Sony a7R II Review – First Impressions & Footage

August 2nd, 2015

Sony’s new A7rII is the first in the A7 family to record video in a 4K (UHD) quality internally. My colleague Sebastian Wöber already preformed a preliminary LAB test to the camera and found the quality in APS C (super 35) mode to be sightly better than in the full frame mode (exactly like Sony predicted). In this video I used both shooting modes and I dare you to spot the different between them….(1:45 to 1:51 is a good example).

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EDIT 1: Interested in a lowlight footage and review? Please check my latest review here: https://www.cined.com/sony-a7rii-lowlight-footage-nighttime-shots/

EDIT 2: Interested in a lowlight comparison between the Sony A7rII and the Sony A7s? Check out our latest review by clicking here.

EDIT 3: Interested in a rolling shutter test– Compared to Sony A7s, Samsung NX1, Canon 1DC, Panasonic GH4? Check out our latest review by clicking here

Now, if you are in a rush and have no time/patience to read my full Sony A7rII review, let me summarise it for you in two sentences:

– Sell your A7s (or any other photo camera that shoots video you currently have)
– Buy the new Sony A7rII ….

Sony’s engineers did a remarkable job getting it right. I can’t remember myself having so much fun shooting and then looking at the footage with any other photo camera that shoot video since starting reviewing those cameras. (I currently own the Sony A7s and Canon EOS 1DC).

5S6A0768

Ergonomically, this camera is thicker to hold than the Sony A7s and to my opinion it is just right. (Please not that most if not all Sony A7s cages will note fit the new camera). Sony also improved the shooting mode rotation wheel by adding a press lock button. It’s not that on the A7s this wheel was constantly twisting but undoubtedly for some this is a useful feature.

For us shooters, the EVF and LCD screen are one of the most important components in any camera let alone a 4K one, so I’m very happy to report that Sony took a step forward by improving the one found in the new A7rII in comparison to the EVF and LCD found on the A7s. The build-in EVF is by far the best I’ve ever used in any Sony camera up to date.

Camera menu and assign buttons. If you are a Sony user, you will feel immediately at home. The most noticeable changes over the A7s are:

– The recording file format and record setting are now on the same menu page5S6A0794
– You can now assign the movie record functionality to other buttons. I assigned mine to the AF/MF button so it was VERY easy to start recording with my thumb when holding the camera.
– Additional button (C4) was added, allowing even greater flexibility when assigning functions.
– What was not addressed is the possibility to assign an external button to the APS C/full frame mode. My solution is to have it ready in the menu, so by clicking twice (menu, then the desired crop mode) I can access it fast and easy.

SD cards: Like with ALL of Sony’s latest 4K photo cameras that can shoot video (RX100IV, RX10II), you can use an SDXC card which is larger than 32 GB, 90MB/s, U1 (class 10) standard in order to be able to record in 4K mode.

Light sensitivity: Sony’s A7rII native ISO is rated 800. I find it to be a perfect balance between sensitivity and the ability to use it when shooting in SLOG 2 outdoor. The big question is, “how good is it in low light in compression to the A7s”?. The day shoots in my review are all taken in ISO 800 but the ones in the first 23 seconds. Those are done in ISO 3200 up to 6400. We will publish a separate video within the next days to help determine how good the camera’s lowlight performance is.

Battery life: Same as with the A7s. For extended recording time I turn the camera to “flight mode”. Alternatively you can use the excellent Varavon TPower 7412 battery pack solution.

Picture quality:  I can easily say that this is currently the best photo camera that shoots video in the market. As a documentary shooter, Sony continues its tradition of introducing a “complete solution” rather then a “camera only” device. The XLR-K2 can accompany the new camera for a better audio. In my video review, most of the footage was take with Sony’s FE/PZ 28-135mm G lens which proved to be a perfect fit.

Downsides: 
-As this is my first encounter with the camera, the only major downside is its lower resolution when shooting high speed / slow motion (100/120fps in 720p). It looks like Sony wants us to buy an additional camera like the RX10II or RX100IV for enhanced slow motion performance …

-Rolling shutter on the new Sony A7RII is both good and bad. If you need a camera with good rolling shutter performance in 4K (UHD) you can either resort to the Sony A7RII Full Frame Mode or avoid this camera altogether and go with the Panasonic GH4 instead. The Sony A7s performs better, but the difference is not huge. (to read our full rolling shutter article. please click here)

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All in all, Sony, very well done!

Music used in this review: Always by Shawn Williams curtesy of themusicbed

Edited on Adobe Premiere CC2015, graded with James Miller’s LUTs

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 Pablo Pucci
Pablo Pucci
Member
October 18th, 2015

-4 on handheld shots did you use a grip or cage or just your skilled hands?

