Dec 162013
 

The A7r VS. the D800

Andrew Paquettehis website is HERE

My Nikon D800 with Nikkor 35mm 1.4G side-by-side with my new A7r mounted with a Leica Summilux 35mm 1.4 ASPH lens. Quite a size difference for two cameras that are so equal in other ways!

andrewtitle

I have been wanting a Leica M240 or Monochrom ever since I realized that my D800 was a heavy camera, particularly when it had my Zeiss 15mm 2.8 ultra wide-angle lens mounted on it. It hadn’t seemed so bad at first, because it felt great in my hand and was comfortable to shoot, but carrying it in a backpack all day along with a backup lens caused back pain long before I was ready to get on a train and go home. Another thing that made me curious about the Leica was that it looked much less intrusive than the Nikon. When I would pull my Nikon out of my bag, people nearby would often step back and say “whoah!” as if I’d just pulled out a cannon or some other weapon. A camera that would not draw attention to itself sounded pretty good to me, but at €6,299 for the M240 and €6,899 for the Monochrom, any kind of Leica seemed out of reach.

It wasn’t just the tiny form factor that I wanted, because there were those magical Leica lenses. The photos I’d seen taken by these amazing little gems had a quality that no other lens could reproduce. I loved my Zeiss 15mm and my 100mm Makro-planar, but their smooth, creamy rendering style didn’t suit some subjects as well as others. My two 1.4G Nikkor didn’t either. Each of these lenses served a useful purpose and I liked them, but none could provide the kind of gritty high contrast realism the Leicas consistently produce. It didn’t matter though because it would cost about €10,000 to get a minimal Leica system plus lens, and I couldn’t afford to do that. I tried the I-shot-it contest a few times, but didn’t even get close. Unsurprising, considering the numbers of professionals entering for a chance at the Monochrom plus enough money to buy several good lenses. Then, I had a spot of good news: Christmas was coming up and someone felt I should have a Leica. Problem solved!

Now that I was being asked to pick out my own Christmas gift, I realized that I wasn’t so sure that I wanted a Leica camera after all. I had read some things about it on the internet that I didn’t like. One of the reviewers I read said the M240 would lock up frequently right when he needed it, forcing him to pop the battery and reset the camera, but that was complicated by the design, which forced him to remove the tripod mount before he could open the battery compartment door. Who wanted that hassle from a €6,299 camera? Even as a gift I’d feel guilty about spending money on something like that. And then there was the 24MP sensor. I liked the D800’s 36MP sensor and didn’t want to take a step back while spending three times as much money for the privilege. I had all but decided to get a new Zeiss Otus as my Christmas gift when I ran across an article here about the A7r. A camera smaller than the M240, without the lockup problems or stupid battery door design (from Steve: NOT, I never have had any lock up with ANY M 240 I have shot, and i have shot with several), a 36MP sensor, and it could mount Leica lenses. Perfect!

About a week later, I had the A7r in hand, with a Summilux 35mm 1.4 ASPH lens to see through. Nice! Now all I needed was something to shoot. I was sick for about ten days, preventing me from doing any serious shooting right away, though I did get a few shots, then this weekend I went out with the A7r and my D800 to see what the differences were. Before I get into that, here are a few things you need to know about using Leica glass on the A7r:

The Sony .ARW RAW file format has not been shared with Adobe. They have a new update for Photoshop and Lightroom that can read the files, but because it is reverse-engineered, it does not do as good a job at reading these files as Sony’s free ARW image conversion utility. However, and this is really important, the Sony software stinks big time. All it will do is read the file correctly and spit out a TIFF or JPG image for you. Forget about doing any fancy RAW editing there because the software really stinks. For this reason, I prefer to use the Adobe software even though it immediately reduces the sharpness of the image a little bit. Maybe I’ll change my mind later, but this is how I feel about it right now.

I used the Novoflex Leica to Sony adapter ring to mount the Summilux on the A7r. This adapter does not communicate any lens data to the A7r (unlike the Phigment Tech adapter I’ve heard about) so you will not get much in the way of EXIF data shooting this combination. It also means that for this article, I had no idea what f-stop I was using on the A7r. For that reason, I decided to ignore f-stop comparisons and just look at image quality.

Now for the review. To test the cameras, I put a pair of top quality 35mm lenses on each. For the A7r, I had a Summilux 35mm 1.4 ASPH. The D800 had a Nikkor 35mm 1.4G AP-S. I would have liked to try the D800E with a Zeiss 35mm 1.4, but I didn’t have either, so this is what I used. Besides, I wanted to test the difference between the AF Nikkor and the MF Leica lenses.

Shooting these two cameras is a very different experience. When taking pictures of anything moving, the D800 is able to quickly fire off a half-dozen shots or more while the A7r gets only one image and then the subject is gone. At first this really irritated me, but then I learned to be more careful when I tripped the shutter on the A7r. It meant that I wouldn’t have any backup images if I got the timing wrong, but on the other hand, I found I tended to get the composition I wanted more often than with the D800. I think this was because the rapid burst-firing of the D800 had made me lazy about composition, so I would just shoot a bunch of shots and then sort out the compositions later. With the A7r, I had to see that I had the composition (or was just about to) before pushing the button.

Crossing the bridge, shot with a Sony A7r + Leica Summilux 35mm 1.4 ASPH

Bridge walker sony 001

Crossing the bridge, shot with a Nikon D800 + Nikkor 35mm 1.4G

Bridge walker nikon 002

Another difference between the cameras is the Live View and EVF on the A7r vs. the Live View and OVF on the D800. I didn’t expect this to be a big difference, but it really was. The resolution of the LV and EVF on the A7r is double that of the D800 LV, and the EVF is much easier to use than the D800’s OVF because of focus magnification. This may be because, at 48 years old, I need the extra resolution to see what I’m doing, but I had the distinct impression that my eyesight got worse whenever I switched to the D800, because it could only show so much on the LV due to its low maximum resolution. I had asked Steve about this by email and he suggested that I use the EVF on the A7r without focus magnification because it is much faster than trying to use focus mag. I tried it his way along with focus peaking (another cool feature of the A7r) and my way with focus mag. He was right that focus mag slowed down the process, but sometimes I felt it was necessary, so I used it anyway. Either way, I found that I got the focus more often with the A7r than with the D800. This was not because the Nikkor 35mm 1.4G was incapable of matching the Summilux (I assume) but because I couldn’t see what I was doing as well with the D800 as on the A7r.

Keeping warm by the canal. Shot with a Sony A7r + Leica Summilux 35mm 1.4 ASPH

Fire sony 002

I had both cameras in the same big camera backpack, but found that whenever an unexpected opportunity for a shot arose, I grabbed the A7r by reflex. Maybe it was because it was smaller and easier to grab, or because it was less obtrusive. Whatever the reason, it was my instinct. All of my favorite shots were made this way: unexpected, quick, and without a D800 shot to compare with (sorry) because the opportunities came and went too fast to use both cameras. I did, however, get plenty of shots that were good comparatives, so let’s get into those.

Dynamic range test shot, St. Antoniuuskerk Kathedraal. Shot with a Sony A7r + Leica Summilux 35mm 1.4 ASPH

ANT sony 001

I took a number of shots inside a couple of cathedrals in an old medieval town in the Netherlands. In St. Antoniuuskerk, I wanted to test the DR capabilities of the two setups. In my opinion, the Sony was much better the Nikon. Of the 30 shots I took, below is a side-by-side comparison of the best from each camera. Keep in mind that I have no idea what the f-stop settings were for the A7r so I didn’t bother comparing that. For all I know, these are totally different f-stops. However, these are the two best shots from either camera for DR, regardless of f-stop, so it shouldn’t matter.

Nikon on left, Sony on right. The Sony clearly has a lot more detail than the Nikon, and this was true of all the A7r shots vs the D800.

Highlight Detail comparison

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Figure 7 Another DR shot, made with the Sony A7r + Leica Summilux 35mm 1.4 ASPH

Canal sony 004_1

The shot I took of the canal above was one of those fast shots I hadn’t planned on taking, so I don’t have a D800 shot to compare it with, but this a pretty decent shot for checking out the DR capabilities of the A7r sensor. This is not an HDR image, but a single image with some tweaking in LR to adjust the shadow brightness. Importantly, the shadow, darks, and highlights are not clipped anywhere in the image despite the fact that the sun is (almost) in the image and there are reflections everywhere.

Auto focus comparison. Nikon D800 on left, Sony A7r on right

MF vs AF comparison

This test really surprised me. On my D800’s Live View screen, it looked like the D800 had nailed the focus on the “GIANT” lettering on the down tube of my bike, but it is soft compared to the MF of the A7r + Summilux combination. I used focus mag and the EVF on the A7r for this shot, and it seems to have worked really well. In other shots, moving and static, I consistently got this result. Only rarely were the Nikon shots focused better, regardless whether I used AF or MF (I tried both after I noticed the problem.) Maybe this is because my eyes are 48 years old now, but it is still important to know, because I’m not the only person out there that has to wear reading glasses.

Another focus example, D800 on left, A7r on right

Yellow tree comparison

The aperture on these two shots is clearly different, with the Summilux more wide open than the Nikkor, but the important thing is that it is sharper. I really think this is because the higher resolution EVF allows me to see the details better than the D800’s LV or the OVF.

Colour test, D800 on left, A7r on right

Leaves comparison

I took some deep woods shots because of all the highly saturated colours to be found there after a recent rain storm. The A7r + Summilux always gave a wider colour range, though on a couple of shots I preferred the Nikkor results. In this example, we are looking at a pile of leaves from slightly different angles, but they are the same leaves. The D800 + Nikkor clearly has less colour range than the A7r + Summilux. In addition, despite the things I’d read about a magenta cast on the A7r when using Leica lenses, in this shot the Nikkor looks more magenta than the Leica.

Sharpness comparison, D800 on left, A7r on right

Sharp comparison

This comparison really surprised me. I took about 40 shots each with the D800 and the A7r of people crossing this bridge on foot and bicycles, as well as several of the bridge without any people around, and all of them are like this. The A7r shots are always sharper at the point of focus than the D800 shots. This doesn’t mean I always focused on the right subject with the A7r, I didn’t, but wherever the point of focus was, it was sharper than the D800. Because the people were sometimes moving quite fast, I did a better job of focusing on my subject with the D800 when the person was on a bicycle, but when walking, I had better luck with the A7r.

Shot with Nikon D800 + Nikkor 35mm 1.4G 

Bridge cyclist nikon 003

Shot with D800 + Nikkor 35mm 1.4G

Tree nikon 002

Shot with A7r + Leica Summilux 35mm 1.4 ASPH

Tree sony 003

Noise test, D800 on left and A7r on right

GK noise comparison

One of the few tests the D800 consistently won on was noise. It seemed like the A7r always had more noise. Maybe I just am not used to the camera yet, but it seemed like there was always noise in the A7r shots, no matter how low the ISO was.

Close-up sharpness test, D800 on left, A7r on right

Trunk comparison

In this tripod shot I could have sworn the focus on the D800 was perfect. At least, based on what I could see in the viewfinder, that’s what it looked like. And yet, the A7r is sharper. On the D800, I used Live View magnified to the maximum. It looked as sharp as could be detected with its resolution, but there was still some play in the lens where there was no discernable change in focus, meaning I needed more resolution to see what was going on. If my eyes were sharp enough, I might have been able to see the difference with the OVF, but with the EVF of the A7r I could see the difference and that got me better focus.

Another colour comparison, D800 on left, A7r on right

Color comparison

My wife likes the colour of the shot on the left better because of the more saturated blue reflections in the puddle, but I prefer the variety of greens in the A7r shot on the right. At first, I liked the D800 shot better also, but then I adjusted the tones a bit in LR and then I liked the A7r shot better. Perhaps it is just a matter of taste.

Market day, shot with the Sony A7r + Leica Summilux 35mm 1.4 ASPH

KerkWalk001 

And that’s it! Now I’m off to a conference in the UK, where I hope to get a few hours to take some more shots with the A7r. I’ll be carrying it on a tiny hip pouch, which is all that is needed for this extraordinary camera.

