Sony A7R II vs Zeiss ZX1
The Sony Alpha A7R II and the Zeiss ZX1 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in June 2015 and September 2018. The A7R II is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the ZX1 is a fixed lens compact. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 42.2 megapixels, whereas the Zeiss provides 37.4 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Sony A7R II||Zeiss ZX1|
|Mirrorless system camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Sony E mount lenses||35mm f/2.8|
|42.2 MP, Full Frame Sensor||37.4 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|4K/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO 100-25,600 (50 - 102,400)||ISO 80-51,200|
|Electronic viewfinder (2400k dots)||Electronic viewfinder (6221k dots)|
|3.0 LCD, 1229k dots||4.3 LCD, 2765k dots|
|Tilting screen (no touchscreen)||Fixed touchscreen|
|5 shutter flaps per second||3 shutter flaps per second|
|In-body stabilization||no shake reduction|
|Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|290 shots per battery charge||250 shots per battery charge|
|127 x 96 x 60 mm, 625 g||142 x 93 x 46 mm, 800 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Sony Alpha A7R II and the Zeiss ZX1? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony A7R II and the Zeiss ZX1. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Zeiss ZX1 is notably larger (8 percent) than the Sony A7R II. It is worth mentioning in this context that the A7R II is splash and dust resistant, while the ZX1 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the ZX1 has a lens built in, whereas the A7R II is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the A7R II and their specifications in the Sony FE Lens Catalog.
The power pack in the A7R II can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Sony A7R II||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.0 oz||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Zeiss ZX1||5.6 in||3.7 in||1.8 in||28.2 oz||250||n||Sep 2018||4,199|
|Leica Q2||5.1 in||3.1 in||3.6 in||25.3 oz||370||Y||Mar 2019||4,995|
|Leica M10||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||23.3 oz||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|Leica Q Typ 116||5.1 in||3.1 in||3.7 in||22.6 oz||300||n||Jun 2015||4,249|
|Nikon Z7||5.3 in||4.0 in||2.6 in||23.8 oz||330||Y||Aug 2018||3,399|
|Panasonic FZ1000||5.4 in||3.9 in||5.2 in||29.3 oz||360||n||Jun 2014||899|
|Sony A9 II||5.1 in||3.8 in||3.0 in||23.9 oz||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|Sony A7R IV||5.1 in||3.8 in||3.1 in||23.5 oz||670||Y||Jul 2019||3,499|
|Sony A7 III||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|Sony A7R III||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|Sony A9||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||23.7 oz||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|Sony A99 II||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||29.9 oz||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Sony A7S II||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.1 oz||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Sony RX1R II||4.4 in||2.6 in||2.8 in||17.9 oz||220||n||Oct 2015||3,299|
|Sony A7 II||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||21.1 oz||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Sony A7R||5.0 in||3.7 in||1.9 in||16.4 oz||340||Y||Oct 2013||2,299|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the Sony A7R II offers a higher resolution of 42.2 megapixels, compared with 37.4 MP of the Zeiss ZX1. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.52μm versus 4.81μm for the ZX1). Moreover, it should be noted that the ZX1 is much more recent (by 3 years and 3 months) than the A7R II, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the A7R II has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A7R II implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A7R II for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 39.8 x 26.5 inches or 101 x 67.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 31.8 x 21.2 inches or 80.8 x 53.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 26.5 x 17.7 inches or 67.3 x 44.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Zeiss ZX1 are 37.4 x 25 inches or 95.1 x 63.4 cm for good quality, 30 x 20 inches or 76.1 x 50.7 cm for very good quality, and 25 x 16.6 inches or 63.4 x 42.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The A7R II has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Sony Alpha A7R II has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 50-102400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Zeiss ZX1 are ISO 80 to ISO 51200 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|Zeiss ZX1||Full Frame||37.4||7488||4992||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Leica Q2||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/30p||26.4||13.5||2491||96|
|Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|Leica Q Typ 116||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.7||2221||85|
|Nikon Z7||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.3||14.6||2668||99|
|Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|Sony A7R IV||Full Frame||60.2||9504||6336||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|Sony RX1R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||1080/60p||25.8||13.9||3204||97|
|Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|Sony A7R||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.6||14.1||2746||95|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the ZX1 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the A7R II (6221k vs 2400k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony A7R II and Zeiss ZX1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|Leica Q Typ 116||3680||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7R IV||5760||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|Sony RX1R II||2360||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n|
|Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The ZX1 has a touchscreen, while the A7R II has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, both cameras under consideration feature an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The A7R II writes its imaging data to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards, while the ZX1 uses an internal SSD.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Sony Alpha A7R II and Zeiss ZX1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Leica Q Typ 116||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony A9 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A7R IV||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony RX1R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A7R II has a microphone port, which is missing on the ZX1. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
The ZX1 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Zeiss. In contrast, the A7R II has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A7R II was succeeded by the Sony Alpha A7R III. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Sony and Zeiss websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Sony A7R II or the Zeiss ZX1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A7R II:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (42.2 vs 37.4MP) with a 6% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.74x).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/1000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (290 versus 250) on a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
Reasons to prefer the Zeiss ZX1:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (6221k vs 2400k dots).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (4.3" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2765k vs 1229k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the A7R II necessitates an extra lens.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More prestigious: Has the Zeiss luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A7R II is the clear winner of the match-up (13 : 9 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Sony A7R II and the Zeiss ZX1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best Prime Lens Compact Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the A7R II or the ZX1 perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|Sony A7R II||+ +||90/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Zeiss ZX1||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2018||4,199|
|Leica Q2||..||84/100||4.5/5||..||4/5||Mar 2019||4,995|
|Leica M10||..||..||4/5||..||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|Leica Q Typ 116||..||80/100||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Jun 2015||4,249|
|Nikon Z7||+||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||3,399|
|Panasonic FZ1000||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||899|
|Sony A9 II||..||..||5/5||..||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|Sony A7R IV||+||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jul 2019||3,499|
|Sony A7 III||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|Sony A7R III||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|Sony A9||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|Sony A99 II||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Sony A7S II||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Sony RX1R II||..||82/100||..||o||4.5/5||Oct 2015||3,299|
|Sony A7 II||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Sony A7R||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||2,299|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon T5 vs Zeiss ZX1
- Fujifilm X-A3 vs Zeiss ZX1
- Fujifilm X-E3 vs Zeiss ZX1
- Fujifilm X-Pro2 vs Zeiss ZX1
- Olympus E-PL5 vs Zeiss ZX1
- Panasonic G5 vs Sony A7R II
- Panasonic LX100 vs Zeiss ZX1
- Panasonic LX15 vs Sony A7R II
- Sony A7R II vs Sony NEX-5R
- Sony A7R II vs Sony NEX-7
- Sony A7R II vs Sony WX800
- Sony RX100 vs Zeiss ZX1
Specifications: Sony A7R II vs Zeiss ZX1
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Sony A7R II||Zeiss ZX1|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Sony E mount lenses||35mm f/2.8|
|Launch Date||June 2015||September 2018|
|Launch Price||USD 3,199||USD 4,199|
|Sensor Specs||Sony A7R II||Zeiss ZX1|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 24.0 mm||36.0 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||861.6 mm2||864 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm||43.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||42.2 Megapixels||37.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||7952 x 5304 pixels||7488 x 4992 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.52 μm||4.81 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.90 MP/cm2||4.33 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||80 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 102,400 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||98||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||26.0||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.9||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||3434||..|
|Screen Specs||Sony A7R II||Zeiss ZX1|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2400k dots||6221k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||4.3inch|
|LCD Resolution||1229k dots||2765k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Sony A7R II||Zeiss ZX1|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||YES||up to 1/8000s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||no handshake reduction|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||MS or SDXC cards||Internal SSD|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single SSD|
|Connectivity Specs||Sony A7R II||Zeiss ZX1|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||no HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Sony A7R II||Zeiss ZX1|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||290 shots per charge||250 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
127 x 96 x 60 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 2.4 in)
142 x 93 x 46 mm
(5.6 x 3.7 x 1.8 in)
|Camera Weight||625 g (22.0 oz)||800 g (28.2 oz)|
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