Even though the Sony a7s looks to be an amazing camera, I still have my eye on the Panasonic GH4. Having 4k in such a tiny little package at that price point really makes the GH4 attractive for lightweight travel. The only real concern I had was high ISO shooting. If the GH4 can deliver at 3200 ISO it’ll be good enough for most applications and it looks like the Panasonic GH4 delivers.
The above test was shot in 4k from 1600 ISO to 6400 ISO (the limit of the beta firmware) and to me both 1600 and 3200 ISO look completely usable. Even 6400 ISO could be usable if you are scaling down to 1080p. The Panasonic rep said this might even get a little better when the latest firmware comes out.
As for editing and recording, I used a Sandisk 95mb/s card in the Gh4 without any issue at 4k and I was able to edit at half resolution in Premiere CC on my laptop and full resolution on my desktop. Doesn’t look like the Codec Panasonic is using for 4k will be to much of an issue.
You can download the file here to see it without all the youtube compression. Overall it’s pretty impressive.
At NAB this week I wasn’t able to dismount the a7s from it’s stand or use a memory card in the camera so my low light testing was a little bit crude. This video just released by Sony really gives you a much better idea of how amazing this camera actually is in low light. As I mentioned in my previous post, the Canon 5d mark III starts to break down at around 6400 ISO in video mode, however at 102,400 ISO in this video, the image still looks usable.
A few of you asked about rolling shutter. We were able to do a little bit of fast motion testing on the Sony a7s before we left NAB on friday. The rolling shutter on the a7s is a bit worse than the Canon 6d I had with me. I spoke with the Sony rep about rolling shutter and they said that the firmware on the display cameras still needed a lot of work. They seemed to be confident that rolling shutter would be as good or better than the Canon 5d mark III by the time of the a7s release in the next 3 to 4 months.
As for 4k recording, Atomos announced the Ninja Pocket recorder. While the one on display is only designed for 1080p recording, several reps at multiple booths seem to think that there was a 4k version in the works. One rep even said “I expect to see a 4k version when the new Hero 4 is announced at the end of the year.” The announcement of a 4k capable (at 30 fps) Hero 4 is pretty likely considering Ambarella, the company that makes the current A7 SOC for the hero 3+ has released the new A9 with very good 4k specs.
If a 4k Ninja Pocket was released at around $300 or so, that would really make the Sony a7s an attractive 4k camera, especially with it’s amazing low light performance. Still, it’s a shame Sony’s marketing team wouldn’t allow the a7s to record 4k internally.
I’ll have more updates from our trip to NAB throughout the weekend and into next week as I get a chance to sort through all of my notes. I’ll keep you posted.
Ian and I had a chance to sit down with Tony and Sean from Next Wave DV yesterday morning. It was a bit informal but we had a pretty good time. I might have been off on a few things, i.e. 2.7k on the gopro not 2.5k and 32,000 iso is 8 stops not 10, but at 8 a.m. you make a few mistakes. Regardless, had a great time talking with Tony and Sean.
Panasonic was kind enough to let us play around with the Panasonic GH4 and film at their booth. Not a whole lot has changed in terms of shape and design with the GH4. The body feels very similar to the GH3 I was playing around with last week. Up close the screen looked pretty nice and the viewfinder seemed to be improved. Both 1600 ISO and 3200 ISO looked good on screen but, we didn’t get a chance to record any actually footage in camera. If I get a chance i’d like to try that sometime today or tomorrow.
One thing to note is that Panasonic has finally fixed the on screen displays while recording. When I was playing around with the GH3 last week, i found it incredibly annoying that the on screen displays would go blank after about 10 or 20 seconds of shooting. The on screen displays seem to stay on indefinitely. I’ll keep you posted as our NAB adventures continue.
I mentioned last night that I was very impressed with the Sony a7s low light performance. But sometimes you really have to see it to believe it. Sony was kind enough to let me hang out at their booth and shoot these high ISO tests. They wouldn’t let me use a memory card in the prototype camera but they did allow me to shoot the display monitor as I shifted through the ISO range.
The Sony a7s blows everything else out of the water. Low light performance on the a7s is simply outstanding. I don’t know when I’d ever need to shoot at ISO 80,000, but the Sony can do it and it does it better than the c100 or 5d mark III by a huge margin.
I’ll keep you posted on my continued fun at NAB.
Just announced by Que Audio is the Q210 Hybrid boom mic audio kit. We used the audio directly from the Q 210 to shoot this video. For $349 it’s a pretty decent little kit. This isn’t going to replace larger more expensive booms, but it’s nice and compact and seems pretty decent for travel purposes.
I’d like to see how this stacks up against other boom mics in it’s price range so I’ve added this to my list of things to review this year. Look forward to that coming up in the next few months. Onward to more NAB coverage!
Quick update on our travel to NAB. Almost missed our flight, but everything ended up working out. I’ll keep you posted as our adventure continues.
Here’s a quick behind the scenes look at what Ian and I are traveling with this week at NAB. I let him dig through my camera bags and pick out his own kit. It isn’t anything crazy, just a simple well rounded kit for conference coverage.
- Canon c100
- Canon 16-35mm f2.8 lens
- Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 lens
- Canon 35mm f1.4 lens
- Sennheiser G2 wireless system
- Shure SM57 Microphone
Pretty much everything you need to cover a conference in a single mid size camera bag. I often forget to point the mic at myself when shooting interviews so I wear a lav mic, but if you can remember to point the microphone correctly, you can usually get away with a single wireless handheld.
We’ve been on the show floor all day seeing a lot of interesting stuff. I’ll keep you posted as I get time and internet access.
I was a little disappointed with Sony a7s announcement yesterday. I was hoping for internal 4k recording and that seemed to be the biggest disappointment for me. I had almost marked the Sony a7s off my list until I had a chance to play around with it this afternoon. Even though the internal 4k recording option was pretty much a no go, the low light performance was, for a lack of another term, amazing.
I spent 45 minutes at the sony booth playing around with the a7s today and I was basically blown away. I’ve shot on the 5d mark III for years and I trust it for shots up to ISO 6400, the Sony a7s blows it out of the water. Ian and I shot from ISO 32,000 all the way up to ISO 80,000. Even at ISO 80,000 the noise was less than a 5d mark III at ISO 6400. The Sony a7s is incredible in low light and puts the c100/c300 to shame.
While I’m disappointed with the lack of 4k internal recording, I think low light performance makes the Sony a7s an all around winner for 1080p applications. The added benefit of adapting Canon lenses makes the Sony a7s a great option for future upgrades. I’ve added the a7s to my list of things to buy.
Ian is currently driving as we head off to DIA to fly out to NAB this morning. I’ll keep you posted on the adventure as it unfolds.