Andrew Paquette

  197 Responses to “The Sony A7r vs the Nikon D800 by Andrew Paquette”

  1. Stay at the Sony, Andrew! Your skill isnt compatible with the D800 when you create such poor results with that epic cam :-)

    • dude, show some respect…the goal of these pics was certainly not to be incredible, but simply to benchmark both cameras and he did a very good job demonstrating that the Sony is superior.
      I guess you own a Nikon D800, that’s why you’re upset.

      • Thumbs Up!

      • Exactly! The light is very flat, because he’s been forced to go out and get shots in poor conditions to do the comparison. In no way is that his fault! Some people are ridiculous!

        As a D800 and M9 user, I for one am very grateful for Andrew taking the time and effort to get these comparison shots.

      • I wouldn’t say the sony is superior when it comes to noise- The noise in some of those Sony shots is god-awful.

    • For what it’s worth, I used to make a living as an illustrator, comic book artist, gallery artist, and visual FX artist/art director in the video game and feature film industries. I just picked up photography as a serious hobby this year as an alternative to painting because I no longer have the time to paint, nor the space to store physical artwork. I am enjoying photography a great deal, but am well aware that I am just starting out with it. Regardless, without hordes of serious amateurs, sales at the big camera companies wouldn’t be what they are, so maybe it is useful from time to time to see what comes from a serious amateur, mistakes and all.

      Best regards,

      AP

      • great response. and thank you for the head to head.

      • So Mr. Liedtke, was right afterall (though he didn’t use my choice of words)…..Andy, I don’t care about how much money you can and want to burn on camera’s and how limited your time is (you can’t impress me with the camera’s you own either). But if you buy a D800, a M240 and a Sony A7r in a single year and have taken up photography this year, I can only conclude you have a serious problem. Any of those camera’s can take all the pictures you want in a grandurous fashion, Andy, any of them.

        And what do you do, you compare of camera colours. With a serious RAW converter (you what RAW is right, I use DxO 8.x) you can get any gamma you want, out of any camera you want. And about resolution….A D4 has 16 Mpixel (as does the Df) and that is more than enough resolution for many a professional.

        So have fun with your stuff Andy and develop your talent (I can see you can see) , but do not expect me to take this “test” serious, and in Gods name stick to a camera (the A7r is great camera for your type of street photography and great value for money wise either) and learn all it’s ins and outs. Remember HCB used an M and a 50mm for about all of his photographic life and he’s sort of great, right.

        Greets, Ed.

        • Hi Ed. I “wish” I had AP’s “serious problem”! :-)

        • Hello Ed,

          I don’t have an M240, just so you know, and won’t be getting one thanks to the A7r.

          Please keep in mind that there are all sorts of ways to make an image and they don’t all accomplish identical results. What works for Henri Cartier-Bresson may not work for Yale Joel or Andreas Feininger, or any of the modern large format, medium format, advertising, glamour, or sports photographers working today. Also keep in mind that whatever kit a photographer settles down to working with for the majority of their career may not be what they started with or experimented with in between starting and then settling on what they like best.

          As I tell my art students, copying a drawing may result in an image similar to the original, but it is a different process from making the decisions needed to translate a three dimensional object into two dimensional space as the original artist had to do. Copying the late career gear choices of an illustrious professional may not yield the same benefit as going through the intermediate steps that led to those choices, because those steps allow the artist to learn why a certain kit is appropriate and thus puts them in a better position to use it well.

          AP

  2. Are the apertures the same for both pictures all the time? Because the DOF between Sony and Nikon changes, so can’t really compare the pictures…

    • The apertures are not the same all the time but are usually quite close because scene lighting demanded similar settings. However, in every case where a range was used, the best shot from each camera was compared, regardless of f-stop. It is a real pain that the adapter ring didn’t allow the aperture data to be communicated to the camera. This is why I was hoping to get a Phigment Tech adapter, but they are out of stock and don’t ship to Europe.

      The important takeaways I got from this are:
      1) The EVF makes up for some of the deficiencies of using a manual focus Leica with an adapter. Because I can see what I’m doing more clearly, it is much easier to get things in focus, and can do it faster.
      2) The DR is terrific on this camera, better than anything I’ve seen with the D800, but this extra contrast isn’t always desirable. I like it for street shooting, but would be less likely to use it for portraits. For that, I prefer one of my Zeiss lenses on the D800 or my Nikkor 85mm 1.4G (a really great lens)
      3) The shutter noise that I didn’t mention in the review doesn’t bother me at all, but the shutter vibration that goes with it is sometimes noticeable and I don’t like that.
      4) Colour fields are almost never as creamy smooth out of the A7r as they are from the D800. I don’t know if this is the camera or the lens because I don’t have another lens for the A7r to compare with, but suspect it is the camera because it doesn’t make sense to me that the lens would introduce a noise pattern.
      5) This camera is very easy to carry around all day to shoot with. It is much easier than the D800 with any of its comparatively huge lenses, particularly any of the pro level lenses that I use. This means that when I travel, unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise, I will be taking the Ar7 instead of the D800.
      6) There is a quality to the images I get out of the A7r + Summilux that is noticeably different from the D800 + Nikkor (or Zeiss). I like the look of it, but am not sure what it is. I think it has to do with the contrast, which seems a bit exaggerated, but whatever it is, the clarity of the images strikes me as something special.
      7) Editing images from the A7r is a bit irritating because I have to reverse the vignetting effect by hand on each image, but then again, I also have to do this with about half of the shots with my Zeiss 15mm 2.8. The difference with the A7r is that I have to do it with almost every shot.

      In the end, the A7r is going to be my travel camera probably 90% of the time, a street camera for 70% of the time, and a portrait cam maybe 10% of the time. For everything else, I’ll be using the D800 + Zeiss and Nikkor lenses. I do not like the RAW editing software from Sony or the extra work involved with editing A7r images, so if I can get similar images with the D800, I will do that. When the A7r is significantly more convenient, I’ll use it instead.

      AP

      • Hi Andrew,

        Thanks for the comparison! I enjoyed the article. It is interesting to see how the different manufactures (Sony/Nikon) render images from what is believed to be the same sensor.

        Thank you for introducing me to the Phigment Tech adapter! I was wondering when something like this might turn up.

        “It is a real pain that the adapter ring didn’t allow the aperture data to be communicated to the camera”

        As cool as the Phigment Tech adapter looks, I doubt it will help you out there. Thats not to say it is of no benefit. I like the idea of at least having my lens model embedded in the EXIF data. Its just the way the Leica-M system works.

        Leica-M lenses do not communicate aperture values back to the camera. The only ‘signals’ sent back to the camera is via the focusing mechanism and the lens code on the mount. The Leica digital cameras have to guess the aperture value! (recording it was never necessary for film and is only really a curiosity for digital users)

        Assuming the adapter can communicate the focal length from the lens code, I wonder if it will help Sony cameras set shutter speeds in aperture priority (or auto) modes?

        Congrats on the 35mm FLE, it is a gem of a lens! If you are getting drawn into the Leica stable, since you were considering the Otus, you might give the 50′lux a try. Sure, the Otus is technically more ‘perfect’ but it is also many times bigger. If you do photography for art rather than technology peeping, the differences will be marginal. The size and haptics (aperture and focus are opposite on nikon) of the 50′lux will better complement your new 35.

        • Mia culpa – I thought it was the D800E not the D800! I guess the sensors hardware is subtly different.

          Some philosophy? Is an imaging sensor without the AA filter still the same imaging sensor?

        • I saw a comment on FredMiranda.com that (if I recall correctly) said that someone used a Phigment Tech adapter with a Leica lens on the A7r at Photokina this year and was able to get the f-stop. However, I think this was implied rather than explicit, because he said that the camera immediately recognized the lens and everything that goes with it, all the lens data, etc needed for EXIF, or something like that.

          AP

        • Hi Andrew, you are correct. The adapter does not send aperture information back to the camera. The adapter has no way of knowing the aperture, and can’t even guess. The leica cameras have the grey shutter blades and image sensor data to help make an educated guess, but the adapter doesn’t have anything like that. All my snooping has actually shown that the camera actually ignores any aperture info sent back and just uses the value that is selected on the camera (aperture set in M, AP, or calculated during P/auto modes).

          At best, the user can set the aperture on the lens, and echo that on the camera in M or aperture priority mode. This is the only way to get correct aperture data in the EXIF.

          One value in actually setting the aperture value to the correct is that the adapter can be programmed (still in experimentation mode) with vignetting correction values which can vary depending on aperture.

          Cheers,
          Paul
          Phigment Technologies

  3. Interesting comparison, but wouldn’t a more valid one be between the A7R and D800E? Maybe the AA filter difference is what we are seeing when comparing sharpness.

    • Yes, but what I cared about more was whether, in real world shooting conditions, I could get images out of the A7r that were at least comparable to the D800. If so, then it could go with me on trips without having to sacrifice image quality as would happen with any other compact system.

      AP

      • Fair enough. I agree that if you can get IQ that you are satisfied with in a smaller package then why not. That’s why I don’t own a DSLR in the first place.

  4. An 800E vs. the A7R would have been different.

    • I have D800e and A7r. With comparable lenses, output is same-ish. A7r with a Summicron: no contest. Noise is better on the D800e, half to one stop advantage. High iso skin tones: D800e big time winner, Sony still having to work hard on that.

      Problem is: the A7r is almost always with me, in a small bag or directly in a coat pocket, while the D800e leaves home when there is a “destination”. That’s difficult to solve, a bit less noise offering no help.

      • This is exactly why I got the A7r to begin with, but it wouldn’t have been worthwhile if the quality hit was serious. As I see it, the quality isn’t different enough to matter, the EVF is an advantage rather than a disadvantage, and the size makes it very easy to use. To carry my D800, an extra lens, the remote, and other accessories around I had to carry a fairly big backpack. It was too big to take to work on the off-chance I had an opportunity to shoot something, but I take my A7r with me every day because it is so easy to carry. It creates more shooting opportunities, and that counts for a lot. My takeaway from the comparison is that I didn’t make a huge sacrifice in quality in exchange for portability, and the Leica lens performance on the A7r is good enough that I don’t have to feel bad about not getting an M240.

        AP

      • the test noise is distorted by a very different focus. made at two different latitudes. just look at the background as well as human figures. images are too different.

  5. Agreed, interesting comparison.

    But actually the D800 has a little better DR than the A7R and the default sharpness setting of the D800 is set quite low from the factory.

    Sharpness and colors can be tweeked a lot in RAW from the D800, but of course the A7R has a little advantage regarding sharpness without the AA-filter.

  6. Sir, While I appreciate the comparison, regarding your statement “However, these are the two best shots from either camera for DR, regardless of f-stop, so it shouldn’t matter.”, I respectfully disagree…i feel that ESPECIALLY when overall image quality is being compared against 2 different camera systems, then ALL parameters most certainly ARE important to know, particularly aperture, since it affects a whole host of image properties, i.e., sharpness, depth of field, diffraction, noise, etc. As another poster said, how can one judge image sharpness between two images if we don’t “know” that the aperture is the same in both? This uncertainty renders that particular test meaningless, IMHO. I think that by now, we all “get” the fact that the Sony A7r is capable of highly detailed images, due to the FF sensor and lack of AA filter. Comparing it to a system without AA filter (D800E for example), using similar lenses is most instructive indeed! Thank you.

    • I would have liked that data also, but without it, felt that the feel of shooting the cameras and the results could still be compared. The ISO was set to 100 on most of the D800 shots, and between 50-100 for the A7r. Most shots on both were shot in the range 1.4-2.0, with most being shot at similar apertures. An exception is the cathedral interiors, where ISO and apertures varied quite a bit as the lighting changed inside due to shifting clouds outside.

      AP

      • Thanks for the clarification, Andrew! Yes, I agree that one can certainly compare the “feel” and shooting experience with both systems without knowing aperture. Obviously in that, there is a world of difference between the Nikon and the Sony. However, I still maintain that a more relevant comparison would be between the A7r and the D800E, rather than the D800, especially when comparing image sharpness! That said, as sharp as the NIkkor is, comparing the $200 Nikkor 35 f/1.8 with a $5,000 Leica Summilux is a bit unfair as well. :-^.

