September 19, 2015

This Video Claims Someone Has Hacked the a7s to Shoot Internal 4K, but is It Legit?

Sony A7S Hack
A short YouTube video purportedly shows a hacked a7s with a new GUI, along with higher resolutions and bit-depths. However, there are more than a few reasons to be skeptical.

The video comes from YouTube user Nabil Fathi, and it comes with the following description:

This is just a teaser of upcoming hack similar to magic lantern that will be available for the Sony a7a, possible on the a7s II but not sure yet.
Higher bitrate, better subsampling (HDMI 10-bit 4:2:2), 4K recording, etc... (Do not misunderstand this part, what you see on the video, it is a simple port for fun, have a custom app that offer clearly more than that to come. This video doesn't show anything related to 4K, simply related to a7s access).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YUcjZN-Vys

This hack — if it is, in fact, legitimate — is reportedly made possible by a reverse engineering of the Sony PlayMemories app store, which allows certain apps to be installed on newer Sony cameras.

The latest Sony cameras include an Android subsystem which allows to install apps from the proprietary Sony PlayMemories Camera app store. This application replicates the functionality of the Sony store and allows you to install custom Android apps on your camera.

With all of that said, there are definitely reasons to be skeptical of this whole thing. First and foremost, most of the information on the camera's screen in that video is gibberish. H.263 hasn't been used as a compression format for upwards 10 years. The resolution is completely arbitrary. 20fps might have been fast enough for a Buster Keaton flick 80 years ago. Plus the whole interface is essentially the same as the IgCamera Android appMore importantly, Sony's Senior Manager of Technology has come out and said that the BIONZ-X processors used in Alpha-series cameras are only capable of processing 8-bit 4:2:2 video. In other words, the claim that this hack will enable 10-bit output from the a7s is probably not true.

On the flip side of this, it wouldn't be the first time that someone managed to coax higher internal resolutions out of a Sony camera. Around this time last year, the F5 was hacked to shoot 4K internally. All in all, I'm not convinced of the authenticity of this hack. But if it turns out to be true, Sony a7s owners everywhere will surely rejoice.     

Your Comment

19 Comments

I'm fairly certain this isn't true. The 10-bit part just makes it WAY too unbelievable. I probably would have believed this if it was just claiming that internal 8-bit 4:2:0 4K was possible, but if 10-bit 4:2:2 was even a REMOTE possibility why wouldn't Sony have enabled it as an HMDI-out option on the A7SII as yet another way to differentiate it from the original A7S? At this point this just smells like a massive troll-job.

September 19, 2015 at 8:37PM

7
Reply
avatar
David West
Filmmaker
971

Yeah, it's not possible to hack a camera to go from 8 bit to 10 bit 4:2:2, especially when that's not even possible as as HDMI-out. Heck even the A7s II can't do it. Maybe I wouldn't be surprised if this was a hack for the A7s II, but no this is a joke.

September 21, 2015 at 6:12PM

5
Reply
avatar
Jason Han
Cinematographer
272

Why hack a camera to do what other cameras are already doing?

September 19, 2015 at 8:48PM

0
Reply
avatar
Vincent Gortho
none
951

Because it's cheaper? Because a lot of people currently own it and might not want to upgrade or strap an external recorder to it? So it can match one of those "other cameras" when doing multicam?

September 20, 2015 at 1:09AM

0
Reply

I want to believe but my heart has been broken too many times before. My A7s and I will wait and see,-)

September 19, 2015 at 9:13PM

2
Reply

if they come out with a paid firmware upgrade for 4k internal I would do it in a heart bit. well that is if the cost is like $100.00

September 20, 2015 at 11:29PM

0
Reply
Keith Kim
Photographer
1594

September 20, 2015 at 1:39AM, Edited September 20, 1:39AM

3
Reply
avatar
Film GRIT
Host With The Most
368

This reminds me the first time I read: "2k 14bits RAW" back in 2013. But no, processing 4k data would be possible internally, but it will not last long. Compressing all that requires some serious processing, you will end up "melting the guts"

September 20, 2015 at 8:46AM

1
Reply
avatar
Edgar More
All
1185

Yeah it doesn't look legit at all. But maybe the good news is that there are people trying to hack the A7s and could potentially offer the kind of updates that Sony might not be willing to give us. I've been reading around that Sony has a reputation for forgetting users of older models and fully focus on the new models. I dunno whether this is true but if it is i suppose we shouldn't expect any significant A7s firmware update now that the A7sII is out. Simple requests like the ability to assign APS-C and fps to a custom button have not been implemented regardless of users requests, so maybe a future hack like this could give us that, i wonder? Also, could the A7s get S-Log3 through a hack like this??? 10-bit definitely doesn't seem feasible and, personally, a potentially sensor-frying 4K doesn't sound good.

September 20, 2015 at 9:33AM

3
Reply

True or not. Is it such a stretch to think an A7s couldn't to it?

Look what a 5DMk2 was made to do by Magiclantern...

September 20, 2015 at 10:53PM

3
Reply

I think when they first came out it they were saying something about over heating. But if they could allow internal 4k with 5 to 10 min limit. that would be good too.

September 20, 2015 at 11:31PM

5
Reply
Keith Kim
Photographer
1594

I have to think that they didn't do it to the first A7s for technical reasons. They had a serious competitor with the GH4 and if they could have done 4K at the time they would have.

It could be argued that they were protecting their higher end line like the FS7, F5 etc but they release of the A7R 4K kind of disproved that I think.

I sold my F5 to get a second A7s. Thats how much I love the A7s. I think its a better camera at any price.

September 22, 2015 at 12:00AM

15
Reply

Yea, I love this camera as well. We'll see what happens with future firmware esp for lossless RAW still images.

September 22, 2015 at 11:27AM

2
Reply
Keith Kim
Photographer
1594

you're right there man. Magic Lantern achieved the unexpected. if we got 30 secs of 4K in the A7s that'd be amazing.

September 22, 2015 at 6:24AM, Edited September 22, 6:25AM

8
Reply

There's a misspelling in the first quoted paragraph - "available for the Sony a7a".

September 21, 2015 at 5:16AM

0
Reply

September 21, 2015 at 11:51AM

1
Reply
drew morgan
producer/director/editor
81

Time will tell...

September 22, 2015 at 11:28PM

0
Reply

well, the dude that posted the video, and that has been posting updates pretty much daily on twitter, just disappeared from the face of the net. that was it then.

October 9, 2015 at 4:22AM, Edited October 9, 4:22AM

1
Reply

October 15, 2015 at 5:54AM

7
Reply