CAMERA SETTINGS FOR SONY A7RII (V3.30)

Camera Settings For Sony a7RII - Front View

INTRODUCTION

The Sony a7RII is a feature packed high-end interchangeable lens camera that has a powerful 42MP sensor, 4K video recording and a pretty long list of camera settings. In fact, the camera has so many options and optimizations that it can be both confusing and complicated when you first sit down to learn this advanced Sony A7-series system. It doesn't help that the 100 page manual (30-40 pages are warnings, drawings, and specs) only skims across the possibilities without a lot of explanation.

I have heard that this camera is really menu driven. I agree that initially this is the case, but once you have all the custom buttons setup to your style of photography, I can assure you that it will take more button pushes on a Nikon D800 or a Canon 5D to achieve the same thing on this Sony camera. In fact, the Sony a7RII is no more complicated than the Nikon D810 or the Canon 5DMKII in terms of button pushing for camera setup. FujiFilm is the easiest as there are dedicated knobs on the outside of the camera body that allow you to completely avoid the menu system.

So I've done my own research and experimented and I will short-cut you to enlightenment with my camera settings for the Sony a7RII. We will start with the buttons and knobs, then we will help make the disorganized menu system easier to tackle.

Camera Settings For Sony a7RII - Top

Camera Settings For Sony a7RII - Top

Camera Settings For Sony a7RII - Back View

Camera Settings For Sony a7RII - Back View

CAMERA SETTINGS - BUTTONS & DIALS

On second though, lets dive into the menu system first, then I will come back to update this post later.

MENU

Here is where we dive into the abyss as the menu system is initially a bit overwhelming with features and optimizations. These are good things...so once you get this camera set up to your style of photography, it will be smooth sailing for you.

Being that I am a photographer, I first noticed the visuals and reproduced the symbols for you below. I think that the menu could be organized better, but these symbols will help understand their intent and perhaps suggest what might be contained within that specific menu.

Eventually it will get better with updates by Sony, but in the mean time, I have highlighted in RED areas in the menu that you should be familiar with and are, in my opinion, initially hard to find. It's not obvious, but please note that most of the time you navigate up and down with the wheel button, but sometimes left and right button pushes on that same wheel offers EVEN more options. Clear as mud? Well let me help clarify things for you below!

Let's start with the menu systems 7 icons that appear along the top of the viewfinder or rear monitor. Here is how they look:

 = Camera Menu: This is the camera icon and has 9 pages.

 = Custom Menu: This is the gear icon and has 8 pages.

 = Wireless Menu: This is the wifi icon and has 2 pages.

 = Application Menu: This is the App icon and has 1 pages.

 = Playback Menu: This is the playback icon and has 2 pages.

 = Setup Menu: This is the toolbox icon and has 6 pages.

Within each of these 6 different categories, those settings that are VERY specific (i.e., photo or video related) have a specific symbol indicated just to the left of the text. They will look like this:

 = Photo Specific Settings

 = Video Specific Settings

Camera MenuCamera Menu (camera icon/9 pages)

