Did Sony Do The Impossible With The a7RII – DPR

DPReview.com is known for their objective reviews (Disclosure: I wrote for DPReview.com for a few months) of cameras and camera gear. Rarely does the site post an opinion piece, but DPReview’s Rishi Sanyal has just run an editorial on the Sony a7RII called “Opinion: Did Sony just do the impossible?”

In his opinion piece, Sanyal wonders if Sony has finally created a camera thDPReview.com is known for their objective reviews (Disclosure: I wrote for DPReview.com for a few months) of cameras and camera gear. Rarely does the site post an opinion piece, but DPReview’s Rishi Sanyal has just run an editorial on the Sony a7RII called “Opinion: Did Sony just do the impossible?”

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In his opinion piece, Sanyal wonders if Sony has finally created a camera that gives the photographer both high sensitivity and high resolution—something that other manufacturers have said are mutually exclusive.

The piece looks at the features in the camera and evaluates whether or not Sony has just disrupted the DSLR market with the A7RII.

Sony A7RII Available For Preorder on Amazon.

Sony A7RII Available For Preorder on B&H.

As a photographer intent on always optimizing my systems, I’m constantly on the search for the best tools for the job. As someone who also doesn’t like to own too many things, spend needlessly, or have to choose which camera to take on which job (I hate making decisions), I’m also always searching for that ‘one size fits all’ option. Of course, as technologies evolve, our expectations increase, and so searching for ‘perfect’ is a bit of a fool’s errand, as ‘perfect’ is a moving target.

So what we typically ‘settle’ for is ‘as close to perfect’ as we can get for our needs. But for the first time in a long while, I feel like we’re getting much closer to this moving target. And for the type of photography I like to do* – landscapes, weddings, engagements, portraiture (especially candid and environmental), newborn, to name a few – here’s why I’m almost unreasonably excited about the new Sony Alpha a7R II.

The article touches on all of the key points of the A7RII design—the lack of AA filter, the backside illuminated sensor, lack of shutter vibration, high dynamic range and more.

Then Sanyal turns to an area that I’m particularly interested in, something that might end up being the killer feature of the A7RII, the ability of the camera to use third party lenses with phase detect focus and eye-detection autofocus.

His conclusion though is spot on. Sony has to compete with Canon and Nikon by out innovating them. Canon and Nikon have brilliant systems with legions of fans. There are no benefits to a Canon or Nikon person in jumping ship without another ship being really really awesome.

One could remark that in challenging the giants, Sony must innovate to offer a competitive advantage. And one would be absolutely right.

But the level of innovation and effort that we’re seeing here is formidable. I haven’t even touched the surface in this opinion piece – I’ve completely left out all talk of 4K video, usable phase-detect AF in video, and 5-axis image stabilization with most lenses (remember when some thought that was impossible with a full-frame sensor?). I’ve even left out mention of size benefits, but for good reason: the competitive advantage of a7R II-like cameras may eventually not even have much to do with size at all but, instead, the features offered. These features, like disruptive AF technologies, sensor stabilization, removal of sources of vibration, ‘smarter’ sensors of the future, and more, spell out real benefits for photographers and videographers. Too many, in fact, to spell out fully here, and too many to test before definitively stating them as benefits! So I’m going to leave you with a short anecdote:

Just the other night I was at a candle-lit dinner with my fiancée, a Nikon D810 and Sigma 35mm F1.4 lens, trying to shoot at f/2 to let in as much light as possible while allowing for some wiggle room with respect to AF accuracy. I was, in fact, struggling with AF accuracy, wondering if the optimal AF microadjustment value changes not only with temperature, but also as the color of the primary light source changes. I hiked up the shutter speed to 1/80s since I had no image stabilization, and to ensure absolutely no mirror/shutter-induced shake as well. I can’t help but wonder what an a7R II might have done here. Image stabilization would easily allow a shutter speed of 1/20s, while lack of AF accuracy issues would’ve allowed F1.4. That’s a potential 3 EV noise advantage right there (the difference between, say, ISO 800 and 6400), with no mirror and no shutter vibration issues to worry about when optimizing my shutter speed to boot.

