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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