To me, the Sony A7s had the same effect as the Canon 5D. Big statement, I know, but follow me here. The sensor technology that Sony was able to develop and then throw in a sub $4000 camera is quite ridiculous. It’s something, I think, that finally got them back into the cinema game. I can’t tell you how many Sony’s I see now on shows for HBO, Netflix, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I am not here to convince anyone that Sony’s color science is anything to write home about. What I AM here to convince you of, is that the A7s was a killer little camera that packed FAR too much power for something you could buy at Walmart…
I remember getting the A7s in 2015. It is quite literally the only camera I have bought new before and since. The buzz around it was wild. People were really freaking out about this thing, and to me it was for one reason and one reason only.
This thing could see in the dark.
The low light capabilities of the A7s was all anyone could talk about. It was so impressive they completely looked over the absolute trash color science (they’ve since improved on). To me though, it wasn’t just about the low light capabilities. It was the fact that a sensor was acting differently than us low budget filmmakers were used to. It was SENSITIVE. It’s something I still think about today for the reason that it taught me how to read and interact with light in a completely different way. I had to basically re-learn what I knew about light from the cameras I had been practicing on before (Panasonic, RED, Canon). I’m not saying this is necessarily a good thing, but it made me do the work. If I were to expose things on this camera like I did on those other cameras, I was doomed. I know this because I leaned the hard way. Skin tones that were blown out beyond repair and highlights that were unusable. All of this was worth it though. Wanna know why?
You could use it in every lighting situation ever.
And as a low budget filmmaker that’s all I needed to know. No extra crew, no lights, just me and the camera in any situation. It was a pleasure to have this freedom as someone that didn’t have money to pour into gear and such. It was yet another tool that gave people like me the ability to move forward with their storytelling. And I did! I ended up using it for all of 2015 in Detroit. It helped me shoot a no-budget story that featured mostly low-light-interiors of dancers. This is even more special to me, now, as the main subject passed during the pandemic. I think the Sony A7s was the reason I was able to say yes to that project and I’m really glad about that.
One last thing before I introduce this video. I really liked that Sony’s file system included thumbnails for every video. It really was such a nice surprise to see them when opening the SD card folder. I was so impressed by it, I made an Instagram account for them.
Below is a video I shot to test the A7s low light sensor. I waited for the full moon to show and took my brother out to the local baseball field. All the footage you see is lit by available light only. The stuff on the field is moonlight ONLY. so wild.
Anywho…the A7s was a camera that kicked off the low-light monster camera category for the average consumer to enjoy. And I really appreciated that. So here’s to you, Sony A7s.