My resent business trip to Japan was full of pleasant surprises. First, I was able to conduct and publish one of the first Sony FS5 reviews and footage, then, I was invited to Sony’s HQ and among other activities, had a chance to make a quick interview with Iwatsuki-san who is a senior manager for product planning at Sony industry consumer electronics. The talk with Iwatsuki-san was mainly about Sony’s a7xII camera line and lenses. If I can draw any conclusions from that talk, it will be about Sony recognizing some of the obstacles related to their current models like overheating and menu structure to name a few. On the other hand I came out of this meeting feeling that Sony carefully listens to a customer’s voice and as a leading manufacturer, they are committed to develop and improve their a7x line even further. By the way in the above interview, I deliberately avoided some of the repeatedly asked questions like “why does the a7x cameras can not record 4:2:2 10 bit internally?” as I truly can’t see Sony implementing specs like those in their s7x line anytime soon. For those who chooses to watch parts of the interview, here is a breakdown of the questions I’ve asked and where to find them on the video : Where is the DSLR market heading to? (00:12) How does Sony see the mirrorless camera market? (01:14) Do you see a need for small, lightweight lenses? (03:09) Does Sony recognize the need for faster lenses? (04:39) When will Sony be implementing HDR technology on a7x cameras? (05:09) Can you see further improvements for low light capabilities? (05:28) Which camera would you consider better suited for video recoding, the a7SII or a7RII? (06:32) What is Sony’s recommendation for choosing the right Picture Profile? (08:29) What are the most significant improvements in noise reduction between the original a7S and the a7SII? (09:37) Any comment regarding overheating issues concerning the new a7RII and the a7SII? (10:30) Why can the REC function not be assigned to the shutter release button? (11:37) Why do you get a blank EVF and screen when connecting an external recorder? (12:20) Much more could have been asked but my slot ended with a promise to meet again in the near future. If you have any relevant question to ask the Sony team, please do in the comments below. I can guarantee that they are looking at what you will be writing.Read more
Since its release early this week, the new Sony A7RII has left many filmmakers quite impressed. After our reviews these last days we also had many positive things to say about Sony’s newest 4K mirrorless camera. As we know, the famous Sony A7s is legendary in terms of lowlight and the Sony A7RII vs. Sony A7s scientific lowlight comparison gave us some idea of how well the A7RII performs (Check it out HERE). But we wanted to know how that lowlight performance works in the field, so we took the camera out for a spin last night. Watch and download the ungraded version here Notes: The majority of the footage was shot at ISO 3200-6400. In some shots I was courageous enough to go as high as 12800 (0:44:20) and ISO 10000 (01:11:16) for test purposes…. I tried staying close to neutral colours rather than applying a certain look during grading. In a few shots I adjusted the white balance contrast a bit. I started shooting with a tripod/slider and after 3 shots decided to move handheld. It is less intimidating when shooting people after midnight… I was using 3 lenses. The Tokina 11-16mm f2.8, Samyang 35mm f1.5 and the Samyang 85mm f1.5. It is not the first time I feel that these old Samyang lenses are not suitable for 4K shooting. Much too soft. In my opinion, those are great for HD but not 4K. (Note: I’m not referring to the 50mm T/1.5 Cine that shined in our review) Originally I wanted to shoot in APS-C mode with the Metabones Speedbooster, but I discovered that the Tokina can not reach infinity focus when the adapter is on. The crop mode for this video was: APS-C (better in lowlight sensitivity in our tests). No noise reduction was applied to this video Conclusion: In my opinion it is safe to work with the Sony A7rII (for broadcast purposes) up to ISO 6400 without a problem. You can go higher risking some noise in your footage, but in some occasions it will be more than acceptable. Links to our other tests of the Sony A7RII: Sony A7rII Review – First Impressions & Footage Sony A7RII vs A7S Lowlight Review Sony A7RII Rolling Shutter – Compared to Sony A7s How Good is the New Sony A7RII – First Look in the Lab Music: Holly Maher – “Hiding places” supplied by themusicbed.com Johnnie Behiri is a freelance documentary cameraman/editor/producer working mostly for the BBC and other respected broadcasters. He is also co-owner of cinema5d.comRead more
