The Sony A7 II (ILCE-7M2) is a full-frame mirrorless camera with image stabilization, the fourth model in the Sony a7 line and the continuation of 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.
Sony a7 II is a mirrorless camera. Mirrorless cameras have an advantage over their DSLR counterparts in that they are physically much smaller, lighter and quieter.
The a7 series has been a giant leap forward for digital photography. Sony was bringing three different, very specific full-frame mirrorless cameras to market at a time when most other companies were concentrating on smaller-sensor DSLRs to drive sales. Then came a7 II. This is not a leap forward, but rather a refinement, perhaps an indication of what is to come. A7 II does not replace a7, and stands next to the Sony lineup. For better or worse, a7 II inherits a lot from a7.
Key features of the Sony a7 II
- 24,3 megapixel full frame CMOS sensor
- 5-axis sensor-based image stabilization
- Advanced hybrid AF system with 25 contrast detection points and 117 phase detection points
- E-mount supporting FE, E and A lenses (with adapter)
- Bionz X processor
- 3" 1,23 million dot tilting LCD (640×480, RGBW)
- 2,36 megapixel OLED viewfinder
- 1080 50 or 60fps at up to 50Mbps (XAVC S)
- Wi-Fi with NFC and downloadable apps
- Like the a7S, the a7 II can record in the XAVC S codec, which delivers 50MB/s data rates at 1080/60p (as well as 1080/30p and 1080/24p). Recording in AVCHD and MP4 formats also remains an option.
The A7 II features a 3-inch tilting LCD like its predecessor, but with higher resolution. 1,23 million dots at 3:2 aspect ratio, can tilt up 107 degrees and down 41 degrees. The electronic viewfinder also remains unchanged and uses 2,3 million dots for 100% accuracy at 0,71x magnification. It is very bright and detailed.
The Sony a7 II is the fourth full-frame ILC with built-in image stabilization (the previous three were the Sony a900, a850 and a99). The IS system in the a7 II works by compensating for movements in 5 different axes, X and Y, as well as pitch, yaw and roll.
When shooting with Sony FE lenses that are already stabilized (referred to as "OSS"), the a7 II will use stabilization based on both the sensor and the lens togetherto get optimal image stabilization performance. The effects of image stabilization can be seen in the live preview when viewed through the electronic viewfinder or LCD monitor.
The advantage of touch image stabilization in a camera like the a7 II is a great help for users of third party lenses and manual lenses. Stabilization is so powerful that it allows you to shoot at 500mm focal length handheld.
Sony A7 vs Sony A7 II
- Improvements include 5-axis sensor-based image stabilization, improved autofocus performance, and some general design changes. The controls are laid out the same as on the A7, although the grip, control dials and shutter have been completely redesigned.
- The body of the a7 II is physically larger and about 25% heavier than the a7 cameras. It's also now made entirely of magnesium alloy, like the a7S; it's just that the a7 and a7R had a composite front panel.
- The A7 II uses the same hybrid autofocus system as the A7, with 117 phase and 25 contrast points. Sony claims that AF has been improved by about 30% over its predecessor thanks to an algorithm tweak, and tracking has improved by a factor of 1,5.
- To compensate for the increased weight of the a7 II, the size and depth of the grip have been increased, resulting in a very comfortable grip. The front and rear command dials have been greatly reduced and recessed into the body of the camera, making it almost impossible to accidentally press them without knowing it, a common complaint from 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 tilted down slightly. Its diameter has been slightly increased compared to the original a7. An additional custom function button has also been added to the top panel of the camera body.
- At first glance, the Sony a7 and a7 II are very similar; it is clear that Sony engineers did not want to change the ergonomics much. However, the a7 II is actually larger and significantly heavier than the a7 without image stabilization. And while the overall design has been retained, the experience of shooting between the two cameras is completely different.
- In the hand, the a7 II feels very confident and collected. The control dials are smaller and deeper recessed into the camera body. To make room for the stabilizer, Sony engineers increased the depth of the camera body by about 3,5mm. But the real noticeable difference lies in the weight. Body a7 II (with battery) weighs 600 g; a7 weighs 474 grams. Nikon D750 for example weighs 836g with battery.
