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OnePlus 12R review: Long-lasting, eye-popping
5:00 pm | February 5, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets OnePlus Phones Phones | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

OnePlus 12R: Two-minute review

OnePlus is kicking off 2024 with a pair of new phones, its latest flagship OnePlus 12 and the intriguing OnePlus 12R; which marks the first time an R-series device has launched internationally and not just in India.

While we've seen T-series entries on the global stage before, the R more closely delivers on the promises of the company's full-fat flagship phones and this year's 12R is no exception; running on familiar hardware for those who knew last year's OnePlus 11, while also serving up some company and industry firsts all its own.

OnePlus 12R review back straight perspective

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

At a glance, you'd be forgiven for mistaking the 12R for both the OnePlus 11 and the OnePlus 12, as all three phones sport a familiar aesthetic, with rounded edges and the distinct 'Starlight Dial' circular camera surround that we were first introduced to on 2023's OnePlus flagship.

The iconic physical alert slider may have swapped sides (OnePlus says this improves antenna performance), and the phone may lack wireless charging and full IP68 dust and water resistance, but it's otherwise a beautifully crafted and premium-feeling phone with plenty of power and battery longevity to boot.

If it weren't for the lesser secondary cameras, the 12R amounts to a revamped OnePlus 11, with the same flagship-class Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 found in 2023's finest, up to 16GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and the biggest battery ever seen in a OnePlus phone, which translates to the best longevity we've ever gotten from a OnePlus phone – battery life that matches the likes of the mighty Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.

OnePlus has also included its latest OxygenOS 14 user experience out of the box, which comes with a heap of branded technologies; most importantly the 'Trinity Engine': an umbrella term for a number of features that ensure the 12R's performance doesn't degrade over time, focusing on CPU, RAM, and ROM management.

A killer 1.5K LTPO 4.0 AMOLED display fronts the phone, with a more advanced adaptive refresh rate, touch response rate and peak brightness (4,500nits) than even the OnePlus 11.

OnePlus 12R review front angled

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

If there's one area where the 12R does fall short of its otherwise flagship standing, it's with camera versatility. The main 50MP Sony sensor delivers a similar experience to that of last year's flagship – running on the same sensor and with a fast shutter not to mention a year's worth of refinement from OnePlus. However the 8MP ultra-wide and 2MP macro cameras don't keep step with regards to quality and consistency.

For the price, there's little that matches the 12R directly, however, alternatives like the OnePlus 11, Samsung Galaxy S23 FE and iPhone 14 come close; provided you're willing to trade away the phone's excellent display tech and battery prowess. One of the best OnePlus phones yet? Quite possibly, even without being a fully-fledged flagship in its own right.

OnePlus 12R review: Price and availability

  • Priced from $499.99 / £649
  • Announced January 23, on sale February 13
  • $300 / £200 lower starting price than equivalent storage OnePlus 12

The OnePlus 12R serves as the global variant of the OnePlus Ace 3, which launched in China at the very start of 2024. The 12R made its debut as part of the OnePlus 12's global launch event in India on January 23, with a staggered on-sale date that sees the phone released first in India (on February 6), before arriving in markets including the US, UK and Europe on February 13.

US customers get the choice of two storage configurations, starting at $499.99 with 128GB of space, while UK and European customers only have access to the single higher-capacity 256GB model, which sells for $599.99 in the US and £649 / €699 in those two other markets, respectively.

Pricing means it undercuts other newcomers, like the Samsung Galaxy S24, Google Pixel 8 and baseline iPhone 15 by quite a margin, and in truth, there's little worth considering around the 12R's launch price, save for more expensive but older phones that have had time to drop in price, including the company's own OnePlus 11.

The company's 2024 flagship – the OnePlus 12 – comfortably sits around $300 / £200 more expensive for the same amount of storage, but for the extra cash you're getting a sharper screen, better cameras, longer-term software support, and Qualcomm's latest and greatest flagship silicon in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3.

Note though that there's no current Australian availability for the OnePlus 12R or the standard OnePlus 12.

  • Value score: 4 / 5

OnePlus 12R review: Specs

OnePlus 12R review: Design

OnePlus 12R review back angled floating

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Elegant, premium curved glass and metal aesthetics
  • Physical alert slider on left side
  • IP64-certified against dust and water

The OnePlus 12R presents itself as a premium handset, with a level of fit and finish on par with any of the latest top-tier phones out there, not least because it shares in the 'Starlight Dial' design language of this year's and last year's OnePlus flagships.

The Iron Gray model (pictured) has a matte glass back that's superb at repelling fingerprints (and other marks) but has an almost Teflon-like low friction coefficient, meaning it's a little slippery in the hand. The Cool Blue alternative, meanwhile, is the more head-turning option, that's better at catching the light (and fingerprints), if you're in the market for a little more flare. It's worth noting that colorway availability varies by region and storage variant too.

If you're not a fan of the straight-sided iPhones or Galaxy phones (or the rumored design of the forthcoming Pixel 9 series) leading the market, the 12R is the perfect remedy. The front and back glass curve elegantly into the thin metal frame, which makes it a touch trickier to hold by comparison but nicer in the hand and on the eye.

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OnePlus 12R review alert slider

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OnePlus 12R review alert slider UI

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OnePlus 12R review top

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OnePlus 12R review handheld front

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OnePlus 12R review back straight

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OnePlus 12R review camera

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A trait that's slipped in since OnePlus more closely buddied up to sister company Oppo is the adoption of a flat top and bottom to some of its phones' frames, and that's the case with the 12R. A USB-C port, SIM tray and speaker grille reside along the bottom, while microphones and – perhaps most intriguingly of all – an IR blaster can be found on the phone's top edge. This is a novel addition that's seldom seen on phones nowadays, but gives the 12R universal remote functionality which you won't readily find on the competition; great for controlling your TV, aircon, projector, and even some smart lights, all from the one device.

OnePlus' iconic alert slider (oddly absent from previous performance flagships like the OnePlus 10T) is reassuringly present on the 12R, although perhaps not as 'correct' as long-time OnePlus users might expect, as across both entries in the series, this knurled three-stage switch is now found on the opposing side to where it usually sits (the right side). OnePlus claims this helps with antenna performance – especially when gaming in landscape – and in practice, the learning curve of adjusting to a swapped alert slider and volume rocker is negligible.

While the 12R is notably thinner (and a touch lighter) than the standard OnePlus 12, that's partly down to the lack of wireless charging, while that finely-crafted bodywork also falls short of the industry-standard dust and water resistance, with only IP64 certification (most flagships boast IP68 protection against water ingress).

  • Design score: 3.5 / 5

OnePlus 12R review: Display

OnePlus 12R review front angled straight on

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • 6.78-inch 1.5K 19.8:9 120Hz LTPO 4.0 ProXDR AMOLED display
  • Outstanding peak brightness up to 4,500nits
  • Aqua Touch for accurate use in the wet

Look past the marketing spiel (which there's a lot of) and the 12R's display is spec'd as one of the market's best right now. Beyond the fundamentals as a 6.78-inch 1.5K AMOLED panel protected by Gorilla Glass Victus 2, the ProXDR screen on the 12R boasts the same peak brightness as the OnePlus 12, at a whopping 4,500nits (with an HBM or high brightness mode peak of 1,600nits).

For comparison, the iPhone 15 series tops out at 2,000nits, while the S24 series reaches 2,600nits. Although that peak isn't an increment you'll likely hit in day to day use, the additional headroom over screens of the most prominent players in the industry means everything from outdoor legibility to HDR content consumption (it's also Dolby Vision, HDR Vivid and HDR10+ compliant for good measure) is comparatively better. Speaking of HDR content, being able to view HDR imagery shot on device, natively in both the OnePlus Photos app and the Google Photos app – similarly to the likes of the latest Pixel 8 Pro – is a nice flex.

The LTPO 4.0 tech at work also means improved power efficiency (relative to LTPO 3.0, as on the OnePlus 11), as this new panel is able to switch between more frequency increments through its 1Hz to 120Hz range, depending on the situation (lower frequencies equal less power drain, higher frequencies offer more fluid visuals).

As for gamers, an impressive 1,000Hz touch response rate (branded 'HyperTouch') is on-hand to ensure accurate touch input at any pace (that's faster than any of the best gaming phones currently out there), while 'HyperRender' is responsible for backlight calibration when gaming; accounting for the environment you're playing in and optimizing contrast and brightness dynamically.

There's also the presence of Aqua Touch: an algorithm that helps the 12R discern between water droplets and true touch inputs on a wet display; making use in rain or similarly wet conditions far more reliable than you'd experience with a conventional touchscreen and in practice, it's a huge win for convenience, especially if, like me, you're a Londoner all too familiar with the Great British weather's habits.

Throw in 2160Hz PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) dimming for reduced eye strain in low light (backed by independent certification from TÜV Rheinland), and an overall A+ rating from DisplayMate, and OnePlus has receipts to back up its claims surrounding the 12R's screen tech.

Sure, these aren't all headline features worth buying the phone for explicitly but they're 'nice to haves' that elevate the 12R's viewing experience beyond both expectation and more prominent competitors.

  • Display score: 5 / 5

OnePlus 12R review: Software

OnePlus 12R review apps drawer

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • OxygenOS 14 atop Android 14 out of the box
  • Customizable user experience without feeling overwhelming
  • 3 years of OS + 4 years of security updates

If you're a long-time OnePlus user, you'll know OxygenOS has lost a little of its individuality since OnePlus and Oppo more closely collaborated on their respective mobile user experiences (we lost the 1+ calculator easter egg with OxygenOS 13), however, OxygenOS 14 (running atop the latest Android 14) still delivers on the core values of OnePlus' software from previous generations; packed with sparks of software design so good that you'd wish other brands would crib from it.

While delivering a relatively clean aesthetic and user experience, OxygenOS has supported user generated wallpapers long before Samsung and Asus called upon AI smarts to offer similar results with their latest-generation phones, Zen Space is a one-stop destination for mindfulness that supports Android's native Digital Wellbeing toolset, gestures and floating windows add a heap of flexibility to the base OS's multitasking experience, and being able to quick-launch apps from the fingerprint sensor is a nice trick too.

OnePlus 12R review The Shelf

The Shelf on OxygenOS 14 (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

The Shelf is an interesting inclusion that OnePlus has struggled to find a consistent home for within OxygenOS and I'm not convinced its current location – accessed by swiping down on the home screen, replacing quick access to notifications and quick settings – should be its final destination. Nevertheless, as a dedicated home for widgets – akin to Today View on iPadOS – it's a nice way to keep glanceable information all in one place.

OxygenOS manages to walk the line between simplicity and functionality where other brands' user experiences tend to err on the side of 'more features equals better', even if that's at the expense of intuitive navigation and interaction.

The 12R's standing below that of the company's true current flagship does mean that its software support isn't quite as extensive – at three years of OS upgrades and four years of security updates – but that does at least keep it in step with the similarly-spec'd OnePlus 11, meaning both phones won't fall out of favor until Android 18 (and presumably OxygenOS 18).

  • Software score: 4 / 5

OnePlus 12R review: Cameras

OnePlus 12R review camera closeup

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Robust 50MP Sony IMX890 lead sensor, as on OnePlus 11
  • Same RAW HDR algorithm, as on the OnePlus 12
  • Ineffectual macro camera

While at a glance the OnePlus 12R's rear camera setup may resemble the OnePlus 11's and 12's, it's likely the biggest departure from both phones and one of the biggest cost-saving aspects of the 12R's spec sheet. You still get the same 1/1.56-inch Sony IMX890 sensor that leads the OnePlus 11's camera setup, complete with a year's worth of software refinement, plus improved speed from mode switching to shutter lag, but beyond its main snapper, the 12R's photographic capabilities are more pedestrian.

