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Sony Alpha A7S Mark II Expert Review

Read our full review of the new Sony Alpha A7S Mark II - the 12 megapixel camera with 4K video recording.

|  Sony Alpha 7S II in Mirrorless Cameras
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Sony Alpha A7S II (3)
The Sony Alpha A7S Mark II (ILCE-A7SM2) offers the improved handling and design of the A7 Mark II and A7R Mark II, with 5-axis image stabilisation, along with a number of other improvements, whilst retaining the 12 megapixel Full Frame sensor for low light performance, and 4K video recording. The A7S II is available now priced at £2499 body only.

Sony Alpha A7S Mark II Features

Sony Alpha A7S II (6)

At the "core" of the Sony Alpha A7S Mark II is the same full-frame 12 megapixel CMOS sensor from the A7S, which offers an extended ISO range of ISO50 up to ISO409,600 (Native ISO100 to ISO102,400).

4K video recording has been updated, and it is now possible to record internally to the SD card - the original A7S required the use of an external recorder connected to the HDMI port for 4K video recording.

Sony Alpha A7S Mark II Updates over the A7S:

  • 14-bit uncompressed RAW format (improved over 12bit compressed) – 24MB file instead of 12MB.
  • Tough magnesium alloy body
  • Reduced vibration shutter, 500,000 cycles
  • Updated EVF, 0.78x magnification (A7S was 0.71x), Zeiss T* coating
  • Updated 3inch screen, 1.228m dots (A7S was 921k dots)
  • Enhanced grip and shutter button
  • Updated controls to match other Mark II cameras
  • Easy button customisation
  • Power supply via USB – use the camera, powered from USB (PC or mobile battery)
  • More precise white balance adjustment
  • Bright monitoring
  • ISO auto minimum shutter speed


Sony Alpha A7s Video Comparison 4K

Sony Alpha A7s Video Comparison - 4K

Video Features:

  • Full frame 4K internal recording with full pixel readout without pixel binning
  • 5-axis image stabilisation, 4.5 steps compensation, works with any lens (including legacy)
  • 120fps HFR (High Frame Rate) video recording (at FullHD), up to 5x/4x slow motion
  • Gamma Display assist
  • Wide dynamic range, 14stops, (1300% - plus 3.6 steps above 100%)
  • S-Gamut3.Cine / S-Log3 (for Cinema) and S-Gamut3 / S-Log3 (BT2020) profiles
  • Enhanced Zebra display

Auto Focus has been updated, with 169 AF points (vs 25 points on the A7S), and the camera can focus down to -4 EV. There is also twice as fast AF in movie recording. Designed for low light and wide dynamic range, the camera records 4K video internally using XAVC S format, other updates in video include the ability to record 120fps (100MBps).

Here we compare the A7S vs A7S II vs A7R II as all cameras can record 4K video:

12mp 12mp 42mp
25 focus points 169 focus points 399 focus points
- 5-axis IS 5-axis IS
4K Full-frame
- without binning
4K Full-frame
- without binning
4K Full-frame
4K external only  4K internal / external  4K internal / external
- - 4K Super 35
- without binning
1080p Full-frame
- without binning
1080p Full-frame
- without binning
1080p Full-frame
1080p Super 35mm
- without binning
1080p Super 35mm
- without binning
1080p Super 35mm

Sony has provided this presentation slide to show the differences between the camera models, as well as graphically show the sensor area that the camera uses when recording in the different modes. 

Sony A7s Video Comparison Fullhd1

Sony A7s Video Comparison - FullHD

Video in detail: 4K resolution (3840x2160, UHD), 30p, 25p, 24p, 100MBps XAVC S internal recording – requires an SDXC card with UHS I – U:3 rating. 4K recording is a full pixel readout without pixel binning and uses the full-frame of the sensor. There is also clean HDMI output for 4K and FullHD. Video options include various profile options to deliver wider dynamic range and improved colour correction. 

Sensor based 5-axis image stabilisation can be used in both video and stills modes, making steady video recording possible whilst hand-holding the camera, as well as giving stabilisation for low-light photography, with 4.5 stops compensation.

Sony Optical Steady Shot Is

When using E mount and A mount lenses with OSS (Optical Steady Shot) image stabilisation the camera will compensate for 3 directions, with 2 compensated with the lens. When using a standard lens without OSS, the sensor will be using for image stabilisation, using the 5-axis sensor stabilisation system.

Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity is built in, as per the original A7s. This lets you connect the camera to a compatible Android or iOS device, as well as use Sony PlayMemories apps to add additional features to the camera, using either free apps or paid apps.

The camera can shoot at 5fps, and uses a 12mp FF CMOS sensor, with a battery life of 310 shots.

Sony Alpha A7S Mark II Handling

Sony Alpha A7S II (1)

Like the A7 Mark II and A7R Mark II, the Sony Alpha A7S Mark II shares the same body design and build quality, with a well-built magnesium alloy body, and a large front grip with ample rubber covering that extends around to the back for your thumb. On the side is the memory card slot that takes SD memory card or Sony Memory Sticks. 

There is a top mode dial with a central button to unlock the dial. Next to this are two customisable buttons (C1 and C2), and an exposure compensation dial giving quick access to exposure compensation should you need it. There are front and rear control dials so that you can quickly and easily change the shutter and aperture values when in A/S/M modes. There is a third customisable button (C3) on the back near the electronic viewfinder.

Sony Alpha A7S II (11)

The Fn (Function) button on the back of the camera brings up the quick menu, and this can be customised so that you have quick access to your favourite settings. Above this is the AF/MF button with a switch that turns this into the AEL button. The video record button is found on the corner of the camera. The four-way controller on the back of the camera is also a scroll wheel which makes it quicker to change settings, as you don't have to move your thumb or finger to another dial.

The A7S Mark II has an updated number of focus points, with 169 contrast detection focus points covering a wide area of the sensor, and the camera can focus down to -4 EV, although in very low light conditions we found the camera occasionally struggled to focus correctly, whereas a full-frame Digital SLR managed to focus much more successfully. 

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) has a high resolution of 2,359K dots, giving 100% coverage, and 0.78x magnification. This makes the viewfinder large and bright, as well as very clear, with good colour. There's a good size rubber surround, which is good for those that wear glasses, and there's also dioptre adjustment on the side. The screen tilts up and down, and has a good resolution of 1,228K dots, with good colour and viewing angle.

Sony Alpha A7S II (12)

Menus – The Sony menu system is clearly laid out and easy to use, and is standardized across all Sony cameras. There are a large number of options, which could make reference to the manual useful, and this does make finding some options quite time consuming if you are not familiar with the layout.

The Fn (function) button doubles as a Wi-Fi button letting you connect to a smartphone over Wi-Fi or NFC if your smartphone features it. You can add additional features to the camera using Sony PlayMemories apps, with apps available for free or alternatively for a fee. 

Sony Alpha A7S II (10)

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 310 shots according to Sony / CIPA test results, which is average for a mirrorless class of camera - therefore we would recommend a spare battery if you plan on shooting more, or you could invest in the optional battery grip. A nice feature of the A7S Mark II is the ability to charge the camera using a MicroUSB cable, as well as the ability to use the camera while powering the camera this way. 

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Photographs taken using the Sony Alpha 7S II

The Blue LagoonSean and Wife

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