Sony a7II Review: The Perfect Camera for Travel Photography!

Sony a7II Review: The Perfect Camera for Travel Photography!

As a professional travel photographer, I absolutely LOVE the Sony a7ii. In this review, find out why this camera is perfect for travel photography!

After using the Sony a7II mirrorless digital camera for the past three years, 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!

Previously, I had 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 immediately 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 a7II Review for Travel Photographers

 

Sony Alpha a7II Review: The Perfect Camera for Travel Photography

 

The Specs

  • 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 5-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!

Sony a7II Review for Travel Photographers

 

Cost

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 travel camera. This post will give you a better idea about which camera works best for your needs.

Sony a7II Review for Travel Photographers

 

Lenses

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.

Sony a7II - A Perfect Camera for Travel Photography

 

Video

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.

Sony a7II - A Perfect Camera for Travel Photography

 

Cons

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 – Even though it does not claim this, I’ve taken my Sony a7ii in very extreme conditions over the years and have never had an issue. It’s been in below freezing conditions in Canada (while it was snowing), sandy windstorms, etc. I do recommend getting your camera insured, if possible, just for some peace of mind.

Sony a7II - A Perfect Camera for Travel Photography

 

 

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44 Comments

  1. Hi Christy, in the past I had a Sony A6000 that had a terrible problem discharging the battery while the camera was shut off. I’ve been think about buying the A7II but am a little apprehensive. Does the A7II have the same issue.

    Regards,

    Don

    1. Christy Woodrow says:

      I haven’t had an issue. The only time the batteries discharge when the camera is off is when I’m in very cold conditions, but that’s common for all cameras and batteries. It helps to get the actual Sony batteries rather than aftermarket too. Hope that helps!

  2. PCskigalJA says:

    Are you insuring it for damage or theft? Through homeowners? i just got the a7ii and have homeowners but didn’t know if I should do something special?

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      Yes, if you have homeowners insurance, I recommend calling them and adding it as a scheduled item.

  3. Hi, I recently bought the a7ii, and loving it! What lense you recommend for travel to replace the 28-70mm kit lense? I would like to stay in a similar range of flexibility to zoom Thank you!

  4. Just out of curiosity, why did you go with the A7II over the A7RII? I’m in the market for a new camera and I’m planning on purchasing either the A7II or the A7RII I’m just having a hard time deciding. Thanks!

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      It basically came down to price for me. The a7ii had everything I needed and was about $1500 cheaper at the time. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I want to ask about bracketing.
    Are you sure a7ii supports 9 bracketing shots? Or it’s only 5? Also in +2EV.
    I want to shoot real estate and HDR is a must.
    I would appreciate if you try it on your camera please and let me know?
    Thank you so much!!!

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      Hi Nickolas. My mistake. The a7ii supports 5 bracketing shots and the a7Rii supports 9. I’ve updated the post. Thanks for catching that!

      1. Can the timer be used when bracketing?

  6. Heather Morehouse says:

    How often are you using the 70-200 lens, do you think the size of it compromises the a7ii? Are you using it to zoom in on some landscapes in the distance?

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      Hi Heather. I probably bring it on about 30% of my trips. I use it mainly for wildlife – either close ups of wildlife or wildlife in the distance with a landscape. I don’t think it compromises the size of the a7ii but it definitely adds to the weight of my bag quite a bit when I bring it.

  7. Daniel Berke says:

    I have this and used in Jerusalem and Cuba. It is coming to Tuscany soon and then Myanmar. I absolutely love it. Light, unobtrusive and capable. I found I preferred it to the Leica M9. The zeiss glass is formidable – I really like the 35mm 2.8. Perfect travel kit. Video is crap but I am a crap videographer. I highly recommend this.

  8. Are you using an external remote for Bracketing with Self Timer or is there a menu selection on the A7II?

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      It’s a menu selection inside the camera. I can use the remote as well.

  9. Daphne Lee says:

    sharp handheld image at 1/15 shutter speed is pretty impressive! I just ordered mine but apparently this is so popular that it’s out of stock… T___T can’t wait to get my hands on one!

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      That’s crazy! Did you try purchasing it on Amazon?

      1. Daphne Lee says:

        Yes I did! It’s out of stock. I figured it’s because of the earthquake in Japan ๐Ÿ™

  10. Stan Carrental says:

    A7RII is a really decent camera.
    Of course, it’s a bit overpriced and aggressively promoted by the professional photographers (Trey Ratcliff, for example).
    I am using it as my travel camera since last November and generally satisfied with the quality of the pics i took.
    The major drawback is the uncompressed raw format added in the one of the last updates – it is incompatible with some photo-editing software i use.