The 8MP Sony IMX355 ultra-wide serves up consistent colors with the main camera in good lighting, but detail is noticeably lacking when comparing similar shots taken between the two, while the 2MP macro camera lacks the pixels, dynamic range and color depth to be anything other than novel.

OnePlus 12R camera samples

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OnePlus 12R camera sample main Citroen

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
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OnePlus 12R camera sample main portrait mode Brie

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Portrait mode

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OnePlus 12R camera sample ultra wide high street

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Ultra wide camera

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OnePlus 12R camera sample main high street

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1x zoom

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OnePlus 12R camera sample 2x zoom high street

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2x zoom

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OnePlus 12R camera sample 5x zoom high street

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5x zoom

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OnePlus 12R camera sample 20x zoom high street

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20x zoom

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OnePlus 12R camera sample main jumper sleeve

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Main camera

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OnePlus 12R camera sample macro jumper sleeve

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Macro camera

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OnePlus 12R camera sample main glass

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Main camera

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OnePlus 12R camera sample macro glass

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Macro camera

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OnePlus 12R camera sample main garden

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Ultra wide camera

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OnePlus 12R camera sample ultra wide garden

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Macro camera

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OnePlus 12R camera sample main low light moon

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Low light

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OnePlus 12R camera sample main Night mode garden

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Night mode

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OnePlus 12R camera sample main manual max ISO and shutter garden

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Low light w/ maximum ISO and shutter speed

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OnePlus 12R camera sample selfie

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Front

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OnePlus 12R camera sample selfie Portrait mode

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Front camera w/ Portrait mode

If you're serious about shooting on the 12R, all your photos should really come from the OIS-supported (optical image stabilization) main 50MP sensor. It offers enough versatility in its own right to satiate the average mobile photographer, and while there's no Hasselblad tuning to speak of – as on the brand's other premium phones – image quality is generally great; with a particular talent for HDR shooting, exemplified by the 'ProXDR' toggle in the phone's native gallery app that shows this trait off most clearly.

Along with excellent colors, detail, and dynamic range when snapping standard 12.6MP jpeg stills, you have the choice of capturing full-sensor 50MP images, as well as HDR shots in RAW, with the 12R benefitting from the same RAW HDR algorithm as found on the OnePlus 12.

One growing trend from the current era of smartphone photography that isn't as prevalent on the OnePlus 12R is AI-supported shooting, especially when it comes to editing tools. Features like generative fill are being popularized by the likes of the latest Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy smartphones, and is one such AI feature you won't find here.

  • Camera score: 3.5 / 5

OnePlus 12R review: Performance

OnePlus 12R review gaming

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC
  • Trinity Engine for CPU, RAM and ROM optimization
  • Dual vapor chamber cooling design

If you thought the branding for the various technologies in the display section of this review was a bit much, OnePlus kicks things into overdrive when it comes to talking about the phone's performance. Practically every performance-centric hardware and software optimization comes with a catchy name attached, with the 'Trinity Engine' being the umbrella brand under which they all sit.

Building on memory optimization features the company first introduced with the OnePlus 11, the Trinity Engine consists of three key parts: CPU-Vita, RAM-Vita and ROM-Vita, which collectively work to keep the 12R feeling fast and fluid long into your time with it. This is primarily achieved by throttling for heat management and battery longevity, prioritizing memory allocation for more frequently used apps, and on-the-fly defragmentation of storage to keep files accessible; all in the pursuit of peace of mind for users looking for a worthwhile long-term smartphone purchase.

Running on the same chipset as the OnePlus 11 – paired with the latest UFS 4.0 storage (on the 256GB model, at least) and LPDDR5X RAM for greater speed and power efficiency – you'd expect comparable flagship performance, and in artificial benchmarking tests, you'd be right. In fact, the OnePlus 12R feels as fast and as fluid to use as any current flagship, including more cutting-edge Snapdragon 8 Gen 3-powered phones. The performance shortfall likely won't be felt for at least a year or two, which is to say this phone is comfortable with whatever you throw at it, right now.

Gaming on Genshin Impact with default (medium) graphical settings and a bump up to a 60fps frame rate cap proved zero issue for the 12R for extended periods and seldom were frames dropped. The caveat to that is that despite a new 'Cryo-Velocity' dual vapor chamber cooling system – offering a reported three-times-larger vapor chamber area compared to the OnePlus 11 – heat build-up was more noticeable during intensive tasks than expected; never to a concerning degree, but still.

There are some great user-accessible performance tools worth digging into too. Live Lock is perfect for pinning apps that you want the system to leave resources available for – ideal for downloading system updates for Genshin while doing other things. Gaming Tools let you customize graphical settings, manage notifications and performance allowances, and even toggle improved HDR visuals.

There's also the fact that OnePlus (and Oppo and Realme) phones don't run in a high performance state out of the box. While the 12R feels perfectly tightly wound for responsive everyday use, dive into the phone's power menu and you'll find a toggle for 'high performance mode.' It's a little bonus that you'll likely never need, but additional grunt on tap is never to be sniffed at.

  • Performance score: 4 / 5

OnePlus 12R review: Battery

OnePlus 12R review USB

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Largest capacity battery in a OnePlus phone ever
  • Up to 100W SuperVOOC wired charging
  • Rated for only 20% capacity degradation after 1,600 cycles

Along with the screen, the battery is arguably one of the OnePlus 12R's greatest strengths. Around the same physical size as the OnePlus 11's battery, the company has managed to up the capacity to a whopping 5,500mAh – making this the largest power cell in a OnePlus phone ever.

Even without the latest-generation Qualcomm chipset, that larger capacity helps deliver the best battery life we've tested in a OnePlus phone, clocking in at around eight hours of screen-on time per charge, equivalent to two days of light to average use on a single charge. It's not quite iPhone 15 series longevity, but matches some of the best Android phones on the market, beating out mainstream rivals like the Pixel 8 series, handily.

Not only that, in most markets save for the US (where it peaks at 80W), the OnePlus 12R comes with rapid 100W fast charging, which OnePlus claims means you can hit 100% charge after only 26 minutes, In testing, the review sample used here reached 92% in the same time, fully charging at the 30-minute mark exactly; making this one of the faster-charging phones out there right now.

Being built for long-term use seems to be a key theme of the OnePlus 12R, with the company promising a four-year or 1,600-cycle on the battery, after which they claim longevity will equate to around 80% of the out-of-box performance. For comparison, Apple officially states that its iPhones reach this same 80% capacity threshold after just 500 cycles.

The only real fly in the ointment here is the reduced peak 80W charging speed in the US (a trait found on other OnePlus phones too) and the absence of any form of wireless charging.

  • Battery score: 4.5 / 5

Should you buy the OnePlus 12R?

Buy it if...

You like media and gaming
The combination of display, performance, and battery life make this a superb phone for high-fidelity gaming or enjoying HDR content for hours on end.

You like curved-edge smartphones
The latest iPhones, Samsung Galaxy phones and, as it currently looks like, the next batch of Pixels have all adopted straight sided designs with flat screens. The OnePlus 12R shirks this design trend and places elegant curves first.

You want an Android phone with great battery performance
One of the longest-lasting Android phones on the market also packs in a battery that's built to charge quickly and last years upon years of recharge cycles with minimal degradation. Great for travelers, gamers, and power users.

Don't buy it if...

You want a killer camera
That main 50MP Sony IMX890 sensor is a real joy to use and highlights the strides OnePlus has made in its camera tuning over the years, but as the 12R packs three cameras on the back, you have to consider the whole packages and those other sensors don't pull their weight.

You need the best water resistance or wireless charging
Most flagships come packing IP68-certified dust and water ingress protection, the 12R falls short of the mark when it comes to withstanding the wet stuff by comparison, and that slim body may look good but leaves no room for wireless charging.

OnePlus 12R review: Also consider

Even though it's a great device, there are issues with the OnePlus 12R, so you might want to consider one of the following alternatives.

OnePlus 11
Similar specs and the same software update expiration date, but the previous year's OnePlus 11 boasts a superior camera with Hasselblad tuning to boot.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
The last of Samsung's Galaxy S23 series is smaller than the 12R and doesn't pack the same degree of grunt, but it offers affordable access to a premium Samsung experience and is one of the few phones that comes to market around the same asking price as the 12R.

How I tested the OnePlus 12R

OnePlus 12R review camera closeup alt

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Review test period: three weeks
  • Testing included: everyday use including web browsing, social media, photography, video calling, gaming, streaming video, music playback
  • Tools used: Geekbench 6, Geekbench ML, GFXBench, native Android stats, OnePlus 100W SuperVOOC charger

Having received both the OnePlus 12 and 12R a week ahead of the OnePlus 12 series' launch, I got straight to using the 12R (check out our OnePlus 12 review if you're curious about the company's new flagship), adding my own Google account and OnePlus account before using the device as my main phone for the duration of the review period.

Usage included streaming video, snapping stills and video with the phone's various cameras, and toying with the ProXDR display's abilities with both compatible content and gaming.

Publicly available, industry standard benchmarking apps were used to meter the CPU, GPU, and AI performance of the OnePlus 12R, and while we don't always publish the results, we keep them on file for comment and comparison with other devices we've tested. Battery life was tested by recording screen-on time each day across a single charge from 100% to 0%, based on normal everyday use, while the in-box charger was used to recharge the phone, with the charge checked at intervals to assess the rate of replenishment.

The cameras were used in a myriad of conditions to test their versatility, with comparisons between sensors and the cameras of other phones as part of the testing process.

Having extensively reviewed numerous smartphones, including a myriad of OnePlus phones during my 12 years of journalistic experience, I felt confident in putting the OnePlus 12R through its paces and evaluating its abilities in a fair and informed manner, based on the market, its target audience, pricing, and the competition.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed February 2024

Sony A6700 review: top-spec autofocus in compact packaging
5:00 pm | July 12, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Sony A6700: Two-minute review

By combining a 26MP APS-C sensor with AI-powered subject recognition in a body built for shooting on the move, the Sony A6700 lands as a compelling hybrid for hobbyists who value power and portability in equal parts. We gave its predecessor four stars in our full Sony A6600 review, and the A6700 is a shoo-in for a top spot in our round-up of the best travel cameras.

Sony Alpha A6700 mirrorless camera outside on a wall

(Image credit: Chris Rowlands)

On a spec sheet peppered with improvements, Real-time Recognition AF is worthy of note. Driven by the same Bionz XR processor seen on the Sony ZV-E1 and Sony A7R V, it’s capable of accurately recognizing and tracking a variety of targets in the real world, including humans, animals and vehicles. 

Paired with a 759-point phase detection array, plus five-axis optical image stabilization, the result is a neatly proportioned camera that can produce sharp, balanced stills in most conditions, even when shooting handheld. 

Noise does begin to creep in at higher ISOs, especially north of ISO 6400, but not enough to be an issue if you’re only sharing on social. The metering system also has a habit of underexposing scenes on overcast days, but that’s something you can manually compensate for.

Sony Alpha A6700 mirrorless camera outside on a wall

(Image credit: Chris Rowlands)

The A6700 is marketed as a hybrid, and I found that it broadly has the video skills to back up its stills abilities. 4K 60p footage is oversampled from 6K without pixel binning, with 10-bit depth and 4:2:2 color sampling to match its video-focused FX30 and ZV-E1 cousins. The resulting clips are as crisp as you’d expect beneath clear skies.

