Reviews

Sony Alpha 7R II Review

Gina Stephens
Written by Gina Stephens

The Sony a7R II is a 42MP wholly frame mirrorless camera camera is an optical instrument for recording or capturing images, which may be stored locally, transmitted to another location, or with 5-axis image stabilization, featuring the world’s first (and currently only) 35mm BSI CMOS sensor, and filing 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 somebody 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 examples 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 encompasses 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 in any case 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 striking 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 aptitudes 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 approaches. 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, various of whom are already committed to other systems.

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Sony a7R II Highlight specifications

  • 42MP Full Frame BSI CMOS sensor
  • 399 on-sensor Phase Detection point ups
  • 5-axis image stabilization
  • Internal 4K recording from full sensor width or ‘Super’ 35 crop
  • Picture Profile system take ining 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 siesta 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, join 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 diverse 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 incident, 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 bank 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 (however 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
Conception Stabilization In-body In-lens only In-body In-body
Electronic First Curtain Shutter

Yes

No Yes Yes
Silent (full electronic) Shutter

Yes

No No Yes
ISO Range (Stills)
Upright bar / Expanded

100 – 25,600
50 – 102,400

100 – 25,600
50 – 25,600
100 – 25,600
50 – 25,600
100-102,400
50-409,600
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 instants Hybrid with 117 phase detect and 25 contrast detect points Contrast AF with or WITH may refer to: Carl Johannes With (1877–1923), Danish doctor and arachnologist With (character), a character in D. N. Angel 169 points
4K from Super 35 crop? Yes No No No
4K Flick picture show specs UHD 30/24p
XAVC S (100/60Mbps)
N/A N/A UHD 30/24p
XAVC S (100/60Mbps)
HD Movie specs 1080 60/30/24p
(50Mbps)
XAVC S
1080 60p
(28Mbps)
60i/24p (24/17Mbps)
AVCHD
1080 60/30/24p
(50Mbps)
XAVC S
1080 120p (100/60Mbps) 60/30/24p
(50Mbps)
XAVC S
Portray Profile
(inc S-Log2)
Yes No Yes Yes
+ S-Log3
Front panel construction Magnesium alloy Magnesium alloy Composite Magnesium alloy
Optical low pass sieve No No Yes Yes
Battery life (CIPA)
LCD/EVF
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 at most $2,299 body only $1,699 body only $2,999 body only
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(Lossy) Compressed Raw

Although, at launch, the a7R II only offered Sony’s lossy compressed Raw systematizes, 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 division section of our review is based on these uncompressed files.

Republished: dpreview.com

About the author

Gina Stephens

Gina Stephens

Gina is a photography enthusiast and drone lover who loves to fly drones, capture images and have fun cherishing them with family and friends.

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