Wait – Sony DIDN’T Intentionally Hobble the a7r II?

by Hugh BrownstoneLeave a Comment

Props to Jaron Schneider of Resource for his interview with Sony Senior Manager of Technology Mark Weir, who explains why the Sony a7r II [B&H | Amazon] can’t do 10-bit recording nor high frame rates at full resolution.

This is one of those posts I’ll keep brief, because the interview speaks for itself.

The only thing I’ll add is this: I’m betting most of us are simply ill-equipped to evaluate Mark Weir’s explanation at a detailed, technical level – so in the end the question boils down to “do we trust him?” Given Sony’s recent track record, I’m inclined to do so.

Kudos again to Jaron, and kudos to Sony for making Mark available. The only other questions that occur to me are:

  • why, specifically, can’t Sony upsize the Exmor RS sensor to full frame and if they do, what will beits limitations compared to the a7R II’s Exmor R sensor (then again, Sony might not want to share what is actually critical competitive information about its products – fair enough)?
  • When WILL they be able to marry the Exmor RS sensor’s speed with the Exmor R’s more balanced performance and size to give us the best of both worlds?

But even if these questions go unanswered for now, call me impressed.

Sony Alpha A7r II Roundup

See our roundup of the Sony A7r II here – it includes all the latest news and videos

Why the Sony a7R II Can’t Shoot 10-Bit or Full HD Slow Motion Video

Via Resource Magazine Online:

After the launch of the a7r II, another Sony camera which arguably lets you get even more compact with your shooting setup with the built-in 4K, became an option. For purchasers, this leads to a complicated process of tabling the features and comparing the Sony cameras to the GH4. Eventually you land on the slow motion shooting capabilities of the GH4 and you might be asking yourself… why can’t the Sony shoot at 96 frames per second?

Similarly, why is it that the Sony a7R II is also limited to 8 bit 420 internal, and 8 bit 422 external recording? Why can’t it do 10 bit, which would be amazing especially paired with Sony’s LOG recording option?

Sony a7R II Can’t Shoot 10-Bit or Full HD Slow Motion Video

In order to get answers to these questions, I spoke with Mark Weir, Sony’s Senior Manager of Technology, to get a better understanding of their cameras and the expectations we as consumers should have. Everything below is based on conversations I had with Mark, and I would like to thank him for taking the time to chat with me and answer my huge list of questions.

To start to answer both of the question about bit rate and slow motion video capture, we have to start with the processor. In my review of the a7r II, I mentioned that some of the decisions seemed to stem from the desire to not poach off other Sony camera lines. This may be how it appears, but now looking at the actual capabilities of the hardware, might not actually be the case.

Sony a7R II Can’t Shoot 10-Bit or Full HD Slow Motion Video 2

Yeah, sure, in some cases it is simply a matter of what Sony has chosen to do, rather than what it had to do. For example, they made a conscious choice to make their rear LCD a tilt screen rather than a full flip-out screen. They believed that the compactness of the camera trumped the space it would take to add a hinge and provide a full flip-out screen.

Interesting choice, not sure I personally agree, but that was absolutely a designer and engineer agreeing to do something instead of something else.
Conversely, the limitations for 8-bit video, and also to a degree slow motion, is the opposite. The inability to shoot 10-bit is because of the processor. The BIONZ X processor in the Alpha series cameras can’t actually process anything past 8-bit 422. So the same processor that I complained had difficulty managing to write data to a card and allow for simultaneous camera setting changes also can’t handle the data throughput required for 10-bit. This actually made a lot of sense when I heard it.

Read full article at Resource Magazine Online “Why the Sony a7R II Can’t Shoot 10-Bit or Full HD Slow Motion Video”


Check out this FB Post from Ron Risman:

“I just sent back what I consider to be the absolute best digital camera I have ever owned (for daylight capture) because of the amount of confetti (blue, red, white dots) generated when shooting at night. I am talking about the new Sony A7R II…”

Read full post HERE.

Note: it is our policy to give credit as well as deserved traffic to our news sources – so we don't repost the entire article – sorry, I know you want the juicy bits, but I feel it is only fair that their site get the traffic and besides, you just might make a new friend and find an advertiser that has something you've never seen before

(cover photo credit: snap from Resource Magazine Online)

Hugh Brownstone

Hugh Brownstone

Hugh is the founder of Three Blind Men and An Elephant Productions. He and the team write, direct, shoot, score, and edit web-centric films; conduct photo shoots; and write copy, white papers and blog posts. Hugh also writes screenplays (he recently optioned a TV pilot) and just published his first eBook (Apple's iPhone: The Next Video Revolution). If it's about telling stories, it's in their wheelhouse.

And always with the ambition of authenticity, humanity and wit.
Hugh Brownstone

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