Sony has announced the latest addition to its series of compact, full-frame α7 cameras with the introduction of the α7S II, with sensitivity to ISO 409,600, a wide dynamic range and a host of features to appeal to videographers, including the ability to shoot 4K video in full-frame format.
Sony claims a sensitivity range of ISO 50-409600 for the A7S II (although how useful ISO 409600 image files will be is yet to be seen). The 12-megapixel CMOS sensor optimises the dynamic range across the entire ISO range, broadens the range of tonal gradation in bright environments, and minimises noise in dark scenes.
The new camera will be the first i nthe range to have 14-bit RAW image capture. Sony also flagged a firmware upgrade that will bring this option to the A7R II as well.
But the α7S II seems all about shooting video: It can record 4K movies internally in the cine-level XAVC S format. Because information from all pixels is utilised without line skipping or pixel binning, the camera can maximise the expanded power of the full-frame image sensor and produce 4K movies with higher image clarity and negligible moiré. Full pixel readout without pixel binning is also employed when shooting Full HD movies.
But wait, there’s more: The α7S II can record 120fps at 100Mbps with full pixel readout without pixel binning in full frame format which can be edited into 4x/5x slow motion footage in Full HD. The α7S II also has the ability to shoot 4x/5x slow motion footage internally, to be immediately reviewed on the camera screen.
Video functionality has been further enhanced with new profiles; S-Gamut3.Cine/S-Log3 and S-Gamut3/S-Log3. These new profiles deliver wide dynamic range and colour correction is easier. The α7S ll even offers impressive 14-stop latitude in the S-Log3 gamma setting. The camera also supports S-Gamut/S-Log2, popular among cinematographers and videographers. Gamma Display Assist is a new function that allows users to monitor images or check focus when recording S-Log movies and the Zebra function has been improved for even greater control.
When shooting video, the AF performance is twice as fast as the predecessor model. The autofocus system on the α7S II offers 169 AF points for fast, precise focusing. Sony reckons that ‘the power of the image sensor means that the absence of noise in images generated enables the Fast Intelligent AF to detect contrast more easily and react speedily even in low-light situations (as low as EV-4), when it’s even tough to check with the naked eye.
The new α7S II uses the 5-axis image stabilisation system from the α7 II and α7R II cameras. The system corrects camera shake along five axes during shooting, including angular shake (pitch and yaw) which has the greatest impact on image quality and tends to occur with a telephoto lens, shift shake (X and Y axes) which becomes noticeable as magnification increases, and rotational shake (roll) that often affects night shooting or video recording.
The XGA OLED Tru-Finder has been upgraded and the use of Zeiss T Coating reduces reflections on the viewfinder. Putting the boot into DSLRs, Sony notes that ‘unlike an optical viewfinder, the OLED Tru-Finder can be used to instantly show how exposure compensation, white balance and other selected settings are affecting the displayed image.’
The magnesium-alloy body is light and robust and the grip and shutter buttons have been re-designed for a better feel. Silent shooting mode can be activated for 5fps continuous shooting and shutter movement vibration has been dampened.
The lens mount has been reinforced to ensure greater resilience, particularly when attaching third party lenses, and the camera can be charged via a USB power supply while in operation.
Sony is also launching a new premium leather body case for the α7S II (also compatible with the α7R II and α7 II).
The α7S II is also Wi-Fi and NFC compatible and fully functional with Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile application available for Android and iOS platforms, as well as Sony’s growing range of PlayMemories Camera Apps.
The α7S II will be available in Australia ‘before the end of this year’. No local pricing has been provided but the camera is being offered for pre-order in the US for around US$3000.