A Visual Review of the Sony a7RII By Marc Weisberg

A Visual Review of the Sony a7RII

By Marc Weisberg

Steve and Brandon, thank you for the opportunity to post with you for a second time. What you do for the photography community worldwide, is raise the bar on awareness and vision and provide an opportunity to be seen and heard. I applaud your continued efforts. I know first hand that it takes a tremendous amount of dedication and passion to keep fresh content on your site, and that it is a labor of love.

I’ve always believed in picking the best tool for the job. Since selling all my Canon gear last January {and I had lots} I’ve slowly purchased many new tools. To wit: Sony a6000, Sony a7s, Sony a7II and recently I acquired the a7RII.

My Sony glass collection has also grown to include: Sony Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA, Sony Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA, Sony FE 16-35mm f/4.0 Z OSS, FE 24-70mm f/2.8 Z OSS, Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA , Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS {for me is a life changing lens} I use the 90 for portraits, landscapes and macro photography, and the Sony 70-200 f/4.0 G OSS.

You may be thinking….”Hey dude. Overkill!” However, I use everybody and every lens for specific purposes. I have five different photography sites and specialize in a broad range of photography. Broad range – specialize…oxymoron? As I mentioned above the right tool for the right job.

Recently I headed out on a 2,700 mile road trip with my family. Orange County, CA –> Moab –> Aspen–> Denver –> Albuquerque –> Sedona for twelve days. In the first two days I photographed over 128gb of RAW images on the a7RII. I brought two bodies with me the a7RII and the a7s and all my lenses, sans the Sony Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA.

How is the a7RII Compared to the Sony a7II and Sony a7s?

The a7RII has a more pro feel to it. For all purposed the a7RII exterior body is identical to the a7II in feel and texture. Both have a more beefier grip than the a7s and the same matte finish. External buttons and controls are the same too with the exception of a lock button that now resides in the middle of the top wheel that controls M,S,A,P etc. Its what’s inside the camera that make the a7RII a megapixel beast compared to the a7II and a7s. I’ve never used the original a7R nor even held it in my hands so I can not speak to the differences between the original a7R and the new a7RII. The one thing that sticks out to me that is quite different is the shutter sound. Its more of a soft mechanical Shushing sound reminiscent of a mechanical film camera. A welcomed and reassuring sound.

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The menu system has some welcomed upgrades {9 frame built-in bracketing, bracketing with self timer and many, many more,} a new full-frame backlit CMOS sensor, in camera stabilization, amazing dynamic range, 4k video capabilities and the 42.3 megapixels {which have the ability to capture stunning clarity and detail} that is sending shockwaves through the photographic community. And yes there are 399 focusing points, on sensor phase detection for faster auto focusing, as well as contrast detection. The a7RII also allows any lens, Canon, Nikon, Leica, vintage etc. to be used on the body via an adapter. Essentially making its usage available every person who delights in using their favorite lens or lenses.

To see a full list of menu upgrades head on over to my friend and fellow Sony Artisan Brian Smith’s (http://briansmith.com/ten-great-new-settings-on-sony-a7rii/) web page. And of course Silent Mode is built into the a7RII body so you can shoot in complete silence. No sound…not even a whisper.

The Proof

Although I pride myself on knowing the technical aspects and details of the craft of photography…for me the proof is always in the captured image. I’m simply blown away by the amazing detail and clarity of imagery I’m able to capture with the Sony a7RII and Sony lens line up. Now I know what all the fuss is with fan boys about medium format digital cameras. The detail and clarity is amazing. Each time I brought up an image on screen from the a7RII I would sit in front of my computer and go WOW! I’ve been photographing for 17 years now and for 15 years professionally. I started out with Canon 35mm, moved to a Hasselblad 503, then got the first Canon 1D when it came out. But never have I owned a camera this capable or seen this type of detail and clarity which is coming out of the a7RII.

Below I’ll share a few single capture images from the a7RII. Each image is captured RAW. I’m a RAW shooter period. Images are culled in PhotoMechanic and post processed in Lightroom 6.1.1 Crops are 100% to show the clarity, detail and dynamic range of each image. After the A7RII images I’ll discuss briefly why I have so many bodies and what I use them for.

IMAGE 1. Moab, Canyonlands National Park, Utah. a7RII, 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS, ISO 100, 1/125th/sec, f/6.3. Tripod.

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IMAGE 2. 100% crop.

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IMAGE 3. Maroon Bells, Aspen, CO. a7RII, FE 16-35mm f/4.0 Z OSS, ISO 200, 1/3 sec. f/16. Tripod.

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IMAGE 4. 100% crop.

