It was only a matter of time before Sony introduced the update to the Alpha 7S, its 12-megapixel, low light, and video-centric model that has become popular in the film and television industry. After the introduction of the Sony Alpha 7 II and the Sony Alpha 7R II, it was only a matter of time before Sony introduced the update. The Alpha 7S II was officially introduced in September 2015, and it is currently available for purchase.
The Alpha A7S II (or, to give it its full technical name, the ILCE7SB.CEC) has been around for a while, but it is still one of our favorite cameras that shoots 4K, while its low-light performance for photography still impresses us.
Even if the improvements brought about by the new camera are much appreciated, its feature list does not offer many surprises since it has many of the same enhancements that can be found elsewhere in the Sony A7 range.
Build Quality Sony a7s II
The new A7S II appears nicely crafted and is comfortable to carry, with most controls being within easy reach and the same ergonomic design as the A7 II and A7R II. The newer generation of the camera is more durable than its predecessor because of the increased amount of magnesium alloy and the strengthened lens mount.
Additionally, it is resistant to the elements; however, you must be careful to prevent raindrops from landing on the viewfinder sensor, as this might cause the back screen to turn off when you do not want it to.
In response to feedback on the appearance of the original A7, A7R, and A7S models, Sony made modifications to the designs of the Mark II versions of these cameras. These include making the grip larger, moving the shutter release button forward onto the top of the grip, and converting the dial on the back of the camera, which is shaped like a barrel, to a dial that is more conventional and has a semi-recessed type.
Unfortunately, the video record button is still on the back of the camera, in the corner of the thumb grip. This makes it difficult to detect and hit the button while the camera is being held.
Thank goodness there are many different configuration choices to choose from, so it can be mapped to another button. Those who want to use the A7S II primarily for stills may find that one of the two customization buttons on the top plate is a good choice. On the other hand, dedicated videographers may find it more convenient to use the large button on the back of the camera located in the center of the control dial and navigation pad.
Sony a7s II Performance
Because it has a lower pixel count than the A7R II and A7 II, the Alpha 7S II cannot resolve as much detail in still images as its stablemates; however, there is sufficient data to produce high-quality prints on an A3-size paper.
You probably wouldn’t want to use an ISO of 409,600 regularly. Still, if you’re reporting events in near darkness, you’ll get something almost recognizable from the new A7S Mark II, just like you would from the original A7S. In addition, its larger photosites help with noise control.
Sony a7s II Autofocus
Even though Sony has significantly improved the autofocus system of the A7S II compared to the A7, it is still doubtful that professional video shooters will switch from using manual focus while shooting. However, these improvements are helpful when taking still photographs.
You should be prepared to do some searching for the subject while photographing in dimly lit rooms or outside at night, but if you can find an area with adequate contrast, you should get crisp images of your subject. In more typical lighting conditions, it performs quickly and accurately.
It is also capable of tracking a moving subject in good light; however, when using Lock-on AF mode, it is frequently distracted by other objects in the scene; therefore, it is preferable to use Flexible Spot or Expanded Flexible Spot mode and to try to keep the active AF point over the subject yourself.
Sony a7s II Image Quality
During this evaluation, the Sony A7S II captured photographs of exceptionally high quality. The ISO range of the Sony A7S II can go from 50 to 409,600, which is rather large and helpful. ISO 50-3200 is noise-free, while ISO 6400 and 12,800 yield results that are more than satisfactory, and even ISO 25,600 and 51,200 are appropriate for usage in an emergency.
Although the most sensitive settings of 102,400, 204,800, and 409,600 have a lot of background noise, they do let you take photos in almost full darkness. However, the RAW examples show exactly how much processing the camera undertakes by default since they are significantly noisier than their JPEG counterparts across the board, regardless of the ISO value.
When using the camera’s default creative style, the images captured at 12 megapixels come out a little soft right out of the camera. For the best results, you should sharpen them further in an application such as Adobe Photoshop; alternatively, you can adjust the level of sharpening that the camera applies automatically.
The night shot turned out well thanks to the camera’s maximum shutter speed of 30 seconds and its Bulb mode, which allow lots of room for creative experimentation during nighttime shooting.
A practical Dynamic Range Optimizer function will extract additional data from an image’s shadow and highlight sections without adding any noise or other artifacts that aren’t intended.
