Sony a7R II and a7S II Firmware Updates Stop 4K Overheating Issues

December 20th, 2015
Sony a7R II and a7S II Firmware Updates Stop 4K Overheating Issues

Sony has quietly released a firmware updates for their flagship mirrorless cameras, the Sony a7R II and Sony a7S II, that seem to solve the overheating issues that many users have experienced when shooting 4K internally on these cameras.

The 3.00 firmware update for the a7R II can be downloaded by clicking here, the 2.00 firmware update for the a7S II can be downloaded by clicking here.

a7RII_overheating

Sony is quite vague about the improvement however, this is their stated main improvement in both firmware update versions:

  • Improves 4K movie recording time when using the vertical grip (VG-C2EM) or when the APS-C/Super35mm mode is activated

Additionally, they state that it “improves picture quality”. What exactly that means remains to be seen. We don’t even know if they are referring to video or still picture quality with this statement. There have been numerous reports by users complaining about macro blocking and other issues in the HD mode of the Sony a7R II in particular.

Thanks to cinema5D reader Jonathan Fuentes we know that the 4K overheating issue seems to be resolved after the firmware update. He sent us links to two YouTube videos in which he documented hour-long internal 4K recordings with his a7R II, without the camera ever showing any overheating warning, after performing the firmware update. We expect the a7S II to behave in the same way after the update. (Recording time is limited to 29:59 on all these cameras, but he restarted recording right after the automatic stop.)

We have heard firsthand from Sony engineers before that solving these overheating issues is very hard due to the compact way in which the cameras are built, so we are surprised to see this firmware update. Sony possibly only raised the critical temperature to a higher level, meaning that the camera would only show the warning at higher temperatures now. Jonathan tested his continuous a7R II recording at 70 degree Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius), which is normal room temperature – we expect warnings to still show up in warmer conditions. With winter upon us here in Northern hemisphere, maybe our Australian friends can help us out with a test in the sun ;-)

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 Richard Allen
Richard Allen
Member
September 19th, 2017

I did a TON of research before going out and purchasing all of my new gear. Despite the aging reports of some of the Sony Alpha cameras overheating, I felt comfortable in the end due to everyone talking about how that issue has been fixed. I went out and purchased several A7SII’s, battery grips, and fast SD cards. I just had my first wedding with all the new gear this past weekend. It was outside, in North Carolina, probably around 75 degrees Fahrenheit, at 4pm in the afternoon. I had already been shooting other B Roll for about 3 hours (not constant, just short clips between 6 seconds & 3 minutes in length). Everything was being shot at 4K 30FPS 100MB. What do you know, halfway through the ceremony my freaking camera overheated & shut down. I literally had a WTF moment & was EXTREMELY embarrassed. I had to run back to my lockdown cam to make sure it hadn’t shut off & had to stop the recording to change it over to 1080P to try & keep heat to a minimum. That is ridiculous & totally unacceptable. Now I’ve got to rethink my entire strategy as I’ve invested over $12k in the Sony ecosystem with all native Sony glass, etc, & don’t really want to take a massive financial hit by switching over & reinvesting in the GH5 ecosystem at this point. What are my options? Just record in 1080P all the time for a camera that is supposed to be 4K capable? That limits my business a ton! Anybody have any other solutions?

 Aaron Bolte
Aaron Bolte
Member
September 19th, 2017
Reply to  Richard Allen

Hi Richard,
I also freshly switched over to the Sony eco system but building everything towards external recording with Atomos Shogun Infernos and V-Mount external battery solution (Lanparte VBP-01) for both the A7Sii and the Shogun Infernos. I can not say anything about internal recording behaviour but recording externally does not heat up the cameras AT ALL. They don’t even get warm even when recording continuously more than 3 hours in 1080 as well as 4K25p. I did many tests and some real world production days where everything went perfect.
Maybe this helps a little, in case you may be forced to go in this direction…
Wishing you good luck with all of that!
Aaron

 Aaron Bolte
Aaron Bolte
Member
June 23rd, 2017

I’m doing a research to find out wether the Sony A7sII “smooth skin” or “waxy skin” bug in the supposedly clean HDMI output has acutally been fixed? I mean I can find a lot of complaints from late 2015, even a petition begging Sony for a solution, but no real report that this bug has actually been fixed.

