Sony Announces a7S II with Internal 4K Video and ISO 409,600 Shooting

Ever since the release of the original a7, Sony hasn't been shy about quickly updating their now-popular line of full-frame mirrorless cameras. Geared towards cinematographers, low-light shooters, and anyone who likes a lot of tech, the Sony a7S II is now the sixth camera in the series since 2013. Boasting in-body 5-axis stabilization and a promise of clean images throughout its impressive ISO range, the a7S II is likely to continue growing the brand's reputation for making quality compact full-frame cameras.

Sony's press release lays out some of the new camera's key features:

  • Ultra-high sensitivity up to ISO 409,600 with low noise across the whole range
  • Wide dynamic range across the entire ISO range, delivering smooth tonal gradation from dark to bright conditions
  • In-camera 5-axis optical image stabilization for expanded shooting possibilities
  • Internal 4K movie recording featuring full pixel readout without pixel binning in full-frame format
  • Wide range of professional movie functionality including S-Gamut3.Cine/S-Log3, new Gamma Assist Display, enhanced Zebra Function, Full HD 120 fps recording, 4x/5x slow motion recording, and full pixel readout without pixel binning in full-frame format
  • High-speed AF with enhanced accuracy in wide ranging scenes and advanced shooting functions

The most notable feature may be the internal 4K recording where Sony is clearly going after some of the attention taken up by the Panasonic GH4 and the Black Magic Cinema Camera.

Coming in at $2,999, the Sony is decidedly more expensive. However, with a 35mm equivalent full-frame sensor, wildly high ISO capabilities, and now-proven 5-axis stabilization, there is no doubt the a7S II will contend with its contemporaries in the cinematography department.

For still shooting, the new camera's high-speed autofocus should be impressive. According to Sony, the a7S will focus about twice as fast as its predecessor and be able to maintain autofocus in conditions as dark as -4 EV. That's nothing to turn your nose up at. If it works, no camera on the market will be able to see in the dark as well as the a7S.

Other impressive features include the upgraded XGA OLED Tru-Finder with .78x magnification, Wi-Fi integration, silent shooting mode with up to 5 frames per second, and the ability to charge the camera via USB while still in operation.

So, what do you think? Is the Sony a7S a game changer or just another incremental upgrade? And what about those native lenses?

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Remus Roman's picture

I got to play around with the A7RII for a few days recently, and the ISO performance blew me away. I'm not even going to act like I know what to expect from the SII... because it's going to be on par with wizardry.

This kind of innovation that will rip me out of Canon's arms very soon.

Adam Sparkes's picture

I tread with caution with mirrorless. Its very easy to get intoxicated by the size and style. Last year the Fuji XT-1 had me wanting to go all-in, but I'm still not sold. I want two cards slots and some more lenses before Sony will get me thinking about a full switch.

Remus Roman's picture

I know exactly what you mean. My biggest issue with the A7 series is the lossy RAW format, and that SONY has yet to cement its interest in sticking with the current lens mount.

But on the other side, Canon has shown so little regard for innovation and has focused on not cannibalizing its own market share. That is what is making me question my alliance in the coming years.

The defining factor for me will end up being the 5DmkIV vs the A7rIII. ATM I'm hedging my bets on Sony.

Dylon Algire's picture

They have most definitely cemented interest in sticking with a lens mount. They have released so many FE mount lenses and said several times in interviews/announcements that they plan on heavily supporting/developing the FE mount series.

They have also stated that they acknowledge the lossy RAW format that seems to plague the minds of all photographers, even though only 1% will ever notice/require lossless when it really comes down to it, and are working on firmware update.

Jason Woods's picture

To address at least one of your hesitations, there are a handful of adapters out there to allow you to use whatever lenses you currently have on the A7, in some cases even performing/focusing better than on their native brand's bodies.
I've been a Canon owner since day 1, and I'm about ready to switch to the A7RII. I'm sick of seeing other sensors outperforming Canon's in nearly every respect. The 5DS hasn't excited me one bit, but after a day of reading all about the A7RII, I'm pretty much sold.

Adam Sparkes's picture

I hear ya. I'd need to find a way to take one on a good test run. Hopefully, someone from Sony is reading this? LOL

Photo Kaz's picture

I think Canon owners have more reason to switch than Nikon to be honest. The D810 sensor is fantastic (Sony made) and the raw files are still better than what Sony produces. Canon sensors have been lagging somewhat, despite the 50mp resolution.

Usman Dawood's picture

You know I completely agree with you, for me the ideal situation would be canon lenses on Nikon bodies but the Sony switch is a good alternative. I bought the A7RII and keeping the 5DS as a back up for certain projects only.

filmkennedy's picture

This is what I've been waiting for! So glad I didn't get the a7rii for a b camera. Just wish Sony would do a 10 bit 4k out :(

Kyle Farris's picture

This is the one I've been waiting for. I already have an A7s but didn't want to get another one until the MkII came out. Yay! I just hope it doesn't have the same overheating issues as the A7RII... that would really put a damper on it for me.

Casey Berner's picture

I am a proud owner of a a7s, and yes, internal 4K is great. But I cannot see myself trading in the a7s for the a7sII. I'd probably have to spend an additional $1000 after the trade...and with that, I'm also at a Atmos 4K recorder.

Adam Sparkes's picture

Casey, I was just thinking that a used a7s might be a killer deal now? I've only every put about five minutes into using an a7. I'll have to rent one sooner or later.

Ross Murphy's picture

if only a mirrorless camera could perform real AF, when a Sony can focus like my Canon I will buy one, the biggest problem with mirrorless is moving your AF point to where you want it and so far Sony and Fuji don't get that part of the equation. The innovation is great, I applaud it, but I think Canon and Nikon will trounce these guys when they come up with the solution.

Photo Kaz's picture

Certainly not a game changer, just the next model in the lineup. A great cam but I'm not parting with my D810 for any Sony model quite yet. The weight savings are not that huge in reality, especially when you factor in the fact you need about 5 batteries for the Sony versus just 1 for a Nikon for the same number of shots. Sony is also somewhat limited by the compressed and altered RAW files (despite the vehement objections of some), lack of dual card slots, clunky menus, and lack of native lenses (using an adapter creates some issues too and also blows the 'space savings' argument out of the water).

Both Nikon and Canon are slow to innovate in comparison to Sony, but the offer from Sony is still not tempting enough for me to switch.

Lee Morris's picture

PLLLLease Nikon, come out with 4k video on your next DSLR, I don't want to switch!

Adam Sparkes's picture

I'd just kill for a slightly slimmed down D750 with an EVF, Lee? That and some 1.8Gs and I'm staying forever! ... but, yeah, I'd take 4K too.

Edward Porter's picture

Still no mention of how much recording time we should expect for internal 4k. The a7RII is plagued by overheating issues with 4k.

Alex Arnett's picture

Interesting and somewhat expected.

With the Autofocus, does it seem like it'll be on par with the A7ii or the A7Rii? Apparently the A7Rii focuses with CANON lenses just about as fast as native Sony lenses... the A7ii definitely does not perform this well. I JUST picked up a used A7ii and really with the AF was a bit better with my Canon glass. Wish they would send a firmware update that would help, but there's no way. ;)

michael buehrle's picture

do we really need 409k iso ? stop the madness.

Joshua Davis's picture

most likely not. but having that extreme amount of capability allows you to get something like ISO3200 or even 6400 super clean.

Henry Louey's picture

I'm about ready to switch back to Nikon. Several Models have returned final images saying how bad they were as she could clearly see that they were shot with 11bit+7 instead of 14 bit uncompressed RAW

Said no model ever