As a loyal Lumix shooter and customer for years, replacing my GH4 with a Sony A7S II was no easy decision. Since the GH2 I’ve been a big fan of the Lumix mirrorless lineup, and their cameras have done very well for me on countless projects. But after several years of shooting on the GH2, GH3 and GH4, it was finally time for a change. This is why –
When Lumix hit the scene with their GH2, the DSLR market was shaken up for the first time since Canon’s 5D MK II. Indie filmmakers finally had a viable alternative to the notoriously popular 5D, which in many ways offered superior image quality at a lower cost.
Lumix seemed to be all about innovation. They were pushing the boundaries of what was possible from a feature and cost perspective, and filmmakers everywhere were catching on. Ultimately, this is why I was loyal to their brand for so long.
It wasn’t until the GH4 though, that we saw a substantial conversion of Canon users to Panasonic/Lumix… This was largely because the features and quality that the GH4 delivered were so far beyond any Canon product in the same price range. The fact that the GH4 was able to record beautifully high quality 4K footage internally when Canon was still struggling with 1080p, was reason enough to make many users jump ship.
But right around the same time the GH4 was getting momentum, Sony was gaining a lot of ground too with their A7 lineup – or more specifically their A7S. For some former Canon users, switching to Lumix wasn’t ideal (mainly because they were accustomed to shooting with a full frame sensor), and as such many of those shooters turned to Sony instead.
Personally, I was always impressed by the original Sony A7S but never wanted to invest in one as I was quite happy with my Lumix GH4. I’d been shooting with cropped sensor cameras for so long that the full frame look didn’t really matter to me all that much, and the low light abilities of the A7S weren’t that important to me either. Don’t get me wrong, having the ability to shoot relatively cleanly at 25,600 ISO is pretty awesome, but I don’t particularly make a habit of shooting in underlit situations, and I saw the A7S low light capabilities as more of a luxury than a necessity.
So the two biggest benefits of the original A7S (low light and full frame) were largely irrelevant for me. I was much happier to stick with my trusty Lumix GH4 which was able to record 4K straight in the camera, and still captured beautiful results under the right conditions.
But then the A7S II was announced…
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t already tempted by the A7R II before the A7S II was announced.
The A7R II seemed to offer a true hybrid video/photo experience that could capture impeccable motion and stills with ease. While I mainly shoot video of course, I do shoot stills from time to time and having the ability to capture 42MP stills and 4K video on the same device was extremely tempting. Not to mention, the 5 axis internal stabilization was almost reason enough to bring me over to the Sony brand.
But ultimately I waited. I knew that it was only a matter of time until the A7S II would be released, and I really wanted to see what Sony had up their sleeves. In the end, the A7S II was pretty much exactly what I expected and hoped for.
On the A7S II, Sony was able to improve low light abilities by about a stop, while also offering internal 4K recording, S-Log 3, 5 Axis Stabilization, and loads of other great features. The only trade off (from my perspective at least) between the A7S II and A7R II was the stills resolution – 12MP vs 42MP. But even 12MP stills have more than enough resolution for the vast majority of web and print usages, and I already owned several other stills cameras, so the lower stills resolution on the A7S II was definitely not a deal breaker for me.
In the end, I made the jump over to Sony and haven’t looked back.
I’ve only had the A7S II for a week now, but already love what the camera is capable of. The video and stills quality are both absolutely amazing, and I’m truly impressed by the dynamic range when shooting in S-Log 3.
From strictly a dynamic range standpoint, it can feel very Alexa-like at times – although the color science has a long way to go still. The images can be graded to look beautiful, but I don’t find the color balance to be particularly great straight off the cards. Canon still seems to have the best color science in the DSLR world, and Blackmagic have certainly mastered it on the budget cinema-camera side of things…
Sony will surely continue to improve their color science with time, but for now I’ll factor in a little extra time in DaVinci when working with my A7S II footage. Regardless, I am extremely impressed by the camera so far and can’t wait to put it to use on some real world productions.
Why I Ditched Lumix
While I’ve touched on some of the technical reasons why I switched from Lumix to Sony, the story doesn’t end there. In fact, if I was only comparing tech specs between the two cameras I’m not sure I would have switched at all…
At the top of this article I mentioned that one of the biggest elements that drew me to Lumix initially was their innovation. When I see manufacturer is coming from a place of true innovation, that goes a very long way in making me want to invest in their products.
Lumix was leading the way for several years with regards to innovation in mirrorless technology, but Sony is simply innovating faster than anyone else right now. Their cameras are pushing technical and creative limits, and their ability to roll out new cameras so quickly is starting to make the competition fall by the wayside.
A year from now, who knows where things will go. Maybe the Lumix GH5 will blow everyone else out of the water, or maybe it will show us that the GH4 was in fact the peak of Lumix’s lineup. Only time will tell of course, but for now Sony is definitely raising the bar for innovation, and I hope to see the other competitors step up to the plate.