The new Sony A7R II is no photographic lightweight

It’s the world’s first camera with a rear-illuminated full-frame sensor, no less

Sony has ripped the wrappings off the new flagship model in its compact system camera range, and, on paper at least, the A7R II is a stone cold stunner.

An updated edition of the A7R (a camera we awarded a full five stars back in May 2014), the A7R II’s marquee features are its new 42.4MP Exmor R CMOS sensor, its ability to record video in 4K ultra HD quality and the same 5-axis image stabilisation as seen on the A7 II, a camera a little bit lower down Sony’s range and released a few months ago.

The sensor is the world’s first full-frame sensor to benefit from rear illumination, which Sony claims boosts the sensitivity without sacrificing resolution. That means you should be able to shoot nice, sharp, detailed images and videos in very low light conditions – something that’ll also be helped no end by the 5-axis image stabilisation, which was superb on the A7 II.

The new sensor offers a huge ISO range of 50 to 102400 (another thing that’ll aid your limited light shooting) as well as 399 phase detection autofocus points – the widest AF coverage on a full-frame sensor ever, according to Sony. Teamed up with 25 contrast autofocus points, this gives the A7R II 40 percent faster AF response than the original A7R (which we found to be very quick in itself when we reviewed it).

As for 4K video, that’s a wholly new addition. The existing Sony A7s is capable of recording 4K, but requires expensive additional gear to do so, but the A7R II can record 3840 x 2160 videos totally in-camera. It can also shoot 720p HD movies in high-speed 120fps mode, allowing for buttery-smooth slow motion playback later.

There’s also a new OLED electronic viewfinder with the world’s highest viewfinder magnification at 0.78x – a whole 0.01x over the Fujifilm X-T1’s (!) – as well as Wi-Fi and NFC, allowing it to communicate with the Android or iOS Sony PlayMemories companion app.

We’ll be endeavouring to get our hands on a sample of the Sony A7R II as soon as possible, so stay tuned for a review soon. Sony has yet to set a UK price for the camera, but we expect to find out in the next few days.