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Andrew Reid

Sony A7R II Review - Part 1 - Summoning the devil

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Andrew, just read your setup guide which is great, did a lot of things the same way.  Just one thing drives me crazy:  you state that the focus magnifier goes from x5 to x12.5 - but whatever settings i try, i only get x4 and that's it.  The manuals don't say anything about how to set it differently and internet tutorial videos on older A7 models do also show x4.  So what is your magical setting?  It would have been great if Sony would have come up with the same flexible magnifier value solution as on the GH4 anyway.

Which brings me to my verdict about the A7R2, after testing all cameras:  If you have a 1DC plus a external monitor, shooting 4K videos feels more pleasant and the results will still be a bit better than with the Sony (including lowlight).  If you have a 5DsR, shooting photos will still be a bit better overall experience with the Canon as well.  If you love the mirrorless features of the GH4, workflow with the Panasonic is still a bit nicer.  The special thing about the A7R2 is that it combines all features of these other cameras in one body and adds a few helpful things like the internal stabilizer (although that is not on Canon lens level).  So the Sony will not be able to deliver any image you have never seen before or something that couldnt have been shot with the other cameras, but it will be a decent allround tool if you don't want to carry around or buy 2-3 of these specialized cameras.

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

Had a chance to do my first filming test of the A7R II earlier tonight. We went to a glass blowing tutorial/class thing. Of course when you're standing in front of a 2500 F degree oven, things get a little warm and I was curious about how the camera would hold up. I didn't record a ton of footage but I did run the camera continuously for a 10 minute clip with no problems. The thing did get very hot in my hand - not uncomfortably so, but enough that I can imagine a prolonged day of heavy shooting would begin to stress the system quite a bit. It's not a problem for my usage, but I think others won't be as lucky.

That image, though. It's just absolutely gorgeous. I took a random guess at color settings and ran the default 'Cine1' gamma on top of a low contrast Neutral color scheme. It's not perfect and there's definitely a lot of room for experimentation and improvement in both recording and workflow. People who are really particular about their color work probably have a long road ahead of them; I'm not enough of a colorist to really be sure. There's a LOT of available combinations of settings and I really think someone will eventually dial in the camera to be magical. I might buy Andrew's settings and LUT he posted earlier, we'll see.

Setting aside the rather tricky color issue though... there is a quality to full frame that I just adore. It was possible to get there with GH4 + SB + 18-35 but it's an awkward combination, lacks IS, and it still missed something. IMO whatever you want to complain about with color science or 'digital look' from the Sony cameras, the Panasonics were always far, far worse. The GH4's output always felt like the world's greatest camcorder to me. Fantastic on all technical points, but weirdly clinical and lacking in 'film feeling' without a lot of work and judicious lens choice. I feel like the A7R2 has gotten me much closer much more quickly. 

Battery life, though, is freaking awful. These FW50 batteries were designed to fit in a NEX-3, and now they're being asked to drive a massive sensor attached to an IBIS rig attached to a massive CPU. The A7 cameras should have been built off a larger battery platform from day 1. It's embarrassing. The good news is that USB external batteries work wonderfully for powering and charging. I have an Anker sized like an iPhone 6 that slips into my pocket and provides 10x the internal battery power. USB cable fitment seems a bit loose though, so we'll see what happens. Might be best to buy FW50s by the half dozen.

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Congrats on the 5 years. You're doing a great job. The forumsbare mostly unbiased and very helpful. Also, no unnecessary ghetto like regulations. Plus these is continuous interaction between members.b

Like I requested, could you also do one on the auto focus on the G7 for video, and a comparison of its low light with other cameras including the GH4?

 

Thanks

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I have a lot of Canon equipment, incl. 1Dx, 5D3 and all major lenses. Got pissed with the video quality and got a A7s, then also the Atomos Shogun for 4K.  I got my A7R ii yesterday and tested a little bit, both video and still. Did not do a take for 30min (yet), but it worked nicely. 

The big benefit for A7R ii is the combination of stills and 4k video in a small package, especially for traveling. For such use, you will normally film for max a few minutes pr. clip.

Now, I see a lot of complaining about the overheat issue. If the filming of "a few minutes clips"  is a problem, then is bad, yes.

 However, the point is that pr definition, if you film constantly for > 30 min, you need to use a recorder (it will stop at 30min anyway), with or without a monitor. I do not see this as a big drawback as for such jobs, you will stay in one location. 

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Andrew, just read your setup guide which is great, did a lot of things the same way.  Just one thing drives me crazy:  you state that the focus magnifier goes from x5 to x12.5 - but whatever settings i try, i only get x4 and that's it.  The manuals don't say anything about how to set it differently and internet tutorial videos on older A7 models do also show x4.  So what is your magical setting?  It would have been great if Sony would have come up with the same flexible magnifier value solution as on the GH4 anyway.