Less impressive is the 1.6x crop applied to 4K 120p slow-motion footage, and I also found that the in-body image stabilization didn’t eliminate wobble when recording while walking. That said, the availability of subject-recognition AF and auto-framing – which automatically crops to track you – makes it straightforward to capture sharp video.

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Sony Alpha A6700 mirrorless camera outside on a wall

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Sony Alpha A6700 mirrorless camera outside on a wall

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Sony Alpha A6700 mirrorless camera outside on a wall

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The A6700 also benefits from revised handling versus the A6600, including a deeper grip that makes it more comfortable to shoot with for extended periods. I didn’t get to test it with a telephoto lens, but the body strikes a great compromise between size and ergonomics. It feels like a camera you could trust to take a few knocks on your travels.

Direct-access control has been meaningfully improved too, with the addition of a front dial, a dedicated dial for switching between still, movie and S&Q modes, as well as several buttons, all of which can be usefully assigned with custom functions – a win for hobbyists who want the option to switch settings quickly when shooting in the street.

And it’s not just the physical setup that’s changed: Sony has revised the menu system for the A6700, with the aim of making it easier to navigate with the vari-angle touchscreen. While the main interface is generally straightforward enough to use, though, I found that there was still a fairly steep learning curve when it came to locating certain settings within the depths of the menus.

Sony A6700 mirrorless camera outside on a wall

(Image credit: Chris Rowlands)

Sony lent me its tidy 10-20mm F4 wide angle lens for my review of the A6700, which I found a little limiting creatively. But a major benefit for consumers is that the camera uses Sony’s E Mount, an established system with a huge catalogue of compatible glass, including plenty of compact options that would team well with the camera for a travel-friendly setup.

If video is your focus, you’ll likely get better results from something like the Fujifilm X-S20. But if you want a compact APS-C hybrid with a capable sensor and the ability to automate autofocus on the fly, the A6700 is well worth considering.

Sony A6700: Price and release date

  • £1450 body-only ($ / AU$ price TBC)
  • Announced July 2023
  • Available from Sony stores and authorized retailers TBC

Sony announced the Sony A6700 on July 12, alongside a new shotgun microphone. The camera will set you back £1450 body-only, while the mic costs £349. 

That’s essentially the same as what the Sony A6600 cost when it launched in 2019. At that time, we though it was a steep asking price for what the camera offered, but you’re getting a whole lot of upgrades with the A6700, including cutting-edge autofocus and refined handling. Given current inflation, we think that price tag looks more reasonable this time around.

Sony Alpha A6700 mirrorless camera outside on a wall

(Image credit: Chris Rowlands)

It still hits shelves at a higher price than some of its closest rivals, though. While the Fujifilm X-S20 doesn’t have the class-leading AI skills of the Sony A6700, it has a comparable APS-C sensor and is capable of recording 6K 30p video, yet comes in a good slice cheaper than the A6700.

Slightly closer in price – but still less expensive – is the Canon EOS R7, one of the best mirrorless cameras for stills photography. It doesn’t offer 4K 120p video recording like the Sony A6700, but it does have a higher resolution sensor and dual card slots.

  • Price score: 4.5/5

Sony A6700: Specs

Sony A6700: Design

  • Refined grip is more comfortable in the hand
  • New dials and buttons improve direct-access control
  • Menu system remains confusing for beginners

Like the A6600 before it, the A6700 is a tightly packaged APS-C camera with flat sides and a viewfinder over to the left. It might not win any design awards, but the neat proportions make it a tidy camera to travel with. That’s still true even with its slightly larger dimensions: it’s deeper than the A6600, but this increase doesn’t make it feel bigger in the hand. It helps that the payoff is a deeper, more ergonomic grip, which makes the A6700 a comfortable camera to carry and use for full days of shooting. It’s also a well-built one, with a sturdy feel bolstered by weather sealing.

What further sets the A6700 apart from its predecessor is the addition of new direct-access controls. Beneath the main mode dial now resides a second dial for switching between stills, video and S&Q (for slow-motion and time-lapse shooting). On the front of the grip lives a further control wheel, which takes care of aperture by default. These are joined by a dedicated video record button on the top plate, an AF ON shortcut on the back and a C1 button on the outside of thumb rest. 

Sony Alpha A6700 mirrorless camera outside on a wall

(Image credit: Chris Rowlands)

Taken together, the updated control array unlocks greater customization options for hands-on hobbyists. Provided you’re prepared to dive into the menu system, each button’s function can be reassigned for swift access to your preferred settings for both stills and video. The more pronounced thumb rest does make the rightmost dial a bit trickier to reach, while the front wheel is a fairly slender thing to scroll with your forefinger. The menu button can also be a stretch to get at with your thumb. Broadly, though, the revamped controls are relatively well laid-out and enhance the camera’s usability.

Sony has also upgraded the touchscreen on the A6700. Slightly sharper at 1.04m dots, it’s now a vari-angle number with a full touchscreen interface, versus the tilt-only display that could only really be used to set AF points on the A6600. On the whole, the screen complements the user experience. Visibility is a little limited in direct sunlight, but the articulating setup offers useful flexibility when framing. 

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Sony Alpha A6700 mirrorless camera outside on a wall

(Image credit: Chris Rowlands)
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Sony Alpha A6700 mirrorless camera outside on a wall

(Image credit: Chris Rowlands)
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Sony Alpha A6700 mirrorless camera outside on a wall

(Image credit: Chris Rowlands)

The software itself is a mixed bag. You can swipe in and out at the sides of the display to show and hide shortcuts, while swiping up reveals two rows of virtual buttons that can be customized for quick access to your favorite settings. These icons are just about big enough not to feel cramped, but it’s still easy to hit the wrong one when operating in the wild. 

In what feels like a recurring gripe for Sony cameras, though, it’s the menu system that holds the A6700 back. Sony has changed the main menu to a grid layout that’s more accessible at a glance, but you have to scroll or tap across twice to reach it. The overall structure has also been revised into vertical columns, but accessing any settings not listed in the main grid can still feel like a labyrinthine task. Even headline features such as auto-framing are buried several levels deep.

This is a shame, because the A6700 is otherwise a lovely camera to handle and shoot with. Not everyone will love the off-centre position of the OLED EVF, yet it feels like the best way to both frame and review images in the field. The viewfinder has the same 2.36m-dot resolution as before, but benefits from a welcome boost in brightness.

  • Design score: 4/5

Sony A6700: Features & performance

  • AI-powered subject detection and auto-framing
  • Rapid and reliable AF across 759 phase-detection points
  • IBIS works better for handheld stills than video

What its menus might lack in clarity, the Sony Alpha A6700 makes up for with cutting-edge performance. Harnessing the same AI chipset as the Sony ZV-E1 and A7R V, it delivers best-in-class subject tracking. Pre-select a target for Real-time Recognition AF to detect, or tap on the touchscreen to select an object: either way, it will lock on with remarkably sticky precision, even as your subject moves around the frame.

In bright conditions, the system is rapid and reliable. Real-time Recognition only works if you’re framing a subject that features on its list of presets, which includes humans, animals and insects, as well as cars, trains and aircraft. In future, we will surely see cameras that can switch between these targets themselves, based on what you’re aiming at. For now, the abilities of the Sony A6700 are at the forefront of AI-driven autofocus.

It isn’t foolproof, as I found when it ignored a sheep I was photographing. Woolly subjects aside, though, it’s a system you can trust to focus for you, even when you’re shooting fast and from the hip. I found its eye-tracking skills particularly good at locking on, regardless of how much I tried to make it break focus.

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Sample image shot using the Sony Alpha A6700 of a bar in Bordeaux

(Image credit: Chris Rowlands)
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Sample image shot using the Sony Alpha A6700 of a bar in Bordeaux

(Image credit: Chris Rowlands)
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Sample image shot using the Sony Alpha A6700 of a bar in Bordeaux

(Image credit: Chris Rowlands)

All of this speed and accuracy is deployed across an expanded array of 759 phase-detection and 425 contrast-detection points. With both the AF-ON and shutter buttons held down, it will continue tracking subjects around the frame while firing off mechanical bursts at 11fps. The 59-raw-shot buffer fills quicker than you might think, but the A6700 at least offers UHS-II card compatibility for speedier transfer rates – although there’s only one slot.

Helping to net sharp stills is the five-axis image stabilization system. Sony claims that an enhanced algorithm provides up to five stops of stabilization for photography, and I certainly had no issues capturing crisp handheld images with the A6700. Active SteadyShot stabilization is also available for video, although I wasn’t as impressed with the results. It effectively levelled handheld clips when I was stood static, but it’s simply not as good as Sony’s Dynamic stabilization when it comes to counteracting wobble while walking. It might be because I’m heavy-footed, but I wouldn’t use it to replace a gimbal.

What the A6700 might be able to replace, though, is your film crew. Like the Sony ZV-E1, it can automatically crop in while recording to compose the scene around your subject. There are three auto-framing settings, with the most aggressive cropping in the closest. It’s an incredibly useful option for content creators shooting solo, as it effectively replicates the inputs of a real camera operator. Helpfully, the A6700 shows the auto-frame as a moving outline within the wider scene, so you know how much space you have to work with. What you can’t do is use Active SteadyShot and Auto Framing at the same time, so the former will make the most sense with a tripod.

I was also impressed by the battery life of the A6700, which continues the A6600’s legacy of strong longevity. Like the ZV-E1, it uses the same FZ-100 battery as the FX3 and A7S III. Real-world results will depend on your combination of stills and video, but a full tank proved more than enough for a full day of photography, interspersed with a few 4K clips. Helpfully, the cell charges in-camera using USB-C, so you don’t need to add another charger to your travel bag.

  • Features and performance score: 4.5/5

Sony A6700: Image and video quality

  • Crisp, balanced results in most conditions
  • Tendency to underexpose on overcast days
  • Noise can be an issue north of ISO 6400

At 26MP, the APS-C sensor inside the A6700 pretty much matches the benchmark for modern mirrorless cameras. There are rivals with higher resolutions, such as the Canon EOS R7, but most hobbyist cameras hover around the 26MP mark – and that’s plenty for the average enthusiast.

It certainly shoots sharp in use, with no shortage of detail. On the whole, the A6700 produces crisp, balanced results, with decent dynamic range and accurate color reproduction. Like many APS-C cameras, sunny days are when it thrives, delivering rich but realistic images with plenty of depth.

In overcast conditions, the A6700’s metering system does have a habit of slightly underexposing images. You can still pull detail out of the shadows in the edit if you’re using Sony’s lossless compressed RAW format, and it’s worth enabling the Dynamic Range Optimizer to help balance the light and dark parts of a scene. All the same, you’ll want to keep an eye on exposure compensation when shooting on a cloudy day.

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Sample image shot using the Sony Alpha A6700 of Bordeaux

(Image credit: Chris Rowlands)
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Sample image shot using the Sony Alpha A6700 of Bordeaux

(Image credit: Chris Rowlands)
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Sample image shot using the Sony Alpha A6700 of Bordeaux

(Image credit: Chris Rowlands)
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Sample image shot using the Sony Alpha A6700 of flowers

(Image credit: Chris Rowlands)
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Sample image shot using the Sony Alpha A6700 of tomatoes at a French market

(Image credit: Chris Rowlands)
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Sample image shot using the Sony Alpha A6700 of a spiral staircase

(Image credit: Chris Rowlands)
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Sample image shot with the Sony Alpha A6700 of architecture in France

(Image credit: Chris Rowlands)
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Sample image shot using the Sony Alpha A6700 of the French countryside

(Image credit: Chris Rowlands)
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Sample image shot using the Sony Alpha A6700 of the beach in Biarritz

(Image credit: Chris Rowlands)
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Sample image shot using the Sony Alpha A6700 of Biarritz beach

(Image credit: Chris Rowlands)

Like the A6600, the A6700 is also a reliable performer after dark. Lower lit scenes come out balanced and sharp, even with multiple light sources in the picture. Improved algorithms also mean it’s more effective at focusing in dim conditions, rarely relying on the illuminator to lock on to subjects.

