Sony Breakdown! Which model of Sony Camera should you Buy?
With so many Sony A7 models available today (new and old) many ask me “Which one should I buy”?
While I try not to tell people what to buy, I do try to help with the decision based on my own experience with the cameras. Today we have MANY choices within the Sony Alpha line, and if you are considering going to Sony or upgrading your old Sony, here are some of my thoughts. Keep in mind I have shot with them ALL, and currently have been using a Sony A7RIII for daily video duty, and I love it. Today, Sony is kicking some major ass and with the new kid on the block, the A7III, they are seeing even more success. I feel it is the BEST bang for the buck digital full frame camera you can buy today, regardless of price.
A video overview!
The Original A7 can still be bought NEW for under $800!
The original A7 was reviewed by me HERE when it was launched. I LOVED It at the time as I did not have the ability to compare it to the future A7II and A7III. So for the time, that moment, it was incredible. It was also expensive. Today you can buy the original A7 for a pretty good buy but if you are thinking of this, be sure you know the pros and the cons, TODAY, for these older, original models.
The original A7 sells today, NEW for under $800. See the deal here.
The original A7 is slow to focus by todays standards. Today it would seem painfully slow when compared to the newer MkIII versions, which have improved GREATLY in the Auto Focus world. Today they are fast as lightning but back then, they were not. Also battery life is abysmal by todays standards on the original A7. The body is a bit different from the A7MKIII of today, and feels slightly smaller with a smaller grip and a more slick finish. Low light will not be as good as todays generation of Alpha cameras but for IQ you will still get gorgeous results. I would think that having the original a7 with something like a manual Zeiss 50 Planar in Leica M mount (with adapter of course) would make for a great small high quality full frame camera, and you can buy both for about $1500.
The A7S – King of the Night – Can still be purchase today NEW for $1999
It’s funny but the original A7s was one of my all time fave Sony cameras, well, ever. See my old review HERE. Small, and at the time the best low light performance of any camera made. Video pros loved this model and still do today. I grew fond of the 12 MP sensor, the images to me were just lovely. While this model has not been discounted deeply like the A7 MKI, it’s still a choice for some who want the original “S”.
The original A7s Is sold today, NEW, for $1999
The A7S MKII, even better, sells for a little more at $2200
Me, I would take the MKII for $200 more today (my review), as you can buy the newest model for under $2200. It’s not a HUGE improvement though over the MKI, but it is better in all areas from feel, speed, and high ISO noise. Battery life is the same as the MKI as Sony has yet to update the S to the MKIII improvements (though I have a strange feeling it will be SOON, as in, ANY DAY NOW). When they do, expect to pay $3k+
The A7S to me is a special model. It just works so well in any light. The rendering of these models have something special about them.
The a7 MKII can be purchased NEW today for under $1100!
For an extra $300 or so over the original A7, the MKII can be purchased for just under $1100. This is a GREAT camera though the IQ seems different from the MKI and MKII. Not bad, just different. You can see my original review of the II HERE. I liked it, as for the time it was superb. Today it is still a great alternative to spending $3k and up but at $900 away from the new MKIII, if you can swing it, go for the III as it is the Best Buy today in digital IMO. Even so, at $1100 you can get the improvements that Sony brought from the original. Better grip, faster AF, better low light, etc.
The A7II can be bought NEW today for $1098.
I enjoyed the A7II and bought one for my own personal use as I did the original A7S. Today it can bring a nice savings compared to buying the newest model. I think it is great that Sony offers us all of these choices.
The A7RII can be bought today NEW for under $1999!
Sony resolution monster the A7RII was one of my all time fave cameras. I used it for a year straight as my sole camera (pretty much) and it delivered time after time. See my full review HERE. With a healthy savings of around $1200 over the newer MKIII some have found it hard to justify that extra cost when the RII was so well received and reviewed. THIS is a phenomenal camera, even today and while it still has the awful battery system and feels slow with AF compared to the MKIII, the IQ is stunning.
The A7RII can be bought NEW for under $2000 HERE.
This camera is a powerhouse and while I recommend the new MKIII versions of the A7 and A7R today over any other, if your budget is limited or you want to save some cash, this is an amazing option my friends.
The New Generation. The A7III, A7RIII and the A9 Flasghip.
Sony is ALWAYS progressing their alpha line. ALWAYS striving to make them better. They always ask for feedback from reviewers and those who use the gear. They take that feedback to heart and use it to improve and with the MKIII line, and the A9, they have drastically improved these cameras in the speed and battery department. Even the high res RIII is fast as lightning with AF in video and photo. The A9 is a MONSTER of SPEED and the A7III is not far behind. ALL of the MKIII models released so far have been quite special. In fact, I could not imagine being without one of them, and they are all good.
The A9 is the current Sony flagship as it has the most cutting edge features like the no blackout EVF, crazy speed and just the best sony offers for an impressive photo experience. Geared for high speed shooting, the A9 can be used for anything. To me, it is the best camera that make but the A7RIII and A7III are just as good really, and aimed at those who want all out resolution and in the case of the latest A7III, those who want a full frame camera capable of ANYTHING. I mean yes, you can shoot ANYTHING with the $2000 A7III which is why it has been sold out since its release.
The Sony A9 Flagship comes in at a WHOPPING $4200.
The Sony A7RIII comes in at just under $3200
and the best deal of them all, the A7III comes in at under $2000.
These newest Sony cameras all offer the new battery system, which is amazing. They also have the fastest AF of any Sony camera ever made, for static or continuous focus. Amazing speed and response. The feel and build has been improved as well over old models. So you do pay more but are getting the latest and greatest. But again, one could buy an old A7 for $800 and wait a year when these new models will no longer be so new, and discounted. ; )
You can see my A9 review HERE, and my reports on the A7RIII and A7III (more to come with the A7III).