Which brings me to my verdict about the A7R2, after testing all cameras:  If you have a 1DC plus a external monitor, shooting 4K videos feels more pleasant and the results will still be a bit better than with the Sony (including lowlight).  If you have a 5DsR, shooting photos will still be a bit better overall experience with the Canon as well.  If you love the mirrorless features of the GH4, workflow with the Panasonic is still a bit nicer.  The special thing about the A7R2 is that it combines all features of these other cameras in one body and adds a few helpful things like the internal stabilizer (although that is not on Canon lens level).  So the Sony will not be able to deliver any image you have never seen before or something that couldnt have been shot with the other cameras, but it will be a decent allround tool if you don't want to carry around or buy 2-3 of these specialized cameras.

I think pressing the centre button  2 times goes through the different magnifier values, 3 times goes back to normal.  Bottom of page 102 in the manual.  I have seen mentioned elsewhere that the 5x mode quality in viewfinder is poor, 12x ok.

Thank you Andrew for one of the best articles I've seen so far about the a7rii! 

I think you are underestimating the heat issues that makes this camera useless as "the one camera to do the job".  Your voice can push Sony to be more honest about telling what their products can actually do and not do. Canon is slow but at least is sincere about the hardware limitations involved in 4k internal recording.

As mentioned in a video clip in the RX10 comments, the guy says that it improves things heat wise if you pull the monitor away from the body.  Every little helps!

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Regarding a7rii vs a7s, it seems that a7rii 4k S35 mode can rival a7s 4k quality, even in low light (with a speedbooster).
However it is not clear wether a7rii 1080p s35 60 fps mode is on par with 1080p 60 fps from a7s, especially in low light?
Does anybody have a clue? It is an important consideration for those who use frequently 60 fps for smooth slow motions.

Is 1080p downscaled from 4k internally in a7rii, as it is supposed to be in a7s?

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Andrew, just read your setup guide which is great, did a lot of things the same way.  Just one thing drives me crazy:  you state that the focus magnifier goes from x5 to x12.5 - but whatever settings i try, i only get x4 and that's it.  The manuals don't say anything about how to set it differently and internet tutorial videos on older A7 models do also show x4.  So what is your magical setting?  It would have been great if Sony would have come up with the same flexible magnifier value solution as on the GH4 anyway.

Which brings me to my verdict about the A7R2, after testing all cameras:  If you have a 1DC plus a external monitor, shooting 4K videos feels more pleasant and the results will still be a bit better than with the Sony (including lowlight).  If you have a 5DsR, shooting photos will still be a bit better overall experience with the Canon as well.  If you love the mirrorless features of the GH4, workflow with the Panasonic is still a bit nicer.  The special thing about the A7R2 is that it combines all features of these other cameras in one body and adds a few helpful things like the internal stabilizer (although that is not on Canon lens level).  So the Sony will not be able to deliver any image you have never seen before or something that couldnt have been shot with the other cameras, but it will be a decent allround tool if you don't want to carry around or buy 2-3 of these specialized cameras.

Thanks for buying the book Doug.

The focus magnifier seems to differ between stills and movie mode, also the magnification factor in stills mode is different depending on if APS-C mode is enabled or full frame.

So it is 4x only in movie mode but if you read the bit about stills mode and switch to 16:9 you get a few benefits including the cleaner 12x magnification on the 2nd press.

Agree that the A7R II is such a good all-rounder.

There's been quite a negative response in this thread, I didn't think the review was that bad. Overall I am loving the A7R II. Just had to point out a few of the drawbacks.

It is amazing how hyped it has been and how these things have been totally glossed over or added as small print to the bottom of a list of cons below a massive list of pros and a headline that screams AMAZING.

Filmmakers gotta know the truth or it really does mess us up on a shoot.

Regarding a7rii vs a7s, it seems that a7rii 4k S35 mode can rival a7s 4k quality, even in low light (with a speedbooster).
However it is not clear wether a7rii 1080p s35 60 fps mode is on par with 1080p 60 fps from a7s, especially in low light?
Does anybody have a clue? It is an important consideration for those who use frequently 60 fps for smooth slow motions.

Is 1080p downscaled from 4k internally in a7rii, as it is supposed to be in a7s?

Well the A7S full frame 1080/60p is pixel binned so not so good, Nikon D750 is better for that. Super 35mm 1080p from the A7S is all from a full pixel readout. The A7R II is very unlikely to do 1080/60p better than the A7S, it can't do a 36MP full pixel readout from the full frame sensor at 60fps. The A7S only manages it because the Super 35mm crop portion of the 12MP sensor is extremely low res by comparison. In S35 crop mode, let's see... A7R II has 15MP to contend with, unlike to do 60fps with full pixel readout, maybe in 24p. I'll try it.

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the biggest bummer is that i wanted a camera i could put this lens on, Sony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4 G OSS Lens, i so wish canon made something even close to this for the price!

