The Sony A7RII (updated, 16 Sep 2015)

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Most asked question via email for July/August 2015: “What do you think of the Sony A7RII?”

Second most asked question via email for July/August 2015: “When will you be reviewing the Sony A7RII?”

Fanboys should stop reading now. There are uncomfortable truths contained within this post. IMG_8927b copy

Question #2 comes across as rather entitled but perhaps not surprising given the nature of the internet. However, given the fact that there are a billion reviews by every expert and his cat already circulating, I cannot add any findings to add that won’t unreasonably anger a certain segment of the readership. I have used all of the A7 series cameras except the A7S, and previously reviewed the A7R and A7II in detail. Each of these cameras suffered from significant shortcomings, and the A7RII is no different – though perhaps it has the fewest so far.

I probably should have titled this post as “why I won’t be ‘reviewing’ the A7RII”. This is not a review in the genre the internet has come to expect – a series of gushing observations after a company-sponsored junked, replete with mediocre SOOC snapshots. Instead, it’s both a series of observations from a working pro after two weeks of use, and a rational analysis of whether it merits a place in the bag or not – and more importantly, why. There is good and there is bad, and somehow the nature of the camera makes it much easier not to get emotional about.  It does not have the ergonomics of a 5DSR or the endless highlights of a D810 or the firmware updates of a Fuji or Ricoh nor the charm of a Hasselblad V. It will be superseded by a new model in a year, and probably worth very little. This is a disposable consumer tool, nothing more, nothing less.

Update: Sony has announced on 16/9/15 that they intend to implement uncompressed 14 bit RAW via firmware update. It remains to be seen whether this is 14 bits of true information without any preprocessing, or the same file in a larger 14 bit container. I am hoping for the former, of course…

_7R2_DSC0131 copyFrom the project “The disorientation of night”

The body and ergonomics are identical to the A7II, which I’ve already covered extensively. I found it okay but not great in the hand, imbalanced with larger lenses without a grip and that has not changed. If you want to take advantage of the wide variety of other legacy optics available, then the camera is no longer small when configured in a way that’s actually convenient to shoot. On top of that, whilst battery life has improved slightly with the A7RII, by the time you factor in the extra batteries required compared to say a D810, the camera is no lighter. It is both telling that the notoriously stingy Sony not only includes two batteries, but also a wall charger (previously not included with other A7 series cameras) in the box. Note that we are still talking 150, perhaps 200 shots maximum per battery here – this is against anywhere up to 2,000 with the D810. If we compare it to LV mode only, it’s still 3:1. And we don’t have the option to switch back to optical if we’re running low on juice. At least if you could completely turn off the monitor when not in use some power could be saved, but no – it stays on, just showing a black screen that will still draw attention to you and ruin your night vision.

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From the project “The disorientation of night”

The menu system is typical Sony. It is passable to those familiar, and completely unintuitive to those who aren’t. Functions aren’t really grouped in a sensible manner, and it seems there are just too many ways of changing things and certain functions that get locked out if others are selected (no custom WB with memory positions on the dial?) – plus there is no help key to aid with figuring out what cryptic abbreviations are on the fly (‘TC/UB Disp Switch’ and ‘Standard’ being direct AF point selection for the center button on the wheel – that’s really, really not obvious).

Operationally, this does not feel like a fast camera. Every action seems slightly delayed, as though damped in oil. Power on is slow. Reviewing images and zooming in is laggy. Moving the focusing point requires at least one extra button press and the box moves in small increments instead of jumping a whole box-width. Even the bite point of the shutter release is a bit too deep, meaning it feels just a little less responsive than is ideal. I’m sure the PDAF sites on-sensor will make for snappy AF with legacy lenses – both Sony and Canon – but the ergonomics are so dire that this is hardly a good solution unless there are some non-IS (but AF) lenses you must have. And practically, if you can afford an A7RII, you can also afford a 5DSR. Even AF with normal E-mount lenses is not exactly speedy – just the right side of acceptable most of the time, but in even slightly backlit situations, be prepared to wait – and get a lot of false positives.

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From the project “The disorientation of night”

It is, for all intents and purposes, and A7II with a higher resolution sensor. That is good and bad – if you liked the A7II, you’ll feel right at home here. If you didn’t, then nothing has changed. Unfortunately, that sensor is still crippled by the same 11+7 raw compression and some odd preprocessing that gives rise to strange texture noise in the shadows. However, it’s worth noting that at least empirically, that compression seems to be visually less of an issue with more resolution – I suppose that makes sense given there are more ‘steps’ over which to spread the transition. I’ve encountered posterization in shadow areas, but nowhere near as bad as with the A7II. Even though Sony has promised 14 bit raw, it isn’t going to fix the hardware compression that’s occurring before recording – we’re just going to have a larger container (i.e. bigger files) for the same amount of information.

No matter how many times I profile the camera or what I do with the primary curves or HSL defaults in ACR, there’s some muddiness and color indistinction going on in the shadows if you want to extract the most dynamic range from it; on the other hand, if you want clean shadows, you’re going to be faced with fairly early clipping. More profiling work is clearly required here; perhaps combined with some individual channel curve adjustments. There is perhaps 13.5 or more stops of DR in there, but not all of them are clean. It sits between the D810 and 5DSR in that respect, and is closer to the D810 in highlight handling, DR and the overall ‘look’ (both Sony sensors after all) and definitely lacks the 5DSR’s color. It probably has the least pleasing color of the three, even after profiling. Under ideal conditions, the A7RII can come quite close but does not take the image quality crown from the D810. I really still think that last bit of transparent tonality is being held back by file compression; it will be very interesting to see what Nikon does with this sensor in the inevitable D850 or D900.

Update: For all of the skeptics out there, there is now concrete evidence the compression degrades image quality. It does not matter if you aren’t chasing the last 5%, but I am. I thank DPR for doing it so I don’t have to.

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From the project “The disorientation of night”

One of the most impressive advances with the A7RII is on the video front – 4K (or consumer 3840px) internal recording with both full frame and S35 capture; the binning is nicely integer so the results are very, very clean indeed – to the point that the A7S is almost rendered irrelevant since we now get the benefit of IBIS, too. There is some rolling shutter, but overall video image quality leaves pretty much every other primarily-stills camera in the dust.

IBIS works. But it’s clear – as with the A7II – that it’s struggling with the increased sensor mass compared to something like the M4/3 cameras; it’s a bit less effective and selecting the correct focal length for adapted lenses appears to be more critical. (This is obviously a problem with zooms.) It unfortunately also complicates the matter of sensor cleaning greatly – though there’s a function which basically shakes the thing using brute force, I’ve already got stubborn dust spots on mine that cannot be dislodged with blower or shaker. It will have to be wet cleaned, but the sensor suspension mechanism is delicate and this makes me very nervous. Note: in four years of multiple Olympus bodies and over 100,000 images plus lens changes with no heed for ambient dust, I’ve never had to wet clean a sensor. Or even use a blower, for that matter.

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From the project “The disorientation of night”

Having said all of that, there are quite a few reasons one buys an A7RII (trumpeting its virtues on the internet for money or worshipping it as your messiah until the Mark III do not count).

