Test Review: Sony A7R II

0
September 2, 2015 at 10:30 am  •  Posted in Gear & Reviews, New Products, Review by  •  0 Comments

The new Sony A7R II

The new Sony A7R II

The Sony A7R II is a mirrorless camera system with a full-frame sensor and 42 MP. The successor of the A7R has a slightly revised body design, an excellent viewfinder, a very fast AF system, and many more professional features.

The Sony A7R II reproduced the standard test-box shot with a lot of detail, but it retains a very natural look because the image sharpness isn't exaggerated by sharpness filtering. The image of the ISO 12233 chart shows only minor over- and under-shoot effects.

The Sony A7R II reproduced the standard test-box shot with a lot of detail, but it retains a very natural look because the image sharpness isn’t exaggerated by sharpness filtering. The image of the ISO 12233 chart shows only minor over- and under-shoot effects.

Comments on Image Quality
Colour: The new Sony A7R II performed excellently in our colour test. The white-balance system tends toward cooler colours; only very bright gray and white nuances show a shift into the yellow direction. But these effects are on a very low level. The level of colour errors is low; only some blue nuances and the red colours get boosted and are the reason for a mean saturation 107.8 percent. Skin tones are “optimized” by a slightly higher magenta rate but look absolutely great (see our portrait shot).

The Sony A7R II reproduced our portrait scene excellently. Skin tones look very natural and smooth, but the very high resolution reveals every little skin blemish. The red of the t-shirt is highly saturated, but colour differentiation is excellent.

The Sony A7R II reproduced our portrait scene excellently. Skin tones look very natural and smooth, but the very high resolution reveals every little skin blemish. The red of the t-shirt is highly saturated, but colour differentiation is excellent.

Sharpness: All test shots done with the Sony A7R II were done with the Sony Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55-mm F1.8 ZA. The camera had an excellent performance in our resolution tests and reproduced the ISO 12233 chart with 5016 lines (of 5304 lines on the sensor). High resolution and excellent detail reproduction are also noticeable in our test images. The camera achieved the high-resolution result with only a very decent sharpness and enhancement filtering (done by the image processor) and created images with a very natural look (see the hair and the left eye/focus area of our model shot). However, the extremely high resolution can only be achieved in a very small range of the chosen aperture size. The maximum result was achieved in an image shot with f/5.6. Using higher aperture size values will cause diffraction blur, for example, which already can be noticed in images taken with f/8-11. (The Canon EOS 5DS has the same problem. The very high sensor resolution increases the chances of these effects.)

Noise: The new Sony also performed superbly in our noise tests. The luminance noise factor/y-factor is very low in images taken with ISO 100 to ISO 1600. Images taken with ISO 100-1600 look very clean because colour noise is nearly invisible. In images taken with ISO 3200, some “grain” effects start to become visible, but even in files shot with ISO 6400 these effects are on a very low level. The combination of  colour noise and anti-noise filtering becomes visible in images with ISO 12800 and it is really annoying in images taken with ISO 25600. The two additional high modes with ISO 51200 will reduce detail reproduction significantly; in ISO 102400 mode, you will notice very intense colour noise artifacts and reduced sharpness/details. In this mode the luminance noise factor is very high (3.06 percent). Nevertheless these noise results are very good for a sensor with very high pixel density.

The dynamic range results are very good. The camera achieved a maximum of 11 f-stops and keeps a high level of more than 10 f-stops in images taken with ISO 100 to ISO 6400. Dynamic range results can be improved by using the extensive “dynamic range settings” in the image mode (or naturally by using raw images).

The Sony offers a large mode dial and an additional dial for EV compensation. The shutter-release button was relocated to the now bulkier grip of the camera (compared to the A7R).

The Sony offers a large mode dial and an additional dial for EV compensation. The shutter-release button was relocated to the now bulkier grip of the camera (compared to the A7R).

Comments on Handling
The Sony A7R II is a compact-system camera system with a full-frame sensor and extremely high sensor resolution. The camera records images with 7952 x 5304 pixels. With more than 42 MP, the resolution is not as high as the sensor resolution of the Canon EOS 5DS, but it is already on the same level as digital backs for mid-format cameras.

The Sony A7R II has a slightly different design than the A7R (introduced in 2013). The body has a slightly thicker and bulkier grip (as you can see in the top-view images). This gives the new version a nicer grip and better handling. But even more important for better handling is the fact that the shutter-release button is now on the large grip instead of being directly on the top of the camera. In addition, the relocation of the set-up dial from the front to its new position directly beneath the shutter-release button gives the new A7R II comfortable handling.

The camera offers three set-up dials. The first one is located on the front (near the shutter-release button). The second dial is located on the back (near the top). In addition, the control field (with direct access for display settings) or ISO mode can be used as setup wheel.

The camera offers three set-up dials. The first one is located on the front (near the shutter-release button). The second dial is located on the back (near the top). In addition, the control field (with direct access for display settings) or ISO mode can be used as setup wheel.

