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June 13, 2015

Sony Alpha A7R II – Full Breakdown

a7r-promo

So lets break this new Sony Alpha A7r II down properly now that we have all digested the initial announcement hype and so fourth…. The $3198 US price tag is starting to become an issue on the web, but we must remember that the original A7r cost $2298 US when it first came out. Then adding all the new features to that price point and we end up in the $3000 area really fast.

Sony decided to upgrade a lot of hardware on this unit and not just cheap gimmick software updates either. We’re talking new sensor, new body, and very powerful features like 5-axis steadyshot, Second generation Hybrid AF, Silent Shooting w/ new shutter, and 4k video recording at 100Mb/s to the memory card, and a new .78x Viewfinder! Those new features basically added $1000 dollars to the camera and I honestly think that is about right considering the power and cost of the actual hardware added.

Therefore, with the number of new extremely powerful features offered on the A7r II, the price does appear reasonable in my opinion.  The A7 II costs ($1698 US), but only has the new camera body with IBIS, and nothing else very special. The current low light champ A7s camera ($2498 US), is $900 more than the newer A7 II and only offers a killer sensor and some killer video features in the old generation one body.

a7r2-sensor-4kSony does price for the market and clearly no competition really exists for a beast like the new A7r II full frame mirrorless camera when you factor in all the new features and technology. It’s now competing directly with a lot of DSLR’s in my opinion at this point. The focus should now be up to a good enough standard to use in low light studio environments and have accurate focus in a timely manner. This was not possible with the A7r unless the modeling lights were fairly bright. The focus time would cost some shots in the studio and made the DSLR a preferred unit for this type of photography. Now, perhaps the studio environment and low light wedding work will be usable for pros? I would love to have had the IBIS and super fast primes for weddings back in the day. I used the EF 135mm f/2 L lens on my Canon 5d Mark II and nothing was stabilized. This is what  lot of pros use in these situations, so the 5-axis steadyshot is a huge deal if the focus can keep up of course.

The M43 sensor Olympus EM5 Mark II which I just reviewed here, offers a lot of features like the New A7r II, but the sensor is so much smaller the hardware required is not as robust or expensive to produce. Hence the price point differences even though the features are similar. The full frame sensor requires much more money to dress up with features due to the huge size in my opinion. The silent shutter feature and new shutter mechanism, for example, is not exactly cheap compared to the clunky beast that was in the original A7r I would gather.

a72-swThese new powerful features cost money is the bottom line, and that is what I’m trying to get across here as best I can. I would love to see a much cheaper price for the A7r II camera, but I also don’t want to see Sony taking a loss on cameras to gain market share… I wonder what the actual cost per unit is to manufacture for real? ~$2k maybe? Honestly don’t know, but that sounds about right to me just totally guessing 😉

Now, lets take a look at the new A7r II in more detail:

 

Camera Body – High Res Detail Photos

From the front you can see the new A7 II body has been used for the A7r II body as well. There is no Mark II logo on the front like on the new RX10 II or A7 II for example, because it’s now on the back 😉 You can also see how much taller the new locking mode dial is from this angle. Other than that it looks near identical to the A7 II body from the front. Jut below the mode dial you can see the AF assist light which should clear the fingers and most lenses with no issue.

a7r2-frontFrom this angle you can see the Mode dial has a lock button which is new to A7r II model over the A7 II. Reports are the knobs might be a bit smoother in dampening as well. Note the 4k logo on the right top picture below as well. The flash hot shoes housing is slightly different from the A7 II as well.

a7r2-front-topFrom the back you can see the A7RII logo on the top left which is a pretty good spot I would say. The eyepiece cup is designed a bit different as you can see below. Everything else appears the same as the A7 II as far as I can tell.

a7r2-backNote how the A7 II eye piece differs below and the lack of logo on the top left. Also, check out how much taller the locking mode dial is above on the A7R II.a72-back

 

a7r2-back-lcd-upa7r2-back-lcd-dn

The grip also looks the same as the A7 II and hopefully Sony increased the click resistance on the memory card door, so it does not open so easily. That bothered me a little bit about the A7 II door if you remember from the full review.a7r2-grip

