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Photography / Buying Guide

The Sony a7 Series: Which Model Suits You Best?

         

     
     

Sony introduced its first two full-frame mirrorless cameras, the Alpha a7 and a7R, to overwhelmingly positive reviews late last year. Revolutionary in many ways, the choices between the two cameras boiled down to the a7, which features a 24.3MP CMOS sensor, quick Hybrid Phase and Contrast autofocus, an electronic front-shutter curtain with Quiet Shutter Mode, faster top flash-sync speed (1/250  versus 1/160) , and slightly faster burst rates (5 fps versus 4 fps).

     
 

The Sony a7R, which is a bit more expensive, features a higher-resolution 36.4MP imaging sensor with gapless on-sensor micro lenses, no anti-aliasing filter for sharper image detail, and a slower, yet eminently adequate autofocus system. Most importantly, both cameras take extraordinary photographs, 1080p AVCHD video, and are winning concepts in their own right.

 
     
 

Adding to the excitement, Sony introduced the Sony a7S a few months later, which differs from its siblings by sporting a 12.2MP CMOS sensor with on-sensor micro lenses and an anti-aliasing filter, a maximum ISO sensitivity of an astounding 409,000, versus a maximum of ISO 25,600 on the A7 and A7R, and 4K video capture―when recording to an external recorder.

 
     
 

Now the big question for consumers is, “Which Sony A7-series camera is best for me?” In this product review, we will attempt to clarify these issues. Be advised that the differences are not always cut and dried. There are enough overlapping attributes that make each of these cameras a smart purchase for most still- and video-capture needs. As for which camera is best for you, spend some time with the photo and video examples below, and read our recommendations on how to weigh the differences and similarities between these three camera systems. 

 
   
     


   

ISO Examples

 
   
     
     

This series of night exposures was captured in an attempt to test the ISO performance of each of Sony’s three distinct a7-series cameras. Each camera was attached to the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4.0 G OSS lens and mounted atop a tripod via the lens’s tripod collar. Each camera was set to Aperture Priority mode and the lens was set to f/11.

 

A photograph was made at each full-stop ISO setting on each camera. This adjustment of the ISO inherently affected the shutter speed, which is apparent in the varying movement of New York's East River at the bottom of each frame.

 

Due to the complexity of lighting in this scene, and in an attempt to keep the highlights from being overexposed, the exposure compensation dial was set to -0.7 on each camera for every shot in the series.

 

The images you are seeing are RAW files, and were processed with Lightroom at a White Balance setting of 4500K.

 

As with every digital sensor, the image quality did slowly degrade as the test progressed and the ISO sensitivity was pushed to the limits on each camera. Each slide includes a native-resolution-crop image, so you can see more detail.

 

We think the results are very interesting, but we will let you decide which camera is right for your needs.

     
     

 


Dynamic Range Examples

 
     
     
     

A key attribute of an imaging sensor is the extent of its dynamic range. Dynamic range, i.e., the range of highlight, shadow, and mid-tone detail a sensor can capture, is a barometer of how detailed and "rich" an image appears. Because the 12MP imaging sensor in Sony’s a7S contains photo diodes (pixels) significantly larger than the photo diodes in Sony’s a7 and a7R (24MP and 36.4MP, respectively), the a7S has much higher sensitivity to light, making it the most viable available-light camera currently available from any manufacturer. As these images illustrate, Sony’s a7S can capture and display an extreme range of highlight and shadow detail without your having to resort to heavy image editing.

     
     
Sony a7

Sony a7

Sony a7R

Sony a7S


Resolution Examples  
     
     
     

While it’s easy to soften or diffuse a photograph, the degree of sharpness in a photograph cannot be improved after the fact. The side-lit texture and forms of the marble columns along the entrance of the James Farley Post Office, in Manhattan, are perfect for evaluating the resolving power of each of Sony’s a7-series cameras. When discussing resolution, it’s important to note the degree of detail in the highlights, which can easily be blown out on lesser sensors, as well as the shadows. What’s equally important to note is the high levels of resolving power of which each of these cameras is capable.

     
     

Sony a7

Sony a7R

Sony a7S


Vignette Examples  
     
     
     

This photograph of a rare open patch of Manhattan real estate illustrates how each of these cameras handles vignetting on wider-angle lenses. A notable issue concerning Sony’s a7 and a7R concerns vignetting and color shifting when using lenses wider than 25mm. One of the positive attributes of the Sony a7S is that, unlike the a7 and a7R, vignetting is greatly reduced, if not completely eliminated, when shooting with wide-angle lenses. These photographs, captured with a Voigtlander Super-Heliar 15mm f/4.5-L Aspheric lens, clearly illustrate the differences between each of these cameras in terms of wide-angle vignetting.

