At the time of its release, the A7 was overshadowed somewhat by Sony’s flagship CSC, the A7R. Michael Topham finds out whether its successor, the A7 II is significantly better and improves on the A7’s aesthetics and its handling quirks

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Sony Alpha 7 II

Features:
Build/Handling:
Metering:
Autofocus:
AWB Colour:
Dynamic Range:
LCD viewfinder:

Pros:

  • - Becomes the first full-frame CSC to feature 5-axis in-camera image stabilisation
  • - Inherits the excellent OLED electronic viewfinder from the Alpha 7
  • - Redesigned handgrip and control layout enhances operation and handling

Cons:

  • - Loud shutter with no dampening or silent shooting mode available
  • - Control wheel at the rear is rather small and fiddly to use
  • - Movie-record button could be better positioned for videographers

Product:

Sony Alpha 7 II Review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£1,500.00

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Build and Handling

 

Sony Alpha 7 II hands-on

The design of the original A7 wasn’t too dissimilar from the NEX-7, albeit with a centrally positioned EVF protruding on the top. Durability came from a body that was formed from magnesium alloy and as to be expected, it was dust and weather sealed too – characteristics the A7 II inherits and improves on with a magnesium alloy lens mount that’s said to increase strength and rigidity when large and heavy lenses are coupled. What the A7 lacked however was a handgrip that fully complimented the excellent fit and finish of the build quality, failing to offer the impression of its controls falling naturally to hand.

The good news is Sony has listened to users of the A7 and as a result of redesigning the grip on the A7 II have not only transformed the way it feels, they’ve turned it into an entirely different camera to operate altogether for the better. The repositioned shutter button, the slimmer and more positive front and rear dials, the two customisable buttons on the top plate, these all combine to make it more initiative to use and more DSLR-like to operate.

Having a dedicated dial that’s in easy reach of the thumb to adjust exposure compensation is invaluable when shooting in challenging lighting conditions, while the On/Off switch is perfectly positioned for use with the index finger, and contributes to a brisk startup time of 2.25secs, which Sony claims is 40% faster than on the A7.

Sony Alpha 7 II Product Shot 2Menu and magnification buttons take their respective positions either side of the EVF and those with an observant eye will spot the new matte-black speckled finish, which looks slightly smarter than the clean, smooth semi-gloss black finish of the A7.

My only criticisms regarding buttons is the rather awkward positioning of the movie-record button, which when pressed using the thumb has a tendency to jolt the camera slightly, and the rear control wheel being too small and fiddly to use in bitter winter conditions when gloves were worn. If the latter were to be made larger and more pronounced, similar to the rear of Canon’s full-frame DSLRs, it could enhance the viewing experience in playback mode and the operation of ISO, White Balance, Creative Style or Picture Style to which it can be customised when shooting.

Existing users of the A7 who purchased the VG-C1EM battery grip that was also compatible with the A7R should take note that it’s not compatible with the A7 II due to its revised body shape. Those set on the idea of holding two NP-FW50 batteries, baring in mind a single battery only holds enough charge for 270 shots using the EVF, will require the new VG-C2EM battery grip (£299).

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Build and Handling
  3. 3. Performance
  4. 4. Image Quality
  5. 5. Verdict
  6. 6. Hands-on First Look
Page 2 of 6 - Show Full List
  • Jeremy

    Hi there,
    Have had a Sony A7 MkII for about 6 weeks now. Pictures are great but battery life is awful even in aircraft mode. Feed back from Sony is no plans for an upgraded battery. Have bought a Hahnel and Duracell equivalents and plan to test how they compare to Sony original for time in use. One other minor irritation encountered by other A7 users is that the rubber eye piece becomes dislodged brushing up against clothing. Sony advise that gluing this to its slide on mount is not a recommended practice. Chocolate Tea pot on feed back from Sony so far.
    Jeremy

  • Michael Topham

    Hi Peter,

    The point you make about the A7 II’s weather resistance is an interesting one. Just to clarify, the A7 II has the same sealing qualities as the other cameras in the a7-series. What this means is that there are seals against dust and moisture and these seals are found around the buttons, dials, inputs/outputs etc. You’re right in saying Sony don’t officially say the camera is ‘Weather Sealed’ and I sincerely apologise if you felt this point in the review was misleading. I can however say that after using the A7 II in very light rain, albeit for only 30-45 minutes or so, our review sample didn’t have any issues. Regards, Michael

  • Peter Kelly

    How come my comment from a different article is here?

    That said, the point I made about AF is still valid, but I have another observation or, should I say, correction.

    You have put “also weather sealed” in the review. This is completely untrue and Sony have removed any reference to weather sealing from their literature. Should you suffer a fault caused by a little drizzle you will find yourself with a large repair bill because Sony will not honour the warranty under such cases.

    They have clarified their original claim about sealing to mean that the camera will only resist minor condensation when going between different environment temperatures. Now they only say “built to withstand the rigors of shooting in the field”, so even damp isn’t mentioned!

    I suggest that you confirm this and make an appropriate change to your article.

  • Peter Kelly

    I understand Sony’s reasoning, but I’m surprised by the relative quiet from existing A7 owners regarding the AF speed.

    In that you say the sensor is the same and the processor is the same, but only the algorithm is different to improve performance. Surely that would mean all it would take for the existing A7 to match the new AF speed and performance is a firmware update?

    In the past, Sony owners have always ranted about the lack of any firmware updates to address ‘niggles’ and Sony release very few, so I’m quite surprised there hasn’t been a torrent of demands for this algorithm to be made available. Perhaps it will, in a year or two…LOL