We’ve been quite busy at cinema5D reviewing the new Sony A7RII (see our field review here and preliminary lab test here). The successor to the famous Sony A7S has left us impressed, but many are asking if it can provide the same legendary lowlight capabilities. Here’s our Sony A7RII vs A7S Lowlight Review, so we’re about to find out. How good is the Sony A7RII in Lowlight As a small camera with a large sensor that shoots 4K (UHD) internally the Sony A7RII is already an amazing piece of gear. Dialling up the ISO we notice that it’s quite capable to shoot even in lowlight environments. However the question is how good it really is, so we don’t get caught by surprise with unusable footage after we come back from a shoot. Many people think that there’s a way to put a number on a camera’s performance, but multiple tests and reviews have showed us otherwise: Camera sensors are complex and inconsistent depending on the way they are used, so we need to learn and experience the camera’s performance in order to use it correctly. It certainly helps to compare a sensor to a reference to get a better perspective. This is where the Sony A7s in an obvious choice. It is one of the most lowlight sensitive cameras we know and has a lot in common with the new A7RII. With its high ISO rating the Sony A7s was (and still is) a perfect tool for documentary style cameramen. The Test: A7RII vs A7S For this test we used two identical Zeiss Loxia 50mm F/2 (Sony E-mount) lenses on the Sony A7RII and Sony A7s and filmed our test chart at the same time. For the purpose of the test we zoomed into lowlight critical areas of the frame. 400% on the Sony A7s’s HD footage and 200% on the A7RII’s 4K (UHD). On first sight it might appear as though the noise floor is similar, but in our video above you can upon close inspection see that the A7s retains better detail throughout. At around ISO 8,000 the Sony A7RII shadow areas get more and more washed out and some detail is lost. Noise performance is still good and in many situations the footage beyond ISO 10,000 and even up to 25,600 might still be usable for you, but look out for those washed out dark areas. The Sony A7s in comparison holds a very clean image all the way up to ISO 25,600. Noise gets severe beyond that point, but detail is retained quite well in comparison to other cameras, which makes it such an impressive lowlight tool. If you want to be on the safe side you should be careful not to expose beyond ISO 6,400 on the new Sony A7RII, but if your final output is HD and web content you might find that even ISO 25,600 is possible without too much noise on the Sony A7RII. The fact of the matter is that you should make your own tests, find out and get a feeling for how far you can and want to push your footage to get the images look the way you like. Sony A7RII Full Frame Mode? One thing we already noticed last friday was the tremendous difference in lowlight performance between Crop Mode and Full Frame Mode on the new Sony A7RII. Below you can see the last 4 steps of dynamic range on both Crop Mode (super35) as well as Full Frame Mode at ISO 6400. You can also observe this in the video above. [Update]: The fact that the Sony A7RII delivers good results at a super35 sensor size is great news and actually quite a big thing. Bror Svensson reminded us that this is the ideal scenario to use the new Metabones Speedbooster ULTRA that can increase the lowlight capabilities by another stop with a manual full-frame lens. Conclusion The Sony A7RII is good in terms of lowlight and certainly very good in comparison to many other 4K cameras out there. The noise floor of the Sony A7RII vs A7s seems similar, but the footage is cleaner on the Sony A7s. In terms of detail the Sony A7s can retain usable quality up into high ISO’s while the Sony A7RII lacks detail much sooner. We start to notice this in the shadow areas around 6,400-10,000 ISO. Shadow areas get washed out and become less usable even on an HD downconversion that we compare to the Sony A7s original as seen in the video above. According to our observations it seems as though the Sony A7s is the better lowlight camera by a few stops. Picture quality in lowlight is more consistent up into the high ISO’s in comparison to the new Sony A7RII. Download the source file at Vimeo to make your own observations: LINK Please consider getting your camera and gear through this link. Thank you Music by themusicbed.com Skywide – City StreetsRead more