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IMAGE 5. Independence Pass, Aspen, CO. a7RII, Sony 70-200 f/4.0 G OSS, ISO 400, 1.160th/sec, f/10. Tripod.

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IMAGE 6. 100% crop.

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IMAGE 7. Abandoned home, 1800’s Stage Coach town, Lake County, CO. a7RII, Sony 70-200 f/4.0 G OSS, ISO 400, 1/160th/sec. f/10. Handheld.

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IMAGE 8. 100% crop.

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IMAGE 9. Old silver and gold mining town of Leadville, CO. a7RII, FE 24-70mm f/2.8 Z OSS, ISO 200, 1/160th/sec., f/10. Handheld.

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IMAGE 10. 100% crop.

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IMAGE 11. 100% crop.

IMAGE 12. Enchantment Resort, Sedona AZ. a7RII, Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS. ISO 200, 1/250th/sec., f/14. Hand held.

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IMAGE 13. 100% crop.

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The Verdict

The a7RII produces stellar, clean files with superb clarity and detail. I haven’t profiled the camera for my computer yet. But noticed that I do need to spend a bit more time getting the landscape colors where I wanted them. The files from the a7RII are almost 2x the size of my a7II and almost 4x the size of my a7s.

The only thing that I noticed on ingest into Adobe LR 6.1.1 is when building the previews, it took substantially longer than my a7II and a7s files. But that is to be expected when you are dealing with 42.3 megapixel files. When taking successive shots with the a7RII the buffer will take a while to store the images to the SD card. During this time menus can not be accessed. During my 12 days on the road and pressing the camera into use in severe locations with 102 degree temperatures I experienced ZERO glitches. The a7RII performed perfectly. Battery life appears to be the same for the a7RII as for my other a7 series cameras. Shooting in harsh conditions, sensor dust is expected and was easily blown off. Once during my trip I wet cleaned both sensors. Again, to be expected for 12 days of continuous outdoor shooting in harsh element.

The Proper Tool for the Job

As I mentioned above I have five different sites: my overall site, luxury real estate and architectural photography, pet photography, weddings and wine and food. During the course of a month I typically am photographing a weddings, family and children’s portraits, ridiculously wonderful pet photography ®, doing video and stills for wine and food, and several luxury real estate and architectural shoots destined for web and print. Often during the course of the month I’ll be photographing for magazines, both articles and cover images. And to satisfy my soul, I’ll throw some street photography into the mix.

Wedding & Family Photography

a7s can capture clean images up to ISO 51,200. Light is always changing and its my go to event camera. I may purchase a second a7s body. A7RII for portraits at weddings and for families and children – on a tripod. A7II is my back up camera for family portraits and children’s portraits – on a tripod

Luxury Real Estate Photography

a7s because of its low light capabilities and super clean files. a7RII for luxury real estate photography magazine work.

Pet Photography

a7s for quick focusing clean files in changing outdoor lighting conditions, and the a7RII, if it will be for a magazine cover work.

Wine and Food Photography

a7s for on location shooting 1080p video. And the a7RII for tripod macro stills and 4k video.

Personal Work and Street Shooting

The a6000 with the Sony Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA. Super compact, highly capable set up and very discreet.

About Marc

Marc Weisberg is a photographer, photography educator and blogger based in Irvine, California. He specializes in a broad genre of photography including luxury real estate photography, wine & food, family events, and ridiculously wonderful pet photography. You’ll find Marc’s trademark – magazine style imagery published internationally in books and magazines. In early 2015 Marc aligned with Sony to become a member of the Sony Artisan of Imagery program. You can see more of Marc’s work at www.marcweisberg.com

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25 thoughts on “A Visual Review of the Sony a7RII By Marc Weisberg

  1. Your comments on the reasons you use different A7 series bodies for different purposes was enlightening. I first fell in love with the A7s after leaving Canon and it is interesting that you still use it so much. I’ve been shooting the A7R2 because it is the new kid on the block but I’m keeping all three bodies (I don’t own the 6000) for the same reasons you give. Your photos showcase the resolution of the A7R2. It sounds like you use the A7R2 on a tripod whenever you can – maybe I should try that.

    1. Bgood, Not necessarily. I shoot free hand quite a bit. But for tack sharp landscape images, especially when enlarging to size of 20″, 30″, 40″ even 60″ prints camera shake is more evident so a tripod is insurance that you’ll have a super sharp shake free image.

  2. Thank you Mark, wonderful images, some so clear as to give a 3D effect.
    You have touched on something that I previously read, & this was as to dust getting sensor, & I am reasonably sure that this was from someone that was not changing lenses.
    As the camera is “dust & weather resistant”, is this situation of dust in the camera/sensor occurring only when changing lenses?
    Rightly or wrongly, this situation re dust, (more than water) is actually my greatest concern with the camera.
    Basically Mark, (& I guess to Steve in particular) is the camera body actually properly sealed?