  7. It’s worth nothing without aperture and shutther speeds info (plus WB and ISO) – unless those are all the same with all cases.

  8. Did you have issues with the Leica 35mm regards heavy vignetting, color casts and smear at the edges? I did using a metabones adapter…

    • I did have a serious problem with vignetting, but it was easy to deal with in LR. I did not get color cast problems, though I have seen the effect on other lenses at 28mm and smaller. Smear I didn’t notice. What bothered me the most was shutter vibration finding its way into the images about half of the time.

      AP

      • I played around with an A7R and some Leica and Zeiss lenses, including the 50mm Summilux and somehow I got smear around the edges. Color cast only with the 21mm Zeiss Biogon. The 50 Summilux was super detailed and crisp in the center but created a weaker performance across the entire image compared to the M240 results. The 35 Summicron ASPH (older version) looked weak across the entire image. This is at 100% magnification and may not show up much at normal view. I was not sure if this was a lens problem, a sensor problem, a Lightroom problem, or just something that happens with legacy lenses on the Sony. Overall I got good images but the Leica M240 showed nicer details from edge to edge. Curious if you can see that in your files. Great write-up Andrew. D!RK

        Here are my findings
        http://www.dirkahlgrim.com/wordpress/?p=1637

        • I don’t it’s a lens, sensor or lightroom problem. I think it’s a people problem.

          The issues, in my opinion, is that Leica designs cameras around their lenses i.e, they have a selection of lenses and they will design the body, sensor and CPU adjustments to suit – that is why lenses are coded.

          Sony on the other hand are doing it the other way around, they have designed the sensor with minimal lens eco-system, now they will design lenses for the camera,

          My view is that if older, different manufacturer lenses work on the Sony, that’s a big bonus and the consensus is that a lot do and very well to boot. People complaining that it’s not 100% perfect is putting them in the anal retentive/unreasonable category.

        • D!RK,

          Thanks for the link to your review. It was exactly this kind of review that made me want to test the A7r against the D800. It is interesting to see the M9/M240/A7r comparison because that is the price range I was trying to avoid entering while getting extra portability with the A7r. From what you and others have written, it looks to me as if the M240 is better with Leica lenses than the A7r. What I was curious about was whether the A7r was a viable alternative to the D800.

          From what you’ve written, I would have been better off buying the slightly less expensive Zeiss Otus 55mm 1.4. The only problem with that, although it apparently has unmatched image quality, is that the Otus is a huge lens. The only lens available for the A7r right now is a weakly reviewed kit lens, and many of the ones scheduled to appear in the near future are physically larger than anything of equivalent focal length the Leica lens lineup (excepting the Noctilux).

          I do have some misgivings because about the A7r because I would like the corner-to-corner sharpness you describe getting with the M240 and I dislike the weird color flare you got at the top of one of your images (and I have seen in some of mine), but for a compact FF solution, I do think the A7r+Summilux 35mm is a viable option to the size of the D800 or the expense of the Leica M240. The other issue I have with the M240 is the sensor size. With sensors getting bigger seemingly every year, Leica may find they have to upgrade to a bigger sensor fairly soon. If that is the case, I’d rather wait out the interim with the A7r than get the M240 only to toss it in a year or two to get the next greatest camera body from Leica.

          AP

  9. I still can’t understand how Andrew could “have no idea what the f-stop settings were for the A7r” when using his Leica lens. Wouldn’t he have set the f/stop via the ring on the lens? Or does the A7r handle this differently somehow?

    • I did know what the aperture was on the ring, but with the time I had before a flight to the UK, didn’t want to have to keep track of each image’s f-stop value while shooting in the field, then match it to the images later. I was more interested in whether the images were good enough to justify the expense and whether they were comparable to the D800 than in making a Diglloyd-style comparison. I like those comparisons myself, but have found that when I’m actually using a camera/lens combination what really matters the most is the final image. Since the test was going to be the basis for deciding which camera to use in different situations, it didn’t matter as much if one performed better than the other at a certain f-stop, but whether one gave me an image I liked better than the other in the same lighting conditions.

      AP

  10. I’m still not sold on the A7 / A7R. I really WANT to be, but I’m not. I have been able to handle them on a couple occasions, now, and the focus is just SO slow and unreliable, even with the native EF lenses. The A7, even with its phase detect AF, seems no faster whatsoever, than the RX1 I was using head-to-head. The RX1 seems slow enough, but because it’s still a P&S format, maybe it seems a little “faster”. But with the A7, looking through the EVF, I guess I can’t help expect DSLR-like performance. But it’s the furthest thing from that.

    I could see any of the three new FF Sony cameras being great for architecture or nature shots. But for capturing people? Family, kids, etc? Wow, not really. But again, it kind of breaks my heart, because I really wanted one of these cameras to work out for me, for the awesome IQ and size. But IQ is of no value if I’m missing shots left and right.

    • want to capture candid shots of your kids? get a RX100 point and shoot – BOOM, problem sorted.

      Want a D800 quality camera in something a little bit more pocketable – BOOM, here’s the Sony a7R.

  11. Hi Andrew,
    very interesting review you wrote. Your sony set up is doubtless a great one. What surprised me a little was the IQ of the d800 set up. One of my cams is a nikon d7000 (yes a dx) with a nikkor 50mm 1:1,4D. And specially at close up I´m more satisfied with the IQ than some of what I saw here. Maybe some quality got lost when you was uploading? However, the difference between your pics is amazing. I would love to know how big the difference is between the lenses alone.
    thanks for the work you did,
    cheers
    oliver

    • This is a hard one to answer. I have my favourite D800 shots, and they aren’t from this batch, but then this was just a kit test rather than what I would consider a real opportunity to get some great photos. I’ve had really nice results with all my F-mount lenses, but each in circumstances suited to the lens. Since the A7r was handicapped in the same way because I was shooting the same subjects, I think it is a fair comparison. For the record though, here is my impression of the strengths/weaknesses of the Nikon lenses:

      Zeiss 15mm Distagon: Probably my favourite lens for the Nikon. it excels at close-up work and architectural interiors. I do not like it for open subjects because it tends to squash everything into a narrow band between sky and foreground.

      Nikkor 35mm 1.4G: I like this lens for its rich colour and smooth transitions. It works well indoors and outdoors, though not as well indoors as the Distagon 15mm, which has more range. It has a fast enough AF to use for sports, and that is where I’ve gotten the best shots with this lens (street basketball and waterskiing down canals). It is pretty good for street photography also, but I prefer the Summilux/A7r.

      Nikkor 85mm 1.4G: Gorgeous rich colour, fantastic clarity, excellent for portraits or for certain sports. Excellent in low light. I have only once gotten a single decent indoor architectural shot with this lens.

      Zeiss 100mm Makro-planar: I’ve never gotten a good shot inside of a cathedral with this lens, though I have tried many times. It was that problem that led me to get the 15mm Distagon. However, this lens excels at Makro shots, landscape, and even portraits (though I prefer the 85mm Nikkor for portrait). I have used it at sporting events, but usually toss 99 out of every 100 shots (literally) because it is difficult for me to pull focus fast enough. That said, I like the MF on this lens better than either of the Nikkors, which I prefer to use AF with.

      I don’t think quality got lost in uploading btw. It is possible that the JPG compression affected them, but that would have affected both equally. Besides, what I see on the screen on the site matches the problems I see in the ARW/NEF RAW files in Lightroom. It may be that I tolerated that kind of thing before because all of my Nikon shots looked like that, but that the A7r shots allowed a comparison to be made? Hard to say. I’ll leave that to someone else to answer.

      AP

  12. Thank you Andrew for an Interesting and fun article.
    As I have both these cameras and lenses, I’ve also been doing some tests.
    It seems that there are no conclusive definitive conclusions with so many different ‘Test Write-Ups’ as I suspect both cameras and lenses are slightly different. That is, my experience with even the 21 Summilux has given me great results shot wide open than what I’ve read about.
    Very little vignetting, and No perceptible colour shift. (at least to my poor old tired eyes)
    I’ve been using the Metabones adaptor for my Leica lenses.
    Perhaps just luck with the right combinations?
    Ah, the Mystery continues.

  13. The Nikon lens will focus shift below f2.8. This may account for the sharpness loss where live view was not used to focus.

  14. I like the article, because is not about pixel peeping, is about usability and how you can use both cameras depending the situation and have good, on focus, sharp, quality images is great. I use lenses as Andrew, and having a good feedback of what is on focus or not is a big plus on sony a7r.

  15. It’s a little bit funny how Sony creates and abandons systems while not supporting them in any way Canon and Nikon does. I read everywhere about 7\7r. Everyone is excited. But what about lenses? I don’t want old manual lenses from Leica. I need modern ones specially designed for high-resolution cameras. Sony always fails its customers. And this is why probably Canon has no fear of Sony. Because who needs good body with nothing to attach to it? By the time Sony will develop 10-15 lenses for this system, Sony will probably make another system and abandon it also, as usual. To invest in Sony imo is not smart. It’s only for richer pockets who don’t care to every now and then lose two-three thousand dollars on toys.

    • but then you will still have the a7/R and 10-15 lenses – isn’t that enough? or is the upgrade race the one you are into..

    • Are you trying to insinuate that Leica lenses are somehow inferior to other lenses? Also, i don’t think Sony will abandon this system. The E-Mount is probably the most versatile lens mount around. You can mount pretty much any lens to it.

  16. Nice article, and I like your Sony/Leica images much better. I assume that your 35 Lux is the new FLE version. It is a great performer which I use often on my M240 and M9. The Sony images are quite comparable to the M240 results.
    By the way, I have never experienced any problems with the M240, and firmware updates have corrected early color issues to my satisfaction.

    • The M240 problems I mentioned come from a Lloyd Chambers article. He mentions that he had the problem with two versions of the camera. I have also read that, like you say, there are users who haven’t had this problem. The lockup issue by itself wouldn’t bother me as much but for two things: 1) The camera is extremely expensive, so I want perfection, 2) I don’t want to unmount the tripod plate to pop the battery out and then reinsert it. I don’t want to do that just to recharge the battery, but definitely not in a time critical situation.

      I’m glad to hear that you think the results are comparable to the M240 because I was worried about what the difference might be. Here are some other shots taken with the A7r/Summilux 35mm combo: http://www.leicaimages.com/standardgallery.php?puid=3333&showall

      It is the new FLE version of the lens BTW, just picked up fresh at the camera shop about a month ago.

      AP

      • The comment about changing batteries always mystifies me. For one thing the battery life on the M240 is very good—hundreds of images, even if live view is employed a lot. But, frankly, I suspect most Leica shooters use live view only occasionally. The M240 viewfinder seems significantly better than the M9 also.
        Second, who shoots an M on a tripod? I guess some do, but the cameras absolutely call for hand held shooting. That is the advantage of their small size and the fast lenses that allow for high shutter speeds.
        To encounter a dead battery while using a tripod would mean that you either started out with a partly depleted battery or shot hundreds of images while constantly on a tripod. These both seem rather unlikely to me, but I suppose its possible. If you are on tripod, I would assume it is because you are setting up a carefully composed shot. Most of those don’t go away if you have to change the battery.
        In shooting Leica digital cameras for the last several years I have never missed a shot because I had to change the battery. But I have seen many a companion shooting Nikon or Canon, etc., miss lots of shots because they were lost in some subprogram or found that the auto focus missed the mark.
        The comments on the bottom plate and Leica batteries remind me of the my old 911 Porsches, which were fabulous machines. But all the car magazines in reviewing them felt compelled to talk about the gear box feeling loose compared to Ferraris. It was like the reviewers all read each other’s work and felt required to point that out without asking what real difference it made. The cars were in fact fast and fabulous and the shifter never made a difference. I think comments that one sees about the bottom plate and batteries on Leicas are similar to the old comments about Porsches. Pretty much irrelevant.
        The FLE version is an incredible lens. You will have lots of fun with it. Your image of the wet leaves shows quite well the character of the lens.

