Sony A7 II Review – A Budget-Friendly Full-Frame Excellence

More than ten years ago today, in 2013, Sony launched the Alpha A7 and A7R, heralding the onset of a mirrorless revolution that would reshape the camera market forever. The following year, Sony introduced the A7 II, marking the second iteration of the groundbreaking Alpha 7 series.

On October 16, 2013, Sony made history by unveiling the world’s first full-frame mirrorless cameras, the Alpha A7 and Alpha A7R. This groundbreaking announcement marked a pivotal moment in the evolution of digital photography and set off a chain of events that reshaped the camera market landscape. But what exactly were the A7 and A7R, and how did they come to fruition? More importantly, why did they matter, and what legacy have they left behind?

The Alpha A7 and A7R represented a bold departure from traditional DSLR technology, offering photographers the compactness and versatility of a mirrorless design combined with the image quality and performance of a full-frame sensor. This fusion of innovation and quality catapulted Sony into the forefront of the camera industry, challenging established players and paving the way for a new era of photographic possibilities.

With their compact yet powerful bodies, advanced features, and exceptional image quality, the A7 and A7R garnered widespread acclaim from professionals and enthusiasts alike. Their arrival signaled a seismic shift in consumer preferences, with photographers increasingly gravitating towards the mirrorless format for its portability, versatility, and cutting-edge technology.

Short Comparison Of A7 and A7R Cameras

The Sony A7 and A7R cameras are both part of Sony’s Alpha 7 series of full-frame mirrorless cameras, but they have some key differences:

  1. Resolution:
    • The A7 features a 24.3-megapixel sensor, providing a balance of resolution and low-light performance.
    • The A7R, on the other hand, boasts a higher resolution with a 36.4-megapixel sensor, offering greater detail in images.
  2. Low Pass Filter:
    • The A7R does not have an optical low pass filter (OLPF), which can result in slightly sharper images but may also increase the risk of moiré patterns in certain situations.
    • The A7 includes an OLPF, which helps reduce the occurrence of moiré patterns but may slightly reduce overall image sharpness.
  3. Autofocus System:
    • The A7 features a hybrid autofocus system with 117 phase-detection points and 25 contrast-detection points, providing fast and accurate focusing performance.
    • The A7R also utilizes a hybrid autofocus system but with 25 contrast-detection points only, which may result in slightly slower autofocus compared to the A7, especially in low-light conditions.
  4. Price:
    • Generally, the A7R tends to be priced higher than the A7 due to its higher resolution sensor and omission of the low-pass filter.
  5. Intended Use:
    • The A7 is designed to be a versatile all-around camera, suitable for various photography applications including portraits, landscapes, and street photography.
    • The A7R, with its higher resolution sensor, is more geared towards photographers who require maximum detail and sharpness in their images, such as landscape, architecture, and studio photographers.

Sony A7 - Sony A7 II Review
Sony A7 – Body
Sony A7R - Sony A7 II
Sony A7R – Body

Introducing Sony A7 II

The Sony A7 II, introduced in November 2014, emerged as the second iteration of Sony’s groundbreaking Alpha 7 series. Building upon the success of its predecessor, the A7 II brought significant improvements and innovations to the mirrorless camera market.

Featuring a full-frame 24.3-megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor, the A7 II delivered exceptional image quality with rich detail and dynamic range. Its 5-axis in-body image stabilization (IBIS) system revolutionized handheld shooting, compensating for camera shake across five axes and ensuring sharper images in various shooting conditions.

The A7 II also boasted advanced autofocus capabilities with 117-point phase detection and 25-point contrast-detection AF, delivering fast and precise focusing performance. While its burst speed was modest at 5 frames per second (fps), and it lacked 4K video recording, the A7 II excelled as a versatile stills camera, capturing Full HD 1080p video at up to 60/50fps. Sporting a wide ISO range of 50-25,600, it guarantees exceptional image quality across various lighting scenarios.

Furthermore, the A7 II featured built-in Wi-Fi connectivity for seamless file sharing and remote camera control, along with a tilting rear screen for flexible composition and framing. Its compact and ergonomic design, coupled with a wide range of compatible lenses, made it a favorite among photographers seeking a balance of portability and performance.

Sony A7 II Review
Sony A7 II – Body

Specifications and Features of the Sony A7 II

Full-Frame Sensor

The Sony A7 II houses a full-frame 24.3-megapixel sensor, delivering exceptional image quality with rich detail and dynamic range. It’s a significant upgrade from smaller APS-C sensors, ideal for capturing professional-grade photographs.

