Body & Design

The Sony Alpha 7R II is the fifth full frame mirrorless camera from Sony. And it uses the newer, beefier body design, first introduced with the Sony Alpha 7II. Product badges aside, the bodies of the two cameras are essentially identical (bar the material used to build the cameras' front plates).

Part of the reason for the increased body size is the inclusion of an image stabilization system, which helps to steady the camera's 42MP sensor.

The a7R II is a hefty camera. Fortunately the grip is well-sized, making it easy to hold.

Physically, the a7R II feels very solid and well constructed. The body is comprised of magnesium alloy, and it features improved weather sealing, and a more robust lens mount, to support heavy glass.

Our biggest complaint about the new body design of the a7R II and a7 II is the small size of the control dials. They can be frustratingly difficult to hit, on the fly.

The camera offers twin control dials, one on the front and one on the back, in addition to a third click wheel, located next to the LCD. Many of us found the front and rear dials to be small and difficult to access, in the field, especially when compared to the substantially larger dials found on the original a7 series.

The Sony a7R II has a range of buttons dotted across its surfaces. Many of them are customizable but some are easier to reach than others.

Like the original a7R, as well as the a7 II, Sony has done a great job of making the Sony a7R II an incredibly customizable camera. In addition to a Function Menu, where users can tuck away up to 12 core features, the camera also has 10 customizable buttons in addition to a customizable click wheel on back.

The a7R II has the same body design as the a7 II. The grip is large, and comfortable to hold. The shutter button is also at an angle for easy access.

The shutter button has been moved from its location on the original a7R. It now sits on the front of the grip and is angled downward, for easy access. Its diameter has also been noticeably increased over its predecessor. If you're coming from the one of the original a7 cameras, it may take some time to get used to the reshaped grip, and the new location of the shutter. But in the end, we think the redesigned grip is for the better, especially considering the increased weight of the a7R II vs the original a7R. We only wish the expanded grip were an excuse for a new, larger battery that could fit inside the larger grip but, alas, no.

It's worth noting that the short form factor of the body means that you can't get a full grip with all fingers, and the corner of the body can dig into your palm. Thankfully, attaching Sony's vertical grip makes the camera feel far better in your hand, and extends battery life to boot. You can't charge batteries in the grip though (and removing batteries is cumbersome), and it's a shame that the Sony grip doesn't offer the robust wireless remote control with intervalometer that 3rd party grips offer. Unfortunately, the cheaper 3rd party alternative we tried had compatibility issues: it would reset the aperture frequently.

The back thumbrest is well-sized, and makes gripping the somewhat hefty a7R II a comfortable affair. Though some of our editors found that over prolonged use, the bottom of the camera body had a tendency to dig into one's hand. This can be remedied by attaching a vertical grip.

The back of the a7RII offers a substantial thumb rest, most of us found to be quite comfortable. The video record button is located on the other side of it and the memory card door is located directly below.

Both the front grip and rear thumbrest are wrapped in rubber, which makes it easy to grip the camera securely, even with one hand. So sweaty-palmed shooters can breath easy knowing the a7R II will not easily slip from their grip.

The screen articulates up and down, though not left and right.

The a7R II includes a 3-inch 1.2 million dot LCD that flips up and down, though not side to side. It is accompanied by a well-sized 2.3 million dot electronic viewfinder with 0.78x magnification. In use this means it's both large and very detailed and the refresh rate is fast enough that you're rarely likely to find yourself pining for an optical finder.

Unfortunately the sensor that chooses between the EVF and LCD is rather over-sensitive. Presumably in a bid to ensure the camera is always ready by the time you've raised it to your eye, the camera will shut off the LCD and jump to the EVF with the slightest provocation. This is particularly a problem if you're trying to shoot at waist level using the rear screen, because it'll shut off if you bring the camera too close to your body, but even a stray camera strap passing near the sensor is enough to interrupt your shooting or playback experience. We've found even more sensitivity issues in bright sunlight, with the switch appearing overly active. Switching through the menu options for Finder/Monitor Select is often cumbersome, and if you generally keep the this setting set to 'Auto', assigning and pressing a button for Finder/Monitor only temporarily switches the active display, reverting later on to 'Auto' (and it doesn't switch in playback). This can make for a confusing experience. A more sensible sensor, or a hard switch between EVF/LCD might make sense.

The Sony a7R II is well connected and video ready. It features built in Wi-Fi as well as NFC, and has audio connectors for both a microphone and headphones, in addition to a USB 2.0, and micro-HDMI port.