We plan to use two A7sII along with two Atomos Ninja Flames for a production. But if there will be funny skin retouch effects baked into the signal this would be a really bad joke. Can anyone here tell if this issue still exists with the latest firmware when recording externally or connection an HDMI decive?

Thanks for any hint!

Deniz Arslan
Deniz Arslan
Member
June 23rd, 2017
Reply to  Aaron Bolte

This problem is so old. It is fixed for ages now. No soft skin effects.

 Aaron Bolte
Aaron Bolte
Member
June 23rd, 2017
Reply to  Deniz Arslan

Well that’s great news. Thank you for replying Deniz!!

Deniz Arslan
Deniz Arslan
Member
June 23rd, 2017
Reply to  Aaron Bolte

My plessure. Have fun!

Member
April 18th, 2016

I had a shooting last Friday in which we used a sony a7s and my Sony a7sII.
I had a cannon 24-70mm lens with the metabones latest firmware update.
We were under direct sun at about 10:00am, and i was to record at 4K.

After shooting 3 or 4 test shots of about a minute each, we started the shooting.
8 minutes later the overheat icon apeared and a couple of minutes later ( in the middle of shooting ) the camera shut down!!

After 15 minutes we tried once more and 3 minutes later it stopped again. 15 minutes later
I decided it to record at HD 25 fps and started shooting again and the show went on till the afternoon that we were able to shoot normally.

During all this the A7s ( the other camera ) was under the sun with absolutely no problem


( all this was performed in front of clients and you can imagine the embarassment…!!!)

Member
March 24th, 2016

Hi Nino, thanks for your post. Can you please tell us that how to make continuous videos without default 30 Minute intervals?

Member
February 4th, 2016

Turns out the firmware update resets the clockspeed. That, not inferior heat management is actually what was causing the error message. Hard to believe adults are designing this stuff.

Member
February 4th, 2016

That’s super interesting Mahmoud. Do you have a source for that? Honestly interested in the technical reason.

Member
February 5th, 2016

Yes. a Sony insider. Anonymous.I kinda balked at first and then realized. Of Course! The clock speed. How else? The only other plausible alternative is much worse news. That there was never an issue and the overheating error message was simply a software dongle to prevent 30 minute plus recording. I prefer to believe the former vs the latter.
One thing is for sure.
In 2016. 16 years into the New Millennium. Heat management should be the EASIEST challenge to solve. GH4 channels heat from the sensor- sink to the HDMI OUT cable to push it out. other cameras, FS5 for example, have little fans and vents.
Just ridiculous IMHO

Member
February 5th, 2016

Actually, you’re not making much sense here, and anonymous is just that: not credible. Your story keeps changing: first clock speed, then the 30 minutes recording time limitation. And saying that heat management should be the easiest (all caps) thing to solve these days is crazy, especially when you yourself cite to the fact that the FS5 literally has physical fans spinning inside. Note that, surprise surprise, the a7 series does not.

And you also seem to be contending that the GH4 leverages a plugged-in HDMI cable for channeling heat away from the body. How strange that it doesn’t overheat for anyone, including those who have never once plugged an HDMI cable into their GH4…

Yes, you can’t believe everything you read on the Interwebs.

Member
February 19th, 2016

Go ahead. explain that Sony ‘Fixed’ a thermal management issue that people have allegedly measured with thermal imagers JUST with a firmware fix if it wasn’t a change of clockspeed?
Go ahead. I’m waiting ;)
Sony is NOTORIOUS for hobbling the consumer line. Heck the lower end of the pro lines still can’t capture 4:2:2 10 Bit. Ridiculous.

