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Sony A7R II Uncompressed RAW Now Available | Initial Thoughts & Sample Images

By Anthony Thurston on October 19th 2015

The Sony a7R II owners awoke to a nice present from Sony. The long awaited, uncompressed RAW firmware update was dropped for owners this morning and as any self-respecting camera reviewer, I quickly downloaded the update and ran out for some test shots.

sony-a7r-ii-box

This is not an exhaustive review by any means, but just some of my initial thoughts and observations after installing the update and taking a few shots with the new uncompressed RAW option turned on.

If you are looking for where to get the firmware update, you can get the Windows file from Sony here or the MAC version here.

Quick Notes for a7R II Owners

Just a quick note, apparently there is a small bug in the firmware update where if you have APS-C mode turned to Auto, the camera will default to ON after the firmware update. So you will have to go into your menu and turn it back to Auto or Off if you want to get full resolution files.

Initial Impressions & Observations

Before I jump into the file comparisons and all that, I wanted to discuss the install process for the firmware. It is simple enough, you just go to Sony’s website, download the firmware update file and connect your camera to your computer. You then follow some basic on-screen instructions and the rest of the update process is fairly automatic. In all, it took me about 10 minutes (download to completion) to get the firmware updated.

Hide Your Hard Drives, File Size Comparision

Next, the obvious question is regarding the file size difference. I took four image samples this morning, two with the default compressed RAW files and two with the new uncompressed RAW files. In both cases, the compressed files were around 42MB per file, while the new uncompressed files were around 83MB per file. So if you decide to use the uncompressed option, you can expect to have your file sizes essentially doubled.

Sample Images

You can see web sized thumbnails below. Chances are, you probably can’t see a difference between the two at this size; I couldn’t. So for those of you pixel peepers, or those interested, you can download a file with the actual full RAW files here (File Dropper | We Transfer).

a7r-II-compressed-raw a7r-II-uncompressed-rawa7r-II-compressed-raw-2 a7r-II-uncompressed-raw-2

So, you have seen the test images, you know the file size difference, now it’s time for my thoughts. Will I be using the uncompressed raw format for the majority of my image going forward?

I never had a problem with the compressed raw files personally, but for the same reason why I always shoot RAW over Jpeg, I think I will be using the new uncompressed RAW over the compressed version. Just on the chance that the newer files have slightly more latitude in processing, and less chance of any artifacts.

[REWIND: RAW VS JPEG (JPG) – THE ULTIMATE VISUAL GUIDE]

But now I am curious what you think, do you see any difference in the RAW file samples? a7R II owners, will you be using the new uncompressed RAW files going forward or will you stick with the compressed files? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

9 Comments

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  1. Michael None

    Why not give users a 14-bit LOSSLESS compressed raw file? Then you get better quality without quite the same file size penalty. Maybe it’s so they can release yet another firmware update in six months to stay in the news.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      It’s possible that the compression is ‘baked’ into the hardware and is not changeable after it finalized. This would explain the uncompressed RAW update, to get around the hardcoded compression settings

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  2. Mac MacDonald

    83MB?!?!?!?! That’s all I got.

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  3. Ben Perrin

    I’m not sure you’ll see a difference, even when looking hard, in all situations. I did a shoot recently though where I had a model in the city with the lights behind him out of focus. There were weird splotches in the lights that I’m pretty sure were due to compression. It wasn’t a big deal as I didn’t plan on printing this photo, just sharing it on the web. I’ve heard that this update will fix those random errant pixels. Also I’ve heard that it will reduce random artefacts during longer exposures. Hope that is the case.

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  4. Kenny Van

    I just ran a quick test with version 2.0 and I think the continuous shooting is slower and for some reasons, the batteries were drawn little quicker. Other than that, the images showed as true 14 bit.

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  5. adam sanford

    Ouch on the file size, though it was to be expected. Anthony — any comments on this affecting the buffer size or burst rate in burst shooting?

    I assume you burn through the buffer much more quickly, but does the actually FPS rate decrease because of this?

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Im my quick, very unscientific, test just now I was able to get about 20 shots on the buffer with the compressed RAW files before the buffer filled up. Shooting the uncompressed raw I was only able to get 12 before the buffer filled.

      The burst rate speed did not seem to be affected, at least not in my test, until the buffer filled.

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    • adam sanford

      Thx. I realize it’s not an action rig, but I was curious to see if running the larger files blew something else up with the camera — heat, burst rate, “chimping lag”, etc.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Yeah, I rarely shoot this camera outside of single shot mode, so I probably wouldn’t have even thought to check it, so thanks for asking.

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