Sony α7S (Alpha 7S) Preview

Joining a growing family of full-frame image sensor cameras -- including the α99, VG900, RX1, α7 and α7R -- Sony has announced the α7S, or Alpha 7S. Along with its two Alpha 7 siblings, the α7S is the world's smallest full-frame interchangeable lens camera. Unlike those models, the α7S has only 12.2 effective megapixels. I know what you're thinking... the α7 and α7R have upwards of 36-megapixels to play with. Why release a new camera with a half to third the resolution?

Simple. Because when there are fewer pixels, the ones you do have are larger and more sensitive which, along with a few other more pieces of technology we'll talk about in a moment, increase the camera's ability to accurately capture light and color. Pretty important, right?

Sony has mated this 12.2MP 35mm full-frame Exmor CMOS image sensor to the state-of-the-art BIONZ X image processor, which allows the α7S to have an insane ISO 50 - 409K. Sony has also applied a new-generation RGB filter with gapless on-chip lens design to the glass over the image sensor. This should "boost the image sensor's light collection efficiency" while minimizing ghosting and flare.

The α7S isn't just for photographers; it has its eyes set on video and cinematographers too. As the "world's first camera to utilize the entire width of a full-frame image sensor in 4K video acquisition", the α7S records 4K QFHD video (though you need an external recorder to capture it), Full 1080p HD video at 60 fps, and even 720p HD video at 120fps for a 5x slow-motion effect. This camera can record accurate time code, and uses Sony's professional "S-Log2 Gamma" to expand dynamic range by up to 1300%. There are also audio level controls, which will work great if you pick up one of Sony's XLR adaptor kits, which attach via the camera's multi-terminal interface shoe.

The α7S has two viewfinders. First, a 3.0" Xtra Fine tilting LCD Display, which not only tips up by 90 degrees and down by 45, but also includes WhiteMagic technology to increase visibility while shooting outdoors in bright daylight. Second, a 2.4M dot XGA OLE electronic Tru-Finder that was first used in the α99.

Compatible with all E-mount lenses (and even A-mount lenses if you purchase an optional adapter), the Sony α7S includes built-in Wi-Fi and NFC (Near Field Communications) technologies. Using a free app on compatible smartphones and tablets (NFC is currently exclusive to Android), users can connect the α7S to some smart-devices with a simple touch. Once connected, it's easy to transfer files, share on the web, and even use your smartphone or tablet as a remote viewing screen and/or shutter control.

Sony α7S Features
  • 12.2MP 35mm full-frame Exmor CMOS image sensor
    • New-generation RGB Filter
  • BIONZ X image processor
  • ISO 50 - 409600
  • 3.0-inch Tilting Xtra Fine LCD Display
    • Tilts up 90degrees
    • Tilts down 45 degrees
    • 1.23M dots
    • WhiteMagic technology to increase visibility in daylight
  • XGA OLED Tru-Finder
    • Same as α99
    • 2.4M dots
  • Fast Intelligent AF (AutoFocus)
    • Works in light as low as -4EV
  • Movie Mode
    • 4K QFHD (4:2:2, 3840x2160) @ up to 24/30p*
      • *requires output to optional 3d party 4K recorders)
    • Uncompressed 4:2:2 Full 1080p HD @ up to 60p
    • 720p HD @ up to 120p = 5x slowmotion effect
    • S-Log2 Gamma
      • expands dynamic range by up to 1300%
    • time code
    • Audio Level Controls
  • Multi-terminal interface shoe
    • Compatible with Sony's optional XLR Adaptor Microphone Kits
  • Compatible with E-mount Lenses
  • Compatible with A-mount Lenses with an optional adaptor
  • Wi-Fi / NFC Control
      • requires compatible Android smartphone or tablet
    • One-Touch Sharing
    • One-Touch Remote
    • Smart Remote Control

The Sony α7S will be available in body only form for $2499.99. Shipping should start in July, 2014.

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