Sony's full frame mirrorless lineup just got a new update--and the Sony a7R II looks to even more promising then the original.
Of course, there's still a high resolution full frame sensor, but that's now backlit. With all of the circuitry behind the sensor instead of in front, the camera is a bit more capable when it comes to low light, though the big sensor already helped with that. The new sensor design also means data is processed a bit faster, though if the 5 fps burst speed compared to the previous one of 4 fps is any indication, not by a whole lot.
That sensor is also now paired with the widest AF system on a full frame sensor to date--with 399 points, phase detection style, paired with 25 contrast-detection points. The manufacturer says that new system produces a focus lock 40 percent faster then the previous model.
4K video is also made possible on that big sensor--with two different recording modes. A crop mode records in high resolution without pixel binning, while a full frame mode uses the entire sensor for more expressive power.
Of course, all that resolution is going to need a lot of support--a five-axis image stabilization system will help prevent blur from camera shake. The Sony a7R II also includes an upgraded electronic viewfinder as well as a more refined grip within the magnesium alloy body.
Sony's a7R II looks pretty impressive--so what's the downside? For starters, don't expect a DSLR-like battery life. You'll get less than 300 shots using the electronic viewfinder, and about 340 using just the LCD screen. If you plan to use the a7R II like a DSLR for all day shoots (to actually take advantage of the smaller size), you'll need to pack a few extra batteries.
We'd also like to see more speed here--while 5 fps is average for a DSLR, mirrorless cameras are typically able to produce faster burst speeds. Without the mirror to move up and down, mirrorless cameras are typically faster then DSLRs, but that's not the case here. Of course, there's a lot more data to process from that larger sensor, but we certainly wouldn't mind seeing a higher burst speed on Sony's next update.
Users will also be paying a bit more for that small size--the Sony a7R II is listed at $3,200. Other full frame cameras are available for around $2k, though it's worth noting they don't yet have 4K or reach such a high megapixel count.
Sony a7R II vs Sony a7II
That R in the name might as well stand for resolution--the Sony a7R II has nearly twice the megapixels over the a7II. The a7II also doesn't feature 4K video. The a7II also has fewer autofocus points. But, the a7II comes in at half the cost--so if you don't need all that resolution or 4K video, you'll save quite a bit with the less luxurious model.
Sony is making exciting moves in imaging technology. The a7R II looks to be a good buy, albeit an expensive one.
The Sony a7R II is expected out in August 2015 with a list price of $3,200.