Sony a7R II Field Test Review – Part 1

Published: June 17, 2015

Sony a7R II Field Test Review

Prior to last week’s announcement of the much-anticipated Sony a7R II ($3,198 – Order Here), I was given the chance to put Sony’s latest mirrorless fullframe camera through the paces for 48 hours in New York.

Upon their arrival in New York, Sony’s product team handed me a pre-production a7R II camera with black gaffer tape concealing all the revealing badges and running Firmware 0.01. They told me nothing about what to expect – they wanted me to shoot with it for a day and tell them what I thought.

42.4 MP Sensor

As soon as they handed me the camera I began digging into the menu looking for the file size. Half my friends were begging for a 50mp camera. The other half wanted “No more megapixels – just better high ISO performance.” So I wondered who would get their way. It turns out Sony decided to split the difference with a 42.4 megapixel sensor essentially splitting the difference between 36 and 50.

Sony Senior GM for Digital Imaging Kimio Maki explained 42.4 mp struck the perfect balance between resolution and sensitivity. Like the original a7R, a7R II has no anti-aliasing filter. It can deliver the finest detail AND ISO range expanded for better performance at high ISOs. SWEET!

Sony a7R II Field Test New York
Dream Hotel, New York City | Sony a7R II + Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS | 1/30 sec / F8 / ISO 100

Sony a7R II Field Test New York
Radio City Music Hall | Sony a7R II + Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS | 1/80 sec / F6.3 / ISO 100

Sony a7R II Field Test New York
Western Union Building | Sony a7R II + Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS | 1/6 sec / F8 / ISO 100

Electronic Front Curtain Shutter + Silent Shooting

Unlike DSLRs, which simply open and close the shutter to record an exposure, mirrorless cameras must close and open the shutter at both the start and end of exposure. But Electronic Front Curtain Shutter (EFS) replaces that first close-open by electronically activating the sensor to start exposure. Due to its sensor readout speed , Sony a7R 36mp sensor it was not possible to enable EFS with a7R so I fully expected Sony a7R II to have EFS.

Two things surprised me.

First, while I expected a7 RII’s electronic front curtain shutter to be quieter than a7R shutter without EFS – but a7R II was audibly quieter than a7, a7S, a7II with EFS. I asked Sony’s Alpha Product Manager Kenta Honjo about this prior to the a7R II announcement and he confirmed I was correct. The a7R II shutter was indeed dampened. Not only is it quieter with less vibration, but the dampening is also expected to double the life of the shutter. SWEEEET!

Second, Sony didn’t stop with EFS. I was very pleasantly surprised to find Silent Shooting Mode in the a7R II Menu. Silent Shooting mode uses an electronic rolling shutter, and yes, Sony a7S has Silent Shooting Mode but it’s 12mp sensor means much less data needs to steam from the electronic rolling shutter. Sony a7R II Silent Shooting was possible because data streams off the a7R II Back-Illuminated Sensor 3.5 times faster than previous Sony sensors. (More about that later…)

Silent Shooting is great for golf and tennis photographers and anyone shooting on a film set or in a courtroom. But silent shutter isn’t my choice for portraits. The audible click of a shutter – even a quiet one – is very helpful feedback to the person in front of your lens. I tested this out on one of my favorite photo subjects who also preferred the quiet sound of EFS to the absolute silence of Silent Shutter. And who am I to argue with a master?

Elliott Erwitt photographed with Sony a7RII and FE 90mm Macro
Elliott Erwitt | Sony a7R II + Sony FE 90mm F2.8 Macro G OSS | 1/60 | F2.8 | ISO 400

Sony a7R II Field Test New York
Emily | Sony a7R II + Sony FE 55mm F1.8 ZA | 1/200 sec / F13 / ISO 100

5-Axis Image Stabilization Optimized for 42.4 MP

No surprise here, as expected Sony a7R II adds 5-Axis Sensor-Shift Stabilization, just like it’s a7II sibling. With 5-Axis Sensor-Shift Stabilization, any lens you own – even lenses that could never have it before such as Leica and other legacy glass -can now be image stabilized on a7R II’s fullframe sensor both for still and video.

Sony A-mount camera bodies have had image stabilization since 2006. When E-mount was introduced, the goal was to make E-mount bodies as small and light as possible, so Sony chose to put image stabilization into lenses when possible. Great news is the a7R II body is a mere 10mm deeper than it’s predecessor.

It’s first worth mentioning what image stabilization can and cannot do. In Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) can allow you to shoot at slower shutter speeds without blur from camera movement – but it will not freeze subject movement. Image Stabilization won’t stop Usain Bolt in his tracks, but it will allow you to shoot images of a still subject in dim light at slower shutter speeds without camera movement.

Sony a7RII Field Test New York
New York City Dawn | Sony a7R II + Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS | 1/100 sec / F5 / ISO 100 handheld

Sony a7R II Field Test New York City Dusk
New York City Dusk | Sony a7R II + Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS | 1/60 sec / F7.1 / ISO 800 handheld

Sony a7R II Field Test New York city night
New York City Night | Sony a7R II + Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS | 3.2 sec / F5.6 / ISO 100

The ISO Goes to 102,400!

While Sony a7S remains Sony’s low-light Beast, a7R II expands ISO to well-beyond the range most of us need. It’s native ISO range goes from ISO 100 to 25,600 – expandable down to 50 and up to a whopping 102,400. I rarely use the expanded range though I will use ISO 50 when I need to pull down exposure a stop without reaching for a ND filter.