  • Camera Menu (page 1 of 9)
    • Image Size = L:42M (grayed out in RAW-only mode.)
    • Aspect Ratio = 3:2 (I’d shoot 16:9 if I knew my work would only be seen on an HDTV. But 16:9 actually chops off part of the picture. More is better.)
    • Quality = RAW & JPEG (Note: You can only preview exposures on your camera in JPEG format. This means that your camera has to produce a JPEG out of every RAW file it creates (even in the RAW only mode) to provide you with a preview file, so that you have something to examine in playback mode. The JPEG that the camera produces when you opt to save RAW files exclusively is low resolution—often so low that it is impossible to tell whether the image is in focus when it is enlarged to full size. Shooting instead in RAW &JPEG mode obviates this problem, though. With this setting, the camera saves the RAW “negative” in addition to a second file: a high-resolution JPEG “print.”)
    • RAW File Type = Uncompressed
    • Panorama: Size =  Wide (only visible in Panorama mode.)
    • Panorama: Direction = Right (from Left to Right, visible in Panorama mode.)
  • Camera Menu (page 2 of 9)
    • File Format = MP4 (Use this to select a video file format:, XAVC S 4K (new internal recording setting on a7RII), XAVC S HD AVCHD, or MP4. In order to access high-bit-rate XAVC S 4K or XVAC S HD, you need to use a 64 GB or larger SDXC Class 10 memory card. I use 32 GB cards currently so that makes this an easy choice. Besides, I don't really do video anyhow...lots of work editing!)
    • Record Setting = 1920x1080p 16M
    • Dual Video REC = OFF (if not in Video mode this option is grayed out.)
    • Drive Mode = Single Shooting (unless I’m shooting either sports or children, in which case it’s “Continuous Lo” (with a lot of image deletions afterward). The sub-options are selected with left or right button presses on wheel.) The options are:
      • Single Shooting
      • Continuous Shooting
        • Lo
        • Hi
      • Self-Timer
        • 10 Sec
        • 5 Sec
        • 2 Sec
      • Self-Timer-Continuous
        • 3-Image: 10 Sec, 5 Sec, 2 Sec
        • 5-Image: 10 Sec, 5 Sec, 2 Sec
      • Bracket-Continuous
        • 3-image: 0.3 EV, 0.5 EV, 0.7 EV, 1.0 EV, 2.0 EV, 3.0 EV
        • 5-image: 0.3 EV, 0.5 EV, 0.7 EV, 1.0 EV, 2.0 EV, 3.0 EV
        • 9-image: 0.3 EV, 0.5 EV, 0.7 EV, 1.0 EV
      • Bracket-Single (see below)
        • 3-image: 0.3 EV, 0.5 EV, 0.7 EV, 1.0 EV, 2.0 EV, 3.0 EV
        • 5-image: 0.3 EV, 0.5 EV, 0.7 EV, 1.0 EV, 2.0 EV, 3.0 EV
        • 9-image: 0.3 EV, 0.5 EV, 0.7 EV, 1.0 EV
    • Bracket Settings
      • Selftimer durng Brkt = Off (I keep this Off until it's needed. Options are: Off, 2 Sec, 5 Sec, 10 Sec.)
      • Bracket order = 0  ->  -  ->  + (I  recommend  the  setting  which  takes  the  “normal  exposure”  first,  only because  when  you’re  shooting  things  that  move (i.e., woman walking),  the  decisive  moment becomes  a  higher  priority  and  the  backup  “just  in  case”  exposure  tweaks are slightly  less important. Version 3 has an error in the true order of bracketed images. It's not a big deal but I thought I would point it out so that you are aware of it so you don't wonder what happened later in Lightroom (it's the camera not Lightroom). If you select the order to be (0/-/+) on the camera, the actual order of the resulting images are (0/+/-). If you select the order to be (-/0/+) on the camera, the resulting image order are (+/0/-). No big deal but now you won't be looking for a particular exposure order in 300 images and grab the wrong 3 photos to combine in Photomatix.)
  • Camera Menu (page 3 of 9)
    • Flash Mode = Wireless (I normally trigger my flashes with Profoto wireless transmitters, but select "Fill-flash" if you are planning to attach a flash to the camera's hot-shoe.)
    • Flash Comp. = +/- 0.0
    • Red Eye Reduction = Off (I don't like this feature.)
    • Focus Mode = DMF (This is one of my favorite settings. DMF, or Direct Manual Focus, allows the camera to auto-focus, then it switches to manual focus and allows you to make a minor focus adjustment manually. I would suggest that you combine this with Peaking Level (Custom Menu 2). Recall that the peaking function shows you what’s in focus (or, more accurately, it shows you the high contrast areas which the camera uses to determine focus) when you’re in Manual Focus mode. And the “DMF” setting (or Direct Manual Focus) tells the camera to immediately go into Manual Focus mode just as soon as it gets focus confirmation. If we combine these two settings, as soon as you do a auto-focus lock, you see instantly what the camera decided to focus on. DMF+Peaking Color let me know very quickly if the camera got it wrong so I can manually fine-tune the focus if I need to. This  feature  is  insanely  useful  even  if  you  don't  focus  manually. If I’m shooting anything that moves, such as kids or pets (or even sports), I set it to AF-C (Continuous).)
    • Focus Area = Center (I prefer Center focus but a "Flexible Spot: M" works well too. Lock-on AF - Wide. With Face Detection enabled, it does an outstanding job of being a point-and-shoot. When I’m making a more careful composition, I’ll switch to “Center” and use the old Focus-Lock-Recompose-Shoot method.)
  • Camera Menu (page 4 of 9)
    • Focus Settings = Center (This is just another way to get to the Focus Area function above. When you get there you adjust the Focus Area rotating the controller wheel rather than pressing the 4 arrow keys.)
    • AF Illuminator = Auto (The only other option is "Off". This isn't a good option if you want photos that are properly focused. Some people think that these lights are distracting at weddings and events, but I feel that holding a flashlight in my mouth to help the camera focus is even more distracting to clients. I like my photos properly focused, so this option stays in "Auto")
    • AF drive speed = Normal (When shooting video, do you want a slow AF that doesn't call much attention to itself, or a fast that might be visually distracting? I choose "normal" most of the time.)
    • AF Track Sens = Normal (Tells the camera how aggressive it should be in tracking moving subjects in movie mode. I choose "Normal" unless I’m shooting sports.)
    • Exposure Comp. = +/- 0.0 (I don’t know why this is in a menu – the camera has a dedicated exposure compensation knob right on top! Anyway, I just leave this at zero.)
    • Exposure step = 0.3EV (When adjusting the exposure compensation via the menu (not the dedicated dial), you have the option of adjusting the EV by 0.5 stops or 0.3 stops.)
  • Camera Menu (page 5 of 9)