        • I can appreciate what you say here. No examples leap to mind, but the idea of a minor complaint being exaggerated into a deal-breaker is something I’ve seen before. If that is what happened here, or is happening with the battery compartment, I can understand why it would bother Leica users to read it. When I work with my students (I teach 3D computer graphics), they sometimes complain about irrelevant issues with the software we use (Maya) because the pipeline they are accustomed to in a different package (usually Max) work differently. There isn’t really what I would call a quality difference in these situations, but different workflows. If you try to use a Max workflow in Maya, it will be occasionally frustrating, and vice versa. However, if you use each as they were designed to be used, you would be satisfied in either package.

          But then we have the €6,399 price tag for the only other near alternative: a Leica M240. That is a fixed absolute. The advantages of that body as I see it are: in-camera image correction for vignetting and colour cast, RAW files read as native by PS and LR plugins, no need for an adapter, bigger battery. Of those, what matters most to me are the in-camera colour correction and native PS/LR support, but I don’t like the idea of paying an extra €4,200 to get that.

          AP

          • I of course believe that I get a lot more than those things with the M240. I like to look at the total work product that I get from a camera. For me the test is not computer related or what appears on the screen It’s what I see when I print an image, frame it and hang it on a wall. I am satisfied that the M240 and the MM provide incomparable results, at least to my eye, and that, of course, is all I care about.
            Keep shooting and have fun. Glad you like your set up.

  17. Just using few photos and you can determine which camera is better, it is amazing ? I believe for the photos of the bicycle and the branches, you are using f1.4. My question is for the Nikon f1.4, the DOF is clearer than the Leica lens ? At f1.4, the Nikon lens should create max. blur, same as the Leica, not like the photos you are showing. You should check you metadata again.

  18. The FLE is a $4000 lens. I expect it to be better.

    • The price doesn’t make it better. For instance, I’ve seen some pretty convincing reviews that say the new Zeiss Otus 55mm 1.4 is better than the Leica Noctilux 50mm .95. The price difference between those two lenses is even greater, with the Zeiss costing €3,600 and the Noctilux €8,900.

      AP

      • That is a strange comparison since the Otus cannot shoot at .95
        That is the whole point of the Noctilux, it can shoot at .95 with incredible results.

        Best regards
        Huss

        p.s. I am enjoying watching your images develop as you are getting used to the Sony.

      • I was going to make the same comment as Huss!

        Price alone certainly doesn’t determine the quality of a lens. On the other hand, in a rational world I would expect to receive more, the more I paid. The more expensive of two equivalent lenses (on paper) aught to be better by some measure. If that is not the case it would be foolish to buy the more expensive product!

        The Noctilux and Otus are designed to meet different objectives – so ‘better’ means different things. Want an ultra thin depth of field with a 50mm perspective? The Otus cant deliver that. Want possibly the most highly corrected optics for 35mm systems at 50mm(ish)? The Noctilux cant deliver that. Price negates comparison if you need (or want) one of these things (among many other points of differences).

        I would say a fairer comparison is between the 55mm Otus and the 50mm APO’cron. The Otus is faster, probably more highly corrected and cheaper! So it is ‘better’… unless miniaturization is your thing….

  19. Interesting, informative and very personal report Andrew, thanks for putting all that time into it. As a D800 user myself I understand – some of – your problems, but I really don’t “see” the focusing problems (I’m 61; the diopter adjustment serves me perfectly). I do know the D800 is sensitive to motion blur because of its pixel count, but that applies to the A7(r) as well. Also, the D800 has had some AF issues, and the 1.4/35 (which I have as well and use almost daily, next to the new 58) has a bit of field curvature.

    If used with discretion, they will deliver excellent results.

    I never carry a camera in a backpack, so no comments there (I’m well aware of what the D800 and the primes that go with it weigh).

    Also, the absence of info on apertures used etc causes some confusion. Anyway, I’m glad you like the A7r so much!

  20. Gentleman, this was a real world quick evaluation of both camera’s not a technical all out review, as such he has done a great job creating this review, If you’d like more a more indepth review might I suggest you go ahead and purchase both cameras for yourselves to test. I feel the images of the Sony are slightly better than the D800E that could very well have something to do with the lens etc. and is a subjective thing not a disparagement of the Nikon. The Sony/Leica images just appear to be cleaner, Andrew thank you very much for taking the time out to do this.

    • Thank you DB, and everyone else for your kind comments. It is amazing how many responses there have been to this! I’m trying to work on something else here, and every couple of seconds I get another email with another interesting comment!

      Thanks again,

      AP

  21. Leica M 35mm FLE is a $5200 best 35 mm lens ever existed,so your comparison is not accurate.

    Thank you for this article,

    Sergey

    • Okay, but tell me how you intend to put a Summilux 35mm ASPH on a D800 body? This isn’t a comparison of lenses, but a comparison of best lenses for each body, selected from what is available. On a price level, the Nikkor 1.4G is about the same as the Zeiss offering in the same length and aperture but it has AF. Apart from that, what else would you put on the Nikon? You could get a Leica R on there, but have you ever seen a 35mm R? I haven’t. In 85mm, I like my Nikkor 1.4G better than the Zeiss offering (and it is slightly more expensive), but at 15mm, think the Distagon is much better than the 14mm Nikkor. However, that isn’t the core of this comparison. I could have put the Nikkor on the A7r to do a straight lens comparison, but that isn’t what I was doing. I wanted to see what could be done with the two bodies in question and the best lens for each.

      AP

      • you guys certainly have a lot of time ( and disposable income ) to get this e-penis discussion really ramped up…but at the resolutions posted, I’m pretty sure I can take any $500 plus camera with a bit of tweaking in photoshop and make it look as good – and I see nobody saying that billboards are their main source of income….I’m guessing that all that you do is post online..so my question is….why bother? ( and spare me the King Lear soliloquy’s about ” oh the image quality. the quality….- because you will never see it online anyway )…but it does offer some amusement – and certainly makes the camera makers happy because people believe they have to have whatever the next guy is selling…

        • I will have to say that I’ve personally pretty much hit my saturation point of camera and lens comparisons and internet forums discussing all the minutiae of why one camera or lens should be considered as better, etc., etc.. It’s all getting kind of tedious these days. It’s not like there’s a dearth of exceptionally capable tools out there (and in all shapes and sizes and price ranges.) And how ‘perfect’ does one need in respect to resolution, dynamic range, etc.. And what is ‘perfection’ anyway? How is it defined? And why is it so desirable in the first place? After all, a photograph is an interpretation. Truly, such ‘high resolution’ is really only necessary if one is a commercial product photographer (think of the purpose and function of Dutch still life painting.) It’s become a fetish.

          However, what there does seem to be a dearth of is serious imagery to talk about. People don’t seem to understand that images need to have a context (arbitrary images end up just becoming arbitrary Images.) Photographs from the past were no where near this kind of ‘technical perfection’ that we have today, but are far more worth viewing and discussing. This gear side of photography is a dead end (unless you sell cameras or have a website that links to sales.) It’s a minor subset of the discipline and has little bearing on anything really….. except for those who like to play with cameras. And sure, that’s okay for those who enjoy arguing about all the details. But it’s really not about photography, it’s just about the mechanics of the devices themselves. And it’s popular primarily because it’s easier to talk about (it’s empirical and quantifiable.)

          • The question of gear vs. art is a common theme in many industries, and I think the answer is the same for all of them: the gear won’t make much of a difference to people who have no idea how to make a picture, but if they do understand composition, colour, and lighting, it does make a difference up to a point. After that point, it is a matter of personal preference.

            To use painting as an example, as an expert, I can draw or paint a decent image with almost any materials I care to use, from a ball point pen to an expensive fountain pen, a piece of chalk, or an expensive woodless pencil. I could make a watercolour painting from one of those little kits sold to schools for use in kindergarten, or an expensive set made by Winsor & Newton. That said, I prefer some materials over others because they give me the effect I want. I happen to prefer cheap ball point pens to fancy fountain pens, but when it comes to paint, my favourite is Old Holland brand, which happens to be the most expensive brand there is. Why? Because I like the high saturation of the colour, due to the density of pigment to medium in the paint.

            For someone who is not very skilled with drawing or painting, it would be a waste of money to use Old Holland, which can cost as much as $75 for a 38ml tube, but for me, it helps me get the colour I want so I use it. For acrylic paint, I always disliked the medium until I discovered fluid acrylics sold in squirt bottles instead of tubes of toothpaste-consistency paint. This is a technical innovation that made me willing to use acrylic and that led to me painting faster because it dries faster than oil. The result of that is more paintings in the same amount of time. That is a real advantage made possible by gear choice. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I had a semi-expensive easel I took out with me to make large on-the-spot acrylic paintings of landscapes. The problem was that it was difficult to hold the easel steady in high winds, and on one painting expedition to Monument Valley in Arizona, a high wind pulled so strongly at my two meter wide canvas that it snapped the mast of the easel. I was going to buy a new easel, but then realized I could tie the frame of my canvases to the back of my pickup truck. It was more sturdy than the easel, never had a problem with the wind, and cost almost nothing.

            Gear does matter, but the way it is used and the person using it are important variables. With cameras, I have noticed that I never enjoyed taking photos until I got top end equipment. As an illustrator and former comic book artist, I frequently took photos as reference, but never thought of these as anything other than raw data. They certainly weren’t good or artistic photos, but they were enough for the purpose.

            In my present job, I no longer have the time or space to do much painting. I have wanted to, but simply cannot. For this reason, I started wondering if a camera might fill this need by allowing me to make images more quickly using more portable equipment. At first I tried to do this with a D70, but the experience wasn’t satisfying. I upgraded to a D5100, but it still wasn’t satisfying. I didn’t like the photos much, but more important was the reason: the compositions seemed fine, but the colour and depth of field were all wrong. The kind of things I could control with a painting, I could not control to the degree I needed with the lenses I had, which were pretty bad consumer grade lenses, a 55-300mm zoom with an aperture range of 4.5-5.6 or so, and a 28mm-200mm zoom that was slightly better.

            Then I got a D800 and the Zeiss 100mm MP. Suddenly, taking a photo was like making a painting. I literally felt like I could now control the variables that allowed me to get the image I wanted. This came from an improvement in gear.

            To take this a step further, I found there were shots I wanted, but couldn’t get. I took the 100mm to a speed skating contest but kept only a handful of shots out of about 500 because most were too blurry to use. I needed auto focus, but didn’t have it. Then I tried taking shots of a cathedral interior with the 100mm, but I could not find a place to stand that would allow me to take the pictures I wanted with that 100mm lens. I could have sat down and drawn them, but that wasn’t the point. For this I would need a wide angle lens. More gear, but gear with a purpose. Later, I was shooting a basketball game with the 15mm Distagon I got to deal with the cathedral problem. It took fairly good shots and focus wasn’t much of an issue because it had a very deep depth of field, but it had a tendency to waste about half of the frame. I would need a 35mm for that, so I got an AF 35 lens for that kind of shooting. Each of these gear choices is based on a specific need not satisfied by the kit as it was then.

            The A7r deals with three problems: portability, ergonomics, and increased IQ made possible because it can accept Leica lenses.

            So yes, if you don’t know what is an appropriate subject or how to compose a shot, it probably doesn’t matter much what you use, but if you can tell there is something wrong with your shot and the problem can be traced to gear (no AF, small maximum aperture, slow write speed to disk, etc), then get the gear and solve the problem.

            Most importantly though, photography can be fun, but not if your camera kit gets in the way of your picture making goals.

            AP

  22. I saw the comparison of the A7/A7R in Dig. Camera Review. The D800/E and A7R looked about the same in noise factor. I’ll bet the Simga F1.4 on the Nikon may do better.

  23. For sharpness, it would be more appropriate to compare it to the D800E, as the AA filter blurs the image slightly. I doubt there would be much of a difference between the sharpness of the D800E and the A7r, unless the mirror causes camera shake for the D800E.

    • There’s a lot of complaints about shutter slap causing blurred images with the A7/r; and complaints about motion blur with the D800/E because of the pixel count. The latter should apply to the A7r as well. Not such a good thing, motion blur and shutter slap blur adding up.

  24. The size difference is amazing. Didn’t realize it until that side by side picture.

    A7r offers comparable IQ, at a lower cost, lower weight and smaller size. Pretty damn impressive.

    I’m guessing the one drawback to the smaller size is more heat on the sensor causing more noise.

    Thanks for the comparison.

