There’s lots to love about the new Sony a7R II including upgrades to the original a7R of 5-Axis image stabilization found on a7 II, Silent Shooting mode found on a7S and Electronic Front Curtain Shutter (EFS) found on every a7-series camera – except the original Sony a7R. But there’s also bunch of new setting you won’t find on any previous Sony a7-series cameras.
Here are my ten favorite totally new menu settings on Sony a7R II:
1. ISO AUTO Minimum Shutter Speed
Menu > Camera Settings 5 > ISO AUTO Min SS
Here’s a new feature on the a7R II that lots of a7-series users have been asking for, you can now select ISO Auto minimum shutter speed settings:
Slower, Slow, Standard, Fast, or Faster, or choose your minimum shutter speed: 1/8000, 1/4000, 1/2000, 1/1000, 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1 sec., 2 sec., 4 sec., 8 sec., 15 sec., or 30 sec.
The first five of these are auto settings which vary based on focal length (provided there’s electronic communication between body and lens). Standard matches the settings found on previous a7-series cameras. Fast and faster raise the minimum shutter speed by one and 2-stops while slow and slower lower the minimum shutter speed by one and 2-stops.
You can also select a specific shutter speed which comes in handy if you’re shooting sports action and want to lock the minimum shutter speed at 1/500th to freeze the action no matter whether you’re using a 24mm or 500mm lens.
2. More Bracketing Modes
Menu > Camera Settings 2 > Drive Mode
(Toggle down to Continuous Bracket or Single Bracket then press side of Control Wheel to Select)
Sony a7R II features more bracketing mode options than any other a7-Series camera, including NINE-SHOT bracketing, available in both Continuous and Single Bracketing modes
3-image: 0.3 EV, 0.5 EV, 0.7 EV, 1.0 EV, 2.0 EV, 3.0 EV
5-image: 0.3 EV, 0.5 EV, 0.7 EV, 1.0 EV, 2.0 EV, 3.0 EV
9-image: 0.3 EV, 0.5 EV, 0.7 EV, 1.0 EV
3. Bracketing WITH SELF-TIMER
Menu > Camera Settings 2 > Bracket Settings > Selftimer during Bracket
Yes, you are reading correctly. As many of you requested, it’s now possible to shoot bracketed exposures WITH SELF-TIMER!!! As you can see below a new 5 second Self-timer option has been added for times when 2 seconds is too short and 10 seconds too long…
4. AF System Selection
Menu > Camera Settings 2 > AF System (Not available with native E-mount lenses)
This is actually the most important new setting on Sony a7R II cameras. It allows users to select between 399-point Phase Detection AF or 25-point Contrast AF when an A-Mount lens is used with a LA-EA1, LA-EA3 adapter (but not a LA-EA2, LA-EA4) or when using third-party AF-capable Smart Lens Adapters.
The Phase Detection AF setting allows you to finally shoot in continuous AF-C mode with choices of Wide, Center or Flexible Spot Focus Areas. I’ve tested both AF-C and AF-S with a wide range of Sony A-mount lenses using a Sony LA-EA3 Adapter and Canon EF lenses using Metabones, FotodioX and Viltrox and in all my tests I found best performance was achieved using the default setting of Phase Detection AF.
This setting is not available when using Sony E-Mount lenses, because the a7R II camera defaults to Hybrid AF – which automatically switches between PDAF and Contrast AF for optimal results.
5. Priority AF Settings
Priority Set in AF-S
Menu > Custom Settings 4 > Priority Set in AF-S > AF/Release/Balanced Emphasis
A new feature on the a7R II, this sets the timing of the shutter release when Focus Mode is set to Single-shot AF (AF-S), DMF or Automatic AF (AF-A) with a still subject. You can choose to put the emphasis on AF, Shutter Release or Balanced Emphasis. This lets the photographer set the priority to release the shutter regardless of whether focus is acquired, procure focus even if it delays the shutter release, or a balance of the two (Balanced Emphasis). I’m not entirely sure what the camera will determine is “balanced” (just a little out of focus?), but that’s the idea.
