by Sebastian Wöber | 18th December 2015
The new Sony a7S II and Sony a7R II are currently leading the list of most powerful affordable large sensor cameras (Check out our comparison Review). To make those cameras work with third party accessories, a good camera cage is often a must. Read on to find the best Sony a7S II Cage (and a7R II Cage) out of 8 we tested. Review by Sebastian Wöber & Johnnie Behiri In August we reviewed the best cages for the original Sony a7S and now we take a look at cages for the new a7S II and a7R II cameras that share an identical body design. There are more cages out there that we didn’t test. Here we’re reviewing the ones that manufacturers sent to us in time to meet our publication deadline. We followed the same basic review guidelines of our first test, but also took reader comments into account. In particular Metabones adapter support was one review point that some of you were more interested in. We tried to keep it short, but this review is extensive. That’s why we split the reviews for each single cage into a separate page. Do you Need a Cage? In the age of small cinema cameras the camera cage has become the most popular accessory by now. But it is not always a good idea to follow the trend. First here’s a checklist to see if you really need a cage for your application. Mounting accessories on your camera? Cages provide mounting points (standard threads and coldshoes) so you can mount stuff. This is the main purpose of a camera cage, as the Sony a7 cameras by themselves don’t provide any other mouting points, besides one single hotshoe on top. Protection and Ergonomics. Cages protect the camera and can enhance the ergonomics, by offering a more handy form-factor or handle rec-triggers. On the other hand they add weight and some of thembulkyness. So if lightweight and compactness is your #1 concern, think again. HDMI cable protection. The original Sony a7S offered external 4K recording. As the new a7S II and a7R II have internal 4K, HDMI protection is less of a necessity. However if you intend to use HDMI for external screens, EVF or recording, then a cage that protects the HDMI port is essential. Lens Mount Support. If you use larger lenses or rigs with focusing gears, a solid lensport is a good idea. Sony’s native E-Mount is not the most sturdy of mounts and many shooters work with a Metabones adapter to use Canon EF mount lenses on the a7S II and a7R II. Why this Cage Comparison? Because there are huge quality differences between cages and you will not be happy with just any of them. Most of them actually are not recommended. Don’t just order a Sony a7S II cage blindly. You should weigh all the pro’s & con’s of the cages we present, so you can decide which of them will tick most or all your boxes. In our conclusion we will tell you which one we liked best, which ones we recommend and which need improvement. Structure of Each Review: Ease of assembly and disassembly. How securely is the camera attached to the cage? HDMI cable protector design. Do we have access to other outputs on the side? Is it possible to use the Sony XLR-K2M audio module? Can we easily access the lens release button? How well can we attach a tripod plate? How good is the included Rod Support? Metabones Mount Quality. The top-handle design. Overall ergonomics. Conclusion How We Rate We rated each point as follows: Double-green: In some rare cases we decided to give a double-green rating for outstanding performance/design. Green: The product performs as it should. Orange: There are some issues, but it’s ok. Red: The product didn’t live up to our expectations. Double-Red: Something is wrong here and should be addressed by the manufacturer. The Cages we Reviewed Simply click on the name of the product to get to the review page or find the conclusion at the end of this article. Products reviewed in alphabetical order. 8Sinn a7RII / a7SII Cage Came-Tv Rig for a7SII / a7RII Movcam a7RII / a7SII Cage Kit Moza Cage for Mirrorless Cameras Shape Sony a7S II / a7R II Cage Skier LiteCage for A7RII / A7SII Tilta for Sony a7 Cage ES-T17 Varavon Cage for a7R II, a7S II GO TO PAGE 2 → Links to each Cage Review: Page 1: Introduction Page 2: 8Sinn a7RII / a7SII Cage Page 3: Came-Tv Rig for a7SII / a7RII Page 4: Movcam a7RII / a7SII Cage Kit Page 5: Moza Cage for Mirrorless Cameras Page 6: Shape Sony a7S II / a7R II Cage Page 7: Skier LiteCage for A7RII / A7SII Page 8: Tilta for Sony a7 Cage ES-T17 Page 9: Varavon Cage for a7R II, a7S II Page 10: WinnerRead more
by Sebastian Wöber | 13th November 2015
