Sony’s Summer of Sequels: Launches A7R II, RX10 II and RX100 IV

June 10, 2015

By Greg Scoblete

 Summer is usually the time for sequels and Sony has three of them, rolling out replacements for the A7R, RX10 and RX100.

The A7R II

The big update to Sony’s full frame mirrorless starts with the sensor, which is now a 42.4-megapixel backside illuminated CMOS. According to Sony, it’s the world’s first full frame to offer backside illumination. As you’d expect, it’s capable of very high sensitivities, up to ISO 102,400 with a native range of 100-25,600. To ensure the camera isn’t choking on the massive data rolling off the sensor, Sony said an expanded circuit scale and copper wiring design enables the sensor to output data 3.5x faster than the A7R.

Sony also quickened the autofocus, improving the AF response by 40 percent over the original A7R by using 399 focal plane phase detection AF points and 25 contrast AF points. In tandem with new motion detection algorithms, the A7R II can reach 5 fps continuous shooting with AF tracking engaged. The A7R II can burst up to 23 RAW frames or up to 30 JPEG images.

The A7R II uses the same five-axis image stabilization which was introduced in the A7 II and promises 4.5 stops of stabilization. The XGA OLED viewfinder has been tweaked and now has a magnification of .78x–the world’s highest, according to Sony.

The A7R II will also do a better job at keeping shutter vibrations to a minimum, boasting a 50 percent improvement over its predecessor. The shutter is rated for 500,000 cycles and there’s a silent mode for quiet operation (which should be welcomed by anyone who has bemoaned the noisy clang of the A7 or A7 II’s shutter). Other design tweaks include Zeiss T* coating on the viewfinder, a redesigned hand grip, new custom function buttons and a mode dial locking mechanism.

On the video front, the A7R II can record 4K (3840×2160) in Super 35mm format by using the full sensor readout and collecting 1.8x as many pixels as a typical 4K frame and then oversampling the footage to create a 4K movie (a process Sony claims will produce “minimal moire and jaggies”). You also have the option to record 4K using the full width of the 35mm sensor.

Footage is stored internally using Sony’s XAVC S codec at up to 100Mbps for 4K and 50Mbps for HD video. You’ll also enjoy clean HDMI out, time code, a 1280x720p120 option and the ability to record in S-Log2 Gamma and S-Gamut. The A7R II has Wi-Fi, NFC and a tilting 3.2-inch display, too.

The camera will ship in August for $3,200.

RX10 II and RX100 IV

No summer action flick is complete without an epic slo-mo and both of Sony’s new advanced compacts will definitely deliver that: they can record at a blistering 960 fps (1136×384) with additional options for 480 fps (1676×566) and 240 fps (1824×1026) with an option to use the movie shutter as an “end trigger” to record 2-4 seconds of slow motion video before the shutter was pressed. 

The cameras owe their motion-freezing capabilities to a new 20-megapixel 1-inch stacked Exmor RS CMOS sensor, new processor and DRAM chip that combine to read data off the sensors at 5x the speed of the earlier models. During still shooting, the RX100 IV can shoot up to 16 fps while the RX10 II clocks in at 14 fps. 

The fast data readout also helps minimize rolling shutter, Sony said.

The two cameras will share several features in common including:

* native ISO range of 125-12,800

* 4K (3840×2160) video recording in XAVC S format with bit rates up to 100Mbps

* simultaneous 16.8-megapixel still photo recording during 4K recording

* clean HDMI output, time code, picture profiles and S-Log2 recording

* Wi-Fi and NFC

* upgraded AF system to lock on moving subjects in as little as .09 seconds

There are a few differences between the models. The RX100 IV will cap 4K video recording at just 5 minutes. It will also use a 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 lens and retail for $1,000.

The RX10 II will offer longer 4K recording up to 30 minutes. It will offer mechanical shutter speeds up to 1/2000 sec. and electronic shutter speeds up to 1/32,000 sec. when shooting at f/8 or greater. It will be dust and weather-sealed as well and offers a longer, 24-200mm f/2.8 lens. It will retail for $1,300.

Both models ship in June.