Priority Set in AF-C
Menu > Custom Settings 4 > Priority Set in AF-C > AF/Release/Balanced Emphasis
A new feature on the a7R II, this sets the timing of the shutter release when Focus Mode is set to Continuous AF (AF-C) or Automatic AF (AF-A) with a moving subject. You can choose to put the emphasis on AF, Shutter Release or Balanced Emphasis.
6. Internal 4K Recording
Menu > Camera Settings 2 > File Format > XAVC S 4K
Use this to select a video file format:, XAVC S 4K (new internal recording setting on a7R II), XAVC S HD AVCHD, or MP4. In order to access high-bit-rate XAVC S 4K or XVAC S HD, you need to use a 64 GB or larger SDXC Class 10 memory card.
7. Movie AF drive speed
Menu > Camera Settings 4 > Movie AF drive speed > Fast/Normal/Slow
New feature on a7R II, this setting first introduced on Sony a99, allows you to select how rapidly the camera will move the lens AF group to achieve focus during video recording – as too fast can be distracting. Choice of Fast, Normal and Slow.
8. Movie AF Track Sensitivity
Menu > Camera Settings 4 > Movie AF Track Sensitivity > High/Normal
New feature on a7R II, this allows you to select the sensitivity that AF tracking follows the subject. You can set AF Tracking to Normal or High.
9. Copyright Info
Menu > Setup 5 > Copyright Info > Set Copyright
This new setting on a7R II allows you to save your copyright notice into the copyright field of your EXIF metadata of your photos. You can also save the photographer’s name which should come in handy for multi-photographer shots -OR- thinking outside the box..this comes in handy when shooting with multiple bodies of the same model you can “name” your cameras a7R II-1, a7R II-2, etc.
10. Release w/o Card
Menu > Custom Settings 2 > Release w/o Card > Enable/Disable
This new feature on the a7R II allows you to disable your camera from shooting when no memory card is inserted. I strongly recommend that you select “Disable” to avoid accidentally shooting without a card to record to.
And here’s a Bonus Number 11 that’s new for North America…
11. NTSC/PAL Selector
Menu > Setup 2 > NTSC/PAL Selector
New to North American cameras starting with the a7R II, this setting allows you to change the movie recording format of the camera from the North and South American recording standard of NTSC to the worldwide movie-standard PAL format. This should come in very handy for North American photographers shooting for foreign clients or relocating overseas. All I can say is, about time!
For more tips and tricks about getting the most out of your Sony a7 series camera, check out my book ‘Sony a7-Series: From Snapshots to Great Shots’. It’s your guide to all of the Sony a7 Series I & II cameras. While the camera manual explains what the camera can do, it doesn’t show how to use the camera to create great images! Starting with the Top Ten things users need to know about the cameras, author Brian Smith, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer and Sony Artisan of Imagery, carefully guides you through the operating features of Sony a7, a7R, a7S, a7 II and a7R II and how to use them. Get practical advice from a pro on which settings to use when, great shooting tips, and assignments at end of chapter to practice what you’ve just learned.
‘Sony A7 Series: From Snapshots to Great Shots’ is available NOW from Amazon
77 thoughts on “Ten Great New Settings on Sony a7R II”
Thanks for these settings highlights. I received my A7rII yesterday and am exploring, non-stop. Already, I can imagine it replacing my A7s in much of the shooting I regularly do. For whatever reason, I was never able to master Nikon D800 or D810 shooting (I often saw slight blur when peeping at pixels) but virtually every exposure so far with the A7rII has been tack sharp when viewed at extreme enlargement. I certainly seem to be getting every pixel for which I’ve paid.
Amen to that!
