Testing A7 versus A7R II

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tonybelding Senior Member • Posts: 1,022
Testing A7 versus A7R II

After using an original A7 for a few years, I recently snagged a very clean A7R II off eBay. Today I went out with my tripod, both cameras, and a Voigtländer Nokton 40mm F1.2 to take some comparative test shots. My subject was my 1949 Dodge Power Wagon down at the spillway of the city lake.

On a previous shoot I had noticed some moiré and false color artifacts from the A7, so I wanted to see if the A7R II’s increased resolution would reduce those problems. The answer turned out to be “yes, a bit”, although I didn’t manage to evoke as much moiré or false color this time from the A7 as I did before. It really does take some explicit circumstances for them even to become noticeable. (Or else, maybe the Nokton lens just isn’t quite as sharp as the 40mm Ultron that I was using before?)

The big surprise was that the A7 seems to handle highly exposed parts of the image much better than the A7R II. If I saw any difference at all, I would have expected it to favor the A7R II. I mean, on paper it should have better dynamic range, shouldn’t it?

I exposed for the truck, which is dark green and black, and that made the bare earth and gravel below seem much brighter. In shots with the A7R II the ground looks very compressed and over-exposed (even when not clipped). With the A7 it also looks bright, but more hue and shading is retained. The histograms show the same, with very narrow spikes on the A7R II images and much broader peaks on the A7. All this is with raw images developed in RawTherapee, by the way. So, I don’t know if another program would handle the A7R II files better.

I don’t know what to think. I got the A7R II expecting it to handily outperform the A7 in all respects. Based on what I saw today, maybe I should stick with the A7, or maybe I should have got an A7 II. Is this normal? Has anyone else seen or documented this phenomenon?

EDIT:  After more experimenting, I think I have solved the mystery.  By default RawTherapee is set up to apply an automatic curve that mimics the camera's in-body JPEG processing.  Even though I was shooting raw, the A7 and A7R2 process JPEGs a bit differently (or at least RT thinks they do!), which resulted in RawTherapee processing them a little differently.  As soon as I hit both images with RT's "neutral" processing profile, they came out looking indistinguishable.  The difference between the histograms is also of no consequence.

 tonybelding's gear list:tonybelding's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 Ricoh GR II Sony RX10 IV Pentax Q7 Sony a7 +1 more
Sony a7 Sony a7 II Sony a7R Sony a7R II
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