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photo:sonya7ii

Sony a7 II full frame mirrorless camera

see also:

  • Sony a7S II full frame mirrorless camera firmware update 2.10 and Sony a7R II full frame mirrorless camera firmware update 3.30 in Aug 2016 has introduced a bug that “eats” stars in RAW and JPG astrophoto images when exposure time is 4 secs or longer, or BULB - these cameras are no longer suitable for astrophotography!
  • Bad spatial filtering isn’t new to Sony’s Alpha cameras. Even with the older firmware, all recent Sony alpha mirrorless cameras including the a6000, a6300, a6500, a7S, a7R, a7, a7II, a7sII, a7Rii exhibit the “Star Eater” issue when using the Bulb exposure mode - in these cameras, use timed exposures not BULB!

introduction

  • announced Nov 2014
  • who is it for?
    • photographers wanting IBIS in a full frame mirrorless, particularly when using third party lenses such as Canon or Nikon
    • good general purpose stills full frame mirrorless
    • Canon full frame photographers wanting a better sensor with IBIS at entry level prices but still ability to use most Canon EF lenses (via Sigma MC-11 adapter) and Canon TTL flash (via Cactus V6 II)
  • 24mp, similar to the original Sony a7 full frame mirrorless camera but:
    • 5-axis sensor based image stabiliser (IBIS)
    • improved hybrid AF
    • XAVC-S video recording format
    • larger and 25% heavier and thus larger grip
    • now almost entirely magnesium alloy as with the Sony a7S full frame mirrorless camera
    • improved LCD resolution
    • much faster startup time
    • other minor improvements
  • overall it is better for still photography than the Sony a7S full frame mirrorless camera which has the following issues:
    • no IBIS for magnified manual focus
    • no PDAF
    • worse dynamic range, less resolution
    • RAW compression problems

specs

  • same 24mp sensor with PDAF and same same Bionz X processor as the Sony a7 full frame mirrorless camera
    • 25 CDAF points
    • 117 PDAF points
    • excellent RAW dynamic range but not as good as peers for high ISO noise
  • improved hybrid AF but subject tracking in C-AF still an issue
  • 5fps burst
  • shutter 30sec - 1/8000th sec but still loud and no electronic silent mode
  • flash sync 1/250th sec
  • no built-in flash but multi-interface flash shoe
  • exp. compensation ±5 EV
  • ISO 100-25,600 + LOW of 50
  • 5-axis “4.5 stops” (although perhaps more closer to 2.6 stops on tests) sensor based image stabiliser - a 1st on a full frame mirrorless camera, although not as good as the IS on the Olympus OM-D E-M1
    • uniquely, when shooting with a E-mount lens with optical IS, the camera will use the lens OSS for pitch and yaw, while the sensor IS will be used for roll, X,Y axes
    • Sony has previously used a simpler sensor-based IS on 3 of their full frame dSLRs - a900, a850 and a99
  • 3-inch tilting LCD with 1.23 million dots (640×480, RGBW) but not touch sensitive
  • improved 1080 HD video although not as good as on the Sony a7S full frame mirrorless camera
    • 1080 60p 50Mbps XAVC-S video recording format, also 24p
    • S Log2 flat picture profile
    • uncompressed HDMI video out
    • no timelapse recording
  • USB 2.0
  • WiFi + NFC
  • weather sealed
  • 600g
  • 127 x 96 x 60 mm (5 x 3.78 x 2.36″)
  • NP-FW50 battery
    • NB. does not ship with a proper battery charger, instead it comes with a Micro USB cable and the AC-UUD11 AC Battery Charging Adapter (a USB to AC converter)
    • optional Sony BC-TRW battery charger to charge batteries outside of the camera
    • optional Sony AC Adapter AC-PW20 to power the camera via AC
    • optional USB external Power Pack:
      • Tether Tools Case Relay Camera Power System + Tether Tools Relay Camera Coupler for Sony Cameras with NP-FW50 Battery + USB Power Bank (2.1 Amps or more) such as: Anker 20,000 mAh Portable Power Bank
  • other optional accessories:
    • Vertical Grip VG-C2EM for a7II & a7RII holds two batteries
    • Neewer Pro Battery Grip with 2.4GHz Wireless Remote Control for Sony A7II holds up to two Sony NP-FW50 batteries and comes with a wireless remote and intervalometer
    • Sony RM-VPR1 remote control with Multi-Terminal Cable
    • Sony RMT-DSLR2 Wireless Remote
    • Sony RMT-VP1K Wireless Receiver and Remote Commander Kit
    • Sony ECM-XYST1M stereo microphone
    • Sony XLR-K2M XLR Adapter Kit with Microphone
    • Atomos Shogun 7″ 4K HDMI and 12G-SDI Monitor & Recorder
    • Vello EXT-SFED Deluxe Auto Focus Extension Tube Set for Sony E-Mount Lenses

