The first thing to note is that we did this quick test in daylight conditions. There’s no question that if you’re looking to do a shoot lit only by moonlight, then the a7S II is going to trump its high-megapixel sibling. We wanted to see if there was a massive and substantive difference between the two in normal shooting conditions.
Keep two things in mind here, by the way…
- There was a White Balance snafu with the footage on the a7R II in one specific clip. The camera had to be reset due to some issues with the Metabones adapter we were using and we, um, forgot to set WB back to daylight. For that one clip, it’s set to AWB, which is why the a7S II footage looks a bit warmer.
- There was a light shift in the last clip. While shooting with the a7S II, the sun suddenly peeked out from the clouds and made the distant San Francisco skyline much brighter than it was when we shot it with the a7R II. Since we were shooting from an area that was still under cloud cover, we didn’t notice the shift in light until we got back from the shoot.
With that in mind, here’s what we did for this quick field test:
- Both cameras were shot in full-frame mode. Though the a7R II can also shoot in APS-C mode, the a7S II cannot, so we shot them both at the same sensor crop.
- Both cameras were set to S-Log2, S-Gamut mode. Here, the a7S II was the more capable unit; it also has an S-Log3 mode with two different Gamut options, but to keep the playing field level, both cameras were set to S-Log2.
- We shot at a fixed ISO 1600, which is the minimum for the a7S II in S-Log2. The a7R II can shoot down to ISO 800, but again, we kept the playing field level.
- We used a highly-rated Tiffen Variable ND Filter on a Sigma 24-105 lens. Here are the settings we used:
- ISO 1600
- 1/50th of a second shutter speed
- 24p 100Mbps XAVC-S framerate/bitrate/codec
- Daylight White Balance (well, except for this one scene where we forgot to reset the a7R II back to daylight after resetting the camera entirely).
Without any further ado, here’s the video:
So, what did we find?
- The a7S II still has that super-annoying greenish cast in some scenes.
- With in-camera zebras set to 95, the a7S II seemed to trip that warning appreciably less than the a7R II. Whether this translates into it having better dynamic range is debatable; it might just be looking at the scene slightly differently, maybe evaluating it at a 1/3 stop brighter. That being said, the a7S II also manages to hold a lot more information in the highlights that we’d expected. Areas that looked blown out at first glance turned out to have a decent amount of information on closer inspection. I’d give the edge to the S variant.
- Both cameras’ video quality is stellar, among the best we’ve ever seen from a unit in this class. GH4 users, you have some really solid competition. To my eyes, the video is a lot more ‘filmic’ that that of the GH4.
- AWB on both cameras is pretty capable. In fact, just use that – or set it to a custom white balance. That will save you some headaches in post.
- Though it’s not posted here, we did have a lot of fun grading this footage. The XAVC-S code holds up really well in post, and with a plugin like FilmConvert, the footage from either camera is a gift to anyone interesting in grading.
Check out this post, where we compare the same footage taken with the a7S in S-Log3 and S-Gamut3 modes.
As always, feedback and questions on S-Log2 or Sony a7 cameras in general are always welcome in the comments below.Tags: Best Low Light Camera, DCI 4K, FilmConvert, Low Light Cameras, S-Log Last modified: June 3, 2020