Sony a7RII Field Test New York City Night
Madison Avenue, New York City | Sony a7R II + Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS | 1/80 sec / F4.5 / ISO 1600

Sony a7R II Field Test Times Square New York
Times Square | Sony a7R II + Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS | 1/13 sec / F4 / ISO 800 handheld

World’s First Back-Illuminated Fullframe Sensor

Sony a7R II’s first ever Exmor R Back-illuminated structure (BSI) enhances light collection efficiency of this new 42.4-megapixel CMOS sensor. By moving the circuitry to the back of the sensor, it allows the photo diodes to sit closer to the gapless OCL. Moving circuitry to the back coupled with quick-transmission copper wiring outputs data 3.5 times faster, while moving the heat away from the photo diode to minimizing image noise to reveal fine details in every picture. Photographers who shoot extreme long exposure photography like my pal Thibault Roland are going to love this.


Fast Hybrid AF with 399 Phase Detect AF Points + 25 Contrast AF Points

This short video shows Fast Hybrid AF tracking better than I can describe it. Watch how the small green Phase Detect AF points track the subject around the track.

My favorite part is that the AF points cover much more sensor real estate than before.

Sony a7R II AF Points

Phase Detect AF for Sony A-Mount and Canon EF Lenses Too!

I totally was not expecting this. Every time I asked when On-Sensor Phase Detect would be able to focus DSLR lenses I was told, “Not yet – but we’re working on it,” so I figured we might see On-sensor Phase Detect AF sensors capable of fast focusing DSLR lenses in Sony a7-series Mark III cameras. But I truly didn’t expect to see it this soon!

I had a chance to test it out with Sony 300mm/F2.8 G II and Sony 500mm/F4 G lenses using a Sony LA-EA3 Lens Mount Adapter which now allows you to uses those 399 Phase-Detect focus points to drive Sony SSM and SAM lenses as fast as my A-Mount bodies focus.

In brief tests with Canon EF glass using Metabones, FotodioX and Viltrox Smart Adapters, AF is considerably faster than previous a7-series cameras. Not only is Continuous AF-C tracking possible with the lenses I tested – it’s fast! I’m waiting for a production a7R II with release firmware before I run more extensive tests to update my Canon EF Smart Adapter Compatibility Guide.

Sony a7RII Field Test New York

Internal 4K Recording and S-Log2 Gamma

Sony a7R II can record XVAC S 4K In-CAMERA 3840×2160 (30p/25p/24p) in 8-bit 4:2:0 using SDXC memory cards, or when using an external recorder like Atomos Shogun you can use clean HDMI output to record in 8-bit 4:2:2

Anyone looking to color grade their footage in post will appreciate the fact S-Log2 Gamma Picture Profile is included for the widest possible color gamut that allows you to capture detail both in the shadows and brightest highlights.

42-megapixel was also the best pixel size for optimal Super 35mm 4K picture quality movies oversampling 15 megapixels down to the eight-megapixel 4K size yielding picture quality better than a professional video cameras.

North Americans Can Finally Choose NTSC or PAL

The rest of the world could always do this. But now North American Sony a7R II cameras can FINALLY switch between NTSC and PAL movie recording modes. All I can say is, “About time!”

Shoot 4K and HD From Full-Frame Width or Super 35

Sony a7R II allows you to shoot Full HD or 4K using ether the full edge-to-edge width of the full-frame sensor or Super 35 crop mode. Super 35 down-samples from 15mp to 4K for improved video quality and virtually eliminates the “Jello Effect” that can occur when shooting movies with DSLRs. In addition to finding a balance between resolution and sensitivity, the decision to go with 42.4 MP as opposed to 45 or 50 mp had a lot to do with optimal down-sampling for video both from Fullframe and Super 35mm.

Sony a7R II 4K HD crops

Improved EVF

The EVF gets an update too with a new best-in-class 0.78x Tru-Finder that delivers a larger view than any cameras in the category. 1.0x magnification would be actual size of a 35mm frame. Previous a7-series cameras along with most fullframe optical viewfinders are around 0.70. That’s a much more visible improvement than the number of pixels. Zeiss T* coating have been added to an additional element for a sharper view especially at the edges – at least for eyeglass wearers like me.

In short, it’s Bigger and Clearer.

Sony a7R II EVF Tru-Finder

More Bracketing Modes

HDR shooters will LOVE this!

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


Yes, you are reading correctly. It is now possible to shoot bracketed exposures WITH SELF-TIMER!!!

Menu > Camera Settings 2 > Bracket Settings > Selftimer during Brkt > Off / 2 Sec / 5 Sec / 10 Sec

Choose Your Minimum Shutter Speed When Using AUTO ISO


Menu > Camera Settings 5 > ISO AUTO Min. SS > Standard is default

You can now choose auto minimum settings:
Slower, Slow, Standard, Fast, 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, 30 Sec

Sony a7R II Field Test New York
Midtown | Sony a7R II + Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS | 1/100 sec | F5.6 | ISO 100

More Function Menu Settings

Drive Mode, Self-timer during Brkt, Flash Mode, Flash Comp, Focus Mode, Focus Area, Exposure Comp., ISO, ISO AUTO Min. SS, Metering Mode, White Balance, DRO/Auto HDR, Creative Style, Shoot Mode, Picture Effect, Picture Profile, Center Lock-on AF, Smile/Face Detect, Soft Skin Effect, Auto Obj. Framing, Image Size, Aspect Ratio, Quality, SteadyShot, SteadyShot Adjust, SteadyShot Focal Len., Audio Rec Level, Zebra, Grid Line, Marker Display, Audio Level Display, Peaking Level, Peaking Color, Silent Shooting, Not set

