We Tested the Sony A7RII AGAIN for All the Sony Fanboys

UPDATE:  Results from our reader's poll can be found here! Last week we released our head to head competition review between the Sony A7RII, the Nikon D810, and the Canon 5DsR ultra high megapixel cameras. Our test put all three cameras up against each other and compared their performance in terms of ergonomics, HD video, auto focus, ISO performance, Dynamic range, and overall image quality when used in the studio. Unfortunately a bunch of Sony users complained that our final studio test wasn't up to snuff, so we did what any respectable review site would do and brought back baby turtle. The new results might shock you.

Here is the original video that caused such an uproar among Sony A7RII users.


The main point we were trying to get across with this video was that all three cameras of these cameras are unbelievable in image quality. In our opinion, anyone who switches camera systems that they are heavily invested in, is ultimately making a very poor financial decision for a very small difference in image quality. If you like the Sony sensor then simply wait 6 months and that same sensor will be in the next Nikon camera. If you want more megapixels, hold out because both the Nikon and Sony systems will catch up with Canon very soon. Want better video quality? Yep, I have do doubt all cameras in the near future will probably take 4k video as well. Switching brands 10 years ago might have made sense but with image quality reaching near perfection in the current crop of cameras, it seems a bit foolish to think that your photography will greatly improve after switching to any one of these three cameras. 

Our Readers' Results

Of course that is OUR opinion but we wanted to to hear from our readers concerning the image quality from these three ultra high megapixel studio and landscape workhorses. In the camera comparison article, we posted three near identical images from the Sony, Nikon, and Canon cameras and asked you our readers if you could accurately tell the difference between the three files (all exported at 36 megapixels for fairness and anonymity). Below our the finds from our 3 poll questions and our 1 quiz.

Which Camera Took Each Photo Poll Results

As you can see from the poll above, statistically no one could accurately guess which camera took which image. It was almost 33% across the board and you might have even scored higher if you had blindly guessed which camera took which image. In fact, considering most readers thought both images 2 and 3 were taken by the Sony, you would have actually done better guessing.

The results from our Quiz "Which Image Looks the Best" is even more shocking. Again all three images almost split the votes evenly with the Nikon D810 actually receiving the most votes. So not only did more people find that the camera with the lowest megapixel count (Nikon D810) did in fact produce the best looking file, the massively impressive (and expensive) Canon 5DsR didn't really look that much different from the Nikon and Sony cameras both sporting Sony sensor technology.  

Which Image Do You Think Looks the Best Results

With a sample size of 4,000 participants, I think it is safe to say "Who Cares?!? The mass majority of people cannot tell the difference between the images these cameras produce!"

But Wait, Sony Wasn't Given A Fair Opportunity!

Many Sony users were quick to point out that because we used the Sony 24 - 70 f/4.0 lens instead of the Tamron 24 - 70 f/2.8 VC lens that we used on the other two cameras, the A7RII actually had a disadvantage in our high resolution studio test. Honestly, Lee and I thought the native Sony E Mount lens would have actually given Sony the upper hand but depending on who you ask online, their 24 - 70 lens is either the worst lens we could have picked or one of the best lenses you can buy for the A7RII (yeah, go figure).  

So in an effort to be absolutely transparent and fair with our testing, we ordered the Flagship Sony A Mount to E Mount adapter (The LA-EA4) so that we could run the test again with all three cameras having the exact same lens. Many people argued that we should have used this zoom or this prime on each camera but the truth of matter is, if you want to test the actual image quality out of each of these three cameras fairly, you really need to use the same lens across the board. This isn't a lens test, this is a relative sensor quality test.

Reader Test Take 2!

Below are the three files once again resized to 36 megapixels and uploaded in their full glory. We invite all of you to download the three images, compare them closely, and give us your opinion on which image looks the best. As we mentioned in the video above, the Tamron lens was significantly better than the Sony f/4.0 lens so this should help raise the A7RII image up quite a bit from the previous test.

Camera 1

Camera 2

Camera 3

Which Image Looks the Best?


Which Camera Took Which Photo?






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Previous comments
Sean Smith's picture

Speaking as a Sony user, this issue is a non issue.

Under the studio conditions, this is largely an issue of lens clarity/resolving power and sensor resolution. Even we Sony users complain about our available lenses, that said.

Nikon uses Sony sensors (so does Hasselblad).... a better comparison would be between the d810 and the A7r. That said, the A7rII is said to have mediated between resolution and low light performance - plus it is more the toy/feature king. The Canon is the reigning resolution champ.

With all cameras using adapters and the same lenses, under studio conditions, speaking as a Sony user, it should go pretty much like this Canon 5ds>Sony a7rII>Nikon d810.

If I had to have one for everything - the Sony. If I could have two with full lens setups - I'd carry the Sony and use the Canon under ideal conditions.

