I am curious to find out if there are any users of the Sony A7R M2 out there. It's got some very interesting specs, of particular interest to me, so I am interested in getting some user impressions.
I'm replying in this thread mainly to mark it, so as to come back to it if there are any updates:
But in saying that, when the original A7 came to market, I was interested/curious, and the price(s) seemed reasonable to boot.
I had about 15odd minutes playing with an A7 in a store only .. so no real world experience as such.
The two things I didn't like about it(that is the design of the camera only) .. the grip was about as best as could be found for my hand shape/size in a mirrorless camera, but still not as comfy as a D800(or D300) for my taste(or fit).
Size and weight don't bother me as much as an ergonomic fit to my hand. When I walk about with camera, it's always with camera in hand .. ie. not hanging off my neck!(especially) nor my shoulder(which is the more practical method). So I'll walk around town (eg, at a meetup) with camera in hand, unless I need a dunny break, or lunch/coffee, or whatever.
So with that as a consideration, I know I'd have a hard time holding the camera even tho it's half the weight of my currently most used camera, D800+ Tamron 24-70/2.8. I think all up that combo weighs in at about 2kg.
From experience with my D70s .. the grip was similarly 'shallow' as I felt the A7 was. What that means is that my hand would mould around the grip with my palm firmly around the grip.
Because of the more shallow shape, I have to hold the D70s(and hence the A7) using my fingers. Over only a few minutes, my hand cramps up badly .. maybe I have some muscular precondition that causes this?? All I know is that the D300 and D800, even tho they are heavier, don't cause this.
What I also didn't like about the A7 was the EVF. While it's bright(I never really cared for this as the priority!) my main dislike was the 'pixelated' view it gave.
if you put your face up close to your computer screen, and use a magnifying glass to look at the screen .. this is basically what I saw. Not a natural analogue view of the scene.
Didn't like the refresh rate either. I didn't understand this point until someone pointed this is what gave me a slight motion sickness. I just felt a little uneasy watching life happen as the screen refreshed itself. Also, the dynamic range of the screen in the vf is easy to overwhelm.
Note tho, that my hands on experience was with an A7, which is similar but not exactly an A7II. They have updated the grip, but going by the specsheet, I doubt that this update was enough for me.
Other than those two major points(for me) I can't offer any actual real world insight as to what it's actually like to use as a primary imaging device.
I'm guessing that you're interested in it's video capabilities(going by the interesting specs you mentioned)?
The other thing that was a little disappointing(from my POV) was the almost $1K upward push in price!
There are several things that interest me. These are (in no particular order)
1. The weight and size
2. Low light capability. This could be useful for luminous fungi at night and several other things that I would need to try. If it is really ok at 64000 ISO, it will open up a lot of possibilities.
3. Silent shutter. I have learnt not to get too close to wild animals as the can often get spooked by the shutter noise of a mirrored camera. It is very frustrating to get the blur of a platypus diving, never to be seen again, because the shutter makes a noise.
4. The resolution.
5. The ability to use Canon lenses with auto focus.
6. The very high shutter life (600,000 I think). This can be important for time lapse.
7. The video capability.
8. The dynamic range.
Then there are several things that may also add value like
- Moveable screen
- 4K video
- Nice focusing screen. My eyes don't work like they used to, so this could be good. I don't mind switching to an EVF, as I usually can't see if things are focused through the viewfinder anyway.
- Focus bracketing. Could work for some simple focus stacking (most of them) and for time lapse
While some of these reasons are not important or relevant to a Nikon user, there are a lot of reasons to change for a Canon user. The ability to use my current lenses with autofocus is important. I have been considering mirror less cameras for a while now, but nothing quite made the grade until this one.
I haven't used the a7rii per say, but I've been closely following it, so this is only input from an observer's point.
As Arthur said, because they're small, grip can be an issue for some. The mark 2 series have definitely extended the grips, so it may work out now.
EVF is also improved, and though it'll never be as natural as OVF, if it's pitch black, at least you'll still be able to see, even if the image is pixelated.
Regarding your comments:
In terms of adapters, Metabones is the better one right now, but if you want, or can, wait a little longer to see if there are any more updates from Metabones to see if they've improved their adapter yet or not. I haven't heard anything yet, but lately, I've been busy so I haven't checked.
Otherwise, if you're okay with it focusing a little slower, and don't work on the tele end very much (you can still manually focus of course), then yeah, the a7rii is worth considering.
Again, this is from an observers point of view
Last edited by bitsnpieces; 12-11-2015 at 10:22am.