The port area doors looks the same as the A7 II as far as I can tell, but the rubber may be different compound possible. Hopefully more rubbery…

a7r2-ports

From the top you can clearly see the lock button in the center of the mode dial and notice the canges in the Eye-piece plus hot-shoe area. The 4k Logo is very noticeable as well from above. a7r2-top

Here is the A7 II top for comparison.

a72-topAnd the down under.

a7r2-bottom

 

New A7r II Features Video from Sony

 

A7r II – Specs That Matter:

  1. New Gen 2 Camera Body w/ 5-Axis Steadshot
  2. Full Magnesium Alloy Chassis and Dust/ Moisture Resistant body
  3. New Mode Dial Lock
  4. New 42.4mp Sensor w/ 399 Hybrid AF pts (7952 x 5304)
  5. New anti-reflective sensor coating
  6. No optical Low-pass filter
  7. 14-bit Raw Output
  8. Max ISO 102,400 (2-stops improvement)
  9. New Silent shutter, first curtain shutter
  10. New 1,228.8k-dot LCD Screen (RGBW pixel structure)
  11. New 4k internal video recording, X AVCS @ 100mb/s
  12. S-Log2 Gamma and S-Gamut settings, 120fps
  13. Timecode and User bit settings for video
  14. Reported much better autofocus with third party lenses
  15. 5fps continuous shooting with AF tracking
  16. New 0.5″ 2.36M-Dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder EVF (0.78x)
  17. Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC
  18. $3198 US
 

World’s first1 back-illuminated full-frame sensor

Higher resolution, sensitivity, and readout speed

As the world’s first1 35 mm full-frame image sensor with back-illuminated structure, this 42.4-megapixel CMOS sensor enhances light collection efficiency, expands circuitry scale, and, with the help of a quick-transmission copper wiring layer, outputs data about 3.5 times faster4, while minimizing image noise to reveal fine details in every picture.

New 42.4 MP Exmor R BSI CMOS Sensor:

The world’s first back-illuminated full-frame sensor, the 42.4-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor present in the a7RII works with the BIONZ X image processor to offer high-resolution stills and video while minimizing noise and improving speed. This sensor structure works with gapless on-chip lens design and an anti-reflection coating, as well as eliminating the optical low-pass filter, to improve light collection and enhance detail. The copper wiring layer dramatically improves data transmission speed for creating high-resolution 42.4-megapixel stills at sensitivities up to ISO 102,400. Also, it enables internal UHD 4K video recording with a wide dynamic range using the full-frame sensor.
a7r2-sensor

 

Sensor Layer Technology Illustration:a7r2-sensor-illustration

No Optical Low-Pass Filter:

a7r2-no-aa-filter

 

Fast Hybrid AF with 399 Phase-Detect Points

Lock onto your subjects quickly and without hesitation thanks to the revamped Fast Hybrid AF packed into the a7RII. It uses 399 on-sensor phase-detect AF points with 45% coverage along with 25 contrast-detect AF points in order to improve the speed, accuracy and tracking performance of the system. Faster readout thanks to the back-illuminated sensor structure also allows for tracking while shooting at the top continuous shooting rate of 5 fps. This can be captured in a burst of up to 24 frames when shooting in JPEG Fine L format at 42 MP and a continuous AF Display allows users to view the active AF points.

a7r2-sensor-2

http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ea5lKyWxGc

AF-A mode

In this mode, press the shutter button halfway down, and the camera automatically recognizes whether the subject is moving or not, then switches AF mode accordingly between AF-S to lock on a subject in focus and AF-C to keep adjusting focus. This versatility is useful for shooting various subjects at the same time, or to avoid switching AF mode manually.

Another feature available with this AF system is a Lock-on AF tracking that will analyze more information from the scene to provide dramatically improved accuracy and stability. Eye AF is also available which will prioritize a subject’s pupil for excellent portraits even with a shallow depth of field.

a7r2-sample-photo

 

Silent Shutter Feature

a7r2-silent-shootinga7r2-shutterXGA OLED Tru-Finder makes every view a vision

With the world’s highest magnification at 0.78x among digital still camera viewfinders, the XGA OLED Tru-Finder provides views of cutting-edge definition, contrast and depth throughout the entire display. ZEISS T* Coating ensures absolutely minimal reflection on the viewfinder, so the A7R II’s extraordinary 42.4-megapixel performance is apparent at all times.

