Sony a7 vs Sony a7 Mark II

Introduction

In today’s post, we will compare two entry-level full-frame mirrorless cameras from Sony, the Sony A7, and Sony A7 Mark II. The Mark II is not only the replacement to the A7 but the backbone of the company’s current design. Today, we will compare the similarities and differences between both cameras to uncover which of these is ultimately the right camera for you. Are the updated features of the Mark II worthwhile for an upgrade? Should non-sony users skip the Mark I entirely? Let’s find out.

Note: we refer to the Sony A7 Mark I as “predecessor” and the A7 Mark II as “successor” for the duration of this article. 

Size & Dimensions

In size and dimension, the cameras are identical. Both measure approximately 127 x 95 x 57 mm. However, in weight, this is where the predecessor proves to be significantly lighter. In this case, the difference between both cameras is a massive 139 grams (556 g v. 416g). In hand, this increase in weight is easily recognizable. 

Physical Controls & Ergonomics

While the successor weighs significantly more, the increase in weight surprisingly becomes an advantage, as it lends the camera to deliver better overall ergonomics than the predecessor. As such, the successor now features a deeper and more pronounced grip, which significantly improves its comfort in the hand. This change, in particular, makes for a camera that is far more reassuring in hand and more comfortable during prolonged use. The resigned body also helps make the camera better balanced, especially helpful when using larger lenses. 

Sony has also relocated the shutter button with the redesign as well. It is now further out on the grip of the camera, instead of on the top plate.

Sure, this may seem like a small change, but during use, it makes depressing the shutter button significantly more comfortable and more natural than the predecessor. The placement before felt a bit awkward and took much use to accommodate for the strange positioning. 

The successor also features an additional custom function button, C4, further improving the overall camera customization. 

Displays

While both cameras feature 3.0-inch articulating TFT LCDs, the successor offers a slightly higher resolution display at 1.23 million dots compared to 921K dots along with refined articulation. 

Both cameras do, however, have identical electronic viewfinders with resolutions of 2.36 million dots and 100% coverage of the imaging area.

Image Quality

Both cameras have identical 24.3-megapixel Exmor CMOS sensors. With that, you can expect equivalent imaging performance, dynamic range, and color rendition. Both cameras also lend themselves well for large format printing and post-production cropping. 

Sony-a7-Mark-II-specs

Video Quality 

The successor does, however, provide improved video capabilities. It now shoots 1080p at 60 frames per second in the more advanced AVCHD 2.0 and XAVC S formats. Previously, the predecessor could only shoot 1080p at the slightly dated AVCHD 1.0 format. The successor also delivers an almost 2x improvement in the bit rate as well, now 50 MBps compared to 28 MBps. Overall, the footage it offers is much improved, though subtle. 

Both cameras do, however, have 29 minute and 59-second recording limits — the industry standard. 

Autofocusing

Both cameras have identical 117 point hybrid phase-detection AF systems, at least in terms of total point coverage. However, Sony has refined the technology in the new camera to provide a 30% increase in overall performance and a 50% increase, specifically in tracking. Though these specific figures Sony claims are hard to quantify during use, the difference is undoubtedly noticeable between both cameras. AF speed, consistency, and accuracy overall are greatly improved. 

Battery Life

Both cameras use identical batteries, the NP-FW50 series, and their battery performance is mostly similar. Both cameras deliver approximately 350 shots per charge. 

User Interface & Menus 

The user interface is in menus are identical between both cameras. 

Sony-a7-Full-Frame-Mirrorless-Digital-Camera-specs

Extra Features 

The biggest separator, bar none, however, comes in the form of in-camera stabilization. The addition of image stabilization in the Mark II made for a first in a Sony E-mount camera and is its standout feature. The system itself provides up to 4.5 stops of stabilization. And, depending on your specific needs, can ultimately be the deal-breaker between both cameras. 

Both cameras have identical continuous shooting speeds of 5 frames per second. 

Both cameras are weather sealed.

Both cameras have Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity for pairing with a smartphone device for image transfer or remote shooting. 

Both cameras have a microphone and headphone input.

Both cameras support USB charging.

Missing Features 

Neither camera supports 4K UHD recording. 

So which is best? 

Well, in the end, the Sony A7 Mark II. But ultimately, the main reasons to purchase the new body are you want the following: image stabilization, better build quality, ergonomics, improved AF performance, or additional customization. If these features are not relevant to you, the Mark I is the better camera, considering the core functionality between both cameras is virtually identical. The Mark II represented a foreshadowing of what was to become the newly released A7 Mark III ultimately. It’s far more of an incremental update rather than a revolutionary step in the a7 series lineup of cameras. But overall, it still makes the better choice considering these changes do make a difference in day to day shooting.