The Sony uses a very fast AF system with a combination of contrast metering and a phase-detection system (with phase-detection sensors directly on the image sensor), so it is called a “hybrid focus system.” It offers 399 AF areas for fast and versatile focus settings. The camera shows the constantly moving and varying focus areas in Autofocus mode on its screen or electronic viewfinder. The AF system is highly configurable and very fast. (Some photographers who use Canon EF lenses mounted by a Metabone adapter to the Sony A7R II, which allows automatic focusing, say that the speed of the Canon-EF/Sony-AF combination may not reach the speed of a real Canon EF SLR focus system or the speed of the A7R II with its own E-Mount lens system, but it is comparable to cameras with a fast AF contrast metering.)

The new Sony A7R II has a large electronic viewfinder, corresponding to a 35-mm SLR with 0.78x optical scaling. Its monitor system is based on OLED technology and offers a resolution of 2.36 million RGB dots. The combination of large viewfinder scaling, high resolution and OLED technology (with additional ZEISS T* coating for the viewfinder) offers a very bright, crisp and clear viewfinder experience. In addition, it can show a lot of additional information as a digital overlay on the screen (an electronic level, for example). The camera has a swivel LCD on the back with 1.288 million RGB dots. It’s not fully articulated, but it can be flipped up- and downward.

The LCD monitor has a resolution of 1.288 million RGB dots and can be flipped up- and downward (107 degrees upward, 41 degrees downward).

The LCD monitor has a resolution of 1.288 million RGB dots and can be flipped up- and downward (107 degrees upward, 41 degrees downward).

The new camera offers a built-in 5-axis stabilization system. Sony specifies a benefit of 4.5 EV stops for this system. So we tried to shoot images at ¼ s with the 55-mm test lens (1/60 being the standard shutter speed that can be used without stabilization).

Pros
+ mirrorless camera system with 42-MP resolution
+ large electronic viewfinder with high resolution
+ high image quality (high sharpness, nice colours)
+ highly configurable due to many individual settings
+ better handling as a result of a revised body design
+ powerful built-in image stabilizer (5-axis system)
+ very fast AF system (even works well with Canon lenses mounted on a Metabones adapter)
+ professional video features (including 4K and “SLog2” colour space)
+ Wi-Fi

Cons
– no built-in flash
– no GPS system (GPS data available via Wi-Fi connection to smartphone)

The body of the A7R II has more depth than the A7R. The interfaces of the new camera (USB, HDMI, microphone, earphone) are located on the left-hand side of the body.

The body of the A7R II has more depth than the A7R. The interfaces of the new camera (USB, HDMI, microphone, earphone) are located on the left-hand side of the body.

This review is based on precise lab tests conducted by BetterNet GmbH and provided by the Technical Imaging Press Association (TIPA). TIPA is the largest family of independent photo and imaging magazines worldwide. Photo Life is an active member of TIPA.

SPEC SHEET: Sony A7R II
BASIC TECHNICAL DATA:
Resolution 7952 x 4472
Resolution sensor 43.6
Size of sensor (in inches) 0/0.00
Size of sensor (in mm) 35.9 x 24.0
TAKING PICTURES:
Start-up time (in sec) 0.43
Shutter delay without pre-focusing (in sec) 0.18
Shutter delay with pre-focusing (in sec) 0.01
Continuous shooting speed (frames per second) 5.0
Max. burst during continuous shooting speed 24.0
Fastest shutter speed (in sec) 1/8000
Long time exposure/shutter speed (in sec) 30
Self timer yes
Exposure Settings:
Aperture pre-setting, shutter speed pre-setting, manual exposure settings,
automatic bracketing
Exposure programs 9
White balance:
Auto yes
White-balance settings 7
Individual white balance yes
ISO:
ISO min 100
ISO max 25600
ISO steps 25
Manual ISO control yes
FLASH:
Integrated flash no
Flash Mode:
On, off, automatic flash, slow-sync, anti-red-eye, rear-curtain sync
External Flash:
X-sync no
Accessory shoe yes
FILE FORMATS:
Standard file formats JPEG, RAW, DCF
JPEG compression grades 3
LCD AND PREVIEW:
Size (in inches) 3.0
Resolution of LCD (in pixels) 1228800
Zoom mode during preview yes
Index during preview yes
Slideshow during preview yes
VIDEO:
Video available yes
Max. width 3840
Max. height 2160
Picture frequency 30
POWER SOURCE:
Rechargeable battery yes
Battery type Li-Ion
Battery charger included yes
Power connector no
Power supply unit no
STORAGE SYSTEM:
Supported memory cards Memory stick, SD card, SDHC card, SDXC card
PC CONNECTION:
PC connection USB 2.0, HDMI, WLAN
TV out PAL/NTSC HDMI
DIMENSIONS:
Dimensions (width x height x depth; in mm) 126 x 95 x 60
Weight (body without battery and memory card; in g) 625
ACCESSORIES:
Docking station no
Printed manual yes
Manual on CD yes
Bag no
Remote control no

Leave a Reply