The best mirrorless camera is here – Sony a7R II with 42MP, 4K video and 399 AF points

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The best mirrorless camera is here and it is from Sony. Ever since Sony has jumped into the mirrorless camera market, its growth has been tremendous. From the NEX series to the now Alpha series, it has been growing strong against some of the best rivals like Fujifilm, Panasonic, Olympus, Nikon and Canon. Sony’s image sensor business has also been booming in recent years and has contributed to 40% of all the sensors sold across the globe. Its sensors have proven to be a success with adoption from Apple, Samsung, Pentax, Fujifilm and Nikon just to name a few.

In recent time Sony’s full frame mirrorless cameras such as a7II, a7S and a7R mirrorless cameras have been highly regarded. So when Sony announces its new Sony a7R II, it was surprised but very excited to see so many new and improved features are brought onto this new a7RII. As the name suggested, the a7R II is high resolution orientated which is equipped with a 42.4MP sensor. The sensor is a brand new full frame BSI (back illuminated) CMOS sensor which Sony stated it is the most advanced, versatile and highest resolution full frame sensor that it has ever created. It has promised to offer high resolution, high speed and high sensitivity without compromises. The new sensor structure also allows faster transmission speed up to 3.5x faster than the original a7R.

The a7R II has packed with a number of great improvements such as adding in-body stabilisation similar to the a7 II. The ISO performance is said to be better by combining the new BIS CMOS sensor with anti reflective coating and gapless on chip lens design. The base ISO range has remained at 100-25600 but is now expandable to 102400. Despite of that, the useable ISO range is still probably up to 6400.  The AF system has also been revamped, the new image sensor features 399 focal-plane phase-detection AF points. It has the widest full frame AF coverage that work together with 25 contrast AF points. The new AF system is said to be 40% faster.  If you have always wanted a quieter shutter, you will be impressed by the a7R II. It  has a new highly durable reduced-vibration shutter that releases 50% less vibration from shutter movements compared to its predecessor, and has a cycle durability of approximately 500,000 shots. The camera can also be set to Silent Shooting mode in order to shoot images quietly without any sensor vibration or movement.

If there is one thing that the Sony a7R is lacking behind it is its video function. Shooting video from a Sony mirrorless camera has always been mediocre, but this is about to change with the a7R II that features 4K video and a variety of functions to support a professional video workflow such as picture profile, S-Log2 Gamma and S-Gamut, 120fps high frame rate movie shooting in HD (720p), time code and clean HDMI output. The Sony a7R II is certainly one of the most complete mirrorless camera for still and video, however, it does carry a heavy price tag of $3200 which is $900 more than the a7R when it first came out. If high megapixel, superior AF system and 4K video are essential to you, the Sony a7R II is worth the upgrade.

You can order the Sony a7R II here (B&H | Adorama)

Sony a7R II key features

  • 42 MP Full-Frame Exmor R BSI CMOS Sensor
  • BIONZ X Image Processor
  • Internal UHD 4K Video & S-Log2 Gamma
  • 5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE Stabilization
  • 399 Phase-Detect AF Points & 5 fps Burst
  • 0.5″ 2.36M-Dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder EVF
  • 3.0″ 1,228.8k-Dot Tilting LCD Monitor
  • ISO 102,400 and Silent Shutter Mode
  • Durable Reduced-Vibration Shutter Design
  • Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC

Is the Sony a7T II worth the upgrade? Here is a comparison with all of the Sony a7 series

  Sony a7R II Sony a7R Sony A7S Sony a7 II Sony a7
Sensor 42.4 MP BSI CMOS 36MP CMOS 12MP CMOS 24MP CMOS 24MP CMOS
Image Stabilisation In-body In-lens In-lens In-body In-lens
ISO range (expanded) 100-25,600
(50-102,400)
100-25,600
(50-25,600)
100-102,00
(50-409,600)
100-25,600
(50-25,600)
100-25,600
(50-25,600)
Continuous Shooting 5 fps 4 fps 5 fps 5 fps 5 fps
AF system Hybrid with 399 phase detect and 25 contrast detect points Contrast AF with 25 points Contrast AF with 25 points Hybrid with 117 phase detect and 25 contrast detect points Hybrid with 117 phase detect and 25 contrast detect points
Construction Magnesium alloy Magnesium alloy Magnesium alloy Magnesium alloy Composite
Optical LPF No No Yes Yes Yes
Weight w/battery 625g 465g 489g 600g 474g
Launch price $3200 $2300 $2500 $1700 $1700

tremedous

Press Release

The new α7R II interchangeable lens camera features the world’s first back-illuminated full-frame Exmor R CMOS sensor, which realizes high resolution (42.4 MP approx. effective megapixels), high sensitivity (expandable up to ISO 102400)2 and high speed AF response up to 40% faster than the original α7R thanks to 399 focal plane phase detection AF points.

