A7r2 - first impressions

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Cameras' started by robbie36, Aug 6, 2015.

  1. robbie36

    robbie36 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Nov 21, 2014
    Ok I have had the A7r2 a little over 24 hours. I thought I would start a thread on people's first impressions with the camera.

    I will make another post with my impressions of the usability of the camera but I thought I would start with a few comments on image quality. The only other camera I have is the A72 (which I imagine quite a lot of people have) and thought that people would be interested in the comparisons.

    I have 2 thoughts on the relative image quality. Maybe they are right, maybe wrong but I am attaching some raw files so others can decide for themselves.

    1) I think that the A7r2 has a lower base iso than the A72. Yes I know they have the same nominal base iso of 100 but with the same settings the A7r2 seem to always be slight less exposed at the pixel level than the A72. This was the case with every side by side comparison I did.

    In theory, we might expect that the A7r2 would be have more exposure with the same settings on the basis that the BSI technology would mean that more of an exposure would actually hot the sensor pixels but that doesnt seem to be the case. So I actually feel that, assuming the A72 base iso = 100, the A7r2 base iso 100 = say 80. I think this would be a hood thing - it would have been nice to have a base iso of 64 like the Nikon D810.

    The photo below vaguely illustrates this point. Both shots same settings, both shots in LR with +21 highlights (and no other changes) and the A72 seems to have more exposure.


    2) The second point is on iso invariance. For both cameras I exposed properly at iso 6400 (1/6400, f8) and with the same SS and f stop at iso 200 (in otherwords underexposing the image 5 stops). I then brought up the iso 200 image 5 stops in post. As you all know the Sony sensor does very well in this test. However, the A7r2 image doesnt really do noticeably better in my eyes. Really they are both incredibly good.

    These are 100% crops as described. PP at default apart from a 5 stop exposure adjustment. The A7r2 images have been downrezed to 24 mp.


    And here are the raws....

    Last edited: Aug 6, 2015
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  2. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    As you said, both cameras seem to do extremely well on the ISO invariance test.
  3. MAubrey

    MAubrey TalkEmount Top Veteran

    My order was so late, I don't expect to receive mine for quite some time...
  4. ggibson

    ggibson TalkEmount Regular

    Sep 1, 2011
    Thanks for this--interesting tests.

    Is the base ISO really different on the A7rII? The exposure looks pretty close to the A7II to me. Rather, perhaps there is just better highlight recovery capability. But I suppose you've looked at the files more closely.
  5. MAubrey

    MAubrey TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Better highlight recovery could suggest deeper photon wells--which is how, say, DxO defines ISO. But technically the official definition of ISO is defined in terms of the brightness of a processed JPEG
  6. MAubrey

    MAubrey TalkEmount Top Veteran

  7. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    Well, OK. I've read the blog post. But I confess that I don't have the slightest clue about the meaning of his results. :hmmm:
  8. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    He's trying to show stops of light vs each ISO setting.
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  9. dmward

    dmward TalkEmount Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 21, 2015
    Metro Chicago
    If I'm interpreting it properly, which is a BIG question, the first graph shows the dynamic range as the ISO increases. The reason dynamic range decreases is that the signal to noise ratio floor, second graph, is the point where the photo site can not collect useful information to make the image. i.e. blocked up, noisy black.

    The steps in the graph apparently indicate where the firmware is changing the algorithm used to interpret the photo site as the raw data is digitized.

    This interpretation is based on multi-day sessions listening to telecommunications engineers "discussing" the best way to standardize technology used for Voice over IP and other network coding techniques. I'm not an engineer, but I was editing the standards documents that were the work product of the meetings.
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  10. MAubrey

    MAubrey TalkEmount Top Veteran

    This is how I understood it.
  11. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    Ah! Thanks. I get it now.
  12. tomO2013

    tomO2013 TalkEmount Veteran

    Dec 11, 2014
    Rob is it worth the extra money for your uses...?

    I've seen another post showing an additional stop and a half of recovery over the A7ii and about 3/4 a stop to a stop over the A7r.
    I'd trust your finding Robbie though as you tend to take a level head to these things :)

    BTW one last thing that you might check for me. I've seen another report claiming that the 24-70 F4 performs much better with this lens... Any comments?
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2015
  13. robbie36

    robbie36 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Nov 21, 2014
    With the A7r2 there are 2 reasons that the image quality is improved over the A7ii. At base iso of 100 I can get at least half a stop more light on the sensor of the A7r2 than the A7ii without blowing the highlights. That means I will get half a stop more light in the shadows and the shadows will look better once recovered.

    If I expose to the right at say iso6400, I can get at least half a stop more light on the A7r2 again which would make for a 'cleaner iso 6400'. But this is in fact a meaningless concept because the reason I am at iso 6400 in the first place is because I am very limited in the amount of light I can get on the sensor. In other words if I exposed to the right at iso6400 and then took the same settings for the A7ii I would choose iso3200 to avoid blowing highlights.

    So you will be able to get better image quality at base iso (and if you choose to expose the sensors different - as in the A7r, 5Dsr and A7r2 test someone did) you can also show better IQ at other isos.

    The other meaningful increase in image quality from the sensor comes from the increased resolution. I find this doesnt make much difference in the majority of photos one takes but you can see it in say a cityscape. But it clearly increases you ability to crop and shows up in prints.