    • ISO = 100 to 3200 (I set mine manually as I prefer to control this myself. I usually set my camera to ISO 100 before putting it away. Two of the options worth discussing are ISO AUTO and AUTO. The labeled "ISO AUTO" is actually "Multi Frame NR" (maybe ISO Auto for time-lapse shots with Noise Reduction? This option is grayed out if you select RAW or RAW & JPEG). AUTO is your ISO AUTO selector. Confusing, huh? It gets better...if you select AUTO, select to the right to change your range. Although I don't use the ISO Auto feature, I set my cameras to AUTO = ISO 100 to ISO 6400. I love manual as it's easy and I can control it quickly on the fly. I have not been impressed with ISO Auto functions.)
    • ISO AUTO Min. SS = STD (This option is grayed out if you shoot RAW or RAW & JPEG. That's why mine is set to Standard. The options are: 1/8000, 1/4000, 1/2000, 1/1000, 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1 sec., 2 sec., 4 sec., 8 sec., 15 sec., 30 sec., or STD. Here we go again with the menu...if you select STD (or Standard) you have the option of pressing the wheel left or right to select: SLOWEST, SLOW, STD, FAST, or FASTER. These are auto settings which vary based on focal length (provided there’s electronic communication between body and lens). Standard matches the settings found on previous a7-series cameras. Fast and faster raise the minimum shutter speed by one and 2-stops while slow and slower lower the minimum shutter speed by one and 2-stops. You can also select a specific shutter speed which comes in handy if you’re shooting sports action and want to lock the minimum shutter speed at 1/500th to freeze the action no matter whether you’re using a 24mm or 500mm lens. Clear as mud?)
    • Metering Mode = Spot (Generally it's better to use "Spot" for portraits and "Multi" for landscapes, but I tend to prefer "Spot".)
    • White Balance = Auto (Leave it alone and fix this in Lightroom. The camera does fine in Auto mode...mostly. Now if you are doing panoramas, then it is best to set the kelvin temperature muanally so that all of the photos look the same when they are stitched together in post processing.)
    • DRO / Auto HDR = Off (Dynamic Range Optimizer will essentially brighten some of your shadows and darken some of your highlights to expand the Dynamic Range of your shot. I prefer to do this in post processing, where I have much more control over how it happens and which parts of my images are being affected.)
    • Creative Style = Standard (This is for JPEG's and I only keep RAW images so I don't worry about these and leave it in Standard. I prefer to use Lightroom for any adjustments.)
  • Camera Menu (page 6 of 9)
    • Picture Effect = Off (This is for JPEG's and I only keep RAW images so I don't worry about these and leave it in "Off". I prefer to use Lightroom for any adjustments.)
    • Picture Profile = Off (Analogous to "Creative Styles", Picture Profiles contain a collection of tweaks for video.)
    • Zoom = - (grayed out in RAW mode. This feature does a “digital zoom”, cropping away valuable pixels in order to simulate zooming in...so I don't ever use this feature.)
    • Focus Magnifier = N/A (This isn’t a parameter, it’s a command and it’s only available in Manual Focus or DMF mode. It tells the camera to magnify the image so you can do critical manual focusing. Grayed out in AF or DMF mode, must be in MF to work.)
    • Long Exposure NR = Off (Long Exposure and High ISO NR are helpful to eliminate noise from your images, I prefer to do this in post processing, where I have much more control over how it happens and which parts of my images are being affected. These are for JPEG's only and I only keep the RAW images anyhow.)
    • High ISO NR = Off (Grayed out in RAW mode. This function applies some noise reduction to .jpg images when the ISO is above 1600. I keep mine set to Low because too much NR results in a “watercolor” effect.)
  • Camera Menu (page 7 of 9)
    • Center Lock-on AF = Off (This is a feature which can track brightly-colored objects that move slowly across the screen.)
    • Smile / Face Detect. = Off (This does work pretty well for focusing and tracking faces...especially kids because they are always moving (grin). You can also enable the Smile Shutter from this menu, which is something I never use.)
    • Soft Skin Effect = Off (Disabled in RAW. I prefer to post-process in Lightroom later.)
    • Auto Obj. Framing = Off (Disabled in RAW. I prefer to crop my own pictures in Lightroom later.)
    • Auto Mode = N/A (When the exposure mode dial is set to the green AUTO position, this lets you choose between "Intelligent Auto" and "Superior Auto". Although I don't use AUTO, I keep this on "Intelligent Auto" for times when I hand the camera to someone to take our picture.)
    • Scene Selection = N/A (Grayed out in PASM modes, but will show a bunch of scenes when in scene mode.)
  • Camera Menu (page 8 of 9)
    • Movie = Aperture Priority (Grayed out in PASM modes. When in movie mode, I usually pick Aperture Priority.)
    • SteadyShot = On (Always keep this turned on for in-body image stabilization + lens stabilization. Always turn off when mounting on a tripod.)
    • SteadyShot Settings
      • SteadyShot Adjust. = Auto (Don't play with this one!)
      • SteadyShot Focal Len. = N/A (Grayed out when Auto SteadyShot is selected. Just leave this alone unless you know what's going on here.)
    • Color Space = AdobeRGB (Although color space does not matter for RAW files, I use AdobeRGB because it gives a slightly more accurate histogram to determine the correct exposure (since the camera shows histogram based on camera-rendered JPEG image, even if you shoot exclusively in RAW. Even though I shoot RAW+JPEG, I only use the higher resolution JPEG for better screen rendering on the camera. I don't import any of the JPEG's into Lightroom.)
    • Auto Slow Shut. = On (Enables a slower shutter speed when shooting movies in certain situations. I keep it set to “On".)
    • Audio Recording = On (Off and you have yourself a silent film.)
  • Camera Menu (page 9 of 9)
    • Audio Rec Level = N/A (grayed out in PASM.)
    • Audio Out Timing = Live (It’s useful when you’re shooting a music video and the actors are lip syncing and you’re monitoring the audio using a headset. Just set it to “Live”, the factory default.)
    • Wind Noise Reduct. = Off (Cuts out the lower frequencies where wind noise usually occurs. Usually I set this to OFF unless it’s actually windy, since it can make the sound track sound a little “tinny” by taking away all the bass.)
    • Memory recall = N/A (Only active when the exposure mode dial is set to “1" or "2". It shows you which of six memory locations you’re using, and then lets you change to another one.)
    • Memory = N/A (Stores the current camera configuration into one of six memory slots (two of which are stored in the body. This allows saving all the current settings in one of the selected presets. I usually toggle between two presets – for Landscapes and People. For landscapes, I set camera mode to Manual Mode, Manual Focus, ISO 100, turn Auto ISO off and turn off other irrelevant settings such as face recognition. For portraits, I set the camera to AF-A focus mode, ISO to Auto, turn on face recognition + eye focus.)