The camera also includes a 5-axis image stabilization system borrowed from the acclaimed α7 II model and can shoot and record 4K video in multiple formats including Super 35mm (without pixel binning) and full-frame format, a world’s first for digital cameras. Additionally, it has a newly refined XGA OLED Tru-Finder with the world’s highest (0.78x) viewfinder magnification.

“Sony continues to deliver game-changing imaging products that are changing the way imaging enthusiasts, hobbyists and professionals can see and capture the world,” said Mike Fasulo, President of Sony Electronics.

Kimio Maki, Senior General Manager of Digital imaging Business Group for Sony Corporation, added “By harmonizing high resolution, sensitivity and speed, we’re delivering a high-level full-frame imaging experience unlike anything else in market today, with Sony’s newly developed, world’s first back-illuminated 35mm full frame CMOS sensor.”

 

High Resolution, High Sensitivity and High-Speed Response

The newly developed 42.4 MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor is the most advanced, versatile and highest resolution full-frame image sensor that Sony has ever created, allowing the α7R II to reach new levels of quality, sensitivity and response speed. In the past, many photographers have been forced to choose between high-resolution and high-speed or high resolution and high sensitivity when selecting a camera. The new α7R II eliminates that sacrifice thanks to its innovative image sensor.

The 42.4 MP sensor combines gapless on-chip lens design and AR (anti-reflective) coating on the surface of the sensor’s glass seal to dramatically improve light collection efficiency, resulting in high sensitivity with low-noise performance and wide dynamic range. This allows the camera to shoot at an impressive ISO range of 100 to 25600 that is expandable to ISO 50 to 1024002.

Additionally, the sensor’s back-illuminated structure, with an expanded circuit scale and copper wiring design, enables faster transmission speed and ensures content can be captured in high resolution without sacrificing sensitivity. Data can also be output from the sensor at an approximately 3.5x faster rate compared to the original α7R.

An ideal match for Sony’s extensive collection of FE lenses (35mm full-frame compatible E-mount lenses), the new α7R II features a high-speed BIONZ X image processing engine that allows images and video from the camera to be captured with supreme details and low noise. There is also no optical low pass filter on the camera, ensuring that scenery and landscapes are captured in the highest possible resolution and clarity.

The α7R II has a new highly durable reduced-vibration shutter that realizes 50% less vibration from shutter movements compared to its predecessor, and has a cycle durability of approximately 500,000 shots4. The camera can also be set to Silent Shooting mode in order to shoot images quietly without any sensor vibration or movement.

The new image sensor features 399 focal-plane phase-detection AF points – the world’s widest AF coverage on a full-frame sensor1 – that work together with 25 contrast AF points to achieve focus response that is about 40% faster than the original model. The α7R II utilizes an advanced motion-detection algorithm combined with this Fast Hybrid AF system to achieve up to 5fps continuous shooting with AF tracking.

Additionally, the focal plane phase-detection AF system on the α7R II works well with Sony A-mount lenses when they are mounted on the camera using an LA-EA3 or LA-EA1 mount adapter. This allows users to enjoy the wide AF coverage of 399 focal plane phase-detection AF points, high-speed response and high tracking performance with a wider range of lenses. This marks the first time that the AF system of a mirrorless camera can achieve high performance with lenses originally designed for DSLRs.

 

5-Axis Image Stabilization Optimized for 42.4 MP

The new flagship α7R II model is equipped with an innovative 5-axis image stabilization system that has been fine-tuned to support its high-resolution shooting capacity. Similar to the system launched on the acclaimed α7 II model, this advanced form of image stabilization corrects camera shake along five axes during shooting, including angular shake (pitch and yaw) that tends to occur with a telephoto lens, shift shake (X and Y axes) which becomes noticeable as magnification increases, and rotational shake (roll) that often affects video recording. This camera shake compensation system is equivalent to shooting at a shutter speed approximately 4.5 steps faster5.

