Sony A7RII a first look Part II

Today part II in my review on the new Sony A7RII.


The first time I really pushed the Sony A7RII was actually the first day we were in San Francisco. During that day we visited several areas that are perfect for street photography. For me street photography is something I really love to do but also demands a lot from the camera I use, so let me tell you how the A7RII performed during the day.


I will divide the review in topics and tell you my personal opinion, in the end you will see a rather expansive album from that day with the images shot with the A7RII. All images are tinted like I normally do.


Colors are like I’m used from Sony, the AWB (Auto White Balance) works very good and the colors are very nice, no surprises here.


Battery life
I get a lot of questions about this.
I’m using a grip with 2 batteries (the camera is delivered with 2 batteries), the reason I use the grip is mostly due to the size, I like a bit more “beef” on my camera. During the day I used the camera a lot and also did some reviews, left the camera on during walking etc. still I got app 650 images out of the 2 batteries and ended with 20% in the last one (after which I switched both batteries), if you like to walk around a lot and shoot a lot I would advise 2 extra batteries, I can’t imagine someone needing more for photography. Normally I would never shoot 650 images during a day, but in this case we tested a lot and there was a LOT to shoot actually.


Noise on high-ISO
VERY VERY impressive. Noise is very good under control, up to ISO6400 I would use now without any reservations, even up to 12800 is no problem at all for nice A4 prints, after that it starts to get a bit more noisy, but as soon as DxO optics supports the files and you can use their awesome PRIME noise settings I would not be surprised if you can use it all the way up to the maximum ISO. Do remember you’re looking at 42.5 MP on 1:1 on your screen and that is “ridiculous” to judge noise, you can make billboards with an iPhone6 (we see these a lot now in SF) and that’s only 8MP, so noise on a 42.5 MP image…… don’t worry too much just shoot and you will be surprised.


You can see difference on lighting of course, with tungsten or fluorescent you will get a bit more noise than outside but again overall I’m not afraid to push the A7RII all the way up and still have some images that can be printed on A4 size without a problem.


Speed of AF
AWESOME, the A7RII is snappy and fast, I hardly missed any shots, and of course you can make it “hunt” with the SLT mirror inside (I use a convertor with SLT mirror for my A glass) I’m still using the contrast AF setting but also that is faster than the A7RII, seeing the fact that most improvements can be expected in the Phase detection AF (convertor without SLT mirror) I can’t wait to test this out, but at the moment I’m already more than happy with the response of the A7RII with the SLT convertor.


On the street I would love a camera that focusses instantly, sometimes you literally only have less of a second to take your shot and with the A7R I have to be honest… I missed some shots because the AF was just a bit too slow, the A7RII was a champ today, it snapped into focus, never hunted on the street and the images are RAZOR sharp. Of course you can make it hunt… like any camera that is… just point towards something with HEAVY sun light straight into the lens or an object without any detail… but that are extreme circumstances and I don’t know any camera that will focus correctly under these circumstances, but where it SHOULD focus…. well dude it focussed VERY fast.


Look of the files
I still don’t know what it exactly is, but when I shoot with Medium format there is a certain “magic” to the files, call it depth, or microdetail but the images are simply put “rounder” more 3D, in my review of the A7r I already mentioned that the A7r did this very well and I’m very happy to say that the A7RII takes another step in that direction, below two images that really hit the spot for me in this “look”.

SF day 2 (281 of 814) August 04 2015 \SF day 2 (100 of 814) August 04 2015

Panorama mode
Yes I use this quite often, I know it’s just a JPG but man it’s so easy and fast and the results are very good.
With the A7r you needed a very fast card to make this work flawless (especially on wide) so I was a bit worried for the A7RII but the speed on the sensor read out seems to work wonders here too, just sweep the camera and the panorama is done (nice). I do have to add I’m using a 64GB SD card type 3, so these are pretty fast cards.


Auto ISO
AWESOME, finally Sony implemented the minimum shutter speed and man that makes a HUGE difference, it was one of the things I really missed from the Canons and I never understood why Sony didn’t include it, but now we have it. I programmed one of the custom buttons to jump straight into the menu of the shutter speed so I can change it very quickly.


Overall speed
The camera not only feels faster but it is also faster, with 5 frames a second I got some images I couldn’t get with the A7R, and ok it’s not a speed monster with 12-14 frames per second but seeing the fact you’re shooting a 42.5 MP camera I’m more than impressed with it.


Dynamic Range
The camera is using a new type sensor (backlit) and this COULD of course have an influence on the dynamic range, but as we are used from Sony, the dynamic range is again “sick” I never ever owned a camera that could pull so much details out of a file like the Sony cameras (sensors). Some people actually comment on my files that they look to “HDR” “Dynamic” and that that would be a reason to not buy the camera…. do remember that you can ALWAYS limit your dynamic range, but you can’t add dynamic range to a camera (unless you shoot HDR), when the files come out of the camera they don’t look much different than what I got from my Canon cameras ( a bit more dynamic), but when you start pushing and pulling the files that’s when the “magic” happens.


We will have to wait for DxO labs when they test the camera, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this is one of the most dynamic cameras out there at the moment.


First “careful” conclusion
Absolutely happy, very impressed with the ISO and speed (both handling and AF) and I just LOVE something in the look of this camera. For our next outing I will couple some Leica R glass with the Sony and see how well it handles manual focus on the street.


Is it the best camera in the world?…. at the moment for me I’m afraid it actually is, the combination of speed, resolution and dynamic range is something I really love, add into the mix that you can mount every lens on it (ever build) and have in camera image stabilization, insane high ISO and the “new” body all adds to a pile of things I already liked about the A7r….


More soon.
For now enjoy the album, click on one of the files for the gallery view, and… sorry for the overload on images.