Sony a7ii vs Sony a7

This is a rather personal comparison of the Sony Alpha 7 and the Alpha 7 ii. I will try to cover as many aspects as possible but my focus will be on those which matter most to me personally, so you won’t read much about video but quite abit about manual lenses.

I bought my a7 in November 2013 so I have used it for more than two years and I have used the a7ii for close to two months now.

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Sony a7 vs a7ii – Summary

  • The a7ii has an integrated stabilizer
  • The a7 does suffer from sensor reflections, the a7ii does not
  • The a7ii has a more ergonomic grip but it is also significantly heavier
  • The a7ii has mount made of metal, the a7’s mount is partially made of plastics which caused some issues.
  • The a7ii offers improved AF performance, it even works qite well with some adapted Canon EF lenses
  • The a7ii has a more ergonomic shutter release
  • The a7ii offers a better video codec
  • The a7ii is about $600  more expensive

The first impression

Both cameras are very similar and if you are used to the a7 it only takes a very short time to get used to the a7ii. The customization is also easily done, the menue is the same and apart from one additional button the layout hasn’t changed. If you want to use manual lenses the additional button is handy for telling the camera which focal length is used.

The a7 has a shiny surface structure while t#s succesor has a more matte design. Personally I prefer the a7 in this aspect because it matches the design of the FE lenses.

Ergonomics

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The modified grip is the first thing you will notice. It is not as wide but significantly deeper. The a7’s grip is okay but I like the a7ii’s grip quite a bit more.

The a7’s shutter release was often criticized because it was positioned on top of the camera and because it felt very mushy. It’s successor’s shutter release is situated on top of the grip and you can feel the two stages more easily.

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I prefer the control wheels of the a7, the new wheels of the a7ii are smaller and the clicks less distinctive. The formerly quite inaccessible C2 button has been renamed to C3 and it is much easier to reach.

Some parts of the body which were polycarbonate int the a7 are made from metal in the a7ii. In theory this should make for a stiffer body but I never felt body stiffness was an issue witht the a7. The a7ii feels a little bit nicer but not by much.

The Sony a7ii weights about 599g which is significantly more than the a7 which weights only 474g. For my shorter trips this isn’t a problem at all, especially since the a7ii has a nicer grip. But when I want to travel light it is annoying. Low weight is a key argument fro Sony’s a7-series and 599g isn’t that far off from lighter DSLR’s like the Canon 6d (770g) or Nikon D750 (840g).

The mount

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The reason why I bought the a7ii was that my a7’s mount had become very loose which affected the image quality. Since then the issue was fixed under Sony warranty by Schuhmann in Austria which cost me some shipping but Sony’s contractor in Germany Geissler sent several cameras with a loose mount back to their owners claiming that they were in spec and I have had a bad experience with their service .

Chances are that if you buy a a7 your mount will become loose too and most likely Sony won’t be much of a help. You can fix the issue by installing a replacement mount from several manufacturers which is not a difficult operation. Be careful to choose a good replacement mount, many users reported issues with their replaced mounts.  The Fotodiox Tough E-mount Signature Edition LT (affiliate link) seems to be the best solution but even that caused issues with the new Loxia 2.8/21. Avoid older versions of the Fotodiox mount!

The Sony a7ii’s mount is made of metal and so far I haven’t heard about any issues with it. My lenses sit quite firm in it.

Sensor Reflections

I think sensor reflections are the biggest issue of the Sony a7 and I lost a few images because of them.

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One image which suffered from sensor reflections, see the window in the upper right

Sensor reflections in the a7II are reduced a lot and not an issue any more.

reflexion
Sony a7 (left) vs Sony a7ii (right)

Auto Focus

Disclaimer: I prefer to use manual focus and I haven’t used AF that much.

The a7ii is noticeably faster than the a7 but still not among the fastest cameras on the market. When there is sufficient light it focuses fast and precise. As it gets darker the camera focuses slower. Using the FE 2.8/35 I missed quite a few shots of my friends in not that dark Café and I am sure that I wouldn’t have missed them with an older Canon 5dII.

Sony missed the chance to improve the AF point selection, it still sucks.

