By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
Everyone is talking about the Sony α7S‘ 4K capability, but the silent hero in the new camera is that it can seriously record in absolute darkness. And not only that, it can practically overexpose in it thanks to an max ISO setting of 409,600. Why in heaven’s name would you need an ISO so high? Well, heavens may tell the tale, as an ISO that high could be a boon for stellar photography. But filmmakers can also take advantage of it when they’re running and gunning, and don’t have time or ability to rely on supporting lights and gaffers.
Usually, an image exposed at such an extremely high ISO won’t live up to broadcast standards, and users wouldn’t want to dare max out that setting unless they were going for some otherworldly dimensional vibe or something science fiction-like. But for shooters who want to engage in a little running and gunning (ENG, etc.) without having to hire a gaffer, or go to the time an expense of lighting the mood for a night time shot, or being able to buy an extra half hour when the sun is going down and you’re losing the light, then being able to push the ISO to comfortable heights is very advantageous.
How is it able to see in darkness and then expose for it? Well, according to Sony, the α7S full frame image sensor is designed to adjust its gain in relation to the lighting conditions it reads in the surrounding environment. This enables the sensor to apply a proper dynamic range that optimizes the exposure to the lighting conditions – be it bright ambient light, or absolute darkness. The result is that the Sony α7S doesn’t just amplify the signal and toss in a bunch of signal gain. Eventually, it’ll end up letting in more noise than you want, but only at the extreme ends of the ISO. And that makes it pretty impressive for a sub $3000 mirror less camera that’s only rocking 12MP.
Check out the video below which takes you through the entire gamut of the α7S’ dynamic range, from total darkness right up to ISO409,600. It seems to me that if I was shooting with no light and at night, that I’d want to stick to around ISO25000 or so. After that, the noise really starts to be invited to the party. But toss in a light or two and suddenly you have a very usable image in the six figure range. It really is just going to come down to what look you’re going for and how much noise you’re willing to deal with in post production. But there’s no denying that the Sony a7s provides a hefty tool for getting the shot no matter what you’re lighting conditions are at the time.
Hat Tip – FStoppers