     
     

Sony a7

Sony a7R

Sony a7S


 


Dynamic Range in Video Test  
     
     
     
While all the a7 cameras have very good dynamic range in stills mode, in video it’s rather different. With the a7 and a7R you do have some control over gamma, because the creative-style jpeg profiles also influence the video. However, they don’t offer the best explanation of what they are doing with names like Night Scene, Sunset, Vivid, Clear, etc. For this test, the a7R and a7 are set to the Sunset creative style, which I think attempts to maximize the dynamic range.
     
  On the a7S, there are much more precise picture profiles, with the ability to set knee level, black levels, gamma curves, and more. For this test, I shot the a7S in both Cine1 Gamma at a low ISO, and S-Log2 at ISO 3200 (3200 is the minimum ISO in S-Log2). The a7S has far more dynamic range in both modes, with S-Log2 having the most; however, it’s noisier in the shadows than Cine1 Gamma.  
     
     

 


Rolling Shutter Video Test   
     
     
     
In this test, all three cameras were mounted on top of each other to ensure that the panning speed was the same. All cameras are equipped with a Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 lens.
     
  All three cameras suffer from rolling shutter, as do all CMOS-based cameras without a global shutter. However, the a7S is a little bit worse than the other two, probably due to the fact that it scans the entire sensor. In my experience shooting, this is the only area in which the a7S performed worse than the other two cameras in video mode, but it’s not terribly worse. To minimize rolling-shutter effects, wider-angle lenses work best, and lenses with IS should be used when handholding any of the cameras.  
     
     

 


High ISO Video Test  
     
     
     

For this test, all cameras were set in the same night-scene creative style to test their noise performance at High ISOs. The reason a creative style was used instead of a more flattering gamma curve on the a7S is that crushing the blacks reduces the visible noise, as the shadows are typically the noisiest part of an image, so it makes the comparison fairer to use the same creative style on the a7S as the others. The scene was shot at night with the Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2. At ISO 3200, the lens is at f/1.2, and the lens is stopped down as the ISO is cranked up, until the end, when I open up to f/1.2 at ISO 409,600 on the a7S, just to see what it looks like.

     
  As you might expect, the a7S wipes the floor with the other two cameras when it comes to high ISO in video. In stills at medium-high ISOs, the a7 and a7R aren’t that far behind the a7S once the 20MP and 36MP images are downsized to 12MP. Nonehteless, because they line-skip when shooting video, they aren’t actually using all of their pixels. Because of this, the a7 and a7R are already, in my opinion, only usable in emergency situations at ISO 6400 for video. Even ISO 3200 is really pushing it. The a7S is useable up to at least ISO 25,600.  
     
     



Resolution and Aliasing Test  
     
     
     

This test shows both the difference in aliasing and moiré and the overall detail resolved by the different cameras. All cameras are equipped with the Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 and pointed at a scene with many fine details and fine lines. The brick building, fence, and lines on the gates are things to watch out for.

     
  Aliasing and moiré will typically find themselves in any video camera, but the line skipping at the sensor level that most still cameras use when shooting video can lead to much more aliasing and moiré than when shooting stills. In this test, all three cameras show it to some degree, but it is far worse on the a7 and a7R then on the a7S, as is to be expected, since the a7S does not line-skip when shooting video.  
     
  Also, despite the fact that all cameras shoot video internally in 1080p, the amount of actual detail the cameras resolve varies by quite a bit. You can easily see by just looking at the bricks how much more detail there is in the a7S in 1080p, with the a7R coming in second, and the a7 coming in third. And if you need even more detail, the a7S can output UHD 4K video over HDMI. Unfortunately, portable UHD 4K HDMI recorders aren’t on the market yet.  
     
  The thing that surprised me most about this test was not how much better the a7S is than the others, since I was expecting that, but how much better the a7R is than the a7. The a7R resolves a lot more detail than the a7 and has less moiré and aliasing than the a7, as well.  
     
