Sony has taken their line of full-frame cameras to the next level with the Alpha a7 II Mirrorless Digital Camera, which features 5-axis SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilization with 4.5 stops of compensation for pitch, yaw, horizontal shift, vertical shift, and roll. Operation of the 24.3-megapixel series has been streamlined with a redesigned grip, shutter release button, and customizable controls. The a7 II also features a moisture- and dust-resistant design with a magnesium alloy body and a more robust lens mount. And, with refined algorithms and better utilization of the BIONZ X image processor, the a7 II has an enhanced Fast Hybrid AF system that is about 30% faster than the previous model along with a 5 fps burst rate with continuous autofocus as well as a 40% faster start time.
The 24.3-megapixel sensor enables high resolution images and low light effectiveness with its standard ISO sensitivity range of 100-25600. The BIONZ X image processor offers fast processing and operation speeds and front-end LSI (large-scale integration) improves the early stages of image processing resulting in more natural details and richer tones. And, 16-bit image processing and 14-bit RAW output preserves the detail provided by the sensor.
In addition to highly detailed stills with smooth gradations, the a7 II now has access to the high-bit-rate XAVC S format with 60p, 30p, and 24p recording options, all at 50 Mbps. The look of movies can also be adjusted with picture profiles, including the addition of the S-Log2 gamma setting with a dynamic range approximately 1,300% of the standard sRGB spectrum. Timecode and user bit settings are available as well as clean HDMI output for a variety of recording options.
The advanced Sony Multi-Interface Shoe expands compatibility options for flash, microphone, and other accessories and, as an E-mount full-frame camera, the a7 II is compatible with all present APS-C E-mount lenses in APS-C crop mode as well as new E-mount full-frame Zeiss and Sony G-series lenses. Lens mount adapters with a tripod mount are also available to use A-mount lenses on E-mount cameras, and an optional dedicated battery grip enables stable extended shooting and vertical orientation stability.
Rounding out the a7 II’s imaging capabilities, both a 3.0″ 1,228.8k-dot tilting LCD monitor and 2.36 million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder are available for image monitoring and review. Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, with support for NFC, is available, too, for instant sharing of imagery from the camera as well as remote camera control from a linked mobile device.
24.3MP Exmor CMOS Image Sensor and BIONZ X Image Processor
Incorporated into the a7 II’s redesigned body are a 24.3-megapixel Exmor CMOS image sensor and BIONZ X image processor, which work together to enable a wide dynamic range with minimal noise and rich, subtle gradations. The camera features an ISO range of 100-51,200 which can be expanded down to ISO 50. Also, this combination allows the a7 II to reproduce details with excellent clarity.
Benefitting image quality is the use of detail reproduction technology and diffraction-reducing technology which suppresses the effects of diffraction to reproduce fine details at small aperture settings. Add to this area-specific noise reduction to selectively apply different noise reduction to each area for clear imagery. Also, the sensor features 16-bit image processing with a 14-bit RAW output to preserve detail and ensure optimal quality for later adjustment.
Further improved in this generation is metering performance, which is now possible down to a rated -1 EV. Also, the a7 II will start up approximately 40% faster than the previous generation for almost instant on.
5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE Image Stabilization
Packed into the svelte a7 II is a remarkable 5-axis SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilization system. This compensates for five types of camera shake encountered during handheld shooting of still images and video. This allows users to confidently use any lens, even adapted lenses, for critical imaging without encountering blur from camera shake. This system will compensate for approximately 4.5 stops of shutter speed for working with a huge variety of subjects.
For long focal lengths, the system will correct for pitch and yaw adjustments. Macro and high magnification imagery on the other hand will benefit from the inclusion of horizontal and vertical shift compensation. And, all shooting styles will get usage out of the roll compensation. All 5 axes of stabilization will function at all times, even when used with third-party lenses and adapters or lenses with built-in optical stabilization.
When using lenses that do not transmit imaging data to the camera, manual settings can be used to input the correct focal length and ensure proper stabilization. Also, the viewfinder can be used to preview the amount of compensation by pressing the shutter release button halfway or magnifying the image.
Enhanced Fast Hybrid AF
Utilizing 117 phase-detection and 25 contrast-detection autofocus points with a wide area of coverage, the a7 II can smoothly and quickly track fast-moving subjects throughout the frame. It optimizes for both speed and accuracy with an enhanced algorithm that improves performance by about 30% when compared to previous generations. This just developed algorithm will also more accurately predict subject movement for tracking that is 1.5x more accurate. Additionally, it can capture images at a rate of 5 fps while using continuous autofocus and automatic exposure. This can be captured in a burst of up to 77 frames when shooting in JPEG Fine L format and a continuous AF Display allows users to view the active AF points.
Another feature available with this AF system is a Lock-on AF tracking that will analyze more information from the scene to provide dramatically improved accuracy and stability. Eye AF is also available which will prioritize a subject’s pupil for excellent portraits even with a shallow depth of field.
Full HD Video Recording and XAVC S Format
Shoot full HD 1920 x 1080 video at frame rates of 60p, 30p, and 24p with the high-bit-rate 50Mbps XAVC S format. This results in excellent image quality with minimal noise and artifacts without requiring a large amount of disk space. Additionally, the system using linear PCM sound for high quality audio.
