The Sony A7S quickly became one of the key camera for enthuiast filmmakers and videographers. Its combination of a small form factor and a full frame sensor meant that it offered a rival to Panasonic’s GH series. However there was one thing missing and that was internal 4K recording. The new A7S II solves that issue, and the addition 100fps slow motion capture, excellent low-light sensitivity and in-camera stabilisation are all fantastic additions, that make a good camera even better. However, it is not without a few areas that can still be improved upon.
Firstly, the black sunspots. This flaw is a bit of an oversight, to say the least, and should have been spotted before the cameras left the factory. However, it shouldn’t be the end of the world or make or break the camera. I would imagine that a firmware fix should be released very shortly. For now stick to other frame rates.
The rolling shutter effect could also be improved, and it may be that Sony has pushed this sensor as far as it can to reduce its effect. With careful panning, the rolling shutter isn’t too bad, but like I said, if you are going to do a lot of quick pans, this isn’t the camera for you.
The way I see it, the S-Log3 mode is a useful addition that was added because they could. Anecdotally a number fo videographers I have heard from have said they will continue to use S-Log2 as it is easier to work with. The S-log3 footage is very flat, especially given that the camera only has an 8-bit output. I would love to see 10-bit 4:2:2 output over HDMI, as I’m sure many videographers would, and this is an area that again, offers room for improvement.
If you have an A7S then the main benefits of the A7S II are the internal 4K capture and sensor stabilisation. Whether or not they are worth the upgrade cost will depend on just how much you value these two features.
Overall the A7S II is a fantastic piece of kit that offers a huge amount to photographers and videographers, and if you happen to do both, then it may just be the best camera currently available. Those who shoot travel and documentary footage should find it to be a great combination of form factor and features, and at a price that is quite reasonable.
We hope to be able to test the A7S II side by side with some of its competitiors in the coming months, so keep checking back to this review to find out more.