Sony’s new A7rII is the first in the A7 family to record video in a 4K (UHD) quality internally. My colleague Sebastian Wöber already preformed a preliminary LAB test to the camera and found the quality in APS C (super 35) mode to be sightly better than in the full frame mode (exactly like Sony predicted). In this video I used both shooting modes and I dare you to spot the different between them….(1:45 to 1:51 is a good example). EDIT 1: Interested in a lowlight footage and review? Please check my latest review here: https://www.cinema5d.com/sony-a7rii-lowlight-footage-nighttime-shots/ EDIT 2: Interested in a lowlight comparison between the Sony A7rII and the Sony A7s? Check out our latest review by clicking here. EDIT 3: Interested in a rolling shutter test– Compared to Sony A7s, Samsung NX1, Canon 1DC, Panasonic GH4? Check out our latest review by clicking here Now, if you are in a rush and have no time/patience to read my full Sony A7rII review, let me summarise it for you in two sentences: – Sell your A7s (or any other photo camera that shoots video you currently have) – Buy the new Sony A7rII …. Sony’s engineers did a remarkable job getting it right. I can’t remember myself having so much fun shooting and then looking at the footage with any other photo camera that shoot video since starting reviewing those cameras. (I currently own the Sony A7s and Canon EOS 1DC). Ergonomically, this camera is thicker to hold than the Sony A7s and to my opinion it is just right. (Please not that most if not all Sony A7s cages will note fit the new camera). Sony also improved the shooting mode rotation wheel by adding a press lock button. It’s not that on the A7s this wheel was constantly twisting but undoubtedly for some this is a useful feature. For us shooters, the EVF and LCD screen are one of the most important components in any camera let alone a 4K one, so I’m very happy to report that Sony took a step forward by improving the one found in the new A7rII in comparison to the EVF and LCD found on the A7s. The build-in EVF is by far the best I’ve ever used in any Sony camera up to date. Camera menu and assign buttons. If you are a Sony user, you will feel immediately at home. The most noticeable changes over the A7s are: – The recording file format and record setting are now on the same menu page – You can now assign the movie record functionality to other buttons. I assigned mine to the AF/MF button so it was VERY easy to start recording with my thumb when holding the camera. – Additional button (C4) was added, allowing even greater flexibility when assigning functions. – What was not addressed is the possibility to assign an external button to the APS C/full frame mode. My solution is to have it ready in the menu, so by clicking twice (menu, then the desired crop mode) I can access it fast and easy. SD cards: Like with ALL of Sony’s latest 4K photo cameras that can shoot video (RX100IV, RX10II), you can use an SDXC card which is larger than 32 GB, 90MB/s, U1 (class 10) standard in order to be able to record in 4K mode. Light sensitivity: Sony’s A7rII native ISO is rated 800. I find it to be a perfect balance between sensitivity and the ability to use it when shooting in SLOG 2 outdoor. The big question is, “how good is it in low light in compression to the A7s”?. The day shoots in my review are all taken in ISO 800 but the ones in the first 23 seconds. Those are done in ISO 3200 up to 6400. We will publish a separate video within the next days to help determine how good the camera’s lowlight performance is. Battery life: Same as with the A7s. For extended recording time I turn the camera to “flight mode”. Alternatively you can use the excellent Varavon TPower 7412 battery pack solution. Picture quality: I can easily say that this is currently the best photo camera that shoots video in the market. As a documentary shooter, Sony continues its tradition of introducing a “complete solution” rather then a “camera only” device. The XLR-K2 can accompany the new camera for a better audio. In my video review, most of the footage was take with Sony’s FE/PZ 28-135mm G lens which proved to be a perfect fit. Downsides: -As this is my first encounter with the camera, the only major downside is its lower resolution when shooting high speed / slow motion (100/120fps in 720p). It looks like Sony wants us to buy an additional camera