Sony a7 II Hands-On Review

Sony a7 II mirrorless camera

Just a year after the release of the the ground-breaking fullframe mirrorless Sony a7 and a7R, Sony is back with the next generation Sony a7 II that builds upon the strengths of the original Sony a7 and adds several key enhancements and refinements.

Sony a7 II – Body Only ($1,699) or Sony a7 II Kit with FE 28-70mm lens ($1,999) is priced at the same release price as the original Sony a7. It’s the fourth member of the Sony a7-series line-up, as Sony continues their path of creating specialized cameras with unique virtues that other cameras cannot realize – even other Sony cameras. Expect this trend to continue unless it’s one day possible to make a single camera that excels at everything.

If I don’t mention something – it’s because it’s unchanged from the original Sony a7 – which means it won’t match low light capabilities of a7S, yes, it has the same 24mp sensor and the low-pass filter has not been removed, there’s no touchscreen navigation and no silent shutter…

Here’s what I consider to be the most important changes:

5-Axis Sensor-Shift Stabilization

With a7 II 5-Axis Sensor-Shift Stabilization – any lens you own – even lenses that could never have it before such as Leica and other legacy glass – can now be image stabilized for the first time on a fullframe sensor both for still and video.

Sony A-mount camera bodies have had image stabilization since 2006. When E-mount was introduced, the goal was to make E-mount bodies as small and light as possible, so Sony chose to put image stabilization into lenses when possible. This represents a great leap in technology to miniaturize the Sensor shift mechanism so 5-Axis image stabilization, only previously achieved in Olympus cameras with sensors 1/4 the size, could fit into a body that’s a mere 10mm deeper than it’s predecessor.

It’s first worth mentioning what image stabilization can and cannot do. In Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) can allow you to shoot at slower shutter speeds without blur from camera movement – but it will not freeze subject movement. Image Stabilization won’t stop Usain Bolt in his tracks, but it will allow you to shoot images of a still subject in dim light at slower shutter speeds without camera movement.

It’s important to understand how each axis compensation works and just what they require to function:

Sony-A7II-5-Axis-Stabization

Pitch & Yaw Compensation:

Requires the awareness of focal length. It is available from the camera if either the lens provides the information or it’s inputted manually in the menu. In the case of Sony lenses with IS, the camera recognizes and relies on the pitch and yaw compensation of the lens, freeing the cameras IBIS to concentrate on X/Y and Roll.

X/Y Compensation:

Requires awareness of both focal length and camera to subject distance (focal distance). Bear in mind that X/Y compensation can’t be provided by a lens (with one exception – see below). If the lens can’t communicate focal distance, then the camera can’t provide it. This is the case for almost all 3rd party lenses (although we haven’t tested an AF capable mount adapter, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work). As for Sony lenses, those without ADI (Advanced Distance Integration) – the ones with 5 pins instead of 8 – also can’t have X/Y.

Roll Compensation:

Requires nothing from the lens, and is always available.

Only those lenses without OSS, such as non-OSS E-mount lenses, and 8-pin A-mount lenses when used with LA-EA series adapters, that can also communicate focal length and focal distance enjoy 5-axis IS from the camera. Sony E mount lenses with OSS get 3-axis compensation from the camera, and the other 2-axis pitch and yaw compensation from the lens.

Other lenses will receive 3-axis IS from the camera IBIS – but even 3-axis is one axis more than what’s available with almost any other image stabilization system. Lens-based image stabilization only controls Pitch and Yaw (with one exception – Canon’s “Hybrid IS” in their 100mm macro). With this exception (at least for now), Sony and Olympus 5-axis IBIS are the only IS systems that offer X/Y and Roll compensation. [EDIT: Pentax SR-equipped cameras have 3-axis IBIS]

Sony a7 II 5-Axis Sensor-Shift Stabilization is designed to work with – not fight – OSS. It can detect when an OSS lens is attached and apply stabilization in the following ways:

Sony E-mount Lenses with OSS:

In-lens OSS system applies Pitch and Yaw stabilization and the in-camera SteadyShot applies horizontal X-axis and vertical Y-axis shift, plus Z-axis Roll. NOTE: When using lenses like the FE 70-200 F4 OSS with an OSS switch on the lens, turning the OSS switch on the lens OFF will turn off in-camera OSS as well.

Shelbourne Hotel Miami Beach Sony a7 II IBIS ON
Sony a7II | FE 70-200 F4 OSS lens at 200mm | f/5.6 | 1/8 sec Handheld | 5-Axis Image Stabilization ON

Shelbourne Hotel Miami Beach Sony a7 II IBIS OFF
>Sony a7II | FE 70-200 F4 OSS lens at 200mm | f/5.6 | 1/8 sec Handheld | 5-Axis Image Stabilization OFF

Sony E-mount Lenses without OSS:

Sony E-mount Lenses without OSS get all 5-Axis sensor shift stabilization in-camera.

Sony A-mount Lenses using LA-EA3 or LA-EA4 Adapter:

the a7 II sensor shift will add image stabilization in all 5-axis. NOTE: SAL 16mm F2.8, SAL 20mm F2.8, SAL 28mm F2.8 and SAL 500mm F8 lenses only get Pitch, Yaw and Roll stabilization when attached using a Sony LA-EA3 or LA-EA4 adapter.

