Test Review: Sony A7 II

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March 17, 2015 at 12:30 pm  •  Posted in Gear & Reviews, Review by  •  0 Comments

The Sony A7 II

The Sony A7 II

The second generation of the Sony A7 has a modified body design and an integrated 5-axis image stabilizer. A 24-MP sensor, a new hybrid AF system, and very intuitive and professional handling are characteristics of the new Sony A7 II.

The standard test box shot is a little underexposed (1/3 EV stop), but even high-contrast elements like the bright light or very dark elements like the black toy pet in the lower left show clearly differentiated nuances. The colours show a slight shift into the greenish colour area caused by the automatic white balance system. Detail reproduction is very good. All elements have a crisp but not oversharpened look.

The standard test box shot is a little underexposed (1/3 EV stop), but even high-contrast elements like the bright light or very dark elements like the black toy pet in the lower left show clearly differentiated nuances. The colours show a slight shift into the greenish colour area caused by the automatic white balance system. Detail reproduction is very good. All elements have a crisp but not oversharpened look.

Comments on Image Quality
Colour: The Sony A7 II did an excellent job in the colour tests. The result chart shows only a minor shift of gray colours into the direction of green and yellowish nuances. The saturation is only a little too high, but only red nuances show a remarkable boost into the orange area of the colour space. Both skin tones (darker and brighter skin tones) are reproduced nearly perfectly. The very good colour reproduction is also noticeable in both test images.

The skin-tone reproduction in shots taken by the A7 II is very good. The sharpness of very small image details like the eye lashes is very high. In combination with the Zeiss lens F Sonnar T* FE 55 mm F1.8 Z, the A7 II performed excellently.

The skin-tone reproduction in shots taken by the A7 II is very good. The sharpness of very small image details like the eye lashes is very high. In combination with the Zeiss lens F Sonnar T* FE 55 mm F1.8 Z, the A7 II performed excellently.

Sharpness:  The camera showed a very good result in our resolution tests. The test chart was reproduced with 3347 of 4000 lines per picture height, which is a good result, but no showstopper. Nevertheless the images have a very crisp and clean look. When interpreting the sensor data and converting the images into a JPEG file, the camera avoids an over-sharpening by the image processor. The result chart shows that over- and undershot effects are very low. As a result the Sony A7 II images have a very natural look. The very fine Zeiss lens F Sonnar T* FE 55 mm F1.8 ZA was used for the test and had very good results in the CA test.

Noise: The camera had an excellent result in noise and dynamic range tests. The luminance noise factor stays way below 1.0 percent even in ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 mode. It first crosses the 1.0 percent line in its highest mode of ISO 25600. Colour noise becomes visible in images taken with ISO 1600 to ISO 3200, but is still very inconspicuous. The anti-colour noise filtering reduce image details only in ISO 25600 mode with a noticeable effect.

The dynamic range results are very high. The camera achieved a maximum of 11.7 f-stops and keeps a high level of more or a little less than 11 f-stops up to ISO 1600 mode. In highest ISO-speed settings, the dynamic range result drops significantly to about 8 f-stops.

The Sony A7 II offers a set-up dial on the top to toggle between automatic exposure programs or scene modes. The camera has a very slim body, even though the grip on the right-hand side is a little bulkier than the grip of its forerunner.

The Sony A7 II offers a set-up dial on the top to toggle between automatic exposure programs or scene modes. The camera has a very slim body, even though the grip on the right-hand side is a little bulkier than the grip of its forerunner.

Comments on Handling
The new Sony A7 II is a mirrorless system camera with a full-frame sensor and 24-MP resolution. It follows the A7, Sony’s successful and first full-frame CSC, which was introduced in 2013. The new A7 II has a slightly different body design. The grip on the right-hand side became a little larger and now fits better into the photographer’s hand. The whole body is more than 100 gram heavier. The new camera now weighs 599 grams, while the first A7 weighs 474 grams. The larger grip and the heavier body allow one to hold the camera very stably and steadily. Handling is even better with the optional handgrip Sony VGC2EM.

But more important for really steady shots is the new built-in image stabilizer of the A7 II. The camera is the first full-frame sensor system with a 5-axis image stabilizer. In our tests, it allowed one to shoot blur-free images with a shutter-speed setting of about ¼ second with the 55-mm lens system. The 5-axis system compensates for vertical and horizontal movement, as well as small roll, yaw and pitch movements. It also did a good job when recording video clips.

The Sony has a swivel monitor, which can be flipped upwards (a little more than 90 degrees) and downwards (by about 45 degrees).

The Sony has a swivel monitor, which can be flipped upwards (a little more than 90 degrees) and downwards (by about 45 degrees).

The camera offers a high-resolution electronic viewfinder with 2.36 million RGB dots. The quality of this large viewfinder (0.71x; 50-mm lens) is excellent; it’s on the same level as the Samsung NX1 viewfinder  system, for example. The viewfinder has a little sensor on the eyepiece, which allows for switching automatically between the viewfinder and the LCD on the back. The 3-inch LCD screen has a resolution of 1.3 million RGB dots. It can only be flipped up- and downwards because it is mounted by a hinged bracket on the back instead of by swivel joint which would have permitted fully articulated movements.

