Tools Featured in this Teardown


The a7R II is Sony's second shot at a professional-grade mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera, but this time, Sony claims it can keep up with any Canikon DSLR. While trial by fire may be the best way to judge a camera, trial by teardown is our specialty. With a $3,199 price tag and no reflex system, we hope this mostly-solid-state camera comes with an equally hefty repairability score.

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This teardown is not a repair guide. To repair your Sony a7R II, use our service manual.

  1. The a7R II has landed! Sony's much-ballyhooed second go at a pro-grade, mirrorless, interchangeable-lens camera has our full attention. Let's see what new tech makes this camera shine:
    • The a7R II has landed! Sony's much-ballyhooed second go at a pro-grade, mirrorless, interchangeable-lens camera has our full attention. Let's see what new tech makes this camera shine:

      • 42.4 MP Exmor R CMOS back-illuminated sensor

      • BIONZ X image processor

      • 5-axis in-body optical image stabilization

      • 4K video recording

      • Fast hybrid AF system with 399 focus points

      • NFC and Wi-Fi connectivity

    • The specs alone are enough to give us itchy shutter fingers—but, first things first. It's teardown time.

  2. The rear of the camera is adorned with an articulating 3 inch LCD. This is a TFT LCD display with 1,228,800 dots. Dots? What are dots? TIL a dot is (usually) a third of a pixel.
    • The rear of the camera is adorned with an articulating 3 inch LCD. This is a TFT LCD display with 1,228,800 dots. Dots? What are dots? TIL a dot is (usually) a third of a pixel.

      • Since nobody lists a measurement other than 3 inches for this display, we busted out the calipers and calculator. At 2.5 " x 1.75", and converting from dots to pixels, we came up with around 270 ppi.

      • In short, less than an iPhone (326 for the iPhone 6), but certainly high-density. And that's good, considering that no mirror means no optical viewfinding.

    • The left side of the camera body houses plenty of I/O options—an HDMI micro connector, 3.5 mm stereo microphone and headphone terminals, and a micro-USB connector.

    • With the body cap off, we catch our first glimpse of the world's first full-frame back-illuminated sensor (BIS) and noiseless shutter.

      • Smile for the lensless camera! We got the basic package, which unfortunately meant no lens included.

    • Despite being a part of the "Alpha" series, the a7R II uses an E-mount system.

      • With an adapter, this alpha can stay true to its alliterative A-mount lenses.

    • We find the same NP-FW50 7.2 V, 1020 mAh swappable battery pack as the original a7R and the rest of the Sony Alpha lineup—good news for anyone building a fleet of flagship mirrorless cams.

      • Sony advertises a 290-photo battery life (up to 340 without the electronic viewfinder), a minor increase from the 270-photo limit of last year's model.

    • Sony kindly included not one but two batteries. You can also charge the battery inside the camera (USB adapter included), and even power the camera entirely via USB.

    • We turn our attention to the JIS screws securing the bottom plate, mouths watering in anticipation of the smörgåsbord of tech beneath...

      • ...And find the tripod mount plate.

    • It may not be glamorous, but the tripod mount slides out with ease, great news repairability. Tripod-happy owners can rest easy.

    • For those of you who were wondering, yes, the a7R II is FCC compliant.

    • The bottom panel was a bit of a red herring so we investigate the LCD arm for weak spots.

    • The rear LCD panel is connected by a thin ribbon cable that disappears into the back of the camera body. We'll probably have to deal with that before we can crack open this camera...

    • Luckily, a small door on the back of the display assembly opens the way to a tiny ZIF securing the cable.

    • We allow ourselves a brief detour to investigate the display before delving into the camera body.

    • Peeling the LCD from the articulating bracket reveals a PCB packed with passives.

    • This little circuit board is probably a breakout board for the LCD, allowing for a thinner cable from the camera.

      • The capacitors probably reduce noise in the display; they're clearly visible as a little cluster of dark spots in this X-ray image, courtesy of our buds at Creative Electron.

    • Display technology is finally close to passing its Turing test: being indistinguishable from the mirror views in high-end cameras. This leap in tech has allowed for the viability of mirrorless cameras like the A7 series.

      • Apple bills these as Retina displays, but since a camera's display has to be much closer to your eye, the pixels have to be that much smaller to seem invisible.

    • Once we extricate the LCD and its delicate flex cable, the parts start flying.

    • First up are the eyepiece and viewfinder frame. The eyepiece slides off for easy swaps; the viewfinder frame is held in place with a few screws.

      • As a mirrorless camera, the a7R II doesn’t have an optical viewfinder. Instead, the viewfinder uses an XGA (1024 x 768 pixels) OLED screen to provide the user with accurate previews of images.

    • With some careful hunting, we find a few remaining screws hiding in the battery cavity. We're pretty stoked for a chance to use the telescoping driver handle in our Universal Bit Kit.

    • Now that the viewfinder frame and LCD panel have been removed, the rear housing pops right off.

      • All of the button's switches are mounted to internal components instead of the frame—so there aren't any delicate cables to worry about.

    • After disconnecting a single cable, we tease out that very mounting frame and the rear button assembly attached to it.

    • Next off is the multi-format card reader. It comes quietly.

      • We're secretly hoping this camera plays Nintendo DS games.

