I’m a photography enthusiast, but thiis is not how I pay my bills. I work a full work week and do photography on the weekends and some evenings. I’ve only used Nikon cameras before trying this camera (D90, D610, D800). I do all types of photography, street, travel etc.

I’ve had the camera about 2 weeks so far. I really want (am still trying) to love this camera, and overall its a good camera, but there are some things that I think potential buyers should consider before plunking down your cash… Overall I give this camera a 3.5 out of 5.

First the good: -The size is great. Its just so compact and light compared to most SLRs. A big difference from my D610. You can carry it and it doesn’t way on your shoulder/neck. One of the biggest advantages by far. I think it feels so much better in the hand than the A7 (and A7r & A7s). The grip is bigger and so much more comfortable. Along those same lines, the shutter button is in a much much better position and feels natural.

The in body stabilization: obviously the biggest upgrade in this camera from the previous generation. It’s also likely the reason this camera grew in size from the A7. It’s not a miracle worker but gaining 1-2 stops can be very helpful especially when using manual focus lenses like Leica lenses, etc. -EVF: the first time I played with the EVF in store I hated it, but it certainly takes some getting used to coming from an optical viewfinder.

But its great now. Its nice to see exactly what the sensor is seeing and to have info like the histogram on the screen, etc if you prefer. –The manual focusing aids such as focus peaking and zoom focus. Focus peaking isn’t perfect, but it helps. The zoom focus is VERY helpful. I have it programmed to one of the custom buttons. –The WiFi & smartphone options. Really nice to be able to transfer the photos to your phone wherever you happen to be shooting.

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Sony - Alpha A7 II reviews 2
Sony – Alpha A7 II reviews 2

The camera acts like a hotspot itself which your phone connects to to do the transferring. (You don’t have to actually be near a wireless hotspot to use it. i.e. You don’t need to find a Starbucks to use this feature). Things that bother me about the camera: –The battery life is pretty horrendous: I expected it to be suboptimal, but wow…Its bordering on abysmal. You can seriously go from 100% to camera shutting down in less than 90 minutes of regular shooting, and I don’t mean video. Its almost unbelievable the first time you realize you’re out of juice.

You MUST have extra batteries. –There’s no way to MANUALLY switch between the screen and EVF QUICKLY. You can leave it to auto, which is nice, but has its own problems (see below). Your options are. 100% EVF, 100% LCD screen, or auto. Theres no way to set it to viewfinder, but simply press a button to quickly turn on the screen. –Like I said theres auto mode for EVF vs LCD screen, which uses a sensor to detect your face and automatically switch on the EVF and turn off the screen when your face gets close. So why all my whining??? Well unfortunately, the sensor is WAY to sensitive.

If I’m using the LCD screen to take a waist or chest level shot, the screen keeps turning off, because the sensor on the EVF keeps picking up my shirt and thus activating the EVF. It seriously does it at about 4 inches from my body! Very frustrating!! This problem would be solved if you manually switch between the EVF and LCD without having to go all the way through the menu system, and shockingly, it’s not an option to make that a shortcut to a custom button. Big oversight. –The SD Card door. Its is right where your right hand palm rests. Its a bit flimsy and even when sealed, you can feel it wiggle under your palm. Since thats where you grip the camera, its a bit unsettling to feel it give and makes me conscientious about how firmly Im holding it.

A shame to an otherwise very well built camera. –The shutter. I’ll keep it short. It’s louder than I wish it was. Probably on par with several SLRs on the market. A bit better than the previous generation though. Makes it tough to take candids when doing street photography. Neutral: the lenses: They don’t have any zooms native to the E-mount faster than F4. This will possibly change as the lens lineup expands but right now for zooms, you’re limited to F4. I do have the 55mm 1.8 FE prime lens which is fantastic. So overall I LIKE this camera, but some of the issues are really bothersome.

Some are things that could possibly be fixed with firmware updates, but that’s just hoping, and may never happen. Overall it’s a good camera and its portability is excellent. The image quality is outstanding and leaves me wanting for nothing when compared to my previous dSLRs. The jury is still out for me as to whether I can deal with the interface/design issues. Hope this helps your decision. I think most people would be happy with the camera.

Sony Alpha Rumors

Sony Alpha A7 II – Good camera, still on the fence
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