Sony 4K Alpha a7S Mirrorless Camera

Today Sony has officially announced pricing on the new a7S mirrorless camera. The 'S' they say stands for 'sensitivity'. The reduced resolution 12.2MP CMOS sensor allows this camera to shoot in very low lighting conditions. The camera uses a full sensor readout instead of pixel-binning to prevent aliasing, moiré, and color artifacts.

There's no question Sony has put a nice camera together with the new a7S and i'll be the first to say the image is probably far better than the GH4, but in order to take advantage of 4K Video, you'll need to acquire an external 4K HDMI recorder.

Atomos Shogun Sony a7S 4k hdmi recorder GH4 vs A7s
find-price-button Atomos Shogun 4K HDMI Recorder

The most affordable option is the Atomos Shogun which tacks on another $2K (not including SSD) to the already $2500 dollar a7S price tag. Not to mention the Shogun may not be available until September of 2014.

find-price-button Sony Alpha a7S 4K Mirrorless Digital Camera

I'm curious to hear what you guys think? If you had to choose between the $1700 dollar GH4 capable of recording 4K direct to inexpensive SDXC cards, or the $2500 Sony a7S that will always require an extra $2000 monitor/recorder attached to capture 4K video? Is Full Frame and the ability to shoot in near darkness enough?

16 thoughts on “Sony 4K Alpha a7S Mirrorless Camera

  1. Chuck

    @Bill - Well if you really need to be sneaky about your shots, you could snake the HDMI through a sleeve into a backpack with the atomos. People would have to look closely to notice.

  2. AdRath

    I just really wonder how much Dynamic Range can you cram into Slog2 8bit? Will the 50mb/s be enough? I wouldn't expect more than 12 stops DR (which is still fantastic) like Canon does with Clog 8bit on C300.

  3. The GH4 handles the lowest light levels I would ever shoot in, including city exterior night. The results are gorgeous! Provided I don't do silly things with the "parameters" that create so-called artsy looks out of the camera but severely limit grading latitude.

    We're kind of tunnel-visioned into the low light aspects of the Sony, which begs for use as a run&gun documentary camera. But that darned external recorder is going to turn it into a studio camera, or at best a crew-supported location camera. And consider that with a bare GH4 I can stealth as a tourist dweeb, whereas that external recorder will forever scream "I'm a pro! Shut me down!"

    Will wait for a 4K camera with internal flash recording at 4:2:2 or better. And which competes with the GH4 on those night shots, which is a tough requirement. And that has terrific, 70D quality autofocus, another tough requirement.

  4. Mydaddy

    No one is talking about Sony's S-Log2 Gamma, and Dynamic Range. While I love the GH lineup, having owed a hacked GH2 and a GH3, the a7s is a far superior sensor, remember, when you are buying a camera, you are not buying the camera, you are buying the sensor. I shoot a lot of indoor videos and the one thing that annoyed me is the washed out windows and exterior lights, having Sony's S-Log2, which is found on cameras costing over $15K, and a dynamic range encoding of 1,300%, close to 1/2 million ISO, you can bring back the blown out windows to match the interior. BTW, I just got my GH4 2 days ago and I have an a7s on pre-order with BH.

  5. guy01

    Buy GH4 + Speed booster/Lens Turbo now. Later buy Atomos Shogun (or ninja star) when available. After getting comfortable with everything, look into selling GH4/Speed Booster/Turbo and picking up the a7S or if something better comes along.

  6. Derek

    Low light is good. But honestly I would pass on both. I'll jump on 4k when 60p is widely available at a reasonable price point. This will sound strange, but I am very curious to see how the new phones with the 805 snapdragon chips perform for video. That chipset is designed for 4k capture, encoding and playback, it should be a huge advancement. As that tech makes its way into cameras we will see the current heat problems go away. And 60p will be born for the masses.

