Sony expands Alpha range with α7S
By Paul Ridden
April 7, 2014
Sony's pocket-friendly α7 and α7R full-frame mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras are shortly to be joined by a 4K-capable sibling in the shape of the α7S. The camera features a brand new CMOS sensor that works with the company's BIONZ X image processor to deliver a reported stills and video sensitivity range of up to ISO409600 for impressive low-light, flash-free prowess, while also keeping noise to a minimum.
Sony has treated its new α7S full-frame camera to a newly-developed 12.2 megapixel 35 mm (35.6 x 23.8mm) Exmor CMOS sensor, which combines with the company's BIONZ X image processing to offer photographers a huge sensitivity range of ISO50 - 409600 (though the standard, non-expanded range for stills is ISO100 to 102400, and 200 to 102400 equivalent for video) for low light shooting at faster shutter speeds. It also features new on-sensor technology that's said to optimize the dynamic range over the whole ISO range, while widening tonal gradation in bright shooting environments and keeping noise in check when light is low.
The α7S is reported to be the first camera in the world to make use of the entire width of the full-frame sensor when grabbing 4K (3840 x 2160) video, nipping aliasing/moiré and false color artifacts in the bud for best quality results. It's nimble enough to output uncompressed 4K video at up to 30 frames per second to an external storage device via HDMI with 4:2:2 color sampling, and does so without needing to crop, bin pixels or skip lines. It can record Full HD video, of course, at up to 60 frames per second direct to a memory card.
The videographer can swap between full-frame and APS-C modes if desired, the latter supporting 120 fps slow motion shooting at 720p, and Sony has included the S-Log2 gamma setting from its pro video cameras, which is said to expand the dynamic range by up to 1,300 percent to cut down on clipped highlights and lack of detail in shadows.
As well as AVCHD and MP4 codecs, users can also take advantage of the XAVC S recording format, a first for Alpha cameras, which caters for 1080p video capture at a data rate of 50 mbps with low compression for better quality footage.
The α7S is capable of recording to XAVC S and 720p MP4 formats at the same time, has a picture profile function that adjusts camera settings like gamma, black, level and color, and can be saved for a multi-camera shoot, and includes a time code/user bit function to help with editing. There's also a hot-shoe interface for attaching an external microphone or other compatible accessories.
The camera has body-only dimensions of 5 x 3.7 x 1.9 in (126.9 x 94.4 x 48.2 mm), and a body only weight of 15.7 oz (446 g). It comes with the same 25-point Fast Intelligent AF system as the α7R model, and is compatible with E-mount lenses out of the box, or other lens systems via an appropriate optional adapter. Framing up can be undertaken through the 2,359k-dot OLED electronic viewfinder or via the 3-inch, 921,600-dot tilting LCD display panel. Built-in built-in 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and NFC capabilities, and a 320 stills battery life through the viewfinder, or 380 via the LCD screen, round out the specs.
The company advises that pricing and availability will be announced shortly. In the meantime, have a look at Sony's promo video below.