issues

  • poor range of dedicated Sony lenses and these are all generally very large, heavy and expensive
  • camera is ergonomically too small and uncomfortable to hold for the larger full frame lenses
  • native (best sensor image quality) ISO is at ISO 100
  • despite some loose claims by Sony about dust and moisture sealing, the a7II does not seem to be truly weathersealed 1)
  • relatively poor battery life compared with dSLRs
    • there is a serious battery draining issue that plagues the a7II and other Sony a7-series cameras: as long as the eye-sensor detects anything in range, the camera will never enter power-saving mode
  • sensor based image stabiliser only 2-3EV which is apparently due to the physical design of the lens mount diameter
  • limited functionality when using other mount lenses eg. may not have Eye AF, and AF speed is not as fast
  • AF-C is not great
  • Eye detect AF requires an EXTRA button press to temporarily activate it - unlike Olympus which will automatically try to achieve eye detect AF if enabled
  • PDAF sites are clustered in the central zone too much
  • CDAF mode does not work well with lenses not designed for CDAF (eg. most Canon EF lenses)
  • sensor dynamic range, resolution and high ISO image quality not as good as the much more expensive Sony a7R II full frame mirrorless camera
  • not supplied with an external battery charger - you need to buy one of these extra
  • need to apply the firmware update to get uncompressed RAW file mode - but these files are enormous at 48Mb!
  • compressed RAW file mode has artefacts you cannot easily fix in post
  • really loud shutter and no silent shutter mode
  • rear screen is not touch sensitive and does not swivel
  • EVF looks blurry even after adjusting the diopter - just not as easy to judge focus compared to Olympus OM-D cameras
  • switching from back button AF to half shutter AF modes requires diving into the menu system
  • no button to switch from EVF to screen manually - must dive into the clunky menu system
  • Auto Review is too long and thus dysfunctional
  • menu system does not have context sensitive help option to explain what each item does
  • menu system needs overhaul to make it more user friendly
  • Scene mode is chosen only by an icon with no explanation of what it is
  • navigating through the menu system is cumbersome as too easy to rotate dial instead of activating it as a button - very different effect on menu navigation
  • issues with video quality
  • no HI/LO spot metering mode to allow metering on brightest or darkest part of scene as with Olympus cameras
  • autoISO only allows a ISO range to be set and will raise ISO to keep shutter speed at least as fast as 1/focal length even though image stabilisation is in use
  • no built-in intervalometer - need to purchase a Playmemories app - and by all accounts it is not great - if you live in the right region to be able to purchase it!
    • it seems if you want timelapse then use it in the old fashioned way, without wifi, by using an external timer and changing exposure manually
  • when tethered via USB sony cameras will not allow images to save to the memory card of the camera
  • AF accuracy issues with some lenses and it appears it may try to achieve AF at the stopped down diaphragm corresponding to selected aperture on Sony lenses which may present issues in studio work 2)

my firmware suggestions

  • improve autoISO options:
    • allow user to set a slowest shutter speed
    • allow user to determine default slowest shutter speed as x/focal length so use can set x to allow for image stabiliser
  • add some shorter time options to Auto Review
    • Auto Review ON means the camera displays the playback image after it is taken for the specified duration or until you hit the shutter button again
    • the shortest is 2 secs which makes the camera feel very sluggish and forces you to keep hitting the shutter button to get back to live view after taking a shot
    • Olympus OM-D cameras offer 0.3sec, 0.5sec and 1 sec which make it much more usable
  • create a better mechanism for back button focus mode switching
    • Olympus OM-D cameras have a great menu option that allows this to work well AF set to S1/C2/M3 then have camera in MF when you want to use back button AF, and set to S-AF when you want the shutter button half press to AF
  • add an intervalometer
  • allow AFL while in magnified view mode
    • this is a nice functionality on the Olympus OM-D cameras when AF is difficult on a small subject
  • focus peaking in magnified view mode
    • this is a nice functionality on the Olympus OM-D cameras
  • live histogram needs improving
    • too small, too hard to see when highlights blown, no sub histogram for centre spot as with Olympus
  • playback zoom
    • allow the top rear dial to control zoom in and out without need to hit C3 first
    • currently, can only use the two separate buttons - C3 to zoom in, and AF/MF button to zoom out, or use the rear control dial to zoom in or out (once you have entered zoom mode by hitting C3)
  • zebra settings
    • the setting option values of 70-100+ are meaningless and it seems anything less than 100+ is far too conservative to be useful
    • Olympus allows you to set the pixel RGB value for low and high cuttoffs - much more useful
  • add zebra in playback
    • no shadow/highlight warnings in playback mode
  • add a delete ALL
    • current option is only for deleting all taken on a specific date - need to keep repeating this if you have lots of dates

firmware updates

  • Nov 2016 firmware 3.30:
    • improving the amount of light at the edge of images taken when using the flash
  • Sept 2016 firmware 3.20:
    • Adds support for the Radio-controlled Lighting System:
      • Sony FA-WRC1M Wireless Radio Commander and Sony FA-WRR1 Wireless Radio Receiver.
  • March 2016 firmware 3.10:
    • Adds Sony G Master lens support
    • Phase-detection AF is supported
    • The lens name will be correctly recorded in the EXIF
    • The AF can be used in movie recording mode with the SEL85F14GM

Canon EF lens adapters

my blog posts

reviews

Compared to Canon 6D

  • similar price point
  • Sony is 24mp with much better dynamic range vs 20mp
  • 1/8000th sec shutter vs 1/4000th sec
  • 5 axis image stabiliser vs OIS only
  • EVF vs mirror + OVF
  • 117 PDAF points vs 11 PDAF points
  • 25 CDAF points vs nil?
  • eye AF vs no eye AF
  • 1200 zone metering vs 63 zone dual layer metering
  • flash sync 1/250th sec vs 1/180th sec
  • 5fps vs 4.5 fps
  • 1.23m dot tilting LCD vs 1mdot fixed LCD (neither offer touch screen)
  • both are splash resistant, both only have USB 2.0
  • 1080HD 60p video vs 1080HD 30p
  • both have WiFi, but 6D also has GPS
  • 600g vs 770g
  • Sony - need to buy Sigma MC 11 adapter to use Canon lenses, even then some Canon lenses will not AF well
  • Sony - can't use Canon's TTL flash system unless you use the Cactus V6 II radio remote system
  • Sony - no external battery charger (optional extra)
photo/sonya7ii.txt · Last modified: 2017/05/09 14:04 by gary1