Custom Menu (gear icon/8 pages)

  • Custom Menu (page 1 of 8)
    • Zebra = Off (This feature is a handy way to know ahead of time what’s going to blow out, or whether a Caucasian face is well-exposed. I keep it OFF most of the time but it can be a handy feature in situations with a lot of back-light.)
    • MF Assist = Off (When you’re in Manual Focus mode, this tells the camera to magnify the viewfinder so you can more easily perform critical focusing. I keep this set to Off so that I can properly compose a shot and select the C3 button to magnify when I need Focus Magnify. This way I can control when the camera zooms for MF.)
    • Focus Magnify. Time = No Limit (For how long do you want the magnification in the MF assist feature (above) to stay on? I choose No Limit so that I can choose when I need and don't need the feature.)
    • Grid Line = Rule of 3rds Grid
    • Marker Display = Off (Enables or disables video compositional aids as specified by the "Marker Settings" feature below.)
    • Marker Settings (Selects one of several video compositional aid overlays to be shown when "Marker Display" is enabled.)
      • Center = Off
      • Aspect = Off
      • Safety Zone = Off
      • Guide frame = Off
  • Custom Menu (page 2 of 8)
    • Audio Level Display = On (Do you want the audio levels to show on your LCD display during recording? In my case “On”.)
    •  Auto Review = 10 Sec (Do you want the camera to show you the image you just took? I keep it “Off” when shooting kids, and you can’t be ready for the next shot if you’re looking at what you just took. For all other situations I keep this set to 10 seconds because I’m an instant-gratification kind of guy.)
    • DISP Button
      • Monitor = No Disp. Info., Histogram, Level (these are the checked items.)
      • Finder = No Disp. Info., Histogram, Level (these are the checked items.)
    • Peaking Level = Mid (Focus peaking only works in MF mode. I would suggest combining this with Focus Mode = DMF (Camera Menu 3)
    • Peaking Color = Yellow (this color is my preference as it's easiest for my eyes to spot.)
    • Exposure Set. Guide = Off (This determines whether a fancy ribbon display appears when you change things like shutter speed and f/stop in certain modes. It doesn’t do anything useful but it does look pretty. I keep it OFF because when I’m in manual exposure mode and adjusting the f/stop and shutter speed, this ribbon blocks the histogram so I can’t see what I’m doing.)
  • Custom Menu (page 3 of 8)
    • Live View Display = Setting Effect ON (Do you want live view to show you how your image will look before you shoot? Turn “Setting Effect ON”. (The main reason to turn it OFF is if you’re shooting with studio strobes (wireless))
    • Disp. cont. AF area = On (Lets you see the individual phase-detect AF points at work when the camera’s focusing mode is set to AF-C.)
    • Phase Detect. Area = On (This shows you a large set of brackets indicating where all of the camera's phase-detect pixels reside.)
    • Pre-AF = Off (Enables the camera’s ability to start auto-focusing even before you press the shutter release button halfway. I recommended setting this to "On" if shooting kids or pets as they are constantly moving.)
    • Zoom Setting = Optical zoom only (Grayed out in RAW. Lets you choose between optical zoom and 2 kinds of digital zoom. Digital zoom? No way as it degrades the image quality.)
  • Custom Menu (page 4 of 8)
    • Eye-Start AF = N/A (This feature is grayed out unless you have an A-mount  lens  and  an  LA-EA4  adapter. If you have both, then if you did have this feature on, it tells the  camera  to  immediately  start  auto-focusing when  you  bring the  camera up  to  your  eye  –  even  before  you  press  the  shutter  release  button  halfway.)
    • FINDER / MONITOR = Viewfinder (Manual) (I really don't use the rear monitor as the viewfinder is very sharp, so I turn off the rear screen. Select "Auto" if you want to automatically switch between viewfinder and LCD. Then when doing a long exposure on a tripod, turn off the rear monitor and make sure nothing comes near the EVF.).
    • Release w/o Lens = Enable (If you attach anything other than a native E-mount lens to the camera (such as legacy glass, a telescope, Samyang 12mm f/2.8 Fisheye, LensBaby, or just drill a hole into your body cap to make a pinhole camera), because these items have no electrical contacts and don’t communicate with the camera body, your camera will think that there’s no lens attached and will not allow you to take the shot...unless you enable this feature.)
    • Release w/o Card = Disable (Ensures I don’t forget to put in a memory card or accidentally touch the shutter while cleaning with the sensor exposed.)
    • Priority Set in AF-S = Release (A new feature on the a7RII, this sets the timing of the shutter release when Focus Mode is set to Single-shot AF (AF-S), DMF or Automatic AF (AF-A) with a still subject. You can choose to put the emphasis on AF, Shutter Release or Balanced Emphasis. This lets the photographer set the priority to release the shutter regardless of whether focus is acquired, procure focus even if it delays the shutter release, or a balance of the two (Balanced Emphasis). I’m not entirely sure what the camera will determine is “balanced” (just a little out of focus?), but that’s the idea.)
    • Priority Set in AF-C = Release (Same as above.)
  • Custom Menu (page 5 of 8)
    • AF w/ shutter = On (Should pressing the shutter release button halfway lock the focus? I like mine “On”.)
    • AEL w/ shutter = Auto (Should pressing the shutter release button halfway lock the exposure as well as the focus? I like mine “On”.)
    • Silent Shooting = Off (Great in theory, think wedding shots in a church, but if On, then e-Front Curtain Shut. won't work. In addition, silent shooting decreases dynamic range, drops bit depth and causes all kinds of issues with moving subjects (rolling shutter effect, etc.)
    • e-Front Curtain Shut. = On (Silent Shooting (menu item just above this one) must be off for this to work. This eliminates internal vibration caused by shutter movement to create sharper images and is one of the most significant enhancements in the a7RII.  I strongly recommend leaving it on whenever possible.  However, when shooting faster than 1/1000s (i.e., large apertures in bright light), you may wish to turn this off to ensure even exposures.  You should also turn off when using 3rd party lenses.  Ideally, these exceptions would be automated by the camera or this setting could be put into the custom functions menu – just know that it’s here in case you need to turn it off because of uneven exposures across the frame. Keep this set to “On” unless you’re experiencing occasional mysterious over-exposures with non-native lenses.)
    • S. Auto Img. Extract. = N/A (Grayed out in PASM. When in Superior Auto mode, gives the camera permission to throw away all but the “good shot” when it decided to shoot multiple exposures on its own. I tend to never use Superior Auto mode, so I never bothered changing this setting from “Auto”.)
  • Custom Menu (page 6 of 8)
    • Exp.comp.set = Ambient Only (Do you want the exposure compensation function to adjust for ambient light only, or ambient and flash together? I prefer “Ambient Only” and I’ll control my flash intensity using the “Flash Exposure Compensation” function.)
    • Reset EV Comp. = Reset (This is an obscure one. You know how you can change the exposure compensation using either the dedicated dial or one of the menu functions? This says “If you change it via the menu, do you want it to reset to 0 every time you turn the camera on, or keep it where it was?” This setting doesn’t matter to me because I only use the dial; however in theory there will be less potential for confusion if this were set to “Reset”.)
    • Face Registration
      • New Registration  (Tells your camera to give AF preference to the 8 faces you can register with this function.)
    • APS-C / Super 35mm = Off (If you are using a telephoto lens and want a little extra reach, you can force the a7rII to think it is using an APS-C lens, allowing you to take advantage of the 1.5x crop of such a sensor. This will drop your Megapixels from 42 to 18, but it can come in handy when photographing wildlife or a sports events, but then again at 42MP you can do a lot of cropping so I keep this feature off. Lets you force the camera to shoot either full-frame or in cropped mode (ideal when shooting 4K videos or attaching APS-C sized lenses))
    • AF Micro Adj.
      • AF Adjustment Set. = Off (Invokes a feature which can correct for focusing problems when using certain A-mount lenses via an LA-EA2 or LA-EA4 adapter.)
      • amount = N/A (Grayed out when AF Adjustment Set. is set to Off.)
      • Clear = N/A (Grayed out when AF Adjustment Set. is set to Off.)
  • Custom Menu (page 7 of 8)
    • Lens Comp. (Allows you to enable or disable corrections for known deficiencies in certain lenses.)

