Sony A7 II Conclusion

Pro: Cons:
  • Superb JPEG image quality at low to moderate ISOs
  • Excellent sharpness with few sharpening artifacts
  • Very good dynamic range
  • Very good high ISO performance, particularly in RAW files
  • Excellent 5-axis image stabilization
  • IS capabilities with nearly any lens, native or otherwise
  • IS is great for stationary, handheld video
  • Improved handgrip and ergonomics
  • Improved start-up speed
  • Stronger, all-metal lens mount and flange from A7S
  • AF, particularly continuous AF, felt fast and was usable for fast-paced subjects in real-world testing
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC
  • 50Mbps XAVC S format video
  • 1080/60p or 24p clean HDMI output (4:2:2 8-bit)
  • Simultaneous HDMI out + internal recording to memory card
  • Very good print quality results
  • High ISO JPEGs look over-processed
  • Slow buffer clearing (but deep buffers)
  • AF not as good in low-light as most prosumer DSLRs
  • Phase-detection autofocus doesn't work for movies
  • EVF proximity sensor is too sensitive
  • IS system not very effective with fast-paced or very shaky video
  • Single card slot (but supports SD or MS Pro Duo cards)
  • SDXC memory cards with 64GB capacity or larger required to enabled XAVC S format video
  • No built-in flash
  • Sony FE lens lineup still limited, but is growing with new upcoming models
  • Poor battery life compared to most DSLRs
  • Menus still somewhat disorganized
Overall, the Sony A7 II shares many similarities to the original A7 with regards to our lab performance and testing.
See more Pros & Cons in our Sony A7 Review Conclusion.

Sony is going all out with their full-frame mirrorless camera series; first with a high-res base model and an even higher-res model, and then with an ultra-low-light, 4K-capable model. Now, they've circled back around a year later to update the original, base-model A7. With the new A7 Mark II, Sony has kept the same imaging pipeline with a very good, high resolution 24.3-megapixel sensor and BIONZ X image processor, so basic image quality performance remains practically identical to its predecessor, which is to say, very good.

The big change, however, is that Sony took this large full-frame sensor and added sensor-shift image stabilization. The A7 II is the world's first 5-axis image stabilization system in a full-frame mirrorless camera. Sony claims the IS system will provide up to 4.5 stops of correction, and the system is also designed to work in concert with Sony's optically-stabilized glass when such lenses are used. We found the A7 II's "SteadyShot INSIDE," as Sony calls it, works very well, for both stills and stationary, handheld video. For run-and-gun video, or other video with lots of camera movement, however, the IS system did not show significant improvement over non-stabilized footage. But, for stills, especially low-light and macro photography, or video shooting without a tripod, the 5-axis IS system was very impressive.

The new Sony A7 II also underwent a much-welcomed cosmetic upgrade, with improved ergonomics and control layout. The addition of the sensor-shift IS system increases the bulk of the A7 II ever-so-slightly compared to the original A7, but Sony deepened the handgrip for a more comfortable and secure hold. Most notably, though, is the rearrangement of the shutter release button and front control dial to more natural, more comfortable locations. The new button placement also left space for Sony to add an additional customizable button -- win-win! The A7 II also borrows the beefier, all-metal lens mount and flange from the A7S for added durability and stability, which is especially important when using longer, heavier lenses.

Performance remains largely unchanged on the Mark II, though some aspects have improved. Start-up time which was quite sluggish -- even frustrating at times -- on the original A7 is noticeably better, though it's still not what we'd call fast. And while we weren't able to corroborate Sony's claims of 30% faster AF and 1.5x improved tracking performance in the lab, in real-world shooting, the A7 II's AF performance nevertheless felt quick and speedy -- even when shooting difficult, fast-paced subjects like indoor basketball in continuous AF mode. As with many mirrorless cameras -- even those with hybrid AF systems like the A7 II -- autofocus can however struggle or slow down with low-contrast and dimly-lit subjects. 

Video specs also get a nice boost, borrowing the higher bitrate XAVC S format option from the A7S -- though, like the A7S, you require a SDXC card in order to enable XAVC S mode. You also gain S-Log2 gamma for maximum dynamic range, time code and clean HDMI output up to 1080/60p with simultaneous internal recording and uncompressed 4:2:2 8-bit output. However, unlike the A7S, there's no 4K recording or 4K output via HDMI on the A7 II.

Overall, Sony has yet another winner on their hands with the A7 II. By addressing some of the design quirks of the original model, as well as providing a notable technological achievement with their 5-axis image stabilization -- and some subtle, yet worthwhile, performance enhancements -- the Sony A7 II is a more matured, more well-rounded camera and an easy choice as a Dave's Pick.

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