a7RII: insiders information from top Sony engineers

Being part of the Sony Artisans of Imagery Program, I was lucky to have tonight a phone meeting with some of the top Sony engineers who helped develop the very sought after Sony a7R II.

And as promised, I asked questions, and they answered. Some of these questions were asked by YOU!! So thanks a lot, and let’s get to the point!

11425539_846315538750965_7996445082006891878_oSENSOR:

  •  Is the Dynamic Range better and noise level lower than that of the a7R?

Yes! No formal test was done (it’s coming), but they confirmed that they were very impressed by the quality of the system

  • Is the higher sensitivity going to be detrimental to noise level?

No! 1/ In the new design, the photodiodes are closer to the surface of the sensor, and that allows them to detect more light, hence a higher sensitivity. This sensor has a better detection rate in low light conditions than a “regular” sensor. 2/ The change of materials to connect the diodes to the rest of the electronics ensures a lower noise level as well. They did not go into specifics but these seem to be a two key points.

  • Will the a7R II  replace the a7S in terms of image quality at high sensitivity?

No! We were told that at the same high ISO number, the a7S will outperform the a7R II. The a7R II is “ideal for mostly still photographers who want to shoot videos and 4K from time to time, but videographers will still want to use the a7S in low light conditions”

  • What about hot pixels?

➡ They came up with an internal method to make them “not a problem anymore”

  • Read out speed?

➡ Read out speed is 3.5x faster than for the a7R. This will speed up acquisition time, and allows for a higher frame rate for both photo and video

➡ “Full pixel readout without pixel binning in the Super 35 format. This crops the sensor to the same size as Arri Alexa, Red Epic, Canon C300 and Sony F55 digital cinema cameras for a clean video image that isn’t down sampled.” (quoted from Michael Britt)

  • What about a low pass filter?

No low pass filter in order to retain every detail in the image

  • Slow Motion:

➡ “Super slow motion at full 1920x1080HD at 240FPS – even though slow motion footage is the new slider/shallow depth of field cliche.” (quoted from Michael Britt)

sensorfilter

SHUTTER:

  • Electronic first curtain:

➡ Will reduce the amount of vibrations in the system when shooting handheld especially

  • Life expectancy:

➡ I was absolutely amazed to hear them say that the shutter of the a7R II is expected to last more than 500K cycles!!! Yes, you read it right: 500K as in more than HALF A MILLION CLICKS!!

shutter

IMAGE STABILIZATION (IBIS):

  • Does it work also for 3rd party manual or automatic lenses?

Yes! 5 axis stabilization works for native and 3rd party lenses, for both photography and video!

  • How much compensation can we expect thanks to the IBIS system?

➡ We were told to expect about 4.5 stops with certain long lenses

  • Can it be turned on and off at will?

Yes

OISlenses

BODY:

  • Is the new build more resistant?

Yes! Because it is now made entirely of magnesium, the body is stronger and more resistant

  • What about the mount?

➡ The mount is also stronger

➡ Its design is slightly different and I’m very excited we were told they fixed the light leakage issue they had with the a7R body!

  •  Position of the IR detector:

➡ Still only one, located at the front of the body.

LCD SCREEN:

  • Is it still going to be on all the time during long exposures?

Yes, but they are working on it to eventually turn it off

  • Will there be a timer with a count up during long exposures?

No, this is not planned at this time

LENSES:

  • Performance and resolution:

➡ Some have raised the question as to if Sony lenses are build to provide a high enough resolution for high density sensors. We had the confirmation that the lenses had been designed with this particular aspect in mind. The engineers are confident that the optical quality of the lenses is more than sufficient for high resolution sensors.

movies

  • Autofocus:

➡ We were confirmed that AF of Canon lenses was “much faster than before. With adapters (and in particular with a firmware updated Metabones mark IV) Canon lenses are almost as fast as on a Canon body“.