    1. The most compelling one is because within limits, it extends the image quality envelope when handheld quite a bit: even with the shadow compression, IBIS realistically claws back 2-2.5 stops or so on the D810. You can also add another 0.5-1 stop since there’s an electronic front curtain shutter, too. (Don’t use the full e-shutter; it eats a stop of dynamic range because the readout time is accelerated.) It means ISO 400 or 280 instead of 1600 – the difference from that is much greater than the 11+7 compression. On top of that, you can also always obtain an ideal ETTR exposure because of the live zebra. Under marginal conditions, this is very significant.
    2. Zeiss AF lenses – in 25, 35, 55 and 85mm flavours; even if the 35 and 55 are not ‘full blown’ Zeiss, they still have similar rendering properties. As much as I love the Otuses, they are difficult to deploy under all conditions – hand held in low light, for instance. Practically, a Batis 85 at f2 will outperform an Otus 85 at f2 because you will a) have precise CDAF and IBIS and be at say 1/50s ISO 800, instead of 1/250s ISO3200 and manual focus. And there’s no Otus 25. Note that both cameras EVFs/LVs get laggy in low light though. And strengthening the case even further, older Contax/Yashica Zeiss lenses like the 2.8/35 PC Distagon and 100-300 Vario-Sonnar that I loved on the 5DSR (but won’t mount on the D810 due to flange distance issues) have now acquired stabilisation and don’t have to work quite as hard as on the 50MP sensor.
    3. What I think of as ‘run and gun missions’: your shoots are short enough that ergonomics and battery life are not issues. If you’re holding this thing all day with a grip and an Otus, it’s really not that different in weight to a D810 or 5DSR – except the latter two will be far more comfortable.
    4. You want to use specific old lenses with a consistent camera body, though those old lenses had better have the optics to hold up to a 42MP sensor and possibly also short flange distances/ high angles of incidence.
    5. You want a technical camera solution like the Cambo Actus without the cost or bulk of medium format (and wides are not so important).
    6. You are a videographer.

Sadly, the A7RII is not a camera that gives me any pleasure to shoot at the moment, and it bothers me that I cannot put my finger on exactly why. Logically, it ticks all the boxes. Yet it does not inspire goad you on, like the Leica Q, nor does it feel solidly dependable and razor sharp like the D810. It may well be unfamiliarity or a bad choice of custom key configuration on my part, but I suspect that isn’t entirely it. It just feels like a consumer electronic device in operation, something designed for anoraks by anoraks, not a camera. Maybe it is paradoxically too logical. It is honestly a purchase that I felt somewhat sick over – between our plummeting Malaysian currency and Sony’s history of eschewing firmware updates in favor of slightly improved models one year after release together with a slashing of price of the ‘old’ model.

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From the project “The disorientation of night” Some posterization is present in the original but not as bad as the web JPEG.

I put up with it because I realize that 1, 2, 3 and possibly 5 apply to me, and I routinely encounter the limitations of working handheld with high resolution systems in a way that almost defeats the point entirely. I shoot under conditions that are far enough outside the ‘ideal’ envelope to render the 5DSR too niche a tool to justify itself for my business (and the camera itself has a narrow envelope too), so it had to make way – as much as I love the color and ergonomics, there’s no way I can afford to switch entirely to Canon. But A7RII’s stabilizer opens up possibilities that I didn’t have previously.

On top of that, frequent fliers will also be familiar with the eternal problem of airlines and weight – the A7RII and six batteries might not be lighter than a D810 and one, but the Batis 85 is a third of the weight of the Otus 85, and weather sealed (even if the A7RII’s seals appear somewhat questionable). I could carry the 55 FE, 85 Batis and perhaps Voigtlander 180/4 APO together with a Q and have an extremely versatile and high quality travel kit without printing compromises. A D810-based system would require a Zacuto, two Otuses and perhaps a tripod – which raises weight by 2.5-7kg and is the difference between checking in and carrying on only.

I suspect that given sufficient time, I may come to respect this thing in a rational way – like the original D800E, which is still going strong after nearly 90,000 exposures and only ever used on assignment – again because it gives me no joy. Curiously, very small differences can change the feel of the thing – D810 vs D800E, for instance – maybe Sony will finally get it right with Mark III, along with some sort of serious professional support. In the meantime, it’s time to think more logically.

If after all of this you still want to buy one (and haven’t already) and use one of my links, they are below. Be sure to order extra batteries too; I’ve currently got ten and three chargers because I can shoot through six or more of them in a day; the rest are needed as a buffer in case I can’t charge all of them overnight. It does charge over micro USB, so you can actually hook it up to a mobile phone powerbank in your bag to top off the battery between sessions, too. Unfortunately you cannot shoot and charge over USB at the same time.
Sony A7RII B&H Amazon
Sony Zeiss FE 55/1.8 (beware sample variation) B&H Amazon
Zeiss 2/25 Batis B&H
Zeiss 1.8/85 Batis B&H
Sony NP-FW50 battery and compatible alternatives B&H Amazon

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Comments

  1. Hi Ming, as the A7Rii is two years old now and cameras like the D850 and 5D MkIV are out, what is your favourite full frame camera today in 2017 and why? I have been debating the merits of the A7Rii vs. the more established DSLRs out there. Thanks!

  2. Hi Ming, really great review.

    I have been a A7RII user for almost a year, but i always think the color of Sony is not very accurate and always looks too warm, no matter how i change the settings and edit with LR in RAW as well – nothing works perfectly. I heard a lot of people saying sony’s color is always too warm.

    Since i am a food blogger, i think the problem of warmth is fatal, thus i am thinking of switching to CANON 5DM3 or 5DM4 or NIKON D750/810.

    I have sold some of my SONY lens and currently what i have left: SONY A7RII BODY, Canon 24-70/2.8 lens, Sony 90mm macro, FUJI XT1…

    My main concern is the accurate in colors, as in, the colors of the photos have to be the closest to the original color of the food.

    Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!!!

  3. Andreas Carl says:

    TAKE HOME MESSAGE

    Here is my take-home message from this: Look at the wonderful pictures that illustrate Ming Thein’s “non-review”. Which lens are they taken with? Ah right, the Contax Zeiss 100-300mm, one of my favorite lenses. Would that lens work on a Nikon body? No. Would it work on a Canon body? Yes, but without IBIS and EVF magnifier or peaking, manually focusing would be a very unfortunate experience. Sometimes a picture says more than 1000 words 🙂

    Everything else is nit-picking …

    It’s interesting, but not surprising to anyone who tried the A7R2, that Ming Thein, who is a very professional photographer whose work I admire, uses – for the first time – a Sony camera for his professional work. Case closed 🙂

    • I’d have used the Voigtlander 180/4 APO on the Nikon, and I sold the Sony at a 40% loss after six months because it just wasn’t working for me. Case closed indeed.

  4. Hi Ming,

    Thanks for the great review. I prefer your more philosophical, less gear-oriented blog-posts, but now I’m in the market to upgrade my gear your reviews are extremely useful!

    I wonder, now it’s been half a year and I assume you’ve used the A7RII more, do you like it more, less, or have your feeling toward it stayed the same? I’m considering buying one, mainly because I do 50/50 still-photography and video, and this camera seems to be the best package to do both. My concern is that I’ve borrowed a friend’s A7RII for a half and hour and think it feels too plasticky – too much like a gadget/toy, but not a professional tool. It’s like I could’t trust it for an important shoot.. I wonder if this feeling would go away if I got one and got used to it. Do you have any thoughts on this? Sorry for my comments vagueness – keep up the good work!

    • I sold it. It’s frustratingly slow, unresponsive, and the files aren’t that great even after the firmware update. I’ve had strange errors and my friends with the camera have experienced lockups, file corruption and dead cards. It is not a camera, it’s an electronic gadget. After six months and eight thousand frames with it, I disliked it more and more.

