Buying a camera can be overwhelming. There’s so much to learn about before you can even try to make a decision. Different brands, types of cameras, accessories, there’s so much to learn about.
It can seem like too much, but if you break it down into tiny chunks it won’t be so bad.
Some Terms That You Should Know
There’s nothing worse than not knowing what everyone is talking about right? Camera talk has a lot of specific terms that you should know about.
This term comes from the International Organization for Standardization. ISO is the light sensitivity of your camera. It has to do with parts of a camera’s sensor set against a common standard.
It was originally known as “Film Speed,” as it was a measure of the amount of light a certain type of film could absorb. With modern digital cameras, film is not needed. Also, the ISO can be adjusted up and down.
High ISO means a brighter image, which is achieved by digitally amplifying the info collected during exposure. It’s an imperfect process that generates errors, which can be obvious in your pictures as discoloration and noise (the unattractive speckling effect you usually see in low light photos.)
Aperture is the size of the opening in the lens. You can adjust the size to let in a lot of light or a little bit of light. A wide-open aperture will let more light into the image for a brighter photo, a smaller one lets in less light.
Aperture is measured in f-stops. A small f-stop like f/1.8 is a wide opening, a large f-stop like f/22 is a very narrow one.
It also affects how much of the image is in the focus. Wide apertures result in that smooth, unfocused background, while narrow ones keep the image sharp.
This controls how long the camera spends collecting light. It’s measured in fractions of a second. This means a speed of 1/125 is when the shutter is open for one 125th of a second.
Higher shutter speeds mean the camera captures a shorter period of time, which is how you get blur free actions. Lower speeds allow you to soak up more light.
A single megapixel contains 1 million pixels, but it’s somewhat meaningless to know that your camera shoots 10 million pixels at a time. What you want to know, and what the megapixel tells you, is how big you can make your image without having to enlarge it digitally and suffer degradation of the image.
This is important but should not be a make or break decision. This is because most pictures are viewed on devices versus being printed out. Unless you are a professional who is printing them out for customers, there are more important features.
You may see this odd term pop up quite a bit. It’s a slot at the top of a camera for adding accessories.
This is a type of file that gives you, the photographer, more control over photo editing. It’s considered a digital negative, whereas JPEG has already been processed a little. It does need a special software to open.
What is the Sony A77II and How Does It Work?
Alright, now that we know some of the key terms, let’s start talking about the Sony A7II. Sony is known for making good cameras and constantly innovating. This is no different with this camera. Which is an overhaul of the original A77 from 2011.
This new camera features a new autofocus sensor, and it’s a much more refreshed version of the existing design.
It’s actually it’s built around the AF (auto focus) model with the most focus points of any camera on the market.
The autofocus capability combines with the camera’s ability to shoot images at 12 frames per second to offer a compelling feature set.
What Makes It Unique?
Let’s break down some of the special highlights of this particular camera.
This camera can definitely be competition to some of the pro grade cameras because of its autofocus system. It has a range of subject identifying technologies that Sony has introduced in recent models. For example, it has Eye-AF rather than just face detection. It also has the most advanced version of “Lock-On AF” that we’ve seen.
It’s a solidly built camera with a solid, weather sealed magnesium alloy body, which has some weight to it. But it’s not heavy. The right-hand grip feels comfortable and gives easy access to the most important controls on the camera.
The camera has a lot of buttons and dials. They are placed in reasonable places. For the most part, each button has a single function. There are eleven customizable buttons on the body, with up to fifty assignable functions. This means you can really you can customize the camera to your liking.
Here are some of the more technical aspects to this camera. You can use these to compare them to other cameras. If you don’t understand everything, that’s okay. We break down a lot of it within this review.