      • Shading Comp. = Off (Do this with vignette adjustment in Lightroom, etc as this apparently gets baked into the RAW file.)
      • Chro. Aber. Comp. = Off (Do this with chromatic aberration compensation in Lightroom, etc as this apparently gets baked into the RAW file.)
      • Distortion Comp. = Auto (Function is only available when an A-mount lens is mounted. Depending on the attached lens, "Distortion Comp." is fixed to "Auto", and you cannon select "Off".)
    • AF System = N/A (Lets you choose between Phase Detect only, or Contrast Detect only, when you've attached an A-mount lens using an LA-EA1 or LA-EA3 adapter.)
    • Video Light Mode = Power Link (Dictates how and when certain accessory Video Lights will illuminate when mounted on the MIS hot shoe. I choose "REC Link" for family movies.)
    • Function Menu Set (This lets you change the 12 functions in the Fn menu.)

      • Function Menu Set (sub-page 1 of 2)
        • Function Upper1 = Drive Mode (repetitive option: already a custom key)
        • Function Upper2 = Flash Mode
        • Function Upper3 = Flash Comp.
        • Function Upper4 = Focus Mode (repetitive option: already a custom key)
        • Function Upper5 = Focus Area
        • Function Upper6 = Exposure Comp. (Change this as it is jpeg's only?)
      • Function Menu Set (sub-page 2 of 2)
        • Function Lower1 = ISO
        • Function Lower2 = Metering Mode
        • Function Lower3 = White Balance (Change this as can be fixed in Lightroom)
        • Function Lower4 = DRO / Auto HDR (Change this as it effects jpeg's only)
        • Function Lower5 = Creative Style (Change this as it is jpeg's only?)
        • Function Lower6 = Shoot Mode (Shoot  Mode  is the only option that is useless  when  you're  shooting  stills,  but  can  be  handy  when  you're  in  Movie mode  since  it  allows  you  to  quickly  switch  between  the  movie  version  of  P, A,  S,  or  M.)

