Both the Sony a7S II and a7R II are great options for making videos in 4K, but which is better?
In this video I compare the pro's and con's of each camera and share which is best for different situations and production needs.
a7S II Features
The Sony a7s II is a low light beast, creating some of the cleanest images at high ISOs I've ever seen.
Compared to the a7R II, it has the ability to set custom zebras for different exposure levels, the LCD can be turned off when it isn't in use, and from my experience, its batteries will last longer too.
The a7S II also will record in 4K longer without overheating when compared to the a7R II.
It offers the ability to shoot in a high frame recording mode of 120 Frames Per Second at a 2.2x crop factor.
It enables an S-log 3 gamma mode to film in an even flatter picture profile, as well as offering an option to turn on a gamma view assist mode so you can get a better idea of what you're final image will look like after you grade it in post.
a7R II Features
Moving on to the a7R II, you gain the ability to film in 4K with APS-C mode enabled. This gives you a 1.6 crop on your image, but still keeps the max 3840 x 2160 UHD resolution. This crop mode helps in low-light too.
When filming in Log mode on an a7R II, you can bring your ISO down to 800 instead of 1600 on the A7S II, which lets you shoot at a shallower depth of field outside.
The biggest benefit of using an a7R II is that it takes 42 megapixel still photographs, which is great for making time lapse videos. This is almost 4 times more resolution than the 12 megapixels of the a7S II.
Also, the a7R II has a better autofocus system. It has 399 focus points vs. the 169 on the a7S II.
It uses a phase detection autofocus focus points too, which make it faster for photo and video autofocus, versus the contrast mode used on the a7S ii.
Unfortunately, the a7R II is more likely to overheat when filming 4K over a period of time than the a7S II is.
So, in my opinion, the a7S II is best for only doing video with its low light capabilities, less overheating, high frame rate recording, and gamma view assist.
The a7R II is best if you're going to do photos or timelapses heavily too, in addition to video, want to shoot in 4K when in a cropped APS-C mode, and need faster autofocus.
Be sure to check out our full review of the a7s II where I compare it to my C100 and filming with a DSLR, as well as our comparison video of the a7s Mark II vs. the original a7s Mark I if you're on a budget.
Thanks to B&H for sending the a7S II for review and to Paul Gero, a sony artisan photographer, for showing me how he uses his a7R ii and Zeiss lenses.
Items Mentioned on B&H Photo Video
- B&H: Sony a7S II Mirrorless Digital Camera
- B&H: Sony a7R II Mirrorless Digital Camera
- B&H: Sony VGC2EM Vertical Grip
- B&H: Metabones Canon EF Lens to Sony E-Mount Adapter, Mark IV
- B&H: Sony XLR-K2M Adaptor Kit with Microphone
- B&H: Sony XLR-K1M Adapter Kit with Microphone