Sleep, eat, taste wine and relax! – A Sony A7s camera video review


EDIT: New from Cinema5d!. As part of our commitment to our readers, the A7s is the first to be tested in our lab. What is the cinema5D test lab? cinema5D has established their own scientific testing facility to accurately measure and evaluate the performance of cameras. As a platform for reviews about cinematic cameras we strive to provide objective comparisons and share insights to help you choose the right camera for your projects. Test 1: Dynamic Range – Sony A7S vs. the others Test 2: Rolling Shutter – Sony A7S vs. the others

ORIGINAL POST: The Sony A7 camera family is constantly growing and the new kid on the block is dedicated for video filming. My respect to Sony for listening to professionals and advanced hobbyist alike by bringing to the market what I consider to be the best full frame HD “DSLR” camera released in a long time. Unfortunately when conducting this review no 4K external recorder was available for testing the 4K video quality but let me tell you, the HD footage coming out of this camera is shockingly impressive. For me, if it is to choose between the Panasonic GH4 or the Sony A7s, then with no doubt, it’s the A7s. The picture aesthetic in combination with full frame is simply more pleasant to my eyes then the GH4 footage. On the other hand, internal 4K recording is what we want (and sometimes need), so I guess we can consider the A7s as a “bridge camera” and it won’t be long before we will see a Sony camera that can do so for a hopefully attractive price. 

The direct competitor to this camera is naturally the Canon 5D Mark III. Personally, I think it is time to move on and say goodbye to the Mark III. The good thing is, you don’t have to invest in an all-new lens system. Simply use the excellent Metabones Sony E-mount to Canon EF adaptor (Generation III in order to cover the full frame sensor) and there you go. You now have an amazingly sharp looking video camera that records in a new robust codec (XAVC S), very small with a build in great OLED EVF and last but not least, also a lowlight king. I also have to had that the audio recorded directly to the A7s is much better then the one recorded on the Mark III because of better internal preamps. All in all, if you are looking for a working tool that is small enough to look “un-professional” yet one that records great looking video footage at a price which is not modest but affordable, look no further. The Sony A7s is your best friend. Sony also deserves compliments for its menu stricture and flexibility when it comes to assign functions to the Fn button. Simple, elegant and very useful. Almost every function you need in the tip of your finger. 

OK, it is time to take the “pink glasses” off and see some of the limitations this camera has:

– World camera. Please be aware that only the the model which intended to be shipped to PAL countries is a switchable PAL/NTSC camera. All NTSC models are only NTSC! – 30 minutes maximum recording length in all cameras regardless if they are PAL or NTSC – Sony S LOG 2. While this is not supposed to be a limitation the implementation of this feature is not entirely clear to me as the starting ISO point in this mode is 3200 (which is the native ISO). If you shoot outdoors and want to keep your aperture open you will have to look for stronger variable ND filters then the ones normally used. 

Firmware/menu improvements I would love to see:

– The ability to record higher frame rate in more then 720p – This camera has the ability to crop into the sensor (APS C mode). Assigning a short cut to this feature is a must (via the Fn button). – Another thing regarding the APS C mode of the camera: the indicator symbol which lets you know you are in this mode should not only be visible in the full “info” display, but also when “info” is turned off. It’s easy to forget that you are in this mode just to find out later it’s not what you intended to do.

Camera Settings for this review:

-Picture Profile – off -Picture style – NTRL (all settings on “0”) -Internal recording codec –  XAVC S, 1080/25,  50Mbps

About this video: By no means this video intends to be a “corporate video”. It is just me having fun for 2 days in a beautiful location together with an amazing camera. My aim was to see how it functions during real life production and see how little equipment I can take with me (in comparison to the amount of equipment I would have taken with my Canon 1DC)  and let me tell you, it is much less…

I can not even describe how dark it was inside the wine cellar. I’ve decided to leave it “as is” and add only 1 small LED light to enhance a spot I wanted. This camera can easily shoot in ISO 5000 for broadcast. Very well done Sony!

I also recommending downloading the original HD file from Vimeo for a better viewing experience!

Edit: As of readers request, here are the different Picture Profiles as described by Sony. Those can be modified if wanted by going to MENU-PP selection-Modify. Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 11.40.35


Music: Themusicbed Artis: Tiny Houses-Cerulean

A special thanks to the people at Castello di Gabbiano

Federico Cerelli – Head Wine Maker Francesco Berardinelli – Executive Chef , Ristorante Il Cavaliere (del Castello di Gabbiano) Cornelia Reali – Director of Hospitality

Johnnie Behiri is a freelance documentary cameraman/editor/producer working mostly for the BBC and other respected broadcasters. He is also co-owner of


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