 

4K movie quality hits an all-time high

The ultimate high-resolution movie experience

You can see how the A7R II is optimized for recording 4K (QFHD: 3,840 x 2,160) movies, particularly in Super 35 mm format, as it processes readout data from every pixel without pixel binning, to effectively suppress jaggies and moiré. The resulting footage exhibits visibly sharper, finer, more subtle detail than typical 4K movies. Also, as the first1 full-frame camera that can record movies at 4K resolution in the 35 mm full-frame format, the a7R II extends your power to express qualities of vision that the newly developed, back-illuminated full-frame image sensor makes possible.

Clean HDMI output

This function supports 4K and Full HD and allows uncompressed movie output to an external recorder or monitor. The image can also be recorded in the camera even while signals are output using this function. The included cable protector guards jacks and prevents cables from disengaging accidentally, so you can shoot with greater assurance.

 

Ready for the long run

Focus on strength, smarts and reliability

The A7R II is the toughest, most durable A camera ever made, solidly engineered for action under all conditions, even with large lenses attached. It’s also designed with sophistication, integrating advanced functions that seamlessly complement the image sensor’s extraordinary 42.4-megapixel high resolution.

Compatibility with wide-ranging mountable lenses

5-axis image stabilization lets you enjoy unparalleled handheld shooting freedom with more of your favorite mountable lenses. The short flange-back distance in the E-mount A7R II extends compatibility with a range of lenses.

a7r2-alpha-lens-line

 

All Other Quality A7r II Breakdowns:

DPReview Reports:

AF with A-mount and third-party lenses

Sony says the on-sensor phase-detection AF can be used with A-mount lenses using the simpler LA-E3 adapter, rather than the LA-E4 that had an SLT mechanism built in. At the press launch in New York we even got a glimpse of the a7R II autofocusing Canon EF lenses using a Metabones electronic adapter. Focus appeared to be on par with OVF focus on a native Canon body, and the AF experience itself didn’t appear to be limited simply because you’re using a third party lens (full coverage and tracking are available).

On-sensor phase detection elements cover 45% of the sensor, which may sound small but actually translates to around 67% coverage in each direction. While this is some way behind level of coverage offered on Samsung’s NX1 (or even Sony’s APS-C cameras), it’s still a considerably larger area than that covered by any full frame DSLR’s focus sensor.

It also gains an electronic first curtain shutter option to eliminate shutter vibration, which was a problem with the original a7R at longer focal lengths. It also offers a fully electronic silent shutter.

Sony Alpha A7r Mark II review by Gordon Laing

Now that is really exciting news guys! The AF was so slow, that although it worked, the speed was not usable in the pro world at all really. Now perhaps it will be acceptably fast with third party Canon EF lenses….

 

Closing Remarks:

I really hope you guys got all the info you were looking for in this Sony Alpha A7r II Breakdown article 😉 Obviously I will review this camera as soon as possible and really look forward to it as well! If I missed anything or left something out, please let me know! I think I covered everything that matters though 😉

Questions or Comments?? Please reply below and will be sure to answer as best I can asap.

Thanks,

Jay

 New Sony Alpha A7r II for $3198 US @ BHPhoto (Click Here)

 

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Thanks,
Jay

 



About the Author

Jay
Hello, I'm the owner and operator of SonyAlphaLab.com. Please check out the About page for a full background on myself and the Lab ;) Google+ | Twitter | RSS-feed | Email Updates!!




17 Comments


  1. Martin

    Your opening paragraph concentrates on price (US$3298), but have you got the correct figure? In your closing remarks you quote US$3198 from B&H.

    There are at least three typos in that first paragraph as well!

    1. starting to become *an* issue
    2. Sony decided *to* upgrade
    3. *We’re* talking new sensor


    • Jay

      Fixed, Thanks! I’m not very good with the grammar and shocked I had the price wrong in the beginning like that.

      Thanks again,
      Jay


  2. Fantastic review. Thanks Jay. Now I have to save my nickles to upgrade my A4r to get all that new technology. Sony is in front of everybody else here. I love the mirrorless size and functionality. I love using older and affordable Konica and Minolta lenses on my A7r. I just bought a super sharp and Konica Hexanon 28mm lens for $35. Love it!