 Pablo Pucci
Pablo Pucci
Member
October 18th, 2015

1- Which Picture profile did you use? If you used s-Log 2 can you give me an advise on how to expose?

2- Which software did you use for color correction?

3- Which Lut´s did you use or recommend?

Thanks

john hardaway
john hardaway
Member
September 28th, 2015

Here is a music video which we shot entirely on the sony a7rii (except the drone footage). The slow mo was shot at 720p. Pay particular attention to the slow mo in the low light situations (half way through the video). My goodness! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3iigMsWovY

john hardaway
john hardaway
Member
October 19th, 2015
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

thankyou!

Member
August 20th, 2015

no mention that shooting 4k generates too much heat so it shuts down after about 8 – 13 mins ?

thats a pretty big reason not to buy this.

Member
August 19th, 2015

Hi there, so as an owner of the 1DC are you saying that this camera beats the 1dc?

Oscar M
Member
August 16th, 2015

Is this a fried sensor or what is going on :(

http://tinypic.com/r/14446×5/8

Any answers would be appreciated.

Hunter Jackson
Hunter Jackson
Member
August 11th, 2015

Hi Johnnie,

I’ve been reading a ton of reviews and thinking about purchasing the A7Rii. Do you use sony lenses or a metabones adaptor? Also was the footage shot in full frame or super 35 crop?

I’d love to know your thoughts on the aliasing/moire effect in full frame as well as the high ISO limits in FF vs. S35.

RONALD WEISSMAN
RONALD WEISSMAN
Guest
August 10th, 2015

Any recommendation for a Sony or Canon-mount standard zoom for run and gun situations for S35 video–given S35’s better low light performance? The PZ 28-135, at 42mm, isn’t wide enough to be practical.

Member
December 11th, 2015
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

Hi Johnnie,

but when you shoot crop on the a7rII you can just use a speedbooster with the 24-105, right?
So it roughly becomes a 24-105 f2,8 which is an awesome rund and gun lens. Or is my thinking wrong?

Roman

Chris Quevedo
Guest
August 5th, 2015

hey how did he get that eye piece attached to the sony? he posted a few pics of the same thing on his a7S and I would LOVE for a way to do this

delaflow.com
Guest
August 5th, 2015

we want low light reviev :)

niky narchos
niky narchos
Member
August 5th, 2015

…is my red one mx going up for sale also..?

thanks for the test.

Carlos Acuesta
Carlos Acuesta
Member
August 5th, 2015

Hi Johnnie. great footage. i wonder if you used auto focus of all the footage, if so, it appears that the auto-focus is great! Do you have slowmo features of this camera? Thanks

Carlos Acuesta
Carlos Acuesta
Member
August 5th, 2015
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

Thanks Johnnie, thumbs up!

Ben Neal
Ben Neal
Member
August 4th, 2015

Hey Johnnie,

I’m not sure if my comment posted, but I’m about to buy a new camera. I have my choices down to the C100, GH4, A7s, and this camera. Which camera would you suggest buying? I want to film documentaries, narrative films, and commercial stuff like weddings.

Ben Neal
Ben Neal
Member
August 4th, 2015
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

Thanks so much! I look forward to your other tests!

Ben Neal
Ben Neal
Member
August 4th, 2015
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

Oh, and I forgot to ask, I’ve heard that the A7s records 4k externally, but I’m not really sure what that means. Could you explain that for me?

Ben Neal
Ben Neal
Member
August 4th, 2015

Frank, that was an excellent comment! Hilarious! I’ve never heard anything like it on the internet before. I told you to fuck off, because you need to fuck off! You came on here solely to bitch at the guy who made this video and to start a fight. You also did the same on vimeo. Johnnie was very nice to you, accepted your criticism, and even advised that you color correct it yourself and he would post it, giving you credit. However, that was not good enough for you. You obviously just wanted to start another pointless fight on the internet, so, once again, fuck off Frank! I’m not replying to you.

Arturo Bandini
Guest
August 4th, 2015

Your “independent” review? As opposed to what other review? Cinema5D also non-“independent” reviews? I think you could just say review and leave off the “indie” marketing term. :)

Ben Neal
Ben Neal
Member
August 4th, 2015

Wonderful footage!

Michael Carmine
Michael Carmine
Guest
August 3rd, 2015

When will you guys do your Rolling shutter test of Sony A7rII?

 Roberto Garces
Roberto Garces
Member
August 3rd, 2015

Thanks for your work. It is good information for those of us considering this camera. I am not sure if there is an issue with my laptop screen but it seems to me that this “LUTs thing” is starting to get out of hand. I wouldn’t be surprised if this very same video shot on a Betacam SP will “feel” more appealing.