Even though the body of the A7 II has gotten a little bigger, it is still a very slim camera. It offers two set-up dials on the top, but no status LCD screen like on bigger full-frame-sensor SLRs. The first dial on the top allows one to set up standard exposure modes (P, S, A, M), two user-defined camera settings (1, 2), scene modes, full Auto mode, and Panorama and Movie modes. The second dial controls the EV compensation of +/- 3 EV stops and is very handy when shooting in automatic/semi-automatic (S, A) modes.

The A7 II interfaces are located on the left-hand side of its body. The camera offers USB and HDMI interface. In addition it offers a Wi-Fi module and can be connected to smartphones and tablet computers by an NFC system.

The A7 II interfaces are located on the left-hand side of its body. The camera offers USB and HDMI interface. In addition it offers a Wi-Fi module and can be connected to smartphones and tablet computers by an NFC system.

For menu navigation, the camera offers a control field, which also can be used as a set-up wheel for image
parametres or menu navigation. Along with two other set-up dials (one on the back, one near the shutter-release button), it is very easy to change all image parametres quickly and efficiently. The camera offers four function buttons on the top and the back of the body. The user can define his or her own settings for all of these function buttons in the camera menu.

The location of the video-recording button is still a little inconvenient. It is placed nearly on the right-hand side of the camera, which results in a little camera shaking and moving when starting video recording. Most other cameras have an additional video-recording button on the back or on the top, near the photo shutter-release button.

The large display shows a comprehensive set-up menu with a lot of individual settings. The functions of the “C1” to “C4” buttons on the top and on the back can be defined by the photographer.

The large display shows a comprehensive set-up menu with a lot of individual settings. The functions of the “C1” to “C4” buttons on the top and on the back can be defined by the photographer.

The camera performed very well in AF mode tests. The hybrid AF system with 117 phase-detection AF sensors worked very well and very fast. It was less fast only in dimmed-light situations, where it sometimes showed a little “undetermined” behavior.

The camera performed well in our speed tests. Start-up time is very low, and shutter-delay time isn’t really worth mentioning. The camera offers burst rates up to five frames per second, which were achieved during the tests.

Pros
+ better design and better handling (compared to first A7 version)
+ heavier, more massive body
+ very fast AF system
+ first full-frame format CSC with 5-axis image stabilizer
+ large and bright electronic viewfinder

Cons
– swivel monitor can only flipped up- and downwards, not fully articulated

This review is based on precise lab tests conducted by BetterNet GmbH and provided by the Technical Imaging Press Association (TIPA). TIPA is the largest family of independent photo and imaging magazines worldwide. Photo Life is an active member of TIPA.

SPEC SHEET: Sony A7 II
BASIC TECHNICAL DATA:
Resolution 6000 x 4000
Resolution sensor: 24.3
Size of sensor (in inches) 0/0.00
Size of sensor (in mm) 35.8 x 23.9
TAKING PICTURES:
Startup time (in sec) 0.35
Shutter delay (in sec) without pre-focusing 0.07
Shutter delay (in sec) with pre-focusing 0.01
Continuous shooting speed (frames per second) 5.0
Max. burst during continuous shooting speed 999.0
Fastest shutter speed in sec 1/8000
Long time exposure/shutter speed in sec 30
Self timer yes
Exposure Settings:
Aperture presetting, shutter-speed presetting, manual exposure settings,
automatic bracketing,
Exposure programs 9
White balance:
Auto yes
White balance settings 6
Individual white balance yes
ISO:
ISO min 100
ISO max 51200
ISO steps 25
Manual ISO control yes
FLASH:
Integrated flash no
Flash mode:
On, off, automatic-flash, slow-sync, anti-red-eye, rear curtain sync
External Flash:
X-sync no
Accessory shoe yes
FILE FORMATS:
Standard file formats JPEG, RAW, DCF
JPEG compression grades 3
LCD AND PREVIEW:
Size (in inches) 3.0
Resolution of LCD (in pixels) 1229
Zoom mode during preview yes
Index during preview yes
Slideshow during preview yes
VIDEO:
Video available yes
Max. width 1920
Max. height 1080
Picture frequency 60
POWER SOURCE:
Rechargeable battery yes
Battery type Li-Ion
Battery charger included yes
Power connector yes
Power supply unit no
STORAGE SYSTEM:
Supported memory cards Memory stick, SD card, SDHC card, SDXC card
PC CONNECTION:
PC connection USB 2.0, HDMI, WLAN
TV out PAL/NTSC HDMI
DIMENSIONS:
Dimensions (width x height x depth; in mm) 126 x 95 x 59
Weight (body without battery and memory card; in g) 599
ACCESSORIES:
Docking station no
Printed manual yes
Manual on CD yes
Bag no
Remote control no
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