     

 

Compression Video Test  
     
     
     

This test pitted the 24 Mb/s AVCHD video codec offered by the a7 and a7R against the higher-quality 50 Mb/s XAVC S codec offered by the a7S (although the a7S can record in AVCHD too, if you like). Traditionally long-GOP codecs like AVCHD and XAVC S struggle the most when there is a great deal of change between frames, as they try and record only the differences between groups of frames to save space. But since XAVC S has double the bitrate, it should be able to withstand twice as many changes without lowering the quality. I attempted to stress out AVCHD in two ways: first, with a high-speed object moving through the frame—a bicycle in this case—and the other by panning across highly detailed green foliage.

     
  AVCHD held up pretty well in the bicycle test, probably due to the static background. On the foliage test there is a definite difference between the two, but it’s hard to say whether the better image coming out of the a7S is due to the fact that it resolves much more detail, or if it’s the AVCHD codec falling apart. Either way, the XAVC S codec is a welcome addition to the a7S.  
     
     



New York at Night  
     
     
     

The excellent dynamic range and high-ISO ability of the a7S lends itself particularly well to street shooting at night, as streetlights and neon signs create very high-contrast environments. To showcase this, I shot a short at night. Most clips were shot with the a7S, but there are a few comparison shots thrown in, as well, to showcase just how different the a7S renders images in these high-contrast situations than the a7 and a7R. Also, it’s worth reminding people that the a7 and a7R aren’t bad at video—they perform at about the same level as other high-resolution still cameras that also shoot video. It’s just that the a7S performs at a different level.

     
     


 



While the Alpha a7, a7R, and a7S share many qualities, they each offer specific features and specs that differentiate them from one another. The list below presents different kinds of photo and video work, and recommends the a7-series camera that's preferable for the application.

 
 

Wedding and Event Photography

 
     

For weddings and event photography, the Sony a7 and a7S are the best choices—the a7 for its faster autofocusing, and the a7S for its unrivaled low-light imaging abilities, 4K video capture, and a truly Silent Shutter mode.

 
     
   
     
 
 
  Portrait and Fashion Photography  
     

The 36.3MP resolution and exacting details offered by its filterless design makes the a7R the clear choice for this application.

     
 

Exception: if you shoot portraits or fashion outdoors, the faster maximum sync speeds of the a7 and a7S offer an advantage.

 
     
 
 
  Sports and Action Photography  
     

The fast and accurate autofocus of its Hybrid AF system, and the faster continuous shooting speed make the a7 the best choice for shooting sports and other fast-moving subject matter.

     
 
 
  Landscape Photography  
     

With its high-resolution sensor and omitted anti-aliasing filter, the A7R would be a good choice for capturing the details usually important to landscape photography. In addition, fine art landscape photography is often printed in large format, which is supported by the high-resolution a7R.

     
 

Exception: when shooting in locations with extreme contrast between the highlights and shadows, the high-dynamic-range capabilities of the a7S would retain more information in the shadows, without overexposing the highlights.

 
     
 
 
  Vintage Lens Users  
     

For the many photographers who are choosing lighter-weight mirrorless cameras in order to utilize compact, high-quality rangefinder lenses, such as those by Leica and Voigtlander, the a7S may be the best choice. Its gapless on-chip lens design improves light distribution across the sensor, reducing the vignetting that can occur when using lenses designed for film cameras.

     
 
 
  Photojournalism and Street Photography  
     

With the fastest continuous shooting rate and faster autofocus, the a7 is the way to go for street, documentary, and journalistic applications. In addition, a 1/250-second flash sync helps when shooting with fill flash outdoors, and the electronic first-curtain shutter provides more quiet activation. Normally, this type of photography does not require maximum resolution, and the faster processing speed of smaller files is an advantage in the news world.

     
  Exception: the potential for damage on the street and in the field makes the magnesium-alloy, weather-sealed bodies of the a7R and a7S appealing. Plus, if the utmost silence is a concern, the silent mode on the a7S is a benefit. It is absolutely silent.  
     
 
 
  Still Life Photography  
     

Resolution and details are paramount in still life work and for this, the a7R with its 36.4MP filterless CMOS sensor, offers the highest resolution and superb details.

     
 

Exception: if you're shooting still life in very low light, it might be worth considering the a7S with its low-noise, high-ISO capability.

 
     
 
 
  Night Photography  
     

Here, the a7S has the clear advantage. A native ISO sensitivity to 102,400 (expandable to 409,600) will enable very effective low-light capture. Also, with its wide dynamic range, city lights and dark shadows can be balanced within the frame and the improved signal-to-noise ratio reduces noise at high ISO levels. In addition, AF sensitivity to -4 allows improved AF accuracy in low light.

