Meet Sony’s 4th full frame mirrorless interchangeable lens camera: the Sony A7 Mk II. The camera is sort of being billed as the successor to the A7: which was (and still is) the perfect balance of high ISO output and resolution right in the middle. But Sony has come out with a few new changes to the camera with the biggest one being the addition of image stabilization to the sensor. Other changes added in are the inclusion of more autofocus points, ergonomic changes to the grip, and a couple of additions for video shooters.
Sony brought the New York press out on an excursion to play with the new camera in different environments. And while the A7 Mk II is capable of doing some really cool stuff, we’re not sure that everyone needs it–or at least that’s what we think so far.
Specs taken from the B&H Photo listing of the camera
- 24.3MP Full-Frame Exmor CMOS Sensor
- BIONZ X Image Processor
- 5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE Stabilization
- Enhanced Fast Hybrid AF and 5 fps Burst
- Full HD XAVC S Video and S-Log2 Gamma
- 3.0″ 1,228.8k-Dot Tilting LCD Monitor
- XGA 2.36M-Dot OLED Electronic Viewfinder
- Weather-Resistant Magnesium Alloy Body
- Refined Grip & Robust Lens Mount
- Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC
The Sony A7 Mk II has a couple of ergonomic differences from the original A7. What you’ll notice on the front is the clear designation that this is the Mark II version of the camera. You’ll also see some differences on the grip not only with its more poignant design but also the exposure control being positioned under the on/off switch.
As you head to the top, you’ll see extra additions like the new custom function buttons added (two vs one on the previous generation). Again, you’ll also see differences with the grip. Plus, you can find the mode dial, exposure compensation dial, and shutter release on top. Indeed, the camera looks more like a DSLR than it did before.
The back of the A7 Mk II features loads of buttons on the right hand side with much of the controls in many of the spots that you remember them. Additionally, the LCD screen still tilts if you need it to.
Not many major changes have come to the viewfinder, though at least to my eyes this one doesn’t look at clear or crisp as the older A7.
In comparison to the older A7, the Mk II has a much more pronounced grip with more buttons on top for extra control right at your fingertips.
Not a single major bad thing can be said about the build quality of the Sony A7 Mk II. In fact, we’d be inclined to say that the feel of the camera body is right up there with the Olympus OMD EM1. The A7 Mk II feels solid overall and the grip is proportionally beefy. Photographers that thought that the A7’s grip wasn’t enough will be very pleased with what Sony did with the Mk II’s grip.
On a personal note though, I wanted less of a grip to give me more of an old school analog SLR feel.
What’s really nice is that the camera overall now feels incredibly balanced with many of Sony’s lenses.
Ease of Use
The A7 Mk II features much of Sony’s old menu systems but takes changes that the A7s incorporated and builds on them. For example, to get to lock-on AF mode, you’ll need to go through the focusing selection menu vs the A7 method of it having its own option. Veteran Sony users from the A77 and on will not have much of an issue with the camera.
However, you should note that the menu system is still very deep.
What we’re very happy about though is the image stabilization that can surely endure most problems that you’ll encounter when shooting if you practice logical exposure manipulation.
While we didn’t experiment quite in-depth with the focusing performance yet, the camera surely was able to lock onto subjects in low light with no major issues. When it came to fast moving subjects though, things became a bit more problematic.
What we can say to begin with is that we wish that the Mk II had the direct thumb joystick control that the A99 and A77 series cameras have. It would make life much, much simpler for autofocus acquisition.
Here are some first image samples. The camera has more or less the same sensor as the original A7.
Also please bear in mind that these are JPEGs out of the camera and that the A7 Mk II isn’t supported yet in Adobe Lightroom.
In the five hours that we spent with the A7 Mk II, we didn’t see any major and completely mind blowing differences that would make us sell our Sony A7 cameras just yet. But we have much more in-depth testing to do. We will keep you all informed as things continue to progress.