Hopefully they will now update the A7r with the bracketing, w/o card, and copyright that should have been available in the first place.
i would love to give sony a supergreat idea on how to improve the usability of all new sony cameras:
nowadays i as a wedding photographer often produce tens of thousands of digital photos on a single day when using “contiuos shooting” mode … my clients would love to receive at least some photos within a day,
but this means a lot of stress for me because i have to view thousands of photos to find the hand full the best ones.
what would help me a lot is the possibility (via firmware update) to use one button right after i took a series of photos to be able to mark that series as “favourite – 1 star” or even “superfavourite – 2 stars”.
so at the end of the day when i am coming home i can superfast and easy view “all photo series markes with two stars” and easily find inside each of those series the very best shoot.
within a few moments i would be able to copy them to my computer, edit them a little bit on lightroom, and then send my cients a hand full of very strong pictures.
the first impression is very important as we all know.
the alternative right now is to copy all those tenthousand photos to my computer and to view them on lightroom and mark them as “good” , “very good” or “can be deleted” . this takes a lot of time but is right now the only way to go through all the crappy pictures so that i can finally come across the best 1% pictures and after two days i finally send them some the first bunch of photos.
i know not everybody has my workflow, anmd i know that not everybody throws 95% of the photos into the garbage. but nonetheless it is a very very easy feature to program within minutes as a firmware-programmer.
i just want a custom button to be assignable to mark “favourite series” and/or “favourite shot of the series” … and to have in play photos mode the possibility to just view thos marked photos.
you see … right now all cameras allow us to delete a photo. but if i take 100 photos as a profesional photographer on location, i would like to delete 95 and mark as favourite 5. so it makes a lot more sense to click 5 times on “favourite”-button than to click “delete” 95 times, right? smile emoticon
what are your thoughts on this? how can i get this idea passed to the right people?
greetings from hamburg, germany
Good suggestion. I’d also suggest that those marked “favorites” in-camera might need to show up marked as “flagged” or “picks” in the EXIF in third-party processing software.
Great article, Brian.
I love the minimum Shutterspeed setting in Auto ISO. I always thought that the 1/60 setting was insufficient for higher focal ranges, But why would anyone want to shoot without a memory card?
It’s the other way around Ilan. The setting allows you to disable the camera from shooting without a memory card.
Bracketing Modes: Great updates but why isn’t the 2.0 EV option available for the 9 image bracketing? With the dynamic range of these cameras, I find anything below 2.0 EV useless. The fractional EVs are from the old days of film or digital cameras with poor DR. They’re not needed today when we have a slider to easily move the exposure +/- 1 EV without adding noise. Even 7 image bracketing at 2.0 EV would be better than what’s available at 9.
For example, bracketing with the Nikon D800E could do 9 brackets at 1.0 EV and I would delete half of those after pulling them off the card. The Nikon D810 added the 2.0 EV to fix that.
SONY…please add the 2.0 EV to the 9 image bracketing for extreme lighting situations.
Keep sharing, teaching and SHOWING, which we appreciate, Brian. You help ensure that that learning is fun. I am in the second wave so haven’t received mine yet and purchased a “borrower” A7R in the meantime, which I frankly find to be preferable to the D810 I’ve shot with over the past 6 weeks. The Sony/Zeiss 35mm 1.4 is killer.
Not sure if this has been fixed on a7rii but is there a custom button to switch between evf and monitor without having to dig the menu every time? Omg I wish this would be fixed/added
Yup, as I mentioned in my first Sony a7RII Field Test in June, Finder/Monitor Select AND Deactivate Monitor can be assigned to Custom Buttons!
Brian, always great info. I must say I think this may be the most technologically advanced camera on the planet right now. I’m really digging the advance of the bracketing of up to 9EV in full stops and being able to put that on a time, and not having to touch the camera. Plus the copyright info too. Thanks for always providing us with cutting edge info.