An expanded ISO range of 50-102400 for photography gives the A6700 useful stills versatility on paper, but crank it anywhere north of ISO 6400 and noise quickly becomes noticeable across the image. This grain will be very evident on larger prints in particular. For sharing low-light shots on social, though, it’s less of an issue. Happily, there’s still plenty of detail beneath the noise, with little of the smoothing that can so often smudge shadows on APS-C cameras.

Sony Alpha A6700 mirrorless camera outside on a wall

(Image credit: Chris Rowlands)

I’ve covered the limitations of Active SteadyShot stabilization for video above, but it’s not the only factor which restricts recording on the A6700. 4K 120p slow-mo is a fantastic addition, but it’s limited by a 1.6x crop that means you’ll need a wider lens to make the most of it. Super 35mm 4K isn’t completely uncropped either, although the factor is marginal at 1.04x.

Shoot longer clips and you’ll also run into the A6700’s recording limits. You can set the auto power-off temperature to ‘standard’ or ‘high’. With the latter selected, the A6700 displayed an overheating warning after 38 minutes of recording 4K 60p video indoors. For capturing short travel clips and b-roll on the fly, this time cap shouldn’t be a major issue. But without the cooling vents of the ZV-E1, this isn’t a hybrid for serious videographers or vloggers who like to record for longer.

Audio out of the camera is very usable, with more tonal depth than you’d expect from a built-in pickup. When walking and talking outdoors, it clearly captured my voice without too much interference. If you do want a more professional setup, you have the option to use the A6700’s microphone and headphone ports, or stick Sony’s new XX shotgun microphone on top of the camera.

Launched alongside the A6700, this hot-shoe-mounted accessory features eight modes for directional audio pickup, plus noise-suppression settings that effectively minimize the impact of factors like wind. It’s a lightweight, compact tool that I can see appealing to travel vloggers who want a streamlined solution for targeted audio capture.

  • Image and video quality score: 4/5 

Should you buy the Sony A6700?

Sony Alpha A6700 mirrorless camera outside on a wall

(Image credit: Chris Rowlands)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Sony A6700: Also consider

If our Sony A6700 has inspired you to think about other options, here are three more cameras to consider…

How I tested the Sony A6700

Because of its credentials as an enthusiast travel camera, I took the Sony Alpha A6700 on a trip to the south of France for testing. It travelled with me for a fortnight, during which I shot hundreds of stills in all sorts of scenarios. These included candid portraits, daylight landscapes and evening street scenes in Bordeaux. I paid particular attention to how well the A6700 detected subjects in busy urban areas, how comfortable it felt in the hand during full days of shooting, and how its battery held up in the real world.

I was also keen to check out the recording chops of the A6700. To do this, I shot tens of videos, including numerous handheld vlog-style clips to assess the effectiveness of the A6700’s image stabilization for video footage. I pushed the camera to its limits in terms of recording times, to see how well it handles heat, and also tested how effectively it works with Sony’s new XX shotgun microphone.

On the whole, the Sony Alpha A6700 performed well throughout these tests – a fact reflected by the score I’ve awarded it. It’s not a perfect camera, but I found it a fundamentally enjoyable one to shoot with.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed July 2023

Leica M11 Monochrom review – a pricey yet stylish oddity
11:00 am | July 7, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

Leica M11 Monochrom: two-minute review

A lot of people love to hate Leica cameras; they’re expensive, limited in functionality and carry a prestige many photographers simply can’t relate to. On those grounds, the Leica M11 Monochrom is a camera I almost feel obliged to dislike, but I have to confess that I’m absolutely smitten with it. But before we delve into the good, the bad and the not-so-ugly, let’s take a look at some of the key points that make this contentious camera as much a curiosity as it is a high-end creative tool.

The Leica M11 Monochrom could easily be one of the best mirrorless cameras if you have a huge budget. But thanks to tactile manual controls offering a more traditional shooting experience, it’s potentially one of the best cameras for photography and also one of the best cameras for professionals who shoot exclusively in black & white. And this is the main drawback of the camera – as the name suggests, it only captures images in black & white using its 60MP Monochrome BSI CMOS sensor.

We’ll go into more detail later, but in a nutshell, this means that images will print to large dimensions and those captured at high ISO settings exhibit less noise when compared to standard color camera sensors. Couple this with the optical rangefinder viewfinder, manual focus lenses and traditional manual controls for ISO, aperture and shutter speed, you’re presented with a shooting experience that feels like a traditional film camera but with the benefits of digital technology – no video capture, though – but all within a solid camera with a stunning design.

The camera follows the traditional M-series design and is unmistakably 'a Leica' that's favored by street and documentary photographers. And as a result, it's designed more for discretion, image quality and working in lowlight conditions, rather than for faster subjects such as sport and wildlife. This is reflected in the lackluster 3fps continuous shooting speed when capturing images in DNG raw, and 4.5fps when shooting in JPEG.

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Leica M11 Monochrom rangefinder camera

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Leica M11 Monochrom rangefinder camera

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Leica M11 Monochrom rangefinder camera

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Leica M11 Monochrom rangefinder camera

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Leica M11 Monochrom rangefinder camera

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Leica M11 Monochrom rangefinder camera

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Leica M11 Monochrom: release date and price

  • $9195 / £8300 / AU$14,990 body only
  • Announced and released April 2023
  • Available from Leica stores and authorized retailers

The Leica M11 Monochrom follows the typical Leica product cycle of being released just over a year after its color sensor alternative, in this case the Leica M11, with the announcement and release in April 2023. Availability was immediate from Leica stores and authorized retailers with a price tag that could make your eyes water at $9,195 / £8,300 / AU$14,990 body only.

Leica lenses, just like the cameras, come at a price and typically cost in the region of 50% of the price of M-series camera bodies and even as much in some cases, so this must be factored in if you’re not already a Leica owner with a lens or two in your kit bag. 

In terms of the focal lengths available, these typically cover landscape, street, documentary, portrait and general photography. Leica cameras aren’t typically used to shoot subjects such as wildlife and sport, which is reflected in the lack of longer telephoto lenses being available.

  • Price score 3/5

Leica M11 Monochrom: Specs

Leica M11 Monochrom: design

  • Rugged all-metal body
  • Simple yet stylish design
  • Manual focus only

The M11 Monochrom honors Leica's design standards, a lofty quality that many other camera manufacturers can only aspire towards. The minimalist matt black finish looks stylish yet functional, and where the famous Leica red dot is synonymous with the company, its absence on the M11 Monochrom results in a cleaner and ultimately more refined look.

Rangefinder cameras are designed to be small and discreet, so they don’t have the more pronounced grips and contours that are more common with more mainstream mirrorless cameras and DSLRs. The use of typically smaller and lighter lenses is a factor that makes this work, and despite this, the M11 Monochrom fits snugly and comfortably in the hand with a reassuring weight of 0.99lbs / 452g excluding the lens.

The average Leica prime lens weighs in the region of 10oz / 300g, so the combined weight does add up but the M11 Monochrom remains comfortable to carry and use for extended periods. The size of the all-metal body with scratch-resistant paint is 5.4x1.5x3.1-inch / 139x38.5x80mm, with an aluminium top plate, black leather finish and a sapphire glass LCD screen on the back.

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Leica M11 Monochrom rangefinder camera

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Leica M11 Monochrom rangefinder camera

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Leica M11 Monochrom rangefinder camera

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Leica M11 Monochrom rangefinder camera

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Leica M11 Monochrom rangefinder camera

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Leica M11 Monochrom rangefinder camera

(Image credit: James Abbott)

The screen itself is a 2.95-inch Active Matrix TFT touchscreen with 2.33m dots, which provides a crisp and clear Live View image and image playback. The screen can be used for composition and focusing thanks to focus peaking, but in my experience, it’s much more reliable to focus using the rangefinder split focus in the optical viewfinder. The viewfinder offers parallax correction in line with the focus distance of the lens, so the image frame moves automatically to compensate for the difference in view between the lens and viewfinder, and on the whole, is extremely effective.

A digital viewfinder can be purchased separately if you’d prefer this for composing, which is a little annoying with a camera that costs as much as the M11 Monochrom. Not to mention, Fujifilm has done a great job of incorporating a dual optical viewfinder/EVF into its X-Pro series and X-100 series cameras, so it would be much more convenient if Leica could incorporate both options into its M-series cameras, even if it bumped up the price a little.

In terms of controls, only the bare essentials are available on the camera body with additional settings and functionality accessed via the simple and intuitive menu system. 

On the top of the camera, alongside the hotshoe, there’s the traditional-style shutter button with a screw thread for a mechanical cable release and the on/off switch below, an ISO dial, a shutter speed dial and one function button. The back is equally minimalist with three buttons next to the LCD, a thumbwheel and a D-pad. It’s not much in the way of direct access controls, but it’s ultimately all that you need.

  • Design score 4.5/5

Leica M11 Monochrom: features and performance

  • Rangefinder handling
  • 256GB internal storage
  • Extra control with the Leica FOTOS app

There’s no getting around the fact that rangefinders aren’t for everyone, so if you’ve never used one before it’s worth dropping into your local Leica store before making an online purchase to be sure this type of camera is right for you. 

Having used a medium rangefinder for years back in the film days, I personally love the experience and feel completely at home with a camera that handles like a film camera despite its digital credentials; using the M11 Monochrom, or any M-series camera, puts you in control and requires a different approach to shooting including the use of techniques such as pre focusing for faster-moving subjects.

The main feature of the camera is the simple fact that it only captures images in black & white. This makes it an extremely niche product, especially for the price, but it does allow you to focus on light, shape and texture in a way that’s often lost with a color camera. Although, even with a color camera, you can set the picture style to black & white to view your images in black & white, even if the resulting raw files are color and require conversion to mono during post-processing.

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Leica M11 Monochrom photo

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Leica M11 Monochrom photo

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Leica M11 Monochrom photo

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Leica M11 Monochrom photo

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Leica M11 Monochrom photo

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Leica M11 Monochrom photo

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Overall, features are limited because this is a camera designed purely for capturing monochrome images, but there’s also 256GB of internal storage alongside the SD card slot, a continuous shooting speed that’s sluggish in modern terms at 3fps for DNG and 4.5fps for JPEG, with a 15 shot buffer for DNGs and a 100 shot buffer for JPEGs.

Then there’s the Leica FOTOS app. Connection with the Leica FOTOS app provides remote control of the camera, wireless firmware updates, the ability to view and rate photos before downloading to your smartphone or tablet as well as the ability to embed GPS data and more. It also includes features such as exposure bracketing, interval shooting and a selection of metering modes, too, but these are pretty standard fare.

  • Features and performance score: 4/5

Leica M11 Monochrom: image and video quality

  • Excellent image quality
  • Impressive high ISO handling
  • No video capture is available

To get started with image and video quality, the first thing that has to be said is that there’s no video functionality with the M11 Monochrom. It’s a shame really, because earlier Monochrom models have had video functionality and it’s simply a case of programming it in, but perhaps Leica users have expressed a strong desire to have video omitted. Either way, surely, it’s better to have something you don’t need or want, rather than to not have something you need or may want to use at some point.

