Sony’s A7r contained the world’s most desirable FF sensor in a remarkable package that had its infuriating sides. Good build, lovely design, great EVF alongside terrible ergonomics, slow wakeup times and noisy shutter.
Once the joy of superb image quality started to dissolve into everyday normality, the niggles started to grow in importance up to the point where I actually stopped using the camera for some weeks. I voiced my aggravation several times on this website and then, more constructively, wondered whether the future A7r replacement would follow a path of innovation (more megapixels, sensor-shift …) or maturity (faster wakeup, better ergonomics, silent shutter …).
It turns out the answer is “both”. Sony have just announced what is – by a safe margin – the most mouth-watering camera on the market.
Resolution grows from 36 to 42Mpix. Probably not hugely noticeable but nothing to sniff at.
Much more importantly, the sensor is back-illuminated. In astrophotography, the best cameras all use this technology which not only provide greater sensitivity but – often – higher dynamic range. The aging sensor in the A7r really could not be criticised. 3 years on (I owned a D800e before the A7r) its image quality with good lenses and good shooting technique still amazes me. But, on paper, this new sensor promises even better things to come. The improved ISO rating is nice to have but not really essential. But it could mean that ISO3200 will be as smooth as 1000 used to be. And that’s really good.
I look forward to reading the specs in more detail, particularly dynamic range and base ISO value.
Just as sexy is the silent shutter more. That is wonderful news indeed for anyone making pictures in quiet environments.
Oh, and 4K for those who photograph things that move.
4 stop 5-axis stabilisation, 3.5x faster operation, silent mode, no vibrations, 500 000 shutter actuation rating …
These are all very precious promises which, if borne-out, will make this camera a very mature one on which to build a fantastic system.
First Image samples look very promising too. Also check out the full list of very interesting features (for instance, Bright Monitoring)
All this is very welcome maturity. Sony have resister market pressure and appear to have taken the time necessary to create an almost-perfect package.
My only, and very minor, gripe so far, is that the rear view seems to suggest ergonomic choices have remained the same. A bit of a shame but definitely something we can live with considering how brilliant the rest appears to be.
Q-dos Sony (I feel a little pain for Leica, who just announced a very interesting Q camera. But it does appear the real Q department is out there, at Sony HQ. There’s simply no comparison possible between these 2 offerings!)
And a huge thank you for listening to your fan base! You can use your fantastic cameras to film the slow sinking of your competition, who didn’t.
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I love the last sentence: ‘You can use your fantastic cameras to film the slow sinking of your competition, who didn’t.’
P.S. I am a Leica owner (M 240) with a few nice M lenses, hope that the lenses will go well on Sony body.
Thanks Vladimir. I was actually thinking of Nikon and Canon, when referring to the sinking competitors. While I don’t approve of some of Leica’s design decision, who seem to elevate retro as a virtue, I have tremendous respect for their lenses and would really love to try an M240 one day … Hope you enjoy your lenses on the A7rII. There are rumours suggesting the new sensor should cope better with Leica wide angles. The physics behind those claims are unclear and doubtful, but it would sure be wonderful news 🙂
What I’m even more excited about the A7R2 is their new AF system which seams to make you easily adapt A mount (and Canon) with a basic adapter but remain full AF performance. With E mount, AF performance is even higher.
This means, this camera is the future of A mount and the bridge for all Minolta/Sony users to E mount. Very interesting stuff.
Furthermore, high ISO performance has been increased, AF performance is up by a margin, silent shutter, better DR … Sony just showed you a no-compromise camera.
For me, the price is simply to high. And 42 MP doesn’t make sense for me, but it makes me desperately waiting for the A7III.
yes, that price is an issue. It seems 100% justified given the camera’s place in the market, but still a lot of money for most of us. I’m already selling stuff to afford mine. Why don’t you buy the A7II? It has dropped in price and seems to have most of the features of the R, except for the resolution. Do you think the AF will but that much better on the R?
What’s really making me imapatient is the DR. The new sensor has extended ISO performance but not a lot is said of the dynamic range. The marketing info mentions 19 stops thanks to 1/32000 speed. That’s 4 times quicker than the A7r, so 2 added stops (in a sort of auto HDR mode, I presume). I wonder where they find the extra 3 …
Well, I think, the back-illuminated sensor and the new AF really make a difference between the A7II and A7RII. You name ISO performance and DR, silent shutter and I add quasi A mount compatibility. I’d rather wait to have this technology available in a much cheaper 24 MP package.
Hmm, I understand totally. Could be a long wait though. My hunch is that Sony won’t be replacing cameras at quite the same pace as in the past now that they have decided what path to follow and made such huge strides. But who knows 🙂
Its mindblowing to watch my friends constantly buying new cameras for thousands of dollars, while they count pixels, reel off iso capabilities, etc… etc… Without ever making physical photographic prints. While this camera is probably worth buying (especially if one will be making prints of night images), it’s sad to see that the industry has everyone racing to constantly upgrade their cameras. It’s also bad for the environment. Every house has at least one if not 2 “obsolete” cell phones laying around. Do yourself a favor and get off the electronic gadget drug. Think about whether or not your hard earned money would be better spent on something you will actually use. Not saying don’t have a nice camera, but…
David, you raise an issue that I’m all too eager to sweep under the rug: printing. You are quite right, we rarely print anymore, let alone at the huge sizes that ould require that sort of resolution.
There are 2 arguments in favor of this camera, one good, one bad:
* My past experience with Sony has not been one of extreme reliability. It’s reassuring to have a new camera every 2 years.
* Even at web sized images, there is a visible image quality between the 16mpix cameras and higher res models. I don’t mean better, just different. 16mpix cameras have a more delineated quality.
But you’re right. And point number one is indeed wastefull. All I hope is that Sony will up the quality department so we can keep our maceras much longer.
I was waiting for this camera to come out, but now that it has, although I see the improvements, I hate the gain in weight. For me, the A7R was about as large and heavy as I want a camera to be. The II version is unfortunately a bit too massive for carrying all day.
Is there really such a difference ? I haven’t been able to handle one yet. The biggie for me isn’t weight but speed. The A7r has again driven me nuts with its crazy slow wake up time.
Size difference is minor, but the weight gain is substantial:
625g vs. 465g
Wow. That is significant !
I have had my Sony A7R for almost a year and bought my A7R II yesterday. Honestly, I picked them both up and feel nothing in weight difference! Not forgetting I use an Op/Tech USA strap and I can walk around all day and night with this set up! I have really loved using my A7R but the A7RII is a huge step up. No regrets! 😉