Sony A7RII Lowlight Footage – How Well Does it Handle Nighttime Shots?

Since its release early this week, the new Sony A7RII has left many filmmakers quite impressed. After our reviews these last days we also had many positive things to say about Sony’s newest 4K mirrorless camera.

As we know, the famous Sony A7s is legendary in terms of lowlight and the Sony A7RII vs. Sony A7s scientific lowlight comparison gave us some idea of how well the A7RII performs (Check it out HERE). But we wanted to know how that lowlight performance works in the field, so we took the camera out for a spin last night.

Watch and download the ungraded version here

Notes:

  • The majority of the footage was shot at ISO 3200-6400. In some shots I was courageous enough to go as high as 12800 (0:44:20) and ISO 10000 (01:11:16) for test purposes….
  • I tried staying close to neutral colours rather than applying a certain look during grading.
  • In a few shots I adjusted the white balance contrast a bit.
  • I started shooting with a tripod/slider and after 3 shots decided to move handheld. It is less intimidating when shooting people after midnight…
  • I was using 3 lenses. The Tokina 11-16mm f2.8, Samyang 35mm f1.5 and the Samyang 85mm f1.5. It is not the first time I feel that these old Samyang lenses are not suitable for 4K shooting. Much too soft. In my opinion, those are great for HD but not 4K. (Note: I’m not referring to the 50mm T/1.5 Cine that shined in our review)
  • Originally I wanted to shoot in APS-C mode with the Metabones Speedbooster, but I discovered that the Tokina can not reach infinity focus when the adapter is on.
  • The crop mode for this video was: APS-C (better in lowlight sensitivity in our tests).
  • No noise reduction was applied to this video

Conclusion: 

In my opinion it is safe to work with the Sony A7rII (for broadcast purposes) up to ISO 6400 without a problem. You can go higher risking some noise in your footage, but in some occasions it will be more than acceptable.

5S6A0775-3

 

Links to our other tests of the Sony A7RII:

Music:
Holly Maher – “Hiding places” supplied by themusicbed.com

Johnnie Behiri is a freelance documentary cameraman/editor/producer working mostly for the BBC and other respected broadcasters. He is also co-owner of cinema5d.com

Watch it on Vimeo

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Dan Buck Joyce Reply
Dan Buck Joyce August 7, 2015

Looks good, you doing anything with the RX10ii? I’ve had mine for 2 weeks.

Reply
Johnnie Behiri August 11, 2015

Hi Dan.

Had the the RX10II for a few days and might publish a review soon.
It is OK for what it is.

Thanks

Johnnie

Reply
Thomas Jahn August 7, 2015

Why would you use a token 11-16 with a Sppedbooster in APS-C Mode??? Makes no sense at all.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber August 7, 2015

Oh it does make sense. At 16mm it covers full-frame and with the Speedbooster you get 1 stop more light, meaning a minimum of F2 which is great for a 16mm focal length. Too bad the Speedbooster didn’t match infinity on this lens.

Reply
A Lim August 7, 2015

Is it true that when using speedbooster with APS-C mode enabled, you reduce rolling shutter as claimed by Philip Bloom when he tested this combo with the a7s?

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber August 9, 2015

It’s true for the A7s, not for the A7RII. We measured a stronger rolling shutter in APS-C Mode:
https://www.cinema5d.com/sony-a7rii-rolling-shutter/

Reply
Patrick Zadrobilek August 7, 2015

Hey Johnnie,

very nice night shots, as always ;-)

But it seems there is a hot-pixel on the sensor. Look at the red circle:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/vvyaulbuj0agg4r/SonyA7rII_DeadPixel.jpg?dl=0

Greets,
Patrick.

Reply
Johnnie Behiri August 7, 2015

Indeed. Saw it during editing!

Reply
Marco Zappala August 7, 2015

Hello Everyone, and thanks Cinema5D for this post. I can’t seem to find the actual recording time for the FHD and 4K….Does anyone know? Thanks!

Reply
Johnnie Behiri August 11, 2015

Hi Marco.

Are you referring to the 29:59 min recording limit?