Video omission aside, the image quality of photos is excellent and can’t be faulted in any way. The M11 Monochrom features a 60MP monochrome BSI CMOS full-frame sensor with a pixel pitch of 3.76 μm that captures fine detail with excellent noise handling. Images can also be captured in three resolutions: 60MP, 30MP or 18MP. For most people capturing at the highest resolution makes sense – more pixels gives more cropping potential – but switching to smaller files could be a handy feature nonetheless.

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Leica M11 Monchrom photo

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Leica M11 Monchrom photo

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Leica M11 Monchrom photo

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Leica M11 Monchrom photo

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Leica M11 Monchrom photo

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Leica M11 Monchrom photo

(Image credit: James Abbott)

High ISO noise handling is impressive throughout the huge ISO 125 – 200,000 range. Images shot at even ISO 25,000 and ISO 50,000 look great. You could use ISO 100,000 and 200,000 because the grain is pleasing and much cleaner than even ISO 1600 black & white film, but the best results are up to 25,000 if your aim is for cleaner images with lower levels of grain.

The excellent ISO handling of monochrome cameras has been a key element of Leica’s marketing strategy in the past, but with Adobe Lightroom’s new Denoise feature, which is incredible by the way, this selling point has been watered down somewhat; high ISO color images can be cleaned up in post with exceptional results. That said, if you’re in the market for a black & white only camera with excellent native ISO handling, the M11 Monochrom certainly won’t disappoint.

  • Image quality score: 5/5

Should you buy the Leica M11 Monochrom?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Leica M11 Monochrom: Also consider

If our Leica M11 Monochrom review has you considering other options, here are two more cameras to consider...  

How I tested the Leica M11 Monochrom

With nearly 30 years of photographic experience and 15 years working as a photography journalist, I’ve covered almost every conceivable subject and used many of the cameras that have been released in that time. I’ve also used and reviewed almost many Leica cameras over the years, including most of the Monochrom models, so I’m familiar with these niche cameras.

The Leica M11 Monochrom was tested over a week with a focus on subjects that worked well in black & white, although these typically centred around a more candid approach to shooting. Photos were taken in different lighting conditions to be able to test factors such as dynamic range, ISO handling and, of course, how easy and comfortable the camera is to use handheld over long periods.

Most shooting was handheld because Leica cameras are designed for this way of shooting, although that certainly doesn’t mean they can’t be used on a tripod for capturing long exposures. Photos were taken in both manual mode and aperture priority, using the new 50mm f/1.4 lens which is an excellent companion for the camera.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed May 2023

Nikon Z fc review
6:02 pm | September 9, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Cameras Computers Gadgets Mirrorless Cameras | Tags: | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: September 2021
• A pricier and tougher full-frame Nikon Zf was consequently announced
• Launch price: $959 / £899 / AU$1,799 (body only)
• Official price now: $959 / £879 / around AU$1,699 (body only)

Update: February 2024. If you love the retro look, the Nikon Z fc is still arguably the best value mirrorless camera since its September 2021 release. It goes up against the Fujifilm X-T30 II, and neither of these beginner cameras have been replaced yet. If money is no object then the Nikon Zf full-frame camera with the same analog Nikon FM2-inspired look is the sturdier option with better specs, but the Z fc remains a beautiful camera to have by your side and one of the best travel cameras. In fact, Nikon is yet to launch another APS-C camera since the Z30 designed for vlogging, so its 20.9MP sensor and 4K video spec is yet to be bettered for Nikon fans. The rest of this review remains as previously published.

Nikon Z fc: Two-minute review

The Nikon Z fc is the company's second mirrorless camera with an APS-C crop sensor, after the Nikon Z50. Under the hood, the two cameras are virtually identical, but it's clear from the outside that the shooting experience is altogether different. Much of this review, therefore, focuses on the new design of the Nikon Z fc. 

The current Nikon Z lineup now consists of two APS-C cameras, two second-generation full-frame models, the Nikon Z6 II and Nikon Z7 II, plus the Nikon Z5. The native lens lineup is much more developed for full-frame, with 17 lenses to the two dedicated APS-C zoom kit lenses. However, the new Z 28mm f/2.8 SE lens launched alongside the Nikon Z fc that we had during this test is an aesthetic pairing and a compelling 42mm f/2.8 equivalent lens.

The Nikon Z fc camera on a park bench

(Image credit: Future)

So what is behind this new camera's name? 'F' stands for 'fusion', as in of the old and new. This rhetoric exists in the full-frame Nikon Df from 2013, and likewise here we have a digital camera inspired by the company's own legacy analogue cameras. 

In the case of the Nikon Z fc, a beginner mirrorless camera, homage is paid to the 30-year-old Nikon FM2; the form factor and dimensions viewed from the front are practically the same. The FM2 is deeper on account of its film holder and its larger full-frame format which physically requires more depth. 

As for the 'c', in the name, it indicates that the camera is for 'casual' use. This could be anything from the competitive price, the smaller sensor format compared to full-frame, the vari-angle screen, the modest single UHS-I SD card slot, or the lack of weather-sealing. 

No, we wouldn't want to bash this beautiful camera for beginners around too much. And that's a slight shame – we can't help wish this was a 'Nikon Z f' rather than a Nikon Z fc. The camera it's inspired by, the Nikon FM2, was a serious full-frame workhorse that could take a bullet for you, with a mechanical shutter able to rattle off frames with no battery power. It's a camera that lasts, while the Nikon Z fc is aimed at an altogether different photographer.

Still, the Z fc is a beautiful, casual camera with a capable specification; 20.9MP sensor, 4K video up to 30fps, continuous tracking AF for people, animals, faces and eyes, and an inspired vari-angle touch screen. The Z fc is the affordable option too; if you want a digital camera with ISO, shutter speed and exposure compensation dials, you're looking at the twice-the-price Fujifilm X-T4, or if you can live without the ISO dial, then the Fujfilm X-T30 II enters the frame.

For travel snappers or those who want a camera that's as pretty as the photos it takes, the Nikon Zfc is one of the best mirrorless cameras you can buy, as well as of course one of the best travel cameras. Keen photographers who need features like dual card slots will want to look elsewhere, and we're hoping for a full-frame version, but not many modern cameras are as fun to use as this.         

Nikon Z fc: Release date and price

The Nikon Z fc is available to buy in a variety of bundles. If you just want to buy the camera body-only, it'll cost $959 / £899 / AU$1,499, but you can also buy it with different lenses, or in a lens kit with both wide-angle and telephoto zooms.

The ideal kit for street photographers will likely be the Nikon Zfc with the new Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 SE prime lens, which together will cost $1,199 / £1,129 / AU$1,899. If you'd rather go for the Zfc with the Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens, that kit will set you back $1,099 / £1,039 / AU$1,699.

The Nikon Z fc camera on a shelf

(Image credit: Future)

In Australia, there's a two-lens kit also available for AU$2,000 that bundles the Zfc body with the 16-50mm glass mentioned above, as well as the Nikkor Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR zoom.

In the UK, there's also a vlogging kit priced at £1,169 that includes the NIKKOR Z 16-50mm VR silver lens, a Sennheiser on-camera directional microphone with wind protection, and a SmallRig tripod grip. The tripod grip features a magnetic recess that holds the Nikon ML-L7 remote control (included).

Nikon Z fc: Design

  • It's a stunning camera
  • Inspired vari-angle touch screen
  • A new retro-styled 28mm f/2.8 Z lens

You don't have to be a fan of the Nikon FM2 to appreciate the design of the Nikon Z fc. It's a beautiful-looking camera. We remember the Nikon FM2 well – an aspirational camera for enthusiasts – and the attention to detail in reimagining the FM2 for today is painstakingly admirable.

There is everything to like about the Nikon Z fc. From the front, it's virtually the same dimensions as the FM2, meaning this is one dinky camera, barely a handful. Its form factor, design cues, everything sings FM2. Even the typography is inspired by it. 

The view from the top is equally impressive. While thinner than the FM2, it still packs exposure dials for ISO, shutter speed and exposure compensation dial. We love the tiny window with an LCD display of the current aperture setting. Nikon has gone most of the way there, but wait, the lenses. 

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The top of the Nikon Z fc camera on a shelf

(Image credit: Future)
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The shutter speed and exposure compensation dials on the Nikon Z fc

(Image credit: Future)
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The ISO dial of the Nikon Z fc

(Image credit: Future)

A new Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 SE lens was launched alongside the Z fc, and like the camera it certainly looks the retro-part. But why is there no aperture control ring on this special edition full-frame lens? With that full complement of exposure dials on the camera's top plate, we sorely missed an aperture control ring on the lens and you won't find one on any other Nikon Z lens.

You can change the sole control ring on the 28mm lens from focus to aperture, but you can't have both at the same time. Otherwise, you shift aperture by using the camera's front command dial, but it's not nearly as intuitive as on the lens, especially when you're already shifting the shutter speed dial with those same right-hand fingers. 

Ultimately, the lack of dedicated lens aperture control ring becomes a reason to use the Z fc in auto, foregoing the top dials for exposure changes (the main point of this concept). Like with the majority of Fujifilm’s X-series lenses, we hope new special edition legacy lenses are launched for the Z-series that feature an aperture control. Still, if you don't shoot in aperture priority, who cares, right?

The ISO dial on the top of the Nikon Z fc camera

(Image credit: Future)

In understanding those exposure dials, the built-in program mode switch that includes auto, the implementation of in-camera auto ISO, you can get the exposure effect you want super-quick. By the way, in-camera auto ISO handles a charm just like high-end Nikon cameras, meaning minimum acceptable shutter speed can be manually selected.

Elsewhere, the Z fc's flip touchscreen that's on hand for selfie-shooters and vloggers is totally the right call here, but for additional reasons. This type of screen can be folded away completely – revealing a protective dappled leather finish instead. You can pretend it's screen-less in a way that's not possible with fixed or tilt screens. We're not quite in Fujifilm X-Pro 3 territory – a camera that simulates a loaded film roll on its rear – but the look is spot on. 

With a circular eyecup design for the EVF (electronic viewfinder), the look from the rear is complete. The EVF is a reasonably large display with a feature set and performance that is competitive at this price point; 2.36-million-dots and a refresh rate of 60fps. You'll have to press your eye in right up close to get a clear view though. 

The Nikon Z fc camera on a shelf

(Image credit: Future)

As for the touchscreen, it is super simple to use. You get touch focus with subject tracking, shutter response, full menu navigation and playback control, this is how touchscreens are meant to be. And the footprint of the touchscreen is minimal, adding very little to the overall size of the Z fc. 

Around the exposure dials are little hints that this is a camera for today. The shutter speed dial has a switch to shift from shooting stills to video (the Nikon Df couldn't shoot video at all – a philosophical choice). Sadly, the in-camera menu remains the same whether you are shooting photos or video. Separate custom menus would be welcome for photo and video to make navigating your options much simpler. 

The Nikon Z fc possesses a magnesium alloy 'skeleton' which is very impressive at this price point. However, there's no weather-sealing, which lives up to the 'casual' name. It might be due to its great looks, but we were particularly conscious to look after the camera.

The battery of the Nikon Z fc camera

(Image credit: Future)

From our time with the Z fc, we found battery life par-for-the-course, getting a full day of moderate use that this camera is technically designed for. Go video heavy or swing towards those extended continuous high sequences and the picture is different, of course. However, it is now possible to charge the camera on-the-go via the USB-C input. Handy. Speaking of inputs, there is a 3.5mm microphone port, plus mini HMDI. 

