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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Image Quality

Sony Alpha 7 II Sample Image 13

See more sample images from the Sony Alpha 7 II in our gallery

Paired with one of the best Zeiss primes available for the E-mount system, the A7 II resolves a comparable level of detail to the original A7 – not surprising when you take into consideration that it shares the same 24-million-pixel full frame sensor.

Unlike the A7R is Sony’s Alpha lineup, the A7 sticks with a more conversional sensor design that sees the inclusion of an optical low pass filter to reduce and control the effects of aliasing. Looking at both Raw and JPEG files, the A7 performs well compared alongside comparable files from other 24-million pixel full frame DSLRs such as the Nikon D750 and as to be expected from a full-frame chip noise is handled well by the sensor when more is asked of it at higher sensitivities.

To be more precise, ISO 3200 and 6400 are both usable and despite luminance noise being evident at these settings it has a fine grain structure, with chroma noise being controlled very well indeed. Our dynamic range results are up there as some of the best we’ve ever recorded by a full frame sensor, fractionally higher than the A7R and competing full frame DSLRs. Users can therefore expect to pull back a good amount of shadow and highlight detail from Raw files provided they shoot below ISO 3200, beyond which the impressive dynamic range figures begin to drop off.

Dynamic Range

Sony Alpha 7 II ReviewAt its lowest native sensitivity setting, our measured dynamic range is an outstandingly high 13.37EV at ISO 100, putting it ahead on some of its full frame rivals such as the Nikon D750 and Nikon D810 that produced 12.7EV at the same sensitivity in the past. Our results remained above 12EV right up to ISO 800 beyond which they dropped slightly at ISO 1600 to 11.59EV and down to 9.72 EV at ISO 3200. Shadow tones do become noisier at ISO 6400 and above, indicating that detail in dark areas of an image will be increasingly lost to noise.

Resolution

Sony-Alpha-7-II-resolutionA close study of the A7 II’s Raw files revealed it delivers 3200l/ph at ISO 100 – an identical level of detail as recorded by the A7. This figure was recorded with the incredibly sharp Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* prime lens attached. Detail holds up very well indeed through the lower ISO sensitivities too and it’s only when ISO 800 is reached that it begins to drop to 3000l/ph. Users can expect detail to hold up particularly well at ISO 6400 (2800l/ph), with an outcome of 2400l/ph at its maximum sensitivity ceiling (ISO 25,600).

Noise

Sony-Alpha-7-II-diorama

The A7 II excels when it comes to noise performance. Inspecting our Raw files at 100% revealed it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between ISO 100 and ISO 1600, other than the latter resolves fractionally less detail. Luminance noise only really starts to appear at ISO 3200, yet it’s so fine at this setting and ISO 6400 that it’s not of concern and can be easily addressed by applying noise reduction in post. Chroma noise doesn’t become a factor until ISO 25,600 is reached, and even then it’s by no means severe or unsightly. Colours between ISO 100 and 12,800 remain vivid and punchy too, with the saturation only dropping ever so slightly when ISO 25,600 is dialed in. As for JPEGs, the in-camera noise reduction the A7 II applies at high ISO is effective up to ISO 3200 without destroying detail, but users should expect a faint warm tinge to their JPEGs above ISO 12,800.

  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 4 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