That's a great lens and you will be amazed how light it is as well.

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Well the A7S full frame 1080/60p is pixel binned so not so good, Nikon D750 is better for that. Super 35mm 1080p from the A7S is all from a full pixel readout. The A7R II is very unlikely to do 1080/60p better than the A7S, it can't do a 36MP full pixel readout from the full frame sensor at 60fps. The A7S only manages it because the Super 35mm crop portion of the 12MP sensor is extremely low res by comparison. In S35 crop mode, let's see... A7R II has 15MP to contend with, unlike to do 60fps with full pixel readout, maybe in 24p. I'll try it.

Why is HFR FF pixel binned on the Sony A7s and not normal frame rates like 24/25? I've found FF and APS-C basically the same in quality except for when it comes to low light.

Any verdict on the 1080p that comes from the A7RII?

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Maybe because the Sony site says it...

http://www.sony.co.th/product/dsc-rx10m2?site=hp_en_TH_i

"The capacity for shooting 4K differs slightly on each of the two cameras, as the more professionally styled RX10 II can shoot 4K video at extended lengths (up to 29 minutes in the US), while the more casual, pocket-friendly RX100 IV can shoot 4K clips at up to about 5 minutes in length.  Additional professional caliber video features on both of the new cameras include Picture Profile, S-Log2/S-Gamut, and more.  "

  http://www.sony.com/en_us/SCA/company-news/press-releases/sony-electronics/2015/sonys-rx100-iv-and-rx10-ii-cameras-bring-professio.html

 

Sony USA 29 minutes for the RX10 II in 4K.

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 12.05.41 PM.png

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No matter what I am going to be using the Shogun for external recording. With the pit falls of the A7r II and A7s which one produces a better image with an external recorder? Such as how does the a7s in crop mode, with speed booster, 4k and 1080p 60fps with the shogun compare to the A7r ii in full frame, 4k and 1080p 60fps with an external recorder? My priorities are heating issues, rolling shutter, moire and aliasing, color, dynamic range, sharpness and low on the list low-light. 

 Also is there Cineflat on the a7s? 

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No matter what I am going to be using the Shogun for external recording. With the pit falls of the A7r II and A7s which one produces a better image with an external recorder? Such as how does the a7s in crop mode, with speed booster, 4k and 1080p 60fps with the shogun compare to the A7r ii in full frame, 4k and 1080p 60fps with an external recorder? My priorities are heating issues, rolling shutter, moire and aliasing, color, dynamic range, sharpness and low on the list low-light. 

 Also is there Cineflat on the a7s? 

https://vimeo.com/135731718

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I can look past the little design flaws in the bodies and menus and hard colours of the Sony cameras, it is what it is and we work around it, but a camera that over heats ''consistently'' in minutes?

That's a first even for Sony. Makes the camera simply unusable for any client work, none, zero.

I just shot three consecutive takes with my camera - 14:24, 17:48 and 15:06 - 4k, FF, IBIS on following my dog running on the beach with the 70-200 with no issues. It was 92 and extremely humid, so it felt over 100.

It may not work for you and your client work, but that's longer than any interview I've ever shot. Your statement of it being unusable is complete nonsense. It may not work for YOU, but such hyperbole is over the top.

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

I just shot three consecutive takes with my camera - 14:24, 17:48 and 15:06 - 4k, FF, IBIS on following my dog running on the beach with the 70-200 with no issues. It was 92 and extremely humid, so it felt over 100.

It may not work for you and your client work, but that's longer than any interview I've ever shot. Your statement of it being unusable is complete nonsense. It may not work for YOU, but such hyperbole is over the top.

Well that's the problem, it didn't over heat for you there, it's overheating for tens of people out there, at 20 minutes, 30, less and more, so it's not suitable for any client work not just mine, unless there are variations and there are models that work reliably shooting continuously in 4K, in that case yes these unaffected cameras would be awesome and surely more than usable for any client work even shooting a feature, it's s35 4K LOG with 14 stops of DR and a FF aesthetic option that can take any cinema lens in existence and even give it image Stabilization. 

I would love it if you test more how long you can shoot in 4K and if the camera is giving up any warnings at any time preventing you from shooting. After what period and how long it takes to cool off and the tempretature of the place. 

We need more tests and more word of mouth. If the camera stops recording at any point this is a major issue that needs to be clearly put out there, if it doesn't, the same. 

 

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So far, it sounds like it's going to be fine for the video hobbyist, like me, but problematic for professionals doing long shoots.

When it comes to still shots, the same is true.  Bulb mode drops to 12-bit and activates spatial filtering.  Orange peel noise, lossy RAW which stinks with high-contrast exposure pushes, etc.  Blah. 

It still ends up as the best FF all-arounder, but with some significant limitations that everyone just needs to be aware of.

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