- Excellent body ergonomics and build quality
- Beautiful, large and detailed electronic viewfinder
- Excellent rear screen with plenty of detail and rich contrast and color
- Phenomenal resolution from the 42.3 megapixel sensor
- Outstanding high ISO capabilities, with very good quality to ISO 6400 and even usable ISO 25,600
- Very wide dynamic range to capture a wide range of tones in nearly any lighting situation
- Excellent color response that improves on earlier A7 cameras
- In-body image stabilization gives an extra 2 stops of handholdability for all lenses
- Single shot autofocus is notably better than earlier models, and locks focus quickly and accurately, even in very low light
- Eye-AF focusing is excellent for shallow depth of field shooting of people
- In-body 4K video capability
- Quieter shutter and new electronic first curtain shutter and silent shooting capabilities
- Deep buffer allows for over 4 seconds of continuous shooting in RAW mode.
- Autofocus with adapted lenses can be faster than other A7 series cameras, though this is heavily dependent on the lens
- EVF gets fuzzy when magnified at 5x magnification with adapted lenses
- Mediocre continuous autofocus performance
- Wi-Fi features are somewhat behind competitors with regards to image transfer and remote shooting
- Hot pixels are prevalent in very long exposures
- Battery life is short
- 4K requires a 64GB card or larger
The Sony A7R II has been a much hyped camera. When I first got the camera in my hands, I did a print test to see how the extra resolution would translate to real world prints. In that test, I determined that the resolution bump from the A7 II was visible, but not a big deal until you started printing quite large. At that time, I felt the camera was a bit overhyped. However, after using it for the full time and putting well over 1,000 frames through the camera, I have to say: it’s really a fantastic body. I became spoiled by the file quality over the course of my shooting and when I first went back to my A7 II, there was a letdown when I looked at the images closely. The rational part of me knows that 24 megapixels is plenty for my purposes: I generally print at 12×18″, with only occasional prints going to 24″ or 30″ wide. I don’t shoot at super high ISOs, and I don’t really shoot much video. However, the image quality from the A7R II is just so good that it makes other things look just a bit pedestrian.
I’m a big fan of Sony’s Mark II body style on these cameras, and the ergonomic and control improvements are just as good here as they were on the A7 II. The in-body stabilization also works just as well as the one on the A7 II. However, when it comes to the much touted 399 point phase detection autofocus, I was both pleased and disappointed. I was pleased because the system does an outstanding job focusing in dimmer conditions compared to its predecessor. One of the few complaints I have about my A7 II is that it can be inconsistent at focusing in lower light. The A7R II suffers no such issues. Even in very dark conditions, focus was sure and accurate. However, I was disappointed with the new AF system’s continuous autofocus capabilities. I found any moderately quick action moving towards the camera to fool the system fairly regularly, whether using single focus points, zone focusing, Eye AF or any other mode. It’ll be better than CDAF only for sure, but I still don’t think it’s up to the level of the a6000 in this regard.
Overall, despite the few shortcomings, the A7R II is well worth its asking price. It’s not going to replace a main body for many event or sports shooters, but most everyone else will be quite pleased with what Sony has put in this camera. Landscape photographers especially will love the wide dynamic range and exceptional detail. While it’s not perfectly executed, the Sony A7R II is currently the best mirrorless camera on the market. If you can swing the price of the camera and the price of the outstanding glass needed to fully realize its potential, it’s well worth a look for the serious shooter.
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12 thoughts on “Review: Sony A7R II”
I’ve written up my thoughts on the EVF with manual focus lenses on TalkEMount. Initially I was with you on the problem, but when I got back to the computer and looked at my images, my hit rate with MF was the same as it was before with my original A7. So at least for me, while the change looks weird, uncomfortable, and makes me nervous, it hasn’t hindered my shooting. So I’m slowly coming around to accepting it simply as a different look.
Still, currently I like the old EVF more for MF. We’ll see how that changes with more experience…
I think this is the first review I read that saying the continuous AF improvement over A7ii is minimal. I don’t have A7Rii yet, I am still waiting.
Yeah, I looked to see if I was doing anything off, though having had success with my a6000 and even decent success with my A7 II, I didn’t really see that as an issue. However, I can tell you I tried every focus mode, turned it to AF priority, etc. I tested with both the FE 55mm f/1.8 and the Batis 85mm f/1.8. I do test difficult subjects: all of these cameras can easily track subjects that are primarily moving laterally. The differences are when things are moving towards or away from the camera. To be honest, the very best C-AF I’ve used in mirrorless is with Fuji cameras with firmware 4.0 on the X-T1 (and likewise the X-T10). The latest firmware bumped them from pretty good to very good. Their PDAF area is much smaller, but I’ve had great accuracy in tracking, even with lenses like the 56mm f/1.2. Sony’s been a bit more hit or miss in this department, with the a6000 turning in a very good performance overall.
That said, the A7R II is a smashingly good camera, and I was very pleased to see the low light AF improvements that are very real on this camera.
Thanks for the comparisons to the A7II’s autofocus. I already bit the bullet and purchased the A7II, figuring the saved money could get me a nice lens at the least. I was almost hoping you’d find the A7rII’s AF all around not much better, but alas, now I just have to keep convincing myself that I really don’t need the more expensive camera. Because I don’t. But it really would make me feel all fuzzy inside.
Thanks again for a great review!
Interesting read on the AF. On my A7ii I use flexible spot (small) and continuous low in AFC mode. This gives me good results if s.b. is approaching me. But continuous high is not working properly. Did you experience the same behaviour in both modes?
Very nice review with great pics.
I think the resolution is overkill for most uses, until one considers two things:
– using primes and cropping, thus having to lug less gear and ultimately reducing the kit to the point that m43 or APS-C alternatives don’t offer any advantage (this depends, of course, on what lenses one uses)
– dispensing with TS lenses for perspective correction
it’s the first time I write here, but I often read your nice reviews.
I have a complete Fuji system, the X-T1 and several lenses, but the new Sony is tempting a lot.. I can’t justify to own both systems, it’s just an hobby, so I am considering a switch.
The main reasons: 1) Fuji AF is still frustrating when doing portraits of kids, 2) resolution and IQ for landscape photography. I find the Fuji is great to photograph people, less so for landscape. I like to shoot both..
Any thoughts about the two systems? Are they in competition or in completely different leagues? What would be your choice if you could only own one?
Forest Sunrise is excellent!
First, thanks for the excellent review. I’ve just bought my A7rii (not yet in hands!!! Trembling out of anxiety!)… but something that struck me in not being mentioned in your review was your experience with Canon glass, especially the 85mm 1.8 you used. I’ve read elsewhere that autofocus with this lens is awful, but I’d like to hear your opinion on the matter.
Thanks again for your time in charing.