Sony’s mirrorless cameras, like the A7 II, are some of the most customizable on the market today. Packed with custom buttons and dials its no wonder why no two Sonys are ever set up the same. But for as advantageous as I find it to customize my camera, it can be a real challenge for Nikon, Canon or Panasonic shooters.
With four user-configurable buttons, three control dials and the ability to remap just about every other button on the camera, the Sony A7 and A9 line of cameras can be endlessly tailored to fit your particular shooting style.
So, for those of you new to the system, have no fear. I’ve broken down how I’ve customized my A7 II to quickly switch between my three most common shooting styles: landscape, portrait and event photography. Hopefully, this configuration will give you a good starting point from which to customize your Sony A7.
Rambler’s Note: This guide was written with the Sony A7 II, A7r II and A7s II mirrorless cameras in mind. That means portions of this guide may not be applicable to Sony’s older A7 or newer cameras like the A7 III, A9 or A7RIV.
Let’s start with the dials. Sony’s A7 series sport three
- Front: Aperture
- Rear: Shutter Speed
- Vertical: ISO
Most of Sony’s full-frame cameras feature four custom buttons that can be configured to suit your needs. Because of this, I’ve configured the buttons on my A7 II to put almost every setting I use during an average shoot right at my fingertips.
- C1: Focus Area
- C2: Focus Mode
- C3: Drive Mode
- C4: Metering Mode
What I like most about Sony’s cameras is the ability to remap almost every button on the camera to suit my needs. So, if there’s a button you find you’re constantly pressing by accident you can change it to something more useful or even turn it off.
Here are the keys I’ve remapped on my A7 II:
- AEL (Switch down): AF On (this enables back button focus)
- AF/MF (Switch Up): Eye Autofocus (Handy for portraiture)
- Center Button: Center Lock-On Autofocus
- Drive Mode (Left D-Pad): White balance
Other changes I’ve made to my A7 II:
- Af-Illuminator: Off
- While helpful for nailing focus in extremely low light, the illuminator on Sony’s A7 series is often blocked by large lenses or even your hands and can be distracting at events.
- Auto ISO: 100-3200 (This can be pushed much higher on the A7s)
- Smile/Face Detection: Turned on (Why this isn’t on by default, I don’t know)
- Colorspace: sRGB
- Peaking/Peaking Color: High, Yellow
- Exposure Set Guide: Off
- Pre-AF: Off
- AF w/ Shutter: Off (Only disable if using back-button focus)
Why the A7 II:
You might be wondering why I’ve created this guide for a camera released almost five years ago (2014). The answer is simple. Even in 2019, the Sony A7 II is still an incredible value for photographers looking to upgrade to a full-frame camera or get into the growing Sony mirrorless system.
I picked up my Sony A7 II with a 28-70mm kit lens for less than $1,000 and I’ve seen the body sell for as little as $600 on the used market. Note: I’ve seen the price the A7 II fluctuate wildly over the past few months. If you can’t find a good deal on it, check back in a few days.
Share your thoughts in the comments
- How have you customized your camera?
- What tip or trick is your favorite?
- Do you prefer shutter focus or back-button focus?
If you liked this guide, you might enjoy my other stories and how-tos on photography, check them out here. And please consider sharing it with your friends, family, and anyone else you know using a Sony A7 II or its variants.
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