Macchina fotografica Sony Alpha 7 sopra mappa del mondo

Sony Alpha 7 II: a review of the Sony full frame mirrorless camera

I’ve always loved photography, but I never found the time to look into it more closely. It’s one thing to take “amateur” pictures, it’s another thing to understand, at a technical level, what photography actually means.
2018 was the year I decided to follow this passion of mine: I received a wonderful camera for my birthday (what better opportunity?!?) and I enrolled in a basic photography course.

Choosing the right camera was the first step towards the fabulous world of amateur photography, but I must confess that it was also the hardest choice.
Reflex or mirrorless? Nikon, Canon or Sony? And… full frame? And what about the lens?
When you have so many options, how do you go about choosing?
What I did was I spoke with friends who are photography enthusiasts, read various reviews and then I eventually found the right value for money to delve into this fabulous world.

Choosing a photography school for the basic course was much easier: once I found the main schools in Milan and read all the programs carefully, I enrolled in the Officine Fotografia Milano course.

WHO IS THE SONY ALPHA 7 IDEAL FOR?

Small and easily transportable anywhere, Sony Alpha 7 is not a camera for professionals, but it’s perfect for all amateurs who, like me, love to travel light.
It’s a camera that allows you to have fun with every possible lens, even vintage, especially if you want to take reasoned images with a certain level of study behind them.
And thanks to the quality of its images, Sony A7 can give great satisfactions.

EXTERIOR ASPECT

The first full frame mirrorless project by Sony; the camera’s full name is Sony Alpha 7 ILC. A camera placed on the market in 2013.
I chose the Sony Alpha 7 II version, which differs from the sister in very few aspects (including the stabilizer).
Its size is limited, as is its weight. This can be considered either a pro or a con, depending on how you intend to use the camera.
The grip is extremely ergonomic and well shaped, thus allowing you to get a good grasp with your right hand.
The design has been thoroughly cared for in the smallest details, the materials are good and the leather finishes are quite nice. The overall look is a bit vintage and reminds one of the cameras of the past. I like this detail very much.

IMPRESSIONS WHEN USING IT

With its 24 megapixels, the Sony A7 II allows for quality photos even in non-optimal conditions such as backlight or low light.
The electronic viewfinder is placed in an excellent position; it’s centered and well protruding, thus enabling you to use it comfortably without your nose having to quarrel with the camera. The viewfinder allows you to have an accurate preview of the final image, something worth not underestimating.
The LCD screen found on the back is quite large, bright and comfortable to carry out any function. The monitor’s one downside is that it is adjustable only partially and vertically, which becomes a bit awkward when taking a classic “selfie”. The display is customizable.
It’s easy and intuitive to use and the Sony A7 II commands are where you would expect to find them: a shutter button, an exposure mode dial, a dial to choose the mode of use, two dials for time and aperture if you use manual mode and the ISO wheel is right by your thumb. And numerous buttons, both with specific and customizable functions, that allow you to set your A7 II as you please 😉
The only button that I didn’t like that much is the one for shooting videos: it’s positioned on the outside of the camera body, which I find quite awkward.
In fact, in addition to excellent photos, the Sony Alpha 7 II allows you to make Full HD videos offering great performance on both images and audio, without the need to use an external microphone.
The battery compartment is located at the bottom of the camera, under the grip.
One of the negative aspects is the battery life: after 300 photos it needs to be replaced. I therefore suggest getting two more spare batteries.
Finally, like all Sony mirrorless cameras, the A7 II has USB charging: for those of you who like to travel light, you can recharge the battery directly “in-camera” with a simple micro-USB cable, which eliminates the need to carry around a separate charger.

IMAGE QUALITY

The full frame 24 megapixel sensor is most definitely the best you can get for this price range.
Its native ISO sensitivity ranges from 100 to 25,600, up to a maximum of 5 FPS for roughly 28 frames in RAW.
The quality of the images at low and medium ISO is great; the A7 II has an excellent image quality between ISO 100 and 1,600 in terms of resolution, colours and dynamic range.
The high ISO quality is good, but not great in terms of noise.
The ability to use speeds up to 1/8,000, a typical prerogative of higher price range cameras, is quite interesting to say the least.

FOCUS

The Sony A7 II has a hybrid focus system. The auto-focus system is pretty good for a mirrorless camera, but it can become somewhat unreliable, especially in the dark and on fast moving subjects. The manual focus system has a perfect image focus. The image can be increased up to 12 times directly from the viewfinder and this simplifies the ability to focus manually, however it isn’t enough for a quick use of the manual focus.

LENS

When the A7 was released in 2013, Sony launched a range of lens under the name “FE”, which means “full-frame E-mount”.
Today, there are numerous Sony FE , Zeiss or G Master lens and you can find some great reviews on Kenrockwell.com.
Furthermore, by purchasing an adapter, the Sony A7 II can be used with both Sony mounted lenses and a wide range of third-party lenses.
The camera body can be purchased with a 28-70 mm lens, which is perfect for getting started, and at a very affordable price (just over €200 on Amazon). However, the other Sony lenses have decidedly different prices.

