It's something of a surprise: Sony managed to keep under wraps an interesting new camera that is slated to begin shipping to the home market (i.e., Japan) in less than three weeks.
The camera is the fourth iteration of the popular, hot-selling, and rapidly proliferating A7 full-frame mirrorless series, now consisting of the original 24-MP A7, the 36-MP A7r, and the made-for-video 12-MP A7s—the current DxOmark low-light, high-ISO champ.
The new camera, called the A7II, differs from its predecessor in several important ways. Most notably, it has in-body image stabilization (IBIS), a five-way system that corrects "Yaw & Pitch," "X and Y," and "Roll." Sony claims this is the world's first full-frame camera with five-way IBIS.
Here's a link to Sony's video about the A7II IBIS (which it calls "SteadyShot INSIDE").
Also important—besides some significant-sounding upgrades in various electronic speed parameters, including 40% faster startup—is a redesigned grip side of the body. The grip is larger, the shutter release button has been relocated, and a front control dial has been added.
Hard to judge, but the A7 series is at least within shouting distance of "most desirable cameras on the planet" for enthusiasts right now. The read from here is that people love 'em. Seems like this new camera won't hurt that one bit.
No word yet on when the camera will be released for other markets (it can't be preordered yet), or what the likely price will be...or whether the original A7 will be retired or remain in the lineup (my guess is the latter). We'll keep you posted.
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Featured Comments from:
Sarge: "Not much of a surprise (the IBIS) since Sony itself will be making not a lot of native FF lenses with OSS for the a7 line. Perfect for the Zeiss ZA/FE mount lenses. Just what the doctor ordered for my LM/LTM lenses and M42 Takumars. Bring it on!"
John McMillin: "I've been quite critical of Sony's mirrorless cameras so far, since the end of the A900 line left me stranded with no successor to the finest, most enjoyable camera I've ever used. But I have to tip my hat to them this time. Credit where credit is due—the new A7II, announced this morning, looks to be a game-changer. It might be the one model that most seriously undercuts Nikon's and Canon's business model.
"First, a little historical background. Stabilized lenses first arrived in binoculars, used to steady the direct optical image. No sensor stabilization was possible there! Then came stabilized camera lenses, which adapted the same lens-based tech. When camera bodies became stabilized, the stabilization pioneers, Canon, claimed lens stabilization was superior because it steadies the OVF image—especially useful for the telephoto users who gravitate towards those brands. But now that EVFs present an image from the sensor, and that sensor has been stabilized, what is the advantage of paying for multiple stabilized lenses vs. gaining the feature throughout your system by buying one new, stabilized camera that you probably wanted anyway?
"One perceptive poster over on dpreview pointed out that roll (rotational movement around the axis of the lens) cannot be corrected by moving lens elements, which seems obvious when you think about it. So there's a common cause of image shake that can only be solved by sensor-based correction. So from now forwards, lens stabilization is less capable than IBIS, and its more expensive (over a collection of lenses), adds weight and complexity and cost, and looks no better through the VF. So what's the advantage of stabilized lenses, again? If I worked for Nikon and Canon, I'd be sweating in a stuffy conference room this morning, struggling to answer that question. The answer, if there is one, will probably come from the Marketing Department."
tex andrews: "And some other points: Sony is claiming 4.5 stops with this IBIS. This is their fourth full-frame camera announcement in a year, with a strong rumor of yet another announcement in January, the A9. They have produced the new, pretty astonishing (I have one) sensor for the 645Z and the other two medium format cameras also in the last year. In the last six years they have brought to market now nine full-frame cameras: A900, A850, A99, RX1, RX1R, A7, A7R, A7S, A7II---plus a terrific group of APS-C cameras, including the NEX line (now just Alpha E-mount). And it has delivered a lot of these at pretty impressively low price points, a couple of times barrier breaking.
"Quite extraordinary when you step back and look at it. Certainly no one guessed this is what was going to happen when Sony took over Konica-Minolta. It's true the lens lineup has lagged, but Sony played to its electronics strength in the best way imaginable. Really remarkable."
Mike replies: I have to agree. It's possible we might not have Sony to kick around any more at some point in the future, but the digital camera landscape today would be much more barren without them.