Custom Button Settings

Drive Mode, Self-timer during Brkt, Flash Mode, Flash Comp, Focus Mode, Focus Area, Focus Settings, Exposure Comp., ISO, ISO AUTO Min. SS, Metering Mode, White Balance, DRO/Auto HDR, Creative Style, Picture Effect, Picture Profile, Smile/Face Detect, Soft Skin Effect, Auto Obj. Framing, SteadyShot, SteadyShot Adjust, SteadyShot Focal Len., Audio Rec Level, Image Size, Aspect Ratio, Quality, In-Camera Guide, Memory, AEL hold, AEL toggle, (Spot) AEL hold, (Spot) AEL toggle, FEL Lock hold, FEL Lock toggle, FEL Lock/AEL hold, FEL Lock/AEL toggle, AF/MF Control Hold, AF/MF Ctrl Toggle, Center Lock-on AF, Eye AF, AF On, Focus Hold, Aperture Preview, Shot Result Preview, Bright Monitoring, Zoom, Focus Magnifier, Deactivate Monitor, MOVIE, Zebra, Grid Line, Marker Disp. Sel, Audio Level Display, Peaking Level, Peaking Color, Silent Shooting, Finder/Monitor Sel., Send to Smartphone, Download Appli., Application List, Montor Brightness, TC/UB Disp. Switch, Not set

Yup, Deactivate Monitor AND Finder/Monitor Select can be assigned to Custom Buttons!

‘MOVIE’ selection allows you to start and stop video recording by pressing a Custom Button of your choice.

Compatible with Sony a7 II Accessories

If you already own Sony a7 II accessories like a Vertical Grip VG-C2EM will fit a7R II. Of course that also means it share the same tiny Sony NP-FW50 Lithium-Ion Rechargeable Battery as all the other E-mount cameras with roughly the same battery life. It might be a few shots better but let’s face it, it’s a small battery. Sony is aware of the complaints and while I think it may be possible they might be able to make a version with a few more amps – I don’t think anyone really wants them to change to physical size if you could interchange with batteries you already own. So carry a few spares. Did I mention they’re small?

Sony also introduced a new Sony CLM-FHD5 5″ HD LCD monitor, an ideal companion to the a7R 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.

Equipment List:

• Sony a7R II Camera (Order from B&H Photo)
• Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens (Order from B&H Photo)
• Sony A-mount 24-70mm f/2.8 ZA SSM II Lens (Order from B&H Photo)
• Sony FE 55mm F1.8 ZA Lens (Order from B&H Photo)
• Sony FE 90mm F2.8 Macro G OSS (Order from B&H Photo)
• Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS Lens (Order from B&H Photo)
• Sony LA-EA3 Lens Mount Adapter (Order from B&H Photo)
• Sony 64GB UHS-I SDXC Memory Cards (Class 10/U3) (Order from B&H Photo)
• Oben CT-3481 Carbon Fiber Tripod with BE-126T Ball Head (Order from B&H Photo)


Unlike previous a7-series cameras that each have particular strengths or features, the flagship a7R II does everything well. Unless you need to shoot in near darkness where Sony A7S still has an edge at extreme ISOs, the a7R II would be my choice for everything I shoot.

Continue Reading: Sony a7R II Field Test Review – Part 2

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, a7II and a7RII 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


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171 thoughts on “Sony a7R II Field Test Review – Part 1”

  1. Brian – Great first look! Thanks. As for Custom buttons, under “Finder/Moniter Sel.,” did you have time to determine whether or not that auto sensor near the viewfinder can be disabled, thus keeping the LCD “on” when tilted and close to the body for low angle shots?

      1. Excellent! While I shoot using the viewfinder 95% of the time, the A7s and A7II LCDs constantly blinking off when held too close to the body for those low shots is maddening. I’ve placed my order for what sounds like the best of the A7 series rolled into one.

    1. As I said at the start it’s a pre-production camera with pre-production firmware 0.01. Final image quality generally gets a tweak for the release cameras and firmware. Also, I like to just processing in Lightroom which will likely include support in an update near the release date.

  2. Brian, Thanks for the writeup! It looks like it could be my next rig…..but any word on the Buffer depth? (for example, how many shots will it takes before the A7rII stops to clear the buffer?)

  3. DSLRs also must open and close the shutter. This happens after the mirror moves. The mirror is not the first curtain.

    1. DSLRs must open and close the shutter.

      Without EFS, Mirrorless must close and open and close and open

      With EFS, Mirrorless must simply close and open the shutter (essentially the opposite of a DSLR.)

  4. Sounds like mostly “A7” improvements, but is the “R” increase significantly noticeable compared to original A7R? Thank you Brian.

  5. Your review will definitely help my purchase decision. I have one question: the resolution of EVF on A7rII is the same as A7r, how is it better than the older model? Is it easier for manual focusing than before?

    1. I meant to explain 0.78 better. 1.0x would be actual size. Previous a7-series cameras along with most fullframe optical viewfinders are 0.70 – so in short it’s Bigger and Clearer. That’s a much more visible improvement than the number of pixels. The added T* element makes it appear sharper at the edges – at least for eyeglass wearers like me.

  6. Thanks for a thorough first look Brian! Sounds like a great camera. Any signs of improved weather sealing / body strength in case it takes a beating as a workhorse in the field? Thanks.

  7. Thank you for doing this! I wanted to hear from a pro before buying one of these.
    One question though, How about the battery life? Any improvement? I heard bad comments on the other Sony models.

