Sony a7II: Why I Love This Camera for Travel Photography
After testing out the Sony a7II mirrorless digital camera for the past five months, I have fallen in love with this camera for travel photography. It’s lightweight, compact, user-friendly, and it takes exceptional images. While the Sony a7II camera may not be perfect for everyone, it has all of the features I look for in a travel camera and many features that I didn’t even know I needed!
I’ve been a Canon girl for over 15 years and switching ALL of my travel photography equipment was not something I took lightly. But, after a few months of using my Sony a7II, I have since sold my Canon 5D Mark II and all of my beloved “L” lenses. Here are the reasons I would recommend the Sony a7II Alpha camera to anybody looking for the best camera for travel photography.
Sony Alpha a7II Review for Travel Photographers
- Full Frame 24.3 Megapixel Sensor
- In-body Image Stabilization: This gives you up to a 4 stop advantage when shooting in low light. I’ve shot sharp images at 1/15 of a second with this camera.
- 5 fps (Frames Per Second) Burst Rate – This was a huge step up for me after using the Canon 5D Mark II for many years. Creating HDR images is completely possible without a tripod.
- Electronic Viewfinder: You can view the realtime effect of aperture and ISO adjustments and you will know exactly how your image is going to look before you even press the shutter button. I never realized how much time I wasted guessing what settings to use, then checking it in the LCD after I took the shot, and recomposing. Some photographers may think this is cheating and claim this takes all the fun out of photography (just like many said when the first digital cameras came out), but if it saves me time out in the field and during post processing, I’m all for it.
- Tilt Screen
- 30% Faster Auto Focus Compared to the A7: This was one of the reasons I didn’t buy the original a7 when it came out.
- Dynamic Range: The Sony a7II has excellent highlight and shadow detail. I rarely have to stack my photos in post processing.
- Bracketing: It includes up to 9-shot bracketing, available in both Continuous and Single Bracketing modes
- Bracketing with Self Timer: I can now shoot multiple exposures when using the timer — which is a must for solo travelers!
The price of the Sony a7II camera is right where it should be, in my opinion. I bought it new for around $1600 (body only) which is what I paid for my 5D Mark II 3 years ago. Depending on which lens you choose, you can get the camera and a lens for under $2,000.
It’s an investment, but well worth it if you are looking for the best and lightest camera for travel photography. If you are not ready to spend that much on a camera, we’ve written an in-depth review about how to choose the best camera for travel. This post will give you a better idea about which camera works best for your needs.
My number one hesitation about switching from a Canon DSLR to a Sony mirrorless was the limited lens selection offered by Sony. I started out with the Sony 28-70mm kit lens on the a7II and ended up selling the lens within a week. My images were coming out soft with the kit lens, so I wanted to give this camera a fair shot by experimenting with some of the best lenses available.
Yes, you can use lenses from other manufacturers — like Canon and Nikon — but there are drawbacks to doing so. With Nikon lenses, you can only use manual focus. With Canon lenses, you can use auto focus, but the AF is slow and won’t work well for action shots. Even though I was smitten with my Canon 16-35mm F2.8, I don’t want to mess around with slow auto focus and potentially miss a once-in-a-lifetime shot.
I spent hours reading reviews and purchased the Sony 16-35 F4 and Sony 70-200mm F4 to replace my Canon 16-35mm F2.8 and Canon 70-300mm. Luckily, the Sony a7II produces amazing photos at high ISO settings, so I can live without a F2.8 lens for now.
I wish I could give an in-depth review of the video features in the Sony a7II because the video features are one of the main reasons a lot of people buy this camera. However, I don’t shoot a lot of video, so this review is based mainly on the still photo capabilities of this camera.
A few things to keep in mind before you buy the Sony a7II camera. None of these cons are deal breakers for me personally.
- Battery Life – (I carry 3 batteries now and will probably purchase a couple more for those longer days in the field.)
- It Doesn’t Claim to Be Weather Sealed – I put my Canon through the wringer while traveling and never had to think much about taking it out in severe conditions. I’m a little more careful with my Sony now, but I’ve used it in below freezing conditions in Canada (while it was snowing) and so far I haven’t had an issue. It would be nice if Sony offered weather-sealed cameras and lenses, but it hasn’t stopped me from taking it out in extreme conditions, so it really hasn’t been that big of an issue. I do recommend getting your camera insured, if possible, just for some peace of mind.