Sony finally announced the long awaited Sony A7rII and it's so packed in features that I'm not sure where to start. 42.4MP now with over 399 AF points and faster processing all while adding 5 axis in-body image stabilization and even 4k video internally. No, that was not a typo at all, but I can hardly believe it either. Today I really want to address my first thoughts on the A7rII and how it now only improves on such a great camera but really challenges the industry standard for specs in it's range.
I'm assuming that you're familiar with the original Sony A7r and the many benefits of the mirrorless E-Mount system (if not read my full review here), so let's look at how this improves on the already awesome original A7r.
Sony has created the first ever Back-Illuminated 35mm Full Frame sensor that now offers 42.4 Megapixels in resolution. This new CMOS sensor also shoots images up to 102,400 ISO.
According to Sony, this new sensor technology allows for both high resolution and high speed/sensitivity instead of compromising one for the other. This should help greatly in closing the gap between mirrorless and DSLR autofocus.
Autofocus and Speed Enhancements
Sony claims that the Sony A7rII has 40% faster autofocus response time than the original A7r. This is probably due to the fact that the A7rII has 399 phase detection AF points and 25 contrast points. Sony is clearly trying to open the functionality of this camera outside of architectural and landscape photographers who loves it's insane image quality and compact nature. With Canon's addition of the 5DSR to it's lineup Sony definitely needed to create a high resolution shooter with decent autofocus.
The internal data processing speed has also been improved and Sony claims files process up to 3.5x faster. This should help as the A7rII now shoots 5 frames per second.
Although I'm glad they're trying, I'm not sure I can say I approve of their piano in the above video (If you didn't know I was a musician/composer, click here). All jokes aside, Sony is clearly following the same path that they took with the Sony A7II. You'll get a slightly larger grip, more industrial design with its buttons and dials, as well as an overall thicker body due to it's housing of the 5 axis in body image stabilization. Nothing too game changing here over the Sony A7II but it's definitely an upgrade over the original A7/A7r/A7s designs.
That being said, Sony has made some noticeable upgrades to the viewfinder. The A7rII has the world highest magnification viewfinder (amongst digital still cameras) at .78x. For comparison the canon 5D Mark III is at .76x and the Nikon D810 about .70x magnification. Do note that this is very different than viewfinder coverage, to which all of these cameras have 100%. The viewfinder magnification is simply how large your view appears when composing your images.
5 Axis In-Body Image Stabilization
Yup, you've got the same fantastic on sensor image stabilization that we have with the Sony A7II. This means you can take old vintage prime glass with no electronics whatsoever and stabilize even f1.4, f/1.2 or f/.95 glass. As I mentioned in my initial thoughts about the A7II, these cameras can do more with Canon glass than OEM Canon DSLR's. You can take Canon's legendary 85mm f/1.2 and adapt it for stunning quality all while adding the ability to stabilize the lens. Crazy low light ability for sure.
Below is a video demonstrating the in body image stabilization featured in both the A7II and A7rII.
4K Internal Video
Wait a minute, did I read that wrong? Seriously, no typo there, Sony means absolute business when it comes to this camera.
Internal 4K (3840x2160) XAVC S Video at 100mbps in either Super 35 crop mode or Full Frame, S-LOG2 Gamma & S-Gamut, 120 FPS @ 720p, Clean HDMI out, and more.
The Sony A7rII appears to put Canon completely to shame. Everyone knows Canon has better video than Nikon, but they also realize that they are holding back features to force you into their 1D Cinema line which is frankly way outside of most budgets. At this point I'd rather have this one camera than both the Canon XC10 and 5DSR. You're getting the best of both worlds in one camera with essentially no compromise.
Of course I still see most video enthusiasts grabbing the GH4 or waiting for the (fingers crossed) "Sony A7sII", but as a professional still photographer who dabbles seriously in video this camera offers more than enough, especially with the image stabilization on sensor.
First Image Samples
Sony has released a few image samples of the A7rII although they are unfortunately all at half resolution except for this first larger one. Click to enlarge but realize that first of all these are initial images and not official, JPGS and not RAW, and as I already mentioned most of them only at about 20MP instead of the full 42.4MP.
I have yet to see the real world AF that the A7rII offers, but other than that this camera leaves very little to be desired. The Sony A7rII is of course still well suited to landscape, architectural, and commercial advertising photographers with it's extraordinary image quality paired with compact and durable design, but these new features open up all sorts of temptation for wedding, portrait, video, or even casual sports shooters.
Sony is finally pricing according to the value that they're offering. Although this is a bummer, it's completely justified with these beastly specs. The Sony A7rII is expected to be available come August 2015 for approx. $3198. With that said, it's important to remember that this camera in a sense combines the functions of several competitors cameras into one (i.e. Canon XC10 + Canon 5D MKIII = $4998). Obviously it's still only 1 camera and can only do 1 thing at a time, but a feature set this wide has to be considered when pricing, not to mention the completely innovative back-illuminated sensor and 5 axis in-body image stabilization that seems generations beyond Canon at the moment.
I don't think there are any doubts whatsoever that it's only a matter of time until this guy is the primary workhorse in my bag! Can't wait to put it through it's paces.
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