# 391. Sony’s A7RII (formerly Leica it or not)

By Paul Perton | Opinion

Aug 18


This post started as a semi-rant as you’ll soon see.

While I was dithering whether to click the post button, an e-mail conversation sprung-up between myself, Scottish photographer and friend Bob Hamilton and DS’ own Pascal Jappy. Predictably, they were both rhapsodising about their new A7RIIs, making my decision process quite a lot more difficult than the original (first) part of this post might suggest.


Later… for those remotely interested, I’ve still not decided and sticking with what I’ve got for now. At least either camera choice (see examples below) will still slide surreptitiously into a pocket.


Wild Flowers, Dalzell Estate - Bob Hamilton - A7RII - Sony G FE 90mm f2.8 Macro

Wild Flowers, Dalzell Estate – Bob Hamilton – A7RII – Sony G FE 90mm f2.8 Macro


Wynd, Edinburgh - Paul Perton - Fuji X100T

Wynd, Edinburgh – Paul Perton – Fuji X100T


Pascal Jappy - A7RII Zeiss Distagon 15mm f2.8

Pascal Jappy – A7RII Zeiss C-Sonnar 1.5/50


I’m normal and it’s entirely predictable that as a photographer I’d want a Leica. I’ve even done some research and keep looking at the photographs I take and in most cases, can find a solid reason to justify a buy. But I don’t.


And, I’m not sure I ever will.


Parnie Street, Glasgow - Paul Perton - Fuji X100T

Parnie Street, Glasgow – Paul Perton – Fuji X100T


Column, Glasgow - Paul Perton - Fuji X100T

Column, Glasgow – Paul Perton – Fuji X100T


For street photography, an M should really lift the quality of the pictures I take – they’ll be the same subjects as I’d take with any camera, but the uptick in imaging quality on offer makes me feel that I could easily justify the extraordinary cost.


In the landscape, I’m increasingly finding myself shooting at 28mm, 35mm and 50mm – the optimum for a Leica and its lenses. So, I could retire (read sell) my D700 and D800e and concentrate on one set of kit for just about everything. At a time when I am less and less inclined to haul DSLRs around the world and the airlines seem hell-bent on making the traveller’s life as difficult as possible, Leica-based photography appeals more and more.


Oh yes, the M’s got a full frame sensor too and did I mention the IQ?


You can see that I’ve been plotting this awhile and had managed on several occasions to overcome the negative feelings that other bloggers generated with their stories of Ms that failed and had to be returned to the mothership in Germany, fell short of specification or generally disappointed.


Gallowgate bar, Glasgow - Paul Perton - Fuji X100T

Gallowgate bar, Glasgow – Paul Perton – Fuji X100T


Morning, Edinburgh - Paul Perton - Sony NEX-7, Leica 50mm Summilux f1.4

Morning, Edinburgh – Paul Perton – Sony NEX-7, Leica 50mm Summilux f1.4


Then there is the recent spate of new cameras Leica has introduced; the X2, T series, the M, Monochrom and more recently, the Q. How could any company keep up with that product churn? Now, I find myself asking asking if I would I buy an M when the sensor in the Q is so clearly superior? When would Leica update the M with the Q’s sensor? On and on the questions go.


Despite all that, I had the credit card out and was ready to commit.


But I didn’t and now, probably won’t.


Colonies garden, Edinburgh - Paul Perton - Fuji X100T

Colonies garden, Edinburgh – Paul Perton – Fuji X100T


It’s Thorsten Overgaard’s fault. In The Leica M 246 goes to Paris, he rhapsodises about both M and Monochrom, but then moves on to discuss the M’s performance against Ansel Adams’ Zone System.


I’ll save you 60-odd pages of reading and gazing longingly at beautiful black and white photographs; neither camera seems to function terribly well below Zone I and not at all at Zone X. Now, without wishing to get into a war of words here – this is my buy/no buy decision after all – my understanding is that around 80% of the light captured by a digital sensor is at the right hand end of the visual spectrum – roughly Zones VIII to X. And, if the M series sensor topples in Zone X, what the hell is going on?


In his post, young Thorsten spends a lot of time waxing lyrical about the M’s ability to render mid-tones – it does, they’re magnificent. He does admit having to work hard at the blacks though.


But Zone X? Nope. He prefers to shoot in European conditions; soft light, not too much direct sun and maybe even some rain. That’s maximum Zone IX territory which will artfully avoid the trap of the brights and makes a mockery of Michael Richman’s Expose To The Right (ETTR) theory.