Third-Party Lenses using Lens Adapters:

If the lens adapter can transmit the focal length and focus distance electronically to the a7II, the camera apply all 5-Axis sensor shift stabilization. But if the lens adapter can’t transmit this information to the camera, you must set the focal length manually for the particular focal length used. NOTE: When using 3rd party lenses with image stabilization – TURN OFF OSS on lens or the combined systems will over-compensate.

Manual SteadyShot Settings

Manual SteadyShot settings are available for lenses without electronic connections. You need to manually enter the lens focal length via a menu setting for optimal performance with any lens.

Set it here: Menu > Camera Settings 7 > SteadyShot Settings > SteadyShot Adjust > Manual

Sony-A7II-SteadyShot-Manual-Settings

Then for optimal results, select the focal length of the lens you’re using (available for 8mm-1000mm)

Image Stabilization and Tripods

Conventional wisdom when shooting on a tripod is turn turn off image stabilization – but it’s unclear if that is still the case with a7II. However a mind much brighter than my own, suggested that from a power consumption standpoint alone, it makes sense to turn off SteadyShot when shooting on a tripod.

EVF Active Stabilization

When SteadyShot is turned on, the live view EVF or LCD screen image is also stabilized either with a half-press the shutter button, while shooting video in movie mode or whenever viewing a magnified the image such as when using Focus Magnifier.

On Sensor Magnesium-Alloy Heat Sink

The 5-Axis Sensor-Shift Stabilization mechanism also moves a magnesium-alloy heat sink that’s attached behind the sensor. This helps dissipate heat when shooting long video clips of long continuous still bursts.

New Look, New Grip and Improved Ergonomics

The changes are minor – more refinements than make-over but the speckled metal look finish and slight changes really enhance the classic rugged looks of the original.

Sony-A7-A7II-Top

The a7 II features a resigned body with larger grip which makes it easier to securely grip the camera when shooting with large telephoto lenses. The shutter button has been reshaped and shifted forward to for a more natural shooting position so your finger naturally falls in place for a better grip.

Sony-A7-A7II-Top-Controls

Both the C1 and C2 button are now on top are in easy reach of your index finger and the Exposure Compensation dial is in easy reach of your thumb

Sony-A7-A7II-Rear-Controls

The a7 II adds a C4 button and both the C3 and C4 buttons are in easy reach of your thumb.

Because of it’s placement, it’s very easy to use the C3 to activate Manual focus magnification. Here’s how:

Menu > Custom Settings 6 > Custom Key Settings > Custom Button 3 > Focus Magnifier
Set Focus Magnification Time to No Limit
Menu > Custom Settings 1 > Focus Magnif. Time > No Limit
Press C3 twice to Zoom to 5.9x or press again to zoom to 11.7x
To go back to full view, half press the shutter.

No More ISO Surprises

A relatively small change – but a good one – is that the control wheel no longer adjusts ISO without first selecting activating that control. To change ISO, you press the right side of the Control Wheel to activate ISO (where White Balance is assigned on a7/A7R/A7S) then press the top or bottom of Control Wheel or turn it to adjust ISO. This should put an end to “phantom ISO changes” caused when the Control Wheel brushes against your body.

USB-Remote, HDMI, Microphone and Headphone ports have all been moved to up to the top left side of the camera body to accommodate the SteadyShot mechanism inside the body. This will also come in handy when tethering or triggering a wired remote with the a7 II mounted vertically using a L-Bracket.

Rock Solid Pro-Style Body

The all-metal body and stainless steel lens mount plus 5-axis SteadyShot add a bit more heft to the Sony a7 II which weighs in at 19.6 oz (556 g) compared to Sony a7 at 14.7 oz (416 g). The extra 4.9 oz isn’t noticeable around my neck – yet coupled with the larger and more ergonomic grip – the a7 II has the SOLID feel of a pro camera body.

Sony-A7II-Magnesium-body

New Vertical Grip VG-C2EM

Like the VG-C1EM vertical grip for a7/A7R/A7S, the new Vertical Grip VG-C2EM (pre-order here) holds two Sony NP-FW50 Lithium-Ion batteries and it’s designed to fit seamlessly with the ergonomics of the new a7 II body design fitting more comfortably in your hand.

Sony a7II + Vertical Grip VG-C2EM
Sony a7II + Vertical Grip VG-C2EM

The shutter release is angled slightly forward in the same position as the camera’s grip and it adds Front and rear dials and C1, C2 and C3 buttons in the same position as the camera grip. The C4 button on the body is also in easy reach of your thumb.

Faster AF

A7 II has the same 117 point Phase-Detection AF / 25 point Contrast-Detection AF system as a7 – but by using improved algorithms from A6000 – a7 II offers 30% faster AF Speed and 50% better tracking. In actual use, this means AF locks in extremely quickly – even in low light – and tracks moving objects using Lock-on AF even better than before.

Sony-A7II-Focus-Points

Faster Start-Up

The a7 II start-up is almost instantaneous. Start-up initialization steps reordered for faster start-up – so you’ll spend less time waiting for the camera to boot up.

Better Video Recording Options

S-Log2-GammaWhile I’m focusing this review on stills, I should mention that the a7 II is a great camera for handheld video – no other large sensor cameras have 5-axis image stabilization.

