Update (20/06/14): Adobe announced the latest version of Adobe Camera Raw, so I have updated the post with the ACR processed RAWs at the end. This also makes the post even larger, so it is best to view this on a fast connection.
As referenced in the last post, I spent a little time with the Sony A7S, and was pleasantly surprised when I was told I could take some sample images and put them up online. This is from an A7S with firmware version 1.0, and I was told this should be almost a production-level camera. This is not a definitive look, as a show floor is not the place to form final judgements, but it still allows for some decent first impressions, especially for low-light high ISO ones.
Some large images after the break, along with my comments.
First off, I need to apologise. Unlike David, I am not that familiar with the A7 cameras, and shooting in a busy show floor with time constraints is not the easiest thing to do. So the crops will vary a little, and the autofocus may not always be spot on.
Sample sizes are 1280 pixels wide – you might need to open the image in a new browser tab or window to avoid the lightbox resizing the image if your screen has a lower resolution than that. These are 100% crops, processed in RawTherapee 4.1.11, and with a little noise reduction applied (Luminance 5.00, Chroma 15.00).
So first up, I missed the focus on the presenter, but you can see that the other staff and the background look good at ISO 400. Pretty much expected for a 35mm sized sensor.
Taking it up a couple of notches, we skip to ISO 1600:
ISO 1600 is still pretty good. Some light speckles show up, but there is still plenty of detail.
More noise starts to creep in, but still pretty good
At ISO 6400, the A7S still has pretty fine noise characteristics. This is probably where it ends though, because…
ISO 12k is where you probably stop to think if you need it. It still is not bad, but like ISO 3200 on my GH3, this is where greater work has to be done to bring the image to a more palatable state. I think it might be usable for 80% of low-light work, but I will need more time with the camera and the files to have a final decision on that.
Eh… probably not. There are actually more ISO levels after this, but I am sure they make good marketing bullet points more than useful photography tools. Even a rudimentary conversion to black and white is not very useful at the highest settings.
Incidentally, the EXIF past 50k shows ISO 65536 regardless of setting. I guess the ISO field is only limited to a double byte integer value.
My initial impressions? The A7S is certainly good at the high ISO, low light levels type of imagining work, and I have no doubt it will appeal to that niche of photographers and videographers. Native lens selection for photography is still a concern though. There has been some hype about the camera being better than other similar cameras by as much as three stops, but I really do not see the case so far. It is excellent, just not astoundingly or game-breakingly so. Any differences will likely be less than a stop’s worth.
CK: Comparing the ISO 6400 and above with what we got from the Nikon Df, I’d say the latter performs better. For instance, the ISO 6400 and 12,800 are both coarser in the A7s images compared to the Df ones. After reading all the hype about it outperforming other full-frame cameras like the Canon 5D mkIII, I gotta say I am a little disappointed.
Here are the Df samples again for easier comparison.
YS: Well, bear in mind, the Df was processed in ACR with slightly different settings. Two different raw converters, two different scenes. I am not going to draw that conclusion just yet. So that will have to wait till we get an A7S for more extensive testing. If we get a camera, that is!
We will see if we can get a Sony A7S, till then, enjoy the samples!
Update (20/06/14): Here are the image files processed with ACR. Exposures were given a 0.33 stop boost to better match the RT results. Everything else was left at default. Noise reduction was set at Luminance 0, Chroma 25.
Going through the ACR processed images, I think I will stick with my original first impressions: Very good, but not game-breaking.
Interestingly though, this has made me ask questions about ACR: Like why does it always render images that seem to be a bit darker? I had to boost the exposure by 0.33 stop to better match both the in-camera JPEG and the RT processed files. I think I am going to go have a look at ACR and RT with the other camera raw files some time…