Well, Mr Overgaard, I live in Africa and down here the sun blazes from moments after sunrise, to moments before sunset – hard light and pure Zone X land, so how do you propose I use my M then?


I suppose I should write to Mr O – I’m currently waiting to board an Emirates flight from Europe back to Cape Town and have just had (yet again) hassles with the airline about my photographic kit/computer bag – and wanted to get these words down before the irritation wore off. If I do and he responds, I’ll let you know.




Pascal Jappy - A7RII Zeiss Distagon 15mm f2.8

Pascal Jappy – A7RII Zeiss C-Sonnar 50mm f/1.5


Bob: You knew I wouldn’t be able to help myself, especially as I own several lenses for the system.


Took delivery of an A7RII yesterday – surprised as I only ordered it 2 weeks ago.


First impressions are that it is a grade better made and more robust than its predecessor – especially the lens mount which shows no real movement now.


From having one of the worst shutters I have heard, Sony have transformed the camera into having one of the best – a marvellous little “snick” and no more.


Not processed any images from it yet (merely used the rear screen) but a minor miracle appears to have occurred in that even two of my favourite M lenses – the 18mm Super Elmar and 24mm Elmar – appear to show no colour fringing, whereas they were simply awful on the original A7. I’m sure there’ll be an issue still with those lenses but the unprocessed image looks good.


Pascal: Early days yet but this has a different feel to it than the “old” model – a much more solid and capable camera and more like the RX1r which is why I was lured into buying the A7R in the first place. If, as I suspect, its performance with legacy rangefinder lenses (especially the wides) is significantly improved, it will be a complete game-changer and signal the end of the Leica M for all but the rangefinder diehards.


I’m going to experiment deliberately with the 2 M lenses – the 18mm and the 24mm – which performed so poorly on the A7R, despite their stellar performance on the M, and will report back. If the new camera performs well with those, it will perform well with anything – Nikon glass included.


I gave up too early and sold my M wide angles, there is that Distagon 35/1.4 which I bought on a bet that the A7RII would handle it better.


Bob: First “serious” snaps taken yesterday with the new toy.


First image taken with the Sony Zeiss FE 55mm, second taken with the Leica M 16/18/21 Tri Elmar at 21mm and final one taken with Leica R 28-90mm at 90mm or so.


I have to say that I find focusing manually quite difficult (the EVF is nowhere near as good as the Olympus one in this respect) and the performance of the Leica R lens is maybe not the best on the camera, especially at the wider focal lengths. The Tri Elmar seems to behave well as it did on the previous model. Jury still out on non-native lenses.


Kirkton Glen - Bob Hamilton - A7RII - Leica M 16-18-21mm f4 + Metabones Adapter

Kirkton Glen – Bob Hamilton – A7RII – Leica M 16-18-21mm f4 + Metabones Adapter

Bob: It’s strange, Pascal, but I find it quite easy to manually focus native or A mount lenses on the A7RII but not so easy, in fact downright difficult, to focus legacy lenses, even when the lens is opened right up to the widest aperture. The subject matter makes quite a difference – buildings are easier than landscapes – but the native lenses are easier regardless of subject. Tried the A mount Sony Zeiss Distagon 24mm (used via the latest A to E adaptor) both in auto and manual focus modes and the auto focus was way off with the manual focus being spot on which was the same experience as I had with the A7R1 – infinity focus was almost impossible with the lens continually focusing on about 5 metres instead.


Initial impressions are very favourable as I said yesterday. The camera is much more robust, the sensor stabilisation is good, if not as good as the Olympus offering and is probably round about 3 stops as opposed to 5 which not surprising given the difference in sensor size and the shutter is now magnificent – as I said a real “snick” as opposed to the cacophony of the A7R1. It now feels almost like a professional tool.


The resolution is greater than the Leica S type 006 but the image quality, although excellent, is not quite on a par – I don’t know whether it’s the CCD sensor (16 bit colour as opposed to ?) or what must be among the finest lenses ever made but the S still holds the crown for me. As I said, though, early days yet and I need to print something decent to get a real flavour of the camera’s capability. What I do know is that yesterday’s walk was a lightweight pleasure with camera, Tri-Elmar, 35mm, 55mm and 70-200mm lenses…!!!