A7 II includes several of the most popular video features of a7S including the option to shoot video with S-LOG 2 to capture extremely wide dynamic range. This gives you the flexibility to grade the scene to your taste in post. Think of it as shooting in-camera HDR video. And like the a7S, Sony a7 II supports Picture Profiles for those who wish to apply video “looks” in-camera as well as the option to shoot with very flat picture profiles that are perfect adjusting the look when grading.

Sony a7 II shoots 1080 60p with XAVC S codec for 50Mb/s bit rate – compared to 28Mb/s on a7. To record XAVC S, you’ll need to shoot with a SDXC UHS-1 (Class 10/U-3) memory card.

Better High-ISO Noise Reduction for In-Camera Jpegs

Sony a7 II uses the same 24.3mp sensor used in a7 but it with different image processing that promises better high-ISO noise reduction for in-camera jpegs. It uses what Sony calls “area-specific noise reduction” to apply noise reduction differently to areas of fine detail such as edges and textures that you don’t want to soften than from flat areas like solid blue skies. Even so, I still recommend that for best results – turn off in-camera High ISO Noise Reduction and apply it in post.

Higher LCD Resolution

Sony a7 II LCD has 1,230,000 dot resolution with 107/41° tilt vs 921,000 dot resolution with 90/45° tilt on Sony a7, but to be honest, I lost my count at a hundred and one…

Battery Life

Sony a7 II is rated at 350 shots compared to 340 on a7. While this is not much – it’s actually very good news given the added power comsumption of 5-axis image stabilization. My advice when you go out shooting for the day, carry a couple spare Sony NP-FW50 Lithium-Ion batteries in your bag. Unless I’m shooting extremely heavily, I rarely need the third battery, but it’s there if I do.


Sony a7 II In-Stock and Shipping!

Sony a7 II is priced at the same release price as the original a7 – Order Now!
Sony a7 II – Body Only ($1,699)
Sony a7 II Kit with FE 28-70mm lens ($1,999).


New Lower Sony a7 Pricing – Save $400

The original Sony a7 camera remains in the line-up with a $400 price drop:
Sony a7 Body Only $1,298 (with free extra battery + charger from B&H)
Sony a7 Kit with FE 28-70mm lens $1,598 (with free extra battery, charger & 32Gb SD card from B&H)


Sony-a7-Snapshots-bookFor more tips and tricks about getting the most out of your Sony a7 series camera, check out my new book ‘Sony a7-Series: From Snapshots to Great Shots’.

It’s your guide to all of the Sony a7-Series cameras including the new a7RII. While the camera manual explains what the camera can do, it doesn’t show how to use the camera to create great images! Starting with the Top Ten things users need to know about the cameras, author Brian Smith, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer and Sony Artisan of Imagery, carefully guides you through the operating features of Sony a7, a7R, a7S, a7 II and a7RII and how to use them. Get practical advice from a pro on which settings to use when, great shooting tips, and assignments at end of chapter to practice what you’ve just learned.

ORDER NOW!


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128 thoughts on “Sony a7 II Hands-On Review”

  1. Am I right in thinking that, with an adaptor, an older canon or Nikon lens with no IS will be equivalent to a newer canon or nikon IS lens? I’ve got an old 300mm Nikon and wonder about the Canon 24-70 2.8. Would be great to use them for a video shoot – but not being IS on a canon body makes that impossible.

    1. In some respects it would be better. Aside from the Canon 100mm macro that I mentioned, Canon IS and Nikon VR is 2-Axis but the A7II would actually add a 3rd Axis for Roll Compensation…

  2. I like this Interesting review however, in my personal opinion I like the previous camera layout ( … like Leica like … ) better. Everything else about this new A7II is just great.

  3. We talk of the same sensor A7I, but on A7II were solved these problems?

    – Italian flag with wide-angle lenses of third parts;
    – Smearing and loss of sharpness at the edges with lenses of third parts;
    – Flare ghost.

    They have made great strides, but lacks a focusing similar to that of Fuji X100T useful for manual lenses of third parts.
    During street photography, splitting digital image or digital rangefinder, is much faster and more precise the current system of sony, with peak peaking or zoom (often need recompose the shot).

    I’m waiting for sony solve these things before buying.

    What do you say about that?

    1. Those unfortunately are issues with certain retrofocus wide angle rangefinder that you see even on Leica M 240 digital cameras. The newest Voightlander lens designs have pretty much overcome the effect as has the Leica WAITE.

      It’s very easily fixed with Capture One Pro for Sony.

  4. It’s a nice presentation, for what I’m sure is a nice camera, crippled by a thick sensor stack. I’m still smarting from your assurance that the ZM18 would have good edges on the A7R. In fact that lens is not usable for landscape photography on any Sony. The A7R was the first camera I ever returned. My current A7 mostly gathers dust in it’s backup role for the M9. Meanwhile the new version is larger yet, and so are many of the lenses which provide decent performance. A7ii is creeping towards DSLR size, when the E-Mount fan base really pines for a modern Leica CL.

    All that said, one must give Sony credit for showing the path forward, however unfinished each of their new offerings tend to be.

    What I’ve learned most from the Sony A7 is that the Leica M9 is not too big, and that specs on paper have little to do with real world results and workflow.

