This camera is AWESOME! Just buy it!
Okay, just kidding, but the Sony A7Rii is certainly one of the best all-around best photo/video camera you can buy for your money. First, let me start with what I like most about this camera. My review will be focused more on the 4K video side of the Sony A7rii (since I make 4K videos on YouTube for a living).
Before I start my review, I have been making videos on YouTube for 10 years. I started out with one of those really old Canon point-and-shoot cameras back in 2006. Then I upgraded to the Canon 7D, which opened new eyes to me in the world of DSLR, interchangeable lenses, and lots of bokeh. I then upgraded to the Canon 60D which has an awesome flip-out screen followed by two Panasonic GH4 cameras where I jumped into the world of 4K.
When Sony came out with the Sony A6300 last year, I picked up two of them to really immerse myself in Sony’s 4K cameras and was simply amazed at the higher quality videos the A6300. This is year I decided it was finally time to upgrade again so I upgraded by grabbing the Sony A7Rii.
The Sony A7Rii is a full-frame camera with a 42MP sensor that is capable of shooting photos in 14-bit uncompressed RAW along with 4K videos in full-frame of Super 35mm/APS-C mode. Yes, this camera allows you to use both your full-frame and APS-C lenses whiling shooting full 4K without loss of quality. Of course, the full-frame mode low-light performance isn’t all that great compared to its Super 35mm mode but we will also go into details on that.
The A7rii also has 5-axis stabilization. When used in combination with a Sony OSS (Sony lenses that have optical stabilization), you will get full 5-axis stabilization where the sensor of the camera will move to stabilize your videos in conjunction with the OSS on the lens. If you use a Canon or Nikon lens with an adapter like MC-11 or Speedbooster, you will still be able to eliminate camera shakes as the in-camera stabilization will be activated and this is great for both photos of videos. If you have IS (Image Stabilization) on your Canon or Nikon lens, the camera will use the IS on your lens or the in-camera stabilization if you turn off IS. There is no way to fully take advantage of full 5-axis stabilization on Canon/Nikon lenses as they are simply not compatible. If you want full 5-axis stabilization, you need to go with Sony native lenses. But even without using Sony lenses having some sort of in-camera stabilization can do wonders for any prime lenses you own as it will stabilize your shots. Now, Sony A6500 will also have this feature and that could be a better way to go with you absolutely don’t need full-frame mode.
As for focusing, focusing on the A7rii is one of the best out there with 399 Phase-detect AF points along with tracking, face-detection, and more. Focusing works flawless when using Sony lenses for both photos and videos. If using Canon/Nikon lenses using MC-11/Speedbooster adapter, focusing works great with photos while videos can be a hurdle. I found that Sigma lenses worked great for focusing on videos, not as fast as Sony native lenses but they focus fine when you tweak the automatic focus settings to “fast” (as shown in my video). I’ve had some trouble with Canon lenses though, most of the lenses I’ve tried do not focus well or do not focus at all in video mode. Also, most Sigma/Canon lenses make hideous, loud focusing sounds while focusing, which will sneak into your audio if using any microphones like Rode VideoMic Pro attached to the hotshoe. You can get away by using a wireless microphone but if you absolutely need best video focusing/silent shooting, you will want to go with a Sony native lens.
The A7rii can make your 24mm lens into a 36mm lens when you switch from full-frame to Super 35mm mode. On top of that, Sony offers “ClearZoom” which allows you to do additional 2X zoom without loss of quality, making your 36mm into 72mm. That’s almost having the ability to make your single 24mm lens into 3 different lenses! For travel, this could absolutely save you a ton of weight and time of changing lenses. Now, this is also available on most Sony cameras including Sony A6300, A6500, A7s, and A7sii but A7rii takes it to the next level since it can do full-frame mode also in full 4K. There are times where you simply cannot bring all your lenses and the A7rii makes it possible to be creative even when carrying just one lens.
As for full-frame 4K quality, it is top-notch except in low-light situations. Since the full-frame 4K is processed from the 35MP of the 42MP sensor area, there are issues with smaller-sized pixels resulting in noise in low-light. In comparison, the Super 35mm mode oversamples 15MP of the 42MP sensor area and the performance is 2-3 stops better than full-frame mode since pixel size is much bigger and can gather more light. FYI, 4K video only requires 8MP, one of the downfalls of having so many megapixels on this camera is that to make 4K video out of it, you will get either bad low-light performance or good performance with lots of cropping of the sensor (hence Super 35mm mode). This camera isn’t really built for 4K videos but for also photos. If you want absolute best pixel-to-pixel low-light performance, the Sony A7Sii can give you that as it uses full 12MP oversampled to 4K, and the low-light performance is absolutely absurd on that camera! (I should have a review on it soon also.) With that said, the Sony A7rii’s Super 35mm mode low-light performance is about the same as the Sony A6300/A6500 or slightly better, which is plenty unless you are going to shoot videos in near darkness most of the time. Also, I would not use full-frame mode at anything above ISO 6400 as it gets VERY noisy but in good lighting conditions or with a fast lens, you should never have to go much higher. However, if you plan on using S-Log2 in low-light situations often, the A7sii may be a better choice as it can go up to ISO 10000 no problem before you see any kind of noise. But I hate trying to shoot in S-log2 or S-log3 as trying to exposure correctly is an absolute nightmare and you can get about the same dynamic range by shooting in Cine4, which also allows you to shoot at starting ISO of 200 instead of 1600 on Slog2/Slog3.
As a user of two A6300 cameras, upgrading to the A7rii was a pleasant surprise as I loved the slightly bigger body, better/more rugged build, 4 custom buttons, and better SD card slot (on the side) position. Everything about this camera screams “pro/rugged” while my A6300 feels like a cheap toy. As a person who came from Canon and GH4 cameras (which are super-rugged), one of the disappointments with A6300 was its small build with odd button placements. While A7rii isn’t perfect, I feel like everything is more professional. And boy, I broke on of the micro-HDMI outputs of my GH4 during MWC 2016 in Spain earlier this year and that’s one of the worst things to break since you can no longer use an external monitor. The A7rii comes with an HDMI-lock that can be screwed in and protect your micro-HDMI output when using an external monitor. Absolutely a feature I love! Normally, you would have to install a rod system or a cage to just install an HDMI lock but this camera has it built-in! It’s the little things like this I love about this camera, really having features a videographer would need.
The only thing missing with this beastly camera? The screen flips vertically but only to 90 degrees meaning I can’t use for selfies and I wish they implemented a flip-out screen like used on the GH4 or Canon 60D. You will certainly need an external monitor for any odd angles or filming yourself (although you could get away with auto-focus for selfies).
Of course, I don’t take a ton of photos but this camera just makes you want to take every photo with it. The 42MP photos are simply INSANE! I’ve even started using them for my 4K videos in scenes where I do not have time to make a sliding/zooming shot, I simply take a 42MP photo and use virtual zoom in my videos. Of course, 42MP is also going to work well with 4K timelapses I shoot time to time. This thing KILLS my Canon 6D in terms of low-light performance and details!
Overall, Sony A7rii has been absolutely fantastic camera for making 4K videos. It is also an excellent 42MP photo shooter that keeps up with (or probably better than) Canon 5D Mark IV. This is definitely one camera that can do it all. There’s no touchscreen and battery life is short but if those don’t bother you, this is definitely the 4K camera for videographers who want versatility and flexibility without having to lug around a big camcorder.
If you guys are interesting in purchasing the camera, check here:
Check price of A7rii on Amazon – Link
Check price on A7rii on B&H – Link