A day in Chicago / by Zachary Robinson

I recently was in Chicago for work, and found myself with an afternoon to do some exploring. I brought the A7S ii and my Loxia 35mm to play with and did some photo and video. 

Since I've had the camera, I've thought I might have a bad version. I bought it with the Zeiss Loxia 35mm lens which is supposed to be beautiful. But since I've had it, I've been experiencing serious problems with the display showing me a completely different image than the one that gets recorded. Either it was super saturated to the point of looking fake without a picture profile on (or using PP1 - PP6), or it was giving me a very very flat image. Slog 2 looked ok, and Slog 3 looked like Slog 3 should look, but I couldn't get a neutral image with good color and correct exposure.

With my first test at the 'Gunks I managed to under-expose every image by about 4 stops. It was frustrating because according to my live view and histogram, the images were correctly exposed, but once I looked at the raw images they were incredibly dark. Thankfully, the uncompressed raw stores so much data that I fixed all the images, but you'll still find a little bit of noise in some of the shadows. And with nearly 300 pictures, I couldn't even see which ones were worth keeping until I adjusted the exposure. Fortunately Lightroom has the ability to make a change and sync it with all your other images, so this ended up being a quick and painless process, but one that I shouldn't have needed to do in the first place.

I did a bunch of research on the internet, and google didn't have any answers for why, so I went to a local camera store and played with the versions on the showroom floor. I discovered that a camera reset doesn't reset picture profiles, and that the bright interiors of the camera shop looked boring but properly displayed, showing no signs of the problems I was having. I resigned myself to the fact that I might have a bad camera, and that I'd have to ship it back to the store.

Since I have 30 days to send it back, I wanted to keep using it until I had to send it in. I got a surprise trip to Chicago for work, and thought I'd bring the camera to help fill my downtime. This was the first time I got to use the camera in a real setting without anyone else in the group - so I had plenty of time to play with it and not feel like I was inconveniencing the people with me. So I spent time playing with all the functions of the camera, adjusting picture profiles (PP) and figuring out the difference between PP and Creative Style, and working with stills vs video and trying to store settings like shutter speed and picture profile when in each mode (which doesn't exist). While exploring I stumbled on the 'view-assist' setting. At some point I set it to S-LOG 3, instead of turning it to off. Well lo and behold, when I put it to auto, all my color and saturation woes were removed! The camera isn't broken after all!

I captured a few pictures and some video and everything was working like expected. I did a bunch of S-LOG 3 video and messed around with some quick LUTs to see what sort of quality I could expect when grading. I'll be doing a short project in NYC and I'll be able to grade the footage by hand, so expect to see some shots from that coming soon!