The absolutely amazing Sony A7s

Inside, outside, good weather, bad, good light, virtually no light at all. The Sony A7s handles it all. Silently, efficiently and without any fuss. I seriously considered this for my camera of the year but that would have meant three Sony winners in four years. So I decided against it. But it was close. VERY close.

Below is an image I shot yesterday at ISO 10000. Yes that is the right number of zero's!!

How can you get that kind of clarity and lack of noise at ISO 10000? It is almost unbelievable, particularly for those of us who would never shoot a roll of film at more than ISO 200 because it was just too grainy. 

All the above images were shot with a Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 ZA 0r Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.8 ZA, both pin sharp lenses. The previous day I was shooting with the A7s and two Nikon lenses. 20mm f/1.8G and 100mm f/2.8 Series E. See examples below.

With the current improved focus peaking in the A7s this is a great camera for manually focused third party optics and makes the lack of lenses for the FE range less of an issue than it might be. All of this adds to the versatility of camera. The EVF (OLED of course) and screen are great to work with outdoors in sunlight (and the EVF is the best I've used indoors in low light as well) The camera is also seriously fast. On this, much is made of AF speed. But that in fact is only half the story. Olympus cameras have fast AF, but a slow shutter response with that annoying m4/3 'double' action that feels like the shutter speed is too low*. The A7s has an ultra fast, instant feather light shutter. So light in fact that I often take images before I'm ready. However they are all in focus, so it isn't a problem.

(*m4/3 cameras have this Press shutter release button > Shutter closes >Shutter opens >Sensor is exposed >Shutter closes > Shutter opens which delays the action and always makes me think that I've selected a slow shutter speed by mistake. Fuji's have it too as does my Leica T. It's something to do with mirrorless cameras. It is apprently the cause of the much debated 'shutter shock' My Sony FE cameras seem to be better in this regard, though the A7r does make an almighty clunk. DSLR mirrors of course do something similar, but these days it's so quick and Nikon and Canon are adapt at damping the whole process that it feels like one quick action. All of this is one of the reasons I love electronic shutters. But then they have their own problems. Good article on shutters here -  http://www.juzaphoto.com/article.php?l=en&t=mechanical_and_electronic_shutter)

There are so many good things about the A7s, that it does make a lot of other systems look poor by comparison. And while the FE range of bodies have little in terms of retro chic, they are small and light. The A7s is also the best camera I have for fast, reactive shooting. And no it doesn't look like an old Leica, but in every other respect it does a better job in fast moving pressured situations than cameras that do. As yet, I haven't found anything to give it problems and it's flexibility is another of it's strengths.

Even the lack of MP's isn't that much of an issue. Nowhere near the resolution of the A7r of course, but those big pixels allow a high degree of upsizing, with little loss of quality. 

And yes, I do think it's an amazing camera. I'm not even using it's keynote feature, low-light video but it's gradually consigning lots of my other cameras to ebay as I try it out in different shooting situations and realise that it's the best camera I have for all of them.

I still don't like the design much and aesthetically it's far from my favourite camera, but it is a great camera to handle and use. My highest praise for a camera is that I don't notice it when I'm working, it just gets on with the job and that is something the A7s does effortlessly. The Sony FE system is the best mirrorless system, as far as I'm concerned and also I believe the one with the most potential. Sony aren't finished yet, that's for sure and I can only guess what they will be offering on the second anniversary of the system. 

If I could only have one camera the A7s would be it, because I can't think of anything that I can't do with it. And ultimately that's more important to me than what any 'show pony' retro styled alternative can offer. As ever the bottom line is what the finished results look like and the Sony A7s takes some beating for everything apart from the highest resolution and since I've got my A7r for that, it's not surprising that I use Sony cameras so much and rate them so highly.

It's not really that controversial for me to suggest that currently Sony FE cameras are the ones all the other manufacturers aspire to. Plus when you accept that they are far from perfect currently, Sony's competitors must be wondering what they have to do to even keep the FE cameras in sight as they ride off into the distance making everything else look pretty mediocre. One things for sure, overhyped and overdue firmware updates won't do the trick!!