So I have finally made the jump into the mirrorless system after shooting with a Canon DSLR for the past 3 years. I have been keeping up to date with the latest mirrorless developments and I think now is a better time than ever to switch, in this review I will cover the things I like about the Sony a7ii and the main reasons I finally decided to change camera system.
I had been shooting with the Canon 550d for the past few years which is a crop sized sensor and most of my lenses are crop sized, previously the Sony cameras did work with Canon lenses but the focus speed was slow until the latest round of Sony releases which is why I decided to switch and I could use my Canon lenses.
I have embedded lots of sample photos layered throughout this review, using a mixture of Sony and Canon Lenses. I must mention that I do post process my images so bear that in mind when viewing them, it should give you an idea of the type of images I am able to capture with the camera.
I love the amount of details that this camera captures, you can see every little mark on the road.
Things I love
The camera is equipped with a full frame sensor size, which if you’re used to a crop sized sensor is a great step up in quality. The full frame size offers much better low light performance, the noise levels I get from increasing my iso are noticeably lower which means I can up the iso to 6400 without being to worried of getting a grainy image.
Another advantage of the full-sized sensor size is that you can achieve that lovely bokeh in your background, now I personally shoot a lot of landscapes where I have a large depth of field so there is little blur in the frame but I have been experimenting with shallow depths a lot more since I got this camera as it’s fun the see the amazing results and smooth bokeh and really pops the foreground from the background.
This is an example of the lovely bokeh I can achieve, I used a canon lens and the focus peaking feature to quickly focus (find out more about it below)
The choice of lenses for this camera is a bit of a funny one, because Sony themselves are still trying to catch up with Nikon and Canon in terms of lens choice. However the good thing about the mirrorless system is that you can use almost any lens that exists using adapters, for me I can use all of my Canon lenses without having to invest in a whole new line of Sony glass immediately.
Here is a video i made showing the Canon Lens performance with an adapter:
The lens choice is quite frankly huge, you can use almost any lens make or brand that exists if there is an adapter for the mount. This means you can use really old lenses too and achieve some vintage looks to your images.
This shot was captured with the Canon 55-250mm lens using an adapter, it is a crop sensor camera the Sony can adapt to crop sensor lenses when needed. I particularly find it useful for getting that extra reach in my zoom lenses.
The size of the camera is very similar to my Canon 550d, but compared to other full frame cameras it is extremely small and compact in comparison. This means I was able to retain the same sized camera body but get the onslaught of new features and image quality with no sacrifice to the physical size.
The price of the a7ii is amazing for what you get, a similarly specced DSLR would cost about twice as much. On top of that you don’t need to invest in a whole quiver of new lenses as you switch systems which is another attractive factor.
In body stabilization
This camera has 5 axis in body stabilization which essentially means that the sensor in the camera move and rotates of many axis to keep the shots steady. This is extremely useful when shooting in lower light, I have been able to shoot at 1/10 of a second shutter speed and still achieve sharp images.
Since the stabilization is actually inside the camera body this means any lens you attach the front will inherit all that stabilization goodness. Non-native lenses receive 3 axis of stabilization while Sony lenses receive all 5 axis, but either way the advantage is really noticeable if you’re shooting as a slow shutter speed. Even all your legacy lenses will now sudden be stabilized.
This camera is packed with technology like NFC and WiFi, which allows you to use your smartphone to control and take photos with your camera. I have tried it a few times and it is a great feature, the only I wish is that you would shoot HDR brackets in this mode. I’m hoping Sony will enable it in a future update.
I have used the smart remote for a few long exposure shots which helps me keep the camera still and activate the shutter from my phone.
This feature is one of my favourites, I had never been much of a manual shooter before but with focus peaking the camera aids you in getting that perfect manual focus. There is an option to zoom in on part of the frame as well and really dial in that perfect focus. I have been shooting manual focus a lot more since getting this camera because it is easy to do and a joy to see that pin sharp focus on the back of the screen.
Now, I admit I’m not a big video guy and I haven’t had the chance to fully test the video functions I am excited about the slog2 picture profile which offers a large dynamic range for video recording. Combining that with the images stabilization, it makes this camera quite a capable handheld video device.. I have played around with it a bit and it seems really good, I will write more about the video on another post.
Things I don’t like
This is one of the main points that I am not so happy about, the batteries do not last nearly as long as my old Canon DSLR. It isn’t a deal breaker but it is something you have to get used to if you’re used to DSLR battery life. I typically use 2 batteries if I am shooting for the day which isn’t horrible and it’s easy to carry around a few spares.
As I mentioned previously is that there is a huge amount of lenses that can be adapted to use on the camera, however the native Sony lenses do work a bit smoother and tend to be smaller in size so I am hoping that Sony is releasing more lenses soon as they are a joy to use.
This may be just me getting used to the Sony menu as I have been using the Canon one for a long time, but there are a lot of options on the a7ii and it can be a chore to find the relevant menu options in a timely manner.
More Sample Photos
Here is a few more sample photos for your viewing, just to give you a good idea of the image quality that can be captured with this camera.
This is a hand-held shot, I used the articulating screen pointing down and held it above my head to get the angle just right.
The full frame sensor allows me to push my iso levels that much higher without having to worry about my noise levels as much.
The shutter speed can go as fast as 1/8000 of a second, which is great for freezing the action.
I love the dynamic range of the sensor, as I can really bring back the detail in the shadows and highlights from the raw files.