Thanks

Johnnie

Reply
Marco Zappala August 11, 2015

Hi Johnnie, Yes ! Same limit for both 4k and Hd?

Reply
Miltos PAVLOU August 8, 2015

great night shooting in summer Vienna! any chance you elaborate more on the tokina adapter issue? did you shoot FF in the end? Plus a possible review about the marriage of the camera and Canon lenses via adapters would be highly appreciated.

Reply
Johnnie Behiri August 11, 2015

Hi Miltos.

In short, the Tokina lens will not focus on infinity when attached to the speed booster adapter.
I shot it all in APS-C mode (better in lowlight).

Regarding a separate Sony camera/Canon lenses review, we will do our best but as currently our hands are full in composing up coming reviews I doubt we can squeeze it in.

Thank you!

Johnnie

Reply
Miltos PAVLOU August 11, 2015

thank you Johnnie, some report that this is due to the fact that the Speedbooster is delivered with the screw that holds the rear lens element in place completely loose. And that you need to tighten the adapter’s screw down to adjust back focus and achieve infinity focus with the Tokina. Did you or can you try that?
Many thanks again!

Reply
Johnnie Behiri August 11, 2015

Dear Miltos,

I did not.
The A7rII is already gone, but I’ll try replicating the situation with your suggested solution on the A7s later today when back at the office.

Thanks again!

Johnnie

Reply
Miltos PAVLOU August 20, 2015

hi Johnnie, any update about the infinity focus of the 11-16 via adapter?

thanks!
Miltos

Ryan Mackfall Reply
Ryan Mackfall August 8, 2015

shots looked awesome in my opinion. Interesting!

Reply
Johnnie Behiri August 11, 2015

Hi Rayan,

Appreciating you took the time watching!

Johnnie

Reply
Deniz Arslan August 9, 2015

Thanks for the nice tests you are doing! I have mine for 3 days now and there was a street party going on around the corner yesterday night and I couldn’t resist to also make a spontaneous test for myself. I don´t know if it´s ok or welcomed to post it here.

https://vimeo.com/135787103

All the footage was shot on 6400, F4 on the Sony 2470z to also test the autofocus in low light. UHD, APC-S. The ungraded “pure” version starts at 1:33.
Enjoy!

Reply
Johnnie Behiri August 11, 2015

Hi Deniz Arslan.

Absolutely OK to share footage here as this is the all point of sharing experience among us the users.

Thank you!

Johnnie

Kirpa Bwal Reply
Kirpa Bwal August 10, 2015

Hey Guys, I am noob behind the camera. I am looking to purchase a camera for commercial purposes…
1. Real estate virtual tours (photography and video)
2. Wedding photography/video
3. Personal projects , photography (nature, people, cities etc) , parkour videos, documentaries.
I am looking to spend total like 6-7 grand.
Ive been reading up on a7rii and a7s for some time. Apparently there is are some over heating issues with the a7rii?
which would you recommend? Feel free to email me ksbudwal@gmail.com

Reply
Johnnie Behiri August 11, 2015

Hi Kirpa Bwal

Indeed some users reported overheating issues with the Sony A7rII. If you are about to shoot long sequences, this might not be the camera for you.

The Sony A7s is free from the overheating problem and might be the working tool you are looking for.

Thank you

Johnnie

Reply
Stephen Schuster August 24, 2015

Did you have any overheating problems personally while doing all the testing with the camera?

Best

Stephen

Reply
Johnnie Behiri August 25, 2015

Hi Stephen.

No overhearing problems during my shoot.

I guess my sequences are too short to cause that problem.

Thank you!

Johnnie

Reply
Nicholas Lam August 13, 2015

Was the first shot handheld + IBIS? Or did you actually use a slider?

Reply
Johnnie Behiri August 13, 2015

Hi Nicholas

Slider.

Thanks!

Johnnie

Gary Chan Reply
Gary Chan August 18, 2015

what picture profile were you on? I’m assuming internal noise reduction off? for some reason I’m getting crazy noise at 6400.

Reply
Johnnie Behiri August 19, 2015

Hey Gary.

PP7 and internal noise reduction was set to off.

Are you shooting in 4K 100mb or is it set to 60? (or are you shooting in HD?

