The DSLR wars have been getting hotter and hotter lately, especially with the addition of full 4K video to cameras such as Panasonic’s Lumix GH4. Far be it from Sony not to go all in themselves, with a camera that has not only strong video capabilities, but truly ridiculous ISOs.
1. It has ISO up to 409,600.
That was not a typo. Sony has announced that the A7s can indeed get up to 409,600 ISO, which means it can practically see in the dark. Granted, at the top end the images probably look terrible, and we can’t imagine that focusing will be easy, but it’s still a feather in Sony’s cap and an impressive achievement.
2. That ISO Means Sony Has Bowed Out Of The Megapixel Wars.
There are a lot of reasons not to care about a camera’s raw megapixels, but those ever-increasing number impress many. Sony, however, to get the effect it wants, has stepped away from jacking up the pixels. The A7s only has a 12.2 megapixel sensor. True, all but the most trained and experienced digital photographers are not going to notice the difference, but if you value sheer raw pixel power, this may sadly not be the camera for you. Unless you happen to value video, and then, it very much is.
3. It Shoots Full-Frame 4K Video.
Video has become more and more important to DSLRs and other pro cameras, and Sony, despite a thriving camcorder business, has seen the writing on the wall. The A7s shoots full 4K video, likely due to the fact that having a lower pixel count on the chip means less processing time that needs to be dedicated and more energy can be driven towards shooting the video. That actually makes it something of a professional camera, as photojournalists are increasingly expected to shoot video as well as photos in the field.
4. …But It Won’t Do It Without Help.
That said, though, you will need to hook up a recording device via HDMI to get the full 4K video. Still, Sony is working on video improvements, like a more cinema-like lens, to allow filmmakers and documentarians to get the full frame benefits of using their cameras. Which, in of itself, is fairly useful, so good for Sony for building something filmmakers can make use of. We do still wish the 4K video was an on-board feature, however, instead of something you’ll have to bolt a hard drive to the side to make use of.
5. But At Least You Can Swap Codecs.
Hate AVCHD? You’re not alone on that one. Sony has thankfully given filmmakers the option to shoot in XAVC S as well. It’s not perfect; we would have liked to see more codec options. But, on the other hand, the base body will probably come in at around $2000, and you’ll probably be able to build a fully functional 4K camera for around $3000. That’s got a lot of appeal, especially for videographers, and it shows that Sony, if nothing else, is listening to its customers.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.