Sony launched the A7R Mark II on the 10th of June. It is an upgrade to the highly regarded A7R. This is the world’s first camera to feature a High resolution, Full frame, back illuminated, CMOS sensor. A Back illuminated sensor simply implies, a circuit design where all the wiring and components of the sensor are behind the pixels. This not only ensures a much faster information read out from the sensor, but most importantly it allows space for more pixels as well as a considerable better performance in low light. The A7R Mark II pack a whopping 42.4 mega pixels and reported can stretch its ISO range upto ISO 102400.
Sony is far ahead of the competition in terms of sensor technology and sale of sensors with Nikon utilizing Sony sensors in all of its Pro level DSLRS and Canon doing so with the G7x powershot line. Also, Sony as a company is given to deliver products with revolutionary technology at a refreshing rate. It does so again by packing a host of new and more powerful components in this latest offering.
The camera not only boasts a revolutionary new sensor, it also boasts a never seen before autofocus system. There were known issues with the slowness of the autofocus on the original A7. The mark II version now packs 399 phase detection AF points and 25 contrast points. Sony has also specially incorporated the factor of using Canon lenses along with the Metabones line of adapters. The A7r Mark II can not only auto focus but also track motion with canon camera. This is a fantastic addition and guaranteed to be a standout point amongst all the specifications of this camera. Sony has very intelligently compensated for the lack of certain lenses in its own line up. Also, this is a boon for many videographers and independent film makers as well who already have a large number of canon lenses.
A big strong point of the Sony series has always been the implementation of image stabilization inside the camera body itself. This further aides the use of lenses from other brands that do not have stabilization in them.
Sony says the backside illumination of the sensor allows the camera to have both high resolution and high speed/sensitivity, instead of having to choose one or the other. This may well be true. High resolution and high ISO performance certainly do not go hand in hand, it would be interesting to see if the Sony can actually deliver on this.
Sony has also redesigned the shutter. The camera has a shutter that reduces vibration by 50% and has a lifespan of 500,000 images.
The A7R Mark II is also well spec-ed on the video front. It can shoot and record 4K video internally in multiple formats, including Super 35mm and full frame. Functions that support a professional video workflow include Picture Profile, S-Log2 Gamma and S-Gamut, 120fps high frame rate movie shooting in HD (720p), time code, clean HDMI output and more. This is a big boost for small and medium size video production as it allows them to use the A7R Mark II as either a stand alone camera or as a second camera to intercut with more top of the line cameras from Sony such as the FS7.
Those already using the A7s to good effect will be pleased to see some video features being implemented here as well. The 4K picture in video mode comes from the entire full frame sensor area with no crop and gets reduced later in processing. If you wish to switch over to Super 35mm mode you get a 5K full pixel readout just like the A7S. This 5K images is then processed and recorded to 4K. This is a very big achievement as the image, in theory is “oversampled” by almost 2x (1.8 times in actuality). This will help produce less moire, less aliasing and rolling shutter than in full frame mode. The most striking aspect of this is that Sony is able to do all this data processing and compression internally, in a camera body this small. This is a big indicator of the processing power of this camera.
The A7R Mark II records 4K video in the, now largely accepted and appreciated codec – The XAVC-S. It records it at 100 Mbits/second. This is as per industry standard. Sony offers progressive frame rates of 24, 25 and 30p.
All in all, the A7R mark II has the full potential to be a total game changer. The spec sheet has all the markers of making it a huge hit. Only possible, practical issues could be of heating and battery drain, b ut this is only conjecture at this point. We will only know more once we have a unit to test and review. The camera is going to be made available in August. There is no word on India pricing yet, internationally it is priced at USD 3200/-.
Watch this space for for the complete review! This camera could potentially turn the industry in a completely new direction. It could potentially be the camera that could address all 3 needs of photographers- High Resolution, High ISO performance and High Definition Video (and 4K) in one body, without compromising on any of those departments.