How Good is the New Sony A7RII – First Look in the Lab

Sony-a7rii-2

The Sony A7RII, announced by Sony last month is somewhat of a successor to the famous Sony A7S that has by now become a benchmark small cinema camera. We have the Sony A7RII (production model) for review at cinema5D and we’re doing all kinds of things to it. Here are our findings on the first day in the lab.

The nice features about the Sony A7RII are its small form factor, full-frame sensor, internal 4K recording capabilities, Slog2 and internal sensor image stabilisation.

Before we take new cameras into the field we want to know what the best way to use them is. So we take a closer look in our scientific test lab, check things like usable dynamic range, compare crop modes and the like. This article is just a preliminary look at the Sony A7RII. A full review is following soon.

Sony claims that the 4K crop mode on the Sony A7RII happens without pixel binning. So the first thing we wanted to know is how good the Super35 Crop Mode actually is and how it compares to the Full Frame mode. Here are some 100% crops from the footage:

sony-a7rii-ff-crop
What we could see when comparing the two modes is that indeed the Super35 Crop Mode is very nice and a tad sharper and cleaner than the Full Frame Mode. But we were also surprised to see that the Full Frame Mode is actually not bad at all.

In fact I would say it can easily be scaled down to 3K or even go as 4K and look very nice. It’s really not so easy to tell the difference between the two modes so Full Frame must be good. Aliasing is not strong in full frame mode, there is a tiny bit here and there, but to be honest it’s hard to find.

So if you need the best quality you will want to go with crop mode, but if you’re not a pixel peeper than Full Frame Mode will serve you just as well.

In comparison to the Sony A7S in 4K it’s really really hard to tell the difference and I dare you to try. The most apparent difference is the A7S running at a base ISO of 3200 and the Sony A7RII running at a base ISO of 800. You can see the grain and compression / noise reduction artefacts on the A7S on moving images. The Sony A7RII looks a bit cleaner. As a still they look virtually identical.

1x1_crop_a7rii-4

It is amazing though to see this kind of quality recorded internally in such a small camera body. And the A7S was recorded in ProRes, so the XAVC-S codec on the A7RII is certainly doing a good job here. Wow!

The other thing we checked was lowlight behaviour in the different modes. Interestingly full frame mode is much worse in this regard. So you should really make sure you’re on crop mode if you crank up that ISO dial.

Below you can see the last 4 steps of dynamic range on both Crop Mode (super35 mode) as well as Full Frame Mode at ISO 6400. Maybe the Sony A7RII is doing some kind of efficient internal noise reduction on the Crop Mode. We like it.

1x1_crop_a7rii-3

In terms of lowlight the Sony A7RII is definitely less strong than the Sony A7S, but it’s hard to say how much better the Sony A7S is. We will go into this further soon.

We did test the dynamic range and found there’s about 12.3 stops of dynamic range on the Sony A7RII. So that’s very nice. The A7S does about 11.8 in 4K (with an external recorder) and the Sony FS7 goes up to 12.4 in our tests.

It’s also possible to record 4K internally and externally simultaneously and the Atomos Shogun accepts the Sony A7RII’s hdmi signal just fine.

This is just the first round of tests we did. Actual footage is coming soon!
We’re now going out into the field and set the camera to use. We’ll make sure to check out all aspects of handling and ergonomics and we’ll especially compare the camera to its predecessor and make the footage available for download.

So stay tuned for more over the next days or just subscribe to our newsletter by registering a cinema5D account to stay up to date.

 

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Rafael Gar Reply
Rafael Gar July 31, 2015

Danke !! Genau das was ich gesucht habe !:)

Matt Goller Reply
Matt Goller July 31, 2015

Excited about field tests. Can you do a side by side low light comparison with the A7S?

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber July 31, 2015

Hi Matt,
Good idea. We most certainly will do such a comparison. Cheers

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber August 3, 2015

Hi Matt, Here’s the lowlight comparison:
https://www.cinema5d.com/sony-a7rii-sony-a7s-lowlight-review/

Jay Burlage Reply
Jay Burlage July 31, 2015

Wish it had S16 4k mode too =)

Reply
John Schneider August 1, 2015

The clear zoom function in s35 mode is very close to s16 on the A7S and is like a native crop mode.

Apostolos Nikolaidis Reply
Apostolos Nikolaidis July 31, 2015

Great. Can’t wait to see the results. Feels extremely tempting!

