NAB 2014: Sony announce α7S full-frame 4K capable compact system camera

By features editor Mat Gallagher:

The Sony A7s
The Sony α7S

‘Beyond Definition’ is Sony’s theme for this year and is, unsurprisingly, all about 4k. Today in a press conference that included a range of guest speakers from producers and filmmakers, Sony announced new products in both its consumer and professional ranges. In the XDCam range there are two new cameras, the PDW-850 and the PXW-X180. The F5, F55 and F65 all receive upgrades in firmware to version 4, giving increased functionality, while a new documentary docking unit for the F55 turns the cameras into a run and gun capable shoulder mounted system. Sony also announced the inclusion of third party codecs in the new upgrades, including Apple Pro res and DNxHD.

The Newsshooter team talk to Sony's Kanta Yamamoto and DP Den Lennie
The Newsshooter team talk to Sony’s Kanta Yamamoto and DP Den Lennie

The biggest announcement, however, has to be the new α7S, a full frame 4K camera. This is an addition to the alpha range and sits above the α7S and α7R. The s, we are told, stands for sensitivity, as the α7S gives an ISO range of 50 to an amazing 409600.

The rear of the Sony A7s
The rear of the Sony α7S

Internally the camera records up to 1080P HD in XAVC-S 4:2:0 at 50Mb/s. Externally it can output 4K (QFHD: 3840 x 2160) 4:2:2 to a third party an external recorder – expect an announcement on that imminently.

Usefully for news shooters it can also record interlaced HD frame rates internally using AVCHD – albeit at lower nitrates than XAVC-S.

In camera colour profiles include Sony’s S-log2 as well as other more some with more standard gammas. It is great to see this added to camera at this price point. It also looks to have an adjustable black gamma and knee – something not found on other cams at this price.

Picture copyright Den Lennie: F-Stop Academy
Picture copyright Den Lennie: F-Stop Academy

The sensor is a 12.2 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor which due to the lack of pixel binning is said to give a moire and aliasing free image. At the moment there is no word on rolling shutter but Sony are confident that the low light performance is class leading.

There is slow motion too. The camera can shoot 720P HD at 120fps.

Body design is the same as the current α7 and α7, but the lens mount has been strengthened with steel for heavier lenses. Autofocus is included and can be used during video shooting. The speed is said to be fast in low light, but it is not the on-sensor phase detection AF type found on the α7. It is similar to the AF on the α7R but has better low light capability thanks the more sensitive sensor.

Arbroath Smokies – Sony Alpha 7s from Den Lennie on Vimeo.

A7s Launch Film BTS from Den Lennie on Vimeo.

There is an excellent writeup and sample videos from the camera from DP Den Lennie over on F-Stop academy.

More details and an exclusive interview with Sony and DP Den Lennie about the α7S to follow…


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