If it's low light you want(need) the A7sII may be the model to look for.
I guess you meant ISO6400 and not ISO64000 too?
Silent shutter, plus electronic front curtain(EFC) is a handy feature to have too.
Nikon's are just as prone to loud shuttery noises as are Canons .. D800's are about as loud as you can get in terms of mirror noise.
Using liveview alleviates that noise a fair bit tho(basically an EVF but using the rear LCD screen(like a P&S camera).
I have no idea on how battery performance goes comparing using a DLSR in Lv mode against a mirrorless camera with just the EVF.
I know that the D800's battery is drained fairly quickly in Lv mode tho .. so maybe about par.
And this aspect isn't something to be ignored either .. remember for a mirrorless camera to be 'always' on, it needs to feed the EVF with an image. That image has to come from the sensor.
So the sensor in a mirrorless camera has to be always on for the camera to be 'always on'. Battery life isn't very good on mirrorless cameras due to this point.
Of course my other recommendation of the less hi res A7sII obviously means less res .. only 12Mp vs 42(or something) from the A7rII.
But those 12Mp are amazing to see in comparisons when very high ISO's are required ... especially during video!
So except in the comparison over resolution between the A7rII and A7sII(where the r clearly beats the bejesus here) .. on the video side of things, the s wins almost all areas.
eg. if you want slow mo(120fps slow mo that is!) the s can capture in HD(1080p) mode, whereas the r can only capture 120fps at 720p .. etc, etc.
It seems like Sony has made some very good and clear differentiation between these camera models.
A7s seems to be more geared for video and very extra ultra low light image capture.
A7r can still capture good quality at low light, but seems to be geared more towards the detail capture freak ... looking for hi res(and there are still many of us out there wanting such capability .. and more! ).
If I had the $'s to spend(with justification that is) .. I'd have one of those two.
The question is, which? As I already have a D800, I don't need hi res(36 vs 42Mp .. while it's obviously more, I don't think enough of a difference) .. so I'd be more likely to go with an A7sII and hopefully take advantage of the video features and low light capability.
Luckily my bank balance precludes me from making such a head spinning decision .. but other features that are interesting are the image stabilisation in body .. wifi in some rare instances .. ability to not only use (in your case) Canon lenses with AF, and in my situation Nikon lenses(although no AF I think) .. other more exotic lenses that require short backfocus distances, and have the ability to focus deeper into a scene.
Only problem with Nikon's longer backfocus distance being one of the largest .. a lot of other lenses(in fact all major brands do) have shorter backfocus distances, so we're limited to close up shooting distances.
eg. any M42 type lens on a Nikon body can't focus to infinity natively(that is without some optical adapter). But on a Canon it can, as the backfocus distance on a Canon is shorter and can thus see the lens's full optical ability. Same with these Sonys backfocus is something minute like 18mm or less(can't remember exactly) .. and so the chances are that if you have a lens, it can see through it without too much issue.
This aspect is what originally piqued my interest in the A7 way back when it was first new.
The old issue of only 12 bit(actually 11bit) image capture in raw mode has now been resolved and they have 14bit raw capture.
I reckon this camera(either s or r models) .. would suit your needs very well Steve(for what you say you're doing).
At ISO6400, I doubt you'll even notice the noise in the image(unless you stress over 100% pixel views of your images .. or crop madly to capture detail.
D800 is also very capable in this sense too .. ISO6400 isn't an issue unless you want maximum detail say in a macro shot. seeing the comparisons between D800 and A7rII at the same ISO levels(on DPR) .. there's nothing in it until you get to ISO12800 where I see just a tad too much red chroma noise in the A7rII vs the D800.
The difference would be moot tho as at those levels noise is quite strong anyhow, and the differences would be small value percentages anyhow.
I'll have to try it to find out how good the iso and dynamic range really is.
My reading is that it is about 3 stops better than the 5D3, so if I can use ISO1600 reasonable on the 5D3, then I can use ISO12,800 reasonably on the Sony. Sometimes I use ISO6400 on the Canon, so sometimes I could use ISO51,200 on the Sony. Its all just numbers at present. I can see that I will have to spend a day measuring things so that I have a feel for what is possible.
I only use silent shutter for wildlife, but it can be critical for that. I'm used to having to find even lighting, so I don't see any quality issues arising - but we'll see.
I expect the Canon wide angle lenses to work well, but the test will be with the 300mm f2.8 IS. I also have a 135mm f2.0 which is a very fast focusing lens, so that will test the focusing system as well. I'll let you know how that goes.
