Sony A7II Review on the way…until then…

Sony A7II Review on the way…until then…

Many have been asking “Steve, where is your Sony A7II review?!?!?” – Well, I have only had the camera for a week or so and I need a MINIMUM of two weeks to do a review, sometimes 3-4 weeks. So I am now shooting with it, testing it and trying out the 16-35 f/4 Zeiss with it as well as a few other lenses like the Sony 55 1.8, 35 2.8 and the Voigtlander 40 2.8 and others.

So far it is one hell of an amazing camera. Mark my words, this WILL be on many “Camera of the Year” lists as Sony just pushed it out for 2014.

The JPEG rendering is fantastic and the ergonomics, build, and 5 Axis IS have made this new A7II the “creme of the crop” in the mirrorless digital world. There is absolutely NOTHING like it available today. My video on the Sony A7II is HERE. AF is much better than it was with the previous A7 and is almost up there with the A7s in AF capabilities (The A7s can somehow see and AF in the dark).

My review will be up by the end of the month, but here are a couple of shots to check out until then. All JPEGS from camera.

B&H Photo has some in stock HERE with the 28-70 kit zoom. Amazon has some in stock body only from 3rd party vendors HERE.

A full size out of camera JPEG. Click it for full size. This was at 55mm and 1.8 (typo on the JPEG itself says 50 but it was shot with the 55 1.8 Zeiss). 

Brilliant color, sharpness and remember, this is at f/1.8 and an OOC JPEG!

**Right click and open in a new window to see it the way it should be**

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Here is one with the Voigtlander 40 2.8 – Again, a JPEG shot wide open at 2.8 – click it for larger

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The Zeiss 16-35 at f/5.6 – click it for larger

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52 Comments

  1. How does the A7II perform with the Zeiss 35mm F/2 ZM and the Zeiss 21mm F/2.8 ZM? Any color fringing or heavy vignetting?

  2. It´s too bad SONY still insists on the dreaded double-click for live loupe. It was one (!) click for every NEX model to go directly into magnified liveview. With the a7 first a frame pops up to tell me what part of the image is going to be magnified when i hit the assist button for a second time. How silly is that? And why is it different on different SONY models? Why dont make it optional via firmware? Please SONY…!

  3. Hy Steve, I’m looking forward to read your full review.

    There’s a lot of talk about micro jitter and moire using the A7II for video. Can you confirm that?

      • Thanks Steve.

        I just thought you might test it a little bit for video, because you also do some video jobs from time to time.

        Looking forward the final review!

  4. My A7m2 arrived last Monday, 12/15, so I’ve had most of a week to get to know it. I intend to use lenses I already own, including Leica and Nikon, so I bought adapters at the same time. I was impressed with the solid feel right out of the box, and the superb ergonomics. It is very much like my M9 in that regard, only smaller. The menu system is mostly intuitive, armed with knowledge from this site and various reviews. The “killer app” for me is the internal IS, which works with any lens, IS or not. Although other A7’s have been criticized for a noisy shutter, the A7m2 is comparable to my M9, and useful in all but the quietest venue. I shoot a lot of classical concerts and recitals, so it’s very important to be unobtrusive.

    I am especially impressed with the focusing ability. It is the first time I’ve used a Summicron 90mm, wide open, with confidence. I also experimented with a Nikon 300/4 AF-S, which was nearly unusable without a tripod. Now it’s sharp, hand-held, at 1/60.

    The other issue with the A7 is performance with rangefinder lenses wider than about 35mm. I find it works well with a Biogon 28/2.8, but I haven’t shot any blank walls with it. However, it works impeccably with Nikon AIS 24/2.8, AiS 24/2 and an AF-D 20/2.8. The backfocus distance for SLR lenses is long enough to work well with the Sony sensor.

    Since none of my lenses communicate with the body, I programmed a button to facilitate setting the focal length. If you use a short setting with a long lens, the viewfinder becomes unbearably jerky. Set correctly, the finder view is smooth. To answer a previous post, OSS is active in the magnified focusing view, as is peaking.

    Why Sony retained lossy compression for RAW images is beyond belief. Memory is cheap, so 50 MB files would be no hardship. Based on my experience with Nikon, compression takes more processing time than saving larger files without compression. A 32 GB SDHC card holds nearly 1000 compressed files. I could live with half that number.

