I know, I know, I just got settled in with my Nikon cameras and now look what Sony trots onto the market. Why --- it's the camera they should have released back in October 2013 when they brought out the A7 line. A high resolution, full frame camera that's also fun to use and won't scare children and small pets with its cacophonous shutter banging and rattling. And bonus: Professional quality 4K video. In camera!
The new product (yet another "point" two) is, on paper, a remarkable machine for universal image making. It features a brand new sensor which is the world's large (and first full frame) BSI technology sensor. The advantages of the sensor, coupled with faster processors, gives the camera about a stop and a half to two stops of noise advantage over its previous model. The faster processing chain also makes possible the first full frame camera on the market to deliver 4K video that is written directly to the card in the camera!!! No need to buy an Atomos Shogun digital recorder to suck out the 4K as you
had to do with the A7s. This means that you can get into full frame 4K for about $1500 less than you would have to pay to do so with the A7s + recorder.
The camera is loaded up with features for filmmakers and video producers and that's the thing that should scare the crap out of the product managers at Canon and Nikon. The video features are the differentiators for the most part. All three camera makers will have high resolution products out this Summer but only one will have great still photography performance and the ability to hit a button and record much better video. Future proof video. And as photographers struggle to find new markets who can blame them for considering the upgraded video performance as a "must have" in the competitively priced product range?
According to Sony the A7r2 has ben ruggedized and features things like a more robust lens mount and a 500,000 cycle shutter mechanism. But the wonderful thing for discerning photographers will be the new, much quieter and 40% less vibratory shutter mechanism which now comes complete with an electronic first shutter curtain for even quieter performance.
What Sony has done is to take the best of everything they know how to do and shove it into one nice body and then topped it off with a feature that I miss every time I pull out one of my Nikons, the high resolution EVF that shows me what I'll be getting while I have the camera to my eye, not later while chimping. To me the EVF is the break point between the past, and the present and future.
But I am being careful with this one. Sony has beguiled me with specs before. I remember how crestfallen I was at the 2013 Photo Expo when I finally got my hands on the A7r at the trade show. I'd read about the camera and at the time I was also shooting with their flagship digital camera, the a99. I was ready to buy the camera unseen but it was fortuitous that I was able to handle one first. The shutter noise was so awful I thought the demo model had been broken. In dismay I looked through the menu to find the electronic first curtain setting only to find it not available on that product. I could imagine shooting with it in social situations. Actually my ears couldn't imagine shooting with it anywhere outside of a loud nightclub or while doing documentaries on jack hammers.... I nearly ran from the exhibit and haven't looked at the A7 line since.
Instead of my usual breathless anticipation I'll wait until I have opportunity to use one of the A7R2s in person and see if they got two things right. The focusing speed and the shutter noise. If they've been able to do those things right I'll happily overlook the short battery life and think about getting one along with a Nikon lens adapter. Not a complete system overhaul but a new tool for monster shallow, full frame, 4K video production. Could be really nice. Plus it would look cute next to my new RX10.2 (which I will buy sight unseen).
It's strange times for Nikon and Canon in consumer camera land. The very feature that old duffers cling to and demand is the same feature that seems to be dooming the progress of these established brands in the new space where good video and good photography are expected to go hand in hand. Canon knows better, that's why they are making hay in the pro-video sector. All of their pro video cameras are EVF enabled and do away with the mirrors that make shooting DSLR video much more complex and less fun. For them to compete they will have to give up the duffer market and embrace the new markets that will open up with new professionals who must shoot in both video and stills.
Holding on to a dying market might be a good short term marketing strategy but it may ultimately cost Canon and Nikon the market share they so desperately need. Brand names are powerful but that didn't save Kodak.
Sony seems to have designed and brought to market a camera for professionals based on the day to day needs of working professionals rather than one based on nostalgia for the recent past of digital cameras. It will change that end of the market (pros) for everyone----for better or worse.
And before you write and tell me all about how you can only use EVF cameras because of their clear view of reality please take a day to use a new, state of the art, EVF endowed camera and not just for five minutes at the counter of Best Buy. You'll quickly change your mind. I almost guarantee it.
Here's the best video review of the new Sony cameras I've found: http://www.eoshd.com/2015/06/finally-something-worth-talking-about-sony-a7r-ii-with-internal-4k-rx10-ii-with-980fps-slow-mo-watch-the-sample-footage/