APPLICATION AND SOFTWARE

Sony provides numerous applications for photo retouching or for various effects. Some are free, others are for sale (between €4.99 and 29.99, depending on the app).
To discover Sony apps visit the Play Memories Camera Apps portal.
The A7 II is compatible with Windows Vista® SP2, Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8, Mac OS® X (v10.5-v10.8).

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    WHAT DO I THINK?

    PROS

    • Small size for a full frame camera
    • Excellent image quality
    • Resistant to dust and moisture
    • Good electronic viewfinder, wide and of quality
    • High customization features
    • Built-in Wi-Fi
    • Takes Sony lenses with A and E mounts
    • Great value for money

    CONS

    • No touchscreen
    • LCD Monitor partially adjustable and only vertically
    • Difficult auto-focus in low-light conditions
    • The menu is complex and too vast
    • The video shooting button is awkward
    • Reduced battery life
    • No 4k video recording

    SONY ALPHA 7 II FEATURES

    DESIGN
    WEIGHT: 556 grams only camera body (599 grams with battery and memory media)
    SIZE: 127 x 96 x 60 mm
    TYPE OF MEMORY CARD USED: MS PRO Duo / SD / SDHC / SDXC
    TOUCHSCREEN: no
    DISPLAY: LCD TFT 3″
    VIEWFINDER TYPE: XGA OLED – 1.3 cm (0.5″), electronic viewfinder (color)
    VIEWFINDER RESOLUTION: 1024×768 px
    SHUTTER: mechanical
    BUILT-IN FLASH : no

    SENSOR
    SENSOR TYPE
    : CMOS EXMOR® full-frame – 24.3 MegaPixel
    SENSOR SIZE: 35 mm (35.8 mm x 23.9 mm)
    ISO SENSITIVITY: 100 – 25,600
    EXTENDED ISO SENSITIVITY: 50 – 51,200
    PHOTO FORMAT : jpeg, RAW (14-bit ARW 2.3), RAW + jpeg

    EXPOSURE
    SHUTTER SPEEDS: 1/8000 – 30″
    COMPENSATION: +/- 5 EV (1/3 and 1/2 stop EV selectable) (exposure correction selector : +/-3 EV (1/3 stop EV))
    EXPOSURE MODE: manual, speed priority, aperture priority, automatic exposure program
    EXPOSURE METER TYPE: multi-area, semi-spot, spot

    BATTERY
    BATTERY TYPE
    : Sony NP-FW50 rechargeable W series, capacity 7.70 Wh
    CHARGING MODE: micro-USB
    BATTERY LIFE: roughly 270 photos (viewfinder), 340 photos (LCD screen)

    FUNCTIONALITY
    STABILIZATION: 4.5 steps
    FOCUS TYPE: AF advanced hybrid (AF phase detection/ AF contrast-detection)
    FOCUS POINT: APS-C 117 points (AF phase detection), 99 point (AF phase detection) / 25 points (AF contrast detection)
    FOCUS AREA: multi-point (117-point phase detection auto-focus), 25 points (auto-focus with contrast detection) / Zone / With prevalence in the center / Flexible spot (S/M/L)

    MAXIMUM VIDEO RESOLUTION: 1920x1080p @ 60 FPS
    VIDEO FORMAT: AVCHD 2.0 / MP4
    AUDIO FORMATO: AVCHD – Dolby® Digital (AC-3) 2 chanels; MP4 – MPEG-4 AAC-LC 2ch

    DUST PROTECTION SYSTEM: coating on optical filter and ultrasonic vibration mechanism
    WATER-RESISTANT: no
    WI-FI: yes

    MANUFACTURER: Sony
    PRICE:

      • Recommended by Sony €999.99 camera body only

    RECAPPING

    For its price, Sony Alpha 7 II is a perfect camera for amateurs like me.
    Its image quality is incomparable to any other new camera at this price.
    Furthermore, Sony’s advantage is that it beat everyone on the market by being the first to produce full frame cameras. A move that allowed the Japanese company to be at the top in some key markets like the USA.
    I would say, therefore, that if you’re looking for good image-price value then this is the right camera for you. If, however, you have a higher budget, then surely its bigger siblings are better suited.

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    WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON THE SONY ALPHA 7 II? EVER USED A MIRRORLESS? WHAT KIND OF CAMERA DO YOU USE WHEN YOU GO ON A TRIP?
    IF YOU’D LIKE TO GIVE ME YOUR OPINION OR PASS ON ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR THE NEXT LENS’ TO BUY, LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW OR ON THE SOCIAL NETWORKS USING THE HASHTAG #BLACKSHEEPINMILAN 😉

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    Flavia Piantino Gazzano
    flavia.gazzano@gmail.com

    Digital enthusiast and growth hacker, with a strong passion for new technologies, social media and PR. She uses strategic communication as a strong asset in her life and has a creative approach to problem solving.

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