  25. To future reviewer: a comparison is much more interesting when it is based on the same settings for each picture.
    Otherwise it’s just a feeling, emotional way to say: “I have this and this one”.
    Thank you!

  26. Thanks Andrew for taking the time to put this together. I understand YOUR reasons for doing so and I hope you’ve found an alternative to the Leica.
    It is a chalk and cheese comparison, however it at least proves you made the right decision. Well done.

  27. From what I see and read in THIS comparison review and illustration photos, the Nikon looks to produce better pictures. If smaller and lighter are more important to some, fine: they can go Sony (or Olympus, or Fuji, etc.) If I’m looking for a little extra image quality, I’ll accept more weight or bulk. Maybe in a year when Sony has a more complete lens line-up so one doesn’t have to put an adaptor in the equation things will look better. For now, an 800E with excellent (and more affordable) Nikkor and Zeiss glass seems to serve my needs better.

  28. By the way. Is that Leica F1.4 the old ASPH or the new one. From what I have heard, hee, hee, the old one was unable to create images.

  29. nice write up, love that canal shot!

  30. First off thank you Andrew for taking the time to do this comparison.

    Sadly this comparison does not tell us anything useful.
    The differences between all the shots and the even the shots taken with the same camera are so different that nothing definitive can be known.

    In some shots the D800 has better DR and in others the A7.
    In some shots the colors are completely different between the A7 and D800.

    Ideally such a test should use the same lens on both cameras at the same F stop so that we can see that the contribution of the “camera” is.

    Comparing a Leica lens to the Nikon lens on two totally different cameras will cause such a variance in the results that really we cannot know anything except that either camera, with either lens, can take both good and bad shots.

    • I could have put a Zeiss or Nikkor lens on the A7r, but could not put the Leica lens on the Nikon unless I felt like making my own adapter. That makes the kind of comparison you describe difficult to make. As implied above, I could have compared the D800 + Nikkor 35mm 1.4G with the A7r + Nikkor 35mm 1.4G, but that wouldn’t have been an appropriate comparison because the 1.4G is so huge that there is no point in putting it on the A7r. If I had, the camera + lens would suddenly be too bulky to satisfy my goal of having a compact system. Conversely, if I had made my own adapter and attached the Summilux to the D800, I would have had the same problem. The lens might be small, but the camera is so big that it is still too bulky.

      The issue really wasn’t to find small IQ differences, but to find out if the differences were so great that the A7r + Summilux was a bad purchase as a portable high IQ solution, with the benchmark being the D800. This is because I like the D800 fine. The only issue I have with it, and this is only for spur of the moment shooting opportunities and traveling, is size. From what I can tell, the D800 is as good as or better than the M240, so the only advantage to a Leica is size and lens quality. Even on lens quality, Zeiss holds its own against Leica pretty well with some of its lenses being better, like the Otus 55mm over the Noctilux 50mm. Did I have to buy an M240 to enjoy Leica’s compact size and excellent glass? I don’t think so. This doesn’t mean that the A7r is perfect, but that it is close enough in every area that counts and it is more versatile as far as portability is concerned.

      AP

      • Otus vs Noctilux? You must be joking :)
        It is AA-Cron vs Otus, where the Cron is much smaller and still yields about the same performance at equal apertures.

  31. did you follow the green dot of the D800 when the subject was in focus?

  32. I examined two images a bit longer and closer: O’Neill guy and red scarf lady.

    O’Neill guy (D800 + 35/1.4) has decidedly more 3d “pop” and sharpness/acuity. That might be due to the aperture used and some other factors such as shutterspeed used, which we’re not aware of.

    • The D800 “O’Neill guy” shot used the following settings:
      F-stop: 1.4
      ISO: 200
      Shutter: 1/800

      The A7r shot of the woman in a red scarf, taken in the same spot, had these settings recorded by the camera:
      ISO: 320
      Shutter: 1/500
      The F-stop was probably 1.4 because that’s what I used for most of the shots, but I can’t say for sure.

      Another example, of people crossing the bridge, looks like this:
      D800:
      F-stop: 1.4
      ISO: 100
      Shutter: 1/1600

      A7r (girl crossing bridge):
      F-stop: probably 1.4
      ISO: 50
      Shutter: 1/250

      And another, of the bulbous knot on the tree (I’m beginning to wish I’d included this, but felt that knowing the A7r aperture was crucial, so I left it out):
      D800:
      F-stop: 2.0
      ISO: 100
      Shutter: 1/15

      A7r:
      F-stop: probably 1.4
      ISO: 50
      Shutter: 1.3s

      The bicycle shot:
      D800:
      F-stop: 5.6
      ISO: 100
      Shutter: 1/10

      A7r:
      F-stop: probably 4-5.6
      ISO: 50
      Shutter: 1/3

      The leaves on ground:
      D800:
      F-stop: 1.4
      ISO: 100
      Shutter: 1/125

      A7r:
      F-stop: probably 2-2.8
      ISO: 50
      Shutter: 1/3

      Cathedral interior:
      D800:
      F-stop: 4.0
      ISO: 100
      Shutter: .5s

      A7r:
      F-stop: probably 4.0
      ISO: 50
      Shutter: 1.3s

      Wet cobblestones:
      D800:
      F-stop: 1.4
      ISO: 100
      Shutter: 1/1600

      A7r:
      F-stop: probably 1.4
      ISO: 50
      Shutter: 1/15

      Pale tree trunk:
      D800:
      F-stop: 4.0
      ISO: 100
      Shutter: 1/5

      A7r:
      F-stop: probably 1.4
      ISO: 50
      Shutter: 1/15

      Canal shot (A7r only):

      A7r (girl crossing bridge):
      F-stop: probably 8.0
      ISO: 50
      Shutter: 1/2000

      AP

  33. Grumble, grumble, I paid an arm and a leg for X camera but YOUR comparison showed Y camera to be a more capable tool for YOU, grumble, grimble so YOUR test MUST be flawed because MY camera didn’t crush YOUR camera grumble grumble! ;)

  34. The D800 vs Sony A7R was a comparison of high interest to me – so thank you. I think the comparison was informative if not definitive. My take away was that the much smaller A7R results were subjectively close enough to the D800 to make it a viable choice for many (if current AR7 lens choices are acceptable).

  35. this makes me wanting to jump and hug my fuji X-100s… a lot of people just spend countless hours on software fiddling, comparing technical specs and tons of cash on…..photography?!?

  36. It isn’t fair to call this a comparison of the A7r and the D800. It would be more accurate to call it a comparison of the Nikkor 35mm 1.4G and the Leica Summilux 35 1.4 ASPH. It’s no surprise that the Summilux runs circles around the Nikkor. I would wager that if it you swapped the lenses and ran the test again that the D800 would clearly outperform the A7r.

    • Perhaps, but the point is that you cannot put the Summilux on the D800. Even if you could, the result would not be a compact camera. If there was a Summilux-level lens for the D800, I would have one and used it for this test. As it is, I don’t see a big difference between the best 35mm lenses offered by Zeiss and Nikon at that focal length. Price-wise, the Nikkor is more expensive than the Zeiss, but it has AF, which I wanted to compare to the A7r without an AF lens because I knew that the best lens for the A7r would not be AF (I also checked the Nikkor with AF switched off for most of the tripod shots). Again, this is not about a strict comparison of near-exact equals, but of two kits, each optimized for 35mm shooting. If the two cameras come up with IQ that is about the same, a little better on some shots, a little worse on others, but on average comparable, then the small kit can be described as a viable alternative for situations where size makes a difference.

      A few days after getting the A7r I had to do a portrait shoot and used my D800 + Zeiss 15mm because that was, in my opinion, the best camera and lens combination for the project (to see one of the portraits from the series, go here: http://www.zeissimages.com/showphoto.php?photoid=31576). On the other hand, when I went to Wales last week, I was grateful to have the option of taking the A7r because when I took the D800 to London last month, my back was killing me by the time I got back home, and I didn’t take anything with me besides the D800+ 35mm and my iPad.

      These are some more A7r shots: http://www.leicaimages.com/standardgallery.php?puid=3333&showall

      AP

      • I admire your patience and stamina, Andrew. It must get tiresome to tell people over and over again that you were simply trying to determine FOR YOURSELF whether the Sony A7r + Summilux performed well enough to substitute for your Nikon D800, when and where you didn’t want to carry the bigger, heavier rig. I get it. I’ve performed similar tests myself, albeit with DX/APSC cameras. The fault is not in the clarity of your explanation but rather how fiercely some readers want to argue their own agenda.

        • Hello Gordon, thanks for the encouragement! As you wrote, it can be tiresome indeed to respond to some of these posts. I will probably have to stop responding soon though, because the core message seems to have been made, either in the original post, my responses, and even the criticisms that have popped up. I will say though that after performing a pixel peeping style test a couple days ago that it didn’t tell me as much as the original review did. This is why, after looking at Lloyd Chambers’ site, i will come to this site to see how people react to these cameras in the field, regardless of the technical data.

          AP

        • I stand by my comment. Of course the A7r is a lighter, more compact camera than the D800. Did we really need a “review” to tell us that? You present this as if it were some kind of showdown between the two cameras and call it “The Sony A7r vs the Nikon D800″, when it’s nothing of the sort. I’m glad you found a smaller, lighter camera that you like, Andrew. But beyond stating the obvious, your post doesn’t give us any useful information.

  37. Puzzling that the depth of field be this difference between the two systems at f1.4?

    I have used both Leica 35mm summilux and that nikon 35 G recently over the last two years and at f1.4. those buildings behind the boys in the second shot should not be that sharp.

    • The f-stop info for the Nikon is straight out of the EXIF data as it appears in Lightroom, so it should be accurate. The Summilux F-stop info is guesswork, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they weren’t exactly right. The Nikon info though, should be correct.

      AP

  38. Thanks for your user report. It woke me up a little bit.

  39. An interesting comparison and good read.
    From my observation the Sony results were more pleasing to the eye consistently.
    Just my .2
    Enjoy your new Sony .

  40. It seems you had focus problems with the D800 in the ‘Giant’ bicycle photo and the tree trunk photo. Obviously, it should obtain far better focus, especially in live view. Any idea what you were doing wrong?

    • I have to wear reading glasses to see the Live View screen properly, but don’t think that is the issue. Rather, I think it is the low resolution of the screen. This is because I could turn the focus ring of the lens in MF mode without any noticeable change in the LV frame. The same movement (approximately) on the Summilux and I could see the focus change because (I think) of the much higher resolution of the EVF.

      AP

      • I have a D800, wouldn’t know how to use live view, I have the 1.4/35 (and the new 58) I get sharp images.

        Wot’s the problem?

        • I get sharp images from it also, but with AF. MF with LV is very difficult for me. I got some great action shots with that lens over the summer, for instance: http://www.nikonimages.com/showphoto.php?photoid=29727.

          Manual focus is more salient for comparison with the Leica lens because it is also manual focus. When I took pictures of people walking or on bikes for this review using AF, it was pretty good. I could have used AF for the forest shots, but it doesn’t work very well there because of all the fine twigs poking out all over the place.

          When I got the 1.4G, it was because I wanted fast AF, and that is what I got, along with very good IQ. The 85mm 1.4G seems even better (to me) and I love that lens, but these are both very heavy and bulky compared to the Leica lenses. In comparison to my Zeiss lenses, I prefer focus with Zeiss over Nikon because it is easier to get it right, but I don’t know why. With the 100mm MP, I thought it was because of the LV, but then when I compare the A7r LV/OVF to the Nikon LV, the Sony is much sharper. My gut feeling is that this is the reason.

          AP

  41. Some nice shots and a nice comparison, Andrew!

    The summilux pics are consistently better.

    As I understand it, the Nikon and the Sony have the exact same sensor with a different bayer filter & microlenses. The result is that the Nikon has less noise in low light, but the Sony has better colors.

    Either way the flexibility in lenses and the small size are priceless!

