Just when everyone were eager to glimpse the Sony PXW-FS5 for the first time at this year’s IBC trade show in Amsterdam, the leading Japanese camera manufacturer surprised us all with the unexpected announcement of the Sony A7s II, the second camera in Sony’s mirrorless lineup capable of 4K internal video recording and 5-axis image stabilization. Not only that, but the camera comes with the latest S-Log 3 gamma curve profile providing even more flexibility in post, improved low-light performance, better color reproduction, along with enhanced noise reduction and slow motion.
Recently, Chris Niccolls and Jordan Drake from TheCameraStoreTV had the chance to fly to New York to take a look at and test out this compelling new camera in an extensive hands-on video review that we are eager to share with you below.
As there is a ton of insightful information on how the camera performs on the stills side in the first part of the video, we are definitely more interesting to see what the A7S II is really capable of in terms of video functionality. The low light capabilities of its predecessor the original Sony A7s are already irrefragable, yet it’s obvious that the successor performs equally well if not better in those terms.
Despite the fact that the camera comes with the same 12MP Full-Frame sensor inherited by the older model, Sony successfully managed to squeeze out and improve the overall low-light performance of the new camera providing even cleaner images. Furthermore, the green tint that was present when shooting at higher ISOs on the original A7S is less prominent on the new model, if not even totally absent. This is something can be easily noticed in the test conducted by Newsshooter’s team below.
Speaking of improvements, the availability of S-Log 3 gamma curve in the A7s II is another advantage over the original camera. Not only the native ISO is now set to 1600 when shooting in this mode, but it’s clear that much more information can be pulled out when shooting in S-Log 3 on the Sony A7S II in comparison with the S-Log 2 profile. The extra latitude the camera provides in this mode, especially in the highlights area of the image, is astounding.
The slow motion capabilities of the A7s II is another improved feature and we can easily spot the difference in the 120fps video that Chris and Jordan have included in the video review above. The slow motion footage is a bit sharper and there are less aliasing and moire artifacts, despite the fact that camera is using a cropped area of the sensor while shooting in this mode.
It’s also safe to assume that the Sony A7s II is optimized for full-frame recording, dislike its predecessor where it was a challenge to shoot 4K video in full-frame mode mainly due to the apparent rolling shutter artifacts. On the A7S II, you can not only shoot 4K video internally in full-frame mode, but this is where the camera actually stands out which is another great news for the shooters who are used to the aesthetics of the full-frame look.
Another improvement worth mentioning is the bettered battery life of the camera. Although it’s still far from perfect, it’s not as bad as it was on the A7S. If the predecessor runs about 50 minutes on a single battery charge, on that certain occasion guys from TheCameraStoreTV were able to film with A7S II more than an hour or so even with the 5-axis image stabilization enabled which is not considerable, but definitely a bit of improvement.
Overall, the conclusions and insights this review provides aren’t a big surprise. As expected, the Sony A7s II brings most of the features that many shooters were demanding since the first version of the camera was initially released. So, if you are still wondering whether this camera is for you or not, you certainly have some time before the authorized retailers ramp up shipping towards the end of the month.