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
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.