I’ve ordered the Batis 25mm lens and look forward to its arrival.


Bob: Printed one of the waterfall images, taken with the Tri Elmar at the 21mm setting, at the largest my printer is able to do – 620mm by 430mm (328dpi) – and I have to say that the resulting print is quite impressive with pretty good tonality and plenty of detail across most of the frame with only the very (and I mean very) extreme corners being slightly less sharp.


Bodes well for future Batis lenses.


Pascal: I’m surprised you are having difficulties focusing legacy lenses. Are you using focus peaking or simply magnification ? Focus peaking works wonderfully, although it is a total pain for composition. I must learn to dedicate a custom function button to it to be able to switch it on and off at will.


Your findings on the printer are great news indeed (thanks a lot for keeping me informed like this). Though not entirely a surprise as the Tri-Elmar was one of the best performing Leica M lenses on the A7R. Have you had similarly good results with other M-mount lenses?


Pascal Jappy - A7RII Zeiss C-Sonnar ZM 50mm f1.5

Pascal Jappy – A7RII Zeiss Distagon 35mm f/1.4 (2 frame pano)


One thing I’m curious about: how responsive is the camera? My A7R takes really (reaaaalllly) long to wake up and has cost me numerous shots and popped veins. Is the mkII version any better in that respect ?


Bob: I do use focus peaking, Pascal, but don’t totally trust it and I find the 5x magnified view of the EVF not to have sufficient detail to focus accurately, especially as the line between being in and out of focus is so fine. I must learn to trust the peaking facility but, like you, dislike the distortion it brings to the viewed image – a bit like the blinking zebras which must be capable of bringing on epilepsy in a susceptible person…!!!


The 18mm Super Elmar and 24mm Elmars still have some problems (vignetting and softness at the edges) but are much, much better than they were on the A7R1. I would think anything from 35mm on will perform well. The camera is extremely responsive now and there is no longer the really worrying clunking noise on turning it off or on. They really do seem to have sorted the shutter.


Pascal: Wonderful. If the wide angles have become usable but not perfect and the 35+ lenses essentially perfect, that will be a stellar companion. Cannot wait to use mine.


The responsiveness is very welcome too 🙂


Pascal: Hi Paul,


Have you decided to take the A7RII plunge, yet ?


If so, let me know what you find with the Biogon 25 and your Summilux. There’s a fair chance the Biogon will work a lot better than with the A7R and that would be mighty tempting to me 😉


Mine should arrive on Thursday. Counting the minutes. It’s been a long time since I’ve been excited about a Sony. Could this be “The One”?


Paul: Pascal,


I haven’t made a decision. I really want an ILC the size of the Fuji X100 – a Leica would be a fair fit for my wants.


Meantime, Sony seem to be moving inexorably towards pushing Nikon and Canon aside in the FF marketplace – the exercise made significantly easier by the latter’s almost complete disinterest in delivering anything innovative.


There’s also the issue of cash – something you’ll understand having just got home from the US – I’ve just had to order a new Mac notebook – part of a plan I’ve been working on for a while – but way before I had intended. It’s been driven by my 1998-era desktop system, which has done extraordinary work, but is now crashing on a regular basis. It might be memory. It might be the video card, Whatever it is, a repair is going to be a significant portion of the cost of a new notebook, so…


The A7RII will have to wait (a while).


Pascal: Yeah, I do understand all too well 😉


Pascal Jappy - A7RII Zeiss Distagon 15mm f2.8

Pascal Jappy – A7RII Zeiss Distagon 15mm f2.8


Bob and I will let you know, but this iteration should last longer and keep its value better. I’m getting the 3-year warranty, because it’s Sony.


Getting a new Macbook is also a treat, I’m sure. The downside of larger files is longer processing time, so uping the ante in the silicon department is the clever move. My compter is the fastest I could afford 2 years ago but is still stuttering on A7R files, so the mind boggleth when it comes to the larger rII pics. We shall see. Any hardware purchase will have to wait until 2016. A new camera and an OTUS have dug a big hole in Vault Jappy. Crap.


Canon has at least produced a camera that has its flaws but will appeal to landscape photographers. Nikon’s immobilism is staggering and inexplicable. It’s like they’re already planning their way out of the market, which could happen by 2020 … A bit sad, as my D800e was a true pleasure and much more of a camera than the A7R. Just hoping rII fares better.


