The Sony A7S II was launched over two years ago back in September 2015 and rumours are circulating of an impending update so we decided to give some thought to what we’d like to see with the Sony A7S III.
The A7S line was originally billed as the low light and video model in the Sony A7 series and it’s proved extremely popular with videographers.
While Canon may still not be convinced that the world is ready for 4K video many manufacturers are turning their attention to 6K recording. We’d like Sony to make that step and give the A7S III a 24Mp CMOS chip that’s 6K enabled.
The Sony A7S II has maximum video resolution of 3840 x 2160, if the Mark III isn’t 6K-enabled, we’d like it to at least be capable of shooting Cinema 4K (4096 x 2160) – we think that’s a pretty safe bet as Sony will be keen to match, if not beat, Panasonic.
We’re also anticipating that Sony will use its stacked CMOS sensor technology to maximise the size of the photoreceptors (aka pixels) and boost image quality, especially in low light conditions.
One aspect of the Panasonic GH5 that has really impressed professional videographers is the presence of a 10-bit codec. This extends the range of colour available making gradations smoother and allowing greater scope for grading.
The Sony A7S II is only capable of 8-bit colour so the step-up to 10-bit would be appreciated.
Faster Readout and Processing
Sony has proved it knows a thing or two about fast image processing with the Sony A9. This isn’t just achieved by the main processing engine, there’s also memory on the imaging chip itself to help with file output.
Any enhanced processor and on-chip memory will be essential to achieving the higher resolution and bit rates.
Faster readout Will also help improve focusing speed and reduce rolling shutter (aka jello) effect that distorts moving objects.
One of the gripes we’ve had about the second generation of Sony’s A7-series cameras is the positioning of the video record button.
It’s almost impossible to press it without introducing some wobble at the start or end of your footage. Sony corrected this with the A9 and A7R III so we’re really hoping that they’ll do the same for the A7S II.
Something that I’ve fed-back to Sony a few times is that I’d like two function menus, one for video and another for stills.
Sony affords a high level of customisation to the A7S II, but anyone who uses the camera for stills and video will find they have to make a few compromises. Having two Function menus would make life easier.
Sony’s menu system is also notoriously long and complex. The A9’s menu is better than the A7-series but there’s still room for improvement with better, more logical segregation of features.
Naturally, we’d also like to see the mini-joystick that was introduced with the Sony A9 as it really speeds-up setting AF point when the camera is held to your eye. It’s made it on to the A7R III, so we think it’s in the bag.
Given its low-light credentials, you might expect the A7S II to have a fast, sensitive autofocus (AF) system, but its 169-point contrast detection system is pretty poor in anything other than ideal light.
You don’t often need very fast focusing during recording with video, but you do want it to be decisive. A more sensitive phase detection system would be a fabulous addition to the A7S III’s feature set.
I might be getting a bit fanciful here, but it would be fantastic if it were possible to set two AF points and specify a time and speed for the transition in focus.
This might be achieved via the menu or perhaps using a dedicated smartphone app and a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection – or a touchscreen on the camera.
Sorry if I’ve been like a broken record on this but touch-control really speeds-up menu navigation and setting selection. It’s especially useful if you’re shooting video as you can switch AF point silently with a gentle tap on the screen. The A9 and A7R III both have a touchscreen and although Sony has made limited use of it for controlling those cameras, it comes in handy. It could be especially useful with a video-centric camera because it lets you adjust settings with a light touch on the screen, avoiding both sound and vibration during recording.