Overheating with 4k video. I'm not surprised as the 5D2 overheats with HD video. I note that tests showed overheating after 45mins of 4k video! In events video this may be an issue, but I cannot recall ever taking 45 minutes of continuous video.
I've had to focus in the dark before and the cameras I have had simply will not do it. I doubt if the Sony is any different. What I have done is either focus when it is light and note the setting, or focus using a torch and then switch to manual.
The A7S2 was an option, but 12MP? It's really no good for stills and the signal to noise ratio is still inferior to the A7R2. The video is a bit better, but there are always compromises. Also, it doesn't have image stabilization as you don't want that for video.
Using live view for wildlife shots just doesn't work for me, so the loud shutter noise is a killer for me. I tried to take a macro of a lizrad the other day and while I could get the camera really close, I just got a blur in the photo as he tried to flee the shutter. I remember taking great lizard pictures with an old point and shoot camera that made almost no noise.
I think the battery is lousy, so I'll have to have a few spares.
Oh, I forgot to mention that average battery performance is around 400 shots, both live view and EVF. Depending on what you do, it can be more.
On my a55, which uses the same battery type and older technology, I was even able to reach up to an average of 700 shots on a full battery.
Video recording is also around the 40-80 minutes range.
The a7sii is a beast in low light, and improved from the older a7s, so if you need absolutes, the a7sii is definitely a low light king.
As Arthur is asking, do you need to switch? No, not really. The image quality of the D810 is very comparable to the a7s. The D800 I'm sure isn't too far behind. It's not a big jump in ISO performance that needs to cause you to worry.
Steve: Are you comparing the a7s or a7sii during your last bit? The a7sii has the 5-axis and silent shutter. And as mentioned, it's quality is much more improved compared to the a7s. The a7rii was comparable to the a7s depending on conditions and settings, the a7sii brings it to a new level. Think of the 51000 of the a7s or whatever that ISO is, is comparable to the 100000 ISO of the a7s.
I would say the a7rii may be more suitable in the end - faster auto focus to really ensure you get the most out of your Canon lenses, 42 mp to please your resolution needs, and also good enough video (1080p no problems and decent 4k - no news on a7sii and 4k if it overheats or not yet), it should be sufficient, hopefully?
Also, with regards to seeing in the dark, the EVF can help a little with manual focusing as you can see a little better in the dark, but it will be very pixelated, but it'll still help.
I have an A77 with EVF that is several years older than the A7's. I was shocked recently when I picked up and A7II in a shop and saw how bad the EVF was under the fluoro lighting, yes it would give you motion sickness.
So my advise for anyone thinking of changing to a EVF is to try it under natural lighting conditions if possible.
I love the benefits the EVF gives me like manual focusing as Steve has mentioned. I have also changed the way I photograph, I don't look at the meter or histogram anymore, I look at what I see in the viewfinder, because what you see is what you get.
If the EVF is great except under flours lighting it will just serve as a reminder not to take photos there.
Can you borrow one, or hire one to take out into the field to see if it gives the performance you want?
A friend has one. She is just a happy snapper, but likes the thrill of buying new cameras. She never learns how to use them It will probably end up on Ebay
Can you get her to buy the latest 48 megapixel Sony AR7 and then let me know when she puts it up for sale.It will probably end up on Ebay
But you're right .. it may have been fluoro lighting that caused the delayed-flickery motion sickness.
I've got an A7R, A7 mk2, A77, A65, all with eve, and an A560 with optical VF. Must put the A560 on eBay as I never use it.
I can't say I've ever noticed flickering, or any similar issues with the EVF's, and I have tried camera's out in Michael's, but I always go out in to Elizabeth St to do it.
DPR has just posted their review of the A7rII.
While many will argue about how accurate, biased(or not), appropriate, or complete reviews from DPR really are, having some of the cameras that they've reviewed I don't mind them.
I don't so much concern myself with their recommendations or scores .. more so the nitty gritty in depth limitations that they come across in their testing.
eg. while a camera is stated to achieve 4K video, in the marketing blurb the manufacturer doesn't specify if an external recorder is NEEDED to record 4K video. DPR will explain stuff like that.
Same with something as simple as 14bit capture .. D300 was notorious for being able to capture at 14bits .. no problem .. but Nikon never specified that when the camera is set to that bit depth the frame rate would drop to 1fps.
So whether you agree or not with DPR's reviews, at the least they're comprehensive enough to reveal any limitations with the product that you may find unsatisfactory for your purpose.