    • Jay

      Thanks Steve and using the old school lenses is a ton of fun, because as you said cost to benefit is huge! Now it will be stabilized and have a smooth shutter mechanism for much easier hand-holding. The A7r required at least a 1:1 with the focal length to shutter speed I found with my 50mm f/1.4 lens over time. Other lenses varied.

      Jay


  3. Keith Hodgkinson

    Great overview,all being well this will be one hell of a camera.Sony are really giving us a lot for our money and should be congratulated.Think back a few years ,look at the prices and look at the changes that were made to new cameras – expensive and unimpressive.This is a pro tool i expect; so do you need 4k,do you need all these megapixels if not grab the A7 II.The current uk promotions on the A7 II are fantastic.A good fun site Jay,well done.


    • Jay

      I agree that this is a serious upgrade and a Pro Quality unit for sure! Not fully weather sealed, but resistant for sure. Great points about the afford-ability of the A7 II for those who don’t want or need the extra bells and whistles… Full frame and 5-axis for $1698 is awesome technology and bang for the buck in itself. The A7r II is the latest and greatest most powerful flagship unit now 😉 The detail from 42mp over 36mp should be noticeable and better overall.

      Thanks for the nice comments,
      Jay


  4. “7. New 14-bit Raw Output” -Any confirmation that a7R II has new RAW compression?


  5. Yao

    Cool and in-depth review as usual , would af speeds be comparable to the a6000? I wanted to get the a6000 until seeing this. I am thinking about getting the the Mark IV as an everyday to go alongside the a7rII Advice?

    Thx
    Yao


    • Jay

      Thanks very much Yao and great question. I don’t know if the phase detection AF points on the sensor are the same as what is in the A6000, but I assume they are very similar if not the same. Pixel density would allow for larger, but the fact that so many are on the sensor leads me to believe they are the very similar.

      The larger full frame sensor does have a harder time focusing by nature, due to the larger physical size and shallower depth of field. In addition, the A6000 only has 129 phase detection AF points compared to the 399 the A7r II offers, so that indicates to me it should be on par with the A6000. The A7r only shoots 5ps with tracking, vs the A6000 which has 11fps with tracking. That is a pretty big difference that might matter, but really depends on your specific needs.

      One other important thing to consider between the A6000 and A7r II is the cost of lenses. Full Frame E-Mount lenses are much more money and physically larger than the APS-C e-mount lenses designed for the A6000 sensor. A new A7000 is supposed to be coming out very soon and should be a nicer body than the A6000 with many more features I think.

      The RX100 IV is a great pocket-able camera for everyday, no question! If you don’t need the latest and greatest RX100, the older models are amazing cameras, still in production, and much cheaper 😉

      I hope that helps and please feel free to ask more questions if you have them 😉 Happy to try and help! I’m actually off from “real work” today….

      Jay


  6. Yao

    Great answers…the FF frame lenses are definitely more expensive. However I wonder how the older a mount ffs’ will fare with the new A7R II. Is there a lost of quality when using the aps-c lenses on a FF? I wanted to use the A7r II and A6000 interchangebly but you make a good point on waiting for the A7000. Lastly do you think new a7000 will be cheaper than the RX100 IV?

    Hope you enjoyed the day off.

    Yao


    • Jay

      Thanks Yao and sorry for the delayed reply! I’ve been tied up big time lately. The older mounts work well in my opinion especially for the money and the new AF abilities of the Hybrid sensor on a-mount and Canon EF mount lenses.

      Looks like the A7000 is going to be delayed until 2016 based on what I have heard due to hardware issues. That is over 6 months away and a long time in the technology/ camera game. I don’t think the A7000 will be cheaper. I think it will be around $1200-$1400 based on the Nex-7 when it came out and the new features the camera might have. New sensor, 4k video, tri-navi desing and possible 5-axis steadyshot? Who knows at this point really.

      I did enjoy the day off, thanks, and took the dirtbike for a long over do spin around the local trails. Huge fun!

      Jay


  7. Shah

    Well done, Jay 🙂
    Love your website.


  8. Steffo

    Great stuff as usuall Jay. The A7r2 is really tempting.


  9. Francesco

    Bellissima, non vedo l’ora che esce nei negozi, la comprerò subito, poter usare tutto il corredo di ottiche nikon che posseggo e farli diventare tutti VR.



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