The Sony a7S II is shipping and many filmmakers rejoice as it is one of the best low cost video cameras out there right now. Last week we took a really close look at the differences between the Sony a7S II and the old Sony a7S. But how does this new camera compare to the Sony a7R II that was introduced just a few months ago? Here is the ultimate Sony a7S II vs. a7R II Test. Just like in our a7S II vs. a7S test we went to the test lab and compared all the camera’s capabilities in detail. In this review I’m going to give you all the unbiased results as quickly and to the point as possible and conclude with our recommendation. On the Outside Unlike the original a7S, the two cameras on the test bench share the same body design. The major difference here is the sensor itself. Both have a full-frame sensor, but the a7S II uses Sony’s 12.2MP Exmor CMOS Sensor while the a7R II houses the 42MP Exmor R BSI CMOS Sensor. Obviously this makes the Sony a7R II the better choice for photographers who need lots of megapixels. But let’s look at the video test results now, shall we? Sony a7S II dynamic range tested with a XYLA-21 transmissive chart. Dynamic Range Dynamic range is important for us filmmakers, it gives us the ability to capture high contrast scenes without over or underexposure, highlights and shadows are saved resulting in an organic, filmic look and in theory gives us more leeway in post production. In theory: The dynamic range on a7S and a7S II was identical in Slog2. The a7R II could surprise us though as it has a different sensor. In reality: At 4K resolution in Slog2 gamma mode the Sony a7R II (ISO 800) had half a stop more dynamic range than the Sony a7S II (ISO 1600). This is interesting. However the Sony a7S II now also features Slog3 gamma which wins back that half stop. We determined a maximum usable dynamic of slightly above 12 stops on both cameras. We use a a DSC labs XYLA-21 transmissive chart and IMATEST evaluation software with a crisp Zeiss 50mm CP2 T/2.1 makro lens. Dynamic Range Conclusion: Set your Sony a7S II to Slog3Cine (PP8 under Picture Profile Settings) in order to match the a7R II dynamic range. However Slog3 is not an ideal gamma mode as the camera is limited to 8-bit color, resulting in banding issues, so Slog2 (PP7) is the preferred gamma setting. The a7R II wins this first point, but not by much. Rolling Shutter The so called “rolling shutter” is a phenomenon that skews a camera image when fast moving objects are recorded or during fast pans and handheld camera movement. In theory: Users have reported severe rolling shutter on the a7R II, but then again the a7S II doesn’t hold up too well also. Let’s see how they compare. In reality: In 4K the Sony a7S II had the same rolling shutter performance as the original a7S. Using the best image quality mode on the a7R II (4K super35mm crop mode) we can indeed see that the rolling shutter effect is about 12% more severe on the Sony a7R II. However in 4K full-frame mode, which is slightly softer, the a7R II has about 50% better rolling shutter performance. Rolling Shutter Conclusion: Both cameras have a strong rolling shutter effect in their best quality modes, just like most other cameras that use a large CMOS sensor. The a7S II performs slightly better here. To improve rolling shutter you can use full-frame mode on the Sony a7R II. Resolution / Quality The resolution comparison between the Sony a7S II vs. a7R II is quite interesting. Both cameras can record a beautiful 4K image internally with a variety of different crop and HD modes. Let’s see how this one turns out. In theory: The cameras share a lot of similar specs in video mode, like the 100Mbps XAVC-S codec, 4K (UHD) internal recording, but the recording and crop modes differ as follows: The Sony a7S II records: 4K Full Frame: up to 30 fps HD 1.6 crop: up to 60fps HD 2.2 crop: up to 120fps The Sony a7R II records: 4K Full Frame & 1.6 crop: up to 30 fps HD Full Frame & 1.6 crop: up to 60 fps 720p: up to 120fps In reality: Left: a7R II (crop) 4K | Right: a7S II (FF) 4K On the left you can see a comparison (100% crop images) between the Sony a7S II vs. a7R II in their best 4K modes. Overall the image looks really really similar. But I can see two things: 1. There is some slight sharpening happening in-camera on the Sony a7R II. If I add slight sharepning in post to the a7S II image it looks pretty identical. Left: a7R II (crop) 4K | Right: a7S II (FF) 4K 2. The a7R II seems to resolve a tiny bit more detail, but it is not affecting most regions of the image as they get washed out by some internal processing. This is only apparent in the danes-picta sector star chart and the actual difference is minimal. Left: a7R II (FF) 4K | Right: a7S II (FF) 4K When we switch the Sony a7R II to full frame mode, the image gets a little bit worse, but is still