The High Dynamic Range mode combines the results of two separate images taken at various exposures into a single image. The result is an image that has a higher dynamic range than what would be produced by a single photograph. However, it does yield some excellent effects even though it can only function with JPEGs and stationary subjects.
Even after all of these years, they are using Sony’s Sweep Panorama is still a delightful experience. While the many Picture Effects enable you to create unique looks in a short amount of time, which would generally need you to spend a significant amount of time in the digital darkroom, the Creative Styles make it simple and quick to adjust the JPEG photos captured by the camera.
Sony a7s II Specs
|Body type||SLR-style mirrorless|
|Max resolution||4240 x 2832|
|Other resolutions||4240 x 2384, 2768 x 1848, 2768 x 1560, 2128 x 1416, 2128 x 1200, 1376 x 920, 1376 x 776|
|Image ratio w:h||3:2, 16:9|
|Effective pixels||12 megapixels|
|Sensor photo detectors||12 megapixels|
|Sensor size||Full frame (35.6 x 23.8 mm)|
|ISO||Auto, 100-102400 (expands to 50-409600)|
|Boosted ISO (minimum)||50|
|Boosted ISO (maximum)||409600|
|White balance presets||10|
|Custom white balance||Yes|
|Image stabilization notes||5-axis|
|JPEG quality levels||Extra fine, fine, standard|
|Autofocus||Contrast Detect (sensor)Multi-areaCenterSelective single-pointSingleContinuousFace DetectionLive View|
|Digital zoom||Yes (2x)|
|Number of focus points||169|
|Lens mount||Sony E|
|Focal length multiplier||1×|
|Minimum shutter speed||30 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed||1/8000 sec|
|Manual exposure mode||Yes|
|Subject / scene modes||Yes|
|External flash||Yes (via Multi Interface shoe)|
|Continuous drive||5.0 fps|
|Self-timer||Yes (2 or 10 sec; continuous (3 or 5 exposures))|
|Exposure compensation||±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)|
|AE Bracketing||±5 (3, 5 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV, 2 EV steps)|
|Resolutions||4K (3840 x 2160 @ 30p/24p [60-100Mbps]), Full HD (1920 x 1080 @ 120p/60p/60i/30p/24p [50-100Mbps]), 720p (30p [16Mbps])|
|Format||MPEG-4, AVCHD, XAVC S|
|Videography notes||XLR support via adapter|
|Storage types||SD/SDHC/SDXC, Memory Stick Duo/Pro Duo/Pro-HG Duo|
|USB||USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)|
|HDMI||Yes (micro-HDMI port with 4:2:2 8-bit 4K or 1080 video output)|
|Wireless notes||802.11b/g/n with NFC|
|Remote control||Yes (wired or smartphone)|
|Battery description||NP-FW50 lithium-ion battery and charger|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||370|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||627 g (1.38 lb / 22.12 oz)|
|Dimensions||127 x 96 x 60 mm (5 x 3.78 x 2.36″)|
Sony a7s II Final Verdicts
According to Sony, more than half of the customers who purchased the A7S are working in the field of photography or videography professionally. The A7S is a specialized stills and video camera with high sensitivity. Although there is no evidence available on the proportion of photographers who also shoot video, our previous encounters lead us to believe that the video component was the primary factor in its success. The A7S II is an upgraded version of the A7S, and it has excellent handling, making it more appealing to filmmakers.
Because Sony currently manufactures A7-series cameras with a higher resolution, the company can focus the A7S II on low-light and video photography without making concessions to appeal to a larger audience.
This was starting to appear like a severe failure in the previous model, but the inclusion of in-camera 4K recording brings it up to date. Additionally, quicker autofocusing, 5-axis picture stabilization, and improved noise management are necessary leaps ahead.
These upgrades should also make the A7S II more appealing to stills shooters who need to shoot in low light and who don’t need to create prints larger than A3 size. Wedding photographers and front-line reporters are examples of typical users who might benefit from this camera.
The image quality, however, isn’t significantly better than what the camera it replaced could provide.
Pros & Cons
- The AF mechanism works well even in dim light
- Extremely high ISO with a maximum of 409,600
- Internal 4K video recording
- Expensive as well as specialised
- The option to capture video is not in the best possible location.
- 8-bit video as opposed to 10-bit or 12-bit video