Sony A7RII Review and Photos


2017 Update

After over five years using the MFT system I've sold my entire Olympus Micro Four Thirds Kit and now only use the full frame mirrorless Sony A7RII.

This decision came, since writing this article, after using both systems for a year and a half on client commissions.

Curious as to why? Read this:

Full Frame or Micro Four Thirds?


Back in August 2015 I made decision: Add a full frame mirrorless camera with 4k capability to my existing Olympus Micro Four Thirds kit.

This is not a decision one takes lightly since it requires a subsequent investment in a new camera and set of lenses. But many factors, including the ability to shoot 4K as well as 8K timelapse for my London Cinemagraphs, helped me decide to make the jump.

Since early 2011 I’ve been enjoying the Olympus Micro Four Thirds system and have built up a collection of top quality lenses ranging from the Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4, to the Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f0.95 and excellent Olympus 75mm f1.8. All discussed in my article: The Best Micro Four Thirds lenses. And I still love the OM-D and Pen systems just as much.

I look at this move as an addition to my existing kit rather than a complete overhaul. I retain my Olympus kit which serves a purpose, often allowing me still to carry a much lighter and quieter camera. I do think the A7RII is a bit heavy and bulky, much more than my Pen-F or EM-5 Mark II).

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My A7RII lens kit currently consists of the Sony Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA, the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro (great for food and portraits) and one of my favourite lenses for street photography yet costs half the price… The manual focusing Voigtlander 50 f1.5 Aspherical VM.

I’m not going to write a review of the A7RII covering what’s already been covered by pretty much the entire world of photography, plus I don't really like to go in depth on the technical bits. Instead, I hope my experience as a photographer and my non processed straight out of camera images will help you make up your own mind, away from charts, graphs and pixel analysis.

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I can’t actually reasonably fault this camera. It’s been said the battery life is poor... it's true. Sony does provide two batteries in the box, understandably.

(Tip: Turn your camera to flight mode, it saves a lot of power)

Coming from an E-M5 Mark II and Pen-F which I still use lots, at first I could not believe how loud the shutter was (huge difference between those two). It's one of the main reason I don't always use the Sony A7RII in the streets.

I tried the A7RII's silent shutter but wasn’t happy with the distortion from rolling shutter and generally not being very effective on moving subjects.

What really blows my mind is the colour rendition on the A7RII. It’s just really impressive with whichever lens you decide to use.

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Another quality is how this camera handles in camera black and white JPEGs. I actually don’t even need to spend time in Photoshop anymore, I’m very happy with the quality of these files. All black and white photos in this review were shot as is "in camera". The tonal range is seriously good. It’s not just black and white, it’s a rich mix of every possible greys, blacks, whites you can imagine.

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In terms of menus… everyone complains about the Sony camera menus. At first I hated them but frankly, it’s more of a “getting used to” matter than anything else. Yes sure they are not award winning menus but since there isn’t an award for menus, who cares?

The ergonomics are great, the camera feels perfect in the hand and I’m happy using it in conjunction with my favourite Tap & Dye camera wrist strap.

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Nearly all buttons can be customised (something introduced a while back by Olympus), which is now expected from any top of the range camera.

Now onto the low light ability...

I’ve shot some photos at 12800 ISO and they are still so crisp. Couple the camera with the Voigtlander 50mm f1.5 and I am looking forward to these long winter nights shooting street photography in London without compromising on detail or sharpness.

The shot below was shot at ISO 6400, f1.5.

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Hopefully the photos shot with the A7RII featured in this article, of which none have been altered in any way, will say more than any article ever will…

You can see more shots (non of them post-processed in any way) in my more recent review of the A7RII paired with the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.5.

Nico