    Battery life is dismal – about 250 images using the EVF. At that rate, you’d go through four batteries to fill one 32 GB card. The A7m2 charges through an USB port, just like it’s predecessors. I have an inexpensive 12000 mAH battery pack with USB ports which could easily be used with the camera. Just don’t forget to disconnect it if you set the camera on a table and walk away (I did that twice with other cameras, one P/S a complete loss).

    It is very easy to operate the camera remotely with a smart phone. The free iPhone application, “PlayMemories Mobile,” gives you live view and allows you to shoot stills or video from a distance with a peer-to-peer Wi-Fi connection. The camera timeout is not active in remote mode.

    I don’t have any photos I can share at this time, due to privacy issues. Maybe when I have time to shoot trees, rocks and dirt (or snow).

  5. Hey Steve, I am getting ready to upgrade from my NEX 5N and I am debating on either the A7R or the A7II. I use a lot of old glass and I mostly do landscape and architecture shots. Which camera do you feel would be the better upgrade?

  6. I have been reading that when using third party lenses on the A7-II (ones that don’t electronically communicate with the camera, Leica for example) the stabilization is really 3-axis, not 5 since the Sony relies on their OSS lenses for the other two axes. Can you enlighten us on this?

    • Yes, manual lenses such as a Leica 50 Summilux will work in Three Axis, much like the system on the Olympus E-M10. This is what Sony tells me. Three Axis works very well and while not as extreme as 5 Axis, still gets the job done. It’s nice to have IS with old M glass or Nikkor S glass, etc.

  7. Dear Steve,

    Could you cover two topics in your review, i.e. phase detect focus confirmation with manual lenses and the Nikon and Canon-like auto ISO? Beside IBIS, this two features would be great to have upgrades but I am afraid, I am to idealistic, thinking that Sony coudl fulfill my dreams in this regards.
    I shoot with a7 mk1 and use it exclusively with Zeiss ZM lenses. It would be great to have focus confirmation from phase detection system. Nikon-like auto ISO where you can specify shutter speed at which the ISO is bupmed up would be also great. I presume that sony didn’t include this functions in a7II but i hope I am wrong.

    Best regrds
    Piotr

    • The A7II gives better IQ from color, to detail to overall pop. I sold my M after using the A7II and A7s. I will write a few words about it but I basically found the M glass worrying better on the S and II over the M itself. Add to that closer focusing capabilities, much better video, IS, insane low light abilities (A7s) and the much cheaper price (as well as super build of the II) of $1698 vs $7000..well, the time has finally come where something came out that easily beat my Leica, the brand and camera I have loved forever (M series). I still love and adore the M, and am sure I will get the next version but I have to give credit where its due, and to keep a $7k camera when a $1700 camera out performs it in every single area..well..just common sense. The Sony is not quite as enjoyable to use as an RF but it’s still very enjoyable as the Mark II feels more like a camera then a computer.

    • A7Ii is built to a higher standard, feels beefier, has a larger grip, the 5 Axis IS inside which is AMAZING, and is basically an improved A7 in every way. The A7s is a low light monster that the A7II can not touch but the A7II will give better quality in normal light and good light. But main differences are the new body design, new build quality, 5 Axis IS, tweaked 24 MP sensor, better color and AWB (Over old A7, same as A7s) and faster AF and responsiveness over A7. I own both 😉

  8. Yeah… Thanks to you Steve I broke my promise to myself and preordered the A7ii just a week after my graphite silver XT1 arrived. Now my XT1 is neglected as I’ve been using the A7ii with Voigtlander 40mm Nokton too much! I’ve also acquired used Leica telephoto glass which are stabilized due to the IBIS. Too awesome!

    • Yes, that is the beauty of it..using those old lenses as so many are amazingly good and cheap as well. No need to spend thousands on new Leica glass…old 1950’s and up glass is also fantastic. I have bought lenses ranging from $30 to $200 that are performing so good on the A7II. The IS works with all of them. Glad you are enjoying it!