If you do take the time to read the DPR review, have a read of section 7(E-shutter info) in that article.
It explains a few things about the silent shutter mode, that has a few restrictions in it's use!
The info provided in that section is what I was referring too(in my above post), about the in depth/accuracy of the review they provide.
DPR provides a handy interactive tool to help you assess some of the things that may be important to you for your purpose(s).
A lot of handy info is there, but it's not fully complete:
in that section they allow you to select different ISO settings, and with varying exposure compensating processing, but they are fixed and linked to each other.
so if you wanted to see how the images compare at a more baseline ISO level without push processing, you can't(they haven't provided the option)
As an example, they give the option for ISO100, but only with a 6Ev push top recover shadow detail. They don't give an option of say ISO100 with no push processing or minimal processing(eg. 1 or 2 Ev of shadow recovery)
But you can extrapolate that it could be due to a very small difference in the respective images(between a full E shutter image and an EFC shot)
If you look at the ISO6400 comparison there is minimal, if any, difference in the 14bit EFC image and the 12 bit E-shutter image .. possibly a touch more texture to the noise grain(if you look really reall hard!)
It does suggests that lower ISOs with minimal shadow recovery may be OK tho.
But the detail is still there .. if you want totally silent E-shutter operation .. you can only do so at the lower 12bit shooting mode(which has follow on consequences).
I had a look at the review and it is interesting. There are some things that are good to know as it would have taken me quite a while to work out. I think some small limitations on the silent shutter just mean that I know to only use it when I need to, but for those times it will be superb. I discovered elsewhere that my Canon 300mm will not autofocus with the Sony. That's a pity, but with the 2x extender it doesn't autofocus very well with a 7D II. Some lenses are a bit touchy.
We'll be using the Sony 24-240 for video and with the super35 mode it will make it equivalent to a 36-360 lens. That with the low light capability could make it perfect for platypus and other nocturnal wildlife.
It sounds like it's a camera that will take some setting up to get the best out of it, but they all do initially.
Interesting, but it doesn't say much other than - for this guys type of photography it isn't a big improvement over the A7R (which he has). When he looks at features like the silent shutter, he assumes it is only useful to reduce shutter vibration, for which he gives it a tick. What about the fact that it is silent? I have stopped trying to get close to some animals because I know that the mirror slap on a DSLR will scare the animal, before the frame is is even taken.
There are quite a few reviews out there, but the DPReview one has the most credibility. It won't be perfect, but it is very extensive and what they say is generally accurate.
eg. how do I know that this Gavin chap uses a crappy tripod or not?
A good tripod will eliminate bad shooting practises almost any day of the week, and silent shutter shooting isn't always possible all the time in some conditions, give some of the limitations it causes on the Sony's.
I ignore the personal taste comments and preferences noted in DPR reviews .. eg. "smaller and lighter is wonderful and allows for a new world of opportunities"
If I based my choices on personal taste comments made by some reviewers, I'd have purchased an EVF camera or some time ages ago, but my personal preference is that all the current gen EVFs aren't my preference(up to and including the A7 series). But having experienced those EVFs, my preference is still a well sorted OVF.
** on a side note, the new Leica SL apparently has a uber EVF that may now bring about the demise of the OVF, and if DSLR makers were to switch to EVFs, then hopefully this will be the tech they use to replace the complexity of OVF systems. I've only read about this(not experienced it) from a person that I'm 99% sure we have similar/same tastes in viewfinders.
Of course I would never make a purchase decision based purely on a personal opinion of a product and would have to experience that product myself.
But it's DPRs more in depth delving into the limitations of the system that interests me more than anything else.
Another example of the difference between a personal account of a new product(that Gavin bloke), as opposed to a review(ie. from DPR).
That Gavin bloke reckons the 5 axis image stabilisation is a great feature for when using adapted lenses:
but no mention that it can be limited, as DPR have noted:This is a very good feature. If you’re using adapted prime lenses with no vibration reduction, you’ll really see the benefit of this feature when shooting handheld in low-light, where otherwise trashed shots can end up being very usable.
The difference here is that where one implies that a whole new exciting world of possibilities is offered, the other notes that you may not be as excited by the real world results.If you're using a non-native lens on the a7R II via an adaptor, we'd recommend turing its image stabilization off. The adapter we used would report the presence of stabilization to the camera, presumably prompting the camera to hand-off responsibility for pitch and yaw stabilization to the lens, which made for poor results.
I personally prefer the latter commentary and make the choice(of possible disappointment) my own, rather than my disappointment as a result of a not so well crafted review.