Sony a7S II: It Shines Beautifully in Low Light

Sony a7S II Image

The Sony a7S II is a full-frame camera designed for challenging lighting conditions. The a7R II, its brother, was introduced with a 42-megapixel sensor to provide a great amount of detail, but the resolution of this camera is reduced to 12 megapixels with improved low light performance compared to other a7 series models.

Design and Handling

The design and overall style of the a7S II are almost similar to the other top-end models in the Alpha range. The a7R II was introduced with some key design improvements and this new model takes on all of those.

Many of the previously launched a7 models felt a little awkward as the settings and controls were difficult to manage, but this new camera’s redesigned controls are simple to work with.

Sony Alpha a7S II Image

The grip of the camera feels better. Its shutter button has been shifted forward and placed much closer to where your finger is naturally positioned. This allows you to control the shutter more comfortably.

The camera is built with magnesium alloy mostly. It’s not weather-sealed, but the frame is designed in such a way that it won’t let moisture in. There will be no ill effects on the camera if you use it in bad weather for a few hours.

It’s not a small size camera, but it’s certainly smaller than the DSLR alternatives such as the Nikon’s D810. It also features a locking mode dial which helps prevent you from switching between shooting modes accidentally.

Performance

Sony has given this camera almost all of the same features as the a7R II except the big 42-megapixel sensor. However, the autofocus setup of this camera is totally different. The a7S II features contrast detection AF with 169 focus points instead of the company’s latest hybrid focus system. Although contrast detection AF is still fairly advanced, it’s not as fast as the hybrid AF but still does a good job.

The AF is reliable and fast even in very low light conditions. You’ll be surprised to see how well it holds up when there are no phase detection points involved. For videos, changing focus is faster than the a7S as well. Sony claims that it takes only half the time to switch from a far focus to a close one.

The camera is not recommended for action photographers. Thanks to the Bionz X camera processor, this machine is capable of shooting at 5fps but continuous focusing drops this rate down to 2.5fps. Overall focusing performance of the camera is pretty good. Sony has improved its contrast detection AF over the last few years but it still needs a lot of work to compete with the fastest-focusing DSLRs.

Sony Alpha a7S II Image

An electronic shutter has also been added in the a7S II for silent shooting. Switching the camera to silent mode will turn on this feature.

The most important addition to the Sony a7S II is its new 5-axis stabilization. This helps keep the footage stable while moving with the shutter open; you won’t need a tripod for it.

Battery

The battery life of this full-frame camera is not even close to DSLRs like the Nikon D810, which comes with the same price tag. You can capture 300 shots in a single charge, but for a better shooting experience, Sony has actually packed two batteries in the box. You also have the option to charge the a7S II over USB using an external battery, so it would be a good idea to keep one in your camera bag.

How Does the Sony a7S II Compare?

 a7S IIa7R II
Sensor TypeCMOS, Full FrameCMOS, Full Frame
Sensor Resolution12.2 MP42.4 MP
Sensor Size35.6 x 23.8 mm35.9 x 24 mm
Image Size4240 x 28327952 x 5304
Image Stabilization5-axis optical image stabilization5-axis optical image stabilization
Image ProcessorBionz XBionz X
Maximum Shutter Speed1/8000 to 30 sec1/8000 to 30 sec
AF System169 Points399 Points
WiFiYesYes
BatteryNP-FW50, 310 ShotsNP-FW50, 290 Shots
Weight627 g625 g
Dimensions127 x 96 x 60 mm127 x 96 x 60 mm
Price$1998 Amazon$1498 Amazon

Conclusion

The Sony a7S II is a terrific camera loaded with excellent features. It has a lot of improvements over the a7R II is capable of incredible feats.

Is that the better camera most people? Probably. Just like its predecessor, the a7S II gains our attention, given the developments. It’s a great-performing camera with a lot of cool features, but it isn’t made for everyone.

That said, 409,600 ISO feels super cool but is pretty useless in the real world. Unless your priority is to shoot in dim light conditions, Sony’s a7R II is the better option for the money. That particular camera comes with similar features and a maximum ISO of 102,400, which is more than enough for most of the users.

This camera is geared to target specific shooters and photography enthusiasts who like to capture stills and videos in low light conditions. It’s also a great videography camera that can capture 4K and Full HD. If that sounds like you, then check out the Sony a7S II.

The Review

Sony a7S II

9
This full-frame camera from Sony specializes in low light photography and video. Equipped with 4k and a maximum ISO of 102,400, this camera is capable of shooting 5fps. The a7S II has similar features to Sony's a7R II but comes with a 12mp sensor.

Pros

  • Great low-light performance
  • Excellent video quality
  • Great ISO Performance

Cons

  • Battery life is not good
  • 12 MP is not enough for some applications
  • No real weather sealing
  • Expensive

Review Breakdown

Build Quality

Handling

High ISO Performance

Image Quality

Price

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