Sony Alpha a7 II Review
The Sony Alpha a7 II is an image-stabilized full frame mirrorless camera, the fourth release in Sony's a7 lineup and the follow up the original a7. It uses the same 24-megapixel sensor as its predecessor, and the same Bionz X processor as the rest of the a7 series. Improvements come in the form of 5-axis sensor-based image stabilization, improved AF performance and some overall design tweaks. The controls are laid out in similar fashion to the a7, though the grip, command dials and shutter have been completely redesigned.
The body of the a7 II is physically larger, and about 25% heavier than the original a7-series cameras. It is also now comprised entirely of magnesium alloy like the a7S; the original a7 and a7R featured a frontplate made out of a composite material.
The A7 II uses the same hybrid AF system as the A7 with 117 phase-detect and 25 contrast points. Sony claims AF has been improved about 30% over its predecessor thanks to algorithm tweaks, and tracking has been improved 1.5x.
Sony a7 II key features
- 24.3MP Full Frame CMOS sensor
- 5-axis sensor-based image stabilization
- Improved hybrid AF system with 25 contrast-detect and 117 phase-detect points
- E-mount with support for FE, E, and A-mount lenses (with adapter)
- Bionz X image processor
- 3-inch tilting LCD with 1.23 million dots (640x480, RGBW)
- 2.36M dot OLED viewfinder
- 1080 footage at up to 50Mbps (XAVC S)
- Wi-Fi with NFC capability and downloadable apps
Like the a7S, the a7 II has the ability to record in the XAVC S codec, which offers a 50MBps bit rate at 1080/60p (as well as 1080/30p and 1080/24p). Recording in AVCHD and MP4 also remain an option.
The a7 II retains the 3" tilting LCD of its predecessor, but with an increase in resolution. It offers 1.23 millions dots in a 3:2 aspect ratio, and can be tilted upward 107 degrees and downward 41 degrees. The electronic viewfinder also remains unchanged, and uses 2.3 million dots for 100% accuracy and .71x magnification. It is extremely bright and detailed.
Here's how the a7 II fits into the current Sony a7 lineup:
|Sony a7 II||Sony a7||Sony a7R||Sony a7S|
|Sensor||24MP full-frame||24MP full-frame||36MP full-frame||12MP full-frame|
|Image Stabilization||In-body||In-lens only||In-lens only||In-lens only|
|ISO Range (Stills)
Standard / Expanded
100 - 25,600
|100 - 25,600
50 - 25,600
|100 - 25,600
50 - 25,600
|Continuous Shooting||5 fps||5 fps||4 fps||5 fps|
|AF system||Hybrid with 117 phase detect and 25 contrast detect points||Hybrid with 117 phase detect and 25 contrast detect points||Contrast AF with 25 points||Contrast AF with 25 points|
|Front panel construction||Magnesium alloy||Composite||Magnesium alloy||Magnesium alloy|
|Optical low pass filter||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Weight w/ battery||600 g||474 g||465 g||489 g|
|Launch price||$1,700 body only||$1,700 body only||$2,300 body only||$2,500 body only|
|The 5 different types of movement the A7 II's tries to compensate for using IBIS.|
The Sony a7 II is the fourth full frame ILC to feature in-camera image stabilization, (the three before it were the Sony a900, a850 and a99). The IS system in the a7 II works by compensating for movements along 5 different axis, X and Y as well as pitch, yaw and roll.
When shooting with Sony FE lenses that are already stabilized, denoted by 'OSS' on the lens, the a7 II will use both the sensor-based and lens-based IS together, to get the optimal image stabilized performance. The effects of image stabilization can be seen in a live preview when looking through the EVF or LCD.
The great thing about sensor-based IS in a camera like the a7 II is the realm of possibilities it opens up for third-party, and adapted lens users.
To compensate for the increased weight of the a7 II, the size and depth of the grip has been increased, resulting in a very comfortable camera to hold. The front and rear facing control dials have been substantially shrunken down and recessed into the camera body, making it nearly impossible to accidentally nudge them without knowing it, a frequent complaint of a7 users.
The shutter button has also moved from the top of the camera body, to the top of the grip itself, and is now angled slightly downward. Its diameter has been increased slightly over that of the original a7.
An addition custom function button has also been added to the top plate of the camera body.
Pricing and Kit options
The Sony Alpha 7 II will be available, body only, for $1,700 and as a kit with the 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens for $2000.
It's worth noting that the Sony a7 II does not ship with a proper battery charger, instead it comes with a Micro USB cable and the AC-UUD11 AC Battery Charging Adapter (a USB to AC converter). It also ships with an eyepiece cup, shoulder strap and one NP-FW50 Lithium-Ion battery.