Sony’s New α7S II Camera Pushes Limits Of Sensitivity

Full-frame mirrorless model shoots 4K video with no pixel binning
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Full-frame mirrorless model shoots 4K video with no pixel binning
Sony's full-frame, mirrorless α7S II camera

Sony Electronics added a new top-end model to its α7 lineup of full-frame mirrorless cameras, the α7S II. 

Offering ultra-high sensitivity to ISO 409,600 and wide dynamic range across the entire ISO range plus five-axis image stabilization, the α7S II is engineered to handle the most challenging lighting conditions, Sony said.

Here are five ways the new model breaks new ground:

1) It records full-frame internal 4K video with full pixel readout and no pixel binning. Sony claims this is "the world’s first camera to achieve this capability." Using the advanced XAVC S codec, the α7S II can record Full HD at 120fps at 100mbps in full-frame format, which can be immediately reviewed on the camera screen and eventually edited into 4x/5x slow motion footage in Full HD (24p/30p) resolution. This is a first for the α series.

2) It boasts a sensitivity range of ISO 50-409,600 due to a combination of 35mm full-frame 12.2-megapixel image sensor and BIONZ X image processing engine. The sensor works to optimize the dynamic range across the entire ISO range, broadening the amount of tonal gradation in bright environments and minimizing noise in dark scenes.

The BIONZ X processor features an upgraded image-processing algorithm that maximizes the sensor’s capabilities overall, in particular at the mid-high end of the ISO scale, and results in extremely detailed still images and movies with minimal noise, Sony said.

3) The autofocus system on the α7S II has been upgraded and now offers 169 AF points for fast, precise focusing with greater accuracy compared to the original model, Sony said. The low-noise image produced by the image sensor enables the Fast Intelligent AF to detect contrast more easily and react speedily even in low-light situations (as low as EV-4), when it’s even tough to check focus with the naked eye. The AF performance is also twice as fast as the predecessor model during video shooting.  

4) The XGA OLED Tru-Finder in the α7S II has been upgraded and offers the world’s highest viewfinder magnification of 0.78x (roughly 38.5 degrees in diagonal field of view) and shows clear images across the entire display area. The use of Zeiss T* Coating ensures sharp reduction of reflections on the viewfinder.

Unlike an optical viewfinder, the OLED Tru-Finder can be used to instantly show how exposure compensation, white balance and other selected settings are affecting the displayed image.

5) The lens mount has been reinforced to ensure greater rigidity, particularly when attaching third-party lenses, and users can now charge the camera via a USB power supply while the camera is in operation, thus extending battery life.

“Sony continues to lead the industry in terms of innovation in the mirrorless space,” said Neal Manowitz, deputy VP of digital imaging. “With the new α7S II, we’ve utilized many of our latest technologies to deliver a camera that will excel in all types of environments, producing still images and video content that will consistently amaze imaging enthusiasts, professional photographers and even Hollywood directors.”

The camera's five-axis image stabilization system, first employed in Sony's α7 II and α7R II models, corrects camera shake along five axes during shooting, including angular shake (pitch and yaw), which has the greatest impact on image quality and tends to occur with a telephoto lens, shift shake (X and Y axes) which becomes noticeable as magnification increases, and rotational shake (roll) that often affects night shooting and/or video recording, Sony said.

 The Sony α7S II will be available in October for about $3,000 at a variety of Sony authorized dealers nationwide.   

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