Dan Buck Joyce Reply
Dan Buck Joyce July 31, 2015

I’ve had a week with the RX10ii and I love it.

Oscar M Reply
Oscar M August 1, 2015

wrong article – this is the A7RII :)

Reply
Nathan Lee Bush August 1, 2015

Weird… getting conflicting reports from various sources. Watched some footage that implied the super35 mode falls apart completely, and other footage implying the lowlight at 3200 ISO handily beats the A7s. I’m sure time will tell very soon, but looks like a winner for sure.

I’m satisfied it will have pretty great video quality. Now I’m interested to see how well the IBIS works on non IS lenses, how well the AF really works on Canon glass with adapters, and what the RAW stills look like.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber August 2, 2015

The claim about ISO 3200 might be correct as the A7s has a pretty strong base noise, but then keeps that quite steady going up the ISO ladder.
And yes video quality is truly stunning overall.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber August 3, 2015

Hi Nathan,
According to our test the A7s is still better:
https://www.cinema5d.com/sony-a7rii-sony-a7s-lowlight-review/
lowlight at ISO 3200 doesn’t beat A7s as it seems.

Reply
AlexAdrian Adrian August 1, 2015

I thought the a7s gets 14 stops of usable dynamic range. Is that different in 4k?

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber August 2, 2015

Hi Alex,
We tested the A7s with 12 stops, however we have at one point in 2014 changed our evaluation scale. This did not affect the relation between camera’s dynamic range. In 4K the usable dynamic range of the A7s is slightly lower as there’s more noise due to higher resolution and the color range is limited through hdmi also resulting in a rise of the black levels.

Reply
AlexAdrian Adrian August 2, 2015

Thanks for the answer Sebastian. Im trying to find the camera with the best usable dynamic range for the buck. I was thinking of getting the a7s because of its great dynamic range in s-log2 (in addition to its amazing low light capability). It seemed to be the closest to the Arri Alexa in DR.

So what is the exact usable DR of the A7S in HD? is it 13 stops? also, since you changed the evaluation, where would that put other cameras like the blackmagic (the 2.5k is advertised as having 13 stops)? Thanks again.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber August 3, 2015

Hi Alex,
The ALEXA is always the best. No sensor on the market is capable to produce these results and no sensor is interested in getting close (note we haven’t tested the Dragon sensor yet). It is rated at about 14 stops by us. FS7 is 12.4, A7RII is 12.3, A7S is 12. These are all very very good cameras. The Blackmagic Production has 8.2. I don’t know about the 2.5K one.
Hope that helps.

Reply
AlexAdrian Adrian August 4, 2015

I see Sebastian. But in another article you mention that the Alexa has 13.1 stops of usable dunamic range, and not 14. It is on the Sony A7S vs the Others” article. Please clarify. BTW great job onall the work you guys do.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber August 4, 2015

That is the Arri AMIRA that has 13.1 due to different processing. Please direct me to the article, it seems I made a mistake writing Alexa instead of Amira.

Reply
AlexAdrian Adrian August 12, 2015

Sebastian you did mention the Amira, but you said it uses the legendary Alexa sensor. Here is the link: https://www.cinema5d.com/dynamic-range-sony-a7s-vs-arri-amira-canon-c300-5d-mark-iii-1dc-panasonic-gh4/

Btw do you have an updated chart on the new DR evaluation on the other cameras? The Blackmagic Pocket has a claimed 13 stops DR. Did you find this to be the case? BTW thanks for the information on the Blackmagic 4k’s DR. Very surprised about the low score…

Alex Maxwell Reply
Alex Maxwell August 12, 2015

The A7s has 14 stops in HD with S-log2. Philip bloom said even maybe 14.5. It blows all the other cameras I have used out of the water

Reply
AlexAdrian Adrian August 12, 2015

Thanks Alex. That makes sense.., the highlight roll off on the A7s footage always looks superb, even superior than the Blackmagic pocket or 2.5k cinema cameras.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber August 12, 2015

Yes the Amira uses the Alexa sensor, but they are still not the same camera. I tested the Alexa against the Amira and there is a slight difference, but this is clearly off topic. At this moment in time we will not publish a new chart until everything is perfected.

Reply
Lyle Delp August 8, 2015

typo: “certainly doing a god job here. Wow!”

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber August 9, 2015

Thanks Lyle