The amazing Sony a9 recently blew us away, but the earlier cameras in the family still have plenty of life left in them. The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has blasted a Sony a7S II into orbit, and now the first stunning snaps of its round-the-world trip have been sent back from its perch on the side of the International Space Station.
Like an astronaut, the camera went through intense preparation prior to launch. After it was cleared by JAXA to be able to survive the radiation, temperature and vacuum of space, the a7S II was launched in December 2016. Once in orbit, it was installed on an exterior research platform called KIBO, part of the Japanese Experiment Module, and pointed Earthwards.
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As the first commercial camera to be mounted outside the Space Station, the a7S II has been shooting stills and videos in 4K, from 400 km (249 miles) above the planet. Japan is the star of the video, with daylight footage capturing in crystal-clear detail the snowy peaks, while the night-time vision of the city lights – shot at ISO 51200 – shows off the a7S II's incredible low light performance.
A second video shows the East coast of the United States, and JAXA says many more will be beamed back to Earth during the a7S II's stay on the ISS.