    1. It’s roughly the same battery life – it might be a few shots better but it’s a small battery. Sony is aware of the complaints and while I think it may be possible they might be able to make a version with a few more amps – I don’t think anyone really wants them to change to physical size if you could interchange with batteries you already own. Like a good bowler, I always carry a few spares.

  8. Hi Brian, can you comment on LA-EA3 AF speed with A-mount lenses – is it comparable to let’s say A7II with native FE lens? For me A7II was already fast enough. Thank you.

    Another question: in you opinion is ISO12800 usable for non critical studio work? Or simply put is there a +2/3 to +1 stop gain in terms of ISO speed? Just your opinion of course, I don’t ask for facts since we all know you will have to test it extensively before having some real facts.

  9. In terms of high ISO capabilities, you mentioned that A7S still is better. How high did you test the a7Rii to with usable output? What is ISO 50000 like on A7Rii? Thanks!!

    1. My recommendations for ANY camera is to avoid the expanded ISOs on the high side. Everyone has a different opinion on how much high ISO nise they find tolerable. Personally, I think one-stop below the the top of the native range is the sweet spot – meaning around 12,800 on a7RII. Once I’m able to process RAWs in Lightroom I may adjust that upward..

  10. Do you know if it is possible to capture images in RAW sizes smaller than the full 42.4 resolution? Maybe a Raw M and Raw S mode? I already pre-ordered, but I think it would be an awesome feature. Thanks for the write-up!!

  11. I am new to the Sony and mirrorless world, have been waiting to switch to a less bulkier camera . I currently have a nikon d3s. I most shoot dancing indoors and fast autofocus and high iso are critical for me.

    I tried the sony a7 from my friend on a sony fe lens but wasnt satisfied with the autofocus speed of the a7. I know its a relative question do you feel from using the a7RII that its up there with the top nikon/canon dslrs in terms of autofocus speeds? how does it compare to a6000 AF?

    Is there a way to scale down on the RAW size if I dont need the 42MP , considering it has USB2 it might take a while for file transfer

    1. Currently, Sony a6000 has the fastest AF system of Soy mirrorless cameras, but a7RII will be faster.

      You can shoot an APS crop RAW that’s around 18mp but honestly you should NEVER download images by connecting the camera to a computer with a USB cord. Get a card reader if your computer doesn’t already have one built in.

          1. And… is it faster? I can’t seem to find any direct AF comparison between A7Rii and A6000. If it’s as fast as, I’m in for an A7Rii body.

          2. Lens for lens. I give the edge to a7RII.

            Of course if you’re speaking of “relative focal lengths”, a 16mm APS lens might focus faster than a 24mm fullframe lens if it has smaller moving lens elements.

    2. Hey Suresh, I just saw that Sony says AF works down to -2EV. While that’s not the -4EV of the A7S it is a stop lower than the -1EV of the D3S. How fast is the AF at that low light? Only Brian Smith can answer (for now!).

  12. I am really impressed with the way that Sony has responded to the niggling complaints with the previous A7 cameras. EVF/monitor switch, minimum shutter speed, shutter delay bracketing. Is there anything you didnt like about the camera?

  13. Pingback: Sony a7RII has Faster AF Than a6000, First Field Test Review by BRIAN SMITH | Camera News at Cameraegg

  14. The next time you talk with them suggest they place a small LCD or e-ink display on all that new blank real estate on top that shows at least shutter speed and aperture, if not also ISO, etc. I just wish someone had suggested this to them a year ago so that it could have been implemented in this iteration, but perhaps there is still hope for the next generation.

  15. Brian, great first impression with details found nowhere else. I have 2 questions.

    1. I understand that it’s still 11 bit compressed RAW. Has Sony confirmed whether they will release an uncompressed RAW firmware, and when can we expect it?

    2. Any hints of new lens? It’s rumoured 20 FE lenses by early 2016. Any news of 24-70mm f2.8 and 70-200mm f2.8 ? These are the pro lens many are waiting for.

  16. That was funny!

    Can you go any further into depth about the noise at higher ISOs with video? Did you attempt any night filming similar to what Phillip Bloom put together for the a7sII? Would like to know how this camera stacks up in low light situations, as that is it’s true edge in the cinema department.

    Thank you!

  17. I am so stoked for this camera. Got the pre order in already. Were you able to get the chance to shoot much video? Specifically, how do you think it will compare to the a7s (other then the obvious advantage of internal 4k). Slog2, minimum ISO, dynamic range, etc.? Thanks in advance.

    1. I think you’ve hit the key features but you reminded me of one I should add on the video side. Super 35 crop down-samples from 15mp to 4K. The decision to go with 42.4 MP as opposed to 45 or 50 mp had a lot to do with optimal down-sampling for video as well as balancing between resolution and sensitivity.

  18. very good review or preview … I would like to ask you do think this body with Carl Zeiss 55mm 1.8 lens can replace medium format for portrature?

  19. Pingback: Sony A7rII to ship in late July in USA and Australia. Early August in Europe. | sonyalpharumors

  20. Pingback: Sony a7RII – world fastest full frame camera | Camera Comparison Review

  21. Hooray and about time!!!

    HDR shooters will LOVE this!

    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

  22. Even better!!!

    Yes, you are reading correctly. It is now possible to shoot bracketed exposures WITH SELF-TIMER!!!