      • I understand you. Same here. After three months using the A7RII it is something like a hate-love to me. I still hate the menue, which is a pain in the a** and it’s slowness can be so frustrating when clients are waiting. I don’t shoot a lot of photos anymore with it. I use it for 4K videos most of the time now. For photos I use my trusty D800E again.

  5. That was refreshing, thx Ming!

    I was looking forward to get this camera and dive into A7 world but i think i will pass at this moment, and get D750 with Fuji X-T10 with some glass at the same prize…

    “..there are a billion reviews by every expert..”
    I already love your writing.

  6. I have just returned from my 3 week vacation to Laos. I brought along the A7s and my newly acquired A7rII (having used m43 cameras for my vacations the last few years and Nikon FF before that).

    My findings are basically the following:

    * The A7rII is basically a MF camera in a small format (depending on lenses used). It is relatively slow to start up and very slow to review the results. AF-C mode is to slow to react for typical street photography (and also hunts enough in the beginning to not work well for street) so I reverted to AF-S just as on the A7s (so no benefit from PDAF). In AF-S mode it works well but still slower than m43.
    * A7rII IS works but not nearly as effective as on Olympus.
    * The real benefit of A7rII is that it allows precise focus with manual lenses in a small package while allowing great IQ and dynamic range. You really need smaller MF lenses to benefit from the smaller camera.
    * The A7s is a really good camera. It is lighter, it is much faster than the A7rII, batteries last at least twice as long as on the A7rII, images are good even under less than ideal light or lenses, focus works even in the dark with a slow super zoom (a7rII might have a similar IQ at those light levels but it cannot focus).
    * With manual lenses both seem to be useable for street photography (A7rII barely as it takes longer to start).

    With the introduction of the new tele lenses for m43 it really got me thinking about that there is really no ideal system for everything. My current thinking is to have the following (if needed):

    * For general photography I really like (not love) the new Sonys and will use them with compact (mostly MF) primes.
    * For compact travel I like m43 with their effective IS. The latest super zooms also works well and are light and compact. With the new 1 inch compacts this might soon change though. The Panasonic 100-300 works well in a pinch.
    * For wildlife and action I really like the Nikon DX. With the new lightweight 300/4 and a 1.4 TC combined with the D7200/D500 you have an amazing lightweight and fast combination. Much faster and reliable than the m43 options. Any purchase will need to wait until there is a reason.

    Never thought I would consider giving up on m43 but things are changing. The Sonys are however a very expensive option and much more specialized (the cost is already there for me as they are really hard to sell at a reasonable price).

  7. Ming, this was a very nice and honest review. At the moment I have a D810 + 16-35mm. However I’m looking at doing more real estate and serious landscape where the Canon 17mm TSE really comes to mind, and the filter system is very similar to what I use on the 16-35 (77mm screw ins and 4×6 Lee Filter system). However that means I’d have to drop the Nikon system and adopt either the 5DSR or A7RII to use the 17mm. What is your opinion on this? Canon colours have always looked better to me, but I assume this can be matched in post.

    • I don’t think it’s that easy to match N and C color response – I shot the 5DSR in parallel with my D810 for a while, but could never get the two to match colors. This was in favour of the Canon for landscape work, but bad to the point that a mixed batch of files would look obviously different (and I don’t think I’m that bad at color profiling). You will also be very, very frustrated with the 5DSR. The 7R2 has less pleasing color response than either the D810 or 5DSR, but better dynamic range than the 5DSR. To be honest, I don’t think switching is a solution; I went back to the D810 and stitching for those purposes (and may well eventually land up with an Alpa FPS and the 24 PCE on a digital back).

  8. Nightscrawler says:

    Hi Ming,

    I am using the Canon 1DX as my major DSLR in this digital era and overall I am very pleased with it. However, its also time for me to consider a mirror-less camera for the purpose of adapting some old lenses. How do you think of the auto white balance and color rendering of A7II and A7RII? Which one shall be better?

    All I think is although we may do some post-editing go have a better AWB or Color, it will be painful if every photos need certain touch up to make it looks good. So I would prefer something which I can enjoy shooting without the need of post-editing.

    Thanks.

  9. You said that the camera can’t be charged over USB while shooting at the same time. Sorry to say that you are mistaken. As a matter of fact that I’d I’ve of the best features of the camera. I use it with some 2.0ah Milwaukee tool batteries in a special battery holder. The same batteries used for the Milwaukee heated jackets.

    • It only works with certain chargers that can deliver over a certain amount of current. This is still not a good features as it’s far too easy to unplug or break off the cable in use.

  10. Thank you for this very interesing point of view on the A7RII, I own an A7 since it’s release, and after a few days of use I was about to bring it back to the shop (I think they had me buy it mostly to get rid of it in fact…). Finally I got used to it and now I enjoy it, but some of its shortcoming have to be adressed. I thought A7RII had achieved that, but it seems not.
    I still hope on A7III, especially because it’s smaller files might mean a faster interface. And also because it seems Sony is indeed listening to customers, with some firmware releases improving AF on A7, lossless RAW on Mark IIs… as well as improving ergonomics… I wish they will adress the battery issue, a compressed non lossy RAW, faster AF selection and operations.
    I wish I could stick to Sony and that tehy will release a better camera because I prefer EVF over OVF, and because of video abilities…

    In the meantime and talking about gear, could you tell me what strap you use and recomment, and specifically what is the strap on your pics ?
    Having just a received the Black Rapid Metro, I’m very disappointed. It is rated a top strap everywhere, but I just find it awful. It seems no maker is able to make a light, easily adjustable strap, leaving the tripod mount usable, that can be easily worn on the side…

    Thanks

    • Would you buy yet another version of the A7 given the first two haven’t really gotten better, and are effectively worthless on the used market? I wouldn’t, it’s both bad business and expensive because you’re missing shots.

      Strap – Artisan + Artist 203.

      • To begin with, thank you for your replies.

        Straps
        I don’t think the Artisan+Artist will do either, cause their straps are somewhat too short to my taste and to be worn on the side, I think I’ll resort to a DIY solution based on paracord or something like that.

        Camera
        I would buy another version of the A7 if the shortcomings important to me are adressed. It is the reason why I have not invested much in the lenses and the system yet, cause I might as well opt out… Just like you I fear camera companies are planning on slow improvements allowing regular obsolescence, even the outsider Sony, while providing a mirrorless camera as efficient as DSLR seems already possible at a relatively affordable (non-Leica) price… Too bad, cause even the perfect mirrorless TODAY, would leave a lot of room for technical improvment and more sales next year… and my over 10 years old Dynax 7D tells me ergonomics have been sold a long time ago.

        But as your article states it, mirrorless already have advantages of their own. I can’t really see a much better option than Sony for image quality and overall performance, unless reverting to DSLR (hence losing the size factor), but I’m open to your suggestions. From the gear you use, I guess D800/D810 is to you the best reasonable choice… and D600/D750 a somewhat more affordable one ?

        • Straps: there’s an A&A that has an easily adjustable length that goes very long; I think it’s the 103. Good for front or cross-body; this is the one I use.

          Cheap options: Might I suggest the D5500? The only critical thing it lacks is AF fine tune.

      • Ming, I think the bigger issue is that most cameras (even DSLRs) now have a very limited lifespan of cash value. As the mirrorless cameras have come to appeal to the masses and have rapid development cycles the old economics of the consumer electronics world of having a model more than 1 year old come to play. My 5D MKII has been practically worthless for quite some time now as nobody wants a DSLR second-hand but many want a shiny Sony. I’ve had good times with the 5D but its focussing is rubbish yet I would get next to nothing for it. After sampling the Sony lineup with a RX100M3 I think I’ll take a dip with the A6300 which I believe will be able to match my 5D for IQ and smash it for focussing.