The biggest improvement is that AF with many (certainly not all) adapted Canon EF and Sony A-mount lenses works surprisingly well on the a7II whereas it took seconds or didn’t work at all on the a7. Even tracking works in not too demanding situations. You have to research each adapter/lens combination but many users report good results. This source and that one are good starting points to learn what works and what doesn’t. Personally i only tried a EF 4/70-200 L on a Commlite Adapter and AF worked well in the 70-140mm range.

Even Contax G lenses work kind of alright like on the a7ii! More on that topic next week.

AF wasn’t as good as with native lenses but not too far off. One disadvantage though is that the very handy eye-AF doesn’t work with adapted AF lenses.

Image quality

Not much to tell here, I couldn’t notice any difference here.

The image stabilizer

The image stabilizer is the most important feature which sets the a7ii from the a7 apart. It enabled me to take some images which wouldn’t have been possible without in the same quality.

Operation is easy. If you want to use a manual lens you assign the focal length selection to an easy to reach button, I chose C2, and select the focal length of your lens from a list. Don’t forget to change the focal length when you change the lens though. I for example ruined some images taken with the Zeiss 2.8/28 at 1/200sec. because the focal length was still set to 50mm.

The stabilizer compensates a good two stops and I found it very handy in twilight when I would have had to open the aperture or increased ISO with the a7. Two stops isn’t that much but it can make the difference between a technically sufficient and and insufficient image.

Another positive effect of the stabilizer is that it stabilizes the preview image which makes handheld focusing of longer lenses like my FD 4/300 L easier.

All in all it is a very useful tool but if you want to use it with manual lenses it slows operation down.

Other aspects

I am no video expert so i will cover that topic only superficially. The a7ii can use the better XAVC S codec and it offers a log profile. I think resolution and moire are still an issue though and neither the a7 nor the a7ii are very popular with video shooters.

The a7ii can save uncompressed raws. They are very large (48MB) and I never thought that raw compression was an issue for me in the a7 so I haven’t used uncompressed raws yet. I think this feature matters if you plant to shoot star trails.

Conclusion

The a7ii is certainly the better camera. It overcomes most of the issues the first generation Sony a7 had and adds image stabilization.

Now the central question is: are these features and improvements worth the price difference of about $500?

If you look at the pictures  you usually won’t see a difference, the image quality is the same. When the image stabilizer allows you to use a lower ISO value you might see a difference. Two stops are not that much but they can make the difference between a technically sufficient picture and a missed opportunity. The sensor reflections of the a7 can be a major issue for applications like blue hour cityscapes so if you are into chances are that you won’t be happy with it. As always: it depends a lot on what you use your camera for. Personally I lost maybe a dozen in many thousand images to them so it was not a major factor for my decision.

Operation has been improved in many aspects. Faster AF  with adapted lenses  increases the range of available AF lenses a lot. The new grip is more pleasant to hold, the shutter release has been improved as well.
Increased weight will be an issue for some, again it depends a lot on your needs.

When making the decision the weak mount of the a7 should be considered as well. It might never be an issue for you but there is a risk that you will have to spend some effort and money on  the issue. You won’t have to think about the issue with the a7ii.

Personally I have decided to sell  the a7ii. It wasn’t an easy decision and I kept it far longer than I had planned. I am certain that I will miss it but I think it won’t miss many pictures with my trusty a7 which I could have captured with the a7ii. The key argument for me is that cameras loose their value very quickly (about 30% per year) and I find it much easier to spend 500€ on a lens which I can sell for 500€ in a year or two than to spent 1300€ on a camera which will sell for 900€ next a year.  But  as a student I have to manage my limited funds more carefully than most.

All in all I would conclude that the a7 has a great price/performance ratio today, especially when it is used with manual lenses. It has some first generation issues, you will notice them from time to time but it is still a very good camera. The a7ii is better in many aspects and it offers an image stabilizer so the higher price is justified if you aren’t too tight with the money.

The a7 costs about $1098 at Amazon.com (affiliate link) or about $650-750 used at ebay.com (affiliate link).
The a7ii costs $1698 at Amazon.com (affiliate link) or about $1300 used at ebay.com (affiliate link).