Gordon McAllen's picture

So who or rather which one came top

Blair-Fstoppers Wright's picture

I dug pretty far to come back and find the results but can't find them. Were they ever posted? Anyone have a link?
Thanks in advance, I'm curious

Trevor Chin Quee's picture

I made the switch from a Nikon D800 (even though I was fully invested in Nikon) to the Sony A7Rii not because the latter was any better but becasue it was as good AND lighter AND less bulky than the Nikon Full frame system. I had been waiting for a mirrorless full frame camera that I felt would at least give me the same performance as the Nikon D800 and the Sony A7Rii was the first camera that I thought filled the bill. For me that is the main reason for switching was less bulk and weight. So far I have not been disappointed by the images from the Sony.

P C's picture

I hate to say it but both test are flawed. We are dealing with Hugh megapixel cameras here !! everyone knows that the IQ limits on zoom lenses are pretty low and that these zooms are bottlenecking the total potential of these cameras big time !
This test HAS to be with prime lenses and I guaranty you will see a very clear winner here.
I recommend using the Zeiss 135mm f/2, the Samyang/Rokinon 135mm f/2 or the Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART

Kennon Fleisher's picture

This is your test between the three cameras? A shot with medium FOV and fairly normal DOF? They all look so similar, you can't just say one camera is better because of this one slapstick test. They all shine in different ways, and even more so with the correct lensing and being in a good photographers hands.

A chefs food is never judged based on the quality of his tools, so why are photographers constantly debating what camera is better? Just shoot good content because all this pixel counting is indicative of completely having your head in the wrong place when it comes to photography.

Tony Roslund's picture

Jeebus! You guys are bringing all the trolls out for this one. Pixel peepers unite!

Eric Knorpp's picture

I have just recently had all my equipment stolen, all Canon cameras, lens etc and was debating the option of going with all new sony equipment which I use for video. I have been using capture one since day one with Phase one P30 back and canon for the last 10 years. But I am thinking about changing to all sony for video and photos.
My main concern is being able to shoot tethered with the sony A7rII in studio and making sure my clients are happy and everything works well. I never had any problemas with Canon and images came in relatively fast and everything just works. I cannot find much information on tethering with Micro usb and the sony's not to mention the fact that the A7rII is 48 megapixels , almost double the file size of the 5DMIII. Can someone direct me to the proper information on this subject as I need to invest in all new equipment and was thinking about going with the full sony line up, A7sII for video, A7rII for photos and all the Batis lens line up..
I would really appreciate in help on this topic as I need to make a move really soon...
Thank you very much
What do you guys think? Considering I am a full fashion photographer and work both on location and studio with profoto flash equipment, and I ALWAYS work in full Manual mode on whatever camera I use. I would appreciate some advice form other professional fashion photographers who are in the same boat or have moved to sony? THANKS!!

Lee Morris's picture

I don't know about tethering but if video is important to you, the Sony will out perform the canon.

I'd probably suggest renting one and testing one before you make the switch though.

Eric Knorpp's picture

Thanks Lee, But like I stated I do already have the A7sII for Video. And where I live I cannot rent to try out, Most likely for photography going to stick with Canon for now and have a basic set up, 5DMIII and 24-70 LII 2.8 and when I go to New York next month will try to get my hands on one to try out. Thanks for your response..

Lee Morris's picture

Try lensrentals or borrow lenses if you want it mailed to you for testing.

Eric Knorpp's picture

I wish I could but I live in Chile and there is no way to do that, plus shipping here would be about as fast as your turtle in your videos..hahahaha
I will probably buy an A7rII to go along with my A7sII for video. I would like to try something new and keep the whole line to one brand. I could always sell it and go back to Canon if worse comes to worse. Since Sony has some pretty bad ass lens like the Batis and the Other manual focus lens by Zeiss, I really think Sony is innovative and out doing Canon in every aspect. I have been using Canon professionally for over 20 years and have never had any problems. But just had all my studio robbed and everything stolen that I have been collecting for over 25 years. So now is the time to start fresh, And I could always go back..Thanks for your reply by the way.

Scott Plumb's picture

Hey guys! First posting, though I have watched many of your reviews.

I have reviewed these two videos numerous times, and while I am not a fanboy of any brand (I shoot Canon, Nikon, Fuji, and Sony) it is obvious that Lee does not care for Sony for some reason. His body language and verbiage when addressing the A7RII is a mixture of distain and repulsion, and at the same time acknowledgement - much like someone might hold a dirty scalpel, grossed out by the blood and remnants, but soberingly aware of its purpose and capabilities..