- When you pick up the Sony a7 for the first time, you'll either find the ergonomics great or you'll hate them. The handle of the a7 II is more angular than that of the a7. Not only has the shutter button moved to the top of the grip, but its diameter has also increased substantially. The layout of the buttons on the a7 II is almost the same as on the early a7. The increased depth of the camera and the relocation of the shutter button gave Sony engineers plenty of room to add another custom button to the top of the camera. The custom buttons are also now slightly larger than the a7.
- The mode dial and exposure compensation dial remain in place; the mode dial is also slightly larger now, with "C2" now taking over where the shutter button once was.
- The back of the camera is also almost identical to the a7, in fact it has the same number of buttons, all in the same general layout as its predecessor. "C2" is now "C3" and the native preset on the right side of the control wheel is now ISO instead of WB. By the way, if you use the C3 button for its default function (Zoom), the camera only zooms in on the center of the image in playback, not the AF point used for the shot. In fact, the AF point being used may not be displayed at all. This makes it difficult to quickly check focus.
- The viewfinder size remains the same: 1/2 inch and 2,4 million dots. The rear display is still 3-inch, but its resolution has been increased to 1k dots, up from 228k dots on the a800.
- Some users will like the relocation of the shutter button, while others will miss the a7's original placement.
- The thumb rest area on the back is now sharper and also protrudes further than on the original A7. Again, this helps to counteract the added weight well. The rubberized material covering the grip is the same as the a7 and grippy as ever.
- The a7 II has a matte finish, the original a7 had a slightly glossy finish. What you like is a matter of preference. From a distance of several meters, you will not notice the difference.
- The port area still contains two separate doors, but instead of being stacked on top of each other like on the a7, the ports are now next to each other in the top half of the case.
- The power consumption of the cameras differs by about 30%, down from the A7 II. I was able to produce a burst of 1200 frames + 20 minutes of video (screen off) on a DSTE battery. The usual value for the A7 is a maximum of 600 frames and a couple of minutes of video. A7 is much more voracious.
The area where the additional ports are located has also been redesigned. New covers on a7 II are more difficult to open than on a7. However, the ports themselves are more recessed into the camera body, and the plastic doors are thicker. Probably will be better protected from dust and moisture.
You will find that the a7 and a7 II offer the same connectivity options. Under door #1, you'll find a 1/8" microphone and a headphone jack. Door number two contains an HDMI Micro port and a Micro USB/Multi Interface connector.
When you hold the a7 II in one hand, it is difficult and uncomfortable to move your index finger from the shutter release to the front dial. To do this, you need to either grab the camera with both hands or use your middle finger to toggle options. Either way, it's unnatural. Control dials should be easily accessible and shouldn't force you to change your grip every time you want to press them.
I usually shoot in aperture priority, so between the aperture ring and the exposure compensation dial, I didn't have to fiddle with stupid dials at all. When I didn't have a lens with an aperture ring, it turns out I just changed settings less.
A surprising number of issues that Sony didn't fix that hit the a7 II:
- super sensitive LCD sensor
- dullness when turned on. Sometimes the camera finds inspiration and it turns on in a split second. But often it's a second and a half.
- slowing down the camera when reaching the maximum ISO value, in conditions where the shutter speed cannot be slowed down, and the aperture cannot be opened wider. But this is forgivable, since in photo mode the camera does not make the shutter speed longer than 1/focal or 1/60 unnecessarily, unlike any shitty Canon, which will set the correct exposure pair in its opinion, not paying attention to its meaning.
- sometimes when the camera is turned off, the shutter is clicked. Just. Apparently, in order to relieve stress. This has been going on since the first Sony Nex.
- loud shutter operation can be attributed here. The camera began to work louder than its predecessor. The shutter sound has changed, and now it is sonorous, not deaf.
Auto ISO functionality has been improved over the original cameras a7. Instead of the standard 1/60s shutter speed when shooting in aperture priority, regardless of focal length, the a7 II instead selects a start shutter speed that is equivalent to a unit slightly longer than the focal length of the attached lens.