like the RX10II or RX100IV for enhanced slow motion performance … -Rolling shutter on the new Sony A7RII is both good and bad. If you need a camera with good rolling shutter performance in 4K (UHD) you can either resort to the Sony A7RII Full Frame Mode or avoid this camera altogether and go with the Panasonic GH4 instead. The Sony A7s performs better, but the difference is not huge. (to read our full rolling shutter article. please click here) All in all, Sony, very well done! Music used in this review: Always by Shawn Williams curtesy of themusicbed Edited on Adobe Premiere CC2015, graded with James Miller’s LUTs For those who are interested in the ungraded version: (download in in 4K)Read more
The Sony A7RII, announced by Sony last month is somewhat of a successor to the famous Sony A7S that has by now become a benchmark small cinema camera. We have the Sony A7RII (production model) for review at cinema5D and we’re doing all kinds of things to it. Here are our findings on the first day in the lab. The nice features about the Sony A7RII are its small form factor, full-frame sensor, internal 4K recording capabilities, Slog2 and internal sensor image stabilisation. Before we take new cameras into the field we want to know what the best way to use them is. So we take a closer look in our scientific test lab, check things like usable dynamic range, compare crop modes and the like. This article is just a preliminary look at the Sony A7RII. A full review is following soon. Sony claims that the 4K crop mode on the Sony A7RII happens without pixel binning. So the first thing we wanted to know is how good the Super35 Crop Mode actually is and how it compares to the Full Frame mode. Here are some 100% crops from the footage: What we could see when comparing the two modes is that indeed the Super35 Crop Mode is very nice and a tad sharper and cleaner than the Full Frame Mode. But we were also surprised to see that the Full Frame Mode is actually not bad at all. In fact I would say it can easily be scaled down to 3K or even go as 4K and look very nice. It’s really not so easy to tell the difference between the two modes so Full Frame must be good. Aliasing is not strong in full frame mode, there is a tiny bit here and there, but to be honest it’s hard to find. So if you need the best quality you will want to go with crop mode, but if you’re not a pixel peeper than Full Frame Mode will serve you just as well. In comparison to the Sony A7S in 4K it’s really really hard to tell the difference and I dare you to try. The most apparent difference is the A7S running at a base ISO of 3200 and the Sony A7RII running at a base ISO of 800. You can see the grain and compression / noise reduction artefacts on the A7S on moving images. The Sony A7RII looks a bit cleaner. As a still they look virtually identical. It is amazing though to see this kind of quality recorded internally in such a small camera body. And the A7S was recorded in ProRes, so the XAVC-S codec on the A7RII is certainly doing a good job here. Wow! The other thing we checked was lowlight behaviour in the different modes. Interestingly full frame mode is much worse in this regard. So you should really make sure you’re on crop mode if you crank up that ISO dial. Below you can see the last 4 steps of dynamic range on both Crop Mode (super35 mode) as well as Full Frame Mode at ISO 6400. Maybe the Sony A7RII is doing some kind of efficient internal noise reduction on the Crop Mode. We like it. In terms of lowlight the Sony A7RII is definitely less strong than the Sony A7S, but it’s hard to say how much better the Sony A7S is. We will go into this further soon. We did test the dynamic range and found there’s about 12.3 stops of dynamic range on the Sony A7RII. So that’s very nice. The A7S does about 11.8 in 4K (with an external recorder) and the Sony FS7 goes up to 12.4 in our tests. It’s also possible to record 4K internally and externally simultaneously and the Atomos Shogun accepts the Sony A7RII’s hdmi signal just fine. This is just the first round of tests we did. Actual footage is coming soon! We’re now going out into the field and set the camera to use. We’ll make sure to check out all aspects of handling and ergonomics and we’ll especially compare the camera to its predecessor and make the footage available for download. So stay tuned for more over the next days or just subscribe to our newsletter by registering a cinema5D account to stay up to date.Read more
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