beautiful. It resolves a bit less detail and there is some more aliasing / moiré introduced than on the crop mode. Still very usable. HD Modes: We found out that the a7S II’s HD modes pretty much match the quality of the original a7S. What about the a7R II? In crop mode the a7R II is softer with some aliasing and not really recommendable. In full frame mode however the Sony a7R II gives us acceptable results that are comparable to the quality of the original a7S and are very similar to the image of the Sony a7S II. We took the following shot comparing the a7R II crop mode to the original a7S in crop mode: Left: Sony a7R II (crop mode HD) | Right: Sony a7S (crop mode) As we’re currently in Japan for InterBEE (tradeshow next week) the large Japanese symbols reveal how strong the aliasing in HD mode really is. Resolution / Quality Concsluion: The images on both cameras look remarkably similar in terms of quality and resolution. Especially a7R II crop mode vs. a7S II full frame mode are hard to differentiate. The a7R II in full frame is slightly worse, but still very usable. In HD only the full-frame mode is usable on the a7R II. Lowlight Here’s an interesting part. Can the a7R II match the lowlight capabilities of the a7S II? The short answer is: No. In theory: The a7R II has more pixels on its sensor than the a7S II, hence the a7S II pixels can be larger and capture more light resulting in better lowlight performance. Let’s see the results: I compared ISO speeds of both cameras up to ISO 25,600. Surprisingly the a7R II doesn’t hold up so bad in lowlight at all. It can almost match the a7S II detail in low ISO modes. What I can always see is the a7S II having better noise performance. The image is cleaner. Anyway, with a little bit of noise the a7R II looks ok up until ISO 12,800 and does resolve details in the shadow areas. When we switch to full frame mode on the Sony a7R II though, the results are quite unusable. Even at very low ISO’s it is not nice. ISO 6400 is already quite noisy. Lowlight difference between Sony a7S II (top) and Sony a7R II (bottom) at ISO 25,600. Shot brightness was matched. Lowlight Conclusion: In lowlight and noise the Sony a7S II is clearly the winner with an edge of about 2 stops. However the Sony a7R II in crop mode is a pretty good performer. It can retain good shadow detail up until ISO 25,600, but there is clearly more noise than on the a7S II. If you want the best and cleanest lowlight camera go for the a7S II. Which One Is Right for You? Each of the two cameras has some strengths and weaknesses. Let’s summarise this now: The Sony a7R II has the following advantages: It can produce 42MP still images, a resolution almost 4x higher than the a7S II. The option of a great crop mode in 4K besides the full frame (FF usable if you have sufficient light). Good lowlight in crop mode. Note: Many readers commented on the overheating issues they experienced with this camera. Apparently some units are shutting down during long takes in warm environments. Keep that in mind when you make your buying decision. Price: $3,198 (LINK) The Sony a7S II has the following advantages: Slog3 Gamma Mode (not always recommended) & gamma assist feature. Slightly better quality full frame mode in 4K. Slightly better rolling shutter performance. Better lowlight, cleaner image. 120fps slow motion mode in Full HD. According to user reports less prone to overheating on long recordings. $200 more affordable. Price: $2,998 (LINK) Conclusion There’s really not a big difference between the two cameras, both on the outside as well as on the inside. The video colors are very balanced on both cameras and they produce a good internal 4K video. There’s no way you could tell the images apart without deep analysis and even in lowlight the cameras are not so far apart. If you would like to use your camera for high resolution photography the Sony a7R II is clearly your preferred choice. It is also more versatile as it offers crop mode which can be used with APS-C lenses or a SpeedBooster to get an extra stop of light out of full frame EF lenses. On the other hand the Sony a7S II could be your choice if you’re only doing video and lowlight and a clean image is important to you. You’re restricted to full frame lenses for best quality, but you get Slog3 (if you need that) and somewhat usable 120fps slow motion. Which is your camera of choice? Let us know your arguments in the comment section. I hope this comparison answered all your questions. If it helped why not get your gear through the links to our sponsor. Thank you and good light for your shoots.Read more
by Nino Leitner | 11th September 2015
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