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Sony A7s, FHD camera, with 12Mp sensor, big DR
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  • @itimjim I understand what you saying .what I'm saying here is the gh4 has things just like the a7s does, just like you account for larger sensor , better dynamic range, and better low light ..the gh4 has internal 4k recording, 96fps, and a good codec for grading going for it .

  • @sammy. Sorry for the long post - it didn't start out this way - but thoughts kept popping in my head. Just another angle on this from a poor wannabe who has dreamt of an affordable high end image for years. Let me begin by saying that both cameras are phenomenal so I am looking at the finest points of pros and cons from my personal view.

    To these eyes the GH4 1080p is not as good as it's 4k downsample. There is a big difference clearly demonstrated in resolution charts recently shot. My computer would need a significant upgrade to work with 4k so good HD will do me just fine. ( one could work with Cineform on a weak computer though )

    High frame rates. The a7s has 120 fps albeit at 720p. The Gh4's 96 fps is no where near perfect and is lowish constant bitrate if I am not mistaken. I think it is lower res than the advertised Full HD so they may be comparable in actual quality.

    Off camera recording. The inconvenience of the a7s having off camera 4k recording is mitigated by the fact that it may well be a perfect HD image that it spits out. Many GH4 users are considering it simply to end up with a perfect HD image. Uncompressed HDMI will always be superior to any laudible attempts for in/on-camera recording on 'lower end cameras' save for the very best cameras that offer Prores, RAW, Cinema DNG or the hi end Sonys and Canons offering very high bit rates. The hack was born out of a need for us to get beyond artefacts like mud, macro blocking and poor colour grading ability. But how much bit rate is needed to make us stop complaining but also manage data? The sweetpsot has almost been reached by the GH4 but in my grading efforts with the early samples of the mp4 files. . . . . Ummmm. . . .I realised that issues still exist with the GH4 codecs if one wants to do some serious grading with creative extreme shifts including the use of 3D luts. Any flavour of 4:2:2 would have sealed the deal for me with the GH4. I hope we all agree that no matter how sincere the effort with the codec an option for AVC Ultra, Prores or Cineform would make the GH4 have perfect 'sweetspot' on-camera recording that would make off camera recording obsolete. The fact that many are already budgeting for a recorder hints that there is a recognition that at many times higher quality may be desired that the cam doesn't deliver for discerning videographers. I suspect I am one if those sad perfectionists that wants to get beyond compromises in any way. So although the codec is good it ain't perfect. So the on board recording requirement for the a7s is less an obstacle if both may need an off camera recorder to really shine - and the GH4 would be best served with a 4k recorder ( because its HD is kinda meh to me - it's the aliasing that gets me ) wheras the a7s may look great even in HD. So to me I reckon I would have avoided the on board GH4 camera recording anyway - most of the time. For casual family stuff it makes sense. Having said all that - there will be incredible productions done with this GH4 as is. In fact it looks as good as the original RED one in many respects.

    Having messed around with Red, Arri and Blackmagic files for years, one realises that as close to an uncompressed image grades much better every time for folk who have the time to tweak. I bought a BMPCC and converted to Cineform RAW grading is an absolute pleasure. I know what the fuss is about with Cinema DNG. For fast turn arounds - perhaps raw or uncompressed is overkill but for the ability to get creative that unfetterred HDMI port on a high end Sony cam is a Godsend and I mean it is truly a breakthrough. Never mind the 8 bit part - Sony are stingy with low end stuff giving this kind of accesss. Uncompressed hdmi is really cool because the offboard encoders can do so many more bitrates at will. Apart from raw you can record to whatever flavour you care for.

    Personally I am pleased that finally we have a camera that allows us to tap into an uncompromised uncompressed 'probably' perfect HD image. Sony have put the effort into creating an impressive front end and basically allowed us to chose our back end and bit rate starting from uncompressed down to consumer bit rates. And Sony's image to my eyes is much more refined than the Panasonic's. On camera high bit rate would have been perfect - perhaps we will need to wait for the next iteration. But for now, we are spoilt for choice with recorders - blackmagic's stuff, Atomos' ninja star and plenty more. Roughly a few hundred bucks now. Too many HD HDMI recorders to name and many here may already have them.

    I would imagine that using the APC crop with an anamorphic lens to a high quality recorder will look incredible.

    So in the end it comes down to budget really and the final look. I am 'personally' convinced that the a7s will look more pleasing than the GH4 in most areas if both were to record their best image. ( still concerned about the jello as the one question mark on the Sony ). I suspect that on an HD home theatre the a7s will look as good as cameras that hitherto would have cost as much as a luxury car. It certainly appears on paper to have the wow factor. Time will tell. . . . Peace

  • Thanks for the thoughtful analysis, @HenryO . For the most part I agree with nearly everything you said. Though I do think Sony dropped the ball in one critical area; exporting via HDMI uncompressed 8-bit instead of 10-bit. Had they done that, then I think the argument for them potentially positioning this as a higher end camera with a higher-end price tag would have made sense.

    I'm with you in regards to image quality. So far what I've seen from the A7s seems more 'filmic' and pleasing to my eye. I still can't get past what I often see as 'video-ish' output from the GH4. And trust me, I REALLY want to like the GH4 image so that I can buy one without a doubt. Of course, so far there have only been 2 videos we've seen from the A7s, so who knows if the look will hold up as more and more samples are released.

    Ultimately though, whether or not I will even consider this camera will come down to where Sony prices it. Anything above $2500 and I can't even consider it. If it's closer to $2000, I'll still probably wait a while until the street price drops a bit before picking one up. I think there are many like me who are on the fence regarding the A7s vs. GH4. Sony can either have a hit on their hands or price themselves out of the game.

