The Sony A7s Gets Taken for a Spin at ISO 409,600


Sony announced the full-frame mirrorless A7s earlier this week. And while its 4K video capability was arguably the most touted feature, we were more intrigued by the 12-megapixel sensor that tops out at a ridiculous ISO of 409,600 … almost half a million ISO … in a mirrorless camera.

So, how does footage (and therefore images) look at 409,600 on the A7s? Well, Sony commissioned Den Lennie to show it off.

Using footage captured while at NAB, Lennie takes the A7s through its ISO paces from 6400 ISO all the way up to night-becomes-day 409,600 ISO within a single clip.


As the photos above show, the difference 403,200 ISO makes is at the very least jaw-loosening if not dropping, even though it does naturally come with a good bit of noise as a side-effect. At the peak ISO of 409,600 the footage is far from usable for any sort of production work, but it’s still impressive and by no means useless.

Head on over to the video demo embedded in Lennie’s post and give it a watch for yourself to see just how much light the Sony A7s can squeeze out of a scene.

(via Engadget)

Author’s Note: Just as a heads-up, the link to his blog post and accompanying video seem to be down. It’s likely due to high traffic, so over time it should clear up a bit.

  • Banan Tarr

    Noise or not… that is insane.

  • Ian

    It’s getting a little ridiculous – in the best way possible – technology rocks!

  • sinisterbrain

    My first DSLR, a Canon T1i, produced more noise at ISO 800 than the A7s does at ISO 400+K. It’s amazing to watch things as they advance.

  • e3q2423423

    great… now i can have an expensive camera make crappy 2006 mobile phone pictures…..

  • Sir Stewart Wallace

    I wonder how long the battery would last if one were to shoot consistently at that ISO versus shooting with a longer exposure and a lower ISO.

  • Sir Stewart Wallace

    In near blackness.

  • dfwer3erw3

    yeha well i don´t need to shoot in near blackness.. do you?
    never had teh urge to do it.
    it´s just a feature for the stupid gearheads.

  • Kyle Clements

    Having such an insane max ISO is a good indicator that more reasonable ISO settings, like 6400, will be excellent.

  • sdgsdg

    youre missing the point smartass. the point is if it can take photos in the dark with this little noise, it will be stunning quality in well lit conditions. dont call people stupid when you dont know wtf youre talking about

  • Kyle

    So… how do you focus?

  • sdgsdg

    school these noobs kyle

  • ninpou_kobanashi

    Pre-focus? Use the lens distance markings? Flashlight? AF-Assist? etc. etc.

    This question could be on a photography test (^_^).

  • Sir Stewart Wallace

    I’m glad you have such amazing foresight into what other people want as well as the implications for such a feature. As other’s have pointed out already.

  • Fullstop

    Can’t tell if trolling or serious.

  • Federico Montemurro

    Just Mega-pixels and ISO marketing rampage. “Without light there is no photo”

  • fsjal

    As it turns out, there is. Not to mention that “ISO marketing rampage” is mainly for video.

  • fsjal

    I predict, that in the next few years, all “who cares about megapixels, I’m not going to print my photos as billboards!” comments will be replaced by “who cares about ISO, I don’t want to shoot in darkness!”. I tell ya.

  • Brett

    I’d rather have the option of high ISO with noise than no high ISO. I’ve always thought, it’s more important to get the photo if you can with noise than with blur.

  • Pb

    it seems impressive, but from a low light photography point of view I have a feeling its not TOO much difference from a scaled down A7 shot at around 51200 ISO, you can already see noise from the video, I was looking at the A7s with a small amount of interest and wondering if I should get one rather than the A7, but I think the A7 would still be more versatile

    nevertheless its pretty impressive stuff, esp if you want to use 409,600 ISO in B/W for night vision purposes :)

  • Banan Tarr

    That will be very interesting, especially once we can raise ISO so high we can see through clothing. wait wat

  • ihatedavidjay

    Focus is totally overrated.

  • David Portass

    Thank you for this awesome performing sensor Sony, now Nikon, make a D700s with this :)

  • W. de Winter

    There’s no point in usun ISO numbers any longer as they become impossible to read and interpret. Instead, we should use SENS: SENS 0 for ISO 100, 1 for 200, 2 for 400, 3 for 800, up tp 12 for 409600. One step increase is double sensitivity.

  • Kez

    It must be the combination of lower megapixel count (bigger sensor pixels) and full frame sensor capture area. I don’t know why this combo wasn’t developed earlier, Although Sony did have some amazing low light performers (like the F3) that use this recipe.

    This should surpass the canon 6D as the low light DSLR to get. I’m thinking of getting one for sure.

  • Oj0

    I should totally have bought this camera instead of a tracking mount for astrophotography…

  • Poki

    Looks just like my NEX-7 at ISO 16000, which is pretty cool, actually.

  • Oj0

    6D? I’m pretty sure the Df, 1D X and D4 destroy the 6D with high ISO performance. Unless, of course, you’re talking about something much more affordable.

  • tonyl

    The system you refer to has been used since 1930 and called DIN. For example ISO 100 is DIN21, ISO200 is DIN22.
    Sadly the DIN system was abandoned in the 1980’s when ISO standards replaced the old ASA and DIN.
    Back then they cold not forsee the high ISO speeds which would be possible in the future and how silly it would look to go to ISO in the hundreds of thousands.
    An exponential scale such as the old DIN system would be much more useful in today’s world.

  • tonyl

    Sorry, my bad, DIN not quite as I thought. DIN 22 is ISO 125. DIN 24 is ISO 200. Still, it is a logarithmic scale which would be more meaningful in today’s photography.

  • Sky

    “this little noise” – it’s not little. It’s an enormous amount of noise. You can see noise all over the place with miniature that’s barely 600px wide.

  • Sky

    Said every owner of a camera with crappy AF.

  • @JacksonCheese

    At 409,600 ISO i’d say there’s barely any noise in this image.

  • Murphy

    If Kodak were to produce film with 409,600 ISO, I’d buy that for a dollar!

  • Oj0

    Go to your local camera shop and ask them to push by 11 stops and see what they say :D

  • ihatedavidjay

    Or someone that was being sarcastic …

  • Jack McKechnie

    I love mirrorless cameras..I use an Olympus myself…but what I want to know from all these manufacturers is not how far they will go up..but how far they will go up and still give me a printable image at say a 20 X 24…I’m just putting that size out there for a template….but I think you guys see what I mean. If I worked for the government or a private detective I might want a super high ISO..but I want to print and sell… I think we should demand that test from a manufacturer!

  • since1969

    He looks at the utilitarian subject matter and understands that as his limitation with this camera at 409,600. Whether trolling or serious, clearly not an interesting photographer.

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