  42. Great comparisons. I prefer the Leica micro contrast and color in the A7R. The Nikon looks flat and mushy in detail either from the sensor, lens design or raw conversion. Thanks again for taking the time creating this comparison. Ry

  43. Dear Andrew, even if true that to do a real objective comparisson, first, we should need to put the bigger sister…..800E….due to the reason of lost AA ……and after to have the main parameters controlled (f aperture, speed and iso) and even with same lens (both bodies need adapter)…what is to appreciate, is your time to share your job with all of us. And finally, we can start to valuate what this new tool ….A7r ….could do and realize that less is more in terms of size. And we dont need to forget that sensors, even with different adjustments, are coming from same producer…..Sony. Thanks again for your “test”.

  44. The winner is D800 . sony a7r is oversharpened,oversaturated ,etc and everybody on internet knows it . Sony has manipulated the jpegs a lot

  45. Thank you for your efforts Andrew. With Leica Lenses “needing” a new sensor to record on, I am looking carefully at the candidates. I think the 800E with a Sigma 35 f1.4 (I own the combo) would have been more favorable for the Nikon factory. Still waiting to see how LR will process Raw Sony data in the future…..
    Regards
    JR

    • Not sure about that. I didn’t own Sigma, but from what I have seen it is sharp: about as sharp as Lux, with less CA, but I don’t particularly like its rendition.

  46. Interesting samples here although the comparison is not apple to apple!

    Personally I still prefer D800 for it’s big picture: extensive lens and peripherals offerings, ergonomics, fast handling, reliable OVF and most of all fast Nikon technical service centre. For all of these benefits I stick to DSLR. (I do use mirrorless for family occasions only)

  47. I enjoyed reading this article, but I have to say you’re comparing apples to oranges…from the cameras to the lenses.

    The more megapixels one packs onto a FF sensor, the more you’ll gain in detail and at the same time gain more noise through all ISOs. It’s a fact. Unless there comes along a major technological discovery with regards to sensors. There will be an obvious difference with regards to sharpness (GIANT bike lettering) and noise (cropped images of the individuals).

    With many million megapixels packed onto a FF sensor, the smaller the spacing will be between each of the pixels…giving it less ability for it to suck in light across the sensor. Whereas a 16 or 24 megapixel FF sensor has more spacing between the pixels compared to 36MP, giving it the ability to be a light sucking beast. It’s well known the A7 and A7r images are tack sharp…this site has proven that. However, Nikon’s D4 and their recently released Df are light sucking kings and perform incredibly well at really high ISOs with little noise compared to that of the A7′s. And why is that, cause they utilize a 16MP sensor. Granted their images appear somewhat softer, however at the same time it retains a somewhat film like quality to the images. It’s all about taste and what your needs are.

    Each company will utilize their own way of minimizing noise, but it’ll be there. And yes, you stated that in your article with regard to the A7r and I remember Steve mentioning the same thing in reference to the Nex 7…if I recall, Steve, you said you felt 24MP was too much for an APS-C sensor. I could be wrong.

    As for the lenses, not much needs to be said that your comparing 2 completely different lenses. Everything from optical quality to price range.

    With all that said, I do appreciate these user reports because I do know it helps a lot of us when it comes to making decisions on which camera to purchase. It did for me 2 years ago when I opted to buy the Panny GX1 and 20mm f/1.7. And I love it…yet Steve’s site is constantly bringing me back for more reviews, user reports, daily inspirations and more. :) But I do feel at times many of us get caught up in the technical aspects and always eyeing for the next great thing. And I know you’re not specifically telling us to absolutely by the A7r, you’re just giving us a perspective and some helpful info. And for that, thank you, Andrew.

    As the saying goes, ‘to each his own’…

    Lastly, I will say Nikon’s color rendering from the D800 are simply fantastic. It’s shame they haven’t yet gotten into the mirrorless realm. As an old Nikon N70 user, I’m looking forward to Steve’s review on the Df and I’ll admit, I’m feeling a bit of a pull to the FF format. And Steve, you must like it since you have it in your site’s headline banner! ;)

  48. Thanks for sharing your findings with us Andrew. Again and again, the mirror less system proves its superiority over the SLR in terms of image quality, discretion and handling.
    The Sony is giving superior results not just because it’s a Sony (Who are doing wonderful FF cameras with the RX1r and the 7r), but also -and this is what is showing on your images- of the Leica lens coming into action.
    The 3D pop we see in different images, is due to an excellent micro-contrast found mostly on the Leica lenses as we as their ability to capture more subtleties of light for the DR; couple that with an exceptional No AA sensor from Sony and you get a superior combination, exactly like your tests are showing.

  49. We all remember when the D800E came out. Wow, a 36mp full frame sensor! The D800E the cutting edge of DSLR’s, and to back it up, we had DxOLabs sensor rating comparisons which put the D800E at number two overall amongst every sensor ever made. Boy, how times change. This is yesterdays news. Every day something new and better comes out. For a while, I was hoping for a full-framed Fuji but it looks as if “organic” sensor technology is going to leave all digital sensor technology that came before in the dust. I am looking forward to this. In the meantime, I am grateful for guys like Andrew Paquette who calls it like he sees it, flaws and all. This is what Steve Huff Photo and real world reviews are all about. Thanks Andrew.

  50. Thanks for the post, what will interest me is something that you haven’t mentioned, in light of the a7R performance and benefits regarding size.. will you be keeping the D800.

    Your answer to that question will be much more helpful as it will indicate how much confidence you have of the Sony in the little time spent with it over your incumbent system.

  51. Andrew, thanks for the article. You designed it to serve your particular needs and objectives, which is great! For that, I think your article was well suited.

    It would be important for those not well educated in modern photography to realize that this is not really a “which is best” type of review, so that they do not draw erroneous conclusions. In particular,

    1. D800e would be better to test against a7r as the D800e does not have an AA filter (specifically it has one but it is neutered)
    2. Lenses different
    3. Apertures unknown – affect depth, sharpness, noise, contrast
    4. ISOs unknown – affect sharpness, noise, contrast
    5. You may not know the meaning of dynamic range, as you confuse DR with contrast. They are not the same. The DR is mostly a function of the sensor. The contrast, in this case, mostly a function of the lens. The Leica lenses are notably more contrasty than Nikon lenses. “The DR is terrific on this camera, better than anything I’ve seen with the D800, but this extra contrast isn’t always desirable.”

    That said I own a D800e and agree with you on limitations on being a grab and go everyday camera. I too would like something smaller. For me, I found a lovely camera in the Ricoh GR – amazingly sharp, a joy to USE, and all the features a serious photographer needs (at 28mm).

    • Jason,

      I agree that the D800E is more of a test of equals, but keep in mind this was more about whether something of comparable quality as a kit could be put together in the smaller, less expensive package offered by the A7r as opposed to the smaller, much more expensive Leica M camera body. The sharpness difference between the D800 and the D800E is noticeable (and if I had known that when i bought the D800, would have bought the D800E instead), but it doesn’t by itself invalidate the comparison. As I wrote, or implied, the difference in viewfinders was significant, and that would be the same regardless which Nikon is used. One thing i should have emphasized is the speed of the D800. The A7r feels very slow in comparison, but I still preferred what I got out of the A7r.

      I think there are two reasons for this: the Summilux lens qualities and the easier focus aids on the A7r.

      Although this isn’t in the article, I did respond to a post in this comments section with all the ISO, shutter, f-stop data, except the f-stops for the A7r, which is estimated.

      I do know the difference between DR and contrast, but maybe I don’t identify it correctly , or there is room for disagreement in the way I identify it. When I look at a shot that would normally have clipped highlights on the Nikon (the canal shot) but it doesn’t on the Sony, that tells me that the Sony has a wider DR because it can capture those values without losing them. I wouldn’t call that contrast.

      AP

  52. Thanks Andrew for the crazy comparison. I own also a A7R and use the camera exclusively with a my Summicron 35mm ASPH. As adapter I use a Novoflex, which is the pinnacle in built quality – believe me – I have also a no name which is no competition, but of course cheaper.
    I read so many reviews about how the A7 handles Leica glass – also about the 35 and 50mm Leicas. I’m not a pixel analyst, but of course I zoom into my RAW files to see what’s happening in the center and the corners. With my combination I honestly never saw purple fringing at any aperture or color cast or smearing. The only thing is of course vignetting depending on the aperture. But this is very easy to correct and sometimes it gives an image the wanted dramatic look.
    The Summicron 35mm on my A7R is incredible sharp and offers unbelievable DR. The focus peaking through EVF is a great help and I can manage very fast and accurate focusing.

  53. Hi, thanks for the article. Just thought I ought to point out why there seems to be a difference in sharpness between the A7R image in proprietary Sony software and in Lightroom. This is because the Sony software uses the sharpening settings the A7R is set to in-camera when processing and displaying the image, whereas Lightroom just processes the RAW image with no added sharpening – you can add that later, to replicate what you see through the Sony software. There is no reduction in image quality or processing quality in Lightroom.

    (Also, the Sony software is not as bad as all that, once you’ve got used to it :P)

    • Sam, I suspected that getting used to the Sony software would improve results, but the number of tools is limited to a much smaller number of tools than is available in LR or PS. It doesn’t have a way to control vignetting or fringing, both of which are the primary corrections that I make to my RAW files in LR or PS. Almost everything else I can deal with in a TIFF file, but those two items, in addition to individual colour editing options, seem to work best in RAW files. If those were a part of the Sony RAW converter, I might be more willing to use it. I also don’t like how slow it is. The Adobe software makes adjustments in realtime, but the Sony software takes several seconds for each adjustment.

      AP

      • Thanks to your comment I took another look at the Sony tool and discovered that I can adjust vignetting there. I don’t like the way the tool works, but it does the job. Of greater importance is the very strong difference in the colour of images that are simply converted without adjustment in the Sony utility vs Lightroom. The Sony version is much more saturated, but on the other hand, it also seems to create issues in the vignetting areas. I am looking into this at the moment so I don’t know yet whether I would be willing to use the Sony software or not.

        AP

  54. Sorry, but to me this kinda seems to be more of a “This is why a 35 Lux is awesome” Not that the new A7 isn’t incredible too… but I feel that a lot of the difference were seeing is Glass.

    • The point is that it is possible to use the 35 Summilux effectively on a compact body that costs much less than an M240. If I could mount the 35 Summilux on the D800, and since this is a fantasy, let’s pretend that it worked exactly the way it does on the M240. That is, there is no difference whatsoever in IQ, EXIF data, shooting speed, etc, then you would still have a huge camera to deal with. This not about the greatness of a lens, but that there is a way to use a great lens on an excellent and affordable compact body without seriously compromising the features that make the lens great.

      AP

  55. Hi,
    interesting read IMO and the Sony seems to work much better for you.
    I am still surprized a bit that some of the Nikon images are slightly “unsharp”.
    Colorwise…I left Nikon 2 years ago because I found the color to be tricky often, and I have allways liked Leicas color (don’t know how much comes from the lens and how much from the sensor)
    The Leica 35mm lens shows a much nicer bokeh and I like the color/tonality better in your shots.
    However I do not agree that one can catch the moment easier since one has only one shot. Ibelieve OVF and DSLR have their advantages in this regard. Do you sell the Nikon?
    Cheers, Tom

    • On the subject of “catching the moment” I think it depends on the subject. With these test shots, the A7R definitely got it better than the Nikon, and I think it is because I was being more careful. However, there are certain subjects where I seriously doubt this would be true. Last summer, I photographed a winch-boarding event in the local canals here in the Netherlands. I was setup to catch the start of each run, the floating ramp, and the touchdown, but was closest to the ramp. I had my Zeiss 100mm and the Nikkor 35mm 1.4G with me. The Zeiss was a bit long for my position, but it allowed me to get shots of a) the runup OR b) the ramp, OR c) the touchdown, but not all three. I simply could not refocus fast enough, though the camera was capable of taking the shots rapidly. The Nikkor was able to get the entire sequence in focus, and I could fire about 20x shots during each run. The best I could hope for with the A7r is worse than either of these scenarios because it has the handicap of manual focus, so I have to shoot only one of the three opportunities presented, and it shoots much slower than the D800, so I would get only one shot per run. Even if I got the “perfect” shot every time (highly doubtful) I could not get a sequence that showed the action.

      So I agree with you conditionally, for circumstances where the movement is rapid and covers enough distance that refocusing is required. Otherwise, I found that I did more often get keepers with the A7r despite the slower shooting speed.