But, if you shoot at 28mm, the default shutter speed will still be 1/60 sec, not 1/30 sec. The A7 II won't choose a shutter speed slower than 1/60s or one faster than the focal length, unless the situation is very, very dark; so dark that the maximum ISO setting has been reached. Turning the stub on and off does not affect the shutter speed selected in auto ISO mode and aperture priority.
Thanks to this feature, I began to switch modes less. In canon, I often had to switch from aperture priority to shutter priority or even to manual mode. In the case of the A7 II, this only happens in really very difficult conditions.
Sony A7 mark II (ILCE-7M2) ISO
I found that ISO 16 is the maximum ISO value at which the picture does not crumble. Despite this, it seemed to me that the really working ISO, depending on the conditions, could be 000. You can poke a comparison of different cameras and ISO from them here. Considering that after the cropped canon with its working 6400 maximum, for my personal subsidiary plot this is not a breakthrough, but a breakthrough. In the settings, if the purity of the picture is important to me, I set the limit to 16000 and water it like it's high, occasionally adjusting the camera settings. Is this not hallelujah, brothers and sisters? When working in JPEG, the camera allows you to set native 51200, which when viewed on a monitor looks like 10 jackals out of 10. But in principle, using this, you don’t have to worry about retouching the model’s skin - the camera will do it itself, by mixing neighboring pixels, prudently removing skin imperfections along with sharpness.
In general, the Sony A7 II uses the same sensor as the Sony A7. It also has nearly identical sensor specs to the Nikon D750 (both use a 24,3-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor). For those who like to pick up heavy ravines, the camera has an Uncompressed RAW function. It was introduced relatively recently, in the latest version of the camera firmware. Now you can get the same pictures for Instagram filters from 50 megabyte files, not 25, as it was before. The function is disabled, and no matter how much I tried to understand, I did not see the difference. Neither by color, nor by any other criteria such as detailing, changes are visible. Moreover, in one of the reviews, the blogger praised the new uncompressed RAW mode so much that he posted for comparison pictures that looked worse in uncompressed format than in normal (of course, on my uncalibrated IPS 46″ monitor).
ILCE-7M2 shutter operation
The shutter operation of the Sony a7 II is loud, there is no quiet and silent mode. The sound from it is less pleasant than from the first seven. The margin of safety is high - I have met cameras on the network with a mileage of more than 500 thousand operations. This is a chamber on which you can water endlessly. At first, it’s unusual that the “electronic front curtain” function is activated in the camera and at slow shutter speeds you might think that the camera just hung.
The camera offers "30% better autofocus" according to Sony. I don’t know by what criterion to measure, but what is clearly noticed is that with some glasses the A7 II focuses an order of magnitude faster, and does not have the nasty property of focusing on everything that is around, but not on what is needed. Luckily, over the years Canon has allowed me to develop the habit of checking focus after confirmation, and thanks to the presence of Focus Peaking, which in A7that in the A7 II, this has become much easier to do. Just imagine that in the hands of an ordinary high-speed soap dish! Focus A7 II is clearly more precise and tenacious, even in dynamics, thanks to 119 phase focusing points. The percentage of marriage is minimal. But I was not upset by the speed and A7. You just need to assume and observe the process.
But tracking autofocus began to really work as if the big brother was watching you closely. The camera very quickly rebuilds the focus area in all planes of our three-dimensional world. Focusing in low light is good. To be honest, I didn't even expect that. The main thing is to find a contrasting spot, and the camera will not move without problems. You can even do without backlighting. In addition, you can switch to DMF mode (and I don’t switch from it), and bring it up manually. Fortunately, zooming in on such a scale was previously unavailable on DSLRs with an optical viewfinder.
It's worth noting that if you set the camera's AF area to "wide" (the default AF area where the camera automatically chooses which AF points to use), the a7 II only uses the center of the frame to focus. This is presumably because the camera prioritizes the use of phase detection AF points. However, if face detection is enabled, the camera will focus on faces no matter where they appear in the frame. A7, in this case, will focus as if it were high.
Phase detection does not work below f/8, beyond which the camera reverts to slower autofocus with contrast detection. The reason is that the a7 II tries to focus at whatever aperture is set. And an aperture of f/9 or less does not provide enough light for the phase difference detection system to work properly. However, it should be noted that there is not much difference. At the same time, if you try to focus while holding down the aperture in a very dark place, the camera, nevertheless, opens the aperture completely to focus. But it usually takes a long time to resolve. Until the very end, he will stand his ground.