    Menu > Camera Settings 2 > Bracket Settings > Selftimer during Brkt > Off / 2 Sec / 5 Sec / 10 Sec

  23. Drool …


    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, 30 Sec

  24. Hi Brian,
    thank you for sharing your experience. Does the camera have a user defined toggle for DOF preview/framing mode, that leaves the aperture fully open in case of flash use? If there is a framing mode, is the sensitivity ramped automatically so we can see through ND filters or manually focus in low light where landscapers would use 20 second plus exposures? Is there a chance for exposure bracketing to be a hybrid of exposure time and ISO shift?

    1. Ok, that’s not a question that a bunch of them…

      DOF Preview Aperture Open Close:
      “Aperture Preview” is one of the functions you can assign to a Custom Button but I didn’t try it out to see what it does.

      framing Sensitivity:
      Sony a7RII sensitivity is -2 to 20 EV which means 2 more stops on the dark end compared to a7 and a7R. This should help a bit for users shooting through 10-stop ND filters. Eventually you hit a limit no matter what camera. With A7R I found a 10-stop ND stopped down to F22 at ISO 100 would result in about a 2 minutes exposure which was beyond the amount the camera could display in the EVF – so you simply open up to F8 or so to compose, then stop down to shoot. Easy.

      Exposure + ISO Shift Bracketing:
      This is why you don’t get nice things. People been whining for the last year they simply want self-timer to be added to bracket modes. Sony finally does it. And here we are 10 days later with throw in the kitchen sink and let me pick the faucet while you’re at it…

      1. Hi Brian,
        thank you for your response to my longer queries, it appears I hit a sore point point with ISO shift bracketing. The A7RM2 creates a huge interest, and many of the “wish-questions” are coming from people starting to seriously think on how to adapt their existing methodologies with other brands to that of this camera. In my case, the hybrid exposure bracketing is a feature of Magic Lantern, an open source firmware overlay for Canons. There is a start delay timer if one wants, it has an auto bracket feature that keeps going until there is no clipping anymore, but also an non optional delay in between shots the software needs to re-adjust the camera, that basically stays in manual. There are so many extra features in Magic Lantern and I ask why anybody ever wanted it, but technology can make new creativity possible. If you want, Magic Lantern will do any sort of bracketing for you, plus add automatic focus stacking sequences where you can set step size, delays, – all sorts of combinations. Makes a difference for landscapes with foreground taken with an 85mm for distance compression. Why automatic? Because of the repeatability for stitched panos. Sony has done well with this camera, we are no longer talking about faults, but all sorts of nice to haves. I see it as a good thing, but it shows the wishes will never end. So why not think of a camera like a hardware platform that comes with a base firmware, very much like a computer with an operator system. Add to this user configurable program modules and you have whatever people can think off, ie “add the smart” to the camera just like it was added to the phone. You are lucky that Sony gives you a camera to try out in the field, if I’m lucky, someone will offer it for daily hire for me to take it into the field. Thank you again for taking the time to satisfy our curiosity.

        1. There reason that complex modes like this are written by third party companies like Magic Lantern is they can dedicate resources to requests for customization since they focus on just one thing.

  25. Thank you for the test. I am considering to replace my my one year old A7 !
    Did you try A7R II with Biogon 21 or 28mm Contax G or wide angle M-mount lenses?

    1. No, I shot before they announced the camera so I didn’t hear about the change in sensor design until the announcement. I’m interested to see if that changes results from Biogon design lenses the next time I get my hands on one.

      1. Argh, still no delay in-between then.
        I wonder if Nikon has some kind of patent on that…

        So, I presume you wait for that delay and your 3 (if you chose 3) shots shoot away automatically then…

        Still getting mine of course. I usually take a remote trigger, so now that’s a thing I don’t need to do anymore.

        Maybe you’re in a position where you could suggest that way underrated function to Sony, so they could implement it in their next firmware.

        Anyways…thanks for your response.


          1. Because of vibration.

            You get blurry shots now and then with one of the brackets. It will be less of an issue now with the A7R II, but the first series’ A7 and especially A7R shutter vibrates a lot. Especially in situations where one of the shots is a longer exposure. The vibration of the shot before still shakes the camera.

            The Nikon D800 has an interval timer option for in-between shots, which is just perfect.

            Voilà 🙂


          2. The D800 might need to do that since it has a mirror that slaps up and down with each exposure, but that’s not necessary with mirrorless cameras where it’s better to shoot continuous images.

  26. Can you speak at all about rolling shutter artifacts when using the silent shutter for stills? Banding from fluorescent lights flickering? Fast motion warping? Did you see any? Any sense if this has improved from previous cameras? Thanks!

    1. I was able to shoot under NYC street lights at 1/500 sec but I’m not certain is the street lights were mercury vapor (which would normally cause banding) or LED (which would not). I’ll add that to the list of things to test the next time I get my hands on a camera.

  27. Dear Brian

    I have lately faced heating issues with A7S while shooting outdoors at around 40degree C, for interviews of 10 to 15 min. The camera goes dead with no functions working. I have to switch off and call it a day. Is Sony looking into these heating problems with their new versions? rgds-Marthand

    1. No matter the camera my suggestion for extreme heat conditions would be to keep the camera and operator under and umbrella in order to keep both as cool as possible.

      In terms of Sony specifically, a7RII back-lit sensor design moves the wiring to the back of the sensor and moves it away from the photo diodes and changing from aluminum to copper wiring reduces heat because copper has less resistance. I’d expect that design to be used in all future a7-series cameras.