      AP

  56. Thanks for the comparisons. I wish Sony had been able to get it electronic first curtain tech into the A7r, the A7 has it, this really helps with the shutter shake issues. The small body I am sure also does not help either. The D800 has a lot more mass to adsorb the vibrations of the mirror and shutter.

    You may wish to borrow the Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 sometime to check out. Roger at LensRentals was very impressed with its sharpness.

  57. Why didn’t you compare the D800e to the A7R, or the D800 to the A7?

  58. As a Leica and Nikon user, in my opinion, the comparison is flawed from the beginning. I dont know why Mr. Aquette’s long article is published in Steve Huff site. I tried the A7r on B&H set, shot around 200 pictures with 4 cameras, and I have a certain limited perception of the camera. Almost nothing of what is said in this opinion article is a careful representation of the possibilities of the Leica lens or the Nikon D800. As an average Leica and Nikon user, i know, that they are not well represented. I am not sure about the A7r since Mr Arquette owns it and I do not….Could I be jealous?;=))….

    • We can only discuss our impressions, and that is all I have done. I am not an expert photographer, but I am seriously enjoying the hobby and I would like to think that is enough. However, I am an expert in a couple other areas: painting, drawing, and Computer Graphics. In each of those fields you will find experts who disagree with me and each other on many things. This doesn’t make any of them wrong, but it does illustrate differing perspectives.

      AP

  59. Andrew, just to get back to your two comparison shots in the woods. Late afternoon I’d say, overcast, with occasional glimpses of blue? That’s the only explanation I could find for the differences in colour between the two images.

    The water in the D800 shot reflects some blue in the sky as you can see, in the A7r shot the clouds are completely grey, no blue, so the water reflects grey. Both shots to me seem to give accurate representation of the circumstances then, and you probably/hopefully underexposed by 2/3′s of a stop to accomodate for the gloomy atmosphere.

    Am I right?

    • Mike, I think your guess is probably correct, or close enough. However, I do think the Summilux shots tend to pick up more colours than the Nikkor shots. In the shot you mention, the grass has more varieties of greens than the D800 side of the image.

      AP

      • I’ll have another look. I never liked Leica’s greens though, which seem oversaturated to me.

        • I’ve had that other look. Sorry, don’t agree. ;-)

          • Now I’ll have to take another look. In the meanwhile I will admit to a preference for yellow green over straight green or blue green, so that may have affected my impression as well.

            AP

            • It’s probably not a matter of “better”, but of “different”. I find the AFS 35mm f1.4 a very good but difficult lens. The 85 is really in a special class, and so is the 24. Both produce images with an almost paintinglike quality. The 58 is again a difficult lens, not the sharpest in the world, but the rendering is very special.
              The D800 is just a difficult camera to get sharp images with handheld.

  60. Considering the number of errors in this post, I think for Steve Huff site and Andrew it would be better to simply remove this post completely and to recreate a new test with solid and quality tests data.

    • I would like to know what kind of errors in this post…

    • Jean, you are too kind. However, the “errors” you speak of, if they are in any way related to some of the comments here, are simply divergent methodologies. Some people want pixel peeping, but that isn’t what this is about. I wanted to get a sense of what the two cameras were like in the field. If you want to know exactly what the image differences are, wait for Lloyd Chambers to make a test. It is probably in the works or nearly so already.

      AP

      • Lloyd’s way of looking at things I find informative ( and very very critical, for instance of the M 240′s many flaws, which rarely get mentioned here), but never decisive.

        • I agree, and this is why I subscribe to his site, but then I come over here also because this site is really inspiring. Lloyd talks about the nuts and bolts in his careful way, and this site just goes into the fun of photography. As far as this post is concerned, for me anyway, it was liberating to realize that I could actually get a Summilux in a compact body without spending €6,399 on a camera body that would be thrown away in three or four years. I don’t mind buying good lenses because they don’t go down in value the way a camera body does, but the price point for an M240 is pretty steep for something that will quickly lose its value.

          In the end what I hope people get out of this is that yes, the 35mm Summilux can be used on the A7r, despite what you may have read on other sites about various problems. From what I’ve seen, it holds up pretty well on its own and against one of the only other FF 35mm cameras out there, the D800.

          BTW, because I have found some of the peeper-style comments annoying, I did a series of shots in my badly-lit studio to make a Lloyd Chambers-style comparison. What I’m seeing so far is that LOCA is stronger on the D800 than the A7r (or if you prefer, the Nikkor vs. the Summilux), and the values in the Summilux seem richer than the Nikkor. Hue-wise, the Summilux is noticeably bluer than the Nikkor, which looks yellow in comparison.

          AP

          • Thanks Andrew. I’ve never done that comparison, but do agree with your observations on loca (nothing you can’t solve in post processing) and hue, though I detect more green than yellow. Thanks again for your reply!

  61. Hi Andrew:

    Thanks a lot for the comparison and I’ve really enjoyed your article. It’s nice to see the A7r getting some recognition. It seems a large majority of criticisms or bashing around the A7r was simply due to the fact that it was made by Sony, and I know for a fact that some users of other brands are rather snobbish when it comes to Sony products. So no need to take those disrespectful comments too seriously.

    With regard to the article itself, I completely agree that the A7r seems to have a lot of noise than what was expected of it. I wrote a short review earlier on Steve’s site and have talked about the high ISO performance of the A7r not meeting my expectation and attracted a quite bit of confrontational questions. While images at ISO 6400 is nonetheless useable with simple LR tweaking, noise seems to be present from as low as ISO 800, which took me by surprise considering it’s a FF camera. Maybe it’s because of the fact that Sony’s RAW files are not very well supported by LR, which you’ve also mentioned in your article. When imported and viewed from LR, the RAW files look considerably underexposed as to looking directly at the LCD on the camera. As a matter of fact I’ve been shooting consistently at +0.7EV now to compensate for the underexposure. Hopefully subsequent updates of LR will be able to fix this problem, or maybe a firmware update.

    Cheers,
    Tianyu

    • Hello Tianyu,

      I’ve been thinking along the same lines. I have to admit that some of those comments did kind of inspire me to do another series of shots though, and have been working with them all night. One thing that is coming across very clearly is that the A7R/Summilux has much better controlled LOCA than the D800/Nikkor 1.4G (as might be expected) and the A7r shots are all darker than the D800 shots. Because I’m using the same settings on both and started with the A7r, the result is that I shot the D800 too bright. I think I’m going to follow your lead and compensate for this by adjusting the EV dial.

      AP

  62. I think Leica Summilux 35mm 1.4 ASPH give big contribution for the result. I can see the different between Summilux and Nikon lens.

    For me A7R and D800 deliver same level of quality, some small different ie: color, contrast,noise but is about signature of brand (or sensor).

  63. When the pixel count is there, it is about the match off the lens and sensor lines.
    Frits Pentenga.

  64. Don’t have either camera – ( I own Sony A1 and RX100M2) but have been reading the reviews and without going into specific technical issues this comparison has given me the best idea of how well the Sony A7r would work for my photography of all of the many reviews. Which is the point of reviews i would think. Thanks Mr Paquette.

  65. Thanks for an interesting review and comparison – I’m not really in the market for any of this kit, though I do still have a couple of Summicrons and cameras plus adapters to be able to use them. You must have the patience of a saint to reply to so many of the comments in such a well-reasoned way..

  66. May I also compliment Steve for dragging back the (D)SLR from the land of the pariahs where it seemed to reside for good, and Andrew for resuscitating the “reasonable argument”, which sometimes seemed to be in the process of being strangled by common consent. I haven’t found any comments of the sort “I’ve got the best camera, the rest is absolute rubbish” ithis thread, and that is a major achievement.

    I think we have to thank the advent of the Df, and Steve’s honest interest there, for that. I see a lot of new posters he, and the debate has certainly stepped up a few notches.

    Looking forward to Steve’s review of the Df! From having handled the thing a few times (I know, not very thorough testing) what I think of it, but very interested to learn of the experience of others.

  67. don’t own either camera. Do own an RX-1 which is my grab shooter. Very good camera. But not a fanboy of either marque so you presumers can settle down

    Sorry, you may have all kinds of credentials as an “artist”, but your “test” is nothing of the sort. it’s misleading, lacking data, not done under any conditions but muddy sky. Your DOF’s are so off that the f-stops cannot be compared. Further, I don’t agree with some of your conclusions when looking at the result

    You want us to believe that you actually mastered MF so quickly that you out-shot a D800 on AF… really??? Wow, you are from another planet, or you really did not master either camera’s focusing abilities.

    I appreciate that you bother to do this, don’t get me wrong. But this is just a GAS study without much care for subject, light or composition. I have not read all the other comments because they are full of childish point-counterpoint stuff that isn’t relevant.

    You have not demonstrated superiority on either side. But it is a nice effort nonetheless. Either camera is capable of great images. Either camera takes weeks to months of work to develop a feel how to bring out the best in each, including PP. We get none of that here

    Now don’t have a fit. I’m sure you’re a nice guy and mean well. but NO CIGAR here.

    • Alligretto,

      What do you want, a refund? I get the idea that you and a few others think that to be valid a comparison must adhere to a certain format and that the person conducting the comparison must be a pro. However, photography is a hobby enjoyed by many enthusiasts as well, and their experiences aren’t totally without value regardless whether they suit your expectations. The data I have presented here is in the form of a quick review, not a scientific study. There is a difference between these formats that allows for different methodologies. In this case, the essential question was “which of these cameras is going to produce more keepers, regardless of specifications?”

      It isn’t that there is no place for the kind of test where all stray variables are rigorously controlled, but there is also a place for comparing the experience of using two different kits based on end result. For instance, on a technical level it would be unfair to compare the oil paintings of Edward Hopper against his watercolours because technically they are too different to be compared. However, one can have a preference for one or the other and have perfectly valid reasons for that preference. With this review I have discovered that I can use the A7r without worrying that I will be sacrificing image quality available from the D800. Whatever my skill level is, it is going to be similar with both cameras, so that shouldn’t affect the results. Besides, as other posters have noted, the question was not “which of these cameras is inherently superior?” That question would have required a different kind of test. But for what I was looking for, the test I did make provided enough data to satisfy me that the A7r is approximately equal to the D800 apart from its ability to use a variety of lenses, which also allows the A7r to substitute for an M240.

      AP

  68. Since some of you asked, I made some pixel peeping-style documents so that those who are interested can take a look at them. The files are unprocessed, straight out of the camera, apart from crops and then saving them in JPG format so the resulting PDF files would be a reasonable size. They are not useful for close-up viewing due to compression artifacts, but LOCA, vignetting, sharpness, and noise can be seen. They can be downloaded from my site at the following URL: https://sites.google.com/a/mundusvirtua.com/photos/home/photo-resources

    The LOCA doc compares f-stop changes, but all the shots have the same ISO of 100. Shutter speed varies depending on f-stop, but is the same for any given f-stop. The other doc has all the f-stop, ISO, and shutter speed data embedded in each image. I have not made any comments within the PDF files, but will mention a couple of things here:

    1) Vignetting with the Summilux on the A7r is very strong, but is easily dealt with in Lightroom so that it is a non-issue.

    2) The Sony editing software provides richer colours than the Lightroom AWR reader. However, I find the Sony software difficult to work with for adjusting vignetting, so I prefer to use lightroom to fix that and then adjust the saturation there.

    3) I had the impression that noise was worse on the A7r, but on closer examination, the noise pattern is nearly identical on the D800 and A7r, but the contrast within the noise on the A7r is stronger than on the D800. There is probably an auto sharpen function on both cameras that can be adjusted to make the noise approximately equal on both.

    4) LOCA is much stronger in the Nikkor 1.4G shots than the Summilux. This is an issue of lens colour correction, but it is worth repeating that the level of colour correction available from the Summilux may not be available for the D800, even with an adapter.

    5) The dynamic range of the A7r/Summilux looks greater to me than on the D800/Nikkor 1.4G

    6) The Sony pictures look more blue/green than the D800 shots, which appear yellow/red in comparison.

    7) The D800 is consistently brighter than the A7r but EV comp is at 0 for both cameras. At the same time, the value range of the A7r appears richer than the D800.