     
 
 
  Nature Photography  
     

The faster continuous shooting and hybrid autofocus system in the a7 allow you to capture images of fast-moving animals. Furthermore, the AF Predictive Control feature on the a7 recognizes movement to or away from the camera and calculates where the subject should be in the instant between continuous shots.

     
 

Exception: the a7S has the advantage of better battery life, which will help on long outings into the woods. It also has the silent mode, which is clearly an advantage when photographing wildlife.

 
     
 
 
  Mirrorless Enthusiast  
     

For the user who is ready to make the leap from point-and-shoot cameras to mirrorless, or one who prefers the compact form factor of a mirrorless camera over a DSLR, the a7 is the most affordable full-frame camera currently available and combines the practical control of a smaller camera with interchangeable-lens options and the light-gathering, resolution, and depth-of-field control of a full-frame sensor.

     
  Exception: if you are a photographer who wants to use their camera for producing high-quality video as well as still images, the a7S is the option for you. While all three cameras offer Full HD capture, the a7S stands out with its ability to handle 4K video.  
     
 
 
  Cinema-Style Video Shooting  
     

The a7S is the best choice for controlled cinema-style video shoots. It offers far better dynamic range, a much more detailed 1080p image with less moiré and aliasing than the other cameras, a more robust XAVC S Codec when shooting in 1080p, a much cleaner image at high ISOs, and the ability to shoot 120 fps slow motion in 720p. Its ability to output UHD 4K video to an external recorder is just icing on the cake, seeing as the a7S is such a formidable performer in HD video capture.

     
 
 
  Live Event or Concert Video Shooting  
     

If you're shooting live events or concerts, then you will probably be using telephoto lenses and panning around to follow the action. In situations like this, the a7R would be the best camera of the three. Its better rolling-shutter performance compared to the a7S, and more detailed video compared to the a7, make it the best choice.

     
  Exception: if you're shooting in very high-contrast situations or in very low light and you can get close enough to use a lens wider than 100mm with a tripod, the a7S’s superior overall video quality makes it the better choice.  
     
 
 
  Documentary Video  
     

For shooting talking head interviews and controlled B-Roll footage, the a7S is a great documentary camera. A full-frame sensor makes it easy to shoot interviews with a defocused background, even in cramped spaces. The high dynamic range and more flexible picture profiles allow you to get B-Roll footage in almost any environment without setting up lights. All three cameras are also compatible with Sony’s XLR adapter, making it easy to get good audio without having to sync in post.

     
 

Exception: if you will be shooting handheld, run-and-gun work, consider the a7R. Its rolling shutter is a little better (fast pans and shaky hands don’t mix well with rolling shutters). Plus, the softer overall image on the a7R makes focusing on the fly a little more forgiving.

 
     
 
 
  Film Students  
     

A helpful aspect of the a7-series cameras is that they handle very similarly. They all have the same control layout, the same focus aids, they use the same lenses, and have the same-sized sensor. Once you get used to shooting with one, it’s easy to move to another. Because of this, the a7 might be the best choice for film students. It's significantly cheaper than the a7S or a7R, and the differences in video image quality won't impede your creativity. Having an extra $1,000 to spend on lenses shouldn’t be overlooked.

     
 

Exception: if your budget isn't a barrier, the a7S is the best overall video camera.

 
     
 



  a7 a7R a7S
Effective Pixels 24.3MP 36.4MP 12.2MP
Pixel Size 5.96µm 4.87µm ~8.4µm
Resolution 6000 x 4000 7360 x 4912 4240 x 2832
Anti-Aliasing Filter Yes No Yes
Maximum ISO  25,600 25,600 409,600
Autofocus Hybrid Contrast Contrast
AF Sensitivity EV0 to EV20  EV0 to EV20  EV-4 to EV20 
AF Predictive Control Yes No No
Continuous Shooting  5 fps 4 fps 5 fps
Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter Yes No Yes
Silent Shutter Mode No No Yes
Flash Sync 1/250th 1/160th 1/250th
On-Sensor Micro Lenses No Yes Yes
Weight 416 g 407 g 446 g


 

Credits:

ISO images - Matthew Sinclair

Dynamic range, resolution and vignetting images - Allan Weitz

Videos - Chris Gold

Written content - John Harris, Allan Weitz, and Chris Gold

Discussion 162

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Hi,

I have been reading your discussion boards here, and you provide great information. Thought I would pose my questions as it relates to the Sony A7 series.

