Sony Alpha 7S II: nocturnal animal
The new Sony Alpha 7S II is a full-frame mirrorless with 4K video function, designed for lovers of low light and video makers professionals.
The new Sony Alpha 7S II is a professional mirrorless with full-frame sensor and a very particular set of specific, targeted at photographers who require maximum performance in low light and that is why they are willing to give up the resolution, but also and above all to video maker professional or prosumer.
The price on the Italian market is ambitious as the technical specifications and the target audience: the one body of the Alpha 7S II machine costs 3,400 Euros fact.
The Sony Alpha 7S II integrates a CMOS sensor in full frame format by “only” 12 megapixels of resolution. It is a choice that might seem unusual, especially in the era of the compact 20 and MP, but behind it all there is a very specific purpose: to bring the extreme performance in low light, both in photos video.
Unfortunately, the sensor does not incorporate pixels for recognition autofocus in phase, so the AF is calculated only through the contrast method. The shutter has a maximum shutter speed of 1 / 8000s, a flurry of 5fps in speed priority mode and a flash sync of 1 / 250s. The flash, as in many professional models, is not integrated into the camera body or included in the package in the form of outdoor unit (leaves, therefore, purchased separately).
On the back of the camera is situated the nice LCD panel 3 “and 1,228,800 points, adjustable vertically but without touch capabilities, and on top of it is placed the new and excellent electronic viewfinder, resolution XGA 1024 × 768 with OLED technology and 0.78x magnification.
Integrated into the camera body there is also the stabilizer to 5 Sony axes, which helps reduce vibration up to 4.5 stops higher than shooting freehand. The video mode allows you to record movies up to 4K format with 25 fps and 100 Mbps (as long as you use an SD card UHS-I or superior type), with stereo sound thanks to the built-in microphone. There are still a 3.5mm jack for external microphones and one for headphones, so as to offer maximum flexibility in the process of capturing audio. There is also an HFR mode up to 120fps at 1080p resolution.
This Wi-Fi with NFC module, while the battery is only 310 shots per single charge: very few to a professional tool. Fortunately, they are inserted in the standard package two.
The body of the Sony Alpha 7S II is extremely well-made, thanks to the use of solid and lightweight materials such as magnesium alloy, with good standard tires and the generous grip that provides firm, comfortable grip.
The dimensions are quite compact for a full-frame, amounting to only 127 x 96 x 60 mm for a weight of 627 grams. Carry and use the Alpha 7S II for a whole day is much more comfortable and less tiring than doing the same with a traditional professional camera. Too bad it’s absent tropicalization: would make this more ready for adventure machine.
The layout of the controls is generally well disposed, even if the Sony menus are not the most friendly and immediate in circulation. The abundance of physical switches, including three control rings, however, allows a deep and personal use. Too bad that just the two main rings (front and rear) results among the worst elements created: they are relatively inconvenient to rotate and provide inaccurate rubbery tactile feeling.
The button dedicated to video recording, placed on the right shoulder, is really small and almost impossible to find touch: fortunately the function can be re-assigned to other buttons.
The shooting experience by Alpha 7S II offer is very special, with a character that can like it or leave dissatisfied. Since such an expensive machine with sensor to “low” resolution one would expect excellent performance in terms of speed, which however does not offer the 7S II.
The maximum burst fact stops at 5fps value, dropping to 2,5fps even if you want to have a higher precision AF. Just autofocus, narrowly missing a phase sensors and relying entirely to the old contrast method is slower and hesitant than you might expect in a professional.
If you are ready to accept these compromises, however, it turns out a car always able to give great satisfaction. From the electronic viewfinder, really huge, extremely fluid and detailed, able to offer an exceptional composition window, among the best on the market.
Even the stabilizer does its job very well, minimizing vibration and allowing point and shoot in great comfort, even in the toughest scenarios. But the real value of the Alpha 7S II lies in its incredible low-light capabilities, which is really able to transform the shooting experience in a variety of situations.
Quality photos and video
In general, the quality of still images captured by the Sony Alpha 7S II is very good. The resolution of 12 Megapixels is obviously limited by today’s standards and can not offer an extreme detail, but the shots are still very well-balanced, chromatically pleasant and well contrasted. In addition, the ability to intervene in post-production is really good: Raw files react very well to the use of sharpening (to accentuate the detail) and allow a wide latitude with regard to the opening of the shadows and highlight recovery .
All this is due to the sensor’s light-gathering capabilities, really impressive. The Sony Alpha 7S II can shoot with confidence in conditions that would be able to undermine most of the other tools, including professional. Up to ISO 6400, noise and color degradation are virtually absent. Going to 12,800 and even 25,600, the images remain perfectly usable, although it is advisable some remedial work on the Raw file. These are values which, in conjuncture with the use of a bright lens, allowing you to take substantially in absolute darkness, making possible practical and very interesting creative solutions.
All this also applies to video mode, which is another trump card of this camera. The sensor records excellent movies 4K (with full scan of sensor) up to ISO values really amazing, comparable or even superior to those described above for static images. Filming at 25fps with 25,600 ISO you can capture details unattainable for many other cameras, or take advantage of a huge opportunity for intervention in post-production.
Fortunately, this great performance, Sony has been able to support an allocation of features and controls that meet the most passionate video-maker. The jacks for headphone and microphone are a must for such an instrument, but also the presence of numerous recording formats, professional color profiles, zebra function, so users will undoubtedly welcome reference. Also valuable the action of the stabilizer, which in video more than ever is taking hold, allowing you to record movies fluids and pleasant even in the presence of micro-vibrations.
Even the built-in stereo microphone (which, we imagine, will be rarely used) offers good sound quality and discreetly contains the unwanted background noise. Overall, there is no doubt that the Sony Alpha 7S II is one of the most complete photo-cameras and interesting in circulation.
The Sony Alpha 7S II is a tool with a very special character and unique qualities or nearly in the current market. On the one hand, the price of 3,400 euro for the camera body may seem exorbitant for a 12 Megapixel sensor alone, an AF slower than average, and a flurry of compact entry-level. Find a sports camera, in short, should clearly stay away.
On the other, the incredible performance in low light make this full frame mirrorless shoot in difficult conditions for the vast majority of the other machines; a quality which is also reflected on the 4K video mode, definitely among the best ever included in an instrument of this price, with a quality and truly professional versatility.
Ultimately, the Sony Alpha 7S II is a video tool / photo certainly not for everyone, but still of great quality, that will give much pleasure to those who know exactly what to look for and is willing to invest the appropriate budget.