6.5MP, my friend told me a theory that after some point, human eye doesn’t notice additional megapixels. Because when you look at a print – you look at it from a distance and the bigger the print – the bigger the distance. I tested that out, printing 40×60 picture from 6.5MP and from a comfortable distance it was sharp as a tack. Coming closer would make my eyes hurt (if you want to see a whole picture, not a part of it). So 12MP is more than enough.
But did he like the camera?
Fantastic! Thanks Steve!
Hi Steve. I forgot to ask if there is a place for both the A7S and the Olympus EM1 in your kit? Will you keep both?
Well, for now there is a place for both. I love shooting the E-M1 with the 8MM fisheye as well as lenses like the Nocticron. I love the E-M1.
I ordered mine Steve; thx for all your work.
Thanks for the review, Steve!
Sony is clearly getting a lot of stuff right here. These are great times for photographers. Any chances for a crazy comparison with the E-M1 and the 25mm 1.8?
Is the JPEG better than of the a7? Coz a7 JPEG is really disappointing.
All images here are JPEG, so you tell me.
Thanks Steve. It’s really hard to tell without doing it side by side but from what I cant tell, the details don’t look smeared like the A7 and the noise is more “organic” looking. It really looks like a nice cam 🙂
A7 owner said:
>Coz a7 JPEG is really disappointing.
Is it? Then you are doing something wrong…
I prefer RAW, but (properly set up) A7 JPGs go pretty far, in a positive way…
let me rephrase. A7 jpeg is starts to look bad starting ISO800. It looks over sharpened and details are smeared. I noticed this then I looked around … this is confirmed by other users as well.
I know I can cure this by turning off the NR … but whats the point? Its like buying a nice car and you can’t drive it fast.
But I agree, A7 raw is great.
thats not really an apt analogy. NR is a conscious choice between details vs chromatic smoothness.
it would be more like…..buying a nice sports car and driving it with the traction control off. which is a completely valid choice.
and yes, i too agree, everyone should be shooting raw
only if turning the traction control at 40mph renders the car mediocre
The fact that Sony uses rather aggressive smoothening to kill noise is known for a long time, and as long time NEX user I have the habit of switching off noise reduction to preserve detail – if needed, DXO Optics and other post-processing software does a much better job to reduce the effects of residual noise even on JPG. For the rest – shoot with or near base ISO, adjust the settings, and the JPGs are more than just fine.
(Sayez one who does normally refrains from using OOC JPG “at cost” – but sometimes, there is need to shoot in JPG as there is not time/infrastructure to process RAW – then OOC JPG has to do and to be good enough…)
Wonder if you’ve tried putting the Leica 50 APO on the a7s and did a side by side with the a7r?
I do not have an A7 or A7R
Steve wrote, “… again, do not expect a blazing C-AF machine. This is still not a DSLR! ” But I get a blazing C-AF speed from my $699 Sony A6000, which is also not a DSLR. Sony could have used the AF system from A6000 in A7s but probably did not want to upset the people who had purchased A7r and A7 just six months before A6000 release.”
Its very fast, and not in the slight bit slow. I have an A6000 as well, and I did not notice much discrepancy in AF speed between the two.
That’s great news, because I owned A7r and lost a lot of photos of my active 2-year-old due to its sluggish AF.
The a6000 has 179 points hybrid af while the a7s has 25 points contrast af. The a6000 is one of the fastest focusing cameras.
Steve, soooo tempted to get the a7S.
Can you take identical shots at ISO 25,600 from the a7, a7R, and a7S? I’m thinking that while the a7S has a lower noise profile, if you rescale a7/a7R shots to 12MP they may be close. ‘course, nothing like ISO 400k…
I’ll definitely get an a7S at some point soon (probably when some of the kit deals come out, as they did with the a7/a7R; I just bought a GH4 for a video shoot so I’m camera-poor) but I’ll play with my a7R and (hopefully arriving soon) Mitakon lens.
Regarding sports shooting, there are some amazing Sony lenses for sports photography–the 70-400 is considered one of the best zoom lenses (and beats many 400 primes), the Zeiss 135mm f/1.8 is a low-light beast, and I’ve been really enjoying shooting with a Canon 400mm f/4.5 FD mount lens adapted to my a7R. The a7S would be even better for that lens, and for the Zeiss (although I wish the 135 had SSM.)
I do not have an A7 or A7s on hand..but an A7s will have slower AF, will be louder, and will not do ISO 100k like the A7s..maybe rent one and see what you think.
Steve, I think you meant to say the A7 will have slower AF and louder shutter, correct?
A few review sites have images from all three A7 cameras and you can see the relative noise levels in the images. DXO has also scored them. The A7s is tops followed by the A7r then the A7. The differences are not huge, maybe a 1/2 stop between 7s and 7r, when every thing is scaled to the same output, but the A7s is clearly tops. In video it also has a big advantage of using all the pixels whereas the A7 and A7r have to line-skip.
Nice review, Steve…I purchased the a7R a few months back but realize I’d love to have the a7S’s low light capabilities…I’ve shot the Noctilux 0.95 on the a7R and it’s pretty amazing; can’t begin to imagine what it might be capable of on the a7S! Quick question, you state in your review that “Leica M mount lenses also seem to work much better on this body than the A7 or A7r.”… Any theory on why this is the case? Thank you…
Just because of the fact that the 15 Voigtlander works well on the A7s when it does not work well on any other full frame digital camera. A very good sign. Also the 45 f/2 Planar was fantastic as well.
Does the Voigtlander 15 work with the a6000? I’m looking for a good wide lens and this one looks fantastic!
I have not yet tested it. I do know it did not do well on the NEX-7…
Some people say it’s absolutely good, some say it’s better than the nex 7 but still not so good. Anyone knows of great landscape lens for the a6000?
Both the Zeiss Touit 12mm and the Sony 10-18mm work well on mine, but I find myself picking the Touit of the two
Great review – very tempting!
Very nice review Steve. I am interested in this camera for wide field astrophotography. Any chance you could stick it on a tripod and point it at space for 30 seconds with a 15mm lens and share the result?
Yes, will do that tonight. Any preference in ISO?
There you go!
If you could have just one native-mount lens for the A7s what would it be?
Probably the 55 1.8
Steve, great review, as always.
The A7S looks very tempting to be able to pretty much do it all.. well, with the exception of maybe high action sports, perhaps…
Anyways, from your experience with the A7S and a number of other cameras & lenses, do you think that because the A7S has such a great latitude in light gathering ability, it may actually be able to make a slower lens, say like one with a max F4, perform better with it?… Of course, using a fast lens would always be better, but if you were stuck with an F4, because you could bump up the ISO usage and have better usable files at higher ISO than you would with an A7 or A7R, it makes more range of lenses, some being not so fast, even more useful?
i forgot to add to the comment/question above, in low light situations, perhaps you may not want to shoot wide-open… prefer sharpness and need more DOF, I’m just curious if shooting with the A7S will allow you to confidently shoot at a narrower aperture in low light situations because it has seemingly awesome light gathering ability so you can still get more DOF and sharpness probably?
That is what I did with the Voigtlander, Shot it at f/4.5-f/8, even in low light. Worked out great.
Awesome. Thanks for the reply!
F8 in low light. That kicks ass!
One other thing, the EVF… I know you can shoot and see in low light pretty good, how does the noise level when shooting in such dark conditions compare to other EVF’s like the one from Olympus E-M1?… just as noisy when you get to such dark levels?.. or surprisingly clean?… perhaps the more light sensitive sensor in the A7S aids in providing cleaner EVF viewing also?