Bob: More from the A7R2 taken yesterday on a jaunt down the Cowal Peninsula – awful weather but suits the mood of the place I think.


Loch Voil from Creag an Tuirc - Bob Hamilton - A7RII - Sony Zeiss FE 35mm f2.8mm

Loch Voil from Creag an Tuirc – Bob Hamilton – A7RII – Sony Zeiss FE 35mm f2.8mm


The Sony Zeiss FE 55 f1.8 is a stunning lens. The micro contrast is quite superb and the autofocus works a treat. The picture of the wild orchid was taken with the new Sony G FE 90mm Macro and the first 2 images were taken with the Sony Zeiss 24mm f2.0 Alpha lens on the LEA4 Alpha to FE adaptor.


The resolution is excellent but the tolerances with manual focusing are so fine as to be unbelievable, particularly when using the 24mm f2.0.


Overall, very impressed so far.


Pascal: Oh WOW, Bob. These are absolutely stunning. All the stars aligned for those; scenery, weather, camera and photographer. Feels like being there, without the drips down my neck.


I find the colours really lovely on the A7R2. Some of my first pics are attached. There was not a lot of colour and a strong cast and I pushed everything hard to see how the file would hold. With my A7R, there would have been a horrible yellow dominant. Here, the files don’t do that at all. Nowhere near as nice as yours, but I’m happy at what manipulation the system allows when needed. Can’t wait to actually leave the house/village with that camera.


I couldn’t find much difference between the two in terms of dynamic range or resolution, but white balance is a lot better and I think the whole system looks a lot less digital.


Bob: Thanks Pascal.


Your images are lovely – I doubt I’d leave your village if I lived there….!!!


Early days yet but the feel of the images, especially those taken with the 55mm lens, is quite similar to the Leica S which is quite encouraging – as you say, quite “undigital”.


Do you have any experience of the Loxia 35mm lens? Reason for the question is that I find the FE 35mm f2.8 a bit disappointing in terms of its resolution and micro-contrast and always have.




And that’s where we are today. Bob is a happy man – usually is with a new camera. Pascal is just starting his discovery process and I’m at the beginning of the usual angst over what to take on my next trip (India). It definitely won’t be an A7RII – the South African Rand has plummeted to above R20 : £1 from around R11 : £1 a year or so back, effectively increasing the local price by about 40% 🙁




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  • richard warren says:

    LOL – the photographer’s nightmare – so many things to choose from, and none of us can have all of them. I don’t feel the least bit sorry for Pascal, I wanted the Otus too but I’ve had to limit myself to the Sigma Art 50mm – despite the fact my love affair with Zeiss and their equipment stretches back 60 years, now.

    My favorite/local camera shop (as distinct from my favorite overseas one) has a wonderful range of Leicas and one of the partners is a Leica addict. I recently became quite interested in the Leica Q – nothing is “perfect”, but one attraction of the Q was that when you’re travelling, these Leicas don’t draw as much attention from thieves & pickpockets etc. – where my Nikons SCREAM “here I am”. But price killed that idea, along with the Otus. Sigh!

    The discussion of zones was, for me, the most interesting part of this article. Very informative, and I’d love to see it developed into a more formal paper going into the subject in more depth.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Richard, Pascal here. Thanks for the comment we can all relate to. The OTUS involved much sacrifice (I sold of 6 lenses to finance it) but I’m happy to own it now and it’s wonderful on the A7rII. A more formal review is on the way. I’ll probably push the button tomorrow. Cheers!

  • Mark Raugas says:

    I also hesitated on the M246 due to Thorsten Overgaard’s article. I had been excited for the camera, and was telling myself I would sell many lenses to get it when it came out, and use my A7R for color and that for black and white, and be done. But, this spring I had such fun using the Zeiss 35/1.4 distagon ZM lens with the A7R for monocrhome photography, I questioned that idea. Once I read about accounts of reliability issues (especially from Llyod Chamber’s blog) I thought maybe I would just rent the camera when I wanted it instead of paying so much for a camera I might not be able to count on. Thorsten’s article was lovely, but his analysis about the pains of working with the instrument gave me pause. Instead, I sold my A7R and shot film with my M7 for a while until my A7R II arrived. I could not be happier with the A7R II.

