NAB: Sony Unveils A7S Still Camera With 4K Video Capabilities

“Sony 4K has moved well beyond where it was a year ago," says Sony Professional chief.
Courtesy of Sony

LAS VEGAS — Sony unveiled a new full-frame camera that is capable of lensing 4K video and is aimed at consumer and professional still photographers, videographers and filmmakers on Sunday at its NAB Show press conference.

The A7S camera features a newly developed 12.2 megapixel 35mm CMOS sensor.

In video mode, it can record 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) to a third-party external recorder. That is currently possible with Atomos’ 7-inch Shogun 4K monitor and HDMI recorder, which was also revealed Sunday at NAB.

The A7S can also record full HD at frame rates of 60p, 60i, 30p and 24p directly to a memory card.

The camera is directly compatible with E-mount lenses, and it can also be used with A-mount and others lens systems with optional adapters. The A7S is expected to be available this year; pricing was not announced.

During the press conference, Alec Shapiro, president of Sony Professional Solutions, asserted that “Sony 4K has moved well beyond where it was a year ago.” Its 4K-capable cameras have already been used for movies such as Disney’s Tomorrowland and Sony’s Annie, as well as TV series such as Sony Pictures Television’s The Blacklist and Masters of Sex.

Sony previewed a clip from Screen Gems’ upcoming Think Like A Man Too, also lensed with a Sony 4K capable camera. Screen Gems president of production Glenn Gainor and The Amazing Race’s Phil Keoghan were on hand to promote "future proofing" content with 4K resolution, which is four times that of HD.

Sony reported that roughly 3500 F5 and F55 4K-ready cameras have now been shipped worldwide. The company announced firmware updates for both models, as well as the F65 model. It also said F5 customers would have the ability to upgrade to the F55.

Also for the F5 and F55, the company said a future update would provide support for Apple’s ProRes and Avid’s DNxHD codecs; and it previewed a new shoulder mount for documentary and live production.

For transmission, Sony’s IP live production system using an "AV over IP interface" for 4K is under development and planned to be available by the end of the year.

At its booth on the exhibition floor, which opens Monday, Sony is also scheduled to show technology demonstrations of a 30-inch 4K OLED professional monitor, as well as content shot with the F65 in Raw mode to produce 8K x 2K panoramic images, projected by two sets of 4K projectors.

Separately, Sony introduced a new business model that it calls Content Distribution Services. “We are essentially going to run control rooms of TV stations remotely,” Shapiro explained. “The target [price] is $20,000 per month, per station. We think that can result in substantial savings [for a station].” Testing is scheduled to start at PBS member station WGBH in Boston.

Twitter: @CGinLA