        • No, the Sonys get pretty worthless pretty fast too, because they like to release an incrementally better new model every year. I took a 40% hit on mine when I sold it after six months. That’s about the same hit I’d take on the 3 year old Nikons. And I’d be confident of those getting the critical shot – but not any of the Sonys.

  11. Have I read and understood correctly that you currently use Sony A7r II?

    Does this means that for you after weighing everything, this camera still edge out other camera to go with you on your shoot?

    I have this camera, and I can say I agree with you on almost all of your points, except the ergonomics of the handling. I find A7r II better suits me than the D810, but I guess that is just a personal preference and quite subjective.

    This is definitely a camera you want to love, but has so many thing to hate about.

    Thanks for the review, although I am a A7r II user I find this a good review.

    • I’m pretty sure that’s what I said in the review. I bought one because there were reasons for doing so (and with the exception of one or two brands, that’s pretty much the only way I’m managing to review things these days). Doesn’t make me blind to its many limitations, though…

  12. An always-on monitor would be a deal breaker for me, so i contacted sony about your comment: “At least if you could completely turn off the monitor when not in use some power could be saved, but no – it stays on, just showing a black screen that will still draw attention to you and ruin your night vision.” The agent said that there are menu options to have the lcd monitor set to fully off OR fully on or off when you look thru the viewfinder. Am i misunderstanding something? Also what did you mean by “black screen”? why would a black screen draw attention or ruin night vision?
    Thanks for the otherwise clear, impartial review.

    • The monitor is on but shows a black image, so there’s still some glow. You can make it LCD only or EVF only, but there’s no way to say have playback default to one and LV/shoot the other.

      • Terry Allen says:

        Sorry to be a dope, but this seems unbelievable. Cant i just shut off the lcd completely when i am shooting. i almost never use it since i would have to put on glasses to see it clearly, while i can use the diopter to make the viewfinder clear. one of the things that attracted me to the model was the ability to shoot silently, so having a screen glow when i was, say shooting a classical concert, would be not only a battery drain, but a distraction. seems really stupid. and thanks for replying

      • Same issue plagues the E-M1. It is especially annoying in theaters or other venues where I would need to shoot unnoticed or when out at night.

    • Transmission Aquitaine says:

      How to completely turn off the LCD on an A7RII (Firmware v2.0)

      Under the Gear Menu on page 4 the 2nd setting is “FINDER/MONITOR”. It offers 3 settings: Viewfinder only, monitor only, and auto switch between the 2. Setting it to viewfinder only shuts down the LCD completely. There’s no glow at all, it looks the same as it does when you take the battery out of the camera.

      Changing this setting does mean using the main menu though, which does take time & effort on an a7rII. It’s not very fluid.

  13. Didier ZYLBERYNG says:

    Hi Ming,
    My first comment. Thank you for your blog, for sharing, it is very constructive.
    But I think the last image is quite dangerous because people beleive that the A7RII is always producing that kind of posterization. The “web” will forget your text but wil unfortunately only remenber this image…that’s kind of a pity. I can read now on many forums that there is a big issue with the image quality of the A7RII. Not your fault, but the web is sometimes a crazy robot!
    So, it would be nice to have the choice with compression and no compression file, I agree. According to my practice, I probably would use the no compression file during 2% of the time, I have mostly no problem with the compressed files.
    On the other hand I know I have not your experience, and I try to keep my eyes (and mind) open.
    Again, thank’s for your blog and for your work. I appreciate.
    Kind regards.

    • Most of the time I have no problem with the compression, either. The problem is that 2% can be enough to make or break an image, and it’s always the edge cases: that can cost you.

  14. Sony is upping the game. If the new uncompressed RAW brings the quality on par with the D810 then I don’t see the A7rII coming down in price any time soon, as there will likely be no mark III coming out the door next year. I may be wrong with this assumption though, it’s Sony we are a talking about after all. 🙂

    https://alphauniverse.com/stories/sony-announces-addition-of-uncompressed-14-bit-raw-still-image-capture-for-new—cameras/

    • I have a feeling we will only get this in the A7RIII. We may get 14 bit files but that does not necessarily mean that they will contain a full 14-bits worth of unadulterated information – I really hope I am wrong, though…

      • I’m really hoping they have found a way to get true 14-bit RAW out of the current hardware, but seeing how long it took them to implement this, I’m a bit skeptical. However, if they really pulled a rabbit out of their hat, I need to start seriously looking at the A7mkII. If it gets 14-bit RAW, it’s the best bang for buck in the 135-format market – IBIS and all.

      • It seems they did found a way to offer full 14 bit – not sure it’s on A7sII or A7rII, I suspect the former:

        “Are they 14-bit? They certainly appear to be. We used RawDigger to examine the uncompressed files and found that there aren’t large numbers of un-used Raw values as was the case before. However, until we can install final firmware on a production camera, we can’t test continuous shooting so don’t know what the files produced when the camera drops to 12-bit read-out mode will look like.”

        http://www.dpreview.com/articles/6144418951/what-difference-does-it-make-sony-uncompressed-raw

        • The 7R2 didn’t gain any file options with the latest FW update. But the file sizes suggest it’s a 7R2 rather than a 7S2 – 40>80MB is definitely NOT from a 12MP camera. Looking promising, but I really want to see whether the posterisation in extreme shadows/highlights is gone or not. Plus were going to have to wait again for Adobe to support the new files…

      • Sony has announced that the Alpha 7RII and the Alpha 7SII will have user selectable 14 bit un-compressed raw available, (Amateur Photogapher page7 publication date 3rd Oct ’15 available on 29th) due to customer feedback. The 7SII when it goes on sale and the 7RII by firmware updates, by my understanding.

        • Which I noted in the update to the review. However, whether this is truly unmolested, unprocessed data or merely the same data in a larger format remains to be seen…(and is dependent on chip architecture)

  15. Sean Quigley says:

    Ming, I just have to say these comments are a fantastic resource for Ego research, please keep them all coming, only photography much more than any other subject do they all come out to play. Regards

    • Hah. Try football, or cars… 🙂

    • Sean Quigley says:

      Ha-ha, Football to a much lower intellectual degree is mostly a very black or white issue, Cars 95% have only had a family car so it’s a no experience subject. Photography is special all comments should be supported with a portfolio then it would get very interesting.

  16. I purchased both the Sony A7r and the A7s. Returned them both for various reasons. Not yet tempted by the A7rII, mostly because of the messy compressed-lossy issue, but also disappointing is the poor battery performance. I am looking for a Nikon D820 with 42 or 54MB, and a real EVF, the same ISO 64, and all the other good things Nikon offers. The D810 is the best camera I have ever had, and I have had most of them. I don’t care about weight and, although I have scores of lenses, I only use the big heavy ones like the Zeiss Otus series plus various industrial exotics.

    • If Nikon would put an EVF into a D810, that may well be enough. Preserve the good ergonomics – small bodies are not helpful with big lenses, and all FF lenses of a certain quality have to be large anyway – laws of physics. Add the updated 42MP sensor and full electronic shutter, and we’re talking. The problem is, that’s really very divergent innovation compared to Nikon’s history – my guess is we’re far more likely to see something left field from Sigma or even Leica that fills this niche.

      • This could be cool, but an EVF is going to require more power than an optical SLR finder, though there is room for more or larger batteries in the typical Nikon pro/semipro body form factor than in the Sony A7 series. In a way I’d rather have a better optical finder like on my old F4, but I think that’s unlikely to happen as it would raise costs, and most DSLR photographers use AF lenses so they could care less about a good finder for manual focus lenses.