Advanced Autofocus

Equipped with a hybrid contrast/phase-detection autofocus system, the A7 II ensures speedy and accurate focusing, even in challenging lighting conditions. Whether you’re capturing fast-moving subjects or intricate details, this autofocus system guarantees sharp and precise results.

Image Stabilization

One of its standout features is the 5-axis in-body stabilization, which compensates for camera shake across five different axes. This technology allows for handheld shooting at slower shutter speeds, minimizing blur and ensuring crisp images, particularly in low-light situations.

Wide ISO Range

With an ISO range of 50-25,600, expandable up to ISO 51,200, the A7 II excels in various lighting conditions. From bright daylight to dimly lit environments, this camera delivers exceptional performance, retaining detail and minimizing noise even at high ISO settings.

Video Capabilities

While it may not support 4K video recording, the A7 II excels in capturing Full HD 1080p footage at up to 60/50fps. Whether you’re documenting life’s moments or creating cinematic sequences, this camera ensures smooth and high-quality video output.

Connectivity Options

Seamlessly share your photos and videos or control your camera remotely with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. The A7 II enables wireless transfer of files to your smartphone, tablet, or computer, simplifying the process of sharing your creative work with others.

Ergonomic Design

With improved ergonomics compared to its predecessor, the A7 II boasts a comfortable grip and intuitive control layout, enhancing handling and usability during extended shooting sessions.

Tilting Rear Screen

The tilting rear screen adds versatility to your shooting experience, allowing for easy framing of shots from various angles, whether shooting from high or low perspectives or capturing selfies and vlogs.

Compatibility and Lens Options

As part of Sony’s Alpha series, the A7 II is compatible with a wide range of E-mount lenses, providing photographers with an extensive selection of options to suit their creative vision and shooting requirements.

Pros and Cons: Is the Sony A7 II Right for You?


  1. Exceptional image quality with a full-frame sensor.
  2. Revolutionary 5-axis in-body image stabilization.
  3. Advanced autofocus system for fast and precise focusing.
  4. Built-in Wi-Fi for seamless connectivity and remote control.
  5. Compact and ergonomic design for comfortable handling.
  6. Wide range of compatible lenses available.


  1. A modest burst speed of 5fps may not satisfy action photographers.
  2. Lack of 4K video recording capability, limiting its appeal for videographers.
  3. Single card slot may be a drawback for some users.
  4. The menu system may be complex for beginners.
  5. Limited battery life compared to newer models.

Comparing Sony A7 Series Models

The table is outlining the key differences between the Sony A7, A7R, and A7 II models:

FeatureSony A7Sony A7RSony A7 II
Sensor24.3-megapixel full-frame36.4-megapixel full-frame24.3-megapixel full-frame
Exmor CMOS sensorExmor CMOS sensorExmor CMOS sensor
Low Pass FilterIncludedNot IncludedIncluded
AutofocusHybrid AF with 117 phase-detectHybrid AF with 25 contrast-detectHybrid AF with 117 phase-detect and
and 25 contrast-detect pointspoints25 contrast-detect points
Image StabilizationNoNo5-axis in-body stabilization
Video RecordingFull HD 1080p at up to 60/50fpsFull HD 1080p at up to 60/50fpsFull HD 1080p at up to 60/50fps
Burst Speed5 frames per second (fps)4 frames per second (fps)5 frames per second (fps)
ISO Range100-25600 (expandable to 51,200)100-25600 (expandable to 51,200)100-25600 (expandable to 51,200)
Viewfinder2.4-million-dot OLED EVF2.4-million-dot OLED EVF2.4-million-dot OLED EVF
Screen3-inch tilting LCD3-inch tilting LCD3-inch tilting LCD
ConnectivityWi-Fi, NFCWi-Fi, NFCWi-Fi, NFC
Battery LifeApproximately 340 shots perApproximately 340 shots perApproximately 350 shots per charge
Dimensions126.9 x 94.4 x 48.2 mm126.9 x 94.4 x 48.2 mm126.9 x 95.7 x 59.7mm
Weight474g (with battery and card)465g (with battery and card)599g (with battery and card)

This is a concise overview of the main specifications and features of the Sony A7, A7R, and A7 II models, allowing you to compare and contrast the differences between them more easily.

Is the Sony A7 II a Good Option For Wildlife Photography?

While the Sony A7 II can be used for wildlife photography, it may not be the most ideal choice compared to other models in the A7 series, particularly the Sony A7 III. Here are some considerations:

Autofocus System

The A7 II features a hybrid autofocus system with 117 phase-detection points and 25 contrast-detection points. While this autofocus system is decent, it may not offer the same level of speed and accuracy as the more advanced autofocus system found in the A7 III, which has 693 phase detection and 425 contrast detection points.

