December 20, 2015

Sony Improves Overheating on a7R II & a7S II with New Firmware Updates

Sony a7S II Front
The Sony mirrorless cameras might be incredible feats of engineering, but as we've said before, they are not without their faults.

One of these faults is the fact that recording 4K internally on these cameras can lead to overheating, sometimes even before you reach the 30 minute internal recording limit (depending on exterior temperatures). This is a real problem for people trying to shoot 4K during an interview, as not only do you have to deal with the 30 minute limit if your camera gets there, but you also have to worry about the camera having to shut down for a few minutes while it cools off. New firmware updates for the 42 Megapixel Sony a7R II and the 12 Megapixel Sony a7S II have apparently improved this issue.

You can find the a7R II 3.0 firmware here, and this is what's been addressed:

Improvements over version 2.00:

  • Improves 4K movie recording time when using the vertical grip (VG-C2EM) or when the APS-C/Super35mm mode is activated
  • Improves picture quality

Benefits provided by previous updates and included in version 3.00:

  • Adds the selectable feature for uncompressed 14-Bit RAW image capture
  • Adds support to output video via HDMI during use of the Remote Camera Control software (still mode only)
  • Reduces the chance of the camera changing to front focus when shooting certain scenes. Note: This symptom rarely occurs.
  • Decreases chroma noise when Long Exposure NR (Noise Reduction) is set to OffNote: The noise does not occur when Long Exposure NR is set to On.
  • Improves continuous shooting at Hi speed so that it can be used just as long when using the flash as without the flash.

As for the a7S II 2.0 firmware, this is all they've fixed (we should note that this camera can't record 4K in the APS-C/Super 35mm mode):

Improvement over version 1.10:

  • Improves 4K movie recording time when using the vertical grip (VG-C2EM) or when the APS-C/Super35mm mode is activated
  • Improves picture quality

Benefits provided by previous updates and included in version 2.00:

  • Addresses a condition where a black spot may occur in a high intensity lighting part of a shooting scene.
    Note: This condition is especially seen in PAL 25p, it rarely happens in NTSC 30p or 60p.

Thanks to Jonathan Fuentes and to cinema5D, here are some tests showing the Super 35mm/APS-C mode recording continuously without overheating at room temperature, and without using the battery grip (and it's worth noting the LCD is extended here, something Sony recommends for longer recording):

Since we have neither camera in-house, we're asking you all to report your findings here about recording time. Sony says recording time at the full 4K is only improved with the battery grip, but we'd like to find out if recording time of the full 4K on the a7S II and a7R II is also improved without the grip , and how much the LCD being extended from the body affects this. 

Hopefully Sony will continue to improve these issues, as overheating is something that can ruin day pretty quickly.      

Your Comment

20 Comments

I appreciate this update but since updating, my camera seems to forget my aperture settings through my Metabones IV on my Tokina 11-16. It's never done that before. I wonder if there's any connection with the update.

December 20, 2015 at 11:24AM

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Forgetting your aperture setting as in how? My A7rii would change my aperture for me in manual mode randomly last week, before the update.

December 20, 2015 at 11:29AM

18
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This morning I had it set to f/22 then suddenly the monitor would display a blown out image with no f stop displayed at all. It could be coincidental though. I've heard of loose connection issues with these adapters.

December 20, 2015 at 1:30PM

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Do these problems happen when using a third party battery grip by any chance? The MEIKE/NEEWER grip in a7r2 seems to trigger random Custom buttons even when in Off mode. But covering the top row of pins on the dummy battery part of the battery grip disables all custom buttons and at least it works ok as a dual battery system.

December 20, 2015 at 5:02PM

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This sounds like a metabones issue, I had the same problem all the time. When I sent it back for repair they said it was the lenses as they don't support them all fully. I ended up getting a commelite adapter which is way cheaper (70 quid) and never had the aperture or black screen issue since!

December 20, 2015 at 6:16PM

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As an owner of the original a7s I have to say that it is frustrating to see sony supporting their newer cameras while the ones less than 2 years old don't get the same attention. If something can be done to reduce the overheating while recording 4k internally on the newer cameras then the same can and should done to enable internal 4k recording on the a7s.

Now that we know overcoming heat issues is possible via firmware with recording 4k internally can anyone explain why sony can't do the same with the original a7s? Other than the obvious: sell more a7sii's

December 20, 2015 at 4:11PM

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Riley Endicott
Director of Photography
74

You answered your own question... if Sony made it possible to shoot 4k on the A7S there would be less reason to buy the A7SII. Simple business...

December 20, 2015 at 6:13PM

3
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Ben
81

I ran some tests on my a7Rii with and without a battery grip and with a usb battery pack attached.

In 4k Crop Mode with the LCD always extended and NO battery grip the camera did not overheat at all after more than 5 consecutive 30 min videos.
Each battery lasted around one hour, so I switched it every second video.

When using an external USB battery at the same time, the camera ran hotter, but did not overheat for at least 4 X 30min consecutive videos.
The external USB battery I used has a 2A port which is not enough to completely power the camera, but it helped the internal battery power the camera for 4 X 30min videos instead of 2.

