42 MP Full-Frame Exmor R BSI CMOS Sensor
BIONZ X Image Processor
Internal UHD 4K Video & S-Log2 Gamma
5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE Stabilization
399 Phase-Detect AF Points & 5 fps Burst
0.5" 2.36M-Dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder EVF
3.0" 1,228.8k-Dot Tilting LCD Monitor
ISO 102,400 and Silent Shutter Mode
Durable Reduced-Vibration Shutter Design
Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC
12.2 Megapixel Full-Frame Exmor CMOS Sensor
BIONZ X Image Processor
5-Axis Image Stabilization
Fast & Accurate Autofocus (25 Points) - Even in -4 EV Low Light
Internal 4K Ultra HD (UHD) @ 30fps Recording
Internal Full 1080p HD @ 120fps Recording
ISO 100-102400 (expandable to 409600)
When it comes to buying a new camera, there are a lot of considerations to be made. Budget is certainly a concern for most people. Brand is often a factor as well, with many photographers starting out with a specific brand and sticking to it for the duration of their career. So too is the type of camera - crop sensor, full frame, mirrorless, and the like.
Two of the most featured-packed mirrorless cameras on the market today are the Sony a7R II and the Sony a7S II. These cameras offer many similar features, but choosing between the two requires not just an examination of the criteria above, but a consideration of the purpose of your work as well. For example, if you’ll primarily be shooting landscapes, the a7RII is better suited to such endeavors. However, if you’re more into videography, the a7SII is the better choice.
Let’s explore the differences between these two incredible cameras in more detail.
a7RII Technical Specs
In a word, the Sony a7RII is powerful. With a 42MP full frame sensor and a BIONZ X image processor, there is virtually no scene or subject matter you can’t shoot with this camera. Its hybrid autofocus system is second-to-none in the performance department, giving you phase-detection capabilities (with 399 AF points) that are fast and accurate regardless of the lens being used. Add in 5-axis image stabilization, and you’ve got a recipe for images that are technically sound and true.
The a7RII is weather-sealed to boot, meaning, if you spend any amount of time outdoors pursuing photos of nature, wildlife, and landscapes, this is the camera for you. The magnesium alloy body is sturdy, yet lightweight, giving you a rig that will stand up to the elements and withstand the bumps and bruises that come with outdoor photography.
Another nice feature of the a7RII is that its twin control dials are large, but not bulky, with knobs that are easy to manipulate even if you have gloves on. You also have the freedom to customize some of the controls to better suit your individual workflow. That’s not to mention it’s solid 4K internal video capabilities with 5fps shooting.
The a7RII has the fantastic OLED Tru-Finder electronic viewfinder (EVF) that Sony lovers have come to enjoy. What’s more, the LCD tilts, giving you a wider range of shooting positions without losing the ability to see what you’re photographing. That means you can take shots of your favorite nature scenes, portraits, wildlife, or other subjects from interesting angles that make your images that much more unique.
There are plenty of other handy features as well. The a7RII is Wi-Fi and NFC enabled for quick connectivity and sharing. The reduced vibration shutter means you can worry less about camera vibrations causing blur in your photos as well. Photographers that are on-the-go appreciate the camera’s small and compact size too.
a7RII Pros: Powerful processor with full frame sensor, weather sealing, user-friendly controls, and excellent OLED viewfinder
a7RII Cons: AF controls can be finicky or downright unpredictable, reduced dynamic range when in continuous shooting mode, poor user experience with menus, and questionable battery life
Pricing: The a7RII runs about $3,200 brand new for the body by itself. However, if you want a deal, purchase yours from Focus Camera and get a $200 Focus gift card! What’s more, you also get a copy of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 and a Sony 32GB memory card bundled with the camera.
The final verdict: Because of its small size, robust construction, and impeccable shooting capabilities, the a7RII is a good bet for photographers that spend their time outdoors and on the move. If your passion is landscapes, street scenes, outdoor portraits, and the like, this camera is a great choice.
a7SII Technical Specs
Though the Sony Alpha a7SII takes a mean still photo, Sony developed this camera with videography in mind. The camera can record full 1080p video internally (at 120fps), and with Sony’s new XAVC S format, you can avoid the bitrate restrictions of the more standard AVCHD format. Additionally, you can record 4K Ultra HD video at 30fps as well.
Beyond that, the features of the a7SII are video-first. Control low contrast S-Log2 tone curves to improve the dynamic range of your videos. In-body image stabilization ensures that your hand-held videos are smooth and easy to watch. Record time codes to keep your scenes organized, and use the zebra highlight and focus peaking warnings to ensure you get the top-notch video footage you desire. Perhaps best of all, the a7SII reads the entire sensor at a rate of 30 times per second. This improves vertical resolution while reducing the risk of moiré as well.
Despite being a videographer’s dream, the a7SII has many features that benefit still photographers too. You get 5-axis image stabilization, high-speed AF performance (with 169 AF points) that is highly accurate, and excellent low-light performance with reduced noise. In fact, the ISO can be expanded up to a whopping 409,600 for shooting in even the dimmest lighting.
What’s more, the a7SII sports an XGA OLED Tru-Finder EVF that has an astonishing magnification of 0.78x, which gives you approximately 38.5 degrees of diagonal field of view for seeing clear images and videos. The 3-inch LCD tilts up and down for better viewing, just as is found in the a7RII. Also like the a7RII, the a7SII has a reduced vibration shutter that minimizes camera shake for clearer, sharper photos.
Also similar is the build quality. Though it isn’t weather-sealed, the a7SII is built from magnesium alloy, making it a strong, durable body for tough assignments. The lens mounts are equally as strong, giving you a rigid system of attaching a lens, even a large telephoto or cinematic lens for videography. Even with a large lens attached, the small body of the a7SII is a dream to hold and allows you great freedom of movement.
a7SII Pros: Excellent video capabilities including internal 1080p and 4k recording, BIONZ X image processing, 5-axis image stabilization, superb low-light performance, and gorgeous OLED EVF
a7sII Cons: Poor battery performance when shooting video (including overheating), lower-than-average LCD screen, and occasional issues with bit depth
Pricing: Brand new, a Sony a7SII camera body can be found for under $3,000. The best deal on this camera is at Focus Camera, however, because not only do you get a $300 Focus gift card, but you also get a Sony 32GB memory card with the camera as well.
The final verdict: If you’re a videography enthusiast, it’s hard to find a camera this small and maneuverable that packs as hefty a punch as the a7SII. Its 1080p and 4K recording capabilities alone should be enough to convince you that it’s the right camera for producing videos, but the impeccable low-light performance, fast image processing, and image stabilization are just icing on the cake.
Really, no matter which camera you pick here, you’re getting something that is highly capable, well built, and packed with features. It’s simply a matter of choosing the right camera for the kind of work you do. If you’re a still photographer, there are few mirrorless camera options that are better than the Sony Alpha a7RII. On the other hand, if videography is your game, the Sony Alpha a7SII should be at or near the top of your list. Either way, both cameras represent a good buy, and if you purchase one through Focus Camera, the deal is even sweeter with the bundled freebies!