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James Miller adds £167 hardware 4K scaler box to Sony A7S with stunning results

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Picture (“Buddy”) courtesy of James Miller, inset – the CYP 4K HDMI scaler

The picture above (click for 1080p original) is from the 4K full frame sensor inside the Sony A7S (ISO 3200, S-LOG2).

Internally the camera does a simple downscale of the 4K signal to 2K for standard 1080p XAVC or HDMI recording – but James discovered adding a hardware scaler on the end of the 4K HDMI signal results in a more detailed 1080p image which is light and day different. The great news is this scaler is only £167 in the UK.

Add to that an Atomos Ninja Blade or Ninja Star for taking the image from the scaler and recording it to ProRes – and you have one of the best 1080p images available at any price.

Take a look at some of my 1:1 crops taken from the samples James shared on Twitter earlier today:

Sharper? Yes, but much more importantly – more detailed. Move your head closer to the screen and pixel peep these… Bear in mind that when you see the whole frame on a large screen and in motion, the difference is much more noticeable.

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I tried sharpening the standard output in post and couldn’t match the level of detail on the 4K downconverter image. It just looks oversharpend and digital with even the very slightest sharpening filter in Premiere (Sharpen at just ’8′, but Unsharpen Mask looks the same too):

a7s-crop-sharpened

So the message is clear, if you want to improve your HD from the A7S until the 4K capable Atomos Shogun arrives, this £167 box and a current 1080p Atomos recorder is a sure way of going about it.

Here’s a quick test from James of the 4K scaled to 1080p by the CYP box –

APS-C / Super 35mm crop mode

The other good news is James says APS-C mode does output over 4K HDMI. This will be 3K upscaled to 4K, then downscaled to 1080p so still true 1080p and every bit as detailed as the full frame 4K scaled to 1080p.

Click for the 1080p versions courtesy of James:

Full frame


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APS-C (Super 35mm)

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Power

The CYP box runs from an external 5v power supply. You can use a compact USB battery brick for this purpose, as the box runs off a low amp source such as 2A.

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Ninja Star

To keep the rig compact like the small camera itself, I recommend using the Ninja Star. James is using the Ninja Blade and this is great for critical focus but if you just want to use the EVF or screen on the camera then the Star is the most compact ProRes recorder out there. I received mine today and it does ProRes HQ, 422 and also LT for smaller file sizes. The media used is the brand new CFast standard, the next generation CF card with super sustained high read and write speeds.

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1080p upscaling to 4K

The CYP box also takes a 1080p signal, like the 10bit 4:2:2 from the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera and upscales it to 4K.

It will be very interesting to see if this upscaling process improves the image from the current breed of 1080p cameras!

I’ve ordered mine from here and will do a battery of tests when it arrives next week.

(James Miller)

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