We love the Sony a7RII, but the a7II is still a great camera with great image quality.
My only wish is that continuous eye AF feature might go into the a7II one day, even if it’s slower and less accurate.
For example, I wish this photo caught their eyes in focus, but both of them moved during the laugh. It’s not noticeable at small resolution, but in full resolution the eyes are not in focus.
This is not to say that the a7II can’t get the eyes sharp. When it works, it’s amazing. But it’s more hit-or-miss at wider apertures, and so requires a more still subject.
That changed with the a7RII. There is just something so satisfying about seeing a photo with very sharp eyes. And with the a7RII it’s practically effortless.
However, if you can live with some missed shots or don’t take photos of young kids that don’t pose, the a7II is a great deal. The eye AF in AF-S mode works very well if your subject is posing still for you. With some more nimble reflexes, AF-S with eye AF can work wonders if you catch kids at an opportune moment.
Truthfully, if the a7RII continuous eye AF didn’t work as well as it does, we probably would have just kept going with our a7II. We had been quite happy with the high ISO performance and image quality in general. The a7RII does take it to the next level with more megapixels and even cleaner high ISO, but the main improvement for us was the continuous eye AF.
In most other regards, the two cameras are very similar. The 5-axis stabilization, the size/weight, the rendering from the full-frame E-mount lenses, and the general operation. The premium for the a7RII is worth it to some, but it would not be worth it to everyone. The main differences come down to 42 megapixels vs. 24 megapixels, 4k video recording, better and faster autofocus, and more refined features like better EVF, silent shooting, minimum shutter speed with auto ISO, and longer shutter life.
Personally, after using the a7II for less than a month and the a7RII for less than two weeks, I would not switch back to a larger camera. My husband had gotten the Canon 70D and Sony a77II previously, neither of which I enjoyed using. I prefer a smaller camera body that I have an easier time handling, that draws less attention and that makes me feel less like a target.
I love these smaller cameras. If I could go even smaller and not sacrifice image quality or functionality, I certainly would!
I believe that the a7RII is a Swiss Army Knife that can be completely silent if need be, can be small and look like a point-and-shoot if you want to be discreet, can be mounted on a tripod with a flipping screen that gives you low angles, can allow an amateur like me to use the continuous eye autofocus easily, can give great handheld performance any time any where like museums and churches where tripods are prohibited, can double as a camcorder and take 4k video on-the-fly with 5-axis stabilization, and can review photos in bright daylight via the electronic viewfinder.
If you want more functionality than the base model, you can add a battery grip to increase its size and battery power, can hook it up to a huge external battery that gives you all day power, can get big if you want to put a telephoto long lens on it with adapters, can go into a huge stabilizing video rig or a flying drone, can be a B cam that does out-takes or silent photos during film rolling, can output hours of higher quality video via HDMI, and can adapt various legacy and film lenses with adapters and be stabilized.
On the other hand, you can get some, though not all, of these functionalities with other cameras. It’s up each individual to figure out if these features and upsides are good enough to offset the limitations and drawbacks, then pick the camera that fits one’s needs.
In the end, photography should be about enjoyment and creative pursuits. Since we’ve gotten these cameras, we’ve started taking more photos and having more fun in the process. The memories we have captured are far more important than the gear.
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