    I tend to value an increase in usability very highly. For me say the EM-1 was well worth the premium on the EM-5 even though there was absolutely no increase in image quality. Clearly this is a gear thing and others dont value these sort of things highly. So the much improved Af-c, minimum shutter in auto-iso, silent shutter, timer on bracketing are things that I really like. I effectively found it 'difficult' to get great image quality out of the A7r because of the klunky shutter and to an extent the lack of ibis on a lens such as the 55 1.8. So I cant really honestly say that the A7r2 is 'worth the extra money for its uses' but then neither is my GF's handbag!!
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  14. Deadbear77

    Deadbear77 TalkEmount Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 14, 2012
    Northeast Ohio
    This is the best review I've seen so far.... 9c62df76bc1c49174a5942133d7886a4.
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  15. robbie36

    robbie36 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Nov 21, 2014
    So onto functionality. Again I am going to do a comparison with the A7ii. I am not going to say anything about af with 3rd party lenses as I dont really use any or the huge bump in video specs as I simply dont do video (yet).

    It will basically just be a bunch of opinions.

    The package. Now here was a pleasant surprise. The A7r2 cost US$3150 here in Thailand for pre-orders (including 7% VAT which I can claim back.) Also included was 2 batteries (ie one extra), an HVL F32M (usually US$300) and a 64gb 95mb/s card (usually US$75). So as I see it Sony is pricing the camera at US$3200 but giving away US$400 of goodies with it to pre-orders. Now they are clearly not going to do any favors for those who pre-ordered, so my best guess is that we will see a substantial price cut from US$3200 before very long. I wouldnt be surprised if this camera wasnt street priced at US$2500 by Christmas.

    Build quality/weight. There is supposed to be a general improvement in build quality. If you look closely you can see it and feel it. The dials, control wheel, buttons and shutter all feel marginally better. The battery door is noticeably better, the lock on the mode dial is pretty irritating but the HDMI clamp that comes with the camera is a great idea and super useful for me. The shutter sound is marginally louder on the A7r2 but the tactile klunk is perhaps dampened somewhat. The camera weighs a touch more but you need to take the lens off and then pick up the 2 cameras individually to notice the difference.

    The EVF does appear bigger, brighter and sharper if you look at it side by side to the A7ii. I suspect it is actually brighter but EVFs are like monitors and TVs they dont really appear bigger after time it is just that your previous gadget now appears smaller. The auto switch between EVF and monitor has noticeably improved. For instance if you bring the camera towards your waist you need to get it to within an inch for the monitor to switch off. With the A7ii it will switch off at about 3 inches. The EVF/monitor controls can also be added to a custom button which is a welcome addition.

    The AF is a mixed bag. I do not see any difference in s-af in either good light or bad light. Remember the A7ii isnt bad here it is just not as fast as say the EM-1. C-af is a different matter. With 399 points over most of the frame it is in a different class to the A7ii (which had pretty good c-af before). The ability to be able to shoot at 5 frames a second with refocusing is pretty amazing. This is something of a killer feature with the A7r2. There is also a new mode for af called 'af-a'. I think the concept here is that you wont need to switch between af-c and af-s so often as the camera will determine of the subject is moving or not. I havent tested it properly yet but if it works well it will be a useful addition.

    I am slightly disappointed in the eye-af in continuous mode especially after seeing that video released by DPreview. First of all you need to place eye-af on a separate button and well, even then, its ability to pick an eye doesnt seem to me to match the DPreview experience. There is a new flexible af area but I havent really worked out what that is about yet.

    Silent shutter is exactly that and there is no tactile feel to the shutter action either so you almost have to review your shot to see if you have taken it in the first place.

    There is an excellent implementation of the minimum shutter speed in auto-iso. You can either choose a multple of focal length from 4x to 1/4 or choose your own actual minimum shutter speed. Cant really ask more than that.

    The playback has also improved. When you press C3 the playback zooms into 100% of the place where you focused. Not only does this let you see how sharp you have taken the photo but it also lets you know exactly where you have focused. This is incredibly useful and I will certainly forgive the lack of touchscreen for playback for this and it really makes chimping far faster and more enjoyable. (On a side note here. If you take a portrait with face detect on (but no eye-af) it tends to zoom into the eye in any case. So does face detect mean eye-af?.

    For me that functionality of the camera is quite a big step up from the A7ii which was pretty good in the first place. The improvements may be fairly small but they are ones that I will take advantage of every time I shoot and it will make the A7r2 an incredibly fun camera to shoot with. Compared to the A7r, it is a quantum leap - while that camera might have had almost the same image quality if you treated it right - it was one of the least fun cameras to shoot with and pretty difficult to use.
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  16. robbie36

    robbie36 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Nov 21, 2014
    I havent a clue what he is talking about either. But I gather reading further down the thread that you can extrapolate his results to get the likely measurement from DXOmark. The estimate based on Jim Kasson's results is 14.6 EV of DR. That is better than the A7r - 14.1 - but still slightly below the D810 (14.8) which of course benefits from having a real base iso of 64.
  17. LoFi

    LoFi TalkEmount Regular

    Nov 16, 2013
    yeah, the eye af having to use a separate button drives me nuts in my a7s. it feels like leica or fuji (ducks from fanboy punches, i love fuji, don't hate me!) designed its implementation

    that auto iso shutter speed setting is amazing sounding. i always wondered why they didn't give you it as the 4x-1/4 type of setting!!!

    playback auto zoom sounds nice. however, i never find anything that looks SHARP at 100% on a monitor. just me? is it that i actually don't care if things are 100% sharp? shrug. lol. i just know whenever its 100% on the rear lcd, i think "maybe i need to clean my lens" haha!

    now if only they'd give us any ratio wed like
    id love the option to type in numbers, so i can SEE in 2.35:1, or 4:3
    i REALLY dislike 3:2... ugh
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