The camera industry is the most interesting and exciting it’s been in the past 10 years. After capable smartphones decimated the point-and-shoot market, camera makers have focused their efforts on appealing to enthusiasts and professional photographers — those that need or want more than a smartphone can provide. We’ve gotten really great cameras from the likes of Fujifilm, Panasonic, Olympus, and Sony that prioritize manual controls and image quality, while still being more compact and approachable than the DSLRs that dominated the aughts.
In that vein, Sony recently released the A7 II, a compact mirrorless camera that could replace the big DSLR rigs many professionals still cling to. The A7 II is actually a successor to last year’s A7, which blew minds by being the first interchangeable lens mirrorless camera with a full-frame (read: very large) image sensor. The A7 appeared to be everything a lot of photographers wanted: it promised to provide full-frame image quality (namely, better images in low light and greater control over depth of field) in a package that was much more compact than a DSLR.
The A7 II is designed to right many of the A7’s wrongs. (The original A7, A7R, and A7S are staying in the lineup, albeit with lower prices than before.) The $1,699 A7 II ($1,999 with a 28-70 lens, as tested) has the same 24-megapixel full-frame sensor and relatively compact frame as before. It’s a serious camera for serious photographers, just like last year’s model. But this time Sony has quickened the autofocus system, improved the ergonomics and controls, and added an all-new in-body image stabilization system that works with virtually any lens, modern or vintage.