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Brian another great info ……. waiting for my pre-order A7Rii to eta! Looking forward to your legacy glass wide angle Leica lens test before investing into them 28mm and below! TQVM
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Why not the la-ea4? Phase detection will not work?
The Sony LA-EA4 Lens Adapter has it’s own internal focus system so does not use the a7RII’s 399 PD-AF or 25 Contrast AF points. It performs exactly the same on a7RII as other a7-series cameras.
Oh this is bad… I have it on my a7r, for the 135 1.8.
I hoped to get fater focus… Will the ea3 will work with screw drive focus lens?
Most Sony lenses are either SSM or SAM, but the 135/1.8 is one of the non-motorized lenses.
Thanks for the suggested settings and all of your suggestions. I purchased the camera on Wednesday and have been shooting for 2 nights. Love it! My only disappointment is with the reduction in DR when shooting continuous bracketed shots or with continuous shooting. I hope Sony fixes this issue with true raw recording instead of the current lossy algorithm.
The difference is not compression. Most Single Shooting modes work in 14 bit. Continuous shooting modes work in 12-bit in order to offer more Frames per Second. If it were possible to offer 14-bit continuous shooting mode the FPS would likely drop. Some people might be ok with this, but that’s also certain to generate a fair number of complaints.
I’m sure that Sony doesn’t want to go there since it places them at a theoretical disadvantage against conpetition. Having said that, I think 12 bit is a bigger disadvantage for serious landscape / cityscape photographers and Sony should consider giving users the option. I’d be happy with 3 FPS for bracketing and would even be willing to have the camera hesitate while clearing the buffer in a 5 or 9 frame bracketing sequence so that I don’t have to press the button 5 or 9 times. If this is to be considered a serious camera, ratcheting down to lower quality in even the smallest of burst modes really doesn’t cut it. Nor does lossy raw. My 2-cents.
Other than that, I’m loving the camera. Much higher DR range than the 5DsR that I purchased and then returned. I found that camera to be too noisy outside of the studio, it’s ISO too low, defraction starting at f6.8, and poor DR at 12 bits. That’s why I’m looking for some improvement in DR with burst shooting.
Bracketing is also available in Singe Bracketing Mode where you must release each frame one-frame-at-a-time. This works quite well with both wired or wireless remotes or on a7RII you can also use bracketing with self-timer. And yeah it’s 14-bits…
I would take a FPS hit for 14 bit images. Maybe a firmware switch that allows the photographer to decide?
It has been suggested.
Can’t wait to try one!
My only remaining wishes are that Sony adds DNG as a file format, 14 bit raw, and GPS for travel shooters. Then it’d be perfect. Still great though.
Brian, I see with my Metabones adapter I get the equivalent of PD instead of CD on AF modes like the LEA3 adapter and I like it. Can’t we get Sony to offer us a PD vs CF selection for native lenses as well? Kind of like having expanded AF.
You get Hybrid AF that uses both PDAF and Contrast AF with native lenses E-mount lenses and that is actually better…
I left a question on an earlier post but as this one is more recent maybe you can help. We bought the A7R II and it doesn’t seem to be allowing the metabones adaptor to allow aperture control. Do you know of any problems people have been having with this camera? Is this a sign that the camera is damaged?
It’s working with my Metabones Smart Adapter IV
Any chance Sony will update older a7 model firmware for ISO AUTO Minimum Shutter Speed?A ubiquitous complaint that should be an easy switch. My A7ii would be much happier.
I’ve made that suggestion to my Sony peeps.
I would love to see this on the A7ii as well. Been searching all through the menus for it. I though maybe firmware 2.0 would add this, but it’s still not there.
What setup do you use for autofocus. Do you use the tacking options or the eye AF
I shoot AF-S Flexible Spot 99% of the time.
Lock-on AF is pretty nice with AF-C (You need to be set to Wide or Zone Focus Area).
