Readers of my blog will know that while I was quite interested in many aspects of the last (two?) iterations of Sony's mirrorless full fame camera (like its a full frame mirrorless camera about the size of my GH1 and with all the lens adaption advantages conferred by mirrorless) I just wasn't totally moved.
However just the other day I stuck my head into a website and was greeted by news of the third variant of the Sony a7 full frame. The a7s. As soon as I read that the next version has a 12Mpix sensor and high ISO I had an Austin Powers moment...
The reason for this is the very welcome addition of high ISO performance : 409600 ISO.
I have long argued my reasons for desiring full frame on the basis of shallow normals and nicer wide angle lenses. Especially when it comes to wide angles and manual focus there is a wealth of single great lenses out there just aching to be married up to a great camera again. It is in this respect that 4/3 (micro or otherwise) and APS falls down.
My $20 Canon FD 50mm f1.4 (a beautiful lens) married up with this body would be superb. It would give the wonderful Bokeh I know it does and give better shallow DoF than the (commonly dribbled about by King Wangs subjects) Nocticron lens for micro43 (which costs nearly as much as just this body is likely to).
Assuming the actual results of this camera are good, then suddenly the 2 stops DoF advantage of micro43 disappears into the ISO haze and IBIS becomes far less significant (for stills, for video its still pretty dam good). Let me explain.
I like to take pictures with my camera, and digital has allowed me to use cameras in much lower light than I could ever have done before. Unfortunately despite this temptation there are limits imposed by the ISO. For instance: I took this shot with my GF-1 and the 14mm f2.5 pancake.
Even with f2.5 and ISO 3200 (max) the exposure was 1.6 seconds ... well out of the usefulness of IBIS (or Mega OIS...). Plus the amount of noise in the shot makes it look seriously grainy ... sometimes that works, sometimes that doesn't.
Now with this Sony things have changed, for instance:
To me this opens up FAR FAR more photographic potential than giving me extra megapixels (which my lens won't resolve nor will I see if not using a tripod anyway).
For photographing my friends and family I totally HATE flash, its ugly (looking like a search light) and screams out to everyone in the room that you're taking photographs. Shots like my favorite shot of my niece would be rubbish with flash ...
This shot was taken during the day, but this Sony now opens up potentials for shots like this during the evenings (without looking like they were ink-jet printed onto sand).
I have argued that IBIS brings very little to my photographic table, and while it may be nice in assisting people to hand hold telephoto lenses, for normal to wide its sort of pointless. With shots like this:
Image Stabilisation brings nothing to the table (although I must say that the movement was nice and I've come to like it on occasion) as its clear that my camera technique has kept the subject sharp anyway IBIS would bring little to this image either.
Again this was at ISO 3200 and looks like a noise fest on the smaller sensor of 4/3. I would warrant that the new a7s will make much cleaner images at ISO 3200 than this, and probably much higher. Thus allow me to pick the ISO I want to capture movement or display it.
For example in that above shot the GF-1 had pixel level noise like this at (just?) 3200 ISO:
While the previous model a7 (in a shot I found on line) had pixel level noise like this @ ISO 12,800:
Which is about the same as the GF-1 at 2 stops higher ISO, so I expect that the a7s will be easily better for another 2 or more stops.
I wait with bated breath.
This does not mean I'll abandon micro4/3 as it will work with my Telephoto and Super Telephoto lenses (such as my FD300mm f4) to keep
me getting the advantages of the crop factor and make my 300mm into a
600mm (which I like for nature work)
Bring it on!