Sony a7RII Custom Button Camera Settings

Sony a7RII Custom Button Camera Settings

  • Custom Key Settings (This lets you assign different functions to the camera’s re-assignable buttons.)
    • Custom Key Settings (sub-page 1 of 2)
      • Control Wheel = ISO
      • Custom Button 1 = Metering Mode
      • Custom Button 2 = Focus Mode
      • Custom Button 3 = Focus Magnifier
      • Custom Button 4 = Memory
      • Center Button = Focus Settings (Set to "Focus Settings". This is one of my favorite settings. Once enabled, all you have to do is press the center button in the middle of the navigation dial and you can use the up/down/left/right buttons to move the focus point. Rotating the dial will change your focus Focus Area.)
    • Custom Key Settings (sub-page 2 of 2)
      • Left Button = Drive Mode
      • Right Button = ISO
      • Down Button = SteadyShot
      • AEL Button = AEL hold 
      • AF / MF Button = AF / MF Control Hold
      • Focus Hold Button = Focus Hold
  • Dial Setup = F/no. SS (This function lets you swap the roles of the front and rear control dials.)
  • Custom Menu (page 8 of 8)
    • Dial Ev Comp = Off (This lets you reassign the front control dial to “Exposure compensation”, however, the a7R II has a dedicated exposure compensation dial! So I keep this set to OFF.)
    • Zoom Ring Rotate = N/A (When a power zoom lens is attached, you can change whether the lens zooms in or out when you rotate the zoom ring. The factory default is most natural to me.)
    • MOVIE Button = Movie Mode Only (A common complaint from most Sony a7 series camera users is the fact that they accidentally hit the movie record button on the back of their cameras while either taking a still image or simply picking up the camera. Luckily there is an easy fix that only allows that button to work when you are specifically in the “Movie” camera mode.)
    • Dial / Wheel Lock = Unlock (Lets you lock or unlock the rear wheel so as to prevent accidental changing (this can sometimes be a legitimate problem.)

Wireless Menu (WiFi icon/2 pages)

  • Wireless Menu (page 1 of 2)
    • Send to Smartphone = N/A (Initiates sending a photo (or photos) to your smartphone via Wi-Fi.)
    • Send to Computer = N/A (Initiates sending a photo(s) to your computer via a local Wi-Fi Router.)
    • View on TV = N/A (Initiates viewing of photos on a Wi-Fi enabled TV.)
    • One-touch (NFC) = N/A (What app do you want the camera to start when you bump it with your phone? I have it set to “Smart Remote Control” (so I can control the camera with my smartphone))
    • Airplane Mode = On (Disables ALL Wi-Fi sending or receiving (even that of an Eye-Fi card, if inserted). If Airplane Mode is On, then all the Wireless Menu options will be grayed out.)
  • Wireless Menu (page 2 of 2)
    • WPS Push = N/A (Some Wi-Fi access points have a mechanism called “WPS Push” that makes it easy to pair (to borrow a Bluetooth term) camera to the access point. If yours has it, use this feature to get you going.)
    • Access Point Set. = N/A (Lets you manually choose which Wi-Fi access point to connect to.)
    • Edit Device Name
      • PortraitGuru.Com(1)
    • Disp MAC Address (Every Ethernet device (yes, Wi-Fi is built upon TCP/IP protocols which in turn is built atop of Ethernet protocols) has its own globally unique ID. This function shows it to you.)
    • SSID / PW Reset (This “un-connects” a previously paired smartphone or Wi-Fi router)
    • Reset Network Set. (Resets all of the Wi-Fi settings to factory defaults.)

Application Menu  (app icon/1 page)

  • Application Menu (page 1 of 1)
    • Application List (This is the list of all the apps in your camera, either pre-installed or downloaded via sony.net/pmca. Connecting your camera to your WiFi is a much better method than connecting via a USB cable to your computer. Although the later will work with firmware updates just fine, downloading Apps with a USB cable is very buggy and browser/operating system specific. I gave up after a few hours and now just update apps via WiFi.)

      • Touchless Shutter (free): This one's very useful. It uses the IR sensor near the eyepiece (which normally senses when there's something proximate so it can switch the EVF on automatically) to trigger the shutter – all you have to do is put something close to the eyepiece. This can be most useful when you wish to take time exposures longer than 30 seconds – normally that requires a cable release like the RM-VPR1, or the infrared Wireless Remote Commander. Just put your hand behind the eyepiece once to initiate the exposure, and again to terminate it. It can also be useful for taking macro shots on a tripod, in situations where you'd use the self-timer to ensure a vibration-free shot. But because it's an app it doesn't always pay attention to the camera's nuanced menu settings.
      • Time-Lapse ($10): Provides a limited Intervalometer function which takes pictures at regular intervals. It will even make an .avi movie for you (which, oddly, the camera doesn’t know how to play back outside of this app!) after the sequence is finished. "No flash" Note: flash mode is set to when using this feature.
      • Angle-Shift Add-On ($5): If you're doing a time lapse, you need this add-on. This capitalizes on the fact that the sensor is capable of capturing FAR more pixels than are required for an HD or 4K movie. And so this app can use those extra pixels to pan and zoom your way through  the time-lapse as it's writing the  movie to the memory card. In the past this was a time involving consuming process on the computer mastering movie editing software.
      • Smart Remote (free): Allows your Android or iOS smart phone to trigger your camera with wireless via Live  View. Make sure you’ve downloaded the latest version.
      • Sync To Smartphone (free): The word is still out on this one. I haven't decided if I need to keep this app as it may be redundant.
    • Introduction (This is the first step in acquiring downloadable applications to your camera.)

