Sony unveiled the new a7S II, an update to their popular high-sensitivity video-centric camera. The a7S II has a number of improvements borrowed from the a7 II and a7R II, which make it ever more attractive to videographers and photographers specializing in low-light work.
At 12.2 megapixel, the a7S II has many fewer pixels than the a7 II or the a7R II, which translates to better dynamic range and better sensitivity than those models. For many photographers this is likely to be a sweetspot, just big enough for any commercial jobs and with a dynamic range and sensitivity not matched in the company’s other offerings.
The a7S II has sensitivity up to 409,600 in expanded mode (ISO 100 to 102,400 in native mode) and can now record 4K video internally, as can the a7R II. The need for an external 4K recorder was a limitation to the adoption of the a7S for video work, and the internal 4K record was the most often heard request for the a7S line.
The a7S II records video without “pixel binning,” a technique used to save on processing of the video data by taking data from one pixel and using that data for surrounding pixels. The a7S II samples every pixel (used for video), every frame, which will translate to much sharper video files.
The a7S II has been given a host of new features aimed at the advanced video user, including S-Gamut3.Cine/S-Log3, a new Gamma Assist Display, and an enhanced Zebra Function. The camera can also capture full HD video at 120fps and 4x/5x slow motion with using the full range of pixels on the sensor, making it the most versatile camera-style video devices in the class.
Sony have also included the 169-point autofocus and the improved OLED viewfinder from the a7I II, as well as the 5-axis stabilization found on the a7 II and the a7R II. Ergonomics on the a7S II have also been updated to match the style of the a7 II and a7R II.
Sony is indicating availability in the US in October, with a price of $2,999.
The full press release is below.
Sony Expands Range of Full-frame α Cameras with the Launch of Ultra-sensitive α7S II
New Mirrorless Model Features High Sensitivity up to ISO4096001 with Wide Dynamic Range, 5
Axis Image Stabilization, Internal 4K Movie Recording and more
SAN DIEGO, Sept. 11, 2015 – Sony Electronics, a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, has today introduced the latest addition to their award winning α7 lineup of mirrorless cameras, the α7S II.
Offering ultra-high sensitivity and wide dynamic range across the entire ISO range plus 5-axis image stabilization for greater shooting control, the α7S II delivers stunning image quality for photographers who shoot in the most challenging lighting conditions – from the brightest of mornings to the darkest of nights.
Additionally, the new camera incorporates a host of professional movie functions including the ability to record full-frame 4K video internally with full pixel readout and no pixel binning, the world’s first camera to achieve this capability. The camera’s unique balance of sensitivity, control of plane of focus and incredible image quality make it an especially effective tool for videographers and filmmakers.
“Sony continues to lead the industry in terms of innovation in the mirrorless space,” said Neal Manowitz, Deputy Vice President of Digital Imaging at Sony Electronics. “With the new α7S II, we’ve utilized many of our latest technologies to deliver a camera that will excel in all types of environments, producing still images and video content that will consistently amaze imaging enthusiasts, professional photographers and even Hollywood directors.”
The α7S II delivers an awe-inspiring sensitivity range of ISO 50-4096001 thanks to the unique combination of its 35mm full-frame 12.2 megapixel2 image sensor and BIONZ X image processing engine. The sensor works to optimize the dynamic range across the entire ISO range, broadening the amount of tonal gradation in bright environments and minimizing noise in dark scenes. The BIONZ X processor features an upgraded image processing algorithm that maximizes the sensor’s capabilities overall, in particular at the mid-high end of the ISO scale, and results in extremely detailed still images and movies with minimal noise.
The impressive video credentials of Sony’s new α7S II camera include the ability to record movies in 4K quality3 internally through use of the advanced XAVC S codec4, which can record at a high bit rate of up to 100 Mbps. Because information from all pixels is utilized without line skipping or pixel binning, the camera can maximize the expanded power of the full-frame image sensor and produce 4K movies with higher image clarity and negligible moiré.
This full pixel readout without pixel binning is also employed when shooting Full HD video (24p/30p), where the camera collects information from approximately five times as many pixels that are required to generate Full HD 1920×1080 and oversamples the information, producing movies of extremely high quality and detail. Also, in a first for the α7 series, the α7S II can record Full HD at120fps at 100 mbps5 in full frame format, which can be immediately reviewed on the camera screen and eventually edited into appealing 4x/5x slow motion footage in Full HD (24p/30p) resolution.
Video functionality has been further enhanced with new picture profile settings; S-Gamut3.Cine/S-Log3 and S-Gamut3/S-Log3, delivering wide dynamic range and simple color correction. The α7S II even offers impressive 14-stop latitude in the S-Log3 gamma setting, while also supporting other popular profiles for cinematographers including S-Gamut/S-Log2.
Other enhancements include the addition of Gamma Display Assist, a new function that allows users to monitor images or check focus when recording S-Log movies, and the improvement of the Zebra function for even greater control.
5-Axis Image Stabilization
The new α7S II is equipped with the innovative, highly acclaimed 5-axis image stabilization 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 and/or video recording.
The autofocus system on the α7S II has been upgraded and now offers 169 AF points for fast, precise focusing with greater accuracy compared to the original model. The low noise image produced by the image sensor of the new camera 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 focus with the naked eye. The AF performance is also twice as fast as the predecessor model during video shooting.
The XGA OLED Tru-Finder in the α7S II has been upgraded and offers the world’s highest viewfinder magnification7 of 0.78x (roughly 38.5 degrees in diagonal field of view) and shows clear images across the entire display area. The use of ZEISS T* Coating ensures sharp reduction of reflections on the viewfinder. 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.
A number of enhancements have been made to the look and feel of the α7S II to make it more user friendly, reliable and intuitive. Its magnesium-alloy body is both light and highly robust and the grip and shutter buttons have been re-designed so that the camera feels more natural in the hand. Additionally, silent shooting mode can be activated at up to 5 fps continuous shooting8 and there is reduced-vibration shutter movement9.
The lens mount has been further reinforced to ensure greater rigidity, particularly when attaching third party lenses and users can now charge the camera via a USB power supply while the camera is in operation, thus extending battery life. 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, which add a range of fun creative capabilities to the camera. Learn more at www.sony.net/pmca.
Pricing and Availability
The Sony α7S II full-frame interchangeable lens camera will be available in October for about $3000 at a variety of Sony authorized dealers nationwide.
The α7S II is compatible with Sony’s growing lineup of α lenses, which now totals 64 different models including 13 native ‘FE’ full frame lenses. By early 2016, Sony will add an additional 7 new lenses to its FE full frame lineup, bringing the FE total to 20 lenses and the overall α lens assortment to 70 different models. A variety of exclusive stories and exciting new content shot with the new α7S II camera and other Sony α products can be found at www.alphauniverse.com , Sony’s new community site built to educate, inspire and showcase all fans and customers of the Sony α brand.