        As for Leica, I’d love it if they produced an M camera with 36-50 MP, and a fast high res EVF add on. The M-P 240 I now use is good for RF focusing, but the EVF is frustratingly slow, with a long blackout, and low-res, and no reposition of the focus area is just ridiculous. It’s a good camera, but quite limed even compared to the old D800E I continue to use.

        As a non-pro photographic artist I don’t feel the need to update my cameras all the time, and the D800E, with all its Live View shortcomings is still a phenomenal camera, and my main workhorse. If I relied as much on Live View as Ming does, I probably would feel differently and have gone for a D810. If Nikon comes out with a higher resolution version I may indeed spring for that.

        • It can’t use that much more power; the Q does pretty well on its battery – better than the 810/5DSR in live view, and several times better than the A7RII. Perhaps it’s a case of putting money into the circuitry…for all we gripe about our phones’ battery life, those things do an amazingly good job balancing processing power and efficiency. Time for the camera makers to take a look in that direction maybe…

          • I’m sure circuit design has a huge effect on battery use, which could account for much of differences between the brands. Another factor is probably the display technology used for the EVF or Live View screen, with some technologies being more wasteful than others. I remember reading a couple years ago about a technology to recapture waste photons in backlit LCD screens (ones that don’t form the image you see) to reduce power used, that was developed for smartphones (not sure if it’s actually in use yet). Presumably camera electronic display efficiency could be improved for all brands, but when will that become reality? As long as it’s not an issue for a particular camera’s target market segment, progress will be slow, which is a shame, because every bit helps in conserving power for mitigating global warming.

          • Ed Ingold says:

            One way to save power is to place the A7Rii in “Airplane” mode. This turns the Wi-Fi transceiver off. If you aren’t using it, why waste power. I also turn of the Pre-AF mode to save power, and more important, so I can focus and re-frame once the AF locks in. I recently spent three hours in a botanic garden, taking 403 shots before the battery shut down. The rear screen can be turned off, using the EVF exclusively (or vice versa). The EVF will only turn on if your eye is near the finder, but it’s very sensitive so the EVF will stay on if you carry the camera on a neck strap.

            This is my first post, and I appreciate your thorough if rather harsh review. Some of your objections are due to lack of familiarity with this video game turned camera, some are personal preferences, and some are valid. It’s good to hear a different viewpoint. Thank you.

            • Thanks for the suggestions, but I’ve done all of those things since day one. This is not my first time with the A7 series – I’ve used the original A7, A7R and A7II. Having seen several students on this current Masterclass with A7RIIs also experience similar power consumption as myself, I don’t think I’m alone.

              • I had the camera for a weekend and i got between 300-500 shots per battery, even with about 5 minutes of 4k video.
                I’ve been walking around with the camera in my hand turned on for about 3 hours per battery. So not triggering the EVF constantly.

                Where does this discrepancy come from? Do you shoot the pictures over a longer time powered on?

                I’m looking to buy a Sony A7RII with a 25mm Batis or RX1RII or a Leica Q.
                I want a camera i have with me if something comes up, so it has to be compact.
                The A7RII would be the more flexible/resonable option with a compromise on size.

                What bothered me most was the time for writing the file to card.
                No viewing/magnification of your picture for 3-4 seconds and up to 15-20 seconds if you shoot continuously.
                And i would like one button press focus magnification or at least the ability to switch auto magnification while focusing on/off with a custom button.

                With the Leica Q i’m worried about the banding issues. How relevant is it in real life shooting?
                And i really likes the low light capabilities of the A7RII, even with the f4 zoom i had for the weekend.
                How much would i lose?

                • I think we have the answer: 500 shots in 3 hours is an average of 2.7 per minute or one every 25 seconds or so, which is far more than I’m shooting. I will power on, shoot one or two frames, then power off again – I am not in continuous drive mode and the camera is off if I’m not using it. If you are in continuous, it’s worth noting that continuous drive mode also drops the camera back to 12 bit, which means smaller files, less processing time, less writing time, and less power consumption on the CPU side. And yes, playback is unusable if you are shooting continuously (or even a reasonably leisurely sequence). The camera’s internal pathways are USB2 only, which limits write speed to ~35mb/s regardless of card; this is fairly well documented. UHSII is really required for files this large, or at least USB3.

                  Q banding: visible at high ISOs under fluro light; not visible at all with continuous spectrum. In practice, it hasn’t been an issue for me more than once or twice. You lose nothing on the A7RII in low light capability; if anything, I think the Q has a shooting envelope greater than the A7RII by at least 2 stops. I can get very clean images in much lower light than the 7R2 even with similar (f1.8) speed lenses. For me, the 7R2’s AF gives up first – before the limits of sensor or IBIS.

                  • Thanks for your reply.
                    Not my normal shooting style.
                    I tried to get as many shots in different situations / settings as possible to find out what works. But i shot almost everything in single shot mode.
                    It seems counter intuitive that leaving the camera on with liveview and everything gives more shots per battery.
                    Maybe you should leave it on too 😉

                    I had few AF problems.
                    A black cat on a black street in the dark or when i placed the focus spot somewhere in the night sky without contrast.
                    The expand flexible spot did works quite well.
                    If i got it right, it uses a small spot point but if that does not work it goes bigger.

                    I will have a closer look at the Q.
                    Somehow i ended up with my name next to a preorder and could get it this week 😉

                    • I’ll give it a try. Not necessarily counterintuitive actually because it’s possible that the startup process may use more power than just leaving it on.

                      AF seems to be full of near misses – it’s as though it cannot quite differentiate between what’s inside the box, or the focusing motors aren’t precise enough to move a ‘half step’. I find that you just have to take a few shots and one is usually okay; this is obviously problematic for anything requiring critical timing.

      • Gerner Christensen says:

        ** .. my guess is we’re far more likely to see something left field from Sigma or even Leica that fills this niche ..**
        OK Nikon, don’t let Leica be the only one with 7,3 million pixels in the EVF. Check. EFC. Check. IBIS. Check.

  17. Analogies are fun. I just thought of another one; it can be attributed to diehard brand fans of any stripes, but it especially seems apparent reading comments from A7 series fans (apologists?)
    Spousal abuse.
    The abused person feels willing, even happy, to endure the faults and flaws of their abusive partner. The abused feels that the their abusers’ faults and flaws are somehow caused by their own actions, or lack of understanding of the abuser. They see the core thing about them they love, or want to love, and are seemingly blind to all the things which are wrong. The abused will frequently defend their partner, and attack others for not seeing the same good qualities in their abuser that they do.
    So, while you or I might look at an an aggressive, controlling, misanthropic bully and think, “that’s the last person I’d want in my family”, their poor partner can’t see a life without them. They’ll probably spit and throw things at you, because you’re obviously so boring and judgmental.

    • Haha – that’s a very novel way of putting it. I’m sure PL (guest author of today’s post) will have a lot to say…

    • “The abused person feels willing, even happy, to endure the faults and flaws of their abusive partner. The abused feels that the their abusers’ faults and flaws are somehow caused by their own actions, or lack of understanding of the abuser. They see the core thing about them they love, or want to love, and are seemingly blind to all the things which are wrong. The abused will frequently defend their partner, and attack others for not seeing the same good qualities in their abuser that they do.”

      Wow, you have just painted a Leica fanboy! Spot on, my dear Sir!!!