➡ We were also told that the adapter for Sony A mount lenses made the AF very fast, but slightly slower than on an A mount body. We were told that “A mount lenses will find another life thanks to it”.

➡ “Native autofocus speeds on Alpha lenses using the smaller and less expensive LAE3 adapter – the one without the translucent mirror.” (quoted from Michael Britt)

➡ “Autofocus for video is going to be a game changer on the Sony A7RII for hybrid photographers.” (quoted from Michael Britt)

specs

BATTERY:

  • What about the battery life?

➡ It will be “slightly better than that of the a7R

CONCLUSIONS:

Alright, this is all for now!!

I hope this helps you get a better idea than before about the very exciting new tech coming inside the new a7R II !

I am definitely excited about this new power horse, and can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. We were told that shipping should start around late July.

If you have questions, remarks or would like to discuss any particular aspect, please leave a comment below!

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14 thoughts on “a7RII: insiders information from top Sony engineers

  1. Marc Morris

    Woohoo! Excellent stuff, sir! Wish they’d have the field team on that call. We’d grill them to death 🙂 One thing though: the workaround for the LCD being on during long exposures is to switch to “EVF only” at the moment of your shot. Once you’re all set up. That way the screen AND the EVF are both off during exposure, saving battery and keeping heat and resistance down! It’s not the most convenient thing but it works…

    Really looking forward to the new camera and really looking forward to your work with it. Excited!

  2. Mark Elias

    Thibault, Thank you for this. A question though: Are you using the phrase “Read Out Speed” to refer to the time it takes to clear the buffer of the A7R II? I think I read somewhere that it is capable of 5 frames per sec to shoot, with a burst of up to 22 consecutive frames before the buffer bogs down and has to clear itself. Any comments?

  3. thibaultroland Post author

    Hey Marc!
    I suspect they did not include you guys because they new you would ask too many pointed (and good) questions LOL. More seriously, this is indeed unfortunate 😦 I wish you could have been part of the discussion!
    Anyways, thanks a lot for the suggestion about the LCD screen! I’ll definitely test it out! A quick question though: did you test this in a dark environment? Because I released that even if the screen appeared “dark” during long exposures it actually is not “off”. So I wonder if it’s the same with your trick? No matter, I’ll test it ASAP and report soon 🙂

  4. thibaultroland Post author

    I am not sure about the buffer, Mark, as they did not tell us is so many words.
    What I mean by “Read Out Speed” is that it takes less time to read the data from the sensor and store it in the buffer. However, whether the buffer is dumped (saved) faster to the memory card is unclear at the moment…
    What I can say though is that the camera can do internal 4K, which suggests that the buffer speed should also be faster than that of the a7R.
    I’m sorry I can’t say more… but hope it clears a bit the question? Let’s hope for a hands on test with actual numbers sooner rather than later! 🙂

  5. thibaultroland Post author

    Hey Adam! This aspect was addressed but only in passing. I can’t really tell much about it because they only said that a formal announcement from Sony will be done in the near future. They did not give any detail about it…. sorry!!

  6. Marc Morris

    T.Rol oh yes. It works fine. LCD totally off. And, what’s better, is when you’re away from the camera, so is the EVF! Saves battery, as well. Not a bad thing at all. I’ve gotten used to walking around like this. Screen off, EVF off, but you put your eye up to the viewfinder and it switches on. I love the system.

  7. thibaultroland Post author

    Wow this is awesome, Marc, I definitely need to check it out! Shooting mostly long exposure, it will be great to save on the battery this way!! 😉

  8. Pingback: Sony Q&A with Thibault Roland! A7rII has better battery life 5000K shutter cycle no hot pixel issue and | sonyalpharumors

  9. Robert SPORTOUCH

    Bonjour
    j’ai deux questions :

    – lorsque l’on monte un objectif Sony OSS (par ex un Zeiss 16-70) sur un A7II (le recadrage sera en Aps-C) QUEL STABILISATEUR SERA MIS EN FONCTION, celui de l’objectif ou celui du boîtier ??