        • For example on I just bought for a song is a Nikkor S 50 1.4. It is TINY, solid, classic and has a unique yet pleasing rendering. Can be found for under $200 (though I paid less) and is TINY!! When I say TINY I mean at least 1/2 the size of the Sony 35 2.8 (but heavier due to solid construction). Throw on a Nikkor S to Sony E adapter and you are in business.

          There are loads of Voigtlander lenses as well (M mount) and Zeiss Zm lenses that are fantastic and SMALL. My fave lenses for the Sony’s are M mount lenses, many vintage. I use a 50 3.5 Elmar that has some classic magic. I paid $60 for it. I also have a 50 f/2 and the $400 Voigtlander 40 2.8. All work and produce beautiful results.

          The A7s can use 15’s, 21’s, etc. The A7Ii will have issues with ultra wides (just as the Leica M does) so bets to stick with 28 and up for the A7II.

          But there are so many classic lenses you can get, for example, at KEH.com. Even my Jupiters work well with the Sony. The $30 Jupiter I bought is amazing on the A7II.

  9. Hi Steve thanks for your hard work as always. I can’t seem to find anywhere if the A7ii will show live view when tethered over USB, for using with programs such as DSLRDashboard. Or if it can charge the battery via USB while it’s in use, for long timelapse sessions where no electrical outlets are available. Could you check these things out?

  10. Thanks for the update, Steve! The shots look great –it seems to me Sony tweaked/slightly improved something in the IQ department from the A7, maybe less NR from the JPEG engine? The Day of the Dead portrait is fantastic!

  11. Hi Steve, I’m very interesting in this camera. You say “Also, the A7II beats the Nikon Df for build, speed, AF accuracy, sharpness and color, depth, pop, DR, and price and can even use Nikon lenses”. With metabones adapter, I loose the AF function with nikon lenses, isn’it? So.. how is the Sony A7II in the “normal” use, during a trip, street photography and so on… without Af?? I would change my Df, with a lot of best nikon’s lenses, but I’m scary about it… I’m scared to can’t shoot quicky, miss the moment and so on… what do you think?

    • Well, me, I would not buy Nikon lenses for the A7II (AF lenses, I have a few old RF lenses from Nikon for it) as it would make it big and bulky. If you are invested in Nikon glass, I’d stick with Nikon bodies or add the camera as an extra body. The A7II works best, IMO, with native glass and M mount or old small RF glass. Manual focusing is easy and I do not even use the magnify or peaking unless I want to be 100% positive I nail it. But for most who want an A7II, I would go with the 35 2.8 55 1.8 and personally, a couple of Zeiss, Voigtlander, Contax or old classics.

        • It’s a great lens. Me, I am not a fan of large zooms, so I would not buy it for me, bur if you do not mind large zooms, it is a great all around general purpouse lens

          • Thanks for the quick response .. yes, it does make the combo rather heavy and big .. I was debating to get this lens instead of the Zeiss 55 mm, which I’m leaning towards.

    • Sorry to disagree with you a bit Steve on the use of nikon lenses on the Sony A7s. I have a legacy Nikor 45mm mm f 2.8 lens from my old Nikon FM3A camera, which is tack sharp. With a Rayqual Nikon to Sony e converter, the lens is extremely compact and the images tack sharp. I have also used the 28, 50, and 85 f1.8 Nikor lenses on the Sony. They are all light weight and the ergonomics are just fine. These lenses are also tack sharp on the Sony and seem to accentuate the effectiveness of the focus peaking. This is not to disparage Voitlander glass on the Sony, but simply to say that these Nikor lenses work extremely well. I personally travel with my Nikon DF with 24-85 Nikor zoom lens and my Sony A7s with the 45mm Nikor.

      • I am talking about the large modern day Nikon lenses which are huge..35 1.4, 58 1.4, 24-70, 70-200, etc. Even the ones you mention are much larger than RF glass for example. My Nikkor 50 1.4 S mount is TINY, maybe 1/4 the size (or less) of your 85 1.8 and heavier due to all metal solid construction (and cost me almost nothing). Me, I prefer the small RF lenses and if I were using modern day Nikon glass, Id just use a Nikon camera as the lenses are still large unless you are talking about vintage Nikon.