If this article was helpful to you, please consider using one of my affiliate links. I will earn a small commission on your purchase and it won’t cost you anything. Thanks!

 

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I like to be outside with my camera and I am also a gear head with a love for manual lenses.

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54 thoughts on “Sony a7ii vs Sony a7”

  1. For me, the decisive factor in choosing the a7 over the a7ii was one you didn’t mention: the electronic first curtain shutter. For tripod use with longer lenses or macro shots without flash I consider this essential, even with “only” 24mpix. It’s probably not important for hand-held shooting.
    I also like the much-criticised shutter button: for me, it’s exactly in the right place – probably the result of using mechanical Nikons for years.

  2. I like the sony A7 so much because its so small and light. But the wobbling plastic mount and now I read about sensor reflections make me unhappy. I tried the a7II already but its really to heavy and big for my little leica lenses. So I am waiting now for the A61oo maybe with Ibis an 36 Mp and hopefully not bigger than the A7, but also cropping problem.
    A fine solution would be if sony makes an RX ? with changeable lens mount.

  3. Excellent summary Phillip, a very helpful resource for those considering the options. I think I agree at every point.
    As a tripod user , the only real advantage to me would be the reduced sensor flare, and that doesn’t often disturb me enough to bother.

  4. “All in all it is a very useful tool but if you want to use it with manual lenses it slows operation down.”
    Can you please explain? Is it slowing only when you change lens (or use a zoom) as you need to enter the focal length or is it more than this? Or maybe the camera loses the focal length entered when you switch off?
    I am also concerned about the weight.
    On ebay.co.uk, you can find the A7ii for less than 1000£ (1300€) new. So 2nd hand prices should decrease for A7ii.

  5. Hi Philip,

    Did having 5 axis stabilisation on the A7ii making any difference in practice at any time when shooting with your FE16-35 OSS versus 3 axis in-lens stabilisation when shooting with your A7? And did the stabilised EVF image on the A7 make any real difference to ease of manual focussing on any of your wide sngle or standard (rather than telephoto) primes?
    Regards, Andy

    1. Stabilizer testing is boring as hell and very time consuming so I can’t give you a definitive answer but I think the IBIS makes a small difference with the 16-35, maybe a stop.
      I don’t think it makes a difference for focusing WA lenses, I can focus those very well on the a7.

  6. Good summary.

    No min shutter speed with auto ISO in the newest fw I hear, well, I got used to M and auto ISO some time ago with my A6k..it would be nice to be able to shoot lower than 1/80 reliably handheld though, even with shivering hands.

    That droopy mount thing seems like a time bomb a little bit, and even if it happens within lw Sony will likely send it back as ‘within specs’. Of course more expensive things are likely to happen with the IBIS in the A7ii somewhere outside of warranty but no use worrying about that, and maybe that applies to the mount of the A7 too.

  7. Great review! I was committed to the a7ii. Mainly because the feel of the camera in hand,and the more accessible shutter release button.

  8. I agree. There are number of things about my A7 that frustrate me (especially as I shoot more and more AF these days) but I don’t feel the A7II is enough of an upgrade to justify the cost. The A7RII, on the other hand, would be a great upgrade but the price is still far to high for me and Sony still hasn’t address AF selection or slow card write speeds.

  9. hi Phillip, i have A7ii body and like to buy manual lens for it. can you recommend me (or give a link) so that i can buy. because im never buy and dont have any idea how to buy it. im from Malaysia anyway. i like to buy 17mm because i like to take landscape.. thanks in advance!

        1. Hi Faisal,

          I’m selling mine if you’re interested. Canon FD 20mm f2.8 and the condition is Mint. Really like new. I bought it in Ebay and I was impressed about how new it looks like. The price is 280€. Please answer to this comment in case you’re interested and I can send you some pics of it.

