Lighting Up the Dark – A7S II Announced

In Camera, Equipment


Those looking for an upgrade to the original Sony A7S and its legendary night vision capabilities won’t have to wait much longer. Earlier this week Sony announced the highly anticipated A7S II on its community website AlphaUniverse. The announcement continues Sony’s strategy of incrementally upgrading their mirrorless camera range (to the sorrowful detriment of my wallet). It also rounds out the A7 “II” generation of full frame mirrorless cameras that began with the A7 II in December 2014, and followed with the much hyped A7R II in July this year.

Sony's mirrorless full-frame A7 family
Sony’s mirrorless full-frame A7 family

From the released specs it seems the A7S II will retain the same 12 megapixel light sensitive sensor as the A7S but gain 5-axis optical image stabilization and the ergonomic body of the “II” range (feature shared across all 3 “II” models). There’ll be an improved viewfinder and internal 4K video (features shared with the A7R II). Increased CDAF points, improved CDAF accuracy, and the possibility of enhanced AF performance with 3rd party lenses. For more details you can visit the Sony US site here.

Improved autofocus
Improved autofocus performance for third party lenses may be a possibility

Unfortunately, sore points remain. Sony remains loyal to its weakly NP-FW50 battery, first used in the Nex 5 way back in 2010, and as a result the A7S II will have a frustratingly short battery life – approx. 370 shots. There’s still only a single SD card slot. Still a non-touch and non-articulating screen. The weight will also increase to 627g, a far cry from the humble A7 that weighed in at 416g, and further blurring the line between DSLRs and mirrorless cameras.

NP-FW50 battery will still power the A7S II despite its low capacity

The A7S was legendary for its ability to “see” in the dark with reportedly usable images at 102,400 ISO. Considering the flak the A7R received for its loud and vibration inducing shutter, the A7S really seemed to be the standout model from Sony’s first generation of A7 cameras. Even the release of the A7 II and A7R II have done little to reduce its reputation.

The A7S was a unique camera and its successor will endow on it the features common across the “II” range, shoring up the weaknesses of the original model. Though I’ll continue to throw scorn on Sony for not unifying all these wonderful features into one all conquering camera, I’ll more than likely be one of the first to hand over my wallet when the new King of Low Light arrives.

The A7S II is available for pre-order at CameraPro.