  28. Brian – I have been watching/renting the a7r/a7II and have been impressed… Been waiting for the mmii versions for the R and S – I have a preorder rental for a a7rII mid july and sure that will begin my migration to Sony Cameras and Lenses, especially for my travels overseas and street documentary work work locally… My Canons are all set up to work with my studio Profotos, and wirelessly via pocket wizards with off camera flashes and a pair of portable Einsteins…. I am concerned I will lose the TTL functioning of off camera flashes with the Sony cameras…. can you shed some light (oh, bad pun) on the use of pocket wizard trigger systems and the a7 line-up? Will I need to keep my Canon’s for when I intend to work with off camera flash (I am not intending to repurchase lighting for the a7 series and I am not sure yet is PW makes models for Sony [?] ) – Interested in what you have found. Yes, sadly, I am reliant on ttl (eTTL) for the crazy way I tend to shoot though I have found the AC3 Zone controller very convenient with the pocket wizard/Canon Canon/Einstein set up.

    And a second thought referring to the adverse weather question above. I have shot with most my 1D bodies in the rain and snow – while in Europe and the 1Dx at least in the heat of Las Vegas all day 114 degrees….no problems, no damage – of course wisdom would say cover the cameras up, but they truly are weather sealed and durable. I am assuming the Sony a7 must be treated with greater care as they are not sealed to the same degree as the Canon pro bodies or as rugged? #Marthand ‘s comment has me a bit concerned for my winter trip to Spain. Thoughts?

    1. Yea, no TTL with Profoto yet. I introduced Sony’s product planners to Profoto’s CEO last March and they offered him any support the need. So the ball is in Profoto’s court…

  29. Did you happen to see if a manual white balance can be performed if the camera is in a Custom mode? None of the A7s permit that which I find annoying.

  30. Brian, great story! How do you think the legacy glasses like the Leica-M wide angle will fair on the A7Rii? I believe the earlier A7R sensor had problem like vignetting and distortion because of high resolution. TQ

    1. I haven’t had a chance to test that, but it’s on my list for the next time I get my hands on a camera. I’m curious to see if moving the photo diodes above the wiring and closer to the micro-lenses improves performance.

  31. Pingback: New Sony A7rII bloggers tests and thoughts: “a7RII does everything well”. | sonyalpharumors

  32. Hi Brian can you verify if the Commlite EF to E adapter works as well as the three you mentioned (FotoDiox, Viltrox II, Metabones)? If so then I’m staying with Sony instead of switching like I had planned! Thanks!

    1. I haven’t had a chance to test more that a few Canon EF lenses on a7RII (and none using a Commlite adapter). Results vary slightly between adapters but the adapters just communicate data and the camera actually does the work, so results with all Canon Smart Adapters should be greatly improved on a7RII. I’ll update these Canon Smart Adapter tests when I have a production a7RII to test.

  33. Thank you for the write up! I haven’t seen this question addressed yet: Will the Super 35 crop mode mean that the lenses will be cropped as well? Cropping down to 15mp means something like a 2.5x crop? Whoah. Or is there some kind of magic happening to keep that number down to 1.5x like the APS-C photo crop?

    1. Super 35 is the format used by most professional cinema cameras. It’s roughly the same area as APS-C – but in 16×9 proportions. There’s no magic. Pixels dimensions are width x length so APS-C crop is 2.31x smaller than fullframe yet the focal conversion factor is 1.5

      1. I was thinking about high magnification macro images where a full electronic shutter would be an awesome addition. In this particular situation a beep would be VERY welcomed in my opinion. 😉 🙂

  34. Thanks for the review, Brian! One thing I’m trying to find but can’t is what frame rates you can shoot 4k in. Do you have that information? Thanks!

  35. Pingback: First Sony A7RII Reviews, Tests, Hand-on Videos

  36. Pingback: The Sony Alpha A7RII | Mark Galer

  37. Pingback: Sony a7RII Hands On - Part 2

  38. Hi Brian, thank you so much for your review. My name is Juan Mayer, and Im doing skydiving photography. Brian, I have the camera already, the SONY a7rii and I tried just a couple of jumps. One of them doing video with a 55mm lens and the other one with a pancake 16mm. In both cases the vibration on the videos was super high, obviously it was higher on the 55mm. Is there any setup on settings that you can recommend me to choose that give me a smooth video? Like I said I just got the camera and Im almost sure that Im doing something wrong with settings.
    Thank you so much in advanced.
    Juan Mayer

    1. SteadyShot works very well, but that’s a rather extreme use. It’s probably an instance where a chest or helmet mount is the way to go. Personally I’d go with an ActionCam for that situation.

      Obviously the wider the better. Keep in mind that the pancake 16mm that lens wasn’t designed for a 42mp sensor. It’s an APS lens so it crops to the equivalent of 24mm.

  39. Hello Brian,
    I have been waiting for a compact high MP travel camera to replace some of my larger format film cameras for making large gallery prints. Any thoughts on how large prints can realistically come out of this camera? In Photoshop it looks like about a 16×20 @ 300 DPI. Do they have a cable release for this camera?

    1. I’ve had 4×6-foot prints made from the original a7R (Sony a7RII images would look even better at that size). The first thing to unlearn when making large prints is to forget everything you’ve heard about printing 300 dpi. I use Duggal Visual Solutions for my large scale printing at the usually print at 180 DPI or less and the prints look great If I know I’m making a huge print I generally try to uprez from RAW, but these 40×60″ exhibit prints were made from the in-camera jpegs before Raw support existed for the camera.

      For a remote I use either Sony RM-VPR1 remote control or Sony RMT-VP1K Wireless Receiver and Remote Commander Kit.

  40. Back again, by the way, I really appreciate the replies and the review. The camera won’t let me format – “This function is currently disabled.”

    I’m shooting on a class 10 64 gb card, and i was able to format before.