      • Haha. Or Sony. 😛

        • MalaysiaBoleh says:

          It is so obvious you don’t like Sony and like to nitpick things. Can you name a perfect camera that no one will nitpick? Please answer this question honestly. I have a Malaysian fan that does the same, unfortunately. “Sony is not a camera business but a Playstation business. It’s a toy.” That’s the attitude. Malaysia boleh!

          Funny enough all the reviews out there about the short battery life for Sony was compared to Nikon/Canon DSLR. For goodness sake, they don’t use EFV. If someone wants to compare battery life then compare it with an equivalent setup.

          Yes you complain again Sony had not done enough in such a short space of time comparing to Canikon. And yes you will most likely say that I’m a Sony fanboi.

          Here is my take. I will take my money to the most innovative companies, full stop. I had been with Canon for last 10 years but I will jump ship to whoever gives me innovations. Give me IQ, fast AF and small body Nikon, I will buy you. I would love Nikon DX4 or 5 AF in Sony A7RII. But in the mean time, I respect the company that can deliver most features in small package.

          To Martin Francis who used the analogies for fun, I like to pick one but too many to list out:

          Please also tell me you have found a perfect life. If you say yes, then we all know its bull! Nothing is perfect in this world! Here to the complainer https://www.facebook.com/AntiSenjuUderanKes2.0/videos/1660644737526650/

          I looked at your profile, while your work deserves some admiration, and I read your reviews and comments, you certainly don’t deserve any respects.

          • Enjoy your Sony. As you point out, I agree nothing’s perfect. If you’d actually bothered to read anything else I wrote, you’ll see I’ve slammed Nikon and Canon equally hard when they get it wrong, including battery life on the 5DSR and when I was the first to discover the D800’s focusing problems. The internet seems to have a short memory. Or perhaps it’s just disgraceful Malaysians who hide behind fake names, quote Facebook and do nothing constructive but criticise others.

            • MalaysiaBoleh says:

              Then you complained too much. Learn to appreciate more than complain that will makes you a better photographer. I don’t hide behind a fake name. I’m just disgusted by the so called a photographer that complained a lot about the tools he encounters. A good photographer will do with any tools given to him and work around it.

              Reading you posts LOL….always complain about the tools which you acknowledged so no point really reading them. I’ll pick a few in which I will think it’s interesting to be debated but will not waste my time on complainer.

              • Geez, man, have you no self control at all? I get some people don’t like Ming Thein’s work – they are entitled to. It’s an art, it’s subjective in the very core of it’s nature. I love most of it, but even to me it’s sometimes too sterile, too emotionless.
                But you calling him a “so called a photographer” is just insulting. Even more so when we all see on this blog what kind of perfection and quality Ming Thein is able to deliver, consistently. So either calm down, or show us your work, prove you’re on par with the person you’re berating.

              • Actually, I get the job done regardless. And I extract far more from my tools than most.

  18. Your issues and complains align very much with my experiences of these cameras. I think this is a very fair assessment.

    One thing I’m surprised you left out of your “reasons some people will still want one” list is EVF vs OVF. I’m guessing you have excellent near-distance vision as do many people who don’t see the enormous difficulty in OVF manual focus. But even if you don’t have presbyopia like Lloyd and myself, modern OVFs are designed for brightness over focus accuracy and are subject to miscalibration not just of focus but sometimes even of framing. The “what you see is what you get” nature of the EVF, especially with “zoom” modes, is an enormous boon for many of us. The big limiting factor right now is that all of that is only true in abundant light.

    • I might have missed mentioning it because I thought it was obvious (along the same lines of ‘it’s smaller). The problem is the ergonomics with legacy lenses aren’t great, so it’s a case of ‘better but not ideal’.

  19. Been using the a7r2 for a month and today finally packed it up and will be sending it off to be sold tomorrow. I’ve read a few reviews here and there along with comments from readers, mostly all of them gushing over Sony’s innovation and immanent ‘world domination’. Much of what’s been written about Sony with regards to them ‘pushing the envelope’ I agree with, it’s great what they’re doing and I have to applaud them. But a ‘camera for photographers who love making photographs’ …..IT IS NOT! Never in my entire life have I been more uninspired to go out and do the thing I love. In a word it has systematically ‘killed’ my passion for photography!

    That’s pretty much the beginning and end of it really, it’s not a camera for me.

    -f_Agent

    PS. I thought Ming’s summery is not only spot on but refreshing. Thank you Ming for the clarity.

    • My pleasure. But I can only surmise we must both be missing something, Mr. S. 😉

      On that note, it’s Q time.

    • This is exactly how I feel about the A7r and A6000 presently sat unloved in my dry cabinet along with the 35/1.4 Distagon, 55/1.8 Sonnar and 70-200/4 G et.al. I feel great resistance to taking the things out, no interest at all. In fact, I’ve been back at my home in Thailand now for three weeks and haven’t shot once. Ploughing yet more vast sums of money into the latest and the greatest somehow I just know isn’t going to make any difference to this impasse.

      • Hey Mike, If I was you, rather than let these sat unloved in your dry cabinet, I would sell these goodies before excessive depreciation hits… Don’t you think that’s the best way to go ?

    • I think that is great since at least now you do know you don’t like Sony A7 series cameras. Some other people enjoy these whilst others don’t that’s great since other brands may be more appealing to you.

    • Does it overheat and shut down when saving 4k internally?

  20. Wow! What a great and fair review. I’m really sick of those paid bloggers like Steve Huff, and this is finally a trustworthy and unbiased review that worth reading that matches to my own opinion (I have both A7r and A7r2). In spite both are reasonably good cameras, they aren’t pro tools for sure. I like the A7r2 to shoot my MF lenses like the Otus 85 and the 135 f2 APO, because 1) stabilization 2) precise focusing thru EVF, but compared to the 5Dsr the A7r2 is a toy. The AF is slow and in a less-then-perfect light conditions it becomes unusable. The battery life sucks. I never managed to get more than 200 shots on one charge. The ergonomics with heavy lenses is terrible. The native glass selection is limited: no telephotos over 200mm, no even “standard” 70-200 f/2.8… The 24-70 f/4 is an overpriced piece of junk. Dear Ming – thank you for your time working on this.

    • Well, I’m glad there’s at least one other person who doesn’t believe the camera is the second coming. There are reasons to have it, but plenty of reasons not to.

    • I’m just watching US open with one eye, as I’m typing, but I’m not seeing any of Sony’s down there in the forest of Canon/Nikon long guns.
      LOL!

    • MalaysiaBoleh says:

      Canon 5DSR is also toy when compared to Nikon D5 unfortunately. If you guys want to start comparing, let’s play a fair game. Nikon D5 is a better camera than Canon 5DSR is an exact DSLR format comparison.

      Need some growing up here!

  21. I stopped reading your article when you say that the batteries would last 150-200 shots at most. The truth is I shoot at least 600 and at most 950 shots with a single charge. Yes I shoot raw, yes I shoot in M only, yes IBIS is always on all the time, yes I use both the Evf and LCD.

    • I wish somebody would tell me how, because it would have saved a small fortune in batteries. Either there’s a bad batch of batteries out there – quite possible – or a bunch of people spraying in CH JPEG, which isn’t representative of how I (and a lot of others) use the camera. I suspect it might be the latter since it appears to be all of the event photographers who are claiming phenomenal battery life and the slow shooters otherwise. This doesn’t invalidate either observation, but at least one of us is willing to have an open mind to find out why.

      • Had it for a two week test drive for a newspaper. Used it in RAW. Used it with EVF and LCD and autofocus. No event shooting. Tested the Sony A7rII mainly as street shooter and at home for family. Experience: 250 to 400 shots. The usual with the Sony A7 series.

