After having the previous model, the A7S, for a little over a year & shooting more or less everything under the sun with it. From surfing, travel around Asia, NZ & Indonesia, mountain biking & weddings etc, it's really been put through its paces and has far outdone all expectations I had of it!
After pre-ordering the A7S mkii from WEX ony a few days before the release date, it arrived unexpectedly early on Monday morning after only being released on the Saturday.
Out of the box, the form factor far outweighs that of the previous model. A larger grip fits snugly into the hand, rather than having to have an almost claw like grib on the feeble finger slots on the A7S.
The body of the mkii is much larger, probably another third of the size of the A7S, which personally I really like. It has a much more solid build quality & feels a lot less brittle than before; also seems to be more weather sealed, with rubberised shutter & aperture dials, front & back and more solid port covers which aren't on flimsy hinges as previous.
Custom buttons have really been thought about by Sony on the mkii, with C1 & C2 being located directly behind the shutter button, so perfect for your index finger. Not only are they in a great, functional place, but they are also HUGE and protrude way above the camera body, making them easy to locate when focused on the shot.
One of my own & many peoples pet hates about the A7S was the stupid, small, almost unreachable record button! You'll be glad to know Sony have addressed the issue, and the "MOVIE" button as it's seen in the custom button menu, is now assignable to any of the C buttons. I like to have "movie" set to C2 & "focus assist" to C1 - works perfectly so far and makes shooting on the go & at events much more relaxing - you can actually feel where the record button is & know you've pressed it. Small, but very significant improvement.
4K & Steady shot
4K. Obviously one of the biggest party tricks of this new machine. Internal 4K 100mbps @ 25fps! A seriously powerful feature for such a small camera. Only previously achievable with the A7S via a fairly pricey & bulky external recorder. The mkii also has the ability to shoot full HD 1920x1080 at 100fps (120 in NTSC); a great addition for most filmmakers. (see 4k test footage below)
The "Steady shot" is comprised of a 5 axis stabilised, full frame sensor. Giving constant stabilisation to footage, even without using an IS lens.
So far its been very impressive - using it handheld with an IS lens I've been able to capture a huge amount of smooth looking footage, particularly helped by the digital viewfinder, having a third point of contact.
Being able to use this camera freehand, with primes and still have IS footage will be a huge game changer for run & gun filmmakers, shooting at fast paces, at events etc. I think it could really change the way in which I shoot in the future, too. Hopefully being able to lessen the amount of kit & supports at each shoot.
The mkii comes with another brand new feature for the Alpha range, in the form of S-LOG3. A flatter again picture profile, with HUGE dynamic range and massive information capturing capabilities.
The minimum ISO has also been lowered from the original 3200iso when using S-LOG 2 on the A7S to 1600iso when using both S-LOG2 & 3 on the mkii. Great news for anyone not wanting to use tonnes of ND or stop their footage down & have zero DoF, to be able to properly expose.
BLACK HOLE ISSUE
After testing the camera in SLOG 2 & 3, in fairly shady conditions, with no direct sunlight, I went out earlier today to test how SLOG 2&3 perform in direct sunlight.
To my horror, I saw this (video below) what can only be described as a black hole & some kind of purple clipping, where the sun is blowing out the highlights. The rest of the shots, as you can see are fairly well exposed and the sun, over exposed - as in any normal shot. I've spoken to Sony this morning & they indirectly dismissed the issue, saying it was an exposure & white balance issue or that it was due to chromatic aberation. I tested shooting into direct light in every profile & all the SLOG Profiles had this issue when shooting in XAVCS 4K. Profile "OFF" & 1-6 were all fine in 4K, but 7,8,9 were not.
It is most definitely neither of the issues which sony mentioned & I can only suggest that as many people as possible contact Sony and raise this with them so they release whatever firmware update they have to in order to solve this utterly horrendous flaw in the first firmware release.