Sony a7R II – First hand impressions + RAW Download

By |2015-08-04T09:40:39+00:00Aug 4th, 2015|

On June 10th, Sony announced the a7R II, the next addition to their disruptive line of full frame mirrorless cameras. While the camera will begin shipping to customers in the next day or two, I had the opportunity to put it to use for a few days. While there will certainly be no shortage of deep tech reviews of this camera, I’m going to spend a few minutes sharing photos and usability experiences with this fine specimen. I’m also making two untouched RAW files available for download and review. Both photos were taken with the Sony a7R II and the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 lens. I just ask that you honor my copyright and not distribute or sell them as your own. [RAW 01] [RAW 02]

To start, I’d like to address two logistical questions that I’ve been asked several times already. The first has to do with the file size of the a7R II’s RAW file. The native file size is 43.2 MB as reported by Mac OS Yosemite’s Finder app. The next question has to do with the native resolution of the output files. Adobe Lightroom reports each RAW file having a resolution 7952×5304.

BrianMatiash_20150802-DSC00030_ILCE-7RM2

On a superficial level, the camera feels wonderfully balanced when handholding it. If you’ve spent any time using Sony’s a7 II camera released earlier this year, you’ll be right at home with the A7R II, as the body is virtually identical with a size difference of .6mm. To put it into context, my Really Right Stuff L-Bracket that was custom fit for the a7 II fits perfectly on the a7R II, providing unimpeded access to the battery door and side ports.

BrianMatiash_20150802-DSC00047_ILCE-7RM2

As an owner of the original a7R, I’m happy to say that it’s newborn brother has been improved in just about every way. Between the quieter and more accurate electronic front shutter to the implementation of a 40% faster Phase Detection AF system, the a7R II does away with one of the biggest complaints of its predecessor. On top of that, several new sensor technologies have been implemented to make the camera’s massive 46 megapixels sing.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the inclusion of in-body 4k recording. I was fortunate enough to find a zen-like frog who happily posed for me as I filmed him in a creek at Wyeth Park. Be sure to change the video quality to 4k to truly appreciate the fine recording quality.

Another little feature that I am SO happy about is the implementation of a self-time with bracketing. Now, you can set a 2-, 5-, or 10-second timer that will execute a series of bracketed photos automatically. This has been a much requested feature by Sony users and it’s great to see that the engineers are listening.

BrianMatiash_20150802-DSC00031_ILCE-7RM2

Now, I can go on and on about what is great about this camera but I’d much rather hear from you. What questions do you have about the camera? Concerns? Excitement? Let me know!

22 Comments

  1. Scott Davenport August 4, 2015 at 9:55 am - Reply

    Hi Brian… thanks for sharing this. Excited about the new camera, slightly concerned the bump in file size will tax my storage needs even more :-) One question… have you done any shooting with a longer lens yet, like the 70-200mm? With the a7R, at longer focal lengths and shorter exposures, there was some issues with camera vibration. A gentle press on the lens hood is my current workaround. Has this been addressed in the a7R II? Thanks again for all you do for the photography community.

    • iCanSeeYou#A7S August 4, 2015 at 8:07 pm - Reply

      Hey Scott, just thought I’d let you know that my A7S has electronic front curtain and silent shooting, which alleviates the shutter shock. I believe every model after has the same tech implemented.

    • kosherfrog August 7, 2015 at 8:42 pm - Reply

      I can confirm that the issues with camera vibrations are now gone. I tested the camera with a Tamron 150-600mm and I have been able to produce extremely sharp shots at 600mm, something that was hard with the A7R. And the autofocus works A LOT better (understatement!) I’m waiting for the LAE3 adapter to replace the LAE4 that is no longer the optimal adapter.

      I issue that I find surprising is diffuse grain. It’s very easy to get rid of it with minimal post-processing but I didn’t expect it at all. Tomorrow I’ll test some of A-mount Zeiss lenses and the Zeiss 55mm 1.8 to see if the issue is present with all the lenses.

  2. Erik Valind August 4, 2015 at 10:01 am - Reply

    The 4k video is insane! Just watched it on my Retina iMac and it looked like we was chillin on my screen.