Burst Speed

The A7 II has a burst shooting speed of up to 5 frames per second, which may be sufficient for some wildlife photography scenarios but could be limiting for capturing fast-moving subjects or action shots. The A7 III offers a faster burst speed of up to 10 frames per second, providing more opportunities to capture decisive moments.

Image Stabilization

The A7 II features 5-axis in-body image stabilization, which can help reduce camera shake and blur when shooting handheld, especially at slower shutter speeds. This can be advantageous for wildlife photography, particularly when using telephoto lenses to capture distant subjects.

Battery Life

The A7 II has a relatively modest battery life compared to newer models like the A7 III. Depending on the length of your wildlife photography outings and the availability of power sources for recharging, you may need to carry extra batteries to ensure uninterrupted shooting.

Image Quality

The A7 II’s 24.3-megapixel full-frame sensor delivers good image quality, but it may not offer the same level of detail as the higher-resolution sensors found in the A7R models. However, the A7 II strikes a balance between resolution and low-light performance, making it suitable for a variety of wildlife photography situations.

Sony A7 III - Sony A7 II Review
Sony A7 III – Body

While the Sony A7 II can certainly be used for wildlife photography, photographers may find that the more advanced features and capabilities of the Sony A7 III better suit the demands of this genre, particularly in terms of autofocus performance, burst speed, and battery life. If the A7 II fits within your budget and you’re willing to work within its limitations, it can still produce excellent results for wildlife photography with the right technique and approach.


Revolutionizing Photography: The Sony A7 Series

The Sony A7 series has played a pivotal role in revolutionizing the camera market, particularly with the introduction of the A7, A7R, and A7 II models. These cameras represent a significant milestone in the evolution of digital photography, offering groundbreaking features and exceptional performance.

Pioneers of Mirrorless Technology: A7 and A7R

The A7 and A7R, launched ten years ago as the world’s first full-frame mirrorless cameras, paved the way for a new era of imaging technology. With their compact yet powerful designs, advanced autofocus systems, and high-resolution sensors, they quickly gained acclaim among photographers seeking superior image quality and versatility.

Evolution Continues: Sony A7 II

The subsequent release of the A7 II further solidified Sony’s position as a leader in the mirrorless camera market. Boasting innovative features such as 5-axis in-body image stabilization and improved ergonomics, the A7 II addressed many of the shortcomings of its predecessors while retaining the outstanding image quality and performance that the series is known for.

Tailored Capabilities: Comparing the A7 Series

Through a comparison of specifications and features, it’s evident that each model in the A7 series offers unique strengths and capabilities tailored to different photography needs. Whether it’s the balanced performance of the A7, the high-resolution detail of the A7R, or the enhanced stability and usability of the A7 II, Sony has continued to push the boundaries of what is possible in mirrorless photography.

Wildlife Photography: Choosing the Right Model

The A7 II’s hybrid autofocus system, burst shooting speed, and battery life, while decent, may not meet the demands of fast-paced wildlife photography scenarios where rapid subject tracking and high-speed continuous shooting are essential. However, its 5-axis in-body image stabilization can provide stabilization benefits, particularly when shooting handheld with telephoto lenses.

Optimal Choice: Sony A7 III for Wildlife Photography

On the other hand, the Sony A7 III stands out as a superior choice for wildlife photography due to its advanced autofocus system with a wide coverage area, faster burst speed of up to 10 frames per second, and improved battery life. These features offer photographers greater versatility and reliability when capturing fast-moving wildlife subjects in various lighting conditions.

Sony A7 III - 2

Ultimately, while the Sony A7 II can still produce quality wildlife images with the right technique and approach, photographers may find that investing in the more advanced capabilities of the A7 III yields better results and enhances their overall wildlife photography experience.

Budget-Friendly Option

Despite being succeeded by newer models in the Sony Alpha lineup, the A7 II remains a compelling choice for enthusiasts and professionals alike. Its blend of advanced features, exceptional image quality, and affordability continues to make it a popular option for those looking to enter the world of full-frame mirrorless photography or expand their creative horizons. Sony A7 II is ideal for enthusiasts eyeing an upgrade to full-frame or students seeking a versatile camera for both stills and Full HD 1080p video recording, the Sony A7 II is a steal for budget-conscious shoppers.

Read a review of The New Sony A9 III – Game-changing Experience For Wildlife Photographers

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