Sony Alpha a7 II

24MP full-frame CMOS sensor | 5-axis image stabilization | 1080/60p video capture

What we like:

  • Small and light for a full-frame camera
  • Effective 5-axis in-body image stabilization
  • Improved phase-detect AF focuses 3rd party lenses quickly
  • Sophisticated JPEG sharpening and noise reduction

What we don't:

  • High ISO performance lags behind full-frame competitors
  • No programmable Auto ISO
  • Tiny, fumbly buttons and dials
  • Poor battery life
The Sony a7 II is part of Sony's second generation of full-frame mirrorless cameras. Built around a 24.3MP sensor, it offers a good range of stills and video capabilities.
The a7 II feels fairly well constructed. Its grip is larger than the original model but it misses out on the joystick and touchscreen that have been added the a7 III and newer. It has a range of customizable buttons, but many of these are small and the dials aren't as well placed as on newer models.
The a7 II offers a powerful combination of size, price and features but Sony's newer models highlight its shortcomings.
The a7 II has a hybrid autofocus system that's effective, rather than impressive. Both single and continuous AF are pretty fast, but it does without the improvements in subject tracking and Eye AF that came in later cameras. You'll get consistently focus shots during many types of shooting but it won't support you as well as the newer models. It also relies on an older, smaller battery, but can be charged over USB if you have an external battery pack.
The Sony a7 II's 24 Megapixel sensor gives very good Raw dynamic range, but sub-par low light (high ISO) performance. In-body stabilization helps keep shutter speeds and ISOs low though, for non-moving subjects. JPEG includes sophisticated noise reduction and good detail retention in low light, making the lack of in-camera Raw conversion a particular shame.
The a7 II pre-dates the widespread introduction of 4K video, so it's limited to 1080p shooting. You still get image stabilization, focus peaking and zebra warnings along with both mic and headphone sockets. It can record or output 8-bit S-Log2 footage if you're shooting in scenes with high dynamic range, but video autofocus isn't good enough to depend on.
The a7 II is still a solid camera and one that's now available at a significantly reduced price. It continues to offers a powerful combination of size, price and features but Sony's newer models highlight its shortcomings.

Jeff Keller

Studio Test Scene

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