    1. Yup, as I mentioned, A7II is 10mm deeper than the other A7 bodies as a result of the depth required for the 5-Axis sensor shift stabilization mechanism and the beefier grip. If image stabilization, faster AF or enhanced video codecs and recording modes are not of value to you, it’s probably not the camera for you.

  5. Great review. Thanks. However, I would have liked to have seen more detailed photos comparing the Axis sensor on vs off. Of course I will do my own as soon as it stops raining. (I have 4 ISO 12233 charts I can set up.)

      1. Do you know if the LA-EA4 adapter will transmit the focal length and focus distance electronically to the A7II? Thank you.

          1. Thank you! I just got a Minolta 70-210 f4 with the LA-EA4 and wasn’t sure if I needed to set the A7ii’s steady shot focal length manually or leave it on auto. Now I know I can just leave it on auto.

  6. Hello. Is there a Sony adapter that can give us AF coverage though all the frame (contrast detect possibly) while using A-mount lenses? I’m considering to get the SAL2470 f/2.8 lens for the A7MkII but getting AF just in the center is not enough for me. Thanks.

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  9. The improvements in AF is all well and good but where is the option for setting release priority vs. focus priority which is one of the most basic options that’s should be provided IMO. And its not like its something new for Sony as they offer this option even in the most basic of a-mount models. So I cannot see any reasonable reason for not offering this option is e-mount, whether its A6000 or A7ii.

    1. If youre speaking about Auto ISO + Aperture Priority, i believe that’s been changed to include 1/focal length for lenses longer than 60mm

      To be honest, I’ve never understood the fuss. If you want to shoot at 1/250th – why not just set the shutter speed at 1/250???

      1. It’s really all about keeping camera fiddling to a minimum.

        A user-selectable minimum shutter speed would be ideal. There is a reason it is available on other cameras.

        As lighting conditions change due to either moving indoors/outdoors or adjusting large/small aperture, it’s nice to not have to be constantly checking to see if you’ve reached the limit of your current settings.

          1. No, it’s not the same. I don’t want to shoot at an exact shutter speed like 1/250, I want to shoot at any shutter speed fast enough to prevent shake, while keeping the aperture locked. This is even more important for adapted lenses where the camera doesn’t know or control aperture. I want to roll through various apertures on the lens aperture ring and have the camera adapt automatically. S mode darkens and brightens and requires readjustment when aperture is changed. Mode A’s obsession with 1/60 renders it useless. Saying “just use S mode” is like saying “why worry about P mode not working, just set everything manually in M mode”. Then what’s the point of having a P mode?

          2. All I can tell you is how I’D do it and why I think this is a non-issue.

            If you’re shooting with an auto-aperture lens simply pick the shutter speed you need to stop hand shake or subject motion using either in Shutter-Priority so the camera picks the aperture or you can choose the shutter speed/aperture combination you prefer and set the camera for Auto ISO.

            Either way is a much better choice than choosing the “surprise me” setting complaining the camera didn’t read your mind.

          3. Brian you did not answer the question of Kelly at whole – using manual lenses with unknown aperture to Sony justifies the call for setting up the minimum shutter speed, when shooting at A priority, I guess?!

  10. Hi Brian, is there a true tethered intervalometer that you can recommend for the a7s and a7II? Thank you so much, M-
    In the last two weeks purchased: a7II, a7s, 55 ZA f 1.8, 16-25 ZA oss f4, 24-70 ZA oss and the 70-20 f4 G oss. Thanks for your great reviews. My fav lens so far is the 55! Love the sharpness and bokeh wide open.

  11. Hi Brian, that a great review. Just a little doubt can i use my sony e mount lenses (not fe) on these sony full frames (a7ii) ? I saw some where written in the forums that all third party or even e mount lenses will have crop mode effect.
    Thanks,
    Udit

    1. Coverage of APS lenses varries from lens to lens. The SEL 10-18mm does a decent job on Fullframe from 13-16mm. Most APS E-mount lenses cover slightly more than a 24×24 mm square crop if you turn off crop mode, but I recommend fullframe lenses for best results.

    2. The SEL 10-18 is really the only APS lens that does a decent job of covering fullframe. It’s best from 12-16mm. Any APS E-mount glass can be used with crop mode disabled but most will have heavy vignetting.

  12. José María Verdú

    Que adaptador tengo que adquirir para utilizar las lentes Carl Zeiis 1:3,5/18 y Carl Zeiis 1:2/50 makro que utilizaba en Canon, para aplicarlas a la Sony A7II

  13. I am having trouble with low light AF on a6000 – even at parties. This suggests that I would have the same trouble with low light AF on A7II, yes? Other than that I LOVE these cameras!

    Does my full frame have to be a Nikon, such as D750, to accommodate low light AF plus 24mp? (I’m not a candidate for 12mp A7s, alas.)

    1. I believe that A7II might have one more stop low-light sensitivity than A6000 – but that’s less important than how you set-up AF.

      I find these cameras focus quite acceptably for my needs in low light. If you understand how AF works you realize that it looks for contrast in the subject. Point any camera at a black wall and it will struggle to focus – especially in low light. Focus on something with good edge contrast and focus is quick and accurate. You might try experimenting between AF-S + Flexible Spot AF (Always use medium or large focus spot – NEVER small) -vs- AF-C + Zone or wide focus to see which works best in that situation. I find the former works best – but some people may prefer the latter.

