Sony A7II vs A7III – Which Is Right for You & Why

When it comes to full-frame mirrorless cameras, Sony has been a pioneer in the field. The Sony A7II and A7III are both excellent choices, but they cater to different needs and budgets. This comprehensive comparison will help you understand the key differences between these two popular models, allowing you to make an informed decision based on your photography requirements and preferences.

Sony A7II vs A7III

Side by Side Comparison of Sony A7II vs A7III

Feature/SpecificationSony A7IISony A7III
Sensor24.3MP Full-Frame Exmor CMOS24.2MP Full-Frame Exmor R CMOS
Image ProcessorBIONZ XBIONZ X (Updated version)
ISO Range100-25600 (expandable to 50-51200)100-51200 (expandable to 50-204800)
Autofocus System117-point phase-detection, 25 contrast-detection points693-point phase-detection, 425 contrast-detection points
Continuous ShootingUp to 5 fpsUp to 10 fps
Video CapabilitiesFull HD 1080p at 60 fps4K UHD at 30 fps, Full HD 1080p at 120 fps
Image Stabilization5-axis in-body5-axis in-body (improved)
Battery Life (CIPA)Approx. 350 shotsApprox. 710 shots
Viewfinder2.36M-dot OLED2.36M-dot OLED
LCD Screen3-inch tilting, 1.23M-dot3-inch tilting touchscreen, 922k-dot
Card SlotsSingle SD card slotDual SD card slots (one UHS-II compatible)
ConnectivityWi-Fi, NFCWi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth
Body MaterialMagnesium alloyMagnesium alloy
Weather SealingYesYes (Improved)
Dimensions126.9 x 95.7 x 59.7 mm126.9 x 95.6 x 73.7 mm
Weight599g (with battery and card)650g (with battery and card)
Release DateNovember 2014February 2018
PriceCheck A7II PriceCheck A7III Price

Why I Recommend the Sony A7III

While both the Sony A7II and A7III are capable cameras, I generally recommend the A7III for most photographers. Here’s why:

  • Superior Autofocus System: The A7III’s 693-point phase-detection autofocus system is a significant upgrade from the A7II’s 117-point system. This translates to faster, more accurate focusing, especially in challenging situations or when tracking moving subjects.
  • Improved Low-Light Performance: With an expanded ISO range and better noise handling, the A7III performs notably better in low-light conditions. This gives you more flexibility when shooting in challenging lighting situations.
  • Faster Continuous Shooting: The A7III can shoot at up to 10 fps compared to the A7II’s 5 fps. This makes the A7III much more suitable for action, sports, or wildlife photography.
  • 4K Video Capabilities: If you’re interested in video, the A7III’s ability to shoot 4K footage is a significant advantage over the A7II’s Full HD limitation.
  • Better Battery Life: With more than double the battery life of the A7II, the A7III allows you to shoot for longer periods without needing to change batteries.
  • Dual Card Slots: The A7III’s dual card slots provide more storage options and the ability to backup your images in-camera, a feature the A7II lacks.
  • Touchscreen Functionality: The A7III’s touchscreen makes navigating menus and selecting focus points more intuitive and quicker.
  • Improved Image Processor: The updated BIONZ X processor in the A7III contributes to better overall performance, including faster operation and improved image quality.
  • Enhanced Connectivity: The addition of Bluetooth in the A7III allows for easier and more stable connections with mobile devices.
  • Future-Proofing: As a more recent model with more advanced features, the A7III is likely to remain relevant for a longer period, making it a more future-proof investment.

Similarities Between The Sony A7II and A7III

While the A7III generally outperforms the A7II, both cameras share several strengths that make them excellent choices in the full-frame mirrorless market:

  • Compact Full-Frame Design: Both cameras offer full-frame image quality in a relatively compact and lightweight body compared to traditional DSLRs.
  • Sony E-Mount Lens Compatibility: The shared lens mount gives access to Sony’s extensive range of high-quality E-mount lenses.
  • Excellent Image Quality: Both cameras produce high-quality images with good dynamic range, color accuracy, and detail.
  • In-Body Image Stabilization: The 5-axis stabilization in both models is a significant advantage, working with any lens to reduce camera shake.
  • Customizable Button Layout: Both cameras allow extensive customization of controls to suit individual shooting preferences.
  • Eye AF Technology: While more advanced in the A7III, both cameras feature Eye AF for precise focus on subjects’ eyes.
  • Tilting LCD Screen: The articulating screens on both models aid in composing shots from challenging angles.
  • High-Quality EVF: Both feature crisp, responsive electronic viewfinders with 100% frame coverage.
  • Weather Sealing: The robust construction and weather sealing of both cameras make them suitable for use in various environmental conditions.
  • Professional-Grade Features: Both models offer features like zebra patterns, focus peaking, and customizable picture profiles that appeal to professional users.

