The Sony Alpha 7R was revolutionary at the time of its release and delivered outstanding image quality in a compact form. Michael Topham finds out if the Sony Alpha 7R II is a significantly improved successor

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Sony Alpha 7R II

Features:
Metering:
AWB Colour:
LCD viewfinder:
Build/Handling:
Autofocus:
Dynamic Range:

Pros:

  • + Stunning image quality with high levels of detail
  • + Refined body design with improved handling characteristics
  • + Wide autofocus coverage across the frame
  • + Superb 5-axis image stabilisation to correct for camera shake

Cons:

  • - Large file sizes
  • - Low battery life (290 shots using viewfinder)
  • - Lacks touchscreen functionality

Product:

Sony Alpha 7R II Review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£2,599.00 (Body Only)

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Sony Alpha 7R II Review – Image Quality: Detail and Noise

It’s the image quality produced by the Alpha 7R II’s new back-illuminated sensor that most will be keen to read about. Those who’ve been waiting to find out how the sensor performs won’t be disappointed ­– the 42.4MP sensor produces astonishing results both in the lab and out in the field. As you’d expect, it resolves finer detail than the Alpha 7R and its 7952×5303-pixel resolution equates to a 22x15in or 57x38cm print at a critically sharp 300ppi output resolution. Just like Canon’s EOS 5DS and 5DS R models, the detail the sensor is capable of resolving really has to be seen to be believed. Just as impressive is the way the Alpha 7R II’s sensor controls noise. Staggering results are obtained at ISO 6,400 and useable results can even be obtained at ISO 12,800 and 25,600 by applying a touch of noise reduction.

To be expected from a 42.2MP sensor with no optical low pass filter, the Alpha 7R resolves absolutely outstanding detail. A close examination of our resolution chart at ISO 100 indicates it can resolve 4,800l/ph – not quite a match for the Canon EOS 5DS R’s 5,600l/ph result at the same sensitivity, but a stunning resolution performance nevertheless. The Alpha 7R II attains the same resolution up to ISO 200, dropping only slightly to 4,400l/ph at ISO 400. Detail holds up very well to ISO 3,200 and drops only slightly to 4,000l/ph at ISO 6,400. Push beyond ISO 25,600 and detail starts to drop off to 3,600l/ph at its highest two sensitivity settings.

Below are 100% crops from our resolution chart, shot using the Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* lens. Note that because of the Alpha 7R II’s high resolution we’ve shot from double the distance as usual, and the numbers on the graph need to be multiplied by 200 to get the resolution in lines per picture height.

Sony_A7 R II_Res_50

Sony Alpha 7R II ISO 50

Sony_A7 R II_Res_100

Sony Alpha 7R II ISO 100

Sony_A7 R II_Res_200

Sony Alpha 7R II ISO 200

Sony_A7 R II_Res_400

Sony Alpha 7R II ISO 400

Sony_A7 R II_Res_800

Sony Alpha 7R II ISO 800

Sony_A7 R II_Res_1600

Sony Alpha 7R II ISO 1600

Sony_A7 R II_Res_3200

Sony Alpha 7R II ISO 3200

Sony_A7 R II_Res_6400

Sony Alpha 7R II ISO 6400

Sony_A7 R II_Res_12800

Sony Alpha 7R II ISO 12800

Sony_A7 R II_Res_25600

Sony Alpha 7R II ISO 25600

Sony_A7 R II_Res_51200

Sony Alpha 7R II ISO 51200

Sony_A7 R II_Res_102400

Sony Alpha 7R II ISO 102400

Noise

There’s one word that sums up the Alpha 7R II’s noise performance and that’s sublime. Opening our raw files in Camera Raw and inspecting them closely at 100% revealed there’s barely a hint of luminance noise between ISO 100-1,600 and it’s of such fine texture at ISO 3,200 and 6,400 that what you can see of it under close magnification is easily removed by applying some noise reduction in post processing. Inspecting ISO 12,800 revealed it’s more than useable too, as is ISO 25,600 with a push. The detail the sensor resolves right up to ISO 25,600 is nothing short of outstanding.

Colours between ISO 100-25,600 are excellent, with saturation only starting to take a slight hit at ISO 102,000. As for JPEGs, the in-camera noise reduction does take the edge off the finest detail as you start to encroach upon ISO 6,400, so it’s certainly advised to shoot in raw when you find yourself pushing the Alpha 7R II’s sensor to the extremes of its ISO range.

