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Hot on the heels of the astounding a7R II, Sony has once again surprised us all by unveiling the latest full-frame E-mount upgrade, the Alpha a7S II Mirrorless Digital Camera. This camera maintains the same 12MP resolution as its predecessor but offers enhanced image quality for even less noise, keeping its title as the master of sensitivity with an ISO range up to 409600, ensuring phenomenal video quality with full pixel readout. Professional-level video is perhaps the major selling point of this model, with the addition of internal UHD 4K recording and a serious heap of video-centric enhancements. And, as with all “II” series a7 cameras, it has received a major makeover that includes a revamped 0.78x EVF and 5-axis in-body stabilization.
Starting with video, the a7S II offers a revamped recording setup to go along with the much appreciated internal UHD 4K capabilities. This includes the implementation of a high bit rate 100 Mbps option for the XAVC S format and the ability to record Full HD video at a maximum frame rate of 120 fps, enabling users to play back their footage at 4x or 5x slow motion with no loss of quality. The a7S II will be able to utilize S-Log3 Gamma and S-Gamut3, in addition to S-Log2 and S-Gamut2, for expanding the dynamic range of their video to 14 stops. This is also the same log setting available on Sony’s top-of-the-line video cameras, meaning footage from the a7S II will fit more easily into high-end workflows.
Ease of use was a big concern for shooting video with earlier models and we see a couple of major improvements on this—most notably in the form of Gamma Display Assist. This allows users to utilize the S-Log3 Gamma while still being able to monitor a high-contrast image. Another change is the enhanced zebra function, which allows users to dial-in their video signal target anywhere between 0-109% for highly accurate monitoring.
Being a hybrid camera, there are many updates that will benefit both still and video, such as 5-axis SteadyShot INSIDE in-body image stabilization and an upgraded 169-point Fast Intelligent AF system that is twice as fast as the original a7S, which maintains reliability down to -4 EV. Moving on to body design, we see a more substantial grip, the relocating of the shutter release to a more natural position, the use of a more durable and quieter shutter mechanism, and improved button customization. This camera will seem familiar to anyone who has handled the a7 II or a7R II. This body also takes on the sharp 0.5" Tru-Finder EVF as the a7R II, something stills shooters will greatly appreciate.
Overall, the a7S II is targeted to those with demanding video requirements with internal 4K recording, S-Log3, Full HD at 120 fps, and Gamma Display Assist. On the other side of things, stills shooters who desire the ability to capture high-quality stills at exceptionally high ISOs with minimal noise will find the a7S II an excellent companion.