Days after our review sample of the Sony Alpha 7 II arrived at the office, a shooting opportunity presented itself. The dark and cold confines of a car park late at night isn’t the usual testing environment for cameras that arrive here at AP, but we couldn’t wait any longer to find out just how well the A7 II’s new 5-axis image stabilization system performs.

Shooting handheld at ISO 400 with a shutter speed of 1/4sec – yes 1/4sec – I found myself viewing pin-sharp results on the rear LCD – view the pictures for yourself above. Low-level shooting was aided by the absolutely superb 3in, 1230k-dot screen. Though this lacks the touch screen functionality we’d hoped for, the improved grip more than makes up for it and transforms the handling and operation over the original.

There are still a few niggles – the playback magnification and movie-rec buttons aren’t the easiest to access and the menu system is in need of some streamlining.This is personal opinion of course – those familiar with Sony’s interface will feel right at home; little has changed.

Then there’s the case of the shutter. It slaps with a bang – not quite as loud as the A7R, but nevertheless it’s loud! It immediately has me calling out for some form of dampening device or quiet shooting mode as found on DSLRs such as the Canon EOS 5D Mark III or Nikon D810.

It’s early days and I’ve only used it for a couple of hours, but the initial results and performance of the Sony Alpha II is extremely impressive – so much so I’m starting to fall for it already (loud shutter operation and poor positioning of a few buttons aside). We’ll continue to test it with the Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* and Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* lens over the coming weeks before bringing you the full review soon.

Our first look at the Sony A7 II (including video) can be found here.