Sony's A7R II full-frame camera has it all, for a price

Sony's full-frame camera family just got larger with a superb, but expensive mirrorless flagship, the A7R II. The new model is one of Sony's highest resolution cameras ever at 42.4-megapixels, handily whupping its predecessor, the 36.4-megapixel A7R. It also has the "world's first back-illuminated full-frame sensor," according to Sony, giving it high sensitivity (up to 102,400 ISO) to go along with all those pixels. It gets the 5-axis stabilization system from the A7-II, but unlike that camera, shoots 4K video that's sampled from the entire 35mm sensor.

Sony's current ISO sensitivity champ is the mirrorless A7S, which can be pushed to an outrageous 409,600 ISO. However, that camera has a mere 12-megapixel sensor, making it more suited for 4K video than stills. Sony claims that the A7R II delivers both low-light performance and high-resolution thanks to the 35mm-sized back-side illuminated (BSI) sensor, with an ISO range of 100 to 25,600, expandable to 102,400. The full-frame, E-Mount camera also has a 399-point phase-detection AF that sports a 40 percent faster focus than the A7R, with up to 5fps continuous shooting.

The new model's 5-axis image stabilization is borrowed from the 24.3-megapixel A7-II, but fine-tuned for much higher resolutions. It corrects pitch, shift, yaw and rotational shake, especially useful for telephoto and video shooting. Stabilization works on the 12 native full-frame E-mount lenses, or with A-mount models via an adapter. Sony claims the compensation is equivalent to shooting around 5 shutter-speed steps faster. To read out the 42.4 megapixels quicker, data speeds are also 3.5 times quicker than the original model. Helping photographers deal with the resolution is a new XGA optical viewfinder (2,359,296 dots) that Sony claims has the world's highest magnification (0.78x).

As for video, Sony may have the unicorn of DSLR/mirrorless camera video: 4K video with no pixel binning, which it calls another "world's first." The A7R II reads out the entire 35mm sensor and oversamples it before reducing to 3,840 x 2,160 at 30fps or 1080p at 60fps, resulting in sharper video with fewer artifacts and a shallow depth-of-field. It also uses reasonably high bit-rates: 100Mbps for 4K video, and 50Mbps for 1080p, using Sony's new XAVC recording format. The camera also supports super-35 cropped 4K and clean HDMI output in 4K or HD, but only at 8-bit 4:2:2, unfortunately.

As for the when, where and how much, the A7R II is coming to the US in August for a bank-breaking $3,200. We haven't yet spotted UK pricing and availability, but will let you know when we do.