    1. The only thing I can think of that would cause that is if the little plastic tab on the left side of the card was not in the “up” position. If it’s in the down position (or if the tab was missing altogether) the card is write-protected.

  41. Hi Brian,

    Are you aware of a “Bulb” Mode for the A7RII been fiddling about and I can’t seem to find it. Or will some sort of remote enable this mode?
    Thanks Brian!


      1. I’m actually on site right now… searching for bulb setting past 30 seconds it doesn’t seem to be here. In manual mode

  42. Pingback: HUGE Shipment of Sony a7RII Coming 9/2

  43. Pingback: Sony a7RII IN STOCK NOW!

  44. Hi, Brain. I just bought a a7Rii in Hong Kong and found that it was made in Thailand. Are all a7rii made in Thailand? Can I buy one that is made in Japan? Thanks a lot!

    1. Paul, does your a7rii has English or Chinese menu?
      I wonder would I have to hunt for international ed. or just buy any a7rii I find in hk. 🙂

  45. Hi Brian!
    I need to make frames in succession at intervals of predefined times (2sec, 3sec, etc.) continuously.
    The R7II have this feature?
    It will be installed in a UAV for aerial photography work.
    Thank you.

  46. Hello Brian, As a Sony enthusiast, I love your in-depth analysis of the camera functionality, so very helpful.

    I have been using the a7R ii (ILCE-7RM2) for the past month and am so pleased that I upgraded from the a7R …

    One very geeky question that you may be able to answer … I have been testing with my FE 90 MACRO G lens (loved your review so much, I bought the lens ..!!) at a variety of ISO settings and, at ISO 102400, the EXIF data in a number of photo handling software suites shows the ISO as 65535. PlayMemories shows it correctly at 102400.

    Digging around, I have found references to Sony Camera Settings Tags, which indicate that Sony use Short integers to represent most settings. Short integers are only 16 bit so, 65535 is the maximum that can be represented …

    My question is, will Sony upgrade the Sony Camera Settings Tags to Long Integers (32 bit) to allow the high ISO values to be transmitted properly?

    Many thanks


    1. What software are you using? That issue popped up when I was testing a7S and processing the files in Lightroom. I called it to the attention of my friends in the Lightroom team who didn’t realize there was a camera that shot ISO 409,600, but they fixed it in the next Lightroom and Camera Raw update and it’s worked ever since.

      1. Thanks for the reply Brian.
        I use Playmemories for importing images to Windows 7 (64 bit) and CaptureOne Pro for Sony, for conversion. Both software packages display the correct ISO value. Image Data Converter also shows correct value.

        When viewed in Picasa, 65535 is shown and, if I upload the image to Flickr either directly or via Playmemories, 65535. ExifTool shows 65535.

        Very confusing ..!

  47. Pingback: Der erste Kontakt: Sony A7RII | Photography

  48. Anyone figured out tethering? The wireless app doesn’t seem to support bracket drive mode.. and the IR apps don’t work when the magnifier/photo review/menu mode is on..
    I can’t see any other remotes.. so I must be doing something really dumb..

      1. Brian apologies, for not being clearer. If I use bulb on my 1Dx I have time elapsed display on the LCD panel. If I use Bulb on my Fuji X-T1, I get the time elapsed on the main screen. With the A7Rii in bulb mode there doesn’t seem to be indication how long you have been exposing for unless you independently time it.

          1. Thanks, a bit of an oversight for me or its just not possible with the screen interface during exposure I guess. Purchase of a 3rd party £20 cable release with intervalometer etc will make it a bit easier. Thanks again.

  49. Dear Brian, Could you tell me in what way for STILL PHOTOGRAPHY is A7RM2 better than A7M2? Is it really necessary to upgrade?

    1. Upgrading us by no means “necessary”. A7R is every bit the same great camera it was the day it was announced.

      However, this post outlines a few of the many a7RII upgrades including 5-Axis Image Stabilization, best-in-class 399 point PDAF, dampened electronic front curtain shutter and silent shutter, improved high ISO image quality, more custom button settings, added bracketing modes, self-timer with bracketing and of course a few more pixels.

  50. Hi Brian New A7Rii owner. When adjusting metering thru the finder, there seems to be no way to know if current setting under or over exposed unless you are close when it then shows uo on the meter bar. The screen brightness stays the same regardless.But if a few stops or more off one way or the other, you get blinking arrows at either end but no indication if over of under. The monitor has the additional indicator of + – which is excellent but this not on finder screen

  51. Brian – You mentioned that depth of field preview can be assigned in the menu under custom key settings. I see a “Shot Result Preview” setting listed. Is this the same as DOF Preview?

  52. Pingback: Tech Talk: Sony a7RII & a7SII

  53. Thank you very much for your tests and results. I have the A7r m2 and enjoy shooting. But to my work I need to shoot via my cell phone (samsung galaxy 5) in special Jobs. Why I can not use playmemories in Israel???. is there a way to solve this great problem?
    I shoot all of the time to pc or laptop. is there a way to also shoot to the memory card inside the camera and to the computer (to be safe, in case the hard disk becomes unreadable)

      1. Thank you very much for you answer. I like very much your work.
        Is there a direct mail to Sony about playmemories app availability in Israel? that maybe, can change it, to a working app in Israel?

  54. Brian – Great article and website. Thanks for taking the time to share!

    I would buy into the Sony system if they had touch screens. Why on earth no touch screen?

    My old Canon 70d with dual pixel and touch screen which was able to pull very cinematic focus changes. 1080 max video res though. Another wonderful feature for stills: touch a point of interest and the very moment the camera attains focus it captures the image.