    1. John, yes the camera is well sealed. And yes I was changing lens quite often. I i never changed lenses, I would never have an issue with any sensor dust. So I’m positive that the only way the dust got on the sensor was from changing the glass.

  3. Marc nice overview of the A7rII and how you use your other gear… I have essentially the same lenses and the A7r, A7rII and NEX-7… A few things I want to point out:

    Like you I had color issues when I got my NEX-7 and also the A7r…. It ended up that the primary culprit was the ‘Adobe Standard’ LR calibration profile import conversion (LR default)…. Adobe, IMHO, has never gotten the import calibration color profiles correct for any Sony cameras. Once I switched my import preset calibration to the Sony version – “Camera Standard” things looked much more neutral and natural. I always shoot RAW but occasionally will change the ‘Creative style’ setting ‘in camera’ so that I can see the effect in live view and then I just switch to that profile for importing so my RAW will look just like it did in ‘live view’ in camera (like the Jpeg creative setting). I have found that Camera Landscape & Camera Portrait work well for my Coastal landscape shots which have lots of greens, blues and earthtones… So far the A7rII seems to be working the same way as the A7r with the importing tip above. It saves a lot of time for me to import the calibration setting to start with and I can always change to any other of the preset profiles if needed. I do use the color checker passport when doing color critical work but try to avoid the extra steps if possible by making import presets with several lighting conditions that get added to mu User preset list so i can apply them from the Camera calibration list as needed…

    One thing I noticed is that you had some shots above with the FE 16-35 at f11 and f16… It’s hard to tell in the jpeg but it looks like diffraction is softening things in the f16 image…. I have honestly never needed to go beyond f10 (at below 24mm) with this lens to get full DOF tac sharp images…. I can get approx 10′ to infinity at F6.3 (focusing @ 20′) or 3′ to infinity at f11 (focus at ~8′) I think you might want to test some larger aperture settings with the Sony gear… I came from Cannon also and was used to stopping down my 16-35 f2.8 II to f13-f18 but find it is not needed on the FE 16-35…

    1. Hi James, I agree with you observations in regards to LR color issues on import. RE: f/stops. I didn’t notice any diffraction on the original or processed images. However I fully agree. The sweet spot is about f/10-f/13. I definitely noticed an sharp fall off on acuity at the higher end f/stops above f/13. So great observation on your part.

  4. Hi Marc, congrats to this great article and your fabulous work! I am an A7s shooter and wondering with which adapter you use the FE 24-70mm f/2.8 Z OSS and how satisfied you are with it. Thank you.

    1. Hello Elma, No need for any adapter for the FE 24-70mm f/4. This is what I use not a 2.8. If you want to know more about adapters though…check out Brain Smith’s excellent blog…he’s a fellow Sony Artisan and has in-depth info on his gear pages.

  5. Thanks for your post. Nice pictures. I have a question: why do you use tha a6000 for your personal work? I think that a7 is small and discreet enough, similar to the a6000. Is it less important for you the output if the work is personal?

    1. Truvyjj, I use all camera for my personal work. I use the a6000 for street shooting. Its super small form factor makes appear quite harmless and doesn’t scream…”Hey I’m a professional photographer.” As far as the output, its still stellar from the a6000. Just a different tool.

  6. Hey Marc…you mentioned you have the FE 24-70 f/2.8 Z OSS. Do you mean the FE 24-70 f/4 ZA OSS? I don’t think Sony make a 24-70mm in FE mount with a fixed f/2.8 aperture. Correct me if I am wrong.

  7. Thank you Simon, the surrounds were gorgeous. My first time in Moab, Aspen and my third or fourth in Sedona but this time had allot of time to explore including eating it on a mountain bike! Cheers, M-

  8. Just a tip I noticed you mentioned getting colors right is tough. Get (or use if you have it) color colorchecker passport and create a basic outdoor color profile. All Sony’s I’ve had (A7R, A7, A7II, RX100, RX100 M3) are way off in color (greens particularly). It’ll save you a lot of time in post.

    1. Hi Stripdrex, Yes, this is something I will definitely do. I have the Color Passport Checker. Got it shortly before the trip with lots of assignments just before I went and when I cam back didn’t have time yet to build the profile. I’m shooting a commercial job with the a7RII today and will build a profile. Cheers M-

  9. Thanks for this review Mark. Please can I ask, how do you like the 35mm 2.8? I’m thinking of buying this lens. Thanks!o)

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