  • Ron Scheffler says:

    Jim Kasson did a couple quick near infinity sharpness comparisons between the a7R and a7RII with the Leica 18/3.8 and 24/3.8 M lenses: http://blog.kasson.com/?m=20150812

    Performance in respect to edge smearing appears to be very similar between the two and will require sensor stack conversion by Kolari to approach edge performance possible with a Leica digital M body. Based on this and some early forum posts, it seems that whatever worked well on the a7R without modification will continue to do so on the a7rII, and likewise for those lenses that did not work well (in respect to edge smearing rather than colour shift).

    The question of whether to go Leica or not is certainly an extremely personal decision and will depend on your mix of priorities. Since I can really only speak for myself, I will say I don’t regret making the commitment to a Leica M240 kit (21/28/50/90), though some of my work (such as sports) requires I maintain a DSLR system. Therefore it hasn’t been a complete ‘all-in’ commitment to Leica, either. Nor do I think I would ever do that for the reason of Leica’s slow service turnarounds. But when I travel or otherwise do photography for pleasure, it is nearly always with just the Leica kit.

    My priorities are very good image quality (but it doesn’t need to be cutting edge) in a compact system size that is fun to use, where the equipment fades into the background when in intensive use. In this respect I’m happy with Leica M. Having come from a very dial/button heavy (yet logical to me) Canon interface, I wasn’t sure if I would mesh well with the barebones Leica and the RF approach to focusing. But I have and it has been a pleasure in use. Yes, there are compromises made with any system, but IMO, you still can’t find a FF system with such small lenses and certainly won’t if AF is involved. A reason I was interested in Leica M was precisely due to poor AF experience with wide lenses and came to the conclusion that most of the time, I would get more consistent results with manual focus. Several years later, and this opinion still holds true. My dabbles with Sony a7 series cameras were mixed. Too often I found them distracting while shooting. It could have been partially due to the inevitable learning curve that comes with a new camera or system. But I still haven’t found a manual focus experience as simple and good as Leica M with 50mm and wider lenses.

    By no means is Leica M a perfect solution or system and it hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing for me. Only the most recent firmware update eliminated most of the occasional lock-ups I experienced with the M240 (roughly once every 1000 frames). Live view is adequate for composition and basic focusing needs, but it’s nowhere as good as other systems, especially if you expect off-centre magnified focusing. It’s also rather laggy in live view between shots. I find I use live view more for compositional purposes and use the RF to focus. It’s faster and very precise, especially with wide angle lenses. I usually only use live view to focus at 90mm when I want to be 100% sure of focus, and have the time. Wake from sleep is very slow, ranging from 1.5-4 seconds, seemingly dependent on the card used. I simply disable sleep to avoid this, but end up burning through batteries faster. However, the beefy battery will last eons in comparison to those of the a7 cameras. If I simply leave the camera on all the time, I will typically go through 2-2.5 batteries in 12-14 hours with casual use.

    IMO the greatest weakness of Leica is their service support. It simply takes ages and too much of the work requires sending gear to the major service centres (i.e. Germany or USA). The system may require some fine tuning to get everything to work ideally together, particularly in respect to RF calibration, though in this respect, the M240 seems to be much better out of the box than the M9. As explained to me by Leica USA, the M240 (and presumably the M246) requires a mandatory inspection procedure for every service visit, no matter how minor the problem. This inspection relies on dedicated and costly hardware that apparently not all Leica offices maintain, thus necessitating the forwarding of the camera to a suitably equipped location. This may not be a significant concern if you’re located in a major market, such as Europe or the US, but I would be somewhat concerned about South Africa. Servicing may require shipment to Germany; something you should confirm if you ever do intend to get a Leica.

    As for the Sony killing off Leica… I don’t see it happening or as it even being a focus for Sony, since they are certainly much more occupied with their market share versus Canon and Nikon. Meanwhile Sony also has to contend with competition from Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic for those photographers looking for smaller, affordable systems. If anyone will kill Leica, it’s Leica. As you’ve mentioned, their product offerings have recently ballooned and makes one wonder a bit about their focus. Maybe it will work for them. Maybe they will overextend themselves… But they do need to progress and innovate, otherwise they will lose the momentum they regained only a few years ago with the M9 that pulled them from the edge of the precipice that time. At least in this respect the Q looks to be very promising.

