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Sony a7R II: A Brief Review

Published August 5, 2015

I’ve been a fan of the Sony a7 series bodies for a while, and I’ve been incorporating them into my paid work slowly but steadily. I was lucky enough to already try the new Sony a7R II at a wedding I was second shooting for Well Worn Co. I figured that would give me a good idea what I could do with the improved AF system, high ISO noise performance, and higher resolution. And I have to say, I was not disappointed.

Image quality was great, exactly what I was hoping for out of such large files. Candids and portraits look fantastic at 100%, and making prints should be a breeze. Here are some samples from the wedding day, before the ceremony:

 

1/640 f/2 ISO 800, Leica 90mm f/2 APO Summicron

 

1/400 f/2.8 ISO 800, Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro

 

1/40 f/2.8 ISO 800, Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro

 

1/250 f/4 ISO 400, Leica 21mm f/1.4 Summilux

 

I was most intrigued by the AF system. It was supposed to be much better than the bodies that came before, and it seem to be living up to the hype. I left it in AF-C for most of the wedding and reception. I don’t know if I’d trust it for a sporting event, but walking, dancing, and the chaos of a wedding reception were all easily handled by the a7R II.

 

1/100 f/2.8 ISO 3200, Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro

 

1/125 f/2 ISO 12800, Sony FE 28mm f/2

 

1/80 f/2 ISO 12800, Sony FE 28mm f/2

 

1/80 f/2 ISO 12800, Sony FE 28mm f/2

 

Those last three are at ISO 12800, which I thought I was going to have to convert to b&w to keep them usable, but even at 100%, they’re grainy but really not bad at all. And then when you realize they’re 42MP, well, I’m impressed, to say the least. You can click on that last image to see it full size.

As an added bonus, the new AF system even improves performance with A mount lenses on the LAEA3 adapter, and Canon lenses on the Metabones adapters. Here’s a video showing the AF speed using a Canon 24-70 II on a Metabones IV:

Sony A7R II Auto-focus speed from LensRentals.com on Vimeo.

If you’ve ever tried using your Canon lenses with the previous generation bodies and the Metabones IV, you’ll see right away how much faster things are now. Do note that in AF-C with either the Metabones or the LAEA3 there is no lock-on tracking option, only wide, center, and flexible spot. To get the full advantage of the improved AF, you have to use native E mount lenses.

I really think Sony nailed it with this one. Maybe I wouldn’t shoot roller derby with it yet, but for pretty much everything else, I think this is going to be my go to camera, especially once the lens line up is filled out more. I absolutely love the Sony FE 28mm. The Sony FE 90mm macro is nice, but it’s slow. I had good luck with M mount lenses, though, with the Leica 90mm APO-Cron and Leica 21mm Lux really knocking it out of the park on this high res sensor. If you’ve been waiting for a better alternative to your big, bulky DSLR, this might finally fit the bill. I’ve been hesitant to say that for the a7S, a7R, and the a7 II, even though I love those cameras, but the a7R II, I think this is the one. Try it out ASAP!

Sony a7R II

Sony FE 28mm f/2

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro

Leica 21mm f/1.4 Summilux

Leica 90mm f/2 APO-Summicron

Voigtländer VM-E Close Focus adapter

Sony LAEA3 adapter

Metabones Canon EF to Sony E adapter IV

Author: Joey Miller

I’m Joey. I love cameras, especially old film cameras, and I can’t remember the last day I didn’t take a photo. Digital cameras are great, and they keep me employed, but I also still like processing my own film. I’m stuck somewhere in the middle. I shoot every single day, no matter what.

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  • Randy

    Hey Joey, I have a 5D3 as well as 6D and 5D2. I have been watching Sony for a while and it seems they are making great strides. And of course I am anxiously waiting to see what the 5D4 brings… but if it disappoints then I could be in the mood for a change. My question for you is simply… is the AF on par with the 5D3. I never shoot with AF assist, however my partner shooting with a D610 does during dark receptions. And I have shot a lot of receptions where there was not a lot of contrast in the subjects clothing or otherwise on a dark dance floor. So just wondering if you could give your thoughts on that one question.

  • Joey Miller

    Ron, it was at f/4. I didn’t remove any vignetting in post.

    Mark, as I stated previously, the pink is from the color of the lighting at the reception. I prefer to leave white balance as I saw it, as that’s how it’ll be remembered by the people who were there. I didn’t really notice a pink cast to other low light images.

  • Ive been using the original a7r for my architecture work. when i first got it i complained to sony abut the white balance pinkness. after some emails back and fore they said it was “within parameters” it seems this hasnt gone away. I always shoot raw so its never an issue except in low light with mixed light sources. For me it was almost impossible then to get a good colour from the raw files in a bar at night for example. But honestly it doesnt affect my work as i only use it for architecture now. I had intended it to replace my canon 5d3 at the time i bought it but it didnt cut it for general shooting for me. Lets see how the new one is. Cant wait for it to arrive at my door.

  • Ron

    Joey – curious what aperture the 21 Lux image was shot at and if you removed any vignette in post?

  • Zlatko

    Rob, check when your other Canon lenses were introduced. From the Metabones web site: “Only Canon-branded lenses introduced in or after 2006 are officially supported.”

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