New Sony a7R II – the 5 Key Improvements

These days, Kai seems to be dropping claims that Sony is taking over the world more often than he drops cameras. We might be hearing a lot more of this in the next couple of months as the new Sony a7R II has just been anounced.

It is quite phenomenal, and somewhat brutal, how quickly Sony is bringing out new models and the most amazing thing is that with each new update, there isn’t just a minute change but rather a significant set of new features and improvements. Here are the 5 big improvements of the a7R II:


1. New 42.4MP Backside-Illuminated Sensor

This is quite an amazing feat. Samsung could lay claim to having the world’s largest backside-illuminated sensor, with the APS-C one found in their recent NX cameras. Now, Sony has installed a stonking 42.4-megapixel BSI full-frame sensor into the a7R II! It means the camera has a higher expanded ISO of 102,400 and should have decent high ISO noise performance despite the gigantic hike in megapixels.

When the original a7R was released last year (yes, it was just last year!) some people believed its 36-megapixels was too much for their hard drive to handle, but now the a7R II has taken that to another level. The huge 50-megapixel capability of the Canon 5Ds and 5Ds R don’t seem as amazing now that Sony has gifted the a7R II with 42.4MP. Also, like its predecessor, a7R II doesn’t have an anti-aliasing filter, which will surely give this camera the potential to produce some stunningly sharp images.

The sensor has a gapless on-chip lens design with anti-reflective coating on the surface of the sensor to improve light collecting abilities. Another tecnological wonder includes the copper wiring design and expanded circuit scale to improve the transmission speed without sacrficing sensitivity.


2. Less Shutter Vibration

It might seem like a dull new feature to include in this listicle, but it’s an important one nonetheless. The shutter within the original a7R was not only loud but there were claims that it suffered from shutter shock. Basically, users were noting that their images were suffering as a consequence of the vibration caused from the shutter movement. The new shutter has 50% less vibrations and also has a life of 500,000 actuations.

Fast Hybrid AF

3. On-Sensor Phase Detection

The a7R II has a Fast Hybrid AF system, which has 399 focal-plane phase detection points. According to Sony, that is world’s widest AF coverage on a full-frame sensor. Combined with the 25 contrast-detect AF points, this gives the new Sony 40% faster focusing than the old model. The original wasn’t exactly the best when it came to fast focusing or fast shooting, but this improvement is surely going to change things, with an advanced motion-detection algorithm and 5-fps continuous burst.

4k Video from the a7R II

4. 4k Video

The Sony a7S could take 4k video with an add-on accessory, the Sony a7R II can take 4k video (3840×2160) as it is. It can do this in a Super 35mm or Full-Frame mode. The Super 35mm mode benefits from a full pixel readout with no pixel binning, which should mean that there is minimal moiré when shooting 4k video.

It shoots the 4k video at a high bit rate of 100Mbps and 1080p video at 50Mbps. Then you have the ability to shoot 120fps high-speed video in 720 mode plus a whole load of features that will make videographers go crazy over: Picture Profile, S-Log2 Gamma and S-Gamut, time code and clean HDMI output.


5. 5-Axis Image Stabilisation

Arguably one of the most important features that a videographer might need is I.S. and this has 5-axis stablisation like the Sony a7 II. It covers pitch, yaw, X, Y and roll, effectively giving 4 1/2 stops of stabilisation. This is a great feature for those shooting with legacy lenses, using an adapter, or when combined with the native lenses that use OSS also.

Overall, it sounds like an incredibly exciting new mirrorless camera from Sony, one we’re incredibly excited to get our hands on to test. The Sony a7R II is available in August with an expected price of $3200.

Here’s why Kai thinks the Sony a7R II is a bit of a Canon 5Ds R killer.