I love the Sony RX1R II or A7R II, but they are beyond my current budget.  I am looking at creating a similar compactness of the RX1R II. My immediate options I am considering the Sony A7 series (A7S II, A7 II) or maybe the Fujifilm X-T2? Thoughts?

The bodies on these seem compact but my challenge is finding a good small lens to go with them (priority is small, not too expensive and with great IQ are equal priorities). I would probably lean towards the wider side than zoom lens, and a lens which uses the low light may be nice.

Because size is an issue, I would prefer a lens that works out of the box, and does not require an adapter, but this is an option as well if the adapter allows for full functionality,

Does anyone have any ideas or recommendations for me? :-)

Thank you in advance for your help,

The most compact option would likely be to go with the Fujifilm X-T2 and Fujifilm XF 27mm f/2.8 Lens.  That lens has an extremely slim profile, while also having solid image quality, and it isn’t too expensive.  The X-T2 should also have great low light performance.  If you want to go with one of the a7 series cameras, I would likely look at the a7S II for its amazing low light performance.  As for lenses, the Sony Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA Lens would be one of the more compact lens options for a full frame Sony E-mount camera.  It would be a lovely lens.  As for which system to go with, that really depends on you.  Again the Fujifilm will be the more compact option.  The Sony a7 series will tend towards the better low light performance, especially the a7S and a7S II.  

I'm currently shooting with a Nikon D750 w/expensive glass. I'll be traveling to Italy next month and want to find something smaller, lighter, and more compact for travel. Things that are important to me are: low light capability, ability to use autofocus, and good image quality at full size (I license full size images for a living so images need to be noiseless and sharp at fairly large sizes). Video doesn't matter to me. Which option would you suggest? Thanks in advance.

Hi Joyce -

How about the  a7S II?

If you need smaller and lighter, then consider the Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera is a versatile and advanced mirrorless camera featuring a 24.3MP APS-C-sized Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor and BIONZ X image processor to produce high-resolution still images and full HD movies with marked low-light quality and sensitivity to ISO 25600. Beyond notable imaging traits, the image processor also lends itself to continuous shooting up to 11 fps and an intelligent Fast Hybrid AF system that uses both phase- and contrast-detection methods to quickly and accurately acquire focus.

Smaller and lighter still?

Then chek ot the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III Digital Camera , an  advanced point-and-shoot featuring a large 20.1 megapixel 1" Exmor R CMOS sensor to produce high-resolution still imagery and full HD video. This sensor's design utilizes backside-illuminated technology to improve clarity and image quality when working in dimly-lit conditions as well as increase the sensitivity to a native ISO 12800. Benefitting the performance of this sensor is the BIONZ X image processor, which helps to produce images with smooth quality and tonal gradations as well as provide expedited performance throughout all aspects of the camera, including a continuous shooting rate of 10 fps in Speed Priority mode, shutter release lag of 0.008 sec., and XAVC S movie recording at 50 Mbps.

I want to buy a lighter camera for sooting live conserts inside. I need quality with high ISO and fast autofocus. Today Im using my sony a99 with zeis 50mm 1.4. The video quality is not that important to me. 

Thank you! 

While the a7R II has the better autofocus, I would likely lean towards the a7S II.  It has an improved AF system upon the a7S, and has amazing low light performance.  It will be a great option for concert photos, if you are looking for something more compact and light weight compared to the a99.

I am currently using an Olympus OMD Em-1 and thinking of making the switch over.. i know my olympus glass wont convert but I also use the Panasonic Leica Nocticron and was wondering if it will mount to any of the Sony FF bodies and work properly without an adapter! Thanks

Unfortunately, B&H does not carry an adapter that would enable one to mount a micro four thirds lens (such as the Panasonic Leica Nocticron) on a Sony E-mount camera.  The lens itself is only designed to cover a micro four thirds size sensor, and wouldn’t have an image circle large enough to cover a full frame sensor.

I have a question .. I use a6000.

I think a lot a7s and a7ii(a7m2).

Take a lot of landscapes and characters, I'm sure a7ii would be better.. Stars and want the picture of night.

Give up the pixels and agony will win the dark.
I would be grateful you can advise

The a7II would likely be the better fit.  The a7S is the better camera for low light, but the a7II would still be an extremely capable camera in low light.  For landscapes and portraits the higher resolution of the a7II would give it an edge over the a7S.