As for the images you posted, lets be fair in all regards, including revealing what you guys did with the images to present the ‘normalized’ selection for evaluation. Firstly, you should not have ‘tweaked’ the colors at all when showing images to convey capabilities of any camera because what the camera ‘captures’ and what is then provided as the ‘starting point’ for editing is far more relevant than where the images can be taken - as most modern cameras can produce perceptually identical images, sans a little sharpness here, and/or little DR there. However the crux of my post, and second point, is that you also should not have softened the images to equalize them for comparison (and subsequent image challenge) as overall sharpness is important in many areas of photography, not just for pixel peeping. The reason I know that you softened the images is simply because I, and four other photographers I work with, personally shoot these same bodies - and I can tell you with 100% certainty that the D810 will not, cannot, resolve detail on an equal level as the 5DS or A7RII (even with crappy lenses) and that difference is visible all the way down to about an A3 print, or ~12mp digital downsample - at which point the 5DS and A7RII hit a threshold and do not produce anymore visible sharpness. The three samples you posted for the challenge do not have the difference in detail I look at every day in these same bodies. So for the future videos I watch from Fstoppers, how about doing away with personal bias (not personality!) and just present the digital bits.. =)

(ps, you should also change your name to use a lower case 'f'' as used to show aperture - fStoppers!

Lee Morris's picture

Welcome to Fstoppers Scott. I don't hate Sony but I am so sick of hearing about all of my friends "switching" to Sony because it's "so much better" than the competition. It's an amazing camera but I didn't find that it was THAT much better in most regards, it was simply comparable. For that reason I couldn't suggest selling all of your stuff and switching to another camera that is comparable.

We didn't "soften" any of the shots but we did shrink everything down to a similar size and we also used a lens that is arguably soft. That might be the issue.

Scott Plumb's picture

I will agree that the A7RII is not going to be a replacement body for many Canon or Nikon shooters out there. Even with the success of the Metabones EF adapter, at least for the lenses I use most (and everyone 'needs' to update to the current firmware/s) the lack of adaptation for Nikon lenses has the A7RII slanted one way as far as being considered a 'change over' system. Hopefully Metabones will get their Nikon adapter on the road, as I do not feel Vello will have the same success with their fixed non-firmware based adapter that is do out in about a month.

As to your other critique area - the size - I personally have to disagree with you there. That is not to say your assessment isn't right for you or others, and I have large hands as well, it is obviously not going to be as comfortable as a full size DSLR. However taking into consideration my age and 30+ years of shooting film era bodies (~20 of which was before digital existed, heh) I find the A7 bodies a joy to hold and shoot, especially the Mark II generation - though I will certainly concede a significant percentage of that 'comfort' may be nostalgia.
Though I did not have any problems holding or controlling my film bodies for decades.. =)

Scott Plumb's picture

Plus, for those out there such as yourself who shoot Nikon.. You know that the same A7RII sensor (or some other new BSI sensor) will make it into a new Nikon body eventually.

Patrick Hall's picture

I'm not sure I understand your argument about not adjusting the images to look similar. All 3 of these cameras were shot at the exact same ISO, SS, and Aperture and White Balance. Unfortunately these settings aren't very consistent between camera to camera and if we released them "straight out of the camera" then people would complain that we didn't get the WB right even though they were all set exactly the same. I'm not sure I see how making small changes like WB on a RAW file somehow diminishes the camera review.

Scott Plumb's picture

Mainly... 'because' they do not capture similarly.
The very reason why you state editing them is the very reason most photographers I speak/work with want to see what they have to work with. Or more importantly how little they have to work, which is a significant workflow calculation. There are of course many professionals that just turn their images over to a editing/publishing department and therefore do not care how much editing is done or needed, but in the end the less the better.

As to the context of my comment, it is primarily a preference dating back to film. Where the baseline performance of the film has more to do with how the image can be developed than the technical capabilities of the person doing the developing.. However it still holds true in the digital age, where the image off the sensor provides the more significant data for analysis than a subjectively averaged jpg - the baseline determining the extent of the outcome. That of course is not to imply that editing will come down to the adjustment range provided by a software slider, in fact more situations than not it is how the image was shot, and on what. I am just expressing that overall it still holds true that it is technically more important where you start from. As well as removing any conspiracy over editing to favor one piece of equipment over another as you stated - as the viewer can see exactly where it began - and perhaps do their own editing if the files are provided, after they complain about what should have been done of course. =)

Matthijs Bettman's picture

Hi Patrick!
Quick question. Do you know if it possible to use Nikon lenses (Nikon 14-24 and 24-70) on the Sony A7Rii with an adapter? The internet is clueless. I'm currently shooting with an Nikon D3x and looking at the Sony A7Rii for landscapes/cityscapes and astrophotography. What are your takes on this topic?

Justabeginner photographer's picture

I'm not a Sony boy but do the test again and use. Zeiss Batis 85mm 1.4. I promise you the difference will be obvious. The Zeiss lens with the Sony camera is not from this earth. Every picture looks like it's photoshopped straight out of camera. Colors are so increbidly rich and contrasty it's incredible. And the 42mp feel like 100mp when you zoom in. It's tack sharp. If I had the money for that shit i would buy it even as a bloody beginner (which i am ).

Anthony Vanover's picture

Best version is all three of them 😘👌