  14. Brian, thanks for the review. Any experience of the mark Ii ability of af-c in low light, i.e ability to track a moving object, i’m specifically thinking bride coming down the isle in a dim church. I’d love to replace my D3s’s with something smaller but question the ability of any of the current mirrorless offerings to be able to deal with low light situations and moving targets. Thanks.

  15. Brian. My LCD screen goes dark at certain angles. Is this something I need to be concerned about? Is it normal or do I have a defective camera?

      1. I suppose that depends on what Ron means by “dark.”
        If he means completely black – then I’d agree it’s the eye sensor switching over to EVF.
        But if he means less bright – then it’s likely the viewing angle is too severe.

  16. Brian, I was on a shoot today with my A7ii and experienced something really odd. It would revert to stock settings after a battery change. Do, you have any idea what would cause this and how to avoid it? It really messed up the shoot having the buttons change functions on every change. I did try it later with a card in and it seemed to hold the settings. I was shooting tethered when settings were reverting.

    1. I can’t say that I’ve ever tried to change the battery while tethering. I’d probably turn the camera off and disconnect first. But if you tell me which program you were using tether (Sony Remote Camera Control or Capture One Pro) I’ll test it out to see if I can replicate the issue.

      1. Hi Brian, Yes I turned the camera off, but I did not unplug the USB. I have never had to do that with my Nikon. I was using the Sony Camera Control and hot foldered it into Capture One. I wonder if it needs the memory card for some reason. I’ll have to do some more experimenting myself. I don’t want to run into that issue again. It can take a while to re-input the settings and was quite disruptive on the shoot.

        1. Which version of Capture One are you using?

          Capture One Pro 8.1 or Capture One Pro for Sony will allow you to tether directly without firing up Sony Remote Camera Control. Much cleaner set-up in my opinion.

          1. Well, unfortunately, my studio tether computer is too old to run 8 and the A7ii isn’t supported by 7. So I have to run it through Sony camera control and view jpegs. I’m a bit unclear on how this would have an effect on the camera reverting settings on a battery change though.
            Thanks

          2. Just trying to narrow down the possibilities Evan. That’s never happened to me in six years shooting with Sony cameras. My only suggestion is to shut down the camera and remove the USB tether cord before removing the battery.

          3. Brian, Think I found the answer to the camera memory problem. It appears that the camera memory settings are stored to the memory card. This is not an issue for those that reuse their same cards, unless they reformat each time. But, in my case where I’m either tethering into a computer or only using cards once it can become an issue. I’ll have to remember to leave a card in the camera at all times. http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/54963363
            Hey, one more question. I’d imagine you have Sony’s ear. When using the manual focus magnify feature even the slightest touch can revert the magnified area to full screen. I prefer to rest my finger on the shutter to both be ready and create less jarring from a demonstrative plunge at the shutter button. I would really love the ability to completely decide for myself when the camera will revert from the magnified section. I know there are currently time settings, but these only apply as long as you don’t touch the shutter button. Thanks!

          4. I hate to break it to the DPR poster but camera settings are store to internal memory – not the memory card. You can easily pull the battery without a memory card then reinsert a battery and you’ll return to the same settings. I think might have happened to you was that internal memory was not charged which happens with a new camera or even with a camera stored for several days without a battery or with a dead battery. It then takes a few days of battery power to re-charge internal memory.

            As for sensitivity of the shutter button turning off focus magnification that’s one of those thing that non one is ever happy. I’ve had an equal number of complaints that it takes TOO MUCH pressure on the shutter button to turn off focus magnification. It’s better just to get used to how it works and stay consistent from one camera model to the next.

  17. Hello Brian, I have a question that might seem redundant with a previous one but I’m sure you can help me anyway …

    I’d like to switch from my A77 to the new A7II. I’m very enthusiastic about my A-Mount lenses and therefore will need a lens adapter to use them.

    Since the new A7II includes an improved 5 way stabilization system and an optimized AF is the use of the LA-EA4 really necessary vs the LA-EA3 ?

    I’m mostly shooting rock concerts and other live events (ballet, circus …) and i’m a bit afraid about the eventual 1/3 stop light loss and adding an other mechanical part (the translucent mirror) due to the use of the LA-EA4. But maybe the LA-EA3 isn’t definitely accurate enough to properly AF moving subjects ?

    Last but not least, if I read you properly are you suggesting that having the two adapters is a the best solution, the LA-EA3 lens adapter for landcapes and portraits and the LA-EA4 for teles lenses/action ?

  18. Great overview, thank you Brian!
    As somebody who uses different AF points constantly with my Nikon cameras, how do you go about this with the A7? There is no 4-way toggle -what do you use to select AF points?

    1. You can assign this function to the Center Button & Control Wheel

      Menu > Custom Settings 6 > Custom Key Settings > 2 > Center Button > Standard

      Then when you press Center button it will make focus point active and you can move it around by pressing left/right/up/down on the control dial – or change the size of the flexible focus point by rotating the dial.

