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.
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