    • With the rear housing and button assembly removed, the motherboard shield comes out with very little resistance.

    • Getting our first clear view of the motherboard, we set to work disconnecting every ribbon cable created since the dawn of time.

    • Process note: We managed to get the motherboard out at this point, but we're pretty sure that's not as Sony intended. Had they deigned to give us a manual we would have known to skip ahead a few steps.

    • We hoist the motherboard out for inspection, finding:

    • And on the reverse side:

      • Sony CXD4236-1GG, likely a newer version of the CXD4236GG image processor

      • Fujitsu MB9AF004 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 processor

      • Murata KM5601002

    • This is the part where we get a grip, a camera grip that is.

    • An access port allows us to remove the final screw securing the front grip to the body.

    • Camera brand-fans live and die by their adjustment wheels. The grip features the forward spinner and shutter button, as well as the Wi-Fi antenna.

    • We find a trio of boards hiding behind the grip, supporting a couple of chips and what looks like an NFC antenna.

    • Perfect for Sony's Playmemories Mobile application, the NFC chip will allow interactions between smartphones the a7R II when Wi-Fi is not an option.

    • Funny how our smartphones are becoming more like cameras and our cameras are becoming more like smartphones, huh?

    • Back to the viewfinder—turns out we can pull it straight out of its cavity. With its frame previously dispatched, it was only held in place by a gummy thermal pad.

      • Why the thermal pad? Might have something to do with the 1.3 cm XGA OLED. With 1024 x 768 pixels in half an inch, that's 2,560 ppi. Wowza.

    • After removing the OLED, we take a peek through the lens assembly. A set of four optical lenses improve the field of view while minimizing distortion.

    • The lens assembly even works as a standalone upside-down-maker! Aren't optics cool? That logo sure is.

    • Hats off to you Sony! You've got our teardown engineer tired, but not beat. The upper case assembly pops off and steps aside for a glimpse at the goods.

    • Eager to get our first look at the new Exmor R CMOS sensor, we extricate the entire sensor assembly from the camera. The rest of the body feels like an empty husk without the hulking sensor and stabilization cradle.

      • For more information on the a7R II's sensor-shift stabilization mechanism, continue scrolling.

    • In today's episode of iFixit Teardown Cinema, we see the sensor-shift stabilization mechanism in action.

      • That's a pretty smooth action there. Probably powered by magnets. Or miracles. Most likely magic. Or unicorns. Most definitely unicorn magic.

    • The CMOS sensor rests on a light tray, floating between two hefty plates.

    • A quick detour before we proceed to the magnets: we pluck the a7R II's 42.4 MP image sensor from the stabilization system.

    • With the CMOS sensor in the wild, we get a clearer view of what's been touted as the world's first back-illuminated 35 mm full-frame sensor.

      • According to Sony, the photodiodes on this new sensor are much closer to the on-chip lens than in previous designs, allowing it to collect light more efficiently.

    • The square hole in the sensor's PCB also hints at a tricky assembly process—it's likely a cutout used to accommodate the vacuum nozzle that holds the sensor during assembly, as evidenced by the small patch of scratches at the center of the cutout. A peek with the X-ray reveals the array of solder balls that sandwiches the whole thing together when it's done.

    • Is that a Force Touch trackpad? No, it's an exposed view of the a7R II's sensor-shift stabilization hardware. Sony's marketing team named this the 5-axis SteadyShot. Fancy.

    • The central tray of the stabilizer holds the image sensor, and is home to three electromagnets, each a component of a voice coil, an electromechanical device used for incredibly fine positioning.

    • These coils live in the magnetic fields of their permanent magnet buddies—which means slight variations in power to the three coils generates forces in a variety of directions. Enough variety to adjust the sensor on five distinct axes. Not a small feat for a full-frame camera.

    • We've struck our sensor and magnet gold, and now it's time to clean up and let the teardown team get some sleep. It's been a long day!

    • After removing the battery cavity, not much remains—the noiseless shutter mechanism, a few stray cables, and on the front of the body a spring contact leading to that Wi-Fi antenna we found earlier.

    • Gazing at this once mighty feat of modern engineering, we can't help but wonder one thing: how the heck are we gonna put this thing back together? Answer: most likely unicorn magic.

    • A7R II Repairability Score: 4 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair).

      • The battery can be easily replaced without tools.

      • The tripod mount and viewfinder can be replaced without disassembling the camera body.

      • While very difficult, the rear LCD panel can also be removed without disassembling the camera body.

      • Accessing anything inside the camera requires removing the complex rear LCD panel first.

      • Internal components are very intricately organized; repair without a service manual would be very difficult.

    • Lastly, a hearty shout-out to our friends at Creative Electron for their X-ray imaging wizardry. Thanks guys!


Did you find any seals for weather proofing?

jtorral - Reply

Looks like the extra weight over A7 goes to the SR mechanism and the resulting bulkier hull. Looks like a lot copper cooling stuffs also involved, must due to processing pressure from the high pixel count. Wondering if Canon 5Ds has even heat pipes built-in...

Azure - Reply

Yeah, Wondering also about weather sealing.

Tarek Ahmad - Reply

+1 to knowing more about the weather sealing

Sean Oh - Reply

+1 about weather sealing

harleycin - Reply

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