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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Verdict

Potential buyers of the A7 II fall into two camps – those who may already own an A7 and those who might be tempted by investing in a smaller and lighter system. Based on the fact that users of a mint condition A7 will only get around £570 cash if they trade in their existing camera, the A7 II is a very expensive upgrade that’ll set A7 owners back around £920 compared to the online body only price of £1499.

The new features work hard to justify the upgrade – the new handgrip revolutionises the feel and operation, while the 5-axis image stabilisation could be advantageous if you’re conscious of camera shake and more often than not shoot handheld. It is worth pointing out however, when legacy manual focus only lenses are used, the focal length has to be manually inputted and only three-axis stabilisation is made available.

While Sony has ironed out the main criticisms of the A7 regarding its aesthetics and handling, there remain a few areas for improvement – notably the colour accuracy of the EVF, the lack of noise dampening or a silent mode to make it more discreet, the fairly poor battery stamina and exposure compensation range, which unlike its key rivals doesn’t stretch as far as +5/-5EV.

What it really does well at is producing superb image quality images, both in bright light and low light when the ISO has to be raised. The images it produces certainly won’t disappoint and what with seven full frame E-mount lenses currently available and a flurry of new ones appearing during the course of 2015, you’ll no longer be buying into a system in its infancy. Overall, the A7 II is a highly recommended full frame CSC that improves where it was needed and offers huge imaging potential in a lightweight body. It’s a camera that’ll seek attention from those after one of the smallest, yet most powerful full frame cameras on the market.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Build and Handling
  3. 3. Performance
  4. 4. Image Quality
  5. 5. Verdict
  6. 6. Hands-on First Look
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  • 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