Thanks again.

 Roberto Garces
Roberto Garces
Member
August 4th, 2015
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

Hi Johnnie.

Thanks for your reply.

I am afraid I didn’t explain myself properlly. I am not a native English speaking person.

I meant to say that perhaps we are going on a direction where some LUTs are getting kind of too out of reality. I mentioned Betacam SP because you could get fantastic colours that were “real” and very lovely without very sophysticated workflows. Of course it was very expensive. Not all could afford it, unlike the models today.

Have a good day,

Roberto.

 Roberto Garces
Roberto Garces
Member
August 7th, 2015
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

Hi Johnie.

You are right, we both agree on that “out of the box” can look great and that it doesn’t hurt to explore a bit with LUTs.

Let’s just don’t loose the good habit of aiming to getting nice looking “out of the box” footage in the first place. For instance, using a ND filter instead of relying on software for colour correction.

Thanks for your reply and your good work.

Roberto.

Jonathan Pais
Jonathan Pais
Guest
August 3rd, 2015

I’ve read that this camera has heat issues when recording 4K…

Jonathan Pais
Jonathan Pais
Member
August 3rd, 2015
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

Thanks Johnnie, that’s the review I was referring to. As it is, I am limited to 29 minutes shooting video with my GH4 and I’ve yet to shoot anything non-stop for that long anyway. So as long as the Sony doesn’t overheat before that time, it wouldn’t make a difference in my case.

Alex H
Alex H
Guest
August 6th, 2015
Reply to  Jonathan Pais

Just got the camera today and can confirm over heating issues with 4k. cool room ran for 40 minutes then turned off saying camera needs to cool down. In my hot office ran for 22 minutes. Can’t believe this issue isn’t anywhere in the recent reviews … its a huge problem and a deal breaker for many :(

niky narchos
niky narchos
Member
August 3rd, 2015

…should I also sell my canon 1dc..??

Michael Pansini
Michael Pansini
Guest
August 3rd, 2015

Thanks for your review and the footage and edit provided. I think it gives people a very good idea of the capabilities of this camera, as well as a demonstration of the huge strides that Sony has made in the space in a very short time. The footage looks lovely and it shows that the A7rII is more than capable of being a workhorse camera for a lot of different styles of production. I’m not in a rush to sell my A7s and shogun combo just yet though, but when I need a second camera this will be a no brainer for me. Somewhat surprised though by the tone and general negativity in this comments section, its just a camera guys, not the second coming !

Kaster Troy
Kaster Troy
Guest
August 3rd, 2015

Great video and fantastic composition! I really like the grade too. Looks just like the type of grade Philip Bloom would do. One question… Why do you think the image quality and low light is better while in S35 mode rather than FF? On the a7s, the picture quality and low light is much better in FF mode than aps-c. So you would think it would be the same way on the a7rII.

Greg Latham
Greg Latham
Member
August 3rd, 2015
Reply to  Kaster Troy

That’d be Millers deLUTS, which Bloom uses a lot as well. I personally like them a lot but some find the look a little ‘Instagram-y’ which is a little unfair.

Kaster Troy
Kaster Troy
Member
August 3rd, 2015
Reply to  Greg Latham

Lol yepp, that’s the first thing I thought of was Deluts! It is very “instagram-y” gives it kind of an 80’s feel i think.

Francesco Marzullo
Francesco Marzullo
Guest
August 3rd, 2015

a summary of a review should not be to sell a camera to buy another. Your blogs are the ones that feed the idea that a more expensive camera produces better movies. you are a consumerist

GELAX STUDIO
GELAX STUDIO
Member
August 3rd, 2015

Hi Johnnie,are all videos shooted by handhold?

Frank Ayar
Frank Ayar
Guest
August 3rd, 2015

Laurance Marvin your comentary is absolutely correct, technically this video is poorly done, the colors do not match the reality, the contrast does not exist, there are also problems with the color temperature and gamma very low, sorry Behiri

Frank Ayar
Frank Ayar
Member
August 3rd, 2015
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

Sorry Mr.Behiri but There’s none so blind as those who will not see

Frank Ayar
Frank Ayar
Member
August 4th, 2015
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

This was not poetry, was an old proverb

Daniel Vuong
Daniel Vuong
Guest
August 3rd, 2015

Nice video,
I’m still blown away what sony is doing right now.
I still only have my Canon 7D, but just got recently the 70-200mm f2.8 IS as a birthday present.
Right now I probably wait what Canon brings with the 5Dmk4 (what I heavily doubt).
But hopefully the the AF with metabones adapter is really that good as people are saying.
The A7RII just looks as the perfect hybrid camera to me (tho I can’t afford it yet)

Btw I saw the you shot the video in Vienna, where I study and live there. Thanks for such a great video and review!

