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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
+ 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
– 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|
|Size of sensor (in inches)||0/0.00|
|Size of sensor (in mm)||35.8 x 23.9|
|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|
|Aperture presetting, shutter-speed presetting, manual exposure settings,|
|White balance settings||6|
|Individual white balance||yes|
|Manual ISO control||yes|
|On, off, automatic-flash, slow-sync, anti-red-eye, rear curtain sync|
|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|
|Battery charger included||yes|
|Power supply unit||no|
|Supported memory cards||Memory stick, SD card, SDHC card, SDXC card|
|PC connection||USB 2.0, HDMI, WLAN|
|TV out||PAL/NTSC HDMI|
|Dimensions (width x height x depth; in mm)||126 x 95 x 59|
|Weight (body without battery and memory card; in g)||599|
|Manual on CD||yes|