  19. Brian – can you use a Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS I lens with the Sony Alpha A7ii? I don’t have the $$ to buy the Sony 500mm ($13k) at this time. If so what adapter can be used and do I lose any features, f-stops? Very hard to find this info – or I am googling the wrong key words.

      1. Thanks Brian – it seems a little weird (to me at least) that no one (at least that I can find online) has tested the Canon 500mm lens with these great Sony Cameras (especially with how disappointing recent Canon camera releases have been. I am primarily a bird photographer (using a 5d mkii at present).

    1. I haven’t experienced what some people refer to as ‘pixel smear’ – but A7R has the greatest degree of vignetting and magenta cast in the corners. All the other bodies are pretty equal.

  20. Hi Brian, I am not sure if you have addressed this before, but is there a way to over ride the file names on the a7II ? On my Nikon i was able to change from DSC…01 to XYZ..01 the old DSC… is duplicating files when i am importing them. Help?

    1. At the moment there is not – but that’s actually one of the suggestions that Jeremy Chan and I made when we met with Sony engineers last month.

      My suggestion in the mean time is to import images from each camera into a separate folder such as JobName_a7S, JobName_a7R1, JobName_a7R2, JobName_a7R3, etc., just to be certain more than one raw with the same filename from multiple cameras.

  21. Patricia Lockeman

    Hi Brian,I have a basic Canon T3i and have been using Sigma ‘s 18-35 1.8 lens as well as their 70-200 2.8 Canon mount. Will I be able to use these lenses on the A7II with a Metabones adapter-I shoot mostly live music in pretty dark venues. I’m looking for a lighter weight full frame camera but can not afford to buy all new lenses right now.I need to keep the light good and the focus fast.But want the sharpness and noise reduction of a full frame sensor.

    1. I haven’t tested those to lenses, but most Sigma lenses are supported for electronic functions like aperture control an transmit EXIF data, but because Sigma lenses are reverse-engineered for Canon most of the Sigma lenses I’ve tested won’t auto-focus accurately.

  22. Hi Brian just bought recently a sony a7ii body only what adapter you can suggest to use my nikkon lens got nikon 105 f2 dc and 85 f1.4d.. is there any adapter will give me af on those or just manual? Thanks

  23. Brian – I was considering purchasing the A7II as well as a lens or two to go with it. The main use I am looking for with these are for landscape as well as outdoor portrait photography, and possibly studio portraits. Which lenses would you recommend individually for these uses? And is there one that could potentially fit all of these? Thanks for the help

  24. Hi Brian, I sold my Canon 6D and lens, and bought Sony a7II with 55mm 1.8 lens. I’m still getting used to a7II and I have a question on taking indoor pictures of active kids. I’m very happy with the focusing speed of a7II and 55mm. I compared the indoor (jpeg) pictures taken with 6D+EF50mm 1.8 and a7II+55mm 1.8 in the same environment. 6D pictures have lower ISO and less noise. The pictures taken outdoor with a7II are super sharp, so it’s not the camera, and I know I’m doing something wrong indoor. I have watched many YouTube clips on focusing Sony a7 and a7II cameras, and I still can’t figure out how to take low noise and sharp pictures of moving kids indoor. I had no problems with 6D and I’m having second thoughts…

    1. Canon simply uses heavier in-camera noise reduction. I always advise shooting RAW with noise reduction OFF and instead using Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw to apply noise reduction.

  25. Brian, I just started using Sony A7 II with the Zeiss ZM 15mm f/2.8 lens (with a Novoflex adaptor), the photos showing very heavy vignetting. Is it an issue with the camera or the lens or the adaptor? The lens is supposed to be one of the best in the crop, I am really surprised to see such a strong vignetting effect. Anything I could do to minimize the vignetting effect?

  26. Brian, Just bought an A7II because I got a great deal. The last SLR I had was a film camera (20+ yrs ago) The book you wrote that covers the A7 / A7R, would it help me understand the A7II? Got the Camera w/ lens package and a Carl Ziess 35MM lens when I bought. – Thanks

  27. Hi Brian,
    Thanks for the review. I’m really interested in this camera for my landscape and indoor/outdoor portraits except for the fact I’m reading articles about the ‘lossy compression’ Sony is using in this camera. I make 20×30 prints often and I’m concerned about the artifacts from areas of high contrast showing up in my prints. Apparently, pulling shadows can also add artifacts to the image. I realize sometimes you have to take what you read on the internet with a grain of salt and quite possibly these artifacts are only visible at magnification levels equal to printing much larger than I do, but, I’m looking for someone who has printed more than one print with this camera who can tell me it’s not an issue, or, it’s something Sony should be addressing in a Pro-level mirror-less camera (a firmware update perhaps). I don’t understand the Lossy Compression for the sake of smaller files, I think most people buying this camera would rather have lossless or at least the option to choose in-camera. Have you made prints or know of someone who has? Is it an issue or not?
    Research is good in making choices but nowadays I find it can also over-complicate things.
    Thank you for any light you can shed on this issue.

    1. This is a complaint from Nikon shooters who assume that because Sony uses a more advanced RAW compression than Nikon it must be lossy. But Sony (and Canon) have always used more advanced RAW compression than Nikon and I’ve yet to see a RAW artifact from either brand. As for print size, a7II will absolutely hold up to 20×30″ I’ve made 40×60″ and 48×72″ prints from RX1 and a7R and absolutely no artifacts at that size.