    • Iury says:

      Andrew, I don’t really biveele it is correct to compare the Sony RX1 and the M9 or M, as these are very different animals. Forget CCD vs. CMOS for a moment and consider this; the experience of framing and composing through a rangefinder window as a scene develops, while your fingers automatically adjust focus based on muscle memory, is so foreign to the electronic viewfinder autofocus method of the Sony as to be night and day. When I’m walking with my M9 in my hands I am constantly setting focus, so as a scene develops before me I am focusing before the camera comes to my eye, only using the rangefinder patch for confirmation (or sometimes not at all). Just try that with an RX1. Shooting with a rangefinder is not for everybody, and it takes considerable practice to become, in the words of Leica Akademie instructor Tom Smith, A Leica Ninja , but once learned it’s almost impossible to use any other system. Peter’s point is that many of us who shoot the M9 had a very short wish list for the next version. Faster buffer, better high ISO, better LCD. If Leica had announced an M10 with those features (retaining a CCD) I would have already placed my order. But now Leica is going down a completely new road with a CMOS sensor, and it’s hard to imagine that there will not be a few (or more) bumps along the way.

  • Bumpy says:

    Revealing my folly perhaps, but it took me 2 weeks wondering why focus magnified image on A7rII was so unsatisfying for manual focus before I realized I had not adjusted the diopter. A couple clicks later the in focus image really popped. Also remember to set display quality to high.

    A couple other quick comments: Shot 300 2.8 at 5.6 on tripod Nex7 v. A7rII; resolving power was very close between the two, though the A7 overall iq was, of course, far better. Shot old nikon manual focus 500 f4 handheld at 1/60th (not a typo, that is one sixtieth) iso 5000 and got an acceptably sharp image of a flower.

    Overall the A7rII dramatically expands the conditions under which the camera reveals the limitations of the photographer.

  • Keith Meinhold says:

    Thank you for #391. The a7rII is not even close to my budget yet (for this amateur) and I will stick with the a6000. The images look like you can reach right into them.

  • Philberphoto says:

    This is too good a discussion not to jump in! Kudos to Paul for introducing it!

    I could never be a Leica customer (yes, I know, famous last words… which I may have to eat some day). It has “luxury” written all over it, meaning that exclusivity and “belonging to the club” are supposed to create value for the customer. The worst example is Louis Vuitton, which is deemed desirable just because it is hard to get, and the company makes it deliberately, even comically so. Seeing hordes of Asian tourists gathered up close to the entrance of the Paris flagship store, looking for Parisians to take their cash and enter the store in their stead, so that they can exceed the quota a single person can buy with in a given timeframe, is a farce.
    I feel Leica are the same. I hear the same condescending snicker when I dare utter such old-world words as “reliability”, or “value”. I am told that “I just don’t get it”, that “Leica is about the experience”. Then I try to mouth criticism about the crippled implementation of LiveView in the M Type 240, and, again, I am derided for “not being a member of the club”.
    To which I say: “bollocks!” As Groucho would have said: “I’d never want to be a member of a club that would have me as a member!”
    That is not to say that Leica products don’t qualify as very serious imagemakers. The M definitely do, and the Q very probably does. I am much more skeptical of the “other stuff” that appears to be proliferating (various X and T).
    No, what keeps me from owning a Leica is simple: for that price, they ought to be workhorses, utterly solid and dependable, and they are the opposite. Too many tales of cameras having to be sent back to Germany.
    My quest towards better photography is a path through uncertainty. This is, after all, what leads to us ‘togs to measure our keeper rate. God, the uphill learning curve of lifting it from 5% to 7-8%… This is what causes us to chimp and check every shot, and shoot again, and God bless digital for letting us do that, rather than count the opportunities forever lost to our lack of ability to “get it together” as in film times.
    That uncertainty is already bad enough, we, as customers ought not to be paying out good money for equipment that actually increases it. Hence my frustration when my equipment isn’t “uncertainty proof”. Such as my beloved Zeiss ZE 50 Planar f:1.4 that had focus shift at larger apertures, so nailing the shot felt like a game of “she loves me, she loves me not”. Hence my frustration with Sony’s A7R, so often a compelling imagemaker, but so slow, and not helping my uncertainty with a shutter button that felt like marshmallow, followed by the vibration of the shutter itself, and so obviously not made to last forever.
    So where does that middle-of-the-night rambling bring me? To one piece of gear that has brought a large measure of certainty to my game: the Otus 55. Its optical qualities might not be the best at everything, even though they might, but they are so good at everything that I never miss a shot because Bertha (my term of endearment for it) couldn’t hack it. If it is out there, Bertha will get it for me. Furthermore, Bertha has helped my keeper rate beyond measure because of its wonderful focusing system. The focus throw is just perfect, the feel is impeccable, and the precision as great as it gets. Not only is the lens stellar, but it helps me get the shot as often as humanly possible. God, that is a good feeling: I am being helped by my gear, and, because of that, I have the biggest and the baddest imagemaker. I could see myself owning just that one lens, it is so rewarding to feel sure of oneself. Even the remarkable Audrey (Zeiss ZM 35 f:1.4) can’t compare. Because of the “normal” focusing, my keeper is less good by a substantial percentage, plus it has issues on the Sony A7 platform.
    Where does that bring me on the camera front? Simply, a body is just a pedestal for Bertha, a sort of digital back. I expect it to deliver stellar IQ, reliably, and never get in the way. That new-found feeling of certainly has even trumped my desire for smaller, lighter systems. I can see myself having just 2 lenses, Bertha, and the wide-angle Otus which Zeiss must be announcing some day, soon I hope. In my mind, I own it already, it will be called Karl

