Why the Sony A7s Is Great for Street Photography

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A7s first impressions photos (4 of 22)ISO 2001-60 sec at f - 5.0

While we’re currently in our testing stage with the Sony A7s, we’ve been seeing how it performs at high ISOs and out in the streets. And to be honest, the high ISO results make us believe that this single camera will change the street photography game. With results that are completely usable at levels we never even thought of (and those that aren’t can be worked with in Adobe Lightroom) it basically makes the traditional rules of photography obsolete.

Here’s why.

The Autofocus

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A7s review images street photography (7 of 8)ISO 16001-400 sec at f - 5.6

Let’s first talk about the autofocus: the Sony A7s lacks the phase detection focusing abilities of the A7. However, it can still focus pretty darn fast–incredibly faster than the A7r. Despite the fact that all three cameras have the lock-on AF ability, the Sony A7s has the ability to access it through its focusing selection menu and not through Sony’s other menus. Therefore, it puts a stronger emphasis on the quicker access.

This focusing method works well if you want to focus and recompose. However, street photography situations happen within the blink of an eye and you often just need to shoot first and think later. Candid photographers and street photographers looking to capture a fast moment just need to rely on their reaction times in that case.

However, focusing with this camera can sometimes be inaccurate as it will instead focus on the background instead of on the subject nearest to the lens. And for that reason, we need to use higher ISO results.

The High ISO Results

ISO 6400

ISO 6400

After the autofocus, there is the 12MP full frame sensor with some really, really big pixels. These pixels can help you to deliver much more clean high ISO noise results than we’ve seen before. In fact, this camera was designed to be shot at high ISO settings and it’s almost useless to shoot it down at lower ISOs. Otherwise, we recommend that for the price you go for the A7.

But the fact that the Sony A7s can go into some crazy nuclear region ISO levels allows us to be able to do something that photographers haven’t really ever done: shoot at a very fast shutter speed and a very narrow aperture in very low light. Indeed, in times previous during my camera testing I usually shot at ISO 6400 with my lens wide open because there would be no light available. But with the A7s you can shoot at that level or higher and keep the shutter speed and aperture at a setting that you’d otherwise use only during the daytime.

Indeed, the camera can see in the dark better than human eyes can.

The Portability

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A7s review images street photography (3 of 8)ISO 25001-100 sec at f - 5.0

Moving onto the fact that street photography also usually requires having a small camera that is light, portable, and quick for you to bring up to your eye, we can add into the argument that the Sony A7s is a portable piece of hardware. In fact, it’s a camera that is so light and such a joy to use that you’ll want to carry it with you everywhere. Previously, the camera that you wanted to bring with you everywhere was the iPhone. But in this case, you’ve got a full frame sensor and interchangeable lenses.

Beat that mobile phones!

The Lenses That You Need

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A7s review images street photography (6 of 8)ISO 32001-500 sec at f - 5.6

As far as the system overall goes, it’s ready for street photography. The Sony E-mount full frame offerings already include a 25mm f2.8 and a 55mm f1.8. These focal lengths are the most popular amongst street photographers. Otherwise, you can use the zone focusing system by adapting other lenses onto the camera and manually focusing.

So far though, we’re incredibly stoked with the A7s when it comes to street photography.