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Sony Alpha A7 Mark II ILCE-7M2 Review

Sony Alpha A7 Mark II ILCE-7M2 Review - Reviewed: The Sony Alpha A7-II - The updated camera features improved handling and controls, along with in-camera image stabilisation.

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Sony Alpha 7 II in Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera

Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Sony Alpha A7II (3)

Announced in November, the Sony Alpha A7 Mark II (aka ILCE-7M2) is an update to the Alpha 7, with built in 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilisation, improved AF performance, plus improved handling with a redesigned grip featuring an improved shutter release button position, and additional custom buttons.

Sony Alpha A7 Mark II Features

Sony Alpha A7II (4)

The updated and redesigned Sony Alpha A7 Mark II includes a larger hand-grip, with repositioned shutter-release button, front and rear command dials, as well as additional custom buttons. The finish on the metal body has more of a textured finish compared to the original A7.

The camera also features built-in 5-axis sensor shift image stabilisation (Steadyshot Inside), the first mirrorless interchangeable camera from Sony with in-body sensor-shift image stabilisation. The image stabilisation is rated at 4.5 stops*.

Sony Alpha A7II (1)

Part of the A7/A7R/A7S family of the full-frame interchangeable lens cameras – the A7 Mark II features a 24 megapixel full-frame 35mm Exmor CMOS image sensor, gives ISO50 to ISO25600, and FullHD video recording. The A7 Mark II, like the A7, features a 24 megapixel sensor, while the A7R features a 36 megapixel sensor, and the A7S features a 12 megapixel sensor, ideal for low light, as well as offering 4K video recording. 

Other features include a high-contrast XGA OLED Tru-Finder, Wi-Fi/NFC connectivity and compatibility with the growing range of downloadable PlayMemories Camera Apps. NFC (Near Field Communication) and Wi-Fi is built in for remote operation, and image transfer when connected to a compatible smartphone, and the camera uses the Sony PlayMemories Mobile app which is compatible with Android and iOS devices.

Sony Alpha A7II (6)

Key Features

  • 24.3 megapixel Full-Frame Exmor CMOS sensor
  • Sony E-Mount
  • Sensor-shift image stabilisation
  • 3inch tilting TFT screen, 1,228,800 dots
  • 2.359 million dot electronic viewfinder (EVF)
  • ISO50-ISO25,600
  • BIONZ X image engine
  • Full-HD video recording
  • 270 / 350 shot battery life (viewfinder/LCD)
  • Wi-Fi, NFC connectivity
  • 117 phase-detection AF points
  • 25 contrast detection AF points works down to -1 EV
  • 1/8000s shutter speed

Sony Alpha A7 Mark II Handling

Sony Alpha A7II (10)
The camera features a tough magnesium-alloy body that is weather sealed, and gives side access to the memory card slot, supporting the use of either Sony Memory Stick or SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards. The inclusion of in-camera image stabilisation, has resulted in a slightly larger camera body, with increased weight compared to previous models, and when used with a larger lens can result in the camera feeling heavy when used for an extended length of time - although is still lighter when compared to full-frame cameras.

The tilting screen is now more smoothly integrated into the camera body, and this means it can, at times, feel a little difficult to pull away from the camera to tilt the screen. The redesigned camera has resulted in a more textured finish, as well as black shutter release button and flash hot-shoe, compared to silver on the other A7 models. 

The A7-II, along with the A7, A7R, and A7S, features the same orange ring around the lens mount, which was first introduced with the Sony Alpha 99, and Sony Cyber-shot RX1, and signifies that the camera has a full-frame sensor. The rest of the camera design is much more similar to a Digital SLR than the previous Alpha 7 models.

The rear features a high resolution 921k dot 3inch tilting screen that tilts up and down, and a high resolution 2.4 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF), with dioptre correction and eye-detection sensor so that it will automatically switch to the viewfinder when held up to the eye, although did seem overly sensitive at times. 

Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) quality is excellent, with a very clear and crisp display, which includes a dual-axis electronic level, and the EVF has a good sized rubber surround to help viewing outdoors which will be of benefit to anyone who wears glasses. The menu system is clearly laid out and easy to use, although there are a large number of options, which could make reference to the manual useful. A switch on the back will let you change the operation of the AF/MF button to an AEL button.

Sony Alpha A7II (9)

The WB button has been changed to an ISO button, and the memory card access LED has been repositioned to make it easy to see. The side video record button has been placed so that you don't accidentally start video recording. There is also a microphone and headphone socket on the side for those seriously interested in video recording, and the clean HDMI out will be of particular interest here.