  7. a7s is worth all the money in my opinion. for someone like myself thats a working professional in the night life industry this is a no brainer. as far as 4K goes. Its nice it offers it. but the world is not ready for 4k yet. Whats important is how will the high IOS look in real world use. Is Sony really offering us something that is going to revolutionize the DSLR market? Id be interested to see a low light comparison with the 5d mark iii. i think that should be the first thing someone should do when they get there hands on one.

  8. Liang

    I think it's different people with different needs.

    I actually hate shooting with panasonic cameras. Their technology on their sensors look very different than other cameras. A GHX camera looks like GHX footage. And even their cinema caemras like the AF100, looks incredibly digital. It's only through grading that the image won't look as bad, but this is just one man's opinion.

    Also, you don't need to shoot in 4K if your audience comes from the internet. Unless people are watching your stuff on projectors, or a budget filmmaker who will send their footage to festivals. I don't see the reason why this would even be an option as most people who would buy these cameras will get their audiences through YouTube and Vimeo, some who will even watch videos on their cellphones. 4K is amazing, if you have right screen to enjoy 4K on.

    Granted, there are other benefits such as more room to work with in post. Yet storage such as memory cards and hard drives is problematic and expensive. Also, requiring a beefier computer and more patience during renders is not required, but recommended.

  9. I am hoping they release in the future an A7s II and by that time internal 4K recording will be included. I think that would be more competitive if you had to choose between the GH4. But as guys are saying, are your clients even asking for 4K?

    I am a busy editor for a production company here in the Bay Area and we shoot almost everything in 4K but almost everything is for web and delivered in 1080 h.264, I am sure that will change in the future but not for a while.

  10. Ryan G

    I'm still on the fence about it. I haven't seen enough footage from the a7S to make a decision. I would prefer the full frame sensor of the a7S over the M4/3 sensor on the GH4. The a7S does a lot better in low light, but I don't usually need to see in the dark when I shoot. I'm going to wait until more people get their hands on the a7S before I make a decision. Besides, I wouldn't be able to shoot 4K until September when the Atomos Shogun comes out...

  11. My answer is "yes" I will wait. I love a full frame look and find it easier for composition, probably because I shot on the 5D for so long. With no immediate business demand for 4k just yet, I may wait all the way until Canon lays it's cards on the table since I have all this EF glass around.

  12. OldCorpse

    I'll wait until it's out in the wild so that it can be tested in the real world, but at that price point, in order to take full advantage of its capabilities, you need to add accessories which raise the price to where it starts competing with full-featured dedicated video cams like the Canon C100 or Sony FS100, in which case I might spring for the Canon C100 instead. The price is the sticking point here.

  13. Tron

    GH4 all the way, so many more useful features packed into the camera. I see the A7s as primarily a niche camera for unlit documentaries or shooting nature films like "Bats in Caves." For still photos the AF is too poor to take advantage of the higher ISO for action sports. It could do particularly well when used for timelapse, but there is no electronic shutter mode so prepare to burn up the shutter fairly quickly if used a lot for this purpose.

  14. Urban B

    Until this thing gets in the wild and is put through its paces, the price makes it less attractive. However, if the low-light and DR are as advertised, that's a big deal for guys like me that rely on available light as much as possible.

    The external 4K seems to be a calculated gamble. There aren't many delivery options for it at this point, and it may take a few more years before it becomes a necessity (assuming it does). In the meantime, the price of that capability will drop before I will need it.

    I really like the full frame look, so I'm faced with a few hundred extra for a good speed booster on the GH4. I like the choices the GH4 gives me by filming in 4K and dropping to HD. But, do I like the low light better?

    It's all about tradeoffs. I'm less excited about it at this price, but not turning my back on it entirely.

  15. Rob S.

    I guess it depends on how nice the 1080 is on this camera since it's supposed to be on the softer side with the GH4 unless you downsample the 4K footage. That adds another big step to your workflow but at least you have the choice internally. I figure that 4K seems almost like a silly marketing add on with this camera since you have to use a micro HDMI port to get it. Breath on it wrong and you lose your feed.

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