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Readers Write on the Sony A7R II: is there a quality issue with the EVF?

Get Sony A7R II at B&H Photo.

See previous notes on the Sony A7R II.

See the update: 5X magnification is fugly.

Update, reader Howard C writes:

On the “poor” quality of the EVF in manual focus, I wonder if the poster had changed the “Display Quality” setting set to “High.” The default is “Standard.” Go to Menu/“Suitcase” Settings/Tab 2.

DIGLLOYD: This does not fix the issue on the A7R II.

Andrew N writes:

I have had a Sony A7R II for a few days and in nearly all aspects the camera is superb.

The one flaw, and one you may wish to cover in depth in your review, is that the EVF for manual focus is vastly inferior to the original A7R. I use the two Loxia lenses and the magnified focus function is poor. The image seems degraded (almost like bad jpeg blocking) and makes focusing on foliage really difficult. The ’12.5’ setting is better but the first ‘5’ setting near useless. Whether this is down to Sony downsampling the feed to the EVF is something you may wish to explore. Turning IBIS off does not seem to make a difference. A friend of mine (another landscape photographer) noticed the same thing straight away.

My thoughts, and my friends after we discussed it, wonder whether Sony have compressed the feed to the EF (and monitor) to cope with IBIS. Turning IBIS off however doesn’t improve things. I found I could focus at the highest magnification setting but am frustrated that it has to be a two stage operation to get to the ’12.5’ setting. I have asked Sony if there is any way to set the camera to jump to the higher setting as the ‘5’ one is useless. Really surprised no there user/reviewer has picked up on this issue yet.

I have contacted Sony customer support and wait to see if they come back with any potential solutions in a firmware update or as I fear it is ‘baked’ into the camera.

DIGLLOYD: Yikes! This is very bad news. I should be able to confirm within two days.

Phil L writes:

If the new Sony A7RII has the same sort of manual lens magnified live view focus problem that plagued the Nikon D800, it is a major set back for the use of manual lenses on the new Sony.. The D800 Live view was terrible and was solved only when the D810 was released with a greatly improved Live View Design. In contrast to the D800, the D700 had had excellent Live View.

DIGLLOYD: Yup.

Alfred C writes:

Poor quality comfirmed, unfortunately.

Re: Focus Magnification:

Dear Sony, why on ear the do you punish users so much so frequently?
Alternatively—

Dear Sony, how can you be so dumb and have file compression and Focus compression?

Or

Dear Sony, is 42 so much bigger than 36 that you feel you need a new approach to viewfinders?

...And so on

DIGLLOYD: yup.

Mikko I writes:

Thank you once more for your efforts and excellent writings! Always a pleasure to read your real world observations on photography equipment.

Personally I am quite eager to read about the new Sony A7R II. Currently I have a D800E and a Ricoh GXR and I would not mind having only one body and a single line and smaller set of lenses for all occasions. I love the rangefinder-type lenses but the Ricoh is currently the best I can justify myself. Thank you for saving my money with your Guide to Leica. :)

The biggest concern for me with the A7R II is what you have already expressed on other Sony cameras: the crippled raw file format. This is, after all, a 3500+ Euro camera after various accessories. Please let us know if there any ways to influence Sony to fix the raw file.

While I have no doubt you will cover the A7R II in satisfactory manner, just in case you are listening to suggestions, here are some topics I would like to read about:
- Use of lenses with adapters, F- and M-mount especially.
- A 25mm lens comparison (Batis vs ZM vs ZF would be perfect for me :)
- An 85mm lens comparison
- An overall discussion on lens choices for Sony cameras.

DIGLLOYD: As per Andrew N, maybe the biggest concern for some shooters is manual focus.

The “I would not mind” comment hammers a big nail dead center: NiCanon are catatonic and barring some extreme effort (haha) they have lost the game. The DSLR market will continue, of course, but at this point Sony has compelling momentum and volume and technology (including the best sensors in house!) so that if Sony aggressively addresses the remaining needs of the DSLR market, it’s game, set, match and tournament. Having fixed many flaws in the A7R II vs the A7R, it’s a shame to hear they might have crippled a key function (manual focus) but the only thing that matters over the next 1-2 years is the game plan for eliminating any and all remaining dissatisfiers for 90% of the market.

Leica M—It is unlikely meaning all but impossible to see Leica M lenses improve on Sony mirrorless, since they all share the same sensor cover glass thickness, and that is what causes the severe astigmatism and color fringing when used with rangefinder lenses having even a moderate ray angle (even 50mm is degraded). See this and more:

Zeiss ZF lenses are telecentric by design to clear the DSLR mirror box, and as already shown in Guide to Zeiss, they work great on Sony. They should work equally well on the Sony A7R II, albeit showing their limits a bit more at 42MP vs 36MP.

My review of Zeiss Batis covers the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon and Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar in depth. These are my recommendations for the A7R II in those focal lengths and I will be working with them on the A7R II (as well as the Sony 35/1.4 and 90/2.8).

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