Im looking to purchase the sony a7s. im going to be doing mostly video, but I will be doing some imaging. I will be doing alot of short films, but I will be doing some action filming such as sking. I always film with a glidecam. Is that stablization enough that the rollingshutter wont be a problem? Is the sony a7s right for me? are sony cameras right for me? If not what camera should i consider. 

The a7S is an excellent camera, and is a great option for video.  Though, if it's within your budget, I would likely go for the a7S II.  It has built-in image stabilization along with a better autofocus system.  The improved AF system would make it a better option for shooting action.  And, while you might be using some sort of stabilization most of the time, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you cannot use the Glidecam, the built in image stabilization would be a key feature.  The a7S II also has a lower minimum ISO for recording in S-Log (1600 vs 3200).  Add to this the ability to shoot 4K internally, I think the a7S II would be the better option for short films and ski videos.  As for rolling shutter, using some sort of stabilization should counteract one of the causes of rolling shutter.  You will still likely experience rolling shutter if you are doing fast jerky pans.  But, using a Glidecam, I would think that you would be focusing on smooth fluid movement.

Hey B and H! IF its possible, help me to decide! I will use it 50/50 photo/video. Photo: portraits, timelapses (i have SDXC cards, don't worry), citylandscapes. Video: small commercials/promo video and possibly (very possibly) wedding short films. I'm able to get Speedbooster for lowlight and FF look in 4k super35. But will RII overheat in 4k super35 if i use it for short film shooting? S II or R II? And thanks in advance!

I don’t think the a7R II should have an issue with overheating in 4K and super35.  With the firmware update earlier this winter, this issue seems to have been successfully addressed. People have been able to shoot for extended periods of time in 4K super35 format without experiencing overheating. 

That being said, for your stated needs, you could really go with either camera.  I might lean towards the a7S II as long as you aren’t shooting action, making extremely large prints, or doing much cropping.   The a7S II will be more than able to produce excellent results with portraits, time-lapse, and cityscapes.  I think you would get a bit more out of the video benefits of the a7S II, as compared to the photo benefits of the a7R II for your stated needs.  Also, the low light performance of the a7S II would be extremely beneficial if you do end up shooting some wedding video (both ceremonies and receptions can take place in extremely low light). 

What full frame camera would you recommed to used for a helicopter tour around 4pm in nyc? I'm thinking of using a 16-35mm lens if that helps. 

Any help would be helpful, and Thank You.

Hi Berto -

The fast and accurate autofocus of its Hybrid AF system, and the faster continuous shooting speed make the a7 the best choice for shooting sports and other fast-moving subject matter. 

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

I'm looking for a camera to use for a clothing photoshoot and also to record vlogs and record gym workouts of me and other people. I'm going to be using it for a health & fitness company that I'm creating. A majority of the still shots will be of us in clothing in different scenery; gym, outdoors in the woods or mountains, city landscape with skyscrapers, etc. But most of the videos will be vlogs of what we do everyday and workout videos at the gym, of us doing different excercises etc. Also Q&A videos of us just answering questions in front of the camera. 

Which camera would you recommend for the stuff above? I'm very new to the camera world so if you could explain why that would be great :) 

Thanks

Hi Jared -

For shooting talking head interviews the Sony Alpha a7S Mirrorless Digital Camera is a great documentary camera. A full-frame sensor makes it easy to shoot interviews with a defocused background, even in cramped spaces. The high dynamic range and more flexible picture profiles allow you to get B-Roll footage in almost any environment without setting up lights. All three cameras are also compatible with Sony’s XLR adapter, making it easy to get good audio without having to sync in post.

can you tell me the "max" best printed image size for the A7ii? I know you mention that you can "upscale" with a software, but without the software what do you think.  I'm thinking around 24x36 size.

I shoot mainly nature, abstract, macro, as well as architecture. Or the two , A7ii and A7sii, which would you suggest?

Is image stabillization for the cameras on the body? So I wouldn't need a lense with Image stabilization, correct?

Lenses- I am moving from a Canon. Can I use those lenses or how much does it cost to purchase an adaptor to use those lenses.

You could make a 24X36 print from the a7 II without the need to upres the files.  30X40 would likely be the largest you could get before the quality started to go down.  The a7 II would be an excellent option for what you want to shoot.  And, it would likely be the better choice if you want to make large prints.  The a7 II does have built-in 5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE Image Stabilization.  So, the lens does not need to have its own image stabilization built-in.  There are adapters that would enable you to use your Canon EF lenses on a Sony FE camera.  You might look at the Metabones T Smart Adapter Mark IV for Canon EF or Canon EF-S Mount Lens to Sony E-Mount Camera.  It would enable you to retain autofocus with Canon lenses made in or after 2006.