Playback Menu (play icon/2 pages)

  • Playback Menu (page 1 of 2)
    • Delete (Delete one or many images.)
    • View Mode (Do you want to playback things only of a certain file type? (i.e., stills, .mp4, XAVC S, or AVCHD videos? I set DATE VIEW (which means you can peruse everything in reverse chronological order))
    • Image Index (Allows you to choose between showing 9 or 25 images on a screen when playing back in Index mode.)
    • Display Rotation = Off (“Off” means I see every picture as largely as possible. (“Auto Rotate” will try to rotate vertical pictures and make them look smaller on the screen, which may be good when viewing your pictures on an HDTV.))
    • Slide Show (Automatically runs through your still images every few seconds. Ideal when hooked up to an HDTV.)
    • Rotate (Takes you to a screen where you can manually rotate a playback image.)
  • Playback Menu (page 2 of 2)
    • Enlarge Image (it will play back the most recent photo and let you zoom in and around. (Normally I just hit the C3 button while playing back to zoom in and use the arrow buttons to move around – much faster than digging up a menu.))
    • Protect (Protect individual images from accidental deletion while they’re in the camera.)
    • Specify Printing (Lets you control what gets printed when you hook up your camera or insert your memory card into a compatible inkjet printer.)

Setup Menu ( toolbox icon/6 pages)

  • Setup Menu (page 1 of 6)
    • Monitor Brightness = Manual +1 (I prefer “Manual” set to +1. I set it to “Sunny Weather” on bright days or just use the EVF)
    • Viewfinder Bright. = Manual +1 (Same as above but only for the built-in EVF. Again, I prefer “Manual” set to +1.)
    • Finder Color Temp. = +/- 0 (Lets you add either a hint of blue or yellow to the EVF to help match it to the LCD. I don’t see a color-mismatch problem on mine so I keep it to “+/- 0”.)
    • Volume Settings = 7 (How loud is the volume when you’re playing back movies? (I set mine to “7”.))
    • Audio signals = Off (Enables / Disables audio feedback during camera operation. I prefer my camera to remain as quiet as possible (“Off”))
  • Setup Menu (page 2 of 6)
    • Tile Menu = Off (You don’t want extra icons to access the menu.)
    • Mode Dial Guide = Off (No displaying of the guide when changing camera modes.)
    • Delete confirm. = "Delete" first (One less scroll to go through when I want to delete an image.)
    • Display Quality = High (The new EVF has a higher resolution, is wider (.78x) and is sharper. However, if you zoom-in to check focus, you might find the details look a touch too “pixelated” for your tastes. Luckily there is an option to engage in “High” quality EVF output. Just be warned that this can eat more battery life.)
    • Per Save Start Time = 1 Min (How long before the camera shuts itself off)
    • NTSC / PAL Selector = NTSC (Allows you to change the movie recording format of the camera from the North and South American recording standard of NTSC to the worldwide movie-standard PAL format. This should come in very handy for North American photographers shooting for foreign clients or relocating overseas.)
  • Setup Menu (page 3 of 6)
    • Cleaning Mode (Vigorously shakes the sensor in order to loosen (and hopefully shake off) any dust particles that might have accumulated while changing lenses.)
    • Demo Mode = Off  (Always greyed out. Is designed for retailers.)
    • TC / UB Settings  (Configures the camera's myriad of Time Code and Userbit settings for video.)
    • Remote Ctrl = On (Do you want to enable the camera’s Infrared received so you can use the infrared remote control? Note that it consumes extra battery.)
    • HDMI Settings (Brings you to three HDMI-related menus, including one that controls resolutions.)

