(news & commentary)
Sony today announced the 42mp A7r Mark II camera, the expected update of the original high-megapixel full frame mirrorless body. Along with the bump in pixels came a bump in price. Indeed, I thought at first it was a typo, as the A7r price was US$2300 and the A7rII price is now going to be US$3200. But it appears Sony is trying to push the price up as they improve the camera.
What’s improved? Well, like the A7II, we get the new 5-axis sensor-based image stabilization and basic body redesign. Also added is phase detect focus points on the image sensor (399 of them) and the ability to create 4K video (100Mbps XAVC S), and from the full frame width. That said, the camera also supports a crop (Super35mm) mode that doesn’t use pixel binning, reducing moire. 720P shooters can set 120 fps for slow motion. Sony’s S-Log2 gamma control comes along for the video ride, too. Curiously, the sensor uses BSI (back side illumination), a first for full frame sensors, but not likely to provide much in the way of a tangible benefit in terms of image quality.
The mechanical shutter—a source of significant vibration issues with the original model—has been redesigned, with Sony stating that it produces 50% less vibration than before, and is rated to 500k shots. An electronic shutter mode is available for silent shooting.
The new hybrid phase detect/contrast detect focus system coupled with the faster data refresh off the image sensor allows the A7rII to shoot with focus at 5 fps (the previous version was limited to 1.5 fps with focus, 4 fps without).
It seems odd that Sony not only announced this camera a full two months prior to actually shipping it, but did so at 2am Tokyo time via press release (apparently because of a 1pm New York briefing to press). Thus, much of what we know about the camera is still basically just from the scant information Sony released at the moment. The A7rII announcement came with the RX100IV and RX10II announcements, but both of those cameras are expected to ship in about a month. Frankly, I think Sony actually goofed on this, as the A7rII is quite likely to bury the RX100IV and RX10II in the photography media coverage. Deal with the 1” sensor cameras this week, and the full frame later. Update: as someone pointed out to me, it’s possible that Sony thought to try to produce some FUD just as Canon was shipping their two 50mp 5D’s to customers. I’ll stand by what I wrote, and if Sony starts playing the FUD game, they probably can expect to get FUD right back at them when they eventually ship the A7rII in August ;~).