  10. I share your sentiment about the weight. And my A7RII is even heavier, 625 grams without the battery. We are very close to 6D etc.. in terms of weight. My first A7 (which was A7R) was 399 grams. Now I am almost twice that weight with A7R2

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  12. I own the A7. I liked it despite the drawbacks, essentially the sensor reflection which sometimes ruins some photos. But I think I have no choice than moving for an A7ii now.
    Tried the firmware 3.1 upgrade yesterday and it simply destroyed the camera. The upgrade process failed in the middle and left the camera unusable. It can’t turn ON anymore. I’ve tried several things, many things but still, no way to turn it ON.
    Needs SONY service but in the meantime I will be camera-less and I am not sure they will be able to fix it and for which price….

  13. I upgraded my a7 firmware to 3.1 but it took about 6 tries. It would crash every time the Mac went to sleep so I had to set my Mac to stay on. Anyone who doesn’t need to, I recommend not upgrading. There is NO benefit for anyone using manual lenses.

  14. Very late to this party!

    Followed you on F. Miranda and have greatly liked your images, Phillip.

    I think your reasoning to stick with the A7 is very sound. That said, I’ve just bought an A7ii (still have the Nex-7 though) as my funds are OK (!); it’s a heavy little beast, though, and likes batteries :-), but all in all the 5 axis IS is really something.

    I read somewhere you have the button with the AF/MF-AEL set to magnification; I too had done the same as it certainly offers a pleasing “erganomic”.

    Currently trying out the Industar-50 (a 1962 copy); impressive sharpness and fun to use.
    The Leitz 90/4 is another earlier lens (mine is 1957) which has great IQ (and build quality and small size). Plus several CV Voigtlanders.

    I’ll look forward to catching up with this site.

  15. Hi Phil,

    Very nice comparison thank you! I’m a a7 owner and never even think about upgrading if I’m not suffering sensor reflection problem. I use Voigtlander 4.5/15 v3 for landscape and there is strong street light, it will look just like what you show in the review. Do you have any experience with this lens on a7ii? Does it solve the reflection problem on M-mount lenses too?

    Thanks in advance!

  16. Hi I have decided on a A7R (first generation) this model does not have the problem of reflections in the sensor and the weak bayonet ??
    Thanks!!!

  17. Hi Phillip – just wanted to let you know I have gained a lot of value from your blog. We seem like similar enthusiasts, so your posts really speak to me.
    Right now (late December 2016) I am on the verge of upgrading to an a7 or a7ii, and once again, one of your posts (this one) has been very helpful.
    You might be amused that I bought a Canon FD 300 f/4L three months ago based on your post of that lens. I absolutely love it. That lens is one of the main reasons I am saving my dollar coins (I am in Canada) to make the full-frame leap. I use it adapted on a NEX-6.
    Thanks for your excellent reviews.
    Chuck in Ottawa, Canada, eh?

  18. Hi Phillip, kind of reviving this string. I just invested in the A7Rii and I would definitely like a backup for a bit more rough use or in tough climates but still creating wonderful images.

    I picked up a used A6000 and am very tempted to turn it in. The reason being the Sony Trade-in Promotion which reduces the gap between the A6000 and A7ii by atleast $300 + Trade-in Value (I might also get a GC to sweeten the deal).

    Now dont get me wrong, I love the a6000 so much that i have gifted two away in the family and got me this used for my sling bag which goes everywhere I go.

    But it is after all a crop sensor. I am investing in FE Lenses as I type this and I have collected what I think is a more-than-required set of legacy lenses (thanks to this website)

    Given the trade-in promo and the fact that A7ii is a FF versus the crop sensor on all three crop cameras, would you recommend geting one of the A6000/6300/6500?

    Or for that matter, given that the A7ii body is now cheaper than the A6500, does it make sense to invest in that camera as the backup versus the crop sensors?

      1. Thank you, Phillip. As a side topic, thanks to your blogs, I’ve found a lot of motivation for landscape photography. Can’t wait to start experimenting with tools I have collected. Of course the countryside is nothing like where you are but everything has its own beauty. Hope to catch more of your work and guides going forward.