Personally, I never use Eye AF – but lots of people love it. (You need to be set to Wide or Zone Focus Area and have Face Detection enabled)
Do you back button focus or leave focus on the shutter button? And when shooting, do you exposure lock on the face then re compose or compose and the adjust exposure to suit?
Thanks for the useful info!
For my A7RII I do not see the “keyboard” that is supposed to be present for entering copyright/photographer text. Any suggestions regarding how to make the keyboard appear? My firmware is v1.00
Tap on the blank to bring it up.
Thanks Brian, since my above question was asked, I upgraded to v1.10 to no avail, then realized one must push the wheel center button to bring up the keyboard. So, the “blank” you mention must be the center button. Thanks.
Hi Brian, as a Sony A7Rii user I have to say that I wish Sony would allow to shoot at 20 megapixel in RAW (not in ‘Fine’ which is essentially like a JPEG). I see that the Sony RX1RII will also shoot at 40 megapixel. I find 40 megapixel is not always needed for the type of work that I do. 40 megapixel Raw’s are huge and more importantly, they are very slow to edit in Lightroom even with a new Mac Book pro.
I wonder if this is something that Sony is planning or is even able to do on the same camera with a software update.
The only way to do that is through line-skipping (Very Bad) or pixel binning which combines multiple adjacent pixels into one. Two-to-one pixel binning is less than ideal as it would create oblong pixels – but four-to-one could work. Phase One experimented with four-to-one pixel binning to reduce high ISO noise on their CCD digital backs at ISO 1600 (Yes, when it comes to CCD, ISO 1600 is considered high). But they found it was a seldom used feature. I’ve got a feeling that would also be the case with a7RII as that would drop resolution to 10mp and change…
You’re the best Brian, thanks!
Hi Bryan, I shoot a lot of bracketed images. It would be great if there was a way to delete the last set of images that together form one HDR shot. Now deleting is taking forever you have to delete x brackets as is they where individual pics AND you risk deleting one exposure of another bracketed set. Which results in messing up the one you did want to keep! Please let your contacts at Sony know about this requested feature!
PS: Additional point for improvement: viewfinder/monitor sensor is way to sensitive, or am I the only one annoyed by this?
My advice is to never delete in-camera – only in post. If you have not already done so, when shooting brackets, I find it really handy to change this setting:
Menu > Camera Settings > Bracket Settings > Bracket Order: – > 0 > +
As for the overly-sensitive Monitor/EVF switch, you can blame that on focus group that complained this was not sensitive enough on earlier cameras.
Thanks for showing the cool new settings. Though it would be nice if you also included how to find each of those settings in the super confusing menu system.
You got it…
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If only Sony had added touch screen to exploit the 399 phase detect AF points for smooth focus pulls in movie mode. Canon just released 1DXii, and it’s the first FF camera with touch screen. I am so sorry that Sony is so reluctant to add touch screen to its anyway brilliant video-oriented cameras. I love so much the touch screen on my 179 PD-point A5100; I guess the A7Rii would work so brilliantly with the 399 PD points.
Touch screen focus has definitely been suggested for future generation cameras but I have no idea if it will happen.
I have a A7r2 and love it. I use it with a Metabones 4 t-smart adapter for all my Canon L series lenses. I need to know if a Sony flash head will work on the camera while I am using the adapter and non-native lenses.
You can fire Sony flash when using third-party lenses on Smart Adapters though I’m not certain all flash modes are supported.
Thanks for your reply. I’m trying to find out if I can get 2nd curtain.
Hi Brian I was wondering if you could answer me a quick question. Does the North American A7Rii pop up a warning during each power on when running in PAL mode? We are discussing this on the Sony forums under the title “Warning you are in NTSC Mode” if you are interested.
No idea. I’ve never had a reason to change it over.
Thank you anyway.
Hi Brian, when I try to capture my dog running toward the camera at a shallow dof it is always out of focus, I am using preferred af on continuous so the shutter won’t fire unless lock is aquired and back button focus. Is this due to shutter lag or should I be setting the emphasis to something else like shutter as I believe the shutter lag on the a7rii is minimal.
