Sony A7R II Review

September 29, 2015 | Mark Goldstein | |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 42 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 10Mb.

The Sony A7R II produced images of outstanding quality during the review period. The Sony A7R II has an extensive and very usable ISO range of 50-102,400. ISO 50-3200 is virtually noise-free, while ISO 6400 and 12800 produce more than acceptable results, and even ISO 25600 and 51200 are OK for emergency use. The RAW samples illustrate just how much processing the camera does by default, though, as they're much noisier at all ISO values than their JPEG counterparts.

The 42 megapixel images are a little soft straight out of the camera using the default creative style and ideally require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera sharpening level. The night photograph was excellent, with the maximum shutter speed of 30 seconds and the Bulb mode offering lots of scope for creative night photography.

The effective Dynamic Range Optimizer function extracts more detail from the shadow and highlight areas in an image, without introducing any unwanted noise or other artifacts. The High Dynamic Range mode combines two shots taken at different exposures to produce one image with greater dynamic range than a single image would produce. It only works for JPEGs and for still subjects, but does produce some very effective results. Sony's now tried-and-trusted Sweep Panorama is still a joy to use. The various Picture Effects quickly produce special looks that would otherwise require you to spend a lot of time in the digital darkroom, while the Creative Styles provide a quick and easy way to tweak the camera's JPEG images.

Noise

There are 10 ISO settings available on the Sony A7R II. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting for both JPEG and RAW formats:

JPEG RAW

ISO 50 (100% Crop)

ISO 50 (100% Crop)

iso50.jpg iso50raw.jpg
   

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso100raw.jpg
   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso200raw.jpg
   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso400raw.jpg
   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso800raw.jpg
   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso1600raw.jpg
   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso3200.jpg iso3200raw.jpg
   

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

iso6400.jpg iso6400raw.jpg
   

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

iso12800.jpg iso12800raw.jpg
   

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

iso25600.jpg iso25600raw.jpg
   

ISO 51200 (100% Crop)

ISO 51200 (100% Crop)

iso51200.jpg iso51200raw.jpg
   

ISO 102400 (100% Crop)

ISO 102400 (100% Crop)

iso102400.jpg iso102400raw.jpg
   

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting. You can change the in-camera sharpening level if you don't like the default look.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
   
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

File Quality

The Sony A7R II has 3 different image quality settings available, with Extra Fine being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

42M Extra Fine (21.9Mb) (100% Crop) 42M Fine (10.4Mb) (100% Crop)
quality_extrafine.jpg quality_fine.jpg
   
42M Standard (4.12Mb) (100% Crop) 42M RAW (42.3Mb) (100% Crop)
quality_standard.jpg quality_raw.jpg

Night

The Sony A7R II's maximum shutter speed is 30 seconds and there's also a Bulb mode for even longer exposures, which is excellent news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 30 seconds at ISO 100.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg

Image Stabilisation

The Sony A7R II is the world’s second full-frame camera with an optical 5-axis image stabilization. Using the FE 55mm f/1.8 lens, we were able to obtain sharp results shooting handheld down to 1/8th second, about 4 stops below the "recommended" shutter speed of 1/50th second.

1/30th Sec

1/15th Sec

antishake3.jpg antishake2.jpg
   

1/8th Sec

1/4th Sec

antishake1.jpg antishake4.jpg

Dynamic Range Optimizer

D-Range Optimiser (DRO) is Sony's solution to improve shadow detail in photos taken in contrasty light. There are 5 different levels and an Auto option.

Off

Level 1
drange_01.jpg drange_02.jpg
   
Level 2 Level 3
drange_03.jpg drange_04.jpg
   
Level 4 Level 5
drange_05.jpg drange_06.jpg

High Dynamic Range

High Dynamic Range Optimiser (HDR) is Sony's solution for capturing more contrast than a single exposure can handle by combining two exposures into one image. There are 6 different EV settings and an Auto option.

Off

1EV
hdr_01.jpg hdr_02.jpg
   
2EV 3EV
hdr_03.jpg hdr_04.jpg
   
4EV 5EV
hdr_05.jpg hdr_06.jpg
   
6EV  
hdr_07.jpg  

Creative Styles

There are 13 Creative Style preset effects that you can use to change the look of your images.

Standard

Vivid

creative_style_01.jpg creative_style_02.jpg
   

Neutral

Clear

creative_style_03.jpg creative_style_04.jpg
   

Deep

Light

creative_style_05.jpg creative_style_06.jpg
   

Portrait

Landscape

creative_style_07.jpg creative_style_08.jpg
   

Sunset

Night Scene

creative_style_09.jpg creative_style_10.jpg
   

Autumn Leaves

Black & White

creative_style_11.jpg creative_style_12.jpg
   

Sepia

 
creative_style_13.jpg  

Picture Effects

The Sony A7R II offers a range of thirteen creative Picture Effects.

Off

Toy Camera

picture_effect_01.jpg picture_effect_02.jpg
   

Pop Color

Posterization

picture_effect_03.jpg picture_effect_04.jpg
   

Retro Photo

Soft High-key

picture_effect_05.jpg picture_effect_06.jpg
   

Partial Color (Red)

High Contrast Mono

picture_effect_07.jpg picture_effect_08.jpg
   

Soft Focus

HDR Painting

picture_effect_09.jpg picture_effect_10.jpg
   

Rich-tone Mono

Miniature

picture_effect_11.jpg picture_effect_12.jpg
   

Watercolor

Illustration

picture_effect_13.jpg picture_effect_14.jpg

Sweep Panorama Mode

The Sony A7R II allows you to take panoramic images very easily, by 'sweeping' with the camera while keeping the shutter release depressed. The camera does all the processing and stitching and even successfully compensates for moving subjects.

Standard (8192x1856 pixels)
panorama1.jpg
 
Standard (12416x1856 pixels)
panorama2.jpg

Video Samples

We've shot some sample videos with the Sony A7R II at all of the available settings, from 4K, then AVCHD, through to MP4. All of the A7R II sample videos were shot hand-held using the Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 lens with APS-C/Super 35mm set to On.

You can download the original file by clicking the title of each video to open it on the Vimeo site, then clicking the Download button underneath the video to display the Original option.

Sony A7R II XAVC S 4K 100M from photographyblog on Vimeo.

Sony A7R II XAVC S 4K 60M from photographyblog on Vimeo.

Sony A7R II XAVC S HD 50p 50M from photographyblog on Vimeo.

Sony A7R II XAVC S HD 25p 50M from photographyblog on Vimeo.

Sony A7R II XAVC S HD 100p 50M from photographyblog on Vimeo.

Sony A7R II AVCHD 50i 24M (FX) from photographyblog on Vimeo.

Sony A7R II AVCHD 50p 28M (PS) from photographyblog on Vimeo.

Sony A7R II AVCHD 25p 24M (FX) from photographyblog on Vimeo.

Sony A7R II AVCHD 25p 17M (FH) from photographyblog on Vimeo.

Sony A7R II AVCHD 50i 17M (FH) from photographyblog on Vimeo.

Sony A7R II MP4 1920x1080 50p 28M from photographyblog on Vimeo.

Sony A7R II MP4 1920x1080 25p 16M from photographyblog on Vimeo.

Sony A7R II MP4 1280x720 25p 6M from photographyblog on Vimeo.