  28. Thanks Brian, my mind can finally rest and I can move ahead with my decision. I’m very excited to shoot with this camera and even more excited now to make prints from my photos.
    Those prints in your example must look quite impressive ‘in person’. Are those acrylics? The colours have a beautiful ‘depth’ and clarity, they look awesome!
    Thanks again, and I look forward to my new A7ii with Zeiss 55, f1.8 and 16-35 f4.

  29. I’m going to move from my Panasonic G-series camera system to the A7ii. The Panasonic G-series is a micro 4/3 design with a 2X effective focal length factor relative to 35mm. I’ve been enjoying the Panasonic’s optional ability to add another 2X to video capture, effectively turning my 200 mm into an effective 800 mm focal length, while maintaining HDR video. Does the A7ii provide this same video option?

  30. I am wondering is there a depth of preview button on this camera? I’ve looked through the manual and didn’t see anything. Have I overlooked it?

  31. When using legacy lenses on the A7ii, can the viewfinder be set to maintain constant brightness even as the lens is stopped down? Sorry if this has already been addressed.

    1. Short answer is yes with one exception.
      If Live View Setting Effect is “OFF” EVF will show a constant exposure as the lens is stopped down or opened up.
      If Live View Setting Effect is “ON” EVF will preview the actual exposure so if the cameras is set to Aperture Priority mode EVF will show a constant exposure as the lens is stopped down or opened up – BUT if the exposure mode is set to manual and the lens is stopped down without changing to a longer shutter speed or higher ISO then then EVF will of course get darker – just like the resulting photos.

  32. I am interested in getting the a7ii for several reasons. I collect vintage glass and would love IS on them. I would like to expand my range of options there, the EF 60d I am currently using has a flange of 45 or so which precludes rangefinder and some great low price glass such as konica minolta and fuji x. Also I currently have a 100-400L IS, which I really like the IQ of. I know there are adapters which allow AF with it but I am concerned about slow response. I am going to Africa soon and want something effective (just amateur stuff but still…) I can find no reference to actual experience with the combo. I have numerous other EF lenses so I will likely get an adapter anyway. Thoughts?

    1. Sony a7II would certainly address all your needs for IS with vintage glass but I don’t recommend adapting Fuji X lenses as those are APS lenses, which are in my opinion a waste of a full frame sensor. The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens mis-focuses at anything over 200mm with all of the adapters I tested so I recommend that for manual focus only. You may want to keep a Canon body for that lens alone or consider a Sony 70-400mm f/4-5.6 G II with a Sony LA-EA4 adapter for much faster AF.

  33. Dear Mr. Brian Smith,
    I was impressed by your site.
    Recently I have bought Sony A7II with 28-70 F4 Zeiss lens and F60M flash.
    In Dim Lighting conditions, the AF illuminator of the Flash is not working. Only the camera AF illuminator works.
    Is there a problem with the flash or is this flash not compatible with this camera?
    Pls. help me with your reply.
    Thank you.
    Rustom A. Havewalla, Mumbai, India.
    rustomhavewalla@gmail.com

    1. That’s correct. Sony a7 series cameras use the AF illuminator lamp in the body – not the flash. There are compatibility issues with flash AF illuminator lamps and mirrorless cameras.

  34. Pingback: Ultimate Guide to Sony a7 a7R a7S a7II a7RII Lens Adapters

  35. Hi Brian,

    I currently shoot with the original a7 camera and it hunts quite a bit during wedding receptions. Sony says that the a7ii is 30% faster with auto focusing speed. Will the a7ii solve my situation during wedding receptions, like first dance photos and such where it’s quite dark.

  36. Hey Brian, awesome review as always. I bought the A7ii, sony 16-35, voigtlander 35mm 1
    .4 based on your reviews. Do far I love it.
    Question.
    When I mount the voigtlander 35, I turn APSC off and get the small dark corners, as expected. I then crop in software. Then I learned about zoom. So I set zoom to 1.1 and the camera crops the picture for me. This way I can use the manual lens and the full sensor with only a slight crop instead of the overkill that is APSC. However, when I save this whole thing in memory 2, my manual lens selection, it does not stick.
    I have resorted to assigning c3 and doing it manually each Time.
    Am I missing something? I thought the way it works is to setup everything and it will be stored. Then recalling it will bring all the Settings back. Any clues?

    Gracias compadre.

    1. I could be wrong, but I don’t think that digital zoom settings can be saved in Custom Shooting modes. If you shoot RAW and process in Lightroom, there is a lens profile that cleans up the corner vignetting without cropping. You can batch apply that to an entire shoot.

  37. Hey Brian, thanks for sharing a great review. I wonder if you already find how to set the copyright or owner info on the camera. I have shuffled through the menus but I still can’t figure it out. I use the A7II with 24-70 F4. So far, I like this medium range. I just find the battery capacity couldn’t bear with all great features. Better turn off some settings to save some power.

