As soon as it was unveiled at NAB 2014 earlier in April, expectations of the low-light performance of the Sony A7s (the “s” stands for sensitivity) were quite high.
With ISO’s in camera running up to 409,600, we knew this camera would blow almost all cameras in it’s class out of the water, but these real-world tests below are just beyond our wildest expectations.
Let’s take a look.
At those crazy ISO levels like 204,800 one can shoot a night exterior scene for a daylight equivalent. There are so many things that you can do with the Sony A7s and its tiny mirrorless body. Do you want to shoot the Northern Lights in real-time? No problem. Do you want to shoot your talents’ faces after midnight lit only by a couple of candles and the moon? No problem at all, etc.
There are endless creative opportunities with such incredible low-light sensitivity in 4K resolution. 14 stops of dynamic range are more than enough for getting those wild and adventurous shots that we couldn’t have even dreamt about in the past. We should see some comparison tests in low light between the Sony A7s and Panasonic Lumix GH4 relatively soon, but it will be tough for the almost 2 x times smaller Micro 4/3 sensor in the GH4. The full-frame sensor of the Sony A7s, gives it a unique low-light sensitivity and DR, and even though the GH4 is capable of recording 4K internally at a max ISO of 6400, its Dynamic Range is severely limited compared to the massive full-frame 35mm sensor of the A7s. The internal 4K recording is the Achilies heel in the A7s’ armour, as there is no internal option to record 4K in the A7s.
Still, the A7s fires up the full-frame 35mm sensor on all cylinders only when hooked up to an external recorded (via HDMI Micro only) and will be capable to deliver great low light 4K images.
Here’s another example shot by Yoshihiro Enatsu
And here’s another one:
The latest advancements in sensor technology and de-bayering algorithms are simply astounding. The A7s is just leaps and bounds ahead of the competition by Panasonic and Canon at this point.
We are not quite sure what to expect from the future models, but it seems that the bar has been set quite high. And the best part is that we, as 4K shooters, are the absolute winners. It’s pretty damn exciting to be a filmmaker in 2014!