Elsewhere, what you get with the mirrorless tech is an option for a silent shutter. Paired with the flip screen for subtle waist-level viewing, the Z fc represents an unobtrusive shooter ideal for travel and street photography. 

Faced up to the similarly-priced Nikon Z50, we prefer the Z fc design. There's the vari-angle screen and USB-C charging, plus exposure compensation is operational when in auto exposure mode. Some may prefer the feel of the deeper handgrip of the Z50, especially with longer lenses, though there is an optional grip for the Z fc. 

Nikon Z fc: Features and performance

  • Tracking AF with priority for people and animals
  • 11fps burst shooting
  • Single UHS-I SD card slot

For all its retro charm and emphasis on manual control, the Nikon Z fc is no slouch and comes packed with a competitive feature set. 

Start up time is brisk, with the camera able to shoot within a second of powering up. No dawdling here. Z-series lenses focus quickly and quietly for general scenes, offering a manual focus override, too. There's on-screen touch tracking auto-focus that is sticky on your subject and the Z fc detects faces and eyes with a reasonable speed, accuracy and reliability. 

With the viewfinder in play, you can hit the OK button to bring up a manual AF selection area, too, though you cannot swipe the open touchscreen for autofocus area selection.

The viewfinder of the Nikon Z fc

(Image credit: Future)

High-speed action sequences can be made at up to 11fps in the 'extended' mode, with continuous auto focus and auto exposure. However, the camera only supports the older and slower UHS-I SD card, meaning those sequences are sustained for around 22 frames – that's two seconds – and you'll need to wait some time for those frames to be processed to gain full speed operation again. 

The continuous high mode is much slower at 5fps, though you will get around 35 frames, so the burst is longer. Again, it takes a little while to clear those files to regain full capture capability. In short, the Z fc is good for quick flashes of action, but it really doesn't support sustained action scenarios.

Nikon Z fc: Image and video quality

  • 20.9-million-pixel APS-C sensor
  • ISO 100-51,200
  • Basic Z-series 'DX' lens choice

With the same 20.9-million-pixel APS-C sensor as the Nikon Z50, we can expect the same image quality from the Nikon Z fc. And aside from a few handling tweaks that may impact the shots you are getting – like the at-hand exposure compensation dial – things are indeed the same, which is no bad thing. 

The 20.9MP sensor has a great handle on noise, with all settings up to ISO 6400 looking clean, especially those under ISO 800. It's a general rule of thumb to avoid the top two ISO settings if you want to avoid the adverse impact of noise, in this case ISO 25,600 and ISO 51,200. Dynamic range impresses and the implementation of a HDR mode is simple and effective.

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Some boats sailing in a bay

The exposure compensation dial is active when the Nikon Z fc is in its 'Auto' exposure mode, making creative under-exposures like exposing for the highlights a breeze. (Image credit: Future)
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Profile shot of a man wearing a hat taken on the Nikon Z fc

The new Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 SE lens is an aesthetic pairing to the Z fc and provides a full-frame equivalent focal length of 42mm. Combined with the f/2.8 aperture and it is well suited for environmental portraits. (Image credit: Future)
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Crates of fishing ropes and buoys

A resolution of 20.9MP is competitive rather than class-leading, but is more than enough to get good size prints, wide dynamic range and solid control over noise in a variety of shooting scenarios. (Image credit: Future)
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Profile photo of a boy taken on the Nikon Z fc camera

(Image credit: Future)
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Some beach huts overlooking water, shot on the Nikon Z fc

(Image credit: Future)
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A person running down a road under tree cover

(Image credit: Future)
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Photo of a grassy field in a bay taken on the Nikon Z fc

(Image credit: Future)
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A red phone box surrounded by foliage

(Image credit: Future)
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Grassy coastline in front of the sea

(Image credit: Future)
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A rocky bay at dusk

(Image credit: Future)

There's a host of auto white balance (AWB) options, with the possibility of maintaining warm tones as one option. Colors in general look great from the off, though dominant colors in a scene can impact the temperature and hue in other colors – for example, a dominant blue can make skin tones look a little yellow, or a green vista results in overly magenta elsewhere, and so on. It's still a standard issue for AWB.

The standard color profile gives a refreshing subtle degree of saturation more akin to a neutral color profile in other systems. In-camera raw editing enables adjustments to exposure ±2EV, white balance, color profile and picture mode among others. 

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Silhouette of a girl running across the beach

Impressive on paper, the top speed of 11fps with continuous AF and AE is limited in real-world use no doubt in part to the write speeds of the single UHS-I card slot. This is no action camera. (Image credit: Future)
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A bay under a cloudy blue sky

(Image credit: Future)
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Beach houses in a bay in front of trees

(Image credit: Future)
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An inflatable unicorn in a swimming pool

The 'standard' picture setting gives a pleasant color rendition, and if you shoot in raw format edits can be made in-camera to the color modes and picture styles. This image was converted to black and white. (Image credit: Future)
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An old outhouse covered in foliage

Perhaps the biggest downside of the Nikon Z fc is that there are just two native Z-series lenses dedicated for the APS-C format, limiting the types of pictures possible with the camera. Here I would've liked to go wider than the 16mm setting of the 16-50mm kit lens. (Image credit: Future)
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Girl walking down a seaside promenade

The vari-angle screen is useful for easy-shooting at a variety of angles, in addition to the front-facing selfie mode. (Image credit: Future)
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A cow grazing in a field

(Image credit: Future)
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Fishing ropes, crates and equipment

(Image credit: Future)
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A wave crashing against a seaside walk

The 'standard' picture setting gives a pleasant color rendition, and if you shoot in raw format edits can be made in-camera to the color modes and picture styles. This image was converted to black and white. (Image credit: Future)

Perhaps one thing holding back the image quality of the Nikon Z fc is the availability of native lenses. The lens roadmap for Nikon mirrorless cameras with APS-C sensors looks vaguely promising, but at the time of writing there are better lenses available for the rival Fujifilm X-series. 

Should I buy the Nikon Z fc?

The Nikon Zfc camera sitting on a red table in front of a bookcase

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Sony A6100 review
1:23 am | February 20, 2020

Author: admin | Category: Cameras Computers Gadgets Mirrorless Cameras | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: February 2020
• One in a long line of APS-C cameras and it might not get updated
• Launch price: $749 / £830 / AU$1,349 (body only)
• Official price now: $599 / £649 / AU$ not available from Sony directly (body only)

Update: February 2024. Launched alongside the A6600 in August 2019, the A6100 is the entry-level APS-C mirrorless from Sony and was long touted as the best beginner mirrorless camera by TechRadar. It's almost five years old now and technology has moved on, but Sony was ahead of the curve back then and so the tech spec still isn't bad. You get 24MP stills with Sony's phase detection autofocus that still performs well today, but the 1.44m-dot EVF and limited tilt-touchscreen look dated now, plus you don't get in-body image stabilization. Still, there's even more APS-C lenses to choose from now and the A6100's reduced price and good availability secondhand for even less still makes it a compelling choice for beginner photographers. The pricier A6600 was essentially updated by the A6700 as the flagship model in 2023, but there's no sign of a A6100 replacement yet, and so you're still getting the latest entry-level model. The rest of this review remains as previously published.

Sony A6100: Two-minute review

The Sony A6100 is the natural successor to the wildly popular Sony A6000, a beginner-friendly mirrorless camera that is still available to buy new today, five years after its launch. That's the sign of a popular, enduring camera.

Both cameras are the entry-level models in Sony's range of mirrorless APS-C sensor snappers. 'APS-C' refers to the camera's sensor size, which is significantly larger than the ones found in smartphones, but smaller than the full-frame chips found in pro-friendly models like the Sony A7 III.

Much of the A6000’s core features remain in the A6100: there's the familiar body design, a sensor with the same 24MP resolution, a similar EVF and tilting rear LCD screen (though the A6100's screen is now touch sensitive), and an 11fps burst mode. 

However, there are some very welcome improvements in the A6100 too. Overall, this is a much more user-friendly camera. The general handling and performance is enhanced, particularly through its excellent continuous autofocus system.  

We now have a camera that more readily competes with today’s entry-level mirrorless shooters from other brands, of which there are many more since the day the A6000 launched. Despite this, the Sony A6100 is a worthy successor to one of the best beginner mirrorless cameras of all time when it comes to sheer sales.

Sony A6100

(Image credit: Future)

Sony A6100: Features

  • 24.2MP APS-C sensor 
  • 4K video at 30fps, 100Mbps 
  • Slow and quick motion Full HD videos 
  • Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity

Sony sticks with a 24.2MP APS-C sensor, which is the same as the one found in the more expensive Sony A6400 and Sony A6600 cameras. Its resolution is par for the course and plenty for an entry-level camera. 

Sony A6100 key specs

Sensor: 24.2MP APS-C CMOS
Lens mount: Sony E-mount
Screen: 3-inch 922K-dot tilting touchscreen
Burst shooting: 11fps
Autofocus: 425 selectable points
Video: 4K/30p
Connectivity: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Battery life: up to 420 shots
Weight: 396g

While the A6100 can shoot 4K at 30fps, it does this with a slight crop – shoot 4K at 25fps, though, and it uses the full-width of the sensor (which means full pixel readout with no pixel binning), and fills the 16:9 rear LCD display. There is an S&Q setting (Slow & Quick Motion videos) that captures Full HD slow motion videos up to 100fps (4x) or quick motion videos down to 1fps (25x).

You do get a lot for your money with the Sony A6100. There’s the same 1.44 million-dot EVF, hotshoe and pop-up flash, all squeezed expertly into what is a very compact body. Plus, that LCD screen is now touch sensitive and can pull out and up into a selfie position. 

Images can be captured and shared wirelessly using a smartphone or tablet connected by Wi-Fi through Sony’s app called ‘Imaging Edge Mobile'. An easy connection can be made using NFC, or via the usual QR code method as well.  

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Sony A6100

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony A6100

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony A6100

(Image credit: Future)

Sony A6100: Build and handling

  • Small and solid polycarbonate build, with reasonably-sized controls 
  • Solid 420-shot battery life 
  • USB charging 
  • Tilt-touch screen with selfie mode 
  • Single SD UHS-I card slot 

Overall, we really enjoyed our time with the Sony A6100. We paired the camera with a couple of slightly higher-end lenses – the FE 24‑70mm f/4 and FE 35mm f/1.8 – which are both a sensible size and weight match. 

Depending on the lens, the A6100 is small enough to fit into a jacket pocket. This is thanks to its form factor – it stands at just 67mm high and has a very flat profile without the pentaprism 'hump' seen on rivals like the Fujifilm X-T3.

The polycarbonate body feels solid and the external controls are robust, while the textured hand and thumb grips provide a firm hold. Praise be for the slightly larger grip than the one in the A6000. 

Considering the compact size of this camera, a mighty number of controls and features are packed in. You get a pop-up flash that can be tipped back by hand for indirect fill light. There’s a hotshoe to attach optional accessories such as an external microphone, which is then connected via the microphone port on the side. (Unsurprisingly, there is no room for a headphone jack).

There's also a built-in EVF, which is a plus for a camera at this price. It’s not the easiest to use and the resolution remains at an average 1.44 million-dots. To get the latest high-resolution EVF, you’ll need to fork out extra for the Sony A6400 or Sony A6600.  