Additionally, the 5-axis stabilization works cooperatively with Sony α lenses with optical SteadyShot™ (OSS) to provide maximum stabilization and clarity, while also performing admirably via a compatible mount adapter with Sony α A-mount lenses6 without on-board stabilization . Effects of the stabilization can be previewed via live-view on the LCD or OLED viewfinder of the camera.

Unrivaled 4K Movie Shooting Performance

The impressive video credentials of Sony’s new α7R II camera include the ability to record movies in 4K quality (QFHD 3840×2160) in either Super 35mm crop mode or full-frame mode.

In Super 35mm mode, the camera collects a wealth of information from approximately 1.8x as many pixels as 4K by using full pixel readout without pixel binning and oversamples the information to produce 4K movies with minimal moire and ‘jaggies’.

In full-frame mode, the α7R II utilizes the full width of the 35mm sensor for 4K recording, allowing users to utilize the expanded expressive power of the sensor. It is the world’s first digital camera to offer this in-camera full-frame format 4K recording capacity1.

The camera utilizes the advanced XAVC S7 codec during video shooting, which records at a high bit rate of 100 Mbps during 4K recording and 50 Mbps during full HD shooting.

Additionally, the α7R II model features a variety of functions to support a professional video workflow including Picture Profile, S-Log2 Gamma and S-Gamut, 120fps high frame rate movie shooting in HD (720p), time code, clean HDMI output and more.

Enhanced Design, Operability and Reliability

The new full-frame α7R II has an upgraded XGA OLED Tru-Finder™ with a double-sided aspherical lens that delivers the world’s highest viewfinder magnification3 of 0.78x for crystal clear image preview and playback across the entire display area. ZEISS® T* Coating is also utilized to reduce unwanted reflections that interfere with the shooting experience.

The camera has an extremely solid, professional feel in-hand thanks to its light, rigid magnesium alloy design, and has a re-designed grip and shutter button compared to its predecessor. There is also a new mechanism to conveniently lock the mode dial, and an expanded range of customizable functions and buttons to suit the most demanding photographers.

The new α7R II camera is Wi-Fi® and NFC compatible and fully functional with Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile™ application available for Android™ and iOS platforms, as well as Sony’s growing range of PlayMemories Camera Apps™, which add a range of creative capabilities to the camera. For example, there is more creativity available now for time-lapse photography thanks to a new “Angle Shift add-on” app allows users to easily add pan, tilt and zoom to time-lapse images without any additional shooting equipment or PC software required.

Sony has also introduced a new LCD monitor model CLM-FHD5, an ideal companion to the α7R II for video shooting. A compact 5.0 type Full HD (1920x1080p) LCD monitor, the CLM-FHD5 features enlarging and peaking functionality for precise focusing, false color and video level marker for adjusting exposure and S-Log display assist to assist S-Log shooting.

Pricing and Availability

The Sony α7R II full-frame interchangeable lens camera will be available in August for about $3200. Pre-order yours here now (B&H | Adorama)

The α7R II is compatible with Sony’s growing lineup of α -mount lenses, which now totals 63 different models including 12 native ‘FE’ full frame lenses. By early 2016, Sony will add an additional 8 new lenses to its FE full frame lineup, bringing the FE total to 20 lenses and the overall α -mount assortment to 70 different models.

 