Thank you!

Johnnie

Gary Chan Reply
Gary Chan August 19, 2015

in HD in the sony codec

Reply
Johnnie Behiri August 19, 2015

Hi Gary.

Not the first time I hear this. (noise in HD mode).

Can you please try the same ISO settings in 4K mode and let us know if the “crazy noise” is still there?

Thank you!

Johnnie

Gary Chan Reply
Gary Chan August 20, 2015

That was it. Shot once in HD mode. Then shot the same dark scene in 4k. Noise was almost gone. Thanks for your help!

Reply
Johnnie Behiri August 20, 2015

Hi Gary.

You happy, me happy…:)

Thanks

Johnnie

Gary Chan Reply
Gary Chan September 6, 2015

so here are some screenshots of A7Rii shooting HD at iso3200-4000

noise seems excessive. does this seem normal?

http://2yuk.com/sample/iso4000_.png
http://2yuk.com/sample/iso3200.png

shooting HD in XAVS codec, cine4, cinema color

Reply
Deniz Arslan August 19, 2015

or why don´t you upload an example movie. I am quite curious to see that now…
My only explanation is if you shoot in low light in s-log and you don´t overexpose 1-2 stops. Then it will be noisy in dark areas.

Reply
Johnnie Behiri August 20, 2015

Indeed a valid explanation!.

Gary, can you please share if you were exposing on “0” or more toward “2”?

Thanks!

Johnnie

Gary Chan Reply
Gary Chan September 6, 2015

there are some examples if ISO3200-4000 here

http://2yuk.com/sample/

but not shot in Slog. Shot in Cine4, cinema. But I would think at ISO 3200-4000 in HD mode this kind of noise is unacceptable?

Simon Zastrow Reply
Simon Zastrow August 30, 2015

Hi Johnnie,

thanks for publishing the shots. Looks amazing !

Can you please tell me how the eye-cup you use is called ?
Looks quite interesting on the photo :)

Thanks ;)

Reply
john hardaway September 28, 2015

here is a music video which we shot entirely on the sony a7rii (except the drone footage). It’s an amazing camera!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3iigMsWovY

Pedro Murad Reply
Pedro Murad October 1, 2015

How have you ajusted HIGH ISO NR at the câmera menu? LOW, NORMAL or OFF?

Gary Chan Reply
Gary Chan October 1, 2015

its off

Pedro Murad Reply
Pedro Murad October 2, 2015

Are there a problem with turn low or normal the HIGH ISO? Is it better turn off? Why? Thanks a lot

Reply
James Cook December 15, 2015

In your opinion what is the best camera for video? Secondly, what is your opinion about the Sony pxw fs5? I don’t think it has better image quality than the Samsung NX1 in 4K. Neither does it focus as well. However, the a7rii is an amazing camera, just too many bugs, like overheating.

Reply
Johnnie Behiri December 15, 2015

Hi James.

Unfortunately, there is not such a thing “best camera for video”. Each and one of them has that “little thing” which prevents them from being THE ONE…At the end of the day we have to mach the tool that serves us best with what we do. For me, it is currently the a7SII.

Anyway, the FS5 is a great all around camera, nevertheless, a friend of mine tested it against the NX1 and found it much softer when comparing to the Samsung. (https://vimeo.com/148799914).

The NX1 on the other end, is dead. After Samsung declared pulling out from the DSLR market, I truly don’t see any future for that camera. Regarding the A7RII. This is primary a photography camera. If you are shooting mostly video, I would go with the a7SII.

Thanks!

Johnnie

Reply
James Cook December 15, 2015

What are your favorite lenses to use with the Sony a7sii for video?

Reply
Johnnie Behiri December 17, 2015

Hi James.

I’m currently using the Sony 16-35mm f/4 as a wide angle lens and the one which can go on my gimbal. The Sony 24-135mm f/4 as a “proper” all around zoom lens and the Canon 70-200mm f/4 when needed.

As you can see from my list, none of those zoom lenses are fast, that’s why I have a small prime set of Samyang lenses to help me when I need faster lenses.

Hope it helps.

Thanks

Johnnie