iFixit tears apart Sony A7R II camera, calls it ‘mighty feat of engineering’

You wouldn’t find us breaking apart a $3,200 camera. Luckily, we have the folks at iFixit to do it for us, which tore apart Sony’s new A7R II. What it found was that the camera is indeed “chock full of drool-worthy tech.”

The A7R II uses a newly developed full-frame sensor, but the feature iFixit found most interesting is the five-axis image stabilization system. The sensor uses three electromagnets — which the sensor “floats” on — to compensate for camera shakes. The electromagnets offer “incredibly fine positioning,” iFixit says.

The A7R II is a revolutionary compact mirrorless camera, and Sony’s engineers have found ways to squeeze all the high-end parts into a small body (read our hands-on). The iFixit team recognizes this, and says “repair without a service manual is almost impossible.” Even after you get past removing the complex rear LCD panel, iFixit says, you still have to deal with the “intricately organized” internal components. To keep the electronic viewfinder cool, there’s a thick thermal pad.

Sony A7R Mark II
What the A7R Mark II looks like before disassembly. Les Shu/Digital Trends
Les Shu/Digital Trends

After iFixit disassembled the camera, it uncovered some of the components used: a Sony CXD90027GF system-on-chip, 4GB of DDR3L SDRAM, Sony CXD4236-1GG (iFixit says it’s likely a newer version, which Sony calls Bionz X), Fujitsu 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 processor, and more — a mini computer inside a camera.

By step 15, iFixit says, “Hats off to you Sony! You’ve got our teardown engineer tired, but not beat.” Overall, the breakdown required 20 steps, and earned an iFixit rating of 4 out of 10 (10 being the easiest to repair). In summary, the battery, tripod mount, and viewfinder are the easier parts to repair, and don’t require a full breakdown. The rear LCD is also replaceable, but very difficult. Everything else: Don’t bother.

Our takeaway from iFixit’s findings: this is a complicated camera, so you may not want to do your own repairs — unless you’re a Sony engineer. Check out iFixit’s full details of its A7R II teardown.

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