        • That’s quite a bit off 900 as claimed by others, but still better than I’m managing. I’m seriously starting to wonder if there is a bad batch of batteries.

      • 950 doesn’t sound possible. No reviewer has reported anywhere near this figure; something isn’t right here.

        The UK’s Amateur Photographer magazine reviewed the camera in its latest issue this week and reported a reasonable 290 shots using the v/f. Considering Sony seems to include two batteries with the camera, this would indicate even in their view, what one can expect could be low. But if you are managing only around 150 to 200 or so, you are somewhat behind AP, but without knowing their shooing regime, nor yours, it isn’t possible to find out.

        But, there IS a way where high shot counts are perfectly feasible. But as you will see, I’ve chosen an extreme way to show it. I’ve just carried out an experiment with my A7 with an 84% charged battery and managed 501 shots before I filled the card. The % remaining in the battery indicated 72%. How? Shooting in continuous sport mode! Absolutely no use to you, nor me, but it shows one can prove (manipulate opinion) anything if one has a mind too. (Ming, this is not a serious comment, as I am sure you will appreciate.)

        What does occur to me as being a faint possibility and that is how you initially charged the new batteries. On the first and subsequent charges, did you remove the batteries when the charging lamp went out? If you did, they would only be about 80% of full charge. I always leave mine in the charger for about an hour longer than advised to ensure the battery gets a good deep charge.

        If you have the time try cycling the batteries by running them down and re-charging a few times for the longer time. This was an issue with Ni-cads but can also affect Ni-MH and Li-ion to some degree.

        • I’d say the difference between 290 and 200 can be reasonably put down to usage. If you spend a lot of time setting up on a tripod, which I sometimes do, that would account for a difference. 900…I honestly cannot see how that is possible other than in CH Jpeg, which I believe is what you’ve said.

          Batteries have been cycled, and I generally leave them on for quite a bit longer simply because I don’t sit around to watch the charging lamp. I’ve also tried charging in-camera vs. external charger vs. third party chargers, and at this point, all batteries have been cycled a couple of times.

    • Yeah, there’s no way an entire battery only lasted 150-200 shots

  22. Well it seems everyone has an opinion about the new Sony A7rII, including me! In my case, I have merely had a bit of a play with the thing along with the Nikon d810, and one of the new Canon 5Ds on a few occasions for a few hours. However, as a camera salesman back in the 80s, one of the first things we did with any new camera was get a feel for their quality and handling, knowing anything less than durable was likely to come back to bite us with repairs and disappointed customers.
    As an innovator in electronics, Sony deserves our attention. So I was hopeful the A7rII would indeed be a mature version of its previous ‘beta’. Certainly it has a few nice features (IBIS being the standout). Yet, to me, it still feels inferior in build quality to the Nikon & Canon FF units (e.g. scuff marks and paint worn off the viewfinder housing on week old demo models at two stores in Japan, was a surprising observation). Build is better than its predecessor, yes, but it’s obvious to me that the Nikon & Canon models with their tried and true construction are built to be used in all weathers and handle the weight and shape of tele lenses without issue. Whereas the Sony? Well I wouldn’t risk it (can’t afford to).
    So quite apart from the lossy format (which is a very big ‘ouch’ if IQ matters), this camera will need extra looking after in the field to prevent it from looking shabby quickly. Personally, I have enough to care for than to stress about gear and don’t want to pay for stuff that isn’t properly sorted (not perfect just solidly reliable). But if you’ve bought a Sony A7 already, all the best with it. If you haven’t, and are merely curious, be assured: Ming is spot on.

    • I’ve tested the camera along with the Canon 5DS, Canon 5DSr and Nikon D810 for weeks now and I have to say the, although not perfect, the Sony is a very functional camera. I shoot landscape and for me the ‘image’ is the most important thing. I use old Canon FD lenses and a Mirex tilt adapter plus Metabones with the 24-70 f/4 IS and I’ve also been using the 24-70 f/2.8 (mk2), 16-35 f/4 and 100-400 mark II and the results are pretty spectacular. The camera build quality will only show over time, however to say that Sony aren’t tried and tested is remiss. I’ve had the Sony A900 and been out in torrential rain for a whole day to the point where I can’t actually see through the viewfinder anymore because it was filled with water and it would still take photographs. That camera wasn’t water sealed. I wouldn’t be quite so gung-ho with my A7R but if you search around online other people have. I’ve also had serious problems with old Canon’s – the 5D2 would show a big increase in noise when there was significant humidity and a friends 5D3 has stopped in light rain. I think these cameras are very ‘variable’, it all depends on what conducting parts and connectors are ‘exposed’ to moisture.

      See here for a couple of tests – I think this qualifies as ‘adequate’ water sealing (for these cameras anyway)


      The lossy format has only affected one picture from a colleague of mine (which was solved by bracketing) and the orange peel has been proven to be a problem with Lightroom applying different demosaic’ing or sharpening based on the camera type (processing in other software doesn’t cause a problem – resharpening raw tiffs in lightroom doesn’t show the problem).

      Regarding Tele lenses, the A7R had a crappy plastic mount but that has changed on the new camera and the lens, body, sensor registration is pretty amazing. That said, I don’t think any camera should take the weight of super telephoto lenses. A hint would be ‘does the lens have a tripod mount?’ if so then it should probably be held by the lens, not the camera; problem solved.

      • Appreciate your considered comments, Tim, and I respect your opinions (your articles on large format film vs. digital, and scanning – are excellent and reveal deep understanding of photographic IQ). So I happily defer to your direct experience (as opposed to my inferred opinions) about the SonyA7rII.

        I wasn’t making a blanket statement about Sony though (I own a Sony A6000 and encouraged a friend to buy an a99, simply because they represent good value for money, regardless how they handle RAWs).

        My concerns about the A7rII centre on expectations that Sony has itself produced through its publicity. That’s why I believe we ought to expect lossless RAWs, and durable external finishes from a camera promoted as the ‘hero’ model in the Sony lineup.

        But apart from that, Tim, your findings with processing the lossy files as TIFFS and skipping Lightroom as a way of achieving high level results deserve more attention because they clearly represent an important workaround.

        • Thanks Ming – I certainly feel more comfortable with film but I think I’m getting back to grips with digital (I started on an old Kodak and then Canon 20D, 5D, 5DII and then a revelatory trip to the Outer Hebrides in Scotland converted me to large format film). There is certainly something of a look about the new Sony sensor that, despite the annoying compression, gives it a very nice look. However the colour can be that ‘strong’ or ‘pure’ that it can be difficult to handle (like giving a sports car to a teenager who has only just passed their driving test).

          And I agree on the price/performance. It should be about £2000 instead of £2700 but that’s capitalism for you! I was hoping the camera that was going to be released was the A9 with all problems sorted out but perhaps they are still iterating there way there.. 🙂

          And yes, I was very surprised at Lightroom differentially processing images based on source. I need to write that up!

          • This ‘strong’ color I actually think is caused by the compression: you don’t have the very subtle tonal differentiation possible if the source data isn’t compressed. I don’t see it with my D810, but no matter what I do with the Sony files it’s very, very easy to turn skies (for instance) into solid blocks of color. I really hope my memory is wrong and there is a true software-only solution to the raw compression…

            • I’d blame colour profiles if you’re seeing out of gamut colours like that. The difference between the D810 and the A7Rii colour filters could be contributing to this. All of the colour filters are ‘stronger’ but the red and blue are much stronger in comparison with the D810. (15% and 20% stronger in comparison). This means purer colour which means you can get things looking very intense very quickly. Combine that with adobe’s reputation for building profiles and I think this is mostly to blame.

