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 – Verdict

While there are some cameras that offer incremental upgrades over their predecessors, the Sony Alpha 7R II isn’t one of them. The Alpha 7R II is a huge step up from the Alpha 7R and the improvements that have been made address many of the criticisms of its predecessor. The accuracy and speed of focusing, particularly in low light and when third-party lenses are used in conjunction with adapters is drastically improved, thanks to the appointment of the new fast-hybrid AF system. The noisy shutter issue has been addressed, the introduction of Sony’s superb 5-axis image stabilisation technology is helpful for achieving pin-sharp results when it’s used handheld and the performance of the 42.4MP sensor is absolutely sensational. The way it controls noise and handles detail right up to ISO 25,600 is a real eye-opener.

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The Alpha 7R II paired with the Sony FE 24-70mm f4 ZA OSS Vario-Tessar Carl Zeiss T* lens

Though the handling is yet another area that’s been refined, I’d still like to see a larger scroll dial added at the rear alongside a touchscreen. Then there’s the battery life, which isn’t as good as the Alpha 7R and, as we’ve reported before, it’s a compromise you have to make for choosing a small, but immensely powerful camera. It’s good that Sony provide two batteries in the box, but those who plan to venture away from mains power for long periods are strongly advised to pack an additional set of batteries, as well as a USB cable and power bank for an emergency.

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AP’s Deputy Technical Editor, Michael Topham with the Sony Alpha 7R II

Sony’s current lineup of 11 E-mount full-frame format lenses means there’s no longer the limited supply of lenses there was when the original Alpha 7R arrived. There are also plans to expand Sony’s FE line to 20 lenses by 2016, so there’ll certainly be no shortage of glass to choose from in the future. If you’re sitting on the fence wondering whether the Alpha 7R II is worth changing to from a heavy and bulky DSLR, I’d highly recommend you try it. If you’re anything like me, you’re likely to find yourself checking your bank balance to work out if you can afford it. One thing’s for certain ­– if you do bite the bullet and settle for the Alpha 7R II you won’t be dissatisfied by its results and you’ll be a proud owner of one of the finest compact full-frame cameras available.

 

  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
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  • 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!