Are you using Wide as your Focus Area? Personally I would not use back button AF in that instance. I’d allow shutter release button to control AF.
Thanks for the quick response, I’ve tried both methods, tracking, wide to allow the camera to choose the point of focus and large flexible spot. So far had no success really and it’s almost like by the time the shutter closes the dog has shifted some although the shutter lag is minimal. I’ve tried it wide open and at f5.6 giving a little more dof and still no real luck. It did seem better using back button focus and was just wondering whether the balanced emphasis or shutter emphasis might be where I’m going wrong.
Turn off Back Button AF
Set Focus Mode to AF-C
Set Focus Area to Wide
Once you have the subject framed > Press Center Button to enable Lock-On AF to track subject
I have also tried that, I spent a while out with the dog checking out the different modes as the shutter lag on the original was so bad. I have another native lens to test to see if it’s the lens but if I have it on emphasis af then surely it’s only allowing me to snap the shot when focus is confirmed however the shots oof.
How about those “10 new settings” in a downloadable form such as a pdf. That way I can print it out and stable it to the end of your book.
They’re all listed in Chapter 3 of Sony a7 Series: From Snapshots to Great Shots.
I’ve recently purchased a Sony A7ii and immediately updated the system software to the latest one 3.1. As I am exploring the camera right now, I cant find the option to shoot bracket photos for HDR with a self-timer. I have noticed that you have pointed out this setting at this location:
Menu > Camera Settings 2 > Bracket Settings > Selftimer during Bracket.
However my issue is that I can’t find the Bracket Settings at that location at all.
Is it because because I have the standard A7ii and not the A7Rii, or because of the news firmware update? Can you please help?
As the title of this post says, that setting was added beginning with a7RII – not a7II.
Ok, I get it now. Thanks for the info.
What we need from Sony would be a Set file name option for the A7RII like for the A6300 and the possibilty to assign APS-C 35mm mode to a custom button
Keep up the good work, Brian and thanks
Custom File Naming is something that a number of the Sony Artisans have been pushing for, did that get added on a6300?
Help me understand the need for a Custom Button to switch between fullframe and APS-C? Do you jump back and forth between them frequently?
Hi Brian, thanks for answering so quick! On the a6300 set file name is available. So it should normally be easy to incorporate it into the A7RII in the next firmware update
Coming from Nikon full frame and doing a lot of weddings (www.mjfotografie.de), it was always an option to me with high megapixel cameras (D810) to switch to APS-C mode and back to full frame quickly to increase my focal length for some shots (e.g. bridal shots in the church). At the D810 it was programmable to the Fn Button.
Great article, thanks for sharing. I’m really considering replacing my Canon’s with a couple of these – just wish they’d release a pancake lens!
It’s basically a pancake camera. The body + 35 2.8 is a thinner combination than Canon pancake lenses on a DSLR
Hi am really torn between the. Sony 70-200mm f4 oss and the Sony 70-300 mm f4/5.6. Both cost the same. Any thoughts on which will be best for wild life/ birds in flight for sharpness on the A7r11? Camera has not been dispatched yet.
The FE 70-200 is slightly sharper but the FE 70-300 has 50% more “reach” which is considerably more important for what you want to shoot.
I found something for the night shooter, A7RM2 and A7SM2 “Bright Monitoring”! For when you are in a very dark place and need to see to frame but you do not need to use your light. Just assign a button to turn on/off be in Manual focus. When you turn it on the monitor turns into night vision and unaffected by SS/ISO/f/#. You can shoot in this mode but only get what you have set SS/ISO/f/# BUT you can see in the DARK without going to video mode and cranking up the ISO!!! ONLY USE IN A VERY DARK PLACE!!!!
For Aviation Photography, for specifically Air shots , which Sony E Mount Alpha Camera would you suggest ? Please