The point is that worrying less about focus, worrying less about how to get the most out of all those pixels, worrying less about running into the noise floor of my camera because I want to expose to keep those highlights from blowing – these all have one thing in common: they’re all about ‘technology getting out of the way’.

More candy, please.

The DPReview article is very in-depth and interesting, we recommend reading the whole piece.at gives the photographer both high sensitivity and high resolution—something that other manufacturers have said are mutually exclusive.

The piece looks at the features in the camera and evaluates whether or not Sony has just disrupted the DSLR market with the A7RII.

Sony A7RII Available For Preorder on Amazon.

Sony A7RII Available For Preorder on B&H.

As a photographer intent on always optimizing my systems, I’m constantly on the search for the best tools for the job. As someone who also doesn’t like to own too many things, spend needlessly, or have to choose which camera to take on which job (I hate making decisions), I’m also always searching for that ‘one size fits all’ option. Of course, as technologies evolve, our expectations increase, and so searching for ‘perfect’ is a bit of a fool’s errand, as ‘perfect’ is a moving target.

So what we typically ‘settle’ for is ‘as close to perfect’ as we can get for our needs. But for the first time in a long while, I feel like we’re getting much closer to this moving target. And for the type of photography I like to do* – landscapes, weddings, engagements, portraiture (especially candid and environmental), newborn, to name a few – here’s why I’m almost unreasonably excited about the new Sony Alpha a7R II.

The article touches on all of the key points of the A7RII design—the lack of AA filter, the backside illuminated sensor, lack of shutter vibration, high dynamic range and more.

Then Sanyal turns to an area that I’m particularly interested in, something that might end up being the killer feature of the A7RII, the ability of the camera to use third party lenses with phase detect focus and eye-detection autofocus.

His conclusion though is spot on. Sony has to compete with Canon and Nikon by out innovating them. Canon and Nikon have brilliant systems with legions of fans. There are no benefits to a Canon or Nikon person in jumping ship without another ship being really really awesome.

One could remark that in challenging the giants, Sony must innovate to offer a competitive advantage. And one would be absolutely right.

But the level of innovation and effort that we’re seeing here is formidable. I haven’t even touched the surface in this opinion piece – I’ve completely left out all talk of 4K video, usable phase-detect AF in video, and 5-axis image stabilization with most lenses (remember when some thought that was impossible with a full-frame sensor?). I’ve even left out mention of size benefits, but for good reason: the competitive advantage of a7R II-like cameras may eventually not even have much to do with size at all but, instead, the features offered. These features, like disruptive AF technologies, sensor stabilization, removal of sources of vibration, ‘smarter’ sensors of the future, and more, spell out real benefits for photographers and videographers. Too many, in fact, to spell out fully here, and too many to test before definitively stating them as benefits! So I’m going to leave you with a short anecdote:

Just the other night I was at a candle-lit dinner with my fiancée, a Nikon D810 and Sigma 35mm F1.4 lens, trying to shoot at f/2 to let in as much light as possible while allowing for some wiggle room with respect to AF accuracy. I was, in fact, struggling with AF accuracy, wondering if the optimal AF microadjustment value changes not only with temperature, but also as the color of the primary light source changes. I hiked up the shutter speed to 1/80s since I had no image stabilization, and to ensure absolutely no mirror/shutter-induced shake as well. I can’t help but wonder what an a7R II might have done here. Image stabilization would easily allow a shutter speed of 1/20s, while lack of AF accuracy issues would’ve allowed F1.4. That’s a potential 3 EV noise advantage right there (the difference between, say, ISO 800 and 6400), with no mirror and no shutter vibration issues to worry about when optimizing my shutter speed to boot.

The point is that worrying less about focus, worrying less about how to get the most out of all those pixels, worrying less about running into the noise floor of my camera because I want to expose to keep those highlights from blowing – these all have one thing in common: they’re all about ‘technology getting out of the way’.

More candy, please.

The DPReview article is very in-depth and interesting, we recommend reading the whole piece.

My daily shooter is Sony a9 II with a vertical grip and various Sigma lenses attached like the 14mm 1.4 Art. Find more gear recommendations in our shop. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.