Sony Alpha 7R II Review
The Sony a7R II is a 42MP full frame mirrorless camera with 5-axis image stabilization, featuring the world's first (and currently only) 35mm BSI CMOS sensor, and including a hybrid autofocus system and 4K video capabilities. It's the fifth in the company's a7 range of full frame cameras and the second high-resolution 'R' model. However, although its name and appearance are very similar to the first round of a7s, the R II arguably represents just as significant a step forwards as those first full frame mirrorless models did.
The reasons for suggesting this are two-fold. Although the a7R II's body is essentially the same as that of the 24MP a7 II (albeit with more substantial magnesium alloy construction), the camera includes two significant changes:
The first is that this is the first full frame camera to feature a sensor based on BSI CMOS technology. Although Sony always stressed that the benefits of BSI designs are most valuable in small sensors, its application on larger scales should reduce the pixel-level disadvantages of moving to higher pixel counts (which means an improvement in quality when viewed at a standard output size).
Secondly, and perhaps, most unexpectedly: the camera's phase-detection autofocus capabilities have been increased to the point that it not only focuses quickly and effectively with its own lenses but can also do so with lenses designed for other systems. This may not sound like a big deal until you think about what Sony needs to do to make the camera a success: win-over dedicated photographers, many of whom are already committed to other systems.
Sony a7R II Highlight specifications
- 42MP Full Frame BSI CMOS sensor
- 399 on-sensor Phase Detection points
- 5-axis image stabilization
- Internal 4K recording from full sensor width or 'Super' 35 crop
- Picture Profile system including ITU-709 and S-Log2 gamma
- Full magnesium alloy construction
- 2.36m dot OLED viewfinder with 0.7x magnification
- High speed AF with non-native lenses
The rest of the camera's core capabilities are exactly as you would expect from a high-resolution camera at this level: weather-sealed magnesium alloy body, twin control dials, extensive customization of control points and 5fps shooting.
The camera's video capabilities, though, are well worth highlighting. Like the recently-released, and more video-focused a7S II, the a7R II can record 4K (UHD) video internally. But, unlike the a7S II, its sensor has enough resolution to shoot using a near full-frame crop or a Super 35 (~APS-C) crop. In fact, the camera is over-sampling when you shoot Super 35 4K - which should help control moiré. These two modes should let you choose between the shallow depth-of-field and low-light capability of using the full sensor, vs. the effective extra reach and greater lens compatibility of Super 35 mode (though our testing shows this isn't quite the case).
|Sony a7R II||Sony a7R||Sony a7 II||Sony a7S II|
|Sensor||42MP full-frame||36MP full-frame||24MP full-frame||12MP full-frame|
|Image Stabilization||In-body||In-lens only||In-body||In-body|
|Electronic First Curtain Shutter||
|Silent (full electronic) Shutter||
|ISO Range (Stills)
Standard / Expanded
100 - 25,600
|100 - 25,600
50 - 25,600
|100 - 25,600
50 - 25,600
|Continuous Shooting (with AF)||5 fps||1.5 fps||5 fps||2.5 fps|
|AF system||Hybrid (399 phase detect and 25 contrast detect points)||Contrast AF with 25 points||Hybrid with 117 phase detect and 25 contrast detect points||Contrast AF with 169 points|
|4K from Super 35 crop?||Yes||No||No||No|
|4K Movie specs||UHD 30/24p
XAVC S (100/60Mbps)
XAVC S (100/60Mbps)
|HD Movie specs||1080 60/30/24p
|1080 120p (100/60Mbps) 60/30/24p
|Front panel construction||Magnesium alloy||Magnesium alloy||Composite||Magnesium alloy|
|Optical low pass filter||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Battery life (CIPA)
|340/290 shots per charge||340/270 shots per charge||350/270 shots per charge||370/310 shots per charge|
|Weight w/ battery||625 g||465 g||599 g||627 g|
|MSRP||$3,199 body only||$2,299 body only||$1,699 body only||$2,999 body only|
(Lossy) Compressed Raw
Although, at launch, the a7R II only offered Sony's lossy compressed Raw files, which can reduce the processing flexibility of the files, the company has promised a firmware update allowing uncompressed 14-bit Raws. The dynamic range and Raw analysis section of our review is based on these uncompressed files.
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