I think the A7 is very good and cheaper more

I think it would have been more helpful if you had scrapped the music and just had a voice-over, telling the viewer which camera was doing its stuff, and at what settings.  I found it hard to keep track of what was going on.

Hello All:

How sharp is video between this 3 cameras? I just want to jump from canon soft dslr video to something with more definition, which would be the best in that terms?

Thanks!

I do Automotive PHotography and Street Photography, would the A7II, A7r or A7s be bettter for shooting cars? 

The updated A7R II would likely be your best bet for both. Of both the first and second generation of the A series cameras, the A7R II would provide the fastest Autofocus, ideal for the varying needs of street photography. Plus the added resolution A7R II offers would exceptional detail making this very suitable for photographing cars. You can find more current information regarding the second generation of Sony’s A series camera here: http://bit.ly/1OvJdf3

The updated A7R II would likely be your best bet for both. Of both the first and second generation of the A series cameras, the A7R II would provide the fastest Autofocus, ideal for the varying needs of street photography. Plus the added resolution A7R II offers would exceptional detail making this very suitable for photographing cars. You can find more current information regarding the second generation of Sony’s A series camera here: http://bit.ly/1OvJdf3

Hello All

Im leaning more towards the A7s for mostly still's, because of the low light capabilities, but my question is: How large of a print could I go, before it begins to suffer from the 12 mp sensor?

Thanks!

You could easily print a 12 X 15 from an a7S file, maybe a bit larger, without using software to up-res the file.  With software, you could go much larger than that.

hello

My interest is primarily portraits:

my gear for portraits are mainly 100 2.8 L macro, 135 f2 L, 85 1.8, all Canon with some Rokinon and normal to wide prime Canon lenses.

I currently have a lot of good FD Canon lenses like the 100 f/2 but have difficulty focusing with my film cameras. It would be convenient to buy into the Sony a7 series and get an FD to Sony E mount adapter for them but the cost of course is a reality. I have a 5D, 1Ds and 1DS III and am satisfied and used to the colors with the best skin tones (which is a priority to me) out of the 1Ds raw.

Do any of the Sony a7 series have really good skin tone image quality? If so or not, what software do you recommend using. (my preference out of all woud be the A7r for resolution and high iso or the a7ii).

thank you

d david y

In general, over the last year or so I've seen excellent image quality and color fidelity coming from Sony cameras.  Many of my friends and colleauges have adopted into or totally swithed over to various A7 models depending on their discipline.  Sony is taking this aspect of the industry very seriously and we're sure to see more technology and innovation from them in the future.  They definitely handle skintones very well.  My best recommendation to you in this case would be to rent some of the A7 bodies and the E-FD adapter, and take your lenses for a test run and compare them to the same images captured with your favorite Canon model.  As far as software goes, I'd stick with Adobe Creative Cloud for Photoshop and Lightroom.

Hi,

Which flash do recommend for Sony A7S?

Below are links to a few recommended Sony flashes to  use with your A7S camera.

http://bhpho.to/13cEbCE

http://bhpho.to/N3JQnj

Would be great if you could update this article to compare the A7Rii also.

Thank you very much for this article. it was extremely helpful. Nevertheless, I would love to read your opinion with respect to underwater photography. The combination of Macro photography with focusing moving subjects, creative flash photography and the need for high-dynamic-range makes it very difficult to choose on or the other.

Thanks in advance.. great work people!!

Hi,

I assume the tests shots have been made with tripod? It would be nice to see the a7r's handheld resolution. I imagine that with 200 or 300mm tele in handheld position at something like 1/200, there will be some blur which dicards the resolution advantage of a7r over a7.

I shoot street photos with tele lens, and while a7r offers a major advantage of cropping (thus allowing to use, say, 135 instead of 200mm), I would expect noticeable blur. No?

All of the samples were shot using a tripod.

The rule for minimum shutter speeds for handheld shooting dictates that the slowest effective shutter one should be able to shoot at at a given focal should resemble the focal.  For instance, if shooting with a 200mm lens the slowest shutterspeed one should be able to capture a non-blured image at would be 1/200  or 1/250 of a second (for shutter speeds or focals where there is not an exact correlation simply round up to the next fastest shutter speed).  This will vary from user to user, with practice it may be possible to shoot slower. 

