Sony has been one of the earliest camera manufacturers out there that moved from the traditional DSLR camera that uses mirror/prism to the now-popular mirrorless system. They started well with the Alpha SLT A55 and A33 six years ago, showing the world that a mirrorless camera can be as good as a traditional DSLR.
Now a few years down the line, Sony has managed to take all it has learn with Mirrorless Cameras through the years and came up with the Sony Alpha 7R II (a7R II). A full frame mirrorless camera that features a 35mm BSI CMOS sensor and can take pictures up to 42 megapixels. We had a few days to test out this camera, and the results are in.
Minimalism is in
The a7R II, is, as most cameras traditionally are, jet black. From the front it looks quite minimalist, with a square profile with not exaggrerated lines or bulges. Indeed, it looks that Sony has borrowed the design from cameras of yore for the a7R II instead of modern DSLR.
The body is built with a mixture of magnesium alloy. While it does feel quite heavy in hand, it is sure to be robust. At the rear, buttons are all lumped on the right side for easy reach with your right thumb. Indeed, unless you are reaching the menu button, all functions can easily be done one handed.
There are a lot of functions that you can set with the a7R II. It’s best to start your adventure with this camera by reading up the rather thick manual that is included with the camera. For functions that you always uses, you can map them to three Custom buttons (aptly labeled “C1”, “C2” and “C3”) that are on the right side of the camera.
Recording a video is also a breeze with the a7R II, since you don’t even have to change mode to do it. In shooting mode, just press the dedicated recording button and PRESTO! You’re recording in that mode, wether it’s Auto, Manual, Shutter Priority or Aperture. The a7R II can record UHD 4K natively but you need to have a high speed memory card to record this (at least 60Mbps).
What I discovered is that it sometimes fail to detect the correct speed of the card, as the camera refuses to shoot in 4K even tho we used a Strontium U3 card that is rated at 90Mbps.
Pick a Lens, Any Lens
Sony has made a lot of improvements with its phase-detection autofocus. This, combined with the full frame sensor, makes it a breeze for the camera to focus on subjects, even if you are taking picture in a low light situation. Sony has also made that the autofocus to work well with lenses that are not made for the E-Mount. This means that if you have a collection of Nikon or Canon lenses, you don’t have to ditch them if you get this camera. You just need an adapter, and you’re ready to go!
Speaking of lenses, there are two types of lenses that can be used with the Sonly Alpha 7r II, crop and full fram lense. Depending on the lense used, the camera will change from 42MP full frame mode, to 18MP crop mode. So choose your lense carefully before buying as using a crop lense with this body means you won’t be using it’s full capability.
View it in Real-time
Live View is the default view and you would mostly be using the rear LCD 99% of the time. While it does have a viewfinder, it’s actually an EVF and it just mirrors everything you see on the rear LCD. Even if you are used to a DSLR most of the time. you will be just using the rear LCD as the larger screen makes it easier to compose pictures.
The LCD display at the rear is quite vivid and nice to look at, and this is expected from Sony. We are dissapointed tho that the LCD can only swivel either up or down, and not as a few other DSLR in the market right now 360 degrees.
However, with the live view turned on most of the time, the battery life is quite short. This is compounded even more if you are using recording with autofocus, especially in 4K. The only salvation is that the camera uses a micro-USB, so you can charge the camera with your powerbank if situation is critical.
As a whole, the a7R II is an awesome camera. It’s fast and sharp. Do note that if you are a beginner in photography, this won’t help you immediatly be a better photographer. For seasoned enthusiasts, it would be a real upgrade.
Points to Ponder
Point 1: Picture Perfect
Pictures produces by the a7R II is quite sharp and vivid. Shooting outdoors, you can see the sky seperation with the clouds nicely without looking like it was filtered.
Point 2: Challenging Low-Light
Indoor shooting seems to be a mixed bag. At ISO 1200 and above, there is a certain fuzziness to the pictures, especially when it’s really dark. It also gives people a tinge of yellow for some reason. A flash would help in these situations.
Point 3: Sharp When Bright
The same setting with ample lighting gives us a really sharp images, especially for shooting macro/food.
Byline: by Din
Weight (inc. batteries): 625g
Dimensions: 127 x 96 x 60 mm
Body type: SLR-style mirrorless
Max resolution: 7952 x 5304
Effective pixels: 42 megapixels (18MP with crop lense)
Sensor size: Full frame (35.9 x 24 mm)
Sensor type: BSI-CMOS
ISO: Auto, 100-25600 (expands to 50-102400)
Screen size: 3”
Max shutter speed: 1/8000 sec
Format: MPEG-4, AVCHD, XAVC S
Storage types: SD/SDHC/SDXC, Memory Stick Duo/Pro Duo/Pro-HG Duo
USB: USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
Verdict: Best Sony Mirorrless yet…if only the battery life is better
Total Score: 8.8