Sony took the wraps off the next generation A7 II today. The new camera is the first full frame camera in the world with built in 5 axis image stabilization and features faster auto focus, refined controls and more robust construction. Hit the jump for all the details.
Sony A7 II
Score one for the rumor sites! SonyAlphaRumors had reported that Sony would unveil the next generation Sony Alpha 7 II within a few days and that rumor is now a fact.
The Sony A7 II uses the same tried and true 24MP sensor as its predecessor but represents a bit more than a simple evolutionary step as Sony has included 5 axis image stabilization to the popular full frame mirrorless camera (a first for any full frame camera). In addition to this major new feature the A7 II offers an integrated robust lens mount and an improved viewfinder among its many new features:
- 5 axis in-camera image stabilization equivalent to 4.5 stops.
- 5 axis stabilization works with all third party lenses.
- 24.3 MP Exmor sensor (the same sensor as the previous generation A7).
- Wide coverage hybrid viewfinder with 30% faster response.
- Top, front and internal construction made with magnesium alloy.
- Larger grip with shutter button relocated to grip.
- More rigid construction with integrated robust lens mount.
- High-contrast, high-resolution XGA OLED Tru-Finder™
- Refined control layout for more intuitive operation.
- Textured finish to black paint on exterior of camera for a professional look and feel.
- Anti-dust coating on sensor with integrated vibration cleaning system.
- 1080P recording at 50Mbps using the high-bit-rate XAVC S format.
- S-Log picture profile for broadcast quality output ready for color grading.
The 5 axis image stabilization looks like the killer feature and the ability to get 4.5 stops of stabilizing power with any lens puts the new Sony A7 II in a class by itself. Here’s a video with more detail on the stabilization:
That ain’t bad.
Each of these improvements looks great on paper but we’ll have to wait until the camera is released into the wild to see the real world benefits.
The Sony A7 II is scheduled for shipping in Japan on December 5th for approximately $1,600 USD, and Europe in January. No word on when the new body will be available in the U.S.A. and Canada.
The original Sony A7 was close to being perfect but a few problems always kept me away from the full frame mirrorless phenom. The dials never felt right, the controls were cramped, the shutter button was in an odd spot, the sensor was prone to dust even if you never changed the lens… The list could go on.
But that sensor… Damn! Images from the original A7 had an amazing look to them. Smooth tones, excellent detail without looking too “digital”. The system was good enough that many pro photographers ended up switching to the A7 and never looked back.
Turns out Sony was paying attention and a year after the introduction of the original A7 they’ve released an evolutionary A7 II that seems to be created straight from a wishlist. The slightly larger body to accomodate the image stabilization means the camera will feel more natural in your hand. And speaking of image stabilization – if it truly provides 4.5 stops of image stabilization then it’s going to change the way we shoot at night and challenge the venerable A7S for the low light crown!
The robust lens mount eliminates the problem of lenses that shifted and wiggled on the original A7 series of cameras. And the anti-dust sytsem on the sensor means that sensor cleanings will be few and far between.
Two questions remain unanswered.
How’s the battery life? The A7 series of cameras had HORRIBLE battery life. Looks like the A7 II uses the same NP-FW50 battery as its predecessor and with the built in image-stabilization you have to think the new camera is going to be thirsty for power. We’ll have to wait and see if Sony has optimized the system in any way to extend the battery life. But you might want to get 4 batteries just to be safe.
How loud is the shutter? The A7 cameras had a notoriously loud and clackety shutter. From the A7r that could be heard clear across a crowded room to the slightly more dampened A7s, the shutter sound was an issue. Here’s hoping the Sony A7 II leans toward the confident shutter of the A7s or better!
All in all, the A7 has been a great camera for street shooters that wanted the image quality of full frame with the natural field of view that an actual 35mm lens provides. The fact that you could add an adapter and use Leica glass made it and instant hit for a lot of shooters. If you add in the Zeiss Loxia manual focus lenses designed specifically for the A7 series and you had a quick and nimble little camera that could compete with anything else on the market.
The latest improvements with the Sony A7 II show that Sony is listening. The camera is not only more usable but represents a major step forward for the entire mirrorless market. All in all the A7 II looks like an excellent successor to the original A7 and something that might finally sway a lot of Leica users away from their beloved rangefinders.
What’s your take on the new Sony A7 II full frame mirrorless camera? Are the evolutionary features enough to convince you to upgrade? Post your ideas in the comments below and keep the conversation going!