It's official: Sony announces release of α7R II high megapixel 4K-capable digital cameraThursday, June 11, 2015 3:30 PM
Patrick van Weeren, WTS' resident cameraman and production specialist, takes a look at the impressive spec of Sony's not-so-secret new high-megapixel, 4K-capable digital camera, the α7R II, available from August 2015.
Sony has today officially announced what many of us had suspected, thanks to an inadvertent leak by Zeiss: a new high megapixel camera in the shape of the Sony α7R II.
Zeiss may have given the game away somewhat when they introduced their Batis lenses in late April. Though they luckily erased the metadata of the camera model on which the sample photographs had been shot, the amount of megapixels of the images unsurprisingly led to rumours that their close collaborator Sony was working on a high megapixel camera.
And indeed Sony had already announced last August that it would replace and extend the popular Alpha camera line-up. But nobody knew just how close we were to a new camera – and the α7R II is no less impressive despite the surprise being spoilt.
New CMOS sensor
The α7R II is equipped with a back-illuminated 35mm full-frame image sensor. The 42.4-megapixel CMOS sensor (not the 56 megapixels that was speculated in the leak) enhances light collection efficiency, expands circuitry scale, and, with the help of a quick-transmission copper wiring layer, outputs data about 3.5 times faster, while minimising image noise to reveal fine details in every picture.
Impressive 4K (UHD) and HD video with XAVC-S codec
The Sony α7R II will benefit from UHD (3840x2160) recording in the XAVC-S codec at a maximum 100 Mbps bit rate, as well as full HD recording at 50 Mbps. In 720p it can reach up to 120fps high-speed recording. The camera features S-log2, picture profiles and adjustable Gamma and S-Gamut settings. Time code and a Clean HDMI output for the use of external recorders are included.
A class 10 or higher SDXC memory card is required to record movies in the XAVC S format. UHS Speed Class 3 is also required for recording at 100 Mbps. It will give you the ability to choose between full frame and S35 format. The camera is supposed to work with fewer rolling shutter issues in the S35 setting - which is a possible plus compared to rolling shutter issues on the full frame A7s. It will also give you the choice of accepting a crop factor of 1.6x with your lenses (in S35 mode the same lens will seem more telephoto than in the full frame mode).
The XGA OLED viewfinder (0.78x magnification) is going to be necessary when you look at the precision you need to judge a 4K image and especially a 42.2-megapixel photograph!
Even though the α7R II looks similar to its predecessor the α7R, Sony has changed the handgrip slightly for a better form factor.
Better tracking autofocus system
An impressive video shows the α7R II's autofocus system:
The AF system has 399 phase detection AF points – according to Sony's press release, that’s the widest AF coverage on a full frame sensor and about 40% faster than the original camera. The system works well with photography but there’s no mention of its implementation in the video mode. Once we have a demo model in the WTS office, we will give more information on these specs.
Built-in Steadyshot function
The Sony α7R II camera will feature a Steadyshot five-axis stabiliser. That’s something we have missed in the α7s and it was a plus for the Olympus OMD-II camera. Because it's not dependent on lens technology it will benefit a lot of people that use 'exotic' glass on the α7R II camera. When using 'cheaper' lenses without image stabilisation you can still get a stable image – with the high resolution and the small form factor this is welcome technology.
Sony and Zeiss plan to introduce eight new additional FE lenses, which will bring the E mount lens-range up to 20 different models. But of course many people use adaptors to mount other lenses (including the Alpha mount, EF mount and even PL mount).
The high ISO range on the previous α7s has been a very popular feature – and the α7R II isn’t about to make the α7s redundant in this department. The R model priorities megapixel count over ISO range – though it does still come with a impressive 100–25600 ISO and is expandable for photography purposes from ISO 50–102400.
August shipping date
The α7R II is due to ship in August 2015, and we are able to take pre-orders immediately. For more information, please refer to the α7R II specification, or call us on 020 7871 0700.