The tilt LCD touchscreen can be pulled out and up, and then flipped vertically above the camera into selfie mode. By today’s standards, the 3-inch screen has a relatively modest 920,000-dot resolution. It’s a 16:9 screen too, meaning that full resolution 3:2 photos do not fill the display and therefore appear on the small side – a similar scenario also happens on the 16:9 display on the Fujifilm X-A7.   

Given the A6100 is an entry-level camera, it is perhaps a little counter-intuitive that its touchscreen functions are so limited. The screen can be used to select the AF points and track subjects, plus pinch-to-zoom and scan an image in playback. But you can't navigate menus or make setting selections. Still, AF selection is arguably the most helpful touch function. 

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Sony A6100

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony A6100

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony A6100

(Image credit: Future)

Tiny, fiddly buttons are often a pitfall of such small cameras, but not so here. All of the buttons are clearly labeled and reasonably sized. There are two control dials – both are on the rear and naturally controlled using your thumb. Another dial on the top front would have been very welcome to bring your index finger into play instead.  

A 420-shot battery life is very competitive at this level. We used the camera during cold winter months and found that battery life drained a little quicker than expected. However, USB charging is massively helpful. It's worth noting here that there is no battery charger included with the A6100, just the USB cable.

With the camera continuously connected to a power bank, the battery tops up every time the camera is switched off, which proved very handy during our wintry outings. On-the-go charging for mirrorless cameras is a true solution for their more limited battery lives.  

The A6100 records images onto a single SD card, but isn't compatible with the latest UHS-II cards that possess superior read and write speeds. It’s no surprise, yet the result is some functional lags when using the camera for continuous shooting. 

One handling issue worth mentioning – which is not unique to the A6100 but quickly noticeable on a camera like this – is how 'Auto ISO' favors a lower ISO setting over a quicker shutter speed when shooting in Aperture priority mode.  

For example, with the lens set to a 24mm equivalent focal length, auto ISO will naturally select a shutter speed of around 1/30 sec, no matter what scene is being captured. That’s fine for static subjects, which will remain sharp, but any movement from people will be blurry.   

We often chose to shoot in full 'Manual' mode with auto ISO, to ensure the desired shutter speed and aperture. However, stick the camera into its Auto mode and scene detection comes into play with more sensible shutter speeds chosen.  

It takes more time to familiarize yourself with what the A6100 can do than most other entry-level cameras. That’s no bad thing, but we’d firmly recommend a little research on ways to set up the camera for quick control and to ensure you are getting the best out of it. For example, customizing the continuous AF settings and adding your most used controls to the main Function (Fn) menu.  

Sony A6100

(Image credit: Future)

Sony A6100: Performance

  • 425-point phase detection autofocus 
  • Excellent continuous tracking autofocus 
  • 11fps mechanical shutter 
  • 1200-zone evaluative metering 

Where the A6100 shines brightest is through its rapid and reliable autofocus system for both photography and video. It has the same AF system as the flagship Sony A6600, a camera that's almost twice the price. 

There are several Focus Modes and Focus Areas to choose from. After playing around with these settings, we settled on continuous AF with the 'Tracking: Expand Flexible Spot' focus area for virtually all scenarios.  

With this AF setup in play, focusing for general action – family shots, a specific subject within the frame – is extremely reliable. Honestly, there were times that we forgot that this is an entry-level camera because the A6100 is so reliable for sharp focusing. 

A burst mode of 11fps is, on paper, solid. However, in use the reality of 'continuous high' shooting is a tad disappointing. In our experience, the length of bursts do not quite match the claims of up to 67 frames. Also, the camera takes time to buffer those sequences before full performance is available again.   

Despite the Bionz X processor, the limitations of a UHS-I SD card slot are clear. We found the 6fps 'Continuous Mid' shooting mode a more sensible choice. The A6100 is still very competitive at this level, but the Olympus E-M5 Mark III is only a little more expensive and offers UHS-II compatibility with unlimited burst shooting.

The A6100 uses a 1200-zone evaluative metering system. In many circumstances – and of course this is to taste – we found exposures a little bright and opted to dial in around -0.7EV exposure compensation.  

For us, the Imaging Edge Mobile app provided a hassle-free connection and worked very well for image uploads and remote control shooting. The same cannot be said for all brands, so kudos to Sony here.  

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Sony A6100

A high frame rate like the 'Continuous High' at 11fps increases your chances of capturing the crucial moment. However, the sequences don’t last long before the camera’s buffer is full. Moreover, the camera takes some time to be ready to shoot again. (Image credit: Future)
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Sony A6100

The AWB: Ambient setting gives pleasing colors while maintaining warm tones. (Image credit: Future)
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Sony A6100

We found the evaluative metering makes exposures a fraction too bright and often opted to dial in some negative exposure compensation. (Image credit: Future)
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Sony A6100

If you brighten low key images like this it is clear there is plenty of crisp detail in shadow areas. (Image credit: Future)
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Sony A6100

Face detection AF works quickly and, for the best part, focuses on what’s important, the eyes. (Image credit: Future)

Sony A6100: Image and video quality

  • 24.2MP resolution holds its own 
  • ISO 100-32,000 (extended to ISO 51,200) 
  • 4K videos look good and helped by reliable continuous AF 
  • Vibrant colors but no flat/natural color profiles

Sony's APS-C cameras have offered a 24MP resolution for almost ten years. Even today, few venture higher or lower than 24MP. It’s a sensible choice in the entry-level A6100, though one has more cause for complaint in the flagship Sony A6600.  

The 6000x4000 pixel resolution equates to an A3-print size at 350ppi, though by reducing the ppi you can make a high quality print up to A2 – that’s surely enough for most photographers. 

Video quality is solid. 4K videos at 25fps are taken from the full-width of the sensor and the quality is helped no end by the reliable and intelligent continuous tracking autofocus.  

Of course, image quality is affected by the lens attached to the camera and the 16-50mm Power Zoom kit lens of the A6100 has a poor reputation. But add a different lens – such as the two we used – and you’ll get crisp images with plenty of detail all the way up to ISO 3200. 

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Sony A6100

In general, color rendition is accurate and pictures look great straight out of the camera as JPEGs. (Image credit: Future)
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Sony A6100

This image is taken at ISO 6400 and detail is still reasonably sharp in the bright areas. (Image credit: Future)
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Sony A6100

We found the evaluative metering makes exposures a fraction too bright and often opted to dial in some negative exposure compensation. (Image credit: Future)
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Sony A6100

The APS-C sensor has a wide dynamic range – this unedited image was shot in a standard mode without increasing the dynamic range in any way. (Image credit: Future)
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Sony A6100

The tilt-screen is ideal for clear viewing when shooting at low angles. (Image credit: Future)

For most subjects, the ‘Standard' Creative Style creates realistic tones and accurate colors for JPEG images straight out of the camera. Sony’s color profiles are gradually turning around and indeed we have seen an improvement – those jumping from the A6000 will appreciate the difference. 

For more critically observed subjects, skin tones for example, things are a little too saturated for our liking, even in the least punchy Standard Creative Style (again, that’s down to personal taste). We’d love to see a more natural or flat color profile included for photos and videos here – most other brands offer at least a ‘Natural' profile.  

To get a ‘flatter' tonal range from which to make edits to saturation post capture, your best bet is decreasing the contrast in the Standard Creative Style (or to shoot in Raw format). However, it’s not possible to make any image edits in-camera. 

Dynamic range is very good. A lot of detail can be recovered from shadow areas that appear black, and a reasonable amount can be found in bright highlights. You’ll get notable patches of chroma noise and overall luminance noise in shadow areas of low contrast images taken at ISO 6400 and higher, though.

Sony A6100

(Image credit: Future)

Sony A6100: Verdict

Considering the design, price point and feature set, the Sony A6100 is arguably the most enticing camera in Sony’s A6000 series today.  

Firstly, the body design that's consistent throughout this series does feel more suited to beginners and those growing their skill level.  

Image quality and autofocus are also on a par with the more expensive Sony A6400 and Sony A6600, which is impressive. The main gripes that we have of all A6XXX series cameras – mainly handling and performance limitations – are also less forgivable on the flagship models than they are here.  

So what do the more expensive models have going for them? Well, the flagship Sony A6600 has a much better battery life, in-body image stabilisation (IBIS), a higher resolution EVF and a metal, weather-sealed body. But it’s virtually twice the price. 

Crucially for Sony, the A6100 refreshes the A6000 and holds its own against today’s growing competition. There is class-leading continuous autofocus and in most other areas, such as battery life, the camera is very competitive.  

We expect the A6100 to be the most popular of the current A6XXX series and for good reason – it’s well-priced and is a brilliant little camera once you get to know it.  

Sony A6100: Also consider

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(Image credit: Future)

Canon EOS M50

Perhaps the most obvious direct rival to the A6100, the Canon EOS M50 is a little older than Sony's entry-level camera, but also a lot more affordable. It shows its age in many areas, with the A6100 offering superior autofocus, battery life, video powers and native lens choices. But if you can't stretch to the A6100 or have existing Canon EF or EF-S lens that you'd like to use with the EOS M50 (via an adaptor), it's well worth considering for beginners.

Read our in-depth Canon EOS M50 review    

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Nikon z50

(Image credit: Future)

Nikon Z50

It's a fair bit pricier than the Sony A6100, but the Nikon Z50 addresses one of our main complaints with Sony's APS-C cameras – handling. Just like Nikon's DSLRs, the Z50 has a nice, chunky grip and balances better with longer lenses, which is something to bear in mind if you like sports or wildlife shooting. Both cameras can shoot at 11fps continuously and lack in-body image stabilization. Sony has the edge with autofocus and its native lens selection, but the Z50 is a better option for those coming from DSLRs (particularly Nikon ones, as you can use F-mount lenses with an adaptor).

Read our in-depth Nikon Z50 review

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(Image credit: TechRadar)

If you don't need a viewfinder and want something a little smaller than the A6100, then the Fujifilm X-A7 is well worth considering. Combining a 24.5MP APS-C sensor, 3.5-inch vari-angle touchscreen and the ability to shoot 4K/30p video, it's a nice little all-rounder that shoots crisp, sharp images and pairs nicely with Fujifilm's range of X-Series prime lenses. 

Read our in-depth Fujifilm X-A7 review 

Sony Alpha A9 II review
5:02 am | January 7, 2020

Author: admin | Category: Cameras Computers DSLRs Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: January 202
• Newer Sony A9 III now available
• Launch price: $4,500 / £4,800 / AU$7,299
• Official price now: $4,499 / £4,199 / AU$6,499

Updated: February 2024. It took Sony three years to release the third-generation A9 late in 2023, but the Sony A9 II remains an excellent pro shooter even today. It's had some firmware updates since its release and slight price drop too, but if you can pick up at a discounted price, its performance is worth every penny. The Sony A9 II doesn't always get a discount, even during major sales like Black Friday, but if you keep your eyes open, it's possible to snap it up (pun entirely intended) for around $3,100 / £2,800 / AU$5,300. The rest of this review remains as previously published.

Until May 2017, the kings of professional sports and press photography were two DSLRs – the Canon EOS 1D X Mark II and the Nikon D5. Then Sony launched the Alpha A9 and changed the game. Smaller, lighter and ridiculously fast, the original full-frame mirrorless sports shooter from Sony was one of the best snappers we had tested. 

Fast forward to 2019 and the second generation A9 is on the market, trying to tempt the pros to upgrade. However, Sony has mostly held on to the core specs from the first-gen A9 and has chosen to make what, on paper, seems like only incremental upgrades to the A9 II. Those little tweaks may not mean much to the average user, but professionals in the field who rely on ridiculously quick turnovers and need high-speed performance will be the ones to appreciate what the Sony Alpha A9 II has to offer. It’s these users that the A9 line of cameras was designed for, and the latest model does not disappoint. 

