The a7s II has Arrived! My First Impressions After a Couple Hours. Plus a Nice a7s I Profile

October 22, 201515 Comments

a7s II arrives Midday today my Sony a7s II arrived and I wish I had it one day earlier since I had a shoot today and would’ve loved to use it. Before I move into the a7s II  I have some good news for you a7s I users. I have a profile I’m going to share with you that has really nice skin tone and isn’t LOG so it has a lets say “half baked” look. It has room for grading but not flat or overly unsaturated. I checked the color with a DSC Labs FrontBox 12+4 Test Chart and vetroscope. You cant get the color channels to line up perfect since y=the camera doesn’t have the settings available to do that. It takes some time and a lot of skin tone to test the settings. I’m going to do the same with the a7s II to find a nice half baked look soon.  Here are some samples. 

Click on the images to see them larger.

a7s Ungraded #3  a7s Ungraded #2

Whitney

Getting a good white balance is important. I like to get a custom white balance and use a disk for it. Best to get it right. I find it harder to dial it in when in mixed or difficult outdoors lighting.

I like this a lot and saturation can be adjusted easily. Remember when you lower the blacks or use a S-curve the saturation naturally lifts so this profile works nice for light grading or look creations. Okay here are the settings. If it’s not in the list then the setting isn’t changed. Leave at default value.

          • Black Level -4
          • Gamma: Cine 4
          • Black Gamma: Middle; Level -1
          • Color Mode: ITU709 Matrix
          • Saturation -4. You could go to -5 or- 6. (Bill does -2)
          • Color Phase -0 (Bill does -1)
          • Color Depth:
          • R +1 (Bill does 0)
          • G +1
          • B +2
          • C 0
          • M 0
          • Y +1
          • Detail -4 (Bill does -2)

I can’t take credit for this recipe. Thanks to Bill Totolo for the win on creating this combo of CINE 4 and ITU709 Matrix Color Mode. Skin tone is nice and that’s what’s important to me. I did tweak some of the settings a little and I tested a lot of different Gamma and Color Modes and came back to this combo. It just renders skin so nice. I might lower the saturation to -6. Taking Color Phase to -1 takes the red more towards yellow and magenta towards red. I liked the look of -0. YMMV.

Back to the Sony a7s II

Record Trigger

I haven’t recorded anything yet but did go through some settings and make some changes. First one. Set the center button on the dial to trigger record. So much better. Second to the actual shutter release but that isn’t possible. Come on Sony!

AF In Video Mode

When in video mode you only have two choices. Continuous or Manual. If you want AF in manual you use the AF/MF button to engage auto focus. The a7s II has a new and strangely slow auto focus. I’m not liking this very much. It takes a 2 to 3 seconds for the camera to focus and no green focus verify happens like it does in stills mode. Very strange. Not a quick AF punch like the a7s does. It will focus in 1 second and you get the green verification. I think this is a bug because it doesn’t make sense why it’s so slow. Maybe sony thinks this is creative to have the AF creep into focus. I don’t know. I would rather it just focus fast. Not sure how to fix this in settings. Cant find one to change.

Face detection works okay. It’s not like Dual Pixel AF. Again it slithers into focus so slow. I need to test this just sitting down and moving around like a nervous interview and see if it tracks me.Continuous is also very slow. I believe on the a7r II the speed of continues focus is adjustable and I it was definitely faster too.

No 4K in APS-C Mode. Internal or external. HD only.

When shooting high frame rates the a7s II goes into APS-C mode with a 2.2x crop.

Base ISO is now 1600 in Slog. Much better than 3200 on a7s.

EVF

The EVF is crazy good. Very sharp and the new built in LUT is a treat! Not overly saturated or punch but just takes the LOG out making it easier to focus but wow is the EVF good.

Feel

I like the new body. It fits fine in my hand and is a little smaller too. Hard to believe but it is. The control dial locks like the a7r II. I like that. Keeps it from changing on accident going in and out of bags. Menu system is still a mess.

Overheating

A7s II run time

Save the best for last! I ran one test indoors at 73 degrees and the a7s II ran the full 29:59 then paused ready to go again. Today I’ll take it outside and see but here it’s only going to be 80 degrees. I’ll update this post later today with the results. I also understand the a7s II is getting better battery life. I need to test this today too. It sure would be great to get more run time. The batteries that comes with the A7s II are the same model as the original a7s.

