Last year, on October 16th 2013 precisely, Sony announced the a7 and a7R full-frame cameras. They made so much buzz because of the fact that they were the mirrorless camera sporting a FF sensor. They were the lightest and smallest full-frame camera with 24.3MP and 36.4MP, respectively. Those cameras have taken the market by storm by proving that mirrorless bodies are, in fact, very capable. I've always wanted a Sony a7.

On November 20th, Sony announced that the a7's sequel would be available in Japan first, starting on December 5th. On this one, the big story is the 5-axis stabilization (X, Y, Pitch, Yaw and Roll). However, Sony is not the first one to release a machine with this technology in it. In fact, Olympus had it for months now (on the OM-D E-M1, for example). Just not on full-frame sensors. And that's exactly what Sony did with this one. The technology claims to provide up to 4.5 stops of stabilization; that's crazy! That feature is useful for video, low-light and to stabilize any lense in the world.

Also, the a7II will have a better autofocus system. Up to 30% better. Nice. What's interesting is that the II has exactly the same amount of phase-detect and contrast autofocus point as the original. Sony says the AF tracking  is 50% speedier than on it's predecessor.

To continue, the a7II has a 2 new video features. The first one is the inclusion of the XAVC S codec for 1080p, 60fps, 50Mbps video recording. The second is the new S-Log2 gamma curve. That will allow filmmakers to retain more data in the shadows and highlights of a scene. The low-light champ that is the a7S has those two features already.

The electronic maker also moved the shutter release button, added a custom function button and slightly modified the camera's shape. In addition, Sony made the skeleton of it in a magnesium alloy instead of the plastic and magnesium combination of last year's. Also, the lens mount is now tougher and can handle big tele zoom (though Sony doesn't make any for native use, you can buy an adapter and rock your Canon 800mm f/5.6). It might seem not that important but people had issue of the mount being a little wobbly. Fotodiox even came out with an all-metal constructed E-mount replacement!

Why not?

Because I don't need it. Really, I'm a commercial photographer always shooting on a tripod, inside. To me, the IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization) 5-axis stabilization is really useful for low-light settings or for run-and-gun video recording. Not for me. Don't get me wrong, I think Sony, once again, has pushed the camera race forward. For the same reasons, I don't need the speed bump in AF performance. I don't even ever use autofocus. The video improvements and the IBIS will be useful for when I film ski, which is another thing I like doing. However, I don't think it's worth the price difference between the a7 on eBay and the a7II new. I would be interested if Sony improved the sensor, but they did not. To me, it would be silly to buy a camera that doesn't really improve my photography for hundreds of dollar more. Anyway, that's it for now.

Cheers,

Tristan