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      Yes, the aggressive marketing is one of the things that held me back on the first Sony a7. I figured I’d give mirrorless a little more time to catch up before I switched my kit. The huge RAW files are a bit of a pain, but it forces me to edit my photos right after a trip, versus procrastinating for weeks. Hopefully the files on the next camera will be smaller.

  11. Chris Gibbs says:

    Hi Christy, have you tried the Sony/Zeiss FE 1.8/55 yet? ~Chris

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      No, I haven’t, but I’m hoping to eventually add it to my kit because I’ve heard good things.

  12. casacaudill says:

    I bought the Sony A6 last year as a replacement for lugging around my Nikon D5300 everywhere and it’s been great in that regard. I love that it fits in my purse. I also went with the lower level model because I didn’t know how much I’d use it and didn’t want to put such an investment toward the A7 in case it didn’t work out how I’d anticipated. The photos I take in natural light are simply stunning. I have had some problems with focus in low light situations, and the macro setting is basically useless. The other problem I’ve had was with worrying about it in the rain. I live in Ireland where it pretty much is always wet and I’ve run into a few instances where I’ve left my camera in my bag and only used my iPhone after the screen fogged up. All told, I like the camera, but given these few problems, I don’t know that I’d continue with this line.

  13. Jose Manuel Carrasco says:

    Focus accuracy in low light is another big con (compared to DSLR)

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      I haven’t noticed much of an issue unless I’m trying to focus on something really close to the lens. Maybe it’s less of an issue for landscape photographers?

      1. Jose Manuel Carrasco says:

        isn’t a problem up to f/5.6, but I shoot group portraits at f/8, at this aperture, focus accuracy is about 20%, with my Nikon was 90%

        1. Ordinary Traveler says:

          Huh. Weird. I shoot at f/8 at sunrise and sunset and it’s been working great for me.

          1. Depend on the lens , ISO level ?

  14. Andrew Richardson says:

    If you haven’t already looked at them, the 35/2.8 and 55/1.8 are worth every penny (my go to travel kit)

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      Will do! Thanks for the suggestions!

      1. Andrew Richardson says:

        No problem – the 55/1.8 gives beautiful results (it’s hardly off off my camera). The 35/2.8 likewise gives great results (not quite in the same league as the 55/1.8 but that’s forgivable) but the size is what sold it for me – it’s perfect for street/travel work where you’re trying to be discrete and is pocketable.

    2. 90mm/f2.8 macro and 50mm/f2.8 macro , both these lens are truly amazing and highly recommended. ( it is better than 55/f1.8 ) . You won’t regret for 1 second

  15. Very interesting. I’ve thinking of the Sony Alpha 7II for some time now, and the only reason I stil haven’t switched is the price.

    Like Ernie, I’d be curious to know where you sold your Canon camera and lenses.

    Also, which lenses did you buy for the Alpha 7II?

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      I always sell my camera gear on Amazon. I treat my camera like my baby so I can usually get a decent price for everything I sell (see my comment above). I bought these 2 lenses to replace my Canon glass: http://amzn.to/23m5sOl and http://amzn.to/1ViFzsP. You can find more information about the lenses in the blog post above. Hope that helps!

  16. Ernie Atkins says:

    Christy – Like you I’ve been a Canon 5D, 5D III user for many years. Like you I have a lot of Canon L glass. I’ve been considering making the switch to the a7R II as it’s been described as a transformational camera with dynamic range that’s unequalled. Rebecca bought the a6000 and I find myself using it more and more for the reasons you mention in this post.

    I’m wondering – where did you sell your Canon glass and what kind of discount from full price did you have to endure?

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      It wasn’t bad at all, actually. I sold my Canon body and all of my lenses on Amazon — which is what I do for all of my camera gear. I was able to sell everything for a little over $3,000 and the new kit was around $4400. I bought 2 of the best lenses Sony offers, so I’m sure you can get a cheaper kit.

  17. The Sony A7II is weather sealed. ๐Ÿ˜›

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      I don’t see any claims by Sony for “moisture, dust, or weather resistance” and I’ve researched online just to make sure I wasn’t missing something. I would love to be wrong! Please feel free to send any links over that claim otherwise.

      1. Ordinary Traveler says:

        Awesome, thanks. Someone else just sent me that link as well. I’ll add it to the article. Cheers!

    2. No, it most certainly is not.