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About the Author ()

I'm a broadcast DP In San Diego. I enjoy sharing what I'm working on and testing new equipment. This blog is also part of giving back. I've learned so much from so many people.

Comments (15)

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  1. Jon says:

    What is the minimum ISO for SLOG in HD? Is it 1,600 or still 3,200? I know that for 4K it’s 1,600.

  2. brian mclean says:

    i am also wondering what would be the record time using an atomos , i assume it would not over heat for quit a while.

  3. marklondon says:

    I’ve been using mine for a while, no overheating. 🙂
    Looking forward to the ‘half-baked’ setup for the S2, but I might try this one anyway!
    Cheers.

  4. Craig says:

    Erik thank you for all the honest evaluations and commentary on all this new
    equipment. I am desperately in need for a new camera upgrade soon. The image
    quality from the A7sii looks amazing and I’m really torn between purchasing
    one tomorrow or waiting for the release of the new FS5 to debut. For an all
    around daily workhorse it seems like patience be beneficial. Do you think the
    2 cameras will produce similar quality footage??

    • Erik Naso says:

      Yes and no. I think the FS5 will share the look of the FS7 very closely since they share the same sensor. Many FS7 owners have been using the A7s as b-cams with much success. If you need a video camera I would get the FS5 and maybe look at a A7s II or used A7s. Maybe a A7r II later. Nothing beats a proper video camera and the FS5 is looking pretty good.

  5. EyeSoul says:

    Tried profile settings with RX100 IV,colors are very accurate on it as well.Thanks!

  6. Steve M says:

    Hey Eric, does that same profile work with the A7s2 ? Or what pp do you prefer for run and gun that’s not log?

    Thanks

    • Erik Naso says:

      Try the CINE gammas with STILL color mode. Works very well. The color on the a7s II is much more accurate than the a7s.

      • Steve M says:

        Ok thanks! I heard S-gamut3.cine color was good but I didn’t know if it was supposed to be used without slog.

        All of the color profiles are confusing so I didn’t know what to do with those.

  7. Andy says:

    Hi Eric, I am torn between the A7Sii and the FS5. I love the FS5 as I have had a chance to use it, but I also love the small size and outputting to my Atomos Ninja Assassin. Will the benefits of outputting HD or 4K to the Atomos outweigh recording internally (HD at 10 bit 4:2:2 and 4K at 8 bit 4:2:0) ?

    • Erik Naso says:

      If I had to pick one I would go with the FS5. It cost twice as much but it’s a proper video camera with 2 XLR inputs and in HD it’s 10bit. Thats very nice. Hard to say about using the external recorder but I think the FS5’s strengths are the size and not using an external recorder is liberating in some ways. For many UHD internal is good enough and if you edit in a HD timeline you basically end up with 4:2:2 in 8bit. Shooting with a hybrid is a PITA for a A-Cam so if you want an A-Cam the FS5 is looking like a nice option in lower price range.
      Do you have to shoot in UHD?
      Is 10bit HD good enough?
      Audio important?
      Do you color grade a lot?
      Shoot Slog?

  8. Bill O says:

    Hi Erik, I’ve been close to buying the Sony A7Sii, but your comment in your review about a 2-3 second auto focus delay is a total deal-killer.
    Thanks for the (shocker) news.

    You wrote, “The a7s II has a new and strangely slow auto focus . . . It takes 2 to 3 seconds for the camera to focus and no green focus verify happens like it does in stills mode. Very strange. Not a quick AF punch like the a7s does. … I think this is a bug because it doesn’t make sense why it’s so slow.”

    A few other reviews have left hints about this but your comments are the most emphatic and unambiguous I’ve seen, and my #1 reason NOT to buy the a7Sii. All of Sony’s and it’s retail sellers emphsize “Fast Intelligent AF, 169 AF points.” If the “Fast” part isn’t true, they shouldn’t say it. Truth in Advertising is especially important on a $3 grand camera.

  9. Bill O says:

    Hello again Erik — do you think the “strangely slow auto focus … It takes 2 to 3 seconds for the camera to focus … ” is a bug that afflicts a few, more than a few, or all of the new a7Sii cameras already sold and in the pipeline to be sold? Can I hope Sony knows about the bug, has fixed it, and I can buy an Alpha 7Sii without the bug anytime soon? Do I have to wait for a new “Alpha 7T” to come out? A 2 to 3 second delay in auto focus is no photographer’s idea of “Fast.”

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