With so much that’s similar to the previous model, we’ve decided to list what’s great about the newer version in this review so as not to repeat ourselves. We’ve listed all the new features and then jumped straight to image quality so you can decide for yourself whether it’s worth the upgrade or not. That said, the A9 II costs a pretty penny (having launched with a price tag of $4,500 / £4,800 / AU$7,299) while the original A9 has seen a significant price drop. So, do the small changes make the Alpha A9 II a worthwhile purchase?

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Design & features

  • Larger, deeper hand grip
  • 10fps burst with mechanical shutter
  • Built-in 1000BASE-T Ethernet terminal
  • 60-second voice memo

There’s a total of 43 features that are different in the Sony Alpha A9 II as compared to its predecessor, with only a few subtle physical differences that make the newer model an absolute pleasure to use. 

One of those design changes is the larger and deeper grip that, even for those with small hands, makes the camera quite comfortable to hold and use for hours on end. The AF-ON button is now larger and more prominent, while the multi-selector joystick is now textured and thus more tactile, making it easier to find and use without taking your eye off the viewfinder.

Sony Alpha A9 II key specs

Sensor: 24.2MP full-frame Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor
Lens mount: Sony FE
Screen: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen; 1,440K dots
Burst speed: Up to 20fps
Autofocus: Hybrid AF; 693 phase- and 425 contrast-detect points
ISO: 100-51200 (exp 50-204800)
Video: 4K/30p
Connectivity: Wi-Fi (5GHz), USB-C (USB 3.2 Gen 1), Bluetooth, HDMI mini, LAN, NFC
Weight: 678g (with battery + card)

While the drive dial remains unchanged from the A9, the exposure compensation dial on the top right corner of the camera now sports a locking button to prevent accidental changes. There's also a redesigned lens lock button on the A9 II, along with better padding for shock absorption around the lens mount. The camera also has better weather sealing than the older model, with double-sealed sliders for ports, the card slots, and battery compartment rather than just hinged seals.

However, the biggest advantage the A9 II has over its predecessor is the ability to shoot continuously twice as fast – using the mechanical shutter, the Mark II can capture up to 10 frames per second, making it a better shooter to use under certain artificial lights. In fact, for sports photographers shooting in indoor stadiums, there’s a new anti-flicker mode that detects fluorescent lighting and adjusts exposure accordingly. It's worth noting that the anti-flicker mode is not available while filming videos or when using the electronic shutter.

Design changes aside, it’s the improvements to the camera’s connectivity that really makes this shooter one of the best options for pros. The most important among them is the upgraded 1000BASE-T Ethernet port that is ten times faster than the 100MB/s terminal on the original A9 (we were able to transfer a batch of 300 JPEGs with a file size of about 11MB each in just under a minute and a half). Even the USB-C port is now the faster 3.2 Gen 1 standard, while the Wi-Fi supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz as opposed to just the 2.4GHz in the original A9. These improvements in connectivity will allow photographers to transfer files directly to FTP servers quickly. Up to 10 different FTP settings can be saved to an SD card and reloaded onto the A9 II, while Sony’s Imaging Edge mobile app can save up to 20.

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(Image credit: TechRadar)
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(Image credit: TechRadar)
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(Image credit: TechRadar)
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(Image credit: TechRadar)

Another really cool feature that many photojournalists will be glad to use is the voice memo. Vocal instructions of up to 60 seconds in length can be recorded for individual images or a series of shots – a huge help for teams waiting back in the office to use the images wherever necessary. The memos can also be converted into text that get added to the JPEG file’s metadata, although this needs to be done on the Imaging Edge app.

A new low-vibration shutter design has improved image stabilization in the A9 II by half a stop, now rated at 5.5 stops. However, in real-world testing, we were hard pressed to tell the difference between the two iterations, with the A9’s IBIS still rather impressive.

Another tiny tweak that can go a long way is the slight improvement in battery life – where the A9 was rated for 650 shots when using the LCD display and 480 while using the viewfinder, the second generation shooter can manage to spit out up to 690 and 500 respectively.

Practically everything else has been inherited from the older camera and you can refer back to our in-depth Sony Alpha A9 review to find out more about the other features.

Autofocus

  • Real-time Eye AF for 4K video
  • Improved AF algorithm

We were unable to test the camera in sports arenas as people weren’t comfortable with us publishing photographs of them on a public platform, so we tried the next best thing – wildlife. This kind of photography requires a fast and precise autofocus system, especially when taking photos of birds, and the A9 II did not disappoint.

The AF on the original A9 was practically perfect – fast and reliable in equal measure. At the time we thought it wasn’t possible to make it any better but, boy, were we wrong. All it took was a tiny tweak to the AF algorithm – made possible by the new Bionz X processor – to give the new camera’s autofocus performance a boost by improving subject tracking, even when using smaller apertures with Focus Priority switched on. 

Tracking is precise and can keep up with erratically moving subjects as well (like birds flying and changing directions suddenly). The camera’s AF system does occasionally have trouble when the head of the subject disappears briefly and then reappears – we found that the AF system wasn’t able to lock back onto the subject’s head, but was more than capable of tracking the body.

The Sony A9 II can stay locked on to the main subject even when an obstacle gets in the way | Click here to see the full-size image

The Sony A9 II can stay locked on to the main subject even when an obstacle gets in the way | Click here to see the full-size image (Image credit: TechRadar)

Even when an obstacle gets in between the subject and the camera, the Sony A9 II is intelligent enough to know it needs to stay locked onto the main subject. In our case, this was demonstrated when we were photographing a tower of giraffes at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo. While we were focused on one animal, another ambled past between us and the giraffe we were shooting, and the A9 II didn’t even blink, staying locked on to our main subject.

The biggest improvement to the AF system, though, is the addition of real-time eye-detect autofocus when recording 4K video, something that’s missing in the older A9 model.

A few other tiny tweaks have been made to the AF system as well, including adding the ability to move the focus frame even when the shutter or the AF-ON button is half-pressed. You can also change the color of the focus frame to whatever catches your fancy. If you prefer using the rear LCD for touch-tracking, you can do so even when using the viewfinder to shoot.

Image quality

  • Expandable ISO range of 50 - 208,800
  • Excellent ISO performance
  • Decent dynamic range

Like its predecessor, the A9 II delivers some superb results. The 24.2MP sensor delivers images that are sharp, with great colors and plenty of details. However, RAW files have more chroma (color) noise as compared to JPEGs due to the camera’s high rate of calculations, but nothing that can’t be fixed during post processing.

ISO performance is excellent with virtually no noise at the lower values and very acceptable levels when you climb up to 12,800 and 25,600, as seen in the below image of a bird in the water.

Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/400 sec at f/5.6, ISO 12,800 | Click here to see the full-size image

Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/400 sec at f/5.6, ISO 12,800 | Click here to see the full-size image (Image credit: TechRadar)

The above shot was taken at ISO 12,800 and then cropped down by 20%. The uncropped image barely showed signs of luminance, with some grain visible only after cropping to zoom in closer to the subject. While noise becomes evident at 51,200 and higher, you should still be fine taking it up to 102,400 although we’d advise going that high only if you absolutely have to and if you’re shooting JPEGs.

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Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/500 sec at f/5.6, ISO 200

Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/500 sec at f/5.6, ISO 200 (Image credit: TechRadar)

Click here to see the full-size image

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Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/500 at f/5.6, ISO 500

Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/500 at f/5.6, ISO 500 (Image credit: TechRadar)

Click here to see the full-size image

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Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/500 sec at f/5.6, ISO 160

Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/500 sec at f/5.6, ISO 160 (Image credit: TechRadar)

Click here to see the full-size image

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Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/500 at f/5.6, ISO 500

Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/500 at f/5.6, ISO 500 (Image credit: TechRadar)

Taken through a pane of glass and the camera was still able to find the subject's face | Click here to see the full image

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Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/500 at f/5.6, ISO 100

Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/500 at f/5.6, ISO 100 (Image credit: TechRadar)

Click here to see the full-size image

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Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/320 at f/5.6, ISO 100

Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/320 at f/5.6, ISO 100 (Image credit: TechRadar)

Click here to see the full-size image

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Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/500 at f/5.6, ISO 250

Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/500 at f/5.6, ISO 250 (Image credit: TechRadar)

Click here to see the full-size image

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Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/500 at f/5.6, ISO 100

Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/500 at f/5.6, ISO 100 (Image credit: TechRadar)

Click here to see the full-size image

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Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/200 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100

Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/200 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100 (Image credit: TechRadar)

Click here to see the full-size image

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Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/640 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100

Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/640 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100 (Image credit: TechRadar)

Click here to see the full-size image

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Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/800 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100

Sony Alpha A9 II with FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OSS; 1/800 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100 (Image credit: TechRadar)

Click here to see full-sized image

The A9 II does have a decent dynamic range, although it’s still not quite a match for Sony’s megapixel monsters, but that’s only because the A7R series was designed for landscape photography. The A9 II holds its own when compared to the Canon EOS 1D X Mark II and the Nikon D5 (the latter is marvelous in low light), and plenty of details can be extracted from shadows when working on your shots later, even when just using a slider in the most basic photo editing apps.

Verdict

The A9 II was designed specifically with the photojournalist in mind. For the average user, this camera will likely be overkill, with most of the new features going unused and under-appreciated. For the target audience though, this is one heck of an upgrade over the original A9. It feels a lot more refined and a far more efficient tool for photographers in the field. 

Our only complaint would be the absence of XQD or CFexpress card slots that would see files saved to card much quicker, and the limited touchscreen functionality – both of which remain the same as in the A9. Other than adding real-time eye-AF to 4K video recording, no other improvements have been made for shooting movies. There’s still no S-Log support and the camera can only record 8-bit 4:2:0 video internally. The only way to output 8-bit 4:2:2 video is externally via the micro HDMI port.

However, Sony has released some very good long lenses that weren’t available when the A9 launched in 2017, making the A9 II a very compelling sports camera, despite the competition it’s likely going to have from the Canon EOS 1D X Mark III and the Nikon D6.

Competition

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(Image credit: Canon)

Canon EOS 1D X Mark III

Canon’s latest sports DSLR has plenty to offer, including a higher continuous shooting speed of 16fps when using the mechanical shutter (as opposed to the A9 II’s 10fps burst). For anyone keen on capturing video, Canon has made this an ideal hybrid shooter, with C-Log 4:2:2 10-bit in-camera recording. While we’re yet to test this new camera fully, it’s shaping up to be a formidable competitor.

Read our thoughts on the Canon EOS 1D X Mark III in our hands-on review

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(Image credit: Nikon)

Nikon D5

While we wait for the Nikon D6 to make its official debut, the D5 is still the low-light king amongst sports cameras, with an extended ISO range that goes up to a staggering 3,280,000 still not found in any other shooter. While its 173 AF points might seem a tad dated right now, its AF performance is still topnotch. So until we know more about the D6, this would be a superb choice for a sports DSLR.

Read our in-depth Nikon D5 review

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(Image credit: TechRadar)

Sony Alpha A9

It would be remiss of us if we didn't include the game-changing sports mirrorless shooter here. The original A9 is still a very impressive camera – after all, the second generation model is based mostly on this snapper. And with a significant price drop since the launch of the Mark II, the A9 is a compelling choice for those without the spare change for the more expensive newer pro-level sports shooters.

Read our in-depth Sony Alpha A9 review

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