If you were to shoot at 135mm and crop in on the subject, assuming you have speeds faster than 1/125th of a second, you shouldn’t encounter too much blur unless you’re shooting a very fast subject.

Thanks, Yossi, but are you sure of that? At 36Mpx, the blur is likely very noticeable when shooting tele handheld, whatever the shutter speed. If someday you have a minute to shoot both a7 and a7r handheld tele, comparing the pictures would be interesting. I'm pretty sure that lacking some serious stabilization in a7r, resolution will be very similar.

Vadim

Unfortunately I do not have regular access to our inventory to conduct the tests that the article writer does.  My reply was based on my own personal experiences. Am I sure? Well I am rather confident in my reply, however I'm also wise enough to know there are times I could be proven wrong (and in such instances I'm well able to eat crow). 
 

Hi could you please tell would the a7r be the best camera to get to shoot weddings, I have have canon systems at the moment but seeing reviews on sony I am thinking of moving over to them. If it is that the a7r is not the best for weddings can you offer some advice as to which model would be the best all round for the job.

Thanks Martin.

The Sony A7r is definitely a great camera and is being used by plenty of wedding photographers.  However without knowing which specific camera models you may be working with, it’s not possible for me to say its better or worse than what you have.  Canon definitely is at the top of the wedding shooters market along with Nikon, and rightfully so – they offer some great camera and lens options and other support accessories used in Wedding work.  Sony has caught up a bit in the last 2 years or so with all their new innovations in their mirrorless cameras.  My best advice to you would be to rent an A7r for a weekend and do some test shooting with it.  And the next time you have a wedding or event, rent one to take along with you (in addition to your normal gear) and do some shots with it, see how it feels and handles in respect to how you shoot. 

I have a terrible doubts about whether I should buy the a7s or a7II
I love night photography, but take pictures of all kinds.
12 megapixels of A7s seems to me little to normal work

How the a7II works at high isos, how about the dynamic range?

The Dynamic range of the a7 II is a bit better than the a7S, though the a7 II’s low light performance is nowhere close to that of the a7S.  12MP is completely suitable for normal work (more than just low light): there are plenty of Nikon shooters out there who still shoot the 12MP D700 for professional work.  I suppose the question would be, what do you want to emphasize.  The a7 II can be used in low light, and the a7S can be used for regular work.  But, each will shine in different areas.  So, what is more important to you:  The best low light performance on the market?  Or would the majority of your work benefit from the image stabilization and AF system of the a7 II?

How good is the FullTime A7s AutoFocus in Video mode?

I need something better for indoor unattended Videos.

My GH4 and HC-X1000 do this well but only up to ISO 1000

It does a mighty fine job. I never tested the HC-X1000, but using the Sony A7s with Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens, continuous autofocus performed great at high ISOs. I believe I last shot with that combo at ISO 16,000.

Hi there.

Great article thank you. A7s for me. 1 question. Does it have a timelapse video function? Or will I need to use an intervelometer and stitch the photos together?

Phil

The camera doesn't have the ability to shoot intervals on its own.  You would need to use an intervalometer remote control timer, or shoot tethered to a computer using Remote Camera Control software.  Below is a link to a recommended/compatible remote control with interval capabilities:  http://bhpho.to/1EJFh6n

Very good resume. I want to shoot only B&W. I will therefore convert the sensor to infra red. Your resume would suggest the a7s: would you concur noting my subjects as high contrast Indian light on old architecture. Peter

Yes, I would tend to concur with you about your camera choice considering  your intentions.  The one thing I would recommend would be before purchasing the camera for this purpose, is to contact the company that you will send the camera to modification for, and ask them based on your intentions if that is the best model based on the way they convert sensors.  They may happen to have insight on things that we may overlook. But otherwise I would recommend the A7s.  Also, keep in mind that by modifying the camera, you are voiding your warranty should you have any issues with the camera. 

Fantastic comparison, very thorough.  

hello

thank you for this test it was interesting,but however I do have one question..

I am a commercial diver and in my spare time I like to dive with my camera!

here is my question,for underwater footage and astrophotography the A7S would be the better one to get?right?

I would say yes; if you are planning on recording underwater footage or use the camera for astrophotography needs, both which would benefit from a wide dynamic range and excellent low-light performance, the Sony Alpha A7S Mirrorless Digital Camera would seem to be the better option of the three for your stated usage needs.

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