  38. Hey Brian. Interesting review, thank you. I’m a pro, at present shooting reportage with a Leica M240 and extensive range of Leica M lenses; a Canon 5DMKIII + lenses for editorial, corporate + video. For shooting longterm documentary – I shoot a lot in low light and often in cramped situations with wide angle lenses. I’m looking at Sony, juggling between the A7s & A7ii, to primarily shoot video but stills as well, (allowing me to leave my 5D and its heavy lenses at home). I would like a body that works well with wide angle Leica M lenses, mine I bought in the 1990s, including the Elmarit 21mm 2.8, 24mm 2.8, first 28-50 Tri-elmar, 35mm 1.4 etc. My main concern is for edge to edge clarity using my wide angle Leica M lenses. I haven’t seen any informative image tests using Sonys coupled with wide angle Leica M lenses, but many reviewers have made favourable observations using Sony A7ii and A7s with 35mm Leica M lenses and greater. Obviously 5 axis stabilisation is also a huge bonus for video, as is the low light capability of the A7s. Methinks a stabilised A7s2 would be the bees knees. Have you had great or acceptable results using Sonys with wide Leica M lenses on any body, and do you have examples to show? Thanks

    1. Hi Nigel, I need to run more tests with a7RII but Leica 21mm lenses didn’t perform as well as their Voigtlander counterparts in my tests on other Sony a7-series bodies.

      1. Cheers Brian. Did you test the 24mm 2.8? One reviewer says the WATE performs better than the old 21mm on Sony digital. Shame the WATE covers such a wide angle of view. I’d have preferred 18-21-24. I’m very pleased with M240, stunning images with wide angle lenses, as you would expect…

  39. Is there a trick to get good focus on the a7ii of interiors. I can not use flash so just ambient and existing artificial light. So far about 30- 35% of images are soft. I’m using the zeiss 16-35 mm lens.

    1. Absolutely! For best focus accuracy on a7II (or a7, a7R, a7S) use AF-S with Flexible Spot Medium and place the focus spot just where you need it. NEVER, EVER, EVER Focus-Recompose. Unless you have something in the extreme foreground – you should have enough DoF at F8-11. For maximum depth of field bear in mind that hyper-focal relative sharpness extends 1/3 in front of the point of focus and 2/3 behind it.

  40. Hi Brian, your site has been a wealth of info for me. Been thinking of getting a7ii however i have a canon 17-40mm f4 lens. Its the IBIS that I want to ask with a Fotodiox lens adapter (as the Metabones is really pricy). Does the Fotodiox adapter transmits the focal length and focus distance to the camera? I really want to buy the camera but i dont want to buy a wide angle zoom lens as the Sony counterpart is not on my budget.

  41. Hi, Brian

    I did today the studio photoshoot, 5 Lights were available in Studio. During the photoshoot following setting had been kept. Shutter Speed 1/200, ISO 200, Aperture 2.8. Lens 85mm, Trigger was place to fire the 4 lights

    The Studio was complete dark and in live view model was not visible, whereas with the similar setting in Nikon and Cannon live view model was visible and based on that they were able to focus and take a picture.

    I was using a7ii with LAEA4 adapter and SAL85mm lens for the photoshoot.

    Can you please let me know if there is anyway I can see model on live view without changing the photo settings. (I reduce the shutter speed to 1/6th then was able to see model in live view)

    PS: This also had happened with Sony a59 camera also

    Best Regards

  42. Dear Brian, will the Sony LA-EA3 adapter work with Sigma 35 1.4 art on the A7ii as good as it does on the A7Rii ? Or should I buy the LA-EA4 instead?

  43. Thanks for the review; I just used your link and bought your book on Amazon; I bought my wife the A7II with kit lense as a wedding anniversary gift this morning and will give it to her next saturday along with the book; we test drove the a7rii yesterday but I couldn’t justify the added cost for a hobbyist camera; Thanks again and I look forward to your book’s arrival!

    1. Magnification varies depending on the megapixels of the camera, but the bottom line is that you can easily increase magnification level – but there is not an easy way to decrease it.

  44. Hi Brian. Love your site and great info you provide us.
    Now that the A7II has had the firmware upgrade. Would it be better to have the LA-EA3 adapter? I currently have a Minolta 37-70 f/4 and the beercan 70-210 f/4 I currently use the LA-EA4
    Cheers in advance
    John

    1. Those lenses, like most all Minolta A-mount lenses, are screw drive so they will only AF with LA-EA4 which unfortunately works exactly the same after the update as it did before.

  45. Hi Brian, great review. I have bought this camera mainly for landscape, but am having some training in a studio soon. Not sure what sort of set up they have, but the manual states “Do not use a commercially available flash with high-voltage synchro terminals or with reverse polarity”. Finding it hard to locate a definition of this - any ideas?
    Also is there anything I need to know about connectivity/compatability before I go - am I likely to need any hot-shoe adapters etc

    Many thanks,
    Russell

    1. Older ’80s era flashes such as Vivitar 283 had extremely high trigger voltages that could fry the electronics of modern digital cameras (not just Sony). I’d stick to modern flashes from Sony, Phottix, Nissin, etc or flash triggers such as Pocket Wizard, Impact, etc.

  46. Hi, I am considering this camera. I have the A7, and the dumb auto ISO seems fixed on the new model (couldn’t Sony offer a better Auto ISO via a firmware update to older cameras?)

    Anyway I am wondering if the A7ii got the AF-A mode like the A6000 or is it still stuck with AF-S and AF-C only.
    thank you!

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