At 50mm, the a7 II delivers over 50% usable images down to 1/13s. I often shoot handheld, and for me, having such a powerful stub in the camera is just happiness. Now the shake does not depend on the tremor, but on the movement of the camera or the subject. Very good results can be obtained at 1/10 at 35, 50 and 85mm focal lengths. At 500mm, stabilization allows you to shoot handheld up to shutter speeds of 1/100. If you rely on something, then you can improve performance.
When using a lens, the OSS a7 II allows the lens-based stabilization system to handle tilt and yaw, while the sensor takes care of the X- and Y-axis movement, as well as roll. Lenses with OSS for cropped cameras, unlike the A7, work in pairs here. On the A7, the cropped lens stabilizer is ignored by the camera.
Like most digital cameras, the a7 II doesn't use all the data coming from the sensor to record video. The A7 II is Alpha's second full-frame camera to offer XAVC S up to 50Mbps, previously only available in the video-centric a7S. The advantage of the codec is, in general, in better overall quality.
The A7 II can also record in AVCHD and MP4 formats. During video capture, users can choose between various manual and automatic shooting modes to capture video. Auto ISO is extremely useful when shooting in variable lighting conditions, and can be used when shooting in manual mode. Cameras purchased in Europe have a maximum frame rate of 60, while PCT cameras are limited to 50 fps.
More advanced features that originally appeared in the a7S also appeared in the a7 II. For example, markers and dual video recording (a feature that allows you to shoot both high and low quality video at the same time). Zebra, focus peaking and sound settings are the same as A7. Shooting video on the a7 II is easy. By default, the camera is set to record whenever the red record button is pressed, regardless of your mode, so switching from photo to video is painless. Questions about the location of the video recording button arose, it seems, not only for me, so in recent models the button has a more logical location.
As soon as we switch to video capture, the a7 II defaults to AF-C focusing. You should pay attention to this, and use the appropriate setting or use autofocus lock. Shooting many small repeating objects turns the video with these elements into ripples. with certain settings, you can catch such a cool rolling shutter, however, if you know how to shoot, and not the way I do it, then you may not encounter such problems.
PC connectivity and wireless capabilities
The camera can be controlled remotely, but when connected to a PC via a wire. Wireless capabilities are represented by the presence of Wi-Fi and NFC. When connected via Wi-Fi, you can update the camera, as well as install the necessary applications for operation directly from the Sony store. By the way, by default, remote control did not work for me, I had to register and update the built-in remote shooting application. Sony updated the software for desktop and smartphones, but did not bother to warn users that they also needed to update the software in the camera. This caused many people to burn (see reviews on Imaging Edge Mobile).
In general, the camera turned out to be good. In the secondary market, an A7 in perfect condition costs the same as an A7II with 100-150 thousand frames. Great luck to snatch A7II for 400-500$. The shutter on the first seven worked out 250 thousand calmly. On the second seven, it processes far beyond half a million frames without replacement. Most are looking for cameras in better condition than they are sometimes sold. Due to not very high-quality elastic bands, for the appearance of the case, you can ask the seller to throw off a little more, for the cost of those very rubber bands and their replacement (~$ 50-90). If we have, for example, $600 for a full-frame camera, then the A7 II is just the option that can also be quickly sold if you don’t like it. In addition to everything, it is worth noting that for manual optics it is better not to come up with a camera:
- liquid, unlike DSLRs
- has focus picking out of the box, including in video mode
- works great with any optics through an adapter
- does not work well with Canon AF optics, not every lens can adequately work on A7 and A7II, however, installation is possible.
- the matrix is always open, so you have to clean it more often than DSLRs or Sony Nex.
- under certain conditions, it catches rolling shutter, most likely due to the brakes of the camera itself due to the operation of the very logic by which the camera does not lower the shutter speed less than 1/60 of a second until the very end
Sample Photos and Videos Sony A7 mark II (ILCE-7M2)
Sony A7ii video sample
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