Paul Alexander
Paul Alexander
Guest
January 2nd, 2016

It was a fake overheating issue therfore.
Sony clearly hobbled the A7RII unjustifiably.

Member
January 5th, 2016
Reply to  Paul Alexander

Sounds interesting. It’s possible the overheating message was rigged. Time will tell I suppose.

Anonymous
Anonymous
Guest
January 28th, 2016

Sony admitted it was a real problem guys. They are innovating and the small space inside the camera, lack of heat sinks etc. simply overwhelmed the crucial parts in there. I would like to hear from owners if this has really solved things and parts are not frying in there.

Member
December 28th, 2015

Seriously…..if you’re running this camera to the point of over heating, you have the wrong camera! The are not camcorders…….they are barely designed to shoot video..the fact that they do and do very well is a huge bonus. Buy the camera for the job you need. don’t push the “cool” one to it’s limits! Of course it will fail!

Member
December 28th, 2015
Reply to  Steve Chase

Steve – I definitely get what you’re saying. My issue is that Sony needed to own up to a pre-manufactured fail. Why would they even think of offering a DSLR that is capable of shooting 4K, if it couldn’t be run through some standard conditions? I was highly disappointed with the overheating option because I’ve always had success with the Sony line of cameras. Believe me, the A7r2 has a purpose for certain projects, but it’s not a go-to camera to handle all situations. Like I said, a good b-cam to the FS7.

Member
December 23rd, 2015

I’m curious how the camera reacts during an intense b-roll scenario: hand-held, lots of changing environments and compositions. That’s when I experienced the overheating the most. During lock-off interviews or other static shots, it seemed to top off anywhere between 4 min and 9 min. When going hand-held, the overheating issue happened about 4 min and under consistently.
Thankfully, something has been done though. It’s breathed new value into my A7r ii as a b-camera option to my FS7.

Evan Shaw
Guest
December 21st, 2015

Sony KNOWS that overheating means DESTRUCTIVE PROCESS is happening to the structure of the cameras key components, hence, it shuts itself down to prevent destroying itself over time. It would suicide for them legally and for their reputation to simply cover up the problem by allowing the camera to self destruct over time. More likely they are finding a way to turn off components that add to the heating problem or slow functioning of some processes that still allow functioning so as to reduce overall heating. Otherwise, a firmware solution would accomplish nothing save being a cover up.

Member
December 21st, 2015

I did a quick test comparing the start times of the new A7RII 3.0 firmware to V2.0. I figured others might be interested in the results, though not as impressive as I was hoping for, but improvement is improvement.

https://youtu.be/20Y7H4AFyA4

Member
December 21st, 2015

From http://www.focuspulling.com/blog/sitka

“For once and for all: you can’t judge the extent of this under-reported product defect by just putting the a7R II on a tripod, pointing it at a cactus, and seeing how long it runs before it shuts down from overheating. You couldn’t give the camera an easier gig than that: no motion, thus no 5-axis stabilization, thus no number-crunching of complex and changing arrays of pixels. Ever heard a CPU fan speed up while rendering out footage to H.264? And it doesn’t matter whether it’s a continuous shot, or shooting in takes. Both workflows are totally legitimate forms of so-called “pro” filmmaking.

Bror Svensson
Bror Svensson
Member
December 20th, 2015

The “improved image quality” is added support to remove chromatic abberations in camera with native lenses.

Deniz Arslan
Deniz Arslan
Member
December 20th, 2015

I actually did a simular test when I upgraded my A7rII to the previous version. I also experienced no overheating issue at all since then. Also kept the camera running for an hour or so. In a room with a temperature of 21. The monitor was close to the body. So I though they solved it without mentioning it. But I guess the problem solved with the winter. :) As you wrote let’s wait from a test in Australia… :)

Interesting would be if the new firmware comes up with some other bugs. I had to reshoot a project once because of the weirded fading in and out smooth skin bug when the camera is connected to a hdmi device. Since that I am a little afraid updating my camera when everything is running quite stabil. So please if anybody experiences this or other bugs say it out loud! Thanks!

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