    – lorsque l’on monte un objectif manuel ancien au moyen d’un adaptateur, il faut en programmer la focale sur le stabilisateur. MAIS NE FAUDRAIT-IL PAS AJOUTER L’EPAISSEUR DE L’ADAPTATEUR EN MILLIMETRES A LA FOCALE DE L’OBJECTIF ?

    Merci à tous ceux qui auraient une réponse précise et pas des ragots ou des élucubrations.

    Et bonne journée.

  10. thibaultroland Post author

    Bonjour Robert,
    Voici ce que je peux repondre a vos questions:
    – lorsque l’on monte un objectif Sony OSS (par ex un Zeiss 16-70) sur un A7II (le recadrage sera en Aps-C) QUEL STABILISATEUR SERA MIS EN FONCTION, celui de l’objectif ou celui du boîtier ??
    –> a ce jour, cela n’est pas clair. Par contre, je pense qu’il faudrait regarder la situation avec le a7II, qui est en gros la meme. Je ne suis pas totalement familier avec le fonctionnement de ce boitier, mais si je ne me trompe pas, il devrait etre possible de choisir de mettre en route ou d’eteindre la stabilisation de facon independante sur l’objectf ou le boitier. C’est un point a verifier, mais cela voudrait dire que l’on peut choisir lequel des deux fera la stabilisation. Je pense qu’il est plus interessant d’avoir la stab sur le boitier et non l’objectif, mais c’est a prendre avec des pincettes.

    – lorsque l’on monte un objectif manuel ancien au moyen d’un adaptateur, il faut en programmer la focale sur le stabilisateur. MAIS NE FAUDRAIT-IL PAS AJOUTER L’EPAISSEUR DE L’ADAPTATEUR EN MILLIMETRES A LA FOCALE DE L’OBJECTIF ?
    –> je ne pense pas non, car l’epaisseur de l’adapteur n’est la que pour faire en sorte que l’objectif soit a la bonne distance du capteur pour avoir la focalisation a l’infini. Une autre facon de le dire est qu’il n’y a pas de raison de changer le reglage du stabilisateur pour une meme focale si l’objectif est un Canon ou un Mamiya par exemple. C’est toujours la focale qui est importante, pas la distance entre l’objectif et le capteur (en ce qui concerne cet aspect). Mais la meilleure solution est de regarder comment les choses se passent avec le a7II, qui lui aussi fonctionne de cette facon.

  11. Robert SPORTOUCH

    Bonjour et merci pour les réponses.
    A propos de l’épaisseur de la bague, je suis convaincu qu’il faut l’ajouter à la focale et voici pourquoi : le tirage d’un 35mm par exemple est totalement différent selon la marque, un Leica M n’a absolument pas le même tirage à l’infini qu’un Leica R, donc c’est impossible que l’affichage de “35” sur le stabilisateur du boîtier donne les mêmes résultats.

    Remarque : Sony France est incapable de répondre à des questions simples du genre “un PZ rétractable 16-50 fonctionne-t-il correctement sur un A7II, excepté le recadrage auto en Aps-c” ?
    C’est un vendeur HongKongais qui m’a très gentiment donné la réponse (non).
    En fin de compte “mon” boîtier idéal (et le dernier je pense car il comporte tout ce que je veux) est en fabrication et je l’ai commandé : A7rII.
    La définition de mon actuel A7II est un poil juste, sinon c’est un excellent boitier à tous points de vue.
    Depuis la sortie du tout premier A7, les utilisateurs se plaignent de la gamme optique trop restreinte et ça ne s’améliore pas vraiment, le 24-240 est monstrueux pour une utilisation quotidienne, dommage, à mon avis un 24-140 aurait été nettement préférable.

    Encore merci.
    Cordialement.

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