What Both Cameras Can Do

Despite their differences, both the Sony A7II and A7III share several impressive capabilities:

  • Full-Frame Image Quality: Both cameras feature full-frame sensors, providing excellent image quality with good dynamic range and color depth.
  • In-Body Image Stabilization: The 5-axis in-body stabilization in both models helps reduce camera shake, allowing for sharper images at slower shutter speeds.
  • Customizable Controls: Both cameras offer extensive customization options, allowing you to set up the camera to suit your shooting style.
  • Weather-Sealed Construction: The magnesium alloy bodies of both cameras are weather-sealed, providing protection against dust and moisture.
  • Wi-Fi and NFC Connectivity: Both models support wireless image transfer and remote control via smartphone apps.
  • Tilting LCD Screen: The articulating screens on both cameras aid in composing shots from high or low angles.
  • EVF with 100% Coverage: Both feature high-quality electronic viewfinders with 100% frame coverage.
  • RAW Image Capture: Both cameras can shoot in RAW format, providing maximum flexibility in post-processing.
  • Silent Shooting Mode: Both models offer a silent shooting mode for discreet photography.
  • Peaking and Zebra Functions: These focus and exposure aids are available on both cameras, assisting with manual focusing and exposure settings.
  • Time-Lapse Capability: Both cameras can create time-lapse sequences, either in-camera or through downloadable apps.
  • Clean HDMI Output: This feature allows both cameras to be used with external recorders or monitors.
  • Microphone and Headphone Ports: Both models have inputs for external microphones and headphone monitoring, enhancing their video capabilities.

FAQs about Sony A7II vs A7III

Can the Sony A7II’s autofocus performance be improved through firmware updates to match the A7III?

While firmware updates can enhance autofocus algorithms, they can’t change the hardware limitations. The A7III’s superior autofocus system is largely due to its more advanced hardware, which can’t be replicated in the A7II through software alone.

How significant is the difference in low-light performance between the A7II and A7III?

The A7III has a notable advantage in low-light situations. Its expanded ISO range and improved noise handling allow for cleaner images at higher ISOs. This difference can be particularly noticeable when shooting in challenging lighting conditions or when you need to push the ISO above 6400.

Is the video quality difference between Full HD on the A7II and 4K on the A7III noticeable for casual video shooters?

For casual video use, the difference might not be significant. However, 4K provides more detail and flexibility in post-production, even if the final output is in 1080p. The A7III also offers better slow-motion capabilities with its 120 fps option in Full HD.

How does the battery life difference impact real-world usage?

The A7III’s superior battery life (710 shots vs 350 shots) is a significant advantage for long shooting sessions. A7II users often need to carry multiple spare batteries or a battery grip for all-day shoots, while A7III users can often get through a full day on a single battery.

Are there any third-party accessories that can bridge the feature gap between the A7II and A7III?

While accessories can enhance both cameras, they can’t fundamentally change core differences like autofocus systems or sensor performance. However, accessories like battery grips, external recorders, or flashes can expand the capabilities of both cameras in specific scenarios.

How does the lack of touchscreen on the A7II impact the user experience compared to the A7III?

The touchscreen on the A7III provides a more intuitive interface, especially for functions like selecting focus points or navigating menus. While not essential, it can speed up operation and make the camera more user-friendly, particularly for those accustomed to smartphone interfaces.

Is the A7III’s dual card slot a significant advantage for professional work?

Yes, the dual card slots on the A7III provide several advantages for professional work. They allow for instant backup, overflow recording, or separating RAW and JPEG files. This feature is particularly valued by wedding and event photographers who need the security of immediate image backup.

How do the A7II and A7III compare in terms of color science and image rendering?

Both cameras produce excellent image quality, but the A7III generally offers improved color science and image processing. This results in slightly better out-of-camera JPEGs and more flexibility when processing RAW files. However, the difference is subtle and may not be noticeable in many situations.

Can the A7II still be a good choice for someone on a tighter budget?

Absolutely. While the A7III offers numerous improvements, the A7II remains a capable full-frame camera that can produce excellent images. For photographers who primarily shoot in good light, don’t need advanced video features, and are on a tighter budget, the A7II can still be an excellent choice.

How does the weight difference between the A7II and A7III impact handling and portability?

The weight difference is minimal (A7III is about 50g heavier), and unlikely to significantly impact handling or portability. Both cameras are relatively lightweight for full-frame systems. The slightly larger grip on the A7III might actually improve handling despite the small weight increase.

Key points of the Sony A7II and A7III

Both the Sony A7II and A7III are excellent full-frame mirrorless cameras, but they cater to different needs and budgets. The A7III, with its superior autofocus, improved low-light performance, 4K video capabilities, and longer battery life, is the more versatile and future-proof option. It’s an excellent choice for enthusiasts and professionals alike, especially those who shoot in varied conditions or need advanced video features.

The A7II remains a capable camera, particularly for still photography in good lighting conditions. Its lower price point makes it an attractive option for those looking to enter the full-frame mirrorless world on a tighter budget.

Ultimately, your choice should depend on your specific needs, budget, and the type of photography you plan to do. If you can stretch your budget, the A7III offers significant improvements that make it a worthwhile investment for most photographers. But if your needs are more basic and your budget is limited, the A7II can still deliver excellent image quality and performance.

Remember, the best camera is the one that fits your needs and inspires you to go out and shoot. Both these Sony models are capable of producing stunning images in the right hands.