Being the first Sony mirrorless camera capable of shooting 4K video internally, the Sony A7R II seems to be another viable option and a logical choice for many owners of the extremely successful sibling the Sony A7S. However, as expected, the low-light capabilities of the new Sony A7R II will of course inevitably be compared to those of its predecessor. I don’t think anyone has hoped for earth shattering low light performance on the A7R II, due to the significantly larger number of pixels in its gigantic 42 megapixel Full-Frame Exmor R sensor, but the fact that it incorporates back-illuminated technology, a bump in the sensitivity department has been expected.
Many tend to agree that in reality the low-light capabilities of the A7R II can’t get even close to the performance the A7S provides and for a good reason. Despite the fact that the A7R II is still capable of shooting at crazy ISOs like 25,600 (which is the maximum you can get in Super 35 crop video mode) it’s still interesting to see how it compares in these terms. Here we have two quick tests that might provide some answers.
It the first test conducted by 3D-Kraft we can easily see that the A7R II is definitely the worse performer in poorly lit lighting situations, yet I was quite surprised how well the camera handles images in comparison with the A7s in the lower ISO range. It’s safe to say that up to ISO 12,800 both cameras are performing in a very similar way.
It’s also important to note that the A7S 4K footage was recorded externally with Atomos Shogun in ProRes HQ, whereas the A7RII 4K footage was captured internally with XAVC-S 100 Mbps codec. You can download the original UHD footage for further consideration here.
The following is another test this time produced by the team of News Shooter where we can make similar conclusions.
Тhe footage from both cameras was shot in 4K mode and unlike the previous test both cameras were recording via HDMI to a 4K external recorder. The lens used for the shootout was a Sigma 24-35mm f2 mounted on a Metabones Smart Adapter IV. Again, it looks like both cameras run side-by-side seamlessly until they overpass ISO 12800. At the highest ISO, the A7s is still the clear winner, though.
In this moment, I’m thinking about my good old Canon 7D which wasn’t the best low-light performer at that time as the video starts to fall apart when you push it above ISO 640. However, now we are talking about absolutely usable images at 20x higher sensitivity levels.
Yes, it does cost about $700 more than the Sony A7s, but it records 4K internally. Yet, despite all other great features such as internal S-Log2 recording, the XAVC-S codec, the 5-axis built-in sensor stabilisation, I’m getting more and more enticed by this little camera as I’m sure it will be a valuable investment for many shooters out there, myself included.