Sony Alpha A7R II ISO 50 RAW

Sony Alpha 7R II Noise, Raw ISO 50

Sony Alpha A7R II ISO 100 RAW

Sony Alpha 7R II Noise, Raw ISO 100

Sony Alpha A7R II ISO 200 RAW

Sony Alpha 7R II Noise, Raw ISO 200

Sony Alpha A7R II ISO 400 RAW

Sony Alpha 7R II Noise, Raw ISO 400

Sony Alpha A7R II ISO 800 RAW

Sony Alpha 7R II Noise, Raw ISO 800

Sony Alpha A7R II ISO 1600 RAW

Sony Alpha 7R II Noise, Raw ISO 1600

Sony Alpha A7R II ISO 3200 RAW

Sony Alpha 7R II Noise, Raw ISO 3200

Sony Alpha A7R II ISO 6400 RAW

Sony Alpha 7R II Noise, Raw ISO 6400

Sony Alpha A7R II ISO 12800 RAW

Sony Alpha 7R II Noise, Raw ISO 12800

Sony Alpha A7R II ISO 25600 RAW

Sony Alpha 7R II Noise, Raw ISO 25600

Sony Alpha A7R II ISO 51200 RAW

Sony Alpha 7R II Noise, Raw ISO 51200

Sony Alpha A7R II ISO 102400 RAW

Sony Alpha 7R II Noise, Raw ISO 102400

  1. 1. Sony Alpha 7R II Review: Introduction
  2. 2. Sony Alpha 7R II Review - Video Functionality
  3. 3. Sony Alpha 7R II Review - Build & Handling
  4. 4. Sony Alpha 7R II Review - Performance
  5. 5. Sony Alpha 7R II Review - Image Quality: Dynamic Range
  6. 6. Sony Alpha 7R II Review - Image Quality: Detail and Noise
  7. 7. Sony Alpha 7R II Review - Verdict
  8. 8. Sony Alpha 7R II Review - Full Specification
Page 6 of 8 - Show Full List
  • Peterfacts

    I’d just like to address a couple of points to the reviewer:

    1) With the A7R II having a 7952 x 5304 pixel sensor array, doesn’t it mean that – at a pixel density of 300ppi – you would be able to print up to a maximum of 26″ x 17″, without resampling, and not 22″ x 15″?

    2) The camera’s LCD/TFT monitor is ‘the same’ only in the sense that it shares the same 3″/7.5cm diagonal dimensions as the original A7R. For the A7R II, Sony has i) altered the tilt angles of the assembly (it can now tilt up 107 degrees and down 41 degrees, as opposed to up 90 degrees and down 45 degrees for the original A7R), and ii) the display resolution has increased from 921.600 dots (A7R) to 1.23 million dots (A7R II)

  • entoman

    If you want to try astrophotography, surely you would be better off with a Nikon D810A, or if on a lower budget, a Canon 60DA. Both are specifically designed for astrophotography, but will also produce excellent results with “normal” subjects. If you prefer the quirky design of Sony cameras, I’d suggest the A7S which is designed for low-light photography. It has “only” 12 megapixels, but that is more than good enough for a razor sharp A4 print.

  • entoman

    Sony are trying VERY hard, and it’s great to see a company being so brave and innovative, which creates competition and can only result in better cameras from other makers.

    Sony cameras have fantastic specifications, and sensors that are way ahead of the competition, but there is more to a camera than specification. It is also vital to have a complete lens range (Sony have a rapidly expanding lens range but it still can’t match what is produced by Nikon or Canon), and camera bodies that handle well and will survive knocks and showers.

    Unfortunately this is the area where Sony continue to fail. The A7iiR has better control layout than previous models, but is simply not in the same league as Nikon and Canon. Sure, it’s possible to adapt to the quirky design, but Sony definitely needs to pay more attention to ergonomics if it really hopes to challenge Canon and Nikon.

    Someone on another website stated that Canon and Nikon produce cameras, but that Sony produce gadgets, and unfortunately that is exactly the impression that the A7 series conveys. Wonderful little machines and fun to play with, but not for professionals who are looking for a tool not a toy.

  • btechno

    Awesome, thanks!

  • Michael Topham

    Without running a direct head-to-head with both cameras and analysing a series of the same images side by side it’s difficult to draw a comparison. However, that said the noise performance on the Alpha 7R II is exceptional and having thoroughly tested it through its sensitivity range and analysed my results in detail, I wouldn’t hesitate to push to ISO 6400 in low light. Usually I’m not too keen on pushing beyond ISO 3200 on my EOS 5D Mark III. When we can get our hands on another review sample we’ll try and post a low-light comparison to show how the Alpha 7R II compares to other current full-frame models.

  • btechno

    How would you expect the alpha 7R II to perform shooting night scenes vs. the Canon 5D Mark III, for example? Does the back illuminated sensor help to mitigate the high pixel count? Although it wouldn’t be my primary purpose, I am an amateur interesting in trying out some astrophotography. Thanks!