Sony took the wraps off its successor to its year-old A7 in Japan a few days ago, but today we get the US pricing and availability. It's slated to ship quite soon -- mid-December -- at a cost of $1,700 for the body and $2,000 for the 28-70mm kit. Australia and the UK won't get it till a month later, at AU$2,000 or £1,500 for the body only. The 28-70m kit will be £1,700 in the UK.
The first of the company's increasingly increasing line of full-frame interchangeable-lens models, the A7 II (aka the ILCE-A7M2 or A7M2) doesn't incorporate a ton of updates over its predecessor, but the few it does are noteworthy.
In the most notable improvement for the A7 II, Sony shifts from optical image stabilization to five-axis sensor-shift in this model. While there's sensor-shift stabilization in Sony's fixed-mirror dSLR-style Alphas, like the, the company has been using optical stabilization in all its A7 series cameras until now. I suspect the problem was getting manufacturers to produce full-frame, stabilized lenses; OIS makes lenses larger, heavier and more expensive, and bigger is not better when you're touting a compact system. This way, you can even attach a lens like the big, heavy Zeiss Otus 85mm f1.4 (with an A-to-FE mount adapter, of course) and still get stabilization. Win.
Another very welcome enhancement is an upgrade to its newer video codec, XAVC S, which supports higher bit-rate encoding for HD video. Sorry, no 4K here -- that's still available only in the. It also adds 1080/30p/25p and all the updated video features, like S-Log2 gamma and time code.
Sony also claims improved performance from the autofocus system. The A7 is the only one of the family that uses the hybrid autofocus -- a combination of phase-detection and contrast AF. And both the autofocus and metering systems have gained a stop of sensitivity at the low-light end. It also ostensibly has a faster startup. I hope so; the Sonys tend to be pretty pokey on power-on.
Physically, the A7 II has a deeper grip and tweaked placement of the controls on the grip, plus improved dust and moisture sealing, making it all a bit larger and heavier than before. There's also more magnesium alloy in the construction; the front element joins the top cover and frame which previously were the only mag-alloy parts.
There's one disappointing omission, though; the battery life is still miserable. Sony bumped it up from 340 to 350 shots with the LCD, and it's still only 270 shots with the viewfinder. It's physically a little deeper than before, but that's to be expected with the bulkier sensor mechanism.
The A7 remains in the product line, and both the.
Editors' note, November 26, 2014: This story was originally published on November 20, and has been updated with more details about the camera, as well as US pricing and availability.