It's taken three years, since I officially unloaded my hefty pro-DSLR equipment for the camera I've been waiting for to arrive. The Sony Alpha 7 II is essentially everything I was asking for in my previous review of the Sony NEX-7. It's as if someone from the engineering department at Sony read the post, and said okay - here ya go - the camera you've been waiting for.
I love the new design including the new and more rugged magnesium alloy body, the new controls and shutter release location, the image stabilizer, the viewfinder, the menu system, and most of all - the gorgeous images produced from the full-throttled, full-frame 35mm sensor. The shutter, especially when set to electronic-first-curtain, is also significantly quieter - which was one of the biggest gripes with previous Alpha 7 series models. Even crazier - images taken with my Voigtländer 12mm f/5.6 Aspherical Ultra-Wide Heliar are color-distortion free, and produce excellent results (this lens on the Nex 7 produced some tough-to-correct magenta casts and wicked vignetting).
I don't know what state Sony is in as an organization overall, and whether longer-term an investment in Sony gear will pay off, but in this particular case - thank you Sony.
There have been a few reviews of the Voigtländer 12mm f/5.6 Aspherical Ultra-Wide Heliar, attached to a Sony NEX 7 via an M-mount adapter (here, here and here). The biggest problem is the magenta vignetting that occurs with this lens/body combination. I was lucky enough to have been given the Voigtländer 12mm for Christmas and I've always enjoyed shooting with an ultra-wide. I loved my Nikkor 14-24mm - although it was mammoth in size.
Above and below are a couple of holiday snaps.... and further down is the simple Lightroom 4.0 correction that can be used to remove the magenta cast. This lens is fun. With such a wide view and generally great depth of field, manual focusing is not an issue. And despite my earlier critical review of the NEX 7, I'm loving the small and light camera bag I get to carry now. Everything's nice and compact, and a lot more discrete than my previous in-your-face DSLR gear.
After all the hype - and a couple of months of steady use, here's a short review and a few thoughts about Sony's NEX-7 digital camera. Before I start though (and in case you haven't already noticed), it's a remarkable time for photography as a whole. Technological advances in cameras are having an enourmous impact on both professional and amateur photographic communities. We're seeing consumer level cameras with sensor resolution and light sensitivity that is pushing digital photography well beyond what would have been possible with film not so many years ago. Or perhaps put another way - as little as three years ago, only professional-level digital cameras could produce images in low light with good image quality - good dynamic range, good blacks and little noise or other artifacts.