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
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.
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.
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.