Sony Announces the Sony a7S, a Mirrorless Full Frame Video Monster

Sony impressed everyone late last year with the announcement of the Sony A7/A7R, mirrorless full frame cameras packed with plenty of features. Well today, in wake of NAB, Sony gave a press conference to show their update to their mirrorless line with the A7s - a full frame mirrorless camera sporting 4K video and plenty of other features with video in mind.

According to Sony, the S in the name stands for sensitivity, showing off ISO settings all the way up to an unheard of 409,600. Quite impressive, considering no other modern camera has ever extended beyond 205,000 ISO (prior to the recently announced Nikon D4s). Along with the high sensitivity of the sensor, is the somewhat surprising smaller resolution settings. At just 12.2 megapixels, the Sony A7s holds a much smaller megapixel count than its brothers - the A7 and A7r.

Included with this camera, is the previously leaked 4K video functionality, however that announcement comes with some limitations. In order to fully take advantage of the 4K video functions, you'll need external media to record to (4:2:2 color sampling via HDMI). This small noting feature may sway many to the Panasonic GH4, which can pull 4K video off of its much smaller micro 4/3rd sensor.

Full lists of specs has not been announced (and the image above is just a mockup - as no press photos have been released). We'll keep you updated when we get some full specs and images of this exciting new camera. To watch the full press announcement, click here.

Press Release -

Joining the acclaimed α7 and α7R family of the world’s smallest full-frame interchangeable lens cameras, Sony’s new α7S model puts extraordinary sensitivity, low noise and spectacular 4K video quality into the hands of professional photographers and videographers.

The innovative α7S camera features a newly developed, 12.2 effective megapixel 35mm Exmor® CMOS sensor paired with a powerful BIONZ X image processor, allowing it to shoot at a sensitivity range of ISO 50 – 4096002 with unprecedented dynamic range and low noise.

The new model is also the world’s first camera to utilize the entire width of a full-frame image sensor in 4K video acquisition, and does this without cropping or line skipping as it can read and process data from every one of the sensor’s pixels. This allows 4K video shooters to utilize all of the artistic and creative benefits provided by the unique sensor.

“The α7S gives Sony the most complete, versatile lineup of full-frame cameras in market today,” said Neal Manowitz, director of the interchangeable lens camera business at Sony Electronics. “Between the α99, VG900, RX1, α7, α7R and now α7S models, we have completely revolutionized what it means to be a ‘full-frame’ camera, bringing a new level of quality and portability to enthusiast photographers and videographers.”

Wide ISO Sensitivity (ISO 50 - 409,6002) and Impressive Dynamic Range

Sony, the world’s largest manufacturer of image sensors, has developed a unique 12.2 MP sensor with extraordinary sensitivity that allows the α7S camera to collect dramatically more light than traditional cameras and to produce beautifully detailed, low-noise images in even the darkest environments.

The camera also features a newly developed on-sensor technology that allows it to optimize the dynamic range throughout the entirety of the ISO50 – 409,600 sensitivity range. This on-sensor technology also broadens the range of tonal gradation in bright environments and minimizes noise in dark scenes, allowing the camera to deliver impressive results in these extreme conditions where other cameras (and image sensors) typically struggle.

World’s First Full-Frame Camera with Full Pixel Read-out3 (without pixel binning) during Movie Shooting

With the new α7S camera, the high-speed read out of the 35mm full-frame image sensor combined with the high-speed processing of the BIONZ X processor enables significant improvements in video quality.

These powerful components allow the camera to process data from all of the sensor’s pixels and output stunning HD and 4K (QFHD 3840 x 2160 pixels) video3 while utilizing the full-width of the sensor. In addition to the benefits for low-light shooting, the read out of all pixels frees the video from aliasing, moiré and false color artifacts (as opposed to pixel binning) to achieve the highest quality video.

Additional Pro-Quality Video Functions

In video mode, the α7S can output 4K video4 at QFHD (3840x2160) to an optional external 3rd party 4K recorder, and can record full HD (1920x1080) at frame rates of 60p, 60i, 30p and 24p directly to a compatible memory card. Video modes can be changed from full-frame to APS-C (super 35mm equivalent) if desired, and in this crop mode, the camera can support high frame rate 120fps shooting at standard HD resolution (1280 x 720p), creating a 5x slow-motion effect.