6,000x3,376, 4240x2832, 4440x2400, 3008x2000, 3008x1688
Image ratio w:h
Sensor photo detectors
APS-C (23.5x15.6 mm)
Color filter array
primary color filter
auto (ISO 100-51,200), Manual (ISO 100-25,600)
Boosted ISO (maximum)
White balance presets
Custom white balance
yes (3 slots)
JPEG quality levels
super fine, fine, normal
JPEG (DCF v2.0, EXIF c2.3), RAW (ARW 2.3)
contrast, saturation, sharpness
Optics & Focus
contrast detect (sensor), phase detect, multi-area, center, selective single-point, tracking, single, continuous, face detection, live view
Autofocus assist lamp
yes (flash type)
Focal length multiplier
Sony/ Minolta Alpha
Number of focus points
1.09x (0.73x 35 mm equiv.)
Minimum shutter speed
Maximum shutter speed
1/8,000 of a second
iAuto, program, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual
portrait, sports action, macro, landscape, sunset, night scene, hand-held twilight, night portrait
Built in flash
12.00 m (at ISO 100)
yes (via hot shoe or flash sync port)
auto, fill, rear sync, slow sync
single-frame, continuous high/ low, continuous advance priority AE, self-timer
Yes (2 or 12 seconds)
multi, center-weighted, spot
±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
±3 (3, 5 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV, 2 EV steps)
yes (3 shots, low/ high selectable)
1920x1080 (60p, 60i, 30p), 1440x1080 (30p), 640x480 (30p)
SD/ SDHC/ SDXC, memory stick pro duo/ pro-HG duo
USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
Yes (mini HDMI)
802.11b/g/n with NFC
yes (wired, wireless, or smartphone)
NP-FM500H lithium-ion battery and charger
Battery life (CIPA)
Weight (including batteries)
647 g (1.43 lb/ 22.82 oz)
143x104x81 mm (5.63x4.09x3.19 inches)
Time lapse recording
There are a couple places to find this camera. One is at Amazon. There are also Best Buy (body only).
Some less familiar places to find this camera are Cruthfield (body only), Mike’s Camera (body only), and Adorama (body only.)
So, this is a pricey camera, and that doesn’t even include the separate lens that you have to buy. So if you are interested in this camera, do not invest in this lightly.
How It Compares to Other Cameras
Now, there are always other cameras out there. Whether you aren’t a fan of the Alpha A7’s price or features, it’s always worth looking elsewhere. You can get a fuller idea of what you are looking from with your camera.
One of Sony’s competitors is Canon’s EOS 70D. This is a DSLR camera that has a number of great features. Some them include, a 20-megapixel CMOS sensor, innovative Dual-Pixel CMOS AF system, and a 3-inch vari-angle LCD touchscreen.
This is a nice lightweight camera, even with a battery and memory card in it, that’s comfortable to hold. It’s suited from everyone with normal sized hands to large hands. Adjustments are made with a combination of buttons and a single control wheel.
This is good for beginners but could be frustrating for more serious photographers.
It doesn’t help that some of the controls are placed awkwardly as well. This camera gets 4 out of 5 stars for ease.
It’s built and designed well. It has a metal body with a plastic outer cover that’s waterproof. It gets 4 out of 5 stars.
Overall, it gets a 4.5 out of five stars.
There’s also the Fujifilm X-T1. This is only the body, though. The lens isn’t included. It’s a compact camera that feels like a miniature DSLR. It’s been designed to appeal to a wide range of photographers. It’s designed that like a classic DSLR, it’s just smaller. With its familiar design, it gets 4 out of 5 stars.
It has a weatherproof and freeze resistant body with five mechanical dials. There’s also six customizable function buttons. It features an OLED electronic viewfinder. For build quality, it gets 4 out of 5 stars.
Overall, it gets 4 out of 5 stars.
Pros and Cons
This camera is a great camera for everyday use and action shots. It has the ease of a point and shoot while still being customizable like a DSLR. It’s a good camera to invest in if you are going from hobby to a small business.
It’s not to say that this camera isn’t for hobbyists, it’s just that it’s a lot of money to put into when you are just starting out.
We like that it’s weatherproof and has built in stabilization. We also appreciate Sony adding all these cool new editing features to make it easier to take the best photo possible.
We are disappointed that there aren’t headphone jack or memory card slots. It just seems to be a standard to have at this point. The controls, while for the most part easy to use, can be a little sensitive.
Overall, we give this camera a 4.5 out of 5 stars rating.