This is my first A7 family camera to put to the test. I have been a big fan of the RX100 and RX10 since they came out, and had a failed Sony A6000 encounter. Meatloaf says, “two out of three aint bad”, so I planned on going in with an open mind for this camera and take it for a test shoot, or two.
I’ll be honest; I wasn’t a fan of the first A7. It didn’t care for the feel, fit and finish. Of course it was Sony’s first attempt, and I always am leery of first versions. However the camera did truly put Sony on the map, and turned many photographers away from Nikon and Canon so I knew it did have merit. I was eager to put the A7rII in my camera bag on two recent shoot.
Upon opening the camera I was taken aback about how sturdy and good feeling the camera is. The shutter has a solid quality snap to it, and is much quieter than it’s predecessor. I still wouldn’t call it quiet like a Leica, but the sound is lower and deeper. Something akin to a dulcet clunk than a tinny smack.
I ran the camera with two lenses, a 90 F 2.8 macro and a 24-70 F 4.0. I shot with the 90 more; because I am a fan of portraits and that was the current project I’m on, Throttle Portraits of bikers and thier bikes.
The auto focus is superb. The A7rII has 399 focus points. Yes, that’s 399 focus points. My wife and I hosted Brian Smith and his lovely wife Fazia over for a dinner the first day I had the camera. Brian set up the autofocus spots to be manually shifted by hitting the OK button and then navigating the plane of focus. This took some getting used to, but the camera as you move the point of focus across its generous full frame view, you can also adjust the size of the focus spot with a command dial. Brian’s findings on the camera can be found here. Focus is crisp, and the multi point auto hits it’s mark effortlessly. I would venture to say that it is the best auto focusing camera I have ever shot with. This coming from a guy who sold the Maxxum 700 camera at JC Penny when Minolta first introduced the first generation at AF SLR.
An advancement with the A7rII is it’s low light capability. I really didn’t test that aspect since I was too consumed with shooting portraits. I did get the chance to bring Vincent Versace to Hogs and Heifers, a classic NY dive bar that will be closing at the end of August due to massive rent increases from a soulless corporation (that is rant you can joing me on Facebook about). I made one shot of the whole bar, with the setting sun pouring in from the east. I think it was a difficult shot to expose and the camera really handled it well. The interior shot of Hogs and Heifers was made in Aperture Priority f8 and auto out of the box auto iso. I wish I could tell you the iso it chose, but the 42 megapixel file is crippling my aging powerbook.
I found the buttons plenty, and this is a camera that when getting used to, is a fine instrument to make digital photographs. That being said, at $3200 it better be. It is not that much smaller than a SLR, the Mirrorless aspect doesn’t shed that much size nor weight. It does, but not that much. Don’t buy this just to save weight, once you slap on the lenses it will be heavy. Buy this for the technological wonder it is. I didn’t test video, but lets make an assumption, it’s going to do very well. The only real problem I had with the camera was its viewfinder. It’s top of the line and works very well, however it is digital and I’m old school, I’ll take a digital camera and accept it and make inspired images, but I’ll be darned if I have to see the world pixilated. Come shoot with me using the Deardorff and you will see why I prefer an analog approach.
I will be moderating a panel with Colby Brown, Daniel Watson and Kenta Honjo August 12th at 2:00 pm. More info below- please join us.
Have a ball with this camera! It’s a serious contender.