Imaging
Lens Mount Sony E-Mount
Camera Format Full-Frame
Pixels Actual: 43.6 Megapixel
Effective: 42.4 Megapixel
Max Resolution 42 MP: 7952 x 5304
Aspect Ratio 3:2
Sensor Type / Size CMOS, 36 x 24 mm
File Formats Still Images: JPEG, RAW
Movies: AVCHD Ver. 2.0, MP4, XAVC S
Audio: AAC LC, AC3, Linear PCM (Stereo)
Bit Depth 14-bit
Dust Reduction System Yes
Memory Card Type SD
SDHC
SDXC
Memory Stick PRO Duo (High Speed)
Memory Stick PRO HG-Duo
Image Stabilization Sensor-Shift, 5-Way
AV Recording
Video Recording Yes
Resolution 3840 x 2160: 30 fps, 24 fps
1920 x 1080: 60 fps, 30 fps, 24 fps
1280 x 720: 120 fps
Video Format 4K
XAVC S
3840 x 2160p / 29.97 fps (100 Mbps)
3840 x 2160p / 29.97 fps (60 Mbps)
3840 x 2160p / 23.98 fps (100 Mbps)
3840 x 2160p / 23.98 fps (60 Mbps)
High Definition
XAVC S
1920 x 1080p / 59.94 fps (50 Mbps)
1920 x 1080p / 29.97 fps (50 Mbps)
1920 x 1080p / 23.98 fps (50 Mbps)
1280 x 720p / 120 fps (50 Mbps)
High Definition
AVCHD
1920 x 1080p / 59.94 fps (28 Mbps)
1920 x 1080i / 59.94 fps (24 Mbps)
1920 x 1080i / 59.94 fps (17 Mbps)
1920 x 1080p / 23.98 fps (24 Mbps)
1920 x 1080p / 23.98 fps (17 Mbps)
High Definition
MP4
1920 x 1080p / 59.94 fps (28 Mbps)
1920 x 1080p / 29.97 fps (16 Mbps)
1280 x 720p / 29.97 fps (6 Mbps)
Aspect Ratio 16:9
Video Clip Length Up to 29 Min 59 Sec
Audio Recording Built-in Mic: With Video, Stereo
Optional External Mic: With Video, Stereo + Mono
Focus Control
Focus Type Auto & Manual
Focus Mode Automatic (A), Continuous-servo AF (C), Direct Manual Focus (DMF), Manual Focus (M), Single-servo AF (S)
Autofocus Points Phase Detection: 399
Contrast Detection: 25
Viewfinder/Display
Viewfinder Type Electronic
Viewfinder Size 0.5″
Viewfinder Pixel Count 2,359,296
Viewfinder Eye Point 23.00 mm
Viewfinder Coverage 100%
Viewfinder Magnification Approx. 0.78x
Diopter Adjustment – 4 to +3 m
Display Screen 3″ Rear Screen   LCD (1,228,800)
Screen Coverage 100%
Exposure Control
ISO Sensitivity Auto, 100-25600 (Extended Mode: Auto, 50-102400)
Shutter Type: Electronic & Mechanical
Speed: 1/8000 – 30 seconds
Metering Method Center-weighted average metering, Multi-zone metering, Spot metering
Exposure Modes Modes: Aperture Priority, Auto, Intelligent Auto, Manual, Movie, Programmed Auto, Scene Selection, Shutter Priority, Superior Auto, Sweep Panorama
Metering Range: EV -3.0 – EV 20.0
Compensation: -5 EV to +5 EV (in 1/3 or 1/2 EV steps)
White Balance Modes Auto, Cloudy, Color Temperature, Custom, Daylight, Flash, Fluorescent (Cool White), Fluorescent (Day White), Fluorescent (Daylight), Fluorescent (Warm White), Incandescent, Shade, Underwater
Burst Rate Up to 5 fps at 42 MP for up to 22 frames
Flash
Flash Modes Auto
Fill-in
Hi-Speed Sync
Off
Rear Sync
Red-eye Reduction
Slow Sync
Wireless
Built-in Flash No
Max Sync Speed 1 / 250 seconds
Flash Compensation -3 EV to +3 EV (in 1/3 or 1/2 EV steps)
Dedicated Flash System P-TTL
External Flash Connection Hot Shoe
Performance
Continuous Shooting Up to 5 fps
Self Timer 10 seconds, 5 seconds, 2 seconds
Internal Memory None
Connectivity 1/8″ Headphone, 1/8″ Microphone, AV / USB Multi, HDMI D (Micro)
Wi-Fi Capable Yes
Power
Battery 1x NP-FW50 Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery Pack
AC Power Adapter AC-PW20 AC Adapter (Optional)
Physical
Dimensions (WxHxD) 5.0 x 3.8 x 2.4″ / 126.9 x 95.7 x 60.3 mm
Weight 22.05 oz / 625 g with battery and memory card

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About Kent Yu

Kent is a professional wedding and portrait photographer based in Wellington, New Zealand. He and his team specialise in modern and contemporary weddings. Kent has his work published in international magazines and is a regular author to a number of photographic publication. He is fascinated by photographic equipment and enjoys showcasing the gear used in creating his images. You can find him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Google+
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