      • HDMI Resolution = Auto
      • 24p / 60p Output = 60p
      • HDMI Info. Display = On
      • TC Output = N/A  (grayed out)
      • REC Control = N/A  (grayed out)
      • CTRL FOR HDMI = ON
    • 4K Output Sel. = N/A (Do you want your 4K movies recorded on the memory card, to an external recorder, or both? Option is greyed out if no external recorder attached.)
  • Setup Menu (page 4 of 6)
    • USB Connection = Mass Storage (How do you want your camera to appear to your computer when tethered via USB? For firmware updates you want Mass Storage. For app updates you want MTP.)
    • USB LUN Setting = Single (This has to do with the fact that the camera can appear as multiple devices when plugged into your computer. It was once used to distribute Sony’s PlayMemories Home software but now just contains copyright notices. I have it set to “Single”.)
    • USB Power Supply = On (Enables / Disables the ability to use the camera as a camera when hooked up to an intelligent device like a computer. (Normally it automatically becomes a mass storage device.))
    • Language = English (no option for American (grin))
    • Date / Time Setup
      • Daylight Savings = On
      • Date / Time (Lets the camera know what time zone you’re in. (It needs this information so it can automatically switch to Daylight Savings time.))
      • Date Format = Y-M-D (I set this the same way I organize my photos in Lightroom)
    • Area Setting
      • New York / Bogota (what?! No Fort Lauderdale or Miami!?)
  • Setup Menu (page 5 of 6)
    • Copyright Info (Save your copyright notice into the copyright field of your EXIF metadata of your photos.)
      • Write Copyright Info = On
      • Set Photographer (The #1 before my name is to place into the EXIF metadata some record of which camera I shot an image with. So my 2nd and 3rd camera have a #2 and #3 in front of either my name or the backup photographer's name using my equipment.)
        • (1) David Aronson :: PortraitGuru.Com
      • Set Copyright
      • Copyright (C) Portrait Guru LLC
      • Disp. Copyright Info
    • Format (Quickly erases all images and movies from the card. This is my preferred method of erasing the card. Why SD cards import with NO NAME on my Mac? I should be able to rename the SD cards, right?!)
    • File Number = Series (Specifies whether the camera resets the file number scheme when you change memory cards. I prefer “Series”.)
    • Select REC Folder = N/A (If there is more than one directory for holding still images on the memory card, this function lets you choose which one future images will be stored in.)
    • New Folder (Create a new folder to hold new stills.)
    • Folder Name = Date Form
  • Setup Menu (page 6 of 6)
    • Recovery Image DB  (Attempts to recover from a corrupted movie database while it’s still on the card.)
    • Display Media Info. (Shows you approx. how many more stills can fit on the card, or how many more minutes of video will fit based on current settings.)
    • Version (This is the firmware number for the body, and when a lens is attached, then lens's firmware number. Keep these up to date!)
    • Setting Reset (Careful here! Resets some or all of the camera settings.)

OTHER TIPS

HDR Photography

  • Preset camera:
    • Mode = Manual or Aperture Priority (The only difference is that in manual, you adjust the shutter speed using the camera's light meter and histogram. That's it! I prefer the consistency of manual control.).
    • ISO = 100 (keep as low as possible to control image noise. A long exposure may be required...so therefore a tripod will be needed for the cleanest shots. Of course you can hand-hold a 3-shot HDR (see below), but the ISO (and therefore noise) will be increased.).
    • Aperture = f/8.0 or f/9.0 (you want a wide depth of field (big f-stop number) and you want to stay within your lens's sharpest range. The top end for a lot of lenses is about f/8.0 or f/9.0).
    • Shutter Speed = ? (Adjust to balance the light meter for the 0.0 EV. If you're shooting for longer than 30 seconds, set the shutter speed to "Bulb" and use either a wired cable release (RM-VPR1), an infrared remote commander, or the free "touchless shutter release" app to start and stop the exposure.)
    • Drive Mode = Bracket Continuous 5-Image or 3-Image with 1.0 EV's (Camera Menu (page 2 of 9) -> Bracket-Continuous -> 5-Image -> 1.0 EV)).
    • Self-Timer = 10 Sec or use a wireless remote (Camera Menu (page 2 of 9) -> Bracket Settings -> Selftimer during Brkt -> 10 Sec)).
    • Focus Mode = Manual, then set the lens focus to infinity (Camera Menu (page 3 of 9) -> Focus Mode -> Manual).
    • Rear monitor - Off (Custom Menu (page 4 of 8) -> FINDER / MONITOR -> Viewfinder, and make sure nothing comes near the EVF.)).
    • Image stabilization = Off if using a tripod (Camera Menu (page 8 of 9) -> SteadyShot -> Off).
    • Bring a tripod, wireless remote, extra batteries and for long exposures plug in an external battery. It might be easier to set this as a recall setting (grin).
  • Handheld HDR: Do a Continuous 3 image shot 1.0 EV spacing. Expose your 0.0 EV image with a MINIMUM shutter speed of 1/125. The resulting image shutter speeds will be 1/125 (0.0 EV), 1/250 (+1.0 EV), and 1/60 (-1.0 EV). The reason for this is that the slowest most of us can handhold a camera without introducing blur to our image is roughly 1/60s on the shutter speed. To properly expose the 0.0 EV shot, you will have to raise your ISO until your minimum shutter speed is a balanced exposure at 1/125s. So the sacrifice with handheld HDR is a more limited Dynamic Range (3 stops of light 0, +1, -1) instead of 5 or 7 and increased image noise...unless you use a tripod!

Installing and Updating Apps

Charge Your Camera Externally

  • One of the few drawbacks to moving to a mirrorless camera system is the fact that batteries are significantly smaller than their dSLR counterparts. This can come into play during long shooting sessions, including creating time-lapses like we talked about above. Until now you had no way to charge your camera while using it as the camera would automatically go into a “USB Mode” the moment you plugged in a USB cord to charge your battery. This is no longer the case with the a7rII. Now you can easily charge your camera while shooting, making those long nights of shooting much easier to cope with. To start charging your camera, simply find the plug covers on the left side of your camera body and pull them out. Insert a micro USB cord attached to something like the Goal Zero Venture 30 (which can charge 3 full Sony batteries) and keep on shooting!