    Then I bought a Samsung NX1 for mostly shooting 4K to a PIX-E5H also capable of cinematic focus by touch. Again this camera allows you to touch a point of interest and capture the still image the moment it achieves focus.

    Now I’m shooting the Panasonic AG-DVX200 and a PIX-E5H still very happily taking advantage of cinematic touch to focus capabilities.

    I sounds as if the a7R II would be awesome in terms of face tracking etc but it is HOBBLED by not having a touch screen. How do you change faces (or point of interest) for focus, in mid-take, while shooting video? Abandon the camera’s intelligence and focus manually. Wait, what?

    After shooting video with several cameras capable of cinematic focus pulls by simply touching the screen I will NEVER go back to another focus method for run-n-gun documentary type shooting. The touch to focus during video significantly increases the percentage of good takes while allowing me more time to think about composition, and point of view and less time thinking about focus.

    Before anyone comments about how they prefer physical buttons (the non-smartphone users among us I assume), please realize that all three of these cameras offer full normal functionality through button pressing, and they also allow important (imho) additional features which can’t be accomplished with button pushing.

    Hey Sony… anybody listening? Why no touchscreen?

  55. Pingback: Sony A7rII Resources: Reviews, Settings, Accessories |

  56. Pingback: Nikon versus Sony - Photographing the Natural World

  57. hi guys. i have problem with sony a7r ii , i can’t use the 4k , when i press at “4k output sel” shows me this “this function currently disabled” what’s the problem?

  58. Brian – I don’t understand the Ping Back response to my original question. I looked at those links but don’t see anything abut this.

    “You mentioned that depth of field preview can be assigned in the menu under custom key settings. I only see a “Shot Result Preview” setting listed under custom key settings. Is this the same as DOF Preview?”

  59. Pingback: Ten Great New Settings on Sony a7RII

  60. Hi Brain Smith.
    I’m new user of A7RII(v2.00) + Metabone IV(V0.47).
    First day with camera and metabone, In auto focus mode, everything is ok.
    Second day, I config shooting VDO mode and switch from PAL(default) into NTSC.
    Suddenly, camera will reboot and every time start up camera shown Running in NTSC.

    Problem is, in NTSC mode after Display “Running in NTSC” disappear, Metabone seem cannot connect with EF lens.
    This occur when turn camera on and after camera wake up from power saving mode.
    Sometime F-STOP shown “F–” or diaphragm was not open during camera on.

    In this period if we press shutter button, It make camera like reboot when switch PAL to NTSC.
    16-35/4,24-70/2.8 are get the same problem.

    Could you have any experience like this?
    I lose the shot that should get many times when it reboot.

    I try to change back to PAL.
    Cemera and metabone work well.


    1. Based on that NTSC warning, I’m guessing you’re outside North America. When an non-North American camera is switched to NTSC that warning comes up to make certain you know you’re not shooting PAL any more. In my opinion, this is an example of Sony being way “Too Helpful”

      I don’t know if this could cause a conflict with Metabones Smart Adapter – but it’s possible. Smart adapters don’t work nearly as well with video as they do with stills. I don’t have any non-USA bodies to test so I don’t know if there is a way to disable this “helpful” warning, but I’m told it goes away if you set the time zone to a USA city. While that’s by no means a permanent solution, you could try that to see if your other problems go away. If they do – report the issue to Sony in your region.

  61. Pingback: Sony A7Rii - Photographing the Natural World

  62. Hello Brian! firs of all, thanks for all your information, i´ts been very help full I´m a Sony user, I have a a7ii and I´ve just bought the a7Rii, and a cant connect it to mi I phone 6. In the Phone appears like wifi connected, but the camera never do, in remains ¨connecting¨ bun never achieve the connection… If you can give me an advice or some orientation, I would appreciate

    1. That’s an example of directions lost in translation. “Connecting” should say “Connected”.

      As soon as “Connecting” comes up on the screen, you’re connected.

      Open PlayMemories App on your iPhone. You’re ready to go…

  63. Hello Brian,

    first time I write you and feel to say thanks for all your useful posts

    I’m experiencing a severe distortion when shooting in silent mode with my canon 17-40 f4 over metabones T adapter mark IV, I was wondering if am I maybe doing something wrong or if it is a “normal” consequence.

    Thanks for replying,

      1. Thanks for replying Brian, I’ve to do several tests before answering you with a proper one. I’ll have to test the same kind of pictures taken with the very same focal lenght with silent shutter with frontal curtain on, off and with non silent shutter with the same two parameters. It’s a whole thing and I’ll check it out during this weekend if I have time enough. Anyway I’ll let you know asap since it looks a bit weird. See you at next step with some news and some shots to show you. Thanks you, Daniele

      2. Finally I made many tests, for sure it’s not due to silent shooting, the distortion looks more related to the lens

  64. Mary R. Rodriguez

    Need a drone!

    Hey guys, a couple of questions about drones…

    First, I’ve heard a lot and read a lot about DJI, and correct me if I’m wrong, but they’re kind of the cream of the crop for drones, right? Their drones look awesome, but man are they expensive. So my question is, is there another brand that’s comparable to DJI but less expensive? Or should I stick with DJI?

    My second question is where to buy a drone. I am on a budget so I’m looking for good deals. In searching for good drone deals, I came across this article that talks about how they often have coupons and big sales, so I’m thinking they’re a good route to take for a drone. I’ve never bought anything from Adorama though, so just wondering if anyone has experience with them.

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