The mode dial features Auto, P, A, S, M, Scene, Panoramic, Video modes as well as two customisable user modes, and there's also two custom buttons on top (C1, C2) of the camera, with a third custom (C3) button on the back, along with a Fn (Wi-Fi) button, and C4 button that doubles as the delete button when in playback. The functions available on screen when you press the Fn button can be customised to give quick access to your favourite options.

A large front grip is covered in a textured rubber coating that extends round to the back of the camera, where it is shaped for your thumb. The camera feels good to hold, and due to the lenses being of a decent size, holding the camera with two hands (with one supporting the lens) is highly recommended. If you plan on using one of the adapters, and Sony Alpha (A-Mount) lenses with the camera, or other large lenses, then the optional battery grip could help the camera feel more balanced, as well as giving extended battery life.

An exposure compensation dial on top gives quick access to exposure control. The front and rear dial can be used for aperture and shutter control when in manual / aperture or shutter modes respectively.

Sony Alpha A7II (11)

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 350 shots according to Sony / CIPA test results (when using the LCD screen), which is quite good for a mirrorless class of camera, although is only 270 shots when using the EVF. Extended use of Wi-Fi and the electronic viewfinder will reduce battery life.

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response <0.05s
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.25s
Telephoto - Focus / Shutter Response 0.25s
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 2.0s
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.6s
Shot to Shot with Flash N/A
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
5fps (58 shots), 28 seconds to write to card
Continuous Shooting - Flash N/A
Continuous Shooting - RAW 5fps (22 shots), 28 seconds to write to card


Focus is reasonably quick and uses contrast and phase detection focus. Tested with the 28-70mm lens, Class 10 memory card. 

Sony Alpha A7II (7)

Sony Alpha A7 Mark II Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Sony Alpha 7 II Sample Photos

Sample Photos - The camera produces sharp detailed JPEG images straight from the camera, although contrast is quite high and to recover detail in shadows converting the raw images can be helpful. Exposure is reliable although you do need to be aware of the exposure compensation dial, as there is no illuminated LED to signify that it has been altered. 

Sony Alpha 7 II Lens test images

Lens Performance - The A7 Mark II produces images with excellent levels of detail. Dynamic range is good, with the camera featuring a number of effective ways to increase dynamic range, using either the DRO setting or HDR setting. Image quality is very good with the prime lenses available for the Sony Alpha A series mirrorless cameras, and the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens is provided with a small lens hood so shouldn't suffer when using the camera in bright sunlight.

When shooting RAW and JPEG, the camera records both the RAW image as well as a JPEG image with standard compression, instead of JPEG Fine, which is a shame as it would be useful to be able to alter the compression options when recording both. 

Sony Alpha 7 II ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - For the lowest noise and best detail possible we would recommend using ISO50 to ISO1600, as images have low levels of noise and good levels of detail. For lower light situations ISO3200 to ISO6400 still provides good results, although noise increases and detail is reduced as the ISO setting is increased. At ISO12800 noise levels become stronger although results may still be useful if resized, used on the web or with further processing. Detail and colour suffers at ISO25600, with noise becoming quite dominant. 

Sony Alpha 7 II White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) performs well with a slightly warm colour cast under tungsten lighting, with the tungsten preset giving a more accurate result. AWB performs well under fluorescent lights with a slightly warm result, with the fluorescent preset giving a more accurate result.

Sony Alpha A7 II Panoramic DSC07788 | 1/125 sec | f/8.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 100
Panoramic | 1/125 sec | f/8.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 100

Panorama mode - The camera features an automatic panoramic mode, where you simply press the shutter release button and pan the camera from one side to the other. Results are good, and well stitched together, with a good resolution image produced.

Sony Alpha 7 II Digital filters

Digital Filters - When using the picture effects, the camera records the altered JPEG but does not let you use this feature with raw enabled. There are also colour options (called Creative Style), that let you adjust the contrast, saturation, and sharpness, and this is available when shooting JPEG and raw.

Video - The camera records full HD videos with stereo sound, and there are options to adjust the audio levels as well as audio out timing, and wind noise reduction. Microphone, headphone and HDMI ports can be found on the left of the camera, and a clean HDMI output is provided.