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I had the original A7 when it came out, which I loved using with a range of Leica L/M glass, and some Zeiss Planar lenses, but fell for the upgrade path and traded it in for the A7ii. For various reasons I just didn’t enjoy the newer Sony (mainly ergonomics) and that camera ended up being traded onwards – to buy a oldish rangefinder. I have missed that original A7 ever since, and was looking at jumping back in to the Sony path (but with an A7Rii), but reading your article I realised the newer models are beyond what I require, as I don’t own any Sony lenses (neither have a desire to own any). Reviewing my images from the original A7, it does have a pretty spectacular ‘look’, especially when tied with the Zeiss lenses, and somehow maybe its more film like in qiality than the later model. Anyway, great article, which just helped prompt me to buy a used A7 (was a bargain too), so thanks.
Dear Irwin, pick a SONY A7RII shot jpeg @ 11 or 18 megapixel resolution and you have this filmlike quality look you are searching for 😉
This camera is STILL THE BEST BARGAIN FOR ME NOW!!!
Steve, my thanks for a great article. Could you please suggest the best lenses for the A7 range? I was thinking Batis 18, 21, 85 plus the Sony 55mm. What would you recommend? Thanks
Well, there are so many great lenses for E mount. The G Masters are gorgeous but large and heavy. The Zeiss Batis line is fantastic and light and smaller. Loxia even smaller but manual. If you were thinking of the Batis lenses, I’d go 18 25 and then 85. But all depends on your needs. The Sony 55 is praised by so many and is tiny.
I know my comment is a bit late, but I’ve found that the Zeiss 35mm 2.8 to be the best travel lens I’ve ever used on my A7. The color rendition, pop, focus speed…. it’s really a unique lens and is wonderfully lightweight. I’ve got the 55mm, but the focal length isn’t as good for travel pictures.
Steve, I wish you can address in your upcoming review of the a7III how does it stack against the A7rII. Both come at the same price now, and each have its pros and cons. The 7rII has much better sharpness thanks to the lack of AA filter and much greater resolution. The 7rII has better, all-metal build, and it has sharper LCD monitor. Since you have used the RII for such long time, I would like to know how does the 7III compares with that camera.
Well the main difference between the two is the A7III is MUCH faster with auto focus, wether it is single or continuous. It has dual card slots and the marathon mega battery, lol. So you gain speed, battery life and some function with the joystick and dual slots. The RIII is nice for IQ, but slower. If you want to shoot action the 7III will win. If you want the best IQ and detail, the RII wins all the way. If one chooses the RII, buy around 3-5 batteries and you will be good to go. The RII is still a phenomenal camera.
…Steve, you should say to the folks that PLAYMEMORIES SUPPORT is gone with A7III. So no possibility to do in camera double exposure, timelapse, ND filter simulation and multiframe noise reduction like with A7RII.
This alone make the SONY A7RII a beautiful camera even now!
I also fell in love with the A7s. It was such a break through low light camera as well as good in good light. I can’t bring myself to part with it even though I now shoot Sony’s newer models.
Hi, Steve and thanks for running this great site.
I have a full line collection of the old Pentax original K mount manual lenses.
What Sony FF would you suggest to go for ? The A7S or A7 (A7ii)?
Depends on your budget, wants and needs.
HI- one thing to consider when using manual lenses is that the A7ii has image stabilization, where the A7 and A7S don’t. The image stabilization isn’t the greatest out there, however, it does really help when using manual lenses. Steve has an article outlining IS in cameras somewhere on this site.
In the end, you won’t go wrong either way with any of those 3. I shoot manual lenses, and if it were me, it would be a toss up between the A7ii and A7s, with the A7 coming in last. That A7s sensor is magic!
I always wonder about manual focus assist on 7S vs 7R (any iteration models). Is maximum magnification the same on S like on R? Or is smaller due to smaller sensor resolution?
I have a A7mkll and I do love the image quality with decent lenses. I find the colour straight from the camera a little flat. However, I hardly shoot it now as the menu system (like all Sony cameras) is diabolical to distraction! If Sony could make an A camera with a Leica Q menu system it would be almost perfect. Until then I will stick with my Leica Q even with the limitations of a single lens.
A: None, unless your current camera is broken…
Sure but this is for those looking for a new camera, or switching. I get several emails every week asking me this question.
Not really – it’s a preference matter
Example: I really enjoy the MFT gear I have, but may add an A7S2 and fast prime, just because I feel like experiencing the unique capabilities of that set up.
I may pick up a Leica Q, because I am just drawn to it.
What’s wrong with that?
I think that part of the appeal of this site for many, is that talkin’ photography and talkin’ gear is fun.
Buying gear is fun. Sharing experiences is fun.
Steve never says wht you SHOULD do. He is often though, a great moderator of discussion on this hobby that is as much about loving cameras as it is about loving photography.
When I read the headline, my immediate thought was the RX10Mk4! The king of reaction photography. I could then use my little Leica, with a selection of prime lenses, for more considered photography and have no need for anything else.
Reading the article, you really meant “which A7/9 should you buy?”. An interesting read. In that case, I still might get an A7S, if I ever come across a cheap one (still hasn’t happened!). The sensors in those things are sublime. I borrowed one once and couldn’t get over how much you could get out of those files and still have a crisp, realistic-looking image. The camera body felt lovely, too, though the menu system was diabolical.
Great overview! good to see a comparison here. But I miss the A6500 here – my personal favourite 🙂