Sony a7R II: Field Test

Jeremy Ying Gadgetry, Videography Leave a Comment

Alright, so this isn’t a “new” camera, having been released in 2015.  But darn it, it’s new to me and since I had a chance to play with one over a weekend I’m going to talk about it!  First off, the camera’s specs:

  • 42MP Full-Frame Exmor R BSI CMOS Sensor
  • BIONZ X Image Processor
  • Internal UHD 4K Video & S-Log2 Gamma
  • 5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE Stabilization
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The 42MP Full-Frame Exmor R BSI CMOS Sensor in all of its glory.

Things I like about the a7RII:

  1. Outstanding picture quality.  Holy crap you can definitely see all 42 MP in each shot.
  2. Smaller form factor.  I’ve been shooting with NEX-series mirrorless cameras for about 6 years now.  And as much as I like having a compact camera, my NEX-5 is a bit too compact.  So the a7RII’s larger form factor is definitely a welcome change.  It’s easier to hold and carry, but still manages to be easy to stow away..
  3. Can shoot at really high ISO.  Max ISO is 102400 back-illuminated, full-frame sensor.
  4. Great high FPS slow-motion.  Samples below.  When you record at 120 FPS your video gets cropped to 720p, but despite that downgrade the slow motion performance is amazing.
  5. The 5-Axis IBIS makes for excellent video.  Now, let’s be clear: the a7R II won’t magically make your handheld footage silky-smooth.  You still need have a bit of a deathgrip when holding your camera while recording. But it eliminates all small jitters and twitches, even when you’re not using a stabilized lens.
The Sony a7R II sitting side-by-side with my NEX-5.

The Sony a7R II (right) sitting side-by-side with my NEX-5.

Things I don’t like about a7RII:

  1. Poor low-light performance.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  When the lighting conditions are good, the a7R II takes amazing photos.  But when you shoot in either shadowed areas or rooms with dim lights at 6400 ISO , the photo quality nosedives. Photos have less noise when I shot in low-light, but this camera overcompensates for noise by adding a strange blur to my affected photos.
  2.  Confusing, nested menus.  The benefit to a mirrorless camera like this one is a smaller form factor.  But the drawback of having a smaller form factor is less space for buttons and dials on the camera body.
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The a7R II sporting my E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens

Enough talk!  Photo and video sample time.

 

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All in all, I’d buy this camera if I had a need for a full-frame mirrorless camera.  For now, I’ve got my eyes set on the a6500, especially since it’s getting the same IBIS tech that’s currently employed by the a7R II.

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