    The A7RII does that better than the A7R. The shutter button and shutter are so much better, as Bob writes. The reassuring feel of a more solid body. The improved handling, because the format and layout have been improved. The IBIS that takes uncertainty out of slow shutter speeds. Yes, IQ is better in a couple of ways IMHO. Images, particularly Bob’s, are more “medium-format-like”, and the B&W is magnificent. But would I have spent the not inconsiderable cost of an upgrade for just the uptick in IQ? Maybe, yet maybe not. But, because it helps my reduce even more my feeling of uncertainy, for me, it was just a must-buy.

    Now there is nothing to say that Leica can’t do it. They could. They certainly have the glass, and the Q like the Sony RX-1 before it, is a step in that direction. They owned the street photography market in the days of Cartier-Bresson and so many other greats, and I cannot imagine that they would have looked kindly on their gear if it had let them down in the middle of action. But, to earn my money, they need to reassure me in a way no gear does it now, and that is not the case at present. In a way, it is like marriage. A wife is by one’s side for better or for worse, in good times and in bad. Whereas a mistress is fun, and lively, and good in bed, and is demanding and high-maintenance in so many ways. Bertha has the name, the girth and the looks of a wife, doesn’t it? I am home, dear, and I love you! Leica does look and feel like a mistress: elegant, and and thin, and light, and exciting and other, much less endearing traits as well. For me, it is the wifey!

  • Dale Matson says:

    Pascal Jappy,
    That 2 frame pano is pure art. Also an unbeatable combination of camera and lens. I was looking for a young Stevie Nicks to come dancing in.

  • Dale Matson says:

    Here is an article I wrote with photographs taken with the A7R2.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Dale, thanks for sharing. Looks like a great hike. Are you enjoying your camera ?

      • Dale Matson says:


        Yes, I am enjoying it immensely. Certain things have an inherent beauty beyond function, like the form and fit of this camera. This coming week I have an opportunity to possibly photograph the endangered Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep near Mt. Langley here in CA. It’s high altitude off trail climbing and at age 70, ounces count when considering camera gear in addition to backpack necessities for multi day work. I only hope we can get close enough for the Sony G 70-200mm f4 lens. With this camera, there’s room to crop if necessary.

  • Wilbur Eitzen says:

    We tested the new Sony A7rII. Read our independent sony a7rII review and see exclusive Sony A7rII footage in this video review.

  • Douglas Fry says:

    If an online article could inflict physical pain then this would be it. I am a professional photographer in UK and am firmly entrenched in the Leica or Sony dilemma. I’ve been a Leica shooter for years and still have my M6’s and a bunch of good lenses. I shoot now on a M240 and Sony A7ii for all my work, however I have never really got on with the Sony, its good but fiddly compared to the M, but it has the flexibility that the M lacks, I shoot any lens over 90mm with it which would be an exercise in frustration sometimes with the M, but maybe I should just practice more, the files from both are great, but IQ title does go to the Leica overall. So I’m ready to just buy another M and just calm down and keep shooting. Or wake up and smell the coffee, Sony has the innovations and a Leica and A7rii would be a sensible combo (when are the Batis lenses going to be available in UK btw? it seems to be ‘soon’ forever)..

    Then again shooting with two different formats is a hassle to just in terms of ergonomics and downstream file handling, can the A7rii shoot in a RAW-lite? 42M does seem overkill

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