Buying Guide: The best cameras over $2000
Sony Alpha a7R II
42.2MP BSI CMOS full-frame sensor | 399-point Hybrid AF | 4K video capture
What we like:
- Excellent low light and dynamic range performance
- Internal 4K video
- Incredible AF precision and speed
- Very effective sensor stabilization
What we don't:
- Stop-motion playback makes it hard to follow action in continuous bursts
- Buffer takes too long to clear
- Frustrating menu organization
- Small, finicky dials
The Sony a7R II was the world's first camera to use a full-frame backside-illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor. This flagship sensor rests in a 5-axis stabilizing mechanism optimized for the high-resolution 42.2MP sensor.
The a7R II is a relatively compact mirrorless camera with a magnesium alloy, weather-sealed body. While heavily customizable, the controls on the a7R II are small and tightly packed. Photos can be composed on a 3", 1.23 million-dot articulating LCD as well as a fairly large, high resolution electronic viewfinder.
The a7R II boasts 399 phase detect AF (PDAF) points that cover 45% of the frame. AF performance is exceptional in both stills and video, and unlike high-resolution DSLRs, there is no need to microadjust lenses for accuracy. Features like continuous Eye AF help ensure shots of people are always focused on the eye, even if subjects are moving.
Image quality from the a7R II is in many respects class-leading. It offers a much improved JPEG engine over its predecessor, which offers excellent detail retention, even in low light, thanks to very well balanced noise reduction and sharpening. Raw dynamic range is excellent, offering incredible exposure latitude and ability to lift shadows to deal with high contrast scenes.
Internal 4K/30p recording is available in both full sensor and APS-C (Super35) modes, while 1080p maxes out at 60 fps (120 fps is available in 720p, though). On-sensor phase detection enables fast and decisive AF in video with very little hunting. Combined with face detection, it's getting so good that one could even imagine using AF in video for professional use. Meanwhile, the S-Log2 profile helps the camera cram as much dynamic range in to the footage as possible, allowing videographers to shoot in challenging, high contrast light.
When it was released the a7R II really pushed the boundaries of not just mirrorless cameras, but also cameras in general. Features like in-body image stabilizatoin, an electronic shutter and super-accurate autofocus with eye detection all get the camera out of the way and allow you to focus on image making. If you're a landscape, event, photojournalist, or portrait photographer, you're likely to experience a higher keeper rate with the a7R II than most DSLRs. So while we have our reservations regarding the ergonomics and menu system, it's hard to argue that the a7R II remains one of our top choices.