When it comes to choosing a camera, there have never been as many options to choose from as there are today. It seems like every month a new camera comes out, so how do you decide which one to get? In this post, I want to give a brief review of the Sony a7s, and talk about why it’s a camera that we use here in WebComm.
WHAT IS THE SONY A7S?
Over the past several years, DSLRs have become very popular for video production. They give you the ability to change lenses, and they put a large sensor in a camera body that is small and light. Building off the momentum gained by DSLRs, many companies have begun to release mirrorless cameras that offer even better video quality than DSLRs. Mirrorless cameras, like the A7s, are similar to traditional DSLRs, except they are even smaller and lighter because there’s no physical mirror in front of the sensor.
Here are the five things about the A7s that I like the best:
1. Full-Frame sensor
There’s just something special about the “full-frame look.” Ever since the 5D Mark II started the DSLR video revolution, people have been obsessed with that look, and for good reason. The ability to get a really shallow depth of field makes the footage look incredibly cinematic; however, with most other mirrorless cameras, one of the tradeoffs you usually have to make is the sensor size. Having a smaller body usually means a smaller sensor, which makes it a lot harder to get that really shallow depth of field. With the A7s, you don’t have to make that tradeoff as Sony somehow managed to fit a full-frame sensor inside.
2. Low-light capability
Probably the most talked about feature of the A7s is how insanely well it performs in low-light conditions. This camera is without a doubt the best low-light camera in the world right now. It literally can see in the dark. Some people might say, “Why do you need a camera that is that good in low-light?” Other than the obvious of being able to film in literally any lighting conditions thrown at us, it also allows us to bring less lighting gear when we film on location. And since filming on location usually means walking all over campus, the less gear we use the better.
To get a better idea of how well this camera performs in low light, check out this video by filmmaker Philip Bloom. He compares what he can see with his own eye to what the A7s can see:
3. 4K capable
4K is absolutely the future, and a big part of the A7s is its ability to shoot in 4K. In addition to giving you a higher resolution image, it also helps to future-proof the camera. The only downside to 4K with the A7s is that it doesn’t record 4K internally. You have to use an external recorder, which is a little inconvenient, but it’s really not a huge deal. I actually wrote an earlier blog post on how we use the Atomos Shogun to record in 4K.
4. Flexible lens mount
Another great thing about the A7s is the ability to adapt a multitude of different lenses. The A7s uses the Sony E Mount, which is an incredibly flexible mount. There are adapters out there for virtually any lens that is large enough to cover the sensor. Here in WebComm, we have a collection of Canon EF lenses from when we shot on Canon DSLRs. So with the EF to E Mount adapter from Metabones, we’re able to use all of our old lenses. It’s a little pricey for an adapter, but it’s because Canon EF lenses require power in order to change aperture.
Another cool thing about this mount is you’re able to adapt old vintage manual lenses. There are loads of all-manual vintage lenses out there from Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Canon and other brands that you can pick up for really cheap, since most photographers have moved on to lenses with autofocus. Since these lenses don’t require any electronic connections to change focus or aperture, the adapters for them are even cheaper.
5. Image quality
To put it simply, the image quality you get from this camera, even in the normal 1080p mode, is incredible. I would say that this camera has the nicest looking HD image I’ve seen on a camera in this price bracket. The level of detail you get absolutely blows Canon’s DSLRs completely out of the water. You also don’t have to deal with image issues like aliasing and moire like you do on most DSLRs.
I think Sony hit the ball out of the park with the A7s. It’s an absolutely incredible camera, and I think that it’s probably the best-bang-for-buck camera available today. If you’re looking for a small, lightweight camera that can record amazing stills as well as video, the A7s is a fantastic option.