When recording in 4K Full Frame mode WITH a third party battery grip attached, the camera ran hotter than in Crop Mode, but again did not overheat for at least 5 consecutive videos.
4K Full Frame + Battery Grip + USB Battery Pack was even hotter, and even though the camera did not say that it overheated, it shut down when the first of the two batteries inside the Grip got depleted after 3 and a half 30min videos (1:45hours).
After re-powering the camera though, it recorded 2 X 30 min videos without issue, so maybe it was a problem with the third party battery grip.

December 20, 2015 at 5:18PM, Edited December 20, 5:18PM

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Am I a bit too naive to be thinking that the a7r II is more for those into photography and the a7s II is more for filming/videography?

December 21, 2015 at 3:33AM

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In theory. In reality the A7RII does both better.

December 21, 2015 at 9:42AM

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You voted '-1'.
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the A7sII is certainly better for all around great video, not great for stills. Where as the R is much better for photography, with very good video.

December 21, 2015 at 10:45AM

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Dan Hoene
198

There's no 4K crop mode though, which gives you a lot of lens options on the A7RII.

December 21, 2015 at 10:55AM

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I did a quick test comparing the start times of the new A7RII 3.0 firmware to V2.0. I figured others might be interested in the results, though not as impressive as I was hoping for, but improvement is improvement.

https://youtu.be/20Y7H4AFyA4

December 21, 2015 at 10:50AM, Edited December 21, 10:50AM

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Dan Hoene
198

Can anyone point me towards a video comparison between A7Rii and A7Sii in 4K full frame? I'd like to see just how bad the pixel binning is. I'd also like to see the A7Rii full frame video in 1080. All the video I'm finding from the A7Rii is in APSC. I'm sure that's for a reason, but I'd like to see it for myself. Thanks!

December 21, 2015 at 6:18PM, Edited December 21, 6:19PM

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Dean Mermell
Filmish Person
118

Ran a test with the firmware on my A7sII. Sadly, overheating still persists. No improvement whatsoever.

December 21, 2015 at 7:51PM, Edited December 21, 7:51PM

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Tom Arkeman
Lighting Camera-Operator
79

Perhaps it'll happen for us in 3.00

December 22, 2015 at 9:07PM

0
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Phillip Shvartsman
Film Student
123

What?On you A7S II? You probably need to change a new camera body. I have not suffered from this issue yet.

December 23, 2015 at 1:13AM

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I would be really keen to find out how well this camera handles heat in direct sunlight at 25-30*c. Anyone done any testing in similar conditions?
Thanks in advance.

December 23, 2015 at 7:17AM

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John-Jo Ritson
Producer / Director
88

I had my a7s ii overheat at 1080p in direct sunlight at 90 degrees. This only happened once, during a wedding ceremony. Scary stuff.

January 3, 2017 at 11:53PM

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Dan
1

Anyone have any issues with extreme image banding with the A7SII? A pretty high amount of lighting situations will give me odd banding issues even when shooting at shutter speeds of 50. Usually the banding happens when shooting at 80 or above shutter speed and while in certain available lighting conditions. It seems like with my A7SII is more prone to this even at lower shutter speeds and with the latest update. I own a set Arri and lite panel lights which doesn't produce that banding issue, but I do event video quite a bit where I am limited to lighting setups and will need to go with available light...Any thoughts?

January 29, 2016 at 12:46PM, Edited January 29, 12:51PM

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Dezi Marino
DP
154

I had this problem as well and ran an online search. Turns out If silent shutter is on, you will see extreme banding. Even when taking photos. Make sure silent shutter is off!

January 3, 2017 at 11:52PM

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Dan
1

I recently bought an a7s ii and a FE 4/PZ 28-135 G OSS lens. The camera came with Rev 1.10 firmware. I really like this setup and was dismayed to find Sony limited the continuous recording time to just under 30 minutes. I decided to test how long the camera would record before it over-temped so I set it up on a tripod with the monitor pulled out and started recording a still life in full frame XAVC S 4K 24p.

After the timer stopped the recording at the 30 minute mark I immediately restarted the recording and it ran for about another 15 minutes before it powered itself down. The back and base plates where hot to the touch and the camera would not power back up until it cooled down.

After upgrading the firmware to Rev 2.0 I repeated the test the following day. I made one change to the setup in that I supplemented the camera power from an external $15 5200mAh USB battery. The idea being that this would reduce the power draw of the internal battery and mitigate any heating originating from it. I stopped the test after two hours of mostly continuous recording, again having to restart the recording when it timed out. It worked really well.

When I finished the back and base plates of the camera were warm to the touch but nowhere near as hot as the first test with Rev 1.10 firmware. At no time did the temperature warning icon pop up in the second test. The external battery was down about 1/3rd and the internal battery was at 19%. Both tests were run at about 65dF ambient temperature.

I'm thinking about mounting a small CPU heat sink and fan on the bottom plate tripod mounting hole to help dissipate the heat. Hopefully this will give me a little margin on those hot days. We'll have to wait for a nice warm day to see how it performs.

I'm all set to record a two hour plus dance production in a couple of weeks. While the 30 minute recording limit will be an annoyance we should be able to manage it. I would recommend to Sony that they allow the user to set or turn off the continuous recording timer in a setup menu in their next firmware release. With this 2.0 firmware release it has become redundant.

Regards, Dave

April 24, 2016 at 8:04PM, Edited April 24, 8:43PM

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Dave Palmer
Electrical Engineer
130