GELAX STUDIO
GELAX STUDIO
Member
August 3rd, 2015
Reply to  Daniel Vuong

Canon won’t amaze U,C100M2 is above all 5D series,which cannot shoot 4K and its DR is only 11 stops

Also u need to take notice of the dual AF system ,it is only working silently with STM lens,non-STM lens will make annoying noise ,even with USM lens(due to the interal len-motor)

Unfortunately there are very few STM lens for users to choose now.
Unlike the canon EF lens, all Sony E-mount lens works silently and some of they featured powerzoom !

Daniel Vuong
Daniel Vuong
Member
August 3rd, 2015
Reply to  GELAX STUDIO

Well I’ve never said Canon will amaze me. Its more like there’s some little hope left, they’d bring something out with at least some good improvements, therefore I wrote “I highly doubt it” :P
We all know Canon could easily be able for some good stuff, but it seems more the company policy/mentality is against the way sony is acting on the market right now. unfortunately :(
I don’t have any choice than waiting anyways because as a usual uni student I dont have money.
So A7RII or the next “real” 5D? It doesnt matter.

Daniel Vuong
Daniel Vuong
Member
August 3rd, 2015
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

yeah it kinda sucks, that Canon is going this route. But seeing they are splitting so many things
like their cinema and dslr line (stills/video, 750d/760d, 5ds/5dsr etc.) I see the 5dmk4 will be probably a dissapointment.
Well I’m still more on the still side with a bit video. So the A7RII would be the best of both, like you said the best photo camera with video.
And regarding the AF in video, I’d probably also use some dedicated e-mount lenses if I really need AF in video.
But now its time for some extra money saving haha :D

John Nelson
Guest
August 2nd, 2015

Yes I agree, the low light is a deciding factor me.

Kris
Kris
Member
August 2nd, 2015

Any heating issues? (Not sure if this was shot in a way that would provide meaningful insight. Could it, for instance, record a full 29 minutes at 4K internally, in 90F/32C weather?)

Alex H
Alex H
Member
August 6th, 2015
Reply to  Kris

Just got the camera today and can confirm over heating issues with 4k. cool room ran for 40 minutes then turned off saying camera needs to cool down. In my hot office (25c) ran for 22 minutes. Can’t believe this issue isn’t anywhere in the recent reviews … its a huge problem and a deal breaker for many :(

James Whitehouse
James Whitehouse
Member
August 2nd, 2015

Where is the rolling shutter in this footage? I didn’t notice any.

Leonard Norwitz
Leonard Norwitz
Guest
August 2nd, 2015

Love your eyepiece. What is it exactly? Any idea where I can order one? I live in the U.S.

Thanks for the review. I’m expecting my a7Rii in the next couple of weeks.

Leonard

Laurance Marvin
Laurance Marvin
Guest
August 2nd, 2015

The compositions and editing are really well done the “tonal” range values are NOT. The shadow values are very smoky…to light and the exposure is 1.5 stops over exposed. The contrast is super flat..that my be a creative choice, but it destroys all of the other great work in this video. I see the A7RII also as a great game changer. You have to ask yourself…what is wrong with the people at NIKON ?

Jason Knight
Guest
August 2nd, 2015

I know it’s off topic what eyecup is on the camera in the photo?

Art Alexeev
Art Alexeev
Guest
August 2nd, 2015
Reply to  Jason Knight

Seconded, I kinda hate the “eyecup” on the A7 series, it’s a nightmare in bright conditions. Would really like to know how I can rectify that.

Steven Waldstein
Steven Waldstein
Guest
August 2nd, 2015
Reply to  Art Alexeev

+1 Inquiring minds want to know about the eye cup. Is it from bluestartproducts? I found these and thought it might be from them. http://bluestarproducts.ca/sg_userfiles/EyecushionChartNewDesignUPDATEDMarch252015.pdf

Steven Waldstein
Steven Waldstein
Member
August 2nd, 2015
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

Thanks. Completely missed. it.

Art Alexeev
Art Alexeev
Member
August 2nd, 2015
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

Thanks a lot for the tip, and for the coverage! Looking forward to your further discoveries!

Joe Montalto
Guest
August 2nd, 2015

I wish someone would just review the low light already!!!!!

Sebastian Kubatz
Sebastian Kubatz
Guest
August 2nd, 2015

where can I buy the Varavon TPower in Germany and are there any other battery options out there? purchased the 7r2 and it’ll arrive here on wednesday

Deniz Arslan
Deniz Arslan
Member
August 2nd, 2015
Michael Westcott
Guest
August 2nd, 2015

great review and footage is king! Thanks!

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