When recording internally, users will record video with a 4:2:0 sampling at 8-bit, however, to even further improve image quality the a7 II has clean HDMI output for use with an external recorder. This allows users to capture 4:2:2 uncompressed video and save in an edit-ready format.
Timecode and User Bit Settings
The a7 II has multiple timecode recording options to meet different workflows. It has the standard ‘Record Run” mode that only advances the timecode when recording, as well as “Free Run” timecode that advances the timecode even when not recording, which can be great for syncing multiple cameras at live events. It can also record timecode in both drop frame and non-drop frame modes. When recording internally the a7 II is also able to output timecode via HDMI.
Customizable Color Profiles and S-Log2 Gamma
To make sure the a7 II is able to use its extensive dynamic range while recording video it incorporates extensive customizable color and gamma controls. Users can adjust the gamma, black level, knee, color level, and more. Also users can use the same S-Log2 Gamma Curve that is found on high end Sony Cinema cameras that squeezes up to 1300% more dynamic range into the video signal then traditional REC709, for increased post-production flexibility.
3.0″ 1,228.8k-Dot Tilting LCD Monitor
With a higher 1,228.8k-dot resolution, the LCD screen will provide shooters with an excellent screen for composing images, adjusting settings, and reviewing video and photos. It also tilts upward 107° and downward 41° for working with multiple shooting angles. Use in sunlight is improved with the implementation of WhiteMagic technology which doubles the brightness of the display through a RGBW pixel structure.
0.5″ 2.36M-Dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder Electronic Viewfinder
With its 3-lens optical system the viewfinder faithfully displays what will appear in your recording, including the effects of your camera settings. You’ll enjoy rich tonal gradations and improved contrast. High-end features like 100% frame coverage and a wide viewing angle enable comfortable and stable eye-level composition.
Redesigned Grip, Shutter Release Button, and Controls
With a larger, more refined shape to the grip, users will find the a7 II to have a more secure feel and grasp even when large lenses are mounted. Also, the shutter release button has been reshaped and moved forward for a more natural shooting position and a decrease in camera shake. The controls also have been refined with new position for easier handling and improved operation. Button customization is available with the ability to assign any of 56 functions to any of the 10 customizable buttons for a more personalized setup.
Magnesium Alloy Construction and Robust Lens Mount
The compact form is well-built with a magnesium alloy top cover, front cover, and internal structure. The lens mount has been redesigned with a greater strength and rigidity for extra security when using larger or longer lenses. The body itself also features greater sealing for dust and moisture resistance, providing more protection when shooting out in the elements. Additionally, the optical filter on the sensor has an anti-static coating and there is an anti-dust mechanism to prevent dust from adhering to the sensor.
Audio Input & Headphone Jack
The a7 II features a 3.5mm microphone input jack for compatibility with external microphones. And for users needing more the a7 II is also compatible with the Sony XLR-K2M XLR Adapter for recording professional balanced XLR audio signals with phantom power and adjustable mic/line inputs. For monitoring audio the a7 II features a 3.5mm headphone jack as well as real time audio levels for a visual reference.
Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC
Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity enables the a7 II to instantly share imagery to mobile devices for direct sharing online to social networking, via email, and to cloud storage sites. NFC (Near Field Communication) is also supported, which allows for one-touch connection between the camera and compatible mobile devices; no complex set-up is required. Once connected, the linked mobile device can also display a live view image on its screen and remotely control the camera’s shutter.
Additionally, PlayMemories Camera Apps are also supported via the built-in Wi-Fi connection, and allow you to personalize the camera’s features depending on specific shooting styles. Apps are available to suit creating portraits, detailed close-ups, sports, time lapse, motion shot, and other specific types of imagery.
Other Camera Features
Picture Effect modes: Posterization (Color, B&W), Pop Color, Retro Photo, Partial Color (R/G/B/Y), High Contrast Monochrome, Toy Camera, Soft High-Key, Soft Focus, HDR Painting, Rich-Tone Monochrome, Miniature, Watercolor, and Illustration.
Creative Style settings: Standard, Vivid, Neutral, Clear, Deep, Light, Portrait, Landscape, Sunset, Night Scene, Autumn Leaves, Black & White, and Sepia (all with +/- 3 step contrast, saturation, and sharpness adjustment).
Color space: sRGB standard (with sYCC gamut) and Adobe RGB standard compatible with TRILUMINOS Color.
Picture Profile parameters: Black Level, Gamma (Movie, Still, Cine 1-4, ITU709, ITU709 [800%], S-Log2), Black Gamma, Knee, Color Mode, Color Level, Color Phase, Color Depth, Detail, Copy, and Reset.
Scene Selection modes: Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sports Action, Sunset, Night Portrait, Night Scene, Hand-held Twilight, and Anti Motion Blur.
Face Detection is available to base exposure and focus on up to eight recognized faces. Furthermore, Eye AF can be used for even greater precision by maintaining critical focus on a subject’s eye.
2x Clear Image Zoom can be used to effectively double the magnification afforded by any lens in use with minimal image degradation. For even greater magnification, 1.5x and 2x Smart zoom is available, as well as 4x digital zoom.
Pre-flash TTL control with flash bracketing available and a variety of flash modes, including: Flash off, auto, fill-flash, rear sync, slow sync, red-eye reduction, hi-speed sync, and wireless control