Things We Love: Sony a7R II


Doing what I do for a living, I get to shoot with a wide range of cameras, lenses, and photo accessories on a regular basis, and I’ve been doing it for a while. Something that I’ve recognized for quite some time is how quickly our “latest-and-greatest” cameras become “obsolete,” thanks, in part, to evolving technologies combined with ever-clever marketing and our innate need to possess the latest and greatest of everything.

Unlike digital cameras, new, state-of-the-art analog cameras remained both new and state of the art for five, ten, or twenty-plus years before cameras that were truly better replaced them. When it comes to my personal cameras, I prefer to own what I consider the best camera based on my specific needs.

Back in the film days I was a devoted Nikon shooter. When digital came of age, my first DSLR was a Fujifilm S2, which was a Nikon camera hacked with Fujifilm imaging technologies. My S2 was soon replaced by a Nikon D-something, which was in turn replaced by a Canon EOS 5D. Each of these cameras had their strong points and weak points—none were perfect.

When Sony’s original a7-series cameras came out, in 2014, I sat up and took notice. I had used several mirrorless cameras up until that time, but like the DSLRs I had lived with, none of them lit fires under me. The Sony cameras were different and, unlike other mirrorless systems, they were full frame. I purchased a Sony a7S along with a couple of lens adapters, so I could use not only my Nikon lenses, but my Canon and Leica M-mount lenses too.

I loved the a7S—the tonality and low-light imaging abilities of the camera were amazing, but the camera’s 12.2MP sensor was too limited for my needs. I also had color-cast issues when using non-retrofocus wide-angle M-mount lenses, which I own and adore.

Photographs © Allan Weitz

Some of the lenses I use regularly on my Sony a7R II

A year later, I traded up to the Sony a7R, which, in addition to many imaging, performance, and design improvements, contained a 36MP imaging sensor that tripled my file sizes. I also experienced fewer color-cast issues when shooting with wider-angle M-mount lenses, compared to the a7S.

When the Sony a7R II was announced, I decided to give it a test drive before once again trading up. I took a test drive with the a7R II and traded in my a7R. That was in 2015. I’m still shooting with the camera and I’m still happy as a clam. The a7R III and the a9 have since been introduced, and though they are improvements over the a7R II, the improvements haven’t been enough to make me hand over the plastic.

The words “based on my specific needs,” which appear in a previous paragraph, are of particular importance, and are the reason I’m holding back until something truly impressive comes along.

The Sony a7R III can shoot at twice the frame rate of Sony’s a7R II (5 fps versus 10 fps), and Sony’s a9 can shoot twice as fast as Sony’s a7R III. That’s amazing, but 98% of the time I shoot in Single mode or in time delay, which neutralizes that advantage.

Ditto any improvements in video. Sony’s a7R III and a9 contain notable improvements in video capture over the a7R II, but here too, about 98% of the time I shoot stills.

There are other technical, performance, and ergonomic improvements in both newer Sony cameras that I can benefit from, but unless Sony has an impending blockbuster under wraps, I plan to continue dealing with Sony’s awful menus while waiting out another product cycle or two before trading up again.

In a world of rapidly evolving camera technologies, it’s nice to be able to relax for a spell and not get all antsy because something new might be coming out.

The bottom line: If you’re happy with the toys you have, all is good in the world. Camera-wise, I’m a happy man.

Photographs by Allan Weitz using a Sony a7R II

The “Things We Love” series articles are written by B&H Photo Video Pro Audio staff to talk about products and items that we love. Opinions expressed in the articles are those of the writers and do not represent product endorsements from B&H Photo Video Pro Audio.