Sony has finally announced the A7R II as a replacement to the A7R, the new model becoming world’s first camera with a back-illuminated full-frame image sensor.
Just like the rumor mill predicted, Sony introduced a new top FE-mount mirrorless camera by the end of the second quarter of 2015. However, the gossip mill has gotten most other details wrong, as the A7R II represents a major improvement over its predecessor, the A7R.
The foremost advancement is the image sensor. The new Sony A7R II comes packed with the first back-illuminated full-frame sensor in the world delivering a higher sensitivity, built-in 5-axis image stabilization, and many other useful technologies.
Sony A7R II becomes official with world’s first back-illuminated full-frame sensor
Backside illumination has made its way into image sensors years ago, but this system is present in smaller units. Sony is taking things to the next level with a brand new 42.4-megapixel full-frame sensor without an anti-aliasing filter, which has become world’s first back-illuminated 35mm sensor.
The new BSI Exmor R sensor offers about 42.4 megapixels, while the sensor in the A7R offered about 36.4 megapixels. While the higher resolution is a plus, the addition of BSI technology puts a maximum ISO sensitivity of 102,400 at users’ disposal, two stops more than the A7R.
42.4-megapixel sensor features 5-axis IBIS and 399 focal plane PDAF points
Sony’s new sensor has plenty of tricks up its sleeve. It features the 5-axis image stabilization technology found in the A7 II FE-mount mirrorless camera. The 5-axis IBIS will provide up to 4.5 stops of stabilization in order to help users in low-light conditions.
The 42.4-megapixel BSI sensor also employs 399 focal-plane Phase Detection Autofocus points in order to offer the widest autofocus coverage found in cameras with full-frame sensors. The 399 PDAF points are joined by 25 Contrast Detection AF points and they are working together to provide 40% quicker AF speeds than the AF system in the A7R.
The Sony A7R II mirrorless camera is powered by a BIONZ X image processor and it will be capable of capturing up to 5fps in continuous shooting mode with AF tracking turned on.
New A7R II mirrorless camera offers 4K video recording
In order to make this even better, the A7R II is capable of recording 4K videos. The camera will record 3840 x 2160-pixel videos at up to 30fps in MPEG4/AVCHD mode or at up to 24fps using the XAVC S codec.
Sony has confirmed that the camera can capture 4K videos in full-frame mode or in Super 35mm mode. In the latter mode, the camera grabs information from 1.8x more pixels than 4K using full pixel readout and oversampling to reduce moiré and other defects.
Videographers will be pleased to hear that the Sony A7R II supports S-Log2 Gamma, S-Gamut, Picture Profile, timecode, and clean HDMI output among others.
Finally, slow-motion fans can record 720p videos at a maximum frame rate of 120fps.
Sony’s new camera supports autofocus with A-mount and third-party lenses
Getting back to the autofocus system, the Sony A7R II will be able to autofocus when A-mount or third-party lenses are attached. The company has confirmed that this is possible thanks to the Phase Detection AF system.
Although the PDAF points cover less than half the sensor, photographers are still getting about 67% autofocus area coverage in all directions. Other mirrorless systems are offering more coverage, but Sony’s new system tops focus sensors found in DSLR cameras.
Either way, you can attach Canon EF-mount lenses onto the A7R II using the electronic adapter from Metabones and the camera will be able to autofocus. Moreover, it will do so quickly and it will support AF Tracking.
As stated above, the FE-mount mirrorless camera will also focus when attaching A-mount lenses via the LA-E3 adapter. Sony has confirmed that eight new FE-mount lenses are coming by early 2016, but if you cannot wait, then you can grab an adapter and choose from dozens of A-mount and third-party lenses.
Fully electronic silent shutter and first curtain electronic shutter present in the A7R II
Another plus when compared to its predecessor is represented by the shutter technology. Sony has introduced a brand new shutter in the A7R II which is guaranteed to work for up to 500,000 presses.
The shutter features an electronic first curtain shutter which will remove vibration so that photographers will no longer bemoan shooting at telephoto focal lengths.
Moreover, a fully-electronic shutter mode is available, too. It is completely silent and it will come in handy in places where users must remain as inconspicuous as possible.
WiFi and NFC technologies will allow users to remotely control the Sony A7R II
The remainder of the Sony A7R II specs list includes an autofocus assist lamp, RAW support, tilting 3-inch LCD screen, and a built-in OLED electronic viewfinder with a 2.4-million-dot resolution.
The extended ISO sensitivity ranges between 50 and 102,400, while the shutter speed stands between 1/8000s and 30 seconds. Manual controls are present on the camera as well as a hot shoe, but there is no built-in flash.
As expected, the A7R replacement features integrated WiFi and NFC. These connectivity tools will allow users to send files to a smartphone or tablet and to control the camera via a mobile device.
Weathersealed Sony A7R II mirrorless camera to be released this August
Sony A7RII is a weathersealed camera that can withstand dust, moisture, and low temperatures. The device measures about 127 x 96 x 60mm / 5 x 3.78 x 2.36 inches, while weighing 625 grams / 22.05 ounces with the batteries included.
The mirrorless camera offers a battery life of up to 290 shots on a single charge and a few ports, such as USB 2.0, HDMI, microphone, and headphone.
The release date of the A7R II is scheduled to take place in August 2015. The camera will become available for a price of $3,200, about $900 more expensive than its predecessor.
Amazon has already listed the A7R II on its website and it will become available for pre-order soon.