  12. I was a bit cynical in my post. And don’t get me wrong Sony does a very good job on innovating and “pushing the envelope” as you sad. I really like the cameras. But it takes more than just innovation. How about Support? How about keeping your customers satisfied with products they bought? Do you have any notion on how long it takes to get a Sony camera fixed when it’s broken? I had my Olympus E-M1 send in for repair because the rubber grip got loose. Picked up, repaired and delivered back within 3 days 🙂 And Firmware upgrades are mandatory, they can fix flaws. I’m still waiting for a firmware update for my Sony RX1r or RX1 and it probably never will appear. The RX1’s exposure automation programming has some major flaws which Sony easily can correct to bring out a firmware update. But they just don’t. I think that when you buy a pro camera you should get pro support. Sony did bring out one firmware update for the A7, that’s a good thing. But they can do better. You have to admit that Fuji and Olympus both do a better job at bringing out Firmware updates and after sales support.

  13. In the vending machines photo I am seeing lots of detail, but also CA and distortion, especially on the top edges of the vertical wooden posts on either side of the photo. I am also seeing blown highlights.

    • 99% of cameras will blow highlights with an OOC JPEG in a Vivid mode. Easily cured by shooting RAW. As for CA, the worst offender I have ever seen is the Leica 50 Noctilux, and at $11k, that should be unacceptable. Again, this is an OOC JPEG with no corrections at all. All of it can be corrected in camera or by shooting RAW. But blown highlights, Fuji has been the worst in my experience, never an issue with any FF Sony (again, shoot RAW).

  14. I had a chance to examine the A7II at a camera store today with a 50 mm Nikor F1.8 on a Metabones adapter. I could not get image stabilization to work in the magnify focus mode, although it worked when the shutter was depressed. Does image stabilization work while focusing in the magnify mode?

  15. Looks great but I can’t help but feel this time next year there will have been 2 more iterations that are so much better – am I being cynical ?

  16. 1/ Has the auto ISO function been fixed or is the lowest speed still only 1/60 sec no matter what lens is used?
    2/ Have the sensor reflections been fixed?

    Thanks!

  17. Mine comes today! With the Voigtlander close focusing adapter. Only have the 35 1.2 Nokton ii and the 50 Lux ASPH… to try on it. Well, I have my 35 Cron but that’s put away in the box to sell. I guess I should try that one as well. This is a big jump for me because I’ve completely gotten away from the G.A.S the past few years. Been very happy with my Leica M-E and lenses. Prior to that I shot film out of an M7 for a couple of years. So I simplified and went back in time to that different way of thinking of the camera. This after years of using Nikon gear from the Coolpix 950 to D2Hs > D3 > D700. But I trust Steve and I think his expectations and demands from gear aren’t too much different from mine. So I bit on this one. Can’t wait to learn something new actually. Also can’t wait to be able to see the shot, focus, bokeh, framing, color, etc… all before I hit the shutter! Wow. That with a 50mm Summilux attached should be amazing. Ironically, shooting DSLRs and Leica M9 and M-E, I haven’t had that capability since my first digital, the Coolpix. Anyway. Listening for UPS all day is making me nuts. 😉

  18. Brilliant Steve, I remember that first picture from reviews you have done before. I have to say these 2 boxes never looked better 🙂

  19. I’m looking forward to the A7II review. Is there going to be any type of write up on the lx100? (The a7II companion)

  20. Do my first test shots with the A7ii really look as fantastic as I think they do? Or am I just becoming a Sony fanboy? To be fair, I need to shoot it a lot more to know.

  21. It’s everything the A7 should have been. And if I didn’t already own an A7 I’d buy one of these in a heartbeat.

  22. Impressive. Will you be commenting on the different manual focusing options with the camera? I’m interested in what it offers, and how it works. Does it have something similar to what Fuji put into the FT1 for manual focusing (focus point window to the side of the full shot)? How is the viewfinder size compared to the FT1?

    Thanks Steve.

  23. I just picked up the A7..due to the AF AND PRICE…gotta say that I can’t imagine why you’d want a DSLR after this. UNLESS you require some of the special Canon lenses and don’t want to f’ with adapters.

    THESE THINGS ARE THE FUTURE!

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