Value For Money

The Sony Alpha A7 Mark II is available for £1449 body only, which makes the pricing slightly higher than the Sony Alpha A7R, and slightly less than the A7S. The higher price of this compared to the original A7 will be worth it to those that want to benefit from the image stabilisation when using lenses without image stabilisation, or when using legacy lenses with adapters. There are no other full-frame cameras available with in-camera image stabilisation, although there are a number of full-frame Digital SLRs available as an alternative, including the Canon EOS 6D (£1259), and Nikon 750D (£1749).

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Sony Alpha A7 Mark II Verdict

The Sony Alpha A7 Mark II adds in-camera 5-axis image stabilisation which will work with any lens used with the camera, which will be of appeal to anyone who has been using the Sony Alpha A7 series cameras with alternative lenses using an adapter. Whether used with Sony lenses or using an adapter, the camera is setup for accurate and easy manual focus thanks to focus peaking and other display options, as well as a clear and high resolution electronic viewfinder. 

The A7 Mark II improves on the A7, with improved handling and controls, and the camera feels comfortable in use, although the additional weight could put some people off, along with the higher price. The finish on the weather-sealed magnesium alloy body has been updated to include a design and style more similar to a Digital SLR, and the larger hand-grip will help when using the camera with larger lenses. The 24.3 megapixel full-frame sensor delivers excellent results, the improved resolution tilting screen looks great, and built in Wi-Fi and NFC makes transferring images easy. 

Sony Alpha A7 Mark II Pros

5-axis image stabilisation built in
Improved resolution 3inch screen (1,228,800 dots)
Improved handling and controls
Full-frame sensor mirrorless camera
Focus peaking / Zebra display
5fps continuous shooting (speed priority)
Weather sealed magnesium alloy body
Microphone / Headphone sockets
Dual axis electronic level

Sony Alpha A7 Mark II Cons

USB charging / separate charger not provided
Shorter battery life when using the EVF
Limited lens range in FE mount - quickly growing, plus plenty of adapters available
Flash not included / provided - although possibly not needed

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

The Sony Alpha A7 Mark II offers improved handling as well as built-in image stabilisation making the camera better than ever.

 

Sony Alpha 7 II Specifications

ManufacturerSony
Image Sensor
Pixels24.3Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)6000
Pixels (H)4000
Sensor TypeExmor CMOS
Sensor SizeFull-Frame
Sensor Size (width)35.8mm
Sensor Size (height)23.9mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution1228k dots
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • Multi
  • Centre
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/8000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Bulb modeYes
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • Program Variable
Metering
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity50 - 25600
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Bracket
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Underwater
Exposure Comp+/-3
Viewfinder
Viewfinder Resolution2,359,296 dots
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting5fps
Video
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 640x480 VGA
  • 1440x1080
Video FPS60p, 25p
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Interface
HDMIYes
USBUSB 2
Wi-FiYes
Storage
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • Memory Stick (Sony)
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeInfo-Lithium Battery (NP-FW50)
Battery Life (CIPA rating)270shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsAC Adapter (USB), Rechargeable Battery Pack (NP-FW50), MicroUSB Cable, Shoulder strap
Dimensions
Weight599g
Width126.9mm
Height95.7mm
Depth59.7mm

View Full Product Details

* Based on CIPA standard. Pitch/yaw shake only. With Sonnar T* FE 55 mm F1.8 ZA lens mounted. Long exposure NR off.

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Photographs taken using the Sony Alpha 7 II

Etude with peoniestighten the laces***we all are in a way to a sort of autism***The Bell And The Sun***Isometrics of the cityEmerging*********Boxing gloves***Lone Tree At Sunset

Comments


AlanWillis 8 67 England
25 Feb 2015 8:10PM

Sony have introduced 4 professional cameras in 15 months and top the mirrorless camera sales in Japan, They have just driven another nail in the mirror's coffin. They listen to their customers. Sony now have a quality selection of FF E-mount lenses. Most lenses more than a few years old cannot cope with 36mp let alone 50mp, I believe The FF lenses in the pipe line cover almost everything up to 200MM Apart for wildlife photographers, the use of a camera with a mirror has come to the end of the road. I still use my A99 for this with 300 & 400 lenses and converters.
The in-camera5-axis Optical steady Shot is brilliant for hand held video, and the fear of manual focus has gone, due to peaking. Using a LA-EA3 adaptor, keeps the camera mirrorless and enables you to use A mount lenses.
So what for the near future in mirrorless Sony?
4K video in camera ( the A7S needs a monitor, which costs about 1,000. ) Two card slots, fully articulated live view ( like the A99 ) I'm sure in the few months ahead, Sony will still amaze us.

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