  19. OMG.. Thank you a lot!
    I was worried about those reflections, but didnt know how to describe it right. Even thought, that something might be wrong with my camera or lens. When shooting cityscapes with street lights it is a nightmare! Reflections can go really huge (((( at least now I know it’s an issue with Sony a7 (first den.)
    When I was buying it, I heard/read nothing about this problem, it was December 2014, perhaps not many reviews were out yet.
    All this time I was using a single prime lens with a7 – 55mm 1.8f Sony Zeiss. And I really in need of a prime wide angle lens with good sharpness (as I shoot many stock images, so I have to fit to quality standards). Are there any other options besides Loxia 21mm and Batis you can suggest?.. the main usage is landscapes and cityscapes, so sharpness and detailes are important

    And again, thanks a lot for this article!

  20. Hi Phillip,

    I know you mostly shoot mostly MF, but I was wondering if you had the same gripe that I do with the A7 with regard to AF. I primarily shoot with a Nikon DF, and use a single focus point. When I shoot, I move the focus point with the directional pad to where I want it in the frame, focus, then shoot. I set my camera to have the smallest quantity of focus points so that I can move around this “grid” efficiently. This process takes less than a second on a Nikon. Transitioning to the A7, being used to this kind of technique, has been a pain in the derrière.

    Firstly, you have to push the center button before you can have the option to move the single focus point with the directional pad. And then when you do that, you have a bulky rectangle that slowly drags across 2 dozen (i counted) different positions across the frame (and that is only the x axis). My Nikon has as few as 11 points in the entire frame, and you can get to any in less than 3 clicks. It might sound like a whiney, technical, trivial complaint, but in the world of wedding photography, this extra time translates into missed shots, missed facial expressions, missed spontaneity, and missed opportunities.

    I love the A7, except for this one major flaw. I wanted to ask if you felt this way, and if you do, if you could either add this to your review, or in a new blog post. I know manufacturers pay attention to these blogs, and I figured this would be a chance for them to fix this major flaw.

    1. The lack of control over the AF fields is certainly a drawback of the whole a7 series and I m pretty sure Sony does know that by now.

      Personally I use manual focus most of the time anyway so I am not too bothered by it.

  21. Hi, have you ever had issues that you were not able to set a minimum shutterspeed with autoISO? Or how did you handle that?

  22. Hi Phillip,

    I’m looking to buy a a7 or a6000 next to my a7s to use for landscape photography so I have a higher resolution. I’m going to use it with my small primes like the Loxia 50/2 and Voigtländer 15mm, do you think the loosening mount problem would occur with these? Thanks in advance!

  23. Hello Philip,
    I am very new to photography, 2.5 years ago I bought a Fuji X-M1 camera (with basic zoom kit lens) just to see if i can get pleasure with this new hobby. At the very beginning, one of my friend (who also began to learn photography with his new sony nex-f3) tell me it was possible to adapt legacy lens on mirrorless camera. Since this i bought a lot of vintage lenses (GAS?) because i can afford (really cheap one and i stopped smoking lol). I have spent hours days and months reading review on the Internet and i really want to thank you and your buddies for your wonderful reviews and publications that really help me decide before buying and also inspire me so much with all these useful tips and tricks.
    Actually, because still loving photography (more and more everyday), it’s time for me to switch to another system and naturally it will be Sony. I also want more dof, so sony FF.
    Since a year now i am saving for the day i will switch and now i can buy an A7II or an A7RII.
    I am really confused because i don’t know which camera i should buy and i cannot decide.
    On one hand for me 24Mp is really enough, for now i shot only with legacy lenses but on the other hand i think i will use autofocus lenses in the near futur and also think that A7II is a little outdated with poor AF, and medium ISO performances.
    Naturally the decision would be A7RII (better everything except i don’t really need 42PM) but i am scare that i cannot use anymore my lovely legacy lenses and that they render in a bad way……

    Can you help me decide 🙂

    (Sorry about my awful english)

    Best regards,

    1. Hi Miloch,

      I am happy to hear that you enjoyed our reviews 🙂

      Regarding the a7rii: While many legacy lenses won’t benefit a lot from the higher resolution they won’t be any worse. If you can afford ti the a7rii seems to be a better solution for you.

      Cheers,
      Phillip

  24. Thank you very much Phillip! Your answer brought the final information to my reflexion and coming from a passionate person with so much experience like you with legacy lenses, i feel more comfortable to decide 🙂

    Have a nice day.

    Cheers,

    Miloch

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