  3. Joel Cleare August 4, 2015 at 10:24 am - Reply

    I don’t need every image 43.2 MB. Is there a Setting to shoot in a smaller RAW file size like canon ?

  4. Bob Moulton August 4, 2015 at 11:13 am - Reply

    Thanks for preview. Be interested in your ideas as you shoot with it. My sole concern is lenses since I plan on migrating from Nikon to Soyt; some reviews of 16-35 and 24/70

  5. Scott F. Walter August 4, 2015 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    How fast is the autofocus with canon lenses?

  6. […] Newsshooter. Image samples by Brian Smith. Sony a7R II – First hand impressions + RAW Download (Brian Matiash). A Mega Star is Born: Sony Singapore unveils its much anticipated full frame mirrorless A7RM2 […]

  7. Ylletroja August 5, 2015 at 4:48 am - Reply

    A problem with the continous bracketing (BRK-C) is that it makes the camera go into 12-bit mode which in turn make one loose a stop of DR. So even if timer + bracketing works the BRK-C doesn’t work that great for bracketing in order to increase dynamic range. You’ll need to use single shot bracketing instead (ie — you need to use a remote and push the shutter for each shot).

  8. Malcolm Kahn August 5, 2015 at 6:30 am - Reply

    Also interested in more info regarding the other settings that force the camera into 12-bit DR e.g., silent shooting, continuous shooting and long exposure. Obviously, this can be fixed if Sony were to provide an option for true raw file recording. Do you have a perspective on their doing that or is that a pipe dream. I assume they are concerned that the recording will take longer and push the specs down to 3 shots, which competition will use against them. Any way we can we encourage them to act? I’ve signed the petition requesting them to develop lossless raw already.
    I’m on my way to pick up my preordered A7Rii and hope this issue will be resolved. This is a big step for me after being a Canon user forever. I actually purchased a 5DsR and returned it after a month because of the 12.4 bit DR and the low ISO ceiling.

    • NiagaraTim August 10, 2015 at 9:17 pm - Reply

      im interested in signing that petition too… can you post a link to the petition please? many thanks… :)

  9. Csaba M. August 5, 2015 at 11:16 am - Reply

    Hello Brian, thanks for the post and the images. Really excited about the camera – I’d like to ask about the timelapse capabilities. Does it have an internal TL option? If yes, how configurable is it (image limit, etc)? Or is it only possible with an app (like with the older A7 models)? Also, does this 12-bit thing affect its TL sequences (if they are possible in the first place)? Thanks again!

    • that1guyy August 5, 2015 at 6:01 pm - Reply

      i think you have to buy an app for it still. $10 USD

      • Csaba M. August 6, 2015 at 6:51 am - Reply

        Thanks.

  10. James August 5, 2015 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    Looks very nice in most ways. Mystified by Sony retaining lossy compression on RAW, and only allowing 12-bit RAW in modes important to, for example, landscape photographers.

  11. bwana August 5, 2015 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    You might wish to edit “…camera’s massive 46 megapixels…”. Enjoyed the quick review.

  12. Dig21 August 6, 2015 at 7:03 am - Reply

    Can you share your feedback on color artifacts, banding and pixilation issues that people are complaining with Sony? What are your findings with raw files from this camera on those issues?

    • Dig21 August 11, 2015 at 5:59 pm - Reply

      No feedback on this Brian? What do you think about this?

  13. LenS August 9, 2015 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    Yes, some are concerned about the Sony “lossy” RAW and worry about artifacts. Any problems with your image quality with respect to this? Sony is supposedly addressing this and many expect a lossless Sony RAW to be available soon (firmware?). Have you heard anything about this?

  14. NiagaraTim August 10, 2015 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    mm i couldnt open the raw files.. what program can I open them with? I have an Apple Imac with the latest OX Yosemite version 10 and also have Adobe Photoshop 6, Lightroom 4, Affinity Beta and the Adobe DNG converter. what program can i download to open your files? many thanks… :)

  15. Alfredo Mora August 11, 2015 at 8:10 pm - Reply

    Brian, have you experienced any issues with long exposure, namely hot pixels? How is the dynamic range compared to the D810 for example? How is the ISO performance compared to the A7S? Thank you. Loved the frog video!

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