  • @bozfx We are agreed that the 8 bit isn't as good as it gets - but if they included it may have begun to encroach on some serious high end visuals that they sell - interesting read none the less

    Because this camera has so little noise, I suspect that it would have been the one camera that would have looked incredible with a 10 bit output - perhaps better than most of their current mid range offerings. The engineers must have seen that......Just wish Sony would offer that option at some point or would be cool to somehow hack Cinema DNG out of this camera - he he he he

  • I also have not decided but so far for me the gh4 is a no go ..I just hope it's not the same codec or quality that comes out of the internal fs700 with slog 2 .just wasn't too good at all for me .

  • Boo! I really wanted to see pricing and release date all the while the GH4 is selling like hotcakes.

  • Aw man, that blows. Was looking forward to learning the price so I could know whether I'm wasting my time or not.

  • Been watching the two films made with this cam and still feel like there is a huge difference between GH4 and the Sony. I don't care about 4K at all, nor shallow depth of field and rolling shutter isn't something I worry about too much. The difference is not about those issues, but it's in the colour!

    Feels like I'm only now seeing how DSLR video image should look like after I've seen the A7s. In comparison, GH4 yellows and browns almost always feel muted and for the lack of a better word - dirty. Greens look oversaturated like they always have looked in the GH cameras. Reds suffer from this oversaturation too. It's either oversaturated or dirty/muted without ever being in that sweet spot between. Now I admit I have no professional training or vocabulary to get into more detail than this, but still. I see none of these problems with the A7s. Colours look fantastic. I could use this cam just like that and not worry about the look. Maybe it's worth 2x the price, let's see.

  • I think we will see at least a few more models of cams that shoot 4K. And I also think that we will see some lower priced options in the HDMI recording market, even though these are not mass market items.

    Good news is there are lots of choices. With either the Sony, 4K Studio or GH4 you get a big bump in resolution and lots of super lenses.

    I'm leaning towards the BM 4k series with all the extra options, even though the sensor is smaller

    I would at least like to try the GH4 and the Sony before buying any of these, bringing along a Metabones adapter at least for the BM 4K Studio and the GH4.

  • @duckpark, I too like the α7S. I have to remind myself that the Sony 4K 8-bit 4:2:2 footage was recorded to a Blackmagic HyperDeck Studio Pro in either ProRes 422 (HQ) 3840x2160 or Uncompressed QuickTime 3840x2160, whereas the majority of the 4K GH4 footage we have seen was recorded internally to 100Mbps 8-bit 4:2:0. That said, I like the full frame sensor image and the resulting effect on bokeh of the Sony. If the Sony higher ISO capabilities prove favourable and useable for my purpose, that too will help me to shoot interior with older lenses that are best at T4.0 and T5.6 with a smaller light kit.

    I am following @DrDave's approach, wait and see what follows. The BMPC 4K EF mount does not work for me. The GH4 may still prove the best option for work use, and play. Exciting times.

    Edit: Den confirmed it was recorded with Blackmagic HyperDeck Studio Pro in ProRes 422 (HQ) 3840x2160.

  • Latest price rumor is $1800, which would make it competitive.

  • @philiplipetz

    And it is 10th round. MR just want to bring some attention with lack of other rumors. Just wait some time.

  • This could be my next stills, depending on price and the details. However, am i right in assuming that not only is the onboard xavc 8 bit but also the hdmi out is 8 bit too?

    The issue with Slog2 at 8 bit is that out of those meagre 256 steps, the blacks are raised (so you loose 10% at the bottom straight away) and the Slog2 curve allows for around 18 stops, the camera won't be doing that (maybe 12) so you're wasting range at the top of the curve. So even within those 256 steps you're probably be getting less than 200 steps, maybe quite a bit less (mid grey is at 96, so from black to mid you're looking at 60/70 code values).

    Slog2 in 8 bit really isn't ideal, seems a shame to hamper such a capable sensor like this. I don't know why they just can't dump RAW out of the HDMI and save some processing onboard...

    So depending on price perhaps my next camera should be the A7 instead (I would love decent video but it's stills first and foremost- i have a fs700+odyssey raw recording)

    cheers Paul

  • 2nd half of that video is without using S-Log2 and it shows how important it is to have. The highlights look awful compared to the fire in the shot on the beach by Den Lennie where the fire never seems to blow out regardless of ISO.

  • I'm not interested in seeing how it performs as night goggles.

  • Some ISO test and other samples


    800 x 534 - 108K
  • Were the couple of videos to demo the a7s at the start recorded internally at 1080p or to a 4k to recorder down to 1080p?

  • ^ The Scotland smoked fish videos were recorded internally to 1080p with minimal postprocessing.

  • K .thanks .How about the Japan sony video

  • The Japan video was shot in UHD to a Blackmagic Design UltraStudio Pro recorder via HDMI.

    These details are all in Den Lennie's blog posting:


    "A7s: And right now the official Sony Luxemburg store has listed the final A7s price which is set at 2295 Euro! Shipment will be late July! The same store sets the price of the A7r at 1899 Euro. That makes the A7s 20% more expensive. We can speculate the price in US to be 20% higher than the A7r too ($2295 here at Amazon). It would mean the A7s could price could be around $2750."

  • I'm thinking the U.S. price will be closer to $2500 than $2800, since the Luxembourg center's current a7R price is discounted.

  • I'm thinking $2500 is probably about where it will land as well. Seems to be Sony's attempt at a 5DmkIII killer.