First Impressions: Sony A7s Mk II

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A7s Mk II first impressions product images (4 of 11)ISO 2001-40 sec at f - 2.8

Last week, Sony shocked us all with the announcement of their A7s Mk II. With the Sony A7 introduced only last year, we were very shocked to see a refresh this soon. But the refresh incorporates some very important upgrades such as 14 Bit uncompressed RAW photos–and in a meeting today with Sony’s engineers we were told that by enabling this setting, the files literally become twice as large. So if a file is 24MB, 14 bit uncompressed RAW will allow for a 48MB file. What we were also told is that the color depth and dynamic range also won’t be affected–and instead the difference in image quality will really just been see in the artifacts that happens in high contrast areas.

The Sony A7s Mk II also is said (by Sony’s reps) to have slightly better image quality, and that pretty much the same processor is being used. Beyond this there are a bunch of other video features and five axis image stabilization.

We had a bit of playtime with the Sony A7s Mk II today at Sony’s NYC headquarters, and we’re very surprised at what it’s capable of doing–especially with the autofocus.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from the B&H Photo listing.

  • 12.2MP Full-Frame Exmor CMOS Sensor
  • BIONZ X Image Processor
  • Internal UHD 4K30 & 1080p120 Recording
  • S-Log3 Gamma and Display Assist Function
  • 5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE Stabilization
  • 0.5″ 2.36m-Dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder EVF
  • 3.0″ 1,228,800-Dot Tilting LCD Monitor
  • Up to 5 fps Shooting and ISO 409600
  • Fast Intelligent AF, 169 AF Points
  • Built-In Wi-Fi with NFC

Ergonomics

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A7s Mk II first impressions product images (5 of 11)ISO 2001-125 sec at f - 2.8

The Sony A7s Mk II shares much of the same design tweaks that the Sony A7 Mk II and A7r Mk II have from their predecessors. And to start our ergonomics tour, we begin with the front of the camera. This area is very clean and almost no control buttons or dials of any sort are present aside from the lens release.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A7s Mk II first impressions product images (6 of 11)ISO 2001-40 sec at f - 2.8

Move to the top of the camera and what you’ll see is a similar control layout from the other two cameras. An exposure dial is here along with custom function buttons, a mode dial (which has a much more authoritative click with each turn than the others do) and the hot shoe and the exposure compensation dial.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A7s Mk II first impressions product images (3 of 11)ISO 1001-30 sec at f - 2.8

The back of the camera is where you’ll find more controls like the other two exposure dials, more buttons, the viewfinder and the tilting LCD screen.

Again, it’s very similar to every other Sony A7 Mk II model out there.

Build Quality

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A7s Mk II first impressions product images (10 of 11)ISO 2501-80 sec at f - 2.8

Sony says that the A7s Mk II shares the same dust and splash proof protection that the other Mk II model cameras have. You can use it in the rain, but don’t expect it to survive a hurricane.

We have yet to put this to the test with this camera; though considering that all of the A7 cameras are very similar when it comes to build quality, it’s safe to say that this one will have similar results.

As stated in the ergonomics section, the only real difference I found is that the mode dial has a much more authoritative and solid click to it.

Ease of Use

The Sony A7s Mk Ii has an identical menu structure to the other cameras except for two big points:

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A7s Mk II first impressions product images (7 of 11)ISO 2001-40 sec at f - 2.8

  • The menu system has an uncompressed setting for RAW files. This will be coming to the A7r Mk II via a firmware update and may even come to the A7 Mk II.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A7s Mk II first impressions product images (9 of 11)ISO 2501-80 sec at f - 2.8

  • The ISO settings can go nuclear. We’re not sure who has a need for this still, but it’s very possible.

Autofocus

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A7s Mk II first impressions product images (11 of 11)ISO 256001-50 sec at f - 2.8

Sony set up a station in their penthouse suite showing off the Sony A7s Mk II moving back and forth on a slider and focusing on flowers while using the 35mm f1.4. The camera was able to keep the flowers in focus the entire time. The A7 can’t create such great images at a very high ISO level, but the A7s Mk II was able to shoot video and maintain focus while moving back and forth.

However, we did our own short video test of the autofocus; and we’ve got some awesome news. The Sony A7s Mk II is apparently focusing just as quick as that of a Micro Four Thirds camera. What that means is that the camera is focusing just as quick as a camera with a sensor that has a 2x crop factor. This sensor is larger and has no crop factor. For years, no one could beat Olympus and Panasonic; but this camera may take the cake here.

Indeed, that means that Sony may have the big advantage here; but this is also a pre-production version that we were playing with. We’re going to need to do final tests in our review.

Image Quality

We weren’t allowed to put an SD card into the camera because the firmware and image quality aren’t final yet. But Sony tells us that the image quality is slightly better than the first version; and with the way they said it we don’t think it’s anything to get even more excited about unless you want to shoot at nuclear high ISO levels and basically want to throw the laws of exposure out the window.

First Impressions

So far, we’re expecting pretty much more of the same–excellent high ISO results, great focusing, but not incredibly detailed images since this is just a 12.2MP sensor. But that’s what the A7 Mk II and the A7r Mk II are for. We’re going to have to save our final word for the actual review though, and we’re slated to be getting a review sample very soon. Stay tuned!