              Conversely on sensors that use ‘weak’ colour filters, the purity of colours is a lot less, hence they take a lot more saturation or contrast before colours end up out of gamut.

              The raw compression definitely isn’t causing skies to become solid blocks of colour though, at least not in any files I have seen or that I’ve downloaded from the web or had sent to me (because people had ‘posterised’ colour)

              • It isn’t that. Pulling down saturation and using a zeroed-out profile still gives me solid color blocks under some situations, just less saturated. I never use Adobe profiles, I’ve yet to see a single camera they’ve gotten it right for. It tends to happen towards the extreme ends of the gamut and luminance spectra.

                Most of the time skies themselves have enough luminance variance to avoid the blocking/posterization. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the jpeg compression was causing some issues not present in the source files, too.

Trackbacks

  1. […] I’ve got quite a spread though: E-M1.2 (1); 501CM/CFV-50c (1); H5D-50c (23); H6D-50c (3); Sony A7RII (1); iPhone 6+ (1); Leica Q (1); D810 (1). The only absentee camera I used but had no […]

  2. […] series was shot with a Leica Q, Nikon D810 and Zeiss 28 Otus, 180 APO-Lanthar, Sony A7RII and Zeiss 85 Batis. You can also look over my shoulder at the underlying postprocessing in […]

  3. […] series was shot with a Nikon D5500, 55-200/4-5.6 DX VR, Sony A7RII, Zeiss 2.8/21 Loxia, Zeiss 1.8/85 Batis, and Contax Zeiss 2.8/85 Sonnar and post processed with the […]

  4. […] series was shot with a Leica Q, Nikon D5500 and 55-200 VR II, Sony A7RII, Zeiss Batis 1.8/85, FE 55/1.8, and Contax-Zeiss 2.8/85 Sonnar. Postprocessing was done following […]

  5. […] series was shot with a Leica Q, Sony A7RII, Zeiss 85 Batis, Contax-Zeiss 2.8/85 MMG, Nikon D5500 and 55-200/4-5.6 VR II. You can learn […]

  6. […] series was shot with a Sony A7RII and Zeiss FE 1.8/55, and a Leica Q. Postprocessing via Photoshop Workflow II. You can also look […]

  7. […] series was shot with a Sony A7RII, Zeiss 2.8/21 Loxia and 1.8/55 FE and post processed with Photoshop Workflow II. You can also […]

  8. […] series was shot with a Leica Q 116, Nikon D5500 and 55-200/4-5.6 DX VR II, Sony A7RII and Zeiss 2.8/21 Loxia and 1.8/85 Batis lenses and post processed with The Monochrome Masterclass […]

  9. […] series was shot with a Sony A7RII, Zeiss 1.8/85 Batis, Contax Zeiss 2.8/85 Sonnar MMG and Zeiss 2.8/21 Loxia and post processed using […]

  10. […] series was shot with a Leica Q 116, D810/ Zeiss Otus 28, A7RII and Zeiss Batis 85 and post processed with PS Workflow II. You can also look over my shoulder […]

  11. […] series was shot with a Leica Q, D810/ Zeiss 28 Otus, A7RII/ Zeiss 85 Batis and processed with Photoshop Workflow II. You can also look over my shoulder […]

  12. […] series was shot with a variety of equipment (Leica Q, Sony A7RII, Nikon D810, Zeiss Otus 1.4/28 APO) and processed with Photoshop Workflow II, or The Monochrome […]

  13. […] quality of clouds and light. Enjoy! MT This series was shot with a variety of equipment (Leica Q, Sony A7RII, Nikon D810, Zeiss Otus 1.4/28 APO) and processed with Photoshop Workflow II, or The Monochrome […]

  14. […] series was shot with a variety of equipment (Leica Q, Sony A7RII, Nikon D810, Zeiss Otus 1.4/28 APO) and processed with Photoshop Workflow II, or The Monochrome […]

  15. […] series was shot with a Leica Q, Sony A7RII, Zeiss Batis 1.8/85, Zeiss FE 1.8/55, Nikon D810 and Zeiss Otus 1.4/28 APO Distagon. You can also […]

  16. […] series was shot with a Leica Q, Sony A7RII, Zeiss 2.8/35 PC Distagon, 1.8/55 FE, 1.8/85 Batis and Voigtlander 180/4 APO-Lanthar. Images in […]

  17. […] the D810/ Zeiss Otus 85, the Canon 5DSR and 40/2.8 STM, the Pentax 645Z and 90 SR Macro, and the A7RII** and Zeiss FE 55/1.8 or 85/1.8 Batis lenses. Zooms are generally out because they rob too much […]

  18. […] series was shot with a Sony A7RII, Zeiss 1.8/85 Batis and 2.8/35 PC Distagon. You can learn the underlying postprocessing in […]

  19. […] series was shot with a Leica Q, Sony A7RII and Zeiss 1.8/55 FE and 1.8/85 Batis lenses. You can learn the underlying postprocessing in the […]

  20. […] series was shot with a Sony A7RII and Zeiss 1.8/55 FE and 1.8/85 Batis […]

  21. […] screen, better grip, and 14 bit pipeline. In truth though, that’s probably about what my A7RII depreciates in a few […]

  22. […] series was shot with a Sony A7RII, Zeiss Batis 1.8/85, and Contax Zeiss 2.8/35 PC […]

  23. […] series was shot with a Sony A7RII, Zeiss Batis 1.8/85, Contax Zeiss 2.8/35 PC Distagon and a Leica Q. Postprocessing was with the […]

  24. […] of the year – Olympus E-M1 firmware 4.0, Sony A7RII firmware 2.0 I struggled for quite a while to find something that would fit the bill for […]

  25. […] adjusted…or there’s some variance, because…they’re hand adjusted. Tests were performed on a Sony A7RII body mounted on a Arca-Swiss P0 head and RRS24L tripod – i.e. sturdy – and released via IR […]

  26. […] mirrorless cameras in general, though I’ve chosen Sony FE specifically because a) I own the A7RII, and b) there are several ‘native mount’ options that are available for Sony that […]

  27. […] the largest, brightest, most detailed, most fluid EVF I’ve ever seen. It makes the Q and A7RII look like drinking straws by comparison. The refresh rate is blazingly fast and there is almost no […]

  28. […] firmware update to the A7RII – 19 October. The RX1RII uses the 42MP sensor from the A7RII and adds the RX100III/IV’s pop-up EVF; this is a very welcome change because the camera is […]

  29. […] it’s not very practical in the field. Sony has solved this problem for us to some extent with the A7RII. Live view magnification and the stabiliser extend the working envelope of the Otuses – and any […]

  30. […] you need a chiropractor and a Sherpa. Sony has solved this problem for us to some extent with the A7RII. Live view magnification and the stabiliser extend the working envelope of the Otuses – and […]

  31. […] Zeiss is now producing a line of “Batis” lenses specifically for the A7 series of cameras and they are fully integrated with the cameras automatic systems, and are very high quality. […]

  32. […] Reduces Chromatic Aberration Why the Sony a7R II Can’t Shoot 10-Bit or Full HD Slow Motion Video Sony a7R II Review by Ming Thein 42 Megapixels of Garbage by Benjamin Von Wong FINALLY of the week: Instagram adds portrait and […]

  33. […] Thein’in yazısı şurada: https://blog.mingthein.com/2015/08/25/the-sony-a7r-ii-a7rii/ […]

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