Sony a7 II

Estimated Street Price: $1,700.

INTRODUCED 11/2014

In fall 2013, Sony shook up the mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera world by introducing the first full-frame-sensor model—two, actually—the 24-megapixel a7 and 36-megapixel a7R. In spring 2014, they added the low-light/4K video specialist a7S and now have introduced the successor to that first a7 model, the 24.3-megapixel a7 II. And where the original a7 was a very good camera, the new a7 II is an even better one.

For starters, there’s now 5-axis SteadyShot INSIDE sensor-shift image stabilization, which compensates not only for up-down and left-right camera shake, but also pitch, yaw and roll. The feature works with all lenses, even in conjunction with stabilization built into Sony OSS lenses (but note that with some lenses, especially manual-focus third-party lenses, you don’t get all five axes).

The Hybrid AF system still uses 117 on-sensor PDAF points (77 in APS-C mode) and 25 contrast-detect AF points, but features new algorithms that make it 30% faster and 1.5X more accurate than the original a7’s. AF and auto exposure are provided during the camera’s fastest 5 fps shooting rate. The new camera also starts up 40% faster than the original a7.

The Bionz X processor allows for enhanced video capability, including 1920×1080 at 60p and 50 Mbps using the fast XAVC S codec, picture profiles and Sony’s S-Log2 gamma for wide dynamic range.

All of the a7 cameras share the same compact form factor and take Sony FE-mount full-frame lenses (of which there are currently seven, from a 16-35mm ƒ/4 to a 70-200mm ƒ/4, with more on the way). You can also use E-mount (NEX) lenses, but they were designed for APS-C sensors and will vignette (you can set the camera to automatically crop to APS-C format when an E lens is mounted to avoid this). You can also use Sony A-mount DSLR lenses via the LA-EA2 and LA-EA4 adapters (the latter has a built-in PDAF system featuring Sony’s TMT semitranslucent mirror technology) and just about any other lens for which an adapter is available.

Contact: Sony, store.sony.com.

STANDOUT FEATURE: The first full-frame camera with in-body 5-axis image stabilization.

1. More robust than that of the original a7, the a7 II’s body features a larger grip that makes for steadier handholding. The shutter button is also larger and better positioned.

2. The three-inch LCD monitor tilts 107º up and 41º down, and provides manual-focus peaking and video zebras.

3. The a7 II features a built-in OLED EVF, an essential feature when shooting outdoors in bright conditions.

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