Sony A7S II vs A850
The Sony Alpha 7S II and the Sony Alpha A850 are two professional cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2015 and August 2009. The A7S II is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the A850 is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame sensor. The A7S II has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the A850 provides 24.4 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Sony Alpha 7S II and the Sony Alpha A850? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony A7S II and the Sony A850. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A850 is considerably larger (50 percent) than the Sony A7S II. Moreover, the A850 is substantially heavier (43 percent) than the A7S II. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
Concerning battery life, the A7S II gets 370 shots out of its NP-FW50 battery, while the A850 can take 880 images on a single charge of its NP-FM500H power pack. The power pack in the A7S II can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Sony A7S II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|2.||Sony A850||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999|
|3.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|4.||Sony A7S III||127 mm||97 mm||81 mm||699 g||600||Y||Jul 2020||3,499|
|5.||Sony A7C||124 mm||71 mm||60 mm||509 g||740||Y||Sep 2020||1,799|
|6.||Sony A9 II||129 mm||96 mm||76 mm||678 g||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|7.||Sony A7R IV||129 mm||96 mm||78 mm||665 g||670||Y||Jul 2019||3,499|
|8.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|9.||Sony A7R III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|10.||Sony A9||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|11.||Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|12.||Sony A7R II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|13.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|14.||Sony A7S||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||489 g||380||Y||Apr 2014||2,499|
|15.||Sony A99||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|16.||Sony A900||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Sep 2008||2,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The A850 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 33 percent) than the A7S II, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the A850 is 2 percent bigger. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
In terms of chip-set technology, the A7S II uses a more advanced image processing engine (BIONZ X) than the A850 (BIONZ), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
With 24.4MP, the A850 offers a higher resolution than the A7S II (12MP), but the A850 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 8.40μm for the A7S II). Yet, the A7S II is a much more recent model (by 6 years) than the A850, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A850 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A850 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.2 x 20.2 inches or 76.8 x 51.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.2 x 16.1 inches or 61.4 x 41 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.2 x 13.4 inches or 51.2 x 34.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony A7S II are 21.2 x 14.2 inches or 53.8 x 36 cm for good quality, 17 x 11.3 inches or 43.1 x 28.8 cm for very good quality, and 14.1 x 9.4 inches or 35.9 x 24 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Sony Alpha 7S II has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 102400, which can be extended to ISO 50-409600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A850 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under review, the A7S II has a notably higher overall DXO score than the A850 (overall score 6 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.2 bits lower color depth, 1.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|2.||Sony A850||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.8||12.2||1415||79|
|3.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|4.||Sony A7S III||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/120p||23.7||13.9||2520||86|
|5.||Sony A7C||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3407||95|
|6.||Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|7.||Sony A7R IV||Full Frame||60.2||9504||6336||4K/30p||26.0||14.8||3344||99|
|8.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|9.||Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|10.||Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|11.||Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|12.||Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|13.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|14.||Sony A7S||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||1080/60p||23.9||13.2||3702||87|
|15.||Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
|16.||Sony A900||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.7||12.3||1431||79|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The A7S II indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the A850 does not. The highest resolution format that the A7S II can use is 4K/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A7S II has an electronic viewfinder (2400k dots), while the A850 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinder in the A7S II offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the A850 (98%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the A7S II has a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.74x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony A7S II, the Sony A850, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|4.||Sony A7S III||9440||n||3.0||1440||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|6.||Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|7.||Sony A7R IV||5760||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|8.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|9.||Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|11.||Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
|12.||Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|13.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One feature that is present on the A850, but is missing on the A7S II is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the A7S II is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The A7S II writes its imaging data to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards, while the A850 uses Compact Flash or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A850 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the A7S II only has one slot.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Sony Alpha 7S II and Sony Alpha A850 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Sony A7S III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||full||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|6.||Sony A9 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|7.||Sony A7R IV||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|8.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|9.||Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|11.||Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|12.||Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|13.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A7S II offers wifi support, while the A850 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A850 (unlike the A7S II) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the A7S II and the A850 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The A7S II was replaced by the Sony A7S III, while the A850 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Sony website.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony A7S II and the Sony A850? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha 7S II:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.1 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.1 stops ISO advantage).
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (BIONZ X vs BIONZ).
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 4K/30p movies.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 98%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.74x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 922k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (127x96mm vs 156x117mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 268g or 30 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More modern: Reflects 6 years of technical progress since the A850 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A850:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.4 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 43%.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (880 versus 370) out of a single battery charge.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (33 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2009).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7S II is the clear winner of the match-up (19 : 8 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Sony A7S II and the Sony A850 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the A7S II or the A850. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Sony A7S II||5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|2.||Sony A850||3/5||..||75/100||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999|
|3.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|4.||Sony A7S III||..||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2020||3,499|
|5.||Sony A7C||3.5/5||..||86/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2020||1,799|
|6.||Sony A9 II||..||..||90/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|7.||Sony A7R IV||5/5||+||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2019||3,499|
|8.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|9.||Sony A7R III||..||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|10.||Sony A9||5/5||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|11.||Sony A99 II||..||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|12.||Sony A7R II||5/5||+ +||90/100||5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|13.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|14.||Sony A7S||4/5||..||86/100||4.5/5||5/5||Apr 2014||2,499|
|15.||Sony A99||5/5||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|16.||Sony A900||..||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2008||2,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Sony A7S II vs Sony A850
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Sony A7S II||Sony A850|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Sony E mount lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2015||August 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 2,999||USD 1,999|
|Sensor Specs||Sony A7S II||Sony A850|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.6 x 23.8 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||847.28 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||42.8 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12 Megapixels||24.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4240 x 2832 pixels||6048 x 4032 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||8.40 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.42 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 102,400 ISO||200 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 409,600 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||BIONZ X||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||85||79|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.6||23.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.3||12.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2993||1415|
|Screen Specs||Sony A7S II||Sony A850|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||98%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2400k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1229k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Sony A7S II||Sony A850|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||YES||no E-Shutter|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||MS or SDXC cards||CF or MS cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Sony A7S II||Sony A850|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Body Specs||Sony A7S II||Sony A850|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||370 shots per charge||880 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
127 x 96 x 60 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 2.4 in)
156 x 117 x 82 mm
(6.1 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||627 g (22.1 oz)||895 g (31.6 oz)|
Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.