The α7S camera is also equipped with S-Log2 gamma. Common to Sony’s range of professional video cameras, S-Log2 expands the dynamic range by up to 1300% to minimize clipped highlights and loss of detail in shadows. Additionally, for the first time ever in a Sony α camera, the α7S adopts the workflow-friendly XAVC S recording format in addition to AVCHD and MP4 codecs. XAVC S format allows for full HD recording at a data rate of 50 mbps with lower compression for improved video quality.

Other specialist video functions on the new camera include a picture profile that can adjust settings like gamma, black, level and color adjustment, and can be saved for use in a multi-camera shoot. It also has Full HD and 4K base band HDMI® output, time code/user bit for easier editing, synchronous recording feature with compatible devices, various marker and zebra displays on both the LCD screen and viewfinder and can dual record XAVC S as well as MP4 (1280x720 @30p).

The camera also has a Multi-terminal interface shoe that is compatible with Sony’s XLR Adaptor Microphone Kits (XLR-K1M plus a new model under development), allowing the use of professional microphone systems.

Low-light Shooting Advantages

The high ISO sensitivity range of the α7S camera is extremely effective for still image shooting, especially in low-light conditions, where the camera can shoot at high shutter speeds while keeping noise as low as possible. This is particularly useful for shooting indoor, dimly lit sporting events or other situations where most cameras typically struggle.

The camera is also equipped with the same high-precision Fast Intelligent AF system as the α7R camera, with drastically improved low-light AF sensitivity that can go as low as -4EV.

Expanding α Mount System and New Power Zoom Lens for Movie Shooting

Directly compatible with the growing family of E-mount lenses, the α7S camera can also be used with A-mount and others lens systems with optional adapters. Sony’s complete α lens system now includes 54 total lenses for both A and E mounts, including several premium offerings from Carl Zeiss® and G Series Lenses.

As a whole, Sony’s E-mount lens system is particularly well-suited for video shooting, with a variety of models containing “movie-friendly” features like smooth focusing, powered zoom control, and silent iris/aperture control. Building on this, Sony has announced development of a brand new, full-frame power zoom 28-135mm F4 lens E-mount lens that is an ideal match for the powerful movie capabilities of the α7S model.

While no price has been officially announced, the rumor mill is buzzing around $1,699 for body only.

Zach Sutton's picture

Zach Sutton is an award-winning and internationally published commercial and headshot photographer based out of Los Angeles, CA. His work highlights environmental portraiture, blending landscapes and scenes with portrait photography. Zach writes for various publications on the topic of photography and retouching.

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The Nikon D4s has an expandable iso of 409,600, and it was announced before the Sony A7s. So it's definitely not the only modern camera capable of that iso.

....As mentioned in the post.

I think I updated it and the server hadn't made all the changes yet. Because news on this camera is slowly coming out, I'm constantly updated this post with more info :-)

d4s = $6,500 a7s = $1,700

α7S Unparalleled 4K image quality

Interesting how often you can see the usage of A-Mount and E-Mount lenses vs. FE-Mounts.

"This small noting feature may sway many to the Panasonic GH4, which can pull 4K video off of it’s much smaller micro 4/3rd sensor."

...unless you want to shoot with the kind of depth of field you can get from a full frame sensor. Then you either buy the additional hardware you need, or better yet, rent it all out first to decide how you like the image quality. With a 12 meg sensor it's probably going to look pretty good though. I wonder if it's possible to hack it to give you 4:4:4, or if that's a hardware limitation.

The only other potential problem is if you can't put a non-Sony lens on it.

Overall this could be very promising, unless they totally blow it by giving it some obnoxious price.

I am expecting something north of $1900, but I'll hope for less.

'According to Sony, the S in the name stands for sensitivity, showing off ISO settings all the way up to an unheard of 409,600' I'm sorry, what?! Have you heard of the D4s Zach? You guys need to do a little homework before jumping into writing…more and more on this website…

Did you perhaps read the very next sentence?

If you're going to criticize my ability to write, then I can criticize your ability to read. The very next sentece mentions the Nikon D4s.

hahah, I love this. It's amazing the amount of knee-jerk commenters that are so livid these days. Well put reply my friend.

Very promising camera with great features. Internal 4:2:2 would make it broadcast approved in most countries, but I guess we can't have everything. I hope Canon understands now that if they want to keep their marketshare in DSLR-video they have to step it up.

sony dont be disgusting and release a camera every two days . release lenses

Looks pretty slick, can’t wait to get my hands
on one.