    8) The Summilux appears to be sharper than the Nikkor, even though the images are a bit smaller than the Nikkor shots due to the difference in camera size affecting the distance from camera to subject on the tripod.

    Personally, I think that shooting these outside and figuring out which one resulted in my favourite images is more useful than this close-up examination of technical details, but admit that having done this, I am a bit more aware of how the Sony RAW converter works and a couple of other details. The most important takeaway for me is that the Summilux on the A7r is so much better than the Nikkor 1.4G on the D800 that I will probably only use the Nikkor for high speed outdoor shooting where AF is required and an 5.6 f-stop is feasible.

    AP

  69. Hello JimD,

    It is apparent that you misapprehend the purpose of the review, which is to determine if a specific kit can accomplish a specific goal, as benchmarked against the D800. More importantly, you seem not to have noticed that the apparent purpose of this website is to share and promote enthusiasm for the medium of photography.

    AP

    • Nope

      you know, first pass was cursory and didn’t really get into the flow… so here we go

      1) as you read your “review” did you happen to notice the frequency of the use of the first person singular? “I”, “my”, “me”

      2) Do you think that between the “review” and your responses here that we understand that you are a “Teacher” and an “Artist”?

      3) Do you notice that with the experience of one year, you simply turn aside valid criticism from folks who have spent far more time attempting to master this form? As if you were admonishing and discussing it with a student?

      4) Did you notice how poor you “materials and methods” were documented?

      5) Did you notice that your data set was woefully incomplete

      6) Did you notice that you devised a comparison out of thin air, did you consider that you were not comparing comparable equipment

      7) Did you realize that your WB is completely off between the cameras

      8) Do you think we understood the pricing of the equipment? Or was your constant reminding us important

      9) Did you really think changing a battery is a good criteria for deciding the desirability of what are amazing devices?

      10) Do you realize that you don’t even know how to focus a camera, MF or AF and have no feel for the consequences of such a lack of knowledge.

      10 is enough to stop now…

      You don’t know what you don’t know, you are being well-neigh narcissistic here. And you obviously believe your skills as an Artist are enough to qualify you. You went into detail about what a good Artist you are to buttress your rational for such a “review”

      I like Steve’s opinionated coverage. And yeah, he likes to stir it up a bit. But he knows what he’s talking about. You do not. And you also do not know how to design or execute a reasonable “review”. much less a “test”. When Steve does a whacky face-off there is sometimes room to wiggle… Hell, that’s the fun. But what you’ve done here is a mash of factoids and opinions (cuz you’re an “Artist” and think that qualifies you as a photographer). You don’t have time for real “Art” so you just picked up some very nice expensive camera equipment, that would have enthralled a real photographer who would have spent a great deal of time learning how to use the device and turned out images. Several pieces I guess and could have almost bought the bleeding M240 with what you spent on the non-Leica equipment. Oh snap, forgot about the battery and tripod… my bad.

      This “article” is about your GAS and love of self, combined with a disrespect for equipment and other “non-Artists” I guess. Yes you spent time on this, but much of it was telling us about you, and how amazing you are. Not the equipment. The photos and your comments on them speak for themselves.

      Don’t think Steve has published many such as this… what rubbish…

      • :(

        There is one good thing – I have this strong feeling to write also a enthusiastic article … about my Pentax Q. In the middle of the crowd, surrounded by people with FF cameras … Leica, Nikon, Sony, Canon … as a partisan, a lone fighter, but with a BIG heart and BIG ambitions.

        Could be that this is too “low” for this site. :(
        Hmmm … but If I attach a 15000 EUR lens via adapter………

        (Don’t take it all so seriously)

        • Don’t take it all so seriously!
          exactly! Why people are getting steamed about a self-confessed ” personal test” which is definitely not a review…baffling.

    • JimD,

      As I wrote in my last reply to you, you have misapprehended what is going on here. Your clarification only makes that more obvious. To be blunt, your remarks are incorrect and your analogy ill suits the facts.

      AP

  70. Hi Andrew, thanks for taking the time to do this comparison. An also for being so gentle when replying to what I find are sometimes truly disrespectful and rude comments. This is not a context for 12 years old…though sometimes for some people it looks like it and I am being generous when saying ’12 years old’.

    Anyway I was on my way to buy an a7R the other day when I realised that was really not a clever move. Not because the product is bad, it looks very promising, but simply because I already own an M240 and I really do not need a second gear that allows multiple lenses fitting. So I reconsidered and acquired a second hand RX1 that I still have to test to see if I made the right choice, but I really like the hassle free of this model, one unique still very good lens, FF and so discreet a camera for street photography.

    The only comment I would make here, taking the risk of stating the obvious is that if you can afford the M240 my feeling is that there is no better body for M lenses than the M itself and this is not just snobbery :-) The 240 allows you to see through the lens for the first time (EVF/LV) and to use R lenses (or any other lens BTW) and it opens new horizons for owners of non-M leica glass.
    Now, in the real world, if you cannot afford it, then the Sony seems an excellent ‘erzat’s’ and it seems the only reasonnable choice available on the market at the moment, so well done to you, hope you learn how to explore all its possibilities and come back here later with more info and images to share.

    PS: thanks Steve for allowing people to participate like this so often.

    • sorry, but sometimes the truth appears unkind.

      one learns things by being wrong however and sometimes the lesson is better learned through such critique

      No reason to go ad hom on the messenger for speaking clearly and directly if we are to be adults and somewhat scientific

    • Thank you Frederik for your kind comments. “I” cannot afford an M240, but a relative was willing to buy me one for Christmas. With the A7r available, I couldn’t in good conscience accept an M240 though I was tempted. The sensor size and the problems mentioned by Lloyd Chambers made it easier to make the choice, but I still wondered if I had done the right thing because, as the old saying goes, “It’s always more expensive to be cheap.” I worried that the A7r problems I’d read about, the magenta cast, vignetting, Sony RAW software, would make me wish I had accepted the M240 to begin with rather than end up getting one next Christmas.

      As it is, the A7r appears to be a very capable camera, but it takes some extra work to shepherd the images through software to clean up problems that are solved in-camera with the M240.

      AP

  71. I owned the D800 but sold most of my Nikon gear and switched to A7, so I very much appreciate the beauty of Sony’s new system.

    That said, this review is absurd. Writer clearly doesn’t know how to use the D800 or the concept of a fair comparison. He’s comparing sharpness across images with wildly different aperture values, for example!

    His observations about compactness are spot on, however.

  72. Andrew.
    I have 2 points.
    I appreciate you putting this work together. I am sure you really wanted to work on it in the first place for your own pleasure and curiosity. It must have been fun.

    I wished you compared these 2 cameras only in terms of how they felt in your experience, how you liked the user interface, EVF vs. OVF, workflow and the post processing. I am there with you with every point you made. I own the A7r as well and happy with it.

    In the other hand, as everybody knows already; sensors in these 2 machines are very similar. Image quality is expected to be very close. Putting up fancy summicron on A7r (designed for a different system while offers unusual sharpness on A7r) brings the test to unbalanced nuances. and there you needed to do the comparisons a little more scientifically. Differences are still subdtle here. Needs more sesitive comparison work. Same exact scene with same aperture, shutter settings, both on tripod, and perhaps testing the lenses on opposite bodies etc.

    This part of your article doesn’t speak to me. And I find it inaccurate enough to ignore the images.
    Thank you for your time in writing comments.

    • Hello Mike,

      I’m going to disagree with you, but want you to understand that I appreciate where you are coming from. One of the motivations for writing this, perhaps something I should have mentioned but didn’t think of it, has to do with the idea that a Summilux is obviously going to be very strong on any camera. When I first got the A7r I posted some images on LeicaImages.com. A user there named Desmolicious complained that putting a 35mm Summilux on an A7r was an incredible waste of a fine lens because the A7r couldn’t possibly do it justice. He said there were several image quality problems with wide angle Leica lenses on the A7r, including the 35mm Summilux. I had read the same comments elsewhere, and they had the same tone as some of the comments here. That is, the writers appeared to think they knew something obvious that I, being deficient somehow, failed to spot. In addition there was an implication that failing to spot this obvious thing wasn’t just a failure of intellect but morally reprehensible.

      So, I wondered if maybe I had made a mistake and wanted to see if they were right. I could have looked at the A7r images by themselves, but the idea was to have a substitute for the D800 in a compact format. The D800 was the only thing I could compare it to for quality, but the D800 is an excellent camera and the lens I used for it is also excellent. The test was made and it was pretty clear that the predicted problems either didn’t happen or they could be fixed pretty easily in Lightroom. In addition to that, quality was comparable.

      All I mean to say by mentioning this is that there are some Leica users out there who do not think it is obvious that a good Leica lens is definitely going to perform well on an A7r. Even Steve mentioned this regarding 28mm and wider lenses. Lloyd Chambers also mentions this in his reviews. If Chambers is right, then the posters here who complain that the Summilux will turn any camera into a superstar are mistaken.

      AP

      • Andrew, I admire your patience in this swell of sometimes downright offensive (not Mike, obvioulsy) comments. There’s a lot of experts out there, waiting to jump on the unsuspecting enthusiast.

        • Apparently so, though I would expect “experts” to have more patience than the enthusiasts, not the other way around. In the couple of fields I am an expert, it is easy to appreciate the positions more naive artists take because they still have a lot to learn. If anything, this makes me less inclined to be harsh with their work, not more. This doesn’t mean they cannot be critiqued, but that there are ways to do it that wouldn’t be interpreted as bullying or offensive by the average person.

          An irony of having a full-time job in many creative fields is that while raw art skill/knowledge is essential to getting the job, decent social skills are required to keep the job for any length of time. In other words, after meeting the minimum bar for entry, if you can’t get along with others, you can quickly become unemployed and then unemployable. This isn’t an issue for freelancers of course, which is how some of the more abrasive but talented personalities make a living.

          AP

  73. I hope no one takes this “comparison” seriously. I think it would be very difficult to find a less serious side by side comparison.

  74. Thanks for doing this comparison. I’m currently pondering an A7 or A7r. I have the D800 I’m pleased with the quality of the images. I’m pleased with the handling it never feels too big when shooting with it but I can see it being left at home when traveling. Manual focus on the D800 is not great and i have a lot of MF Nikkors. The A7/A7r could be better camera for manual focus maybe and is smaller for traveling. I’m not too sure whether to go for one of the SONYS or not. The question for me is which SONY and do I trade my D800 or D700.

  75. Thank you for the nice presentation and the many pics.
    I think the Sony is a really interesting camera. I understand one can use a lot of different lenses thanks to adapters. Still I feel that a camera should be used with its own lenses and the Sony has only a few. There is no system yet. The same happened with the NEX system but not with the M43s.
    Thank you.
    Mattia

  76. Wow this test is so seriously flawed its hard to know where to start . Real world tests should assume that the poster understands his systems well enough to do this comparison .

    A D800 because of the AA filter requires a significant amount of sharpening to counter act the AA filter blur . In LR this is 50/.7/70/5 or something close to it . The Sony A7R because it doesn t have an AA filter will not benefit in the same way . This isn t doing magic in post processing ..its establishing appropriate standard settings for the raw conversion .

    The most significant shortcoming of the A7R for someone that has a set of Leica M lenses ….would be the color shading and smeared edges for lenses wider than 35mm .

    So what can we learn here ….yes the Sony A7R can produce a pretty fantastic image with a premium Leica M lens . Are you surprised ? Its a current state of the art 36MP sensor similar to the D800E .

    The primary differences in the two system stem from the EVF verse SLR models . Each has advantages and disadvantages .

    • Am I surprised? I am pleased. The reason is that I have read other experts, like Lloyd Chambers, write that there are serious IQ problems with Leica lenses on the A7r. It may be he sees it that way because he is accustomed to the IQ he gets with Leica lenses on Leica cameras, but my concern is whether the IQ is better than what I might get from a non-Leica kit. What this test showed me is that I could get IQ that was at least equal to or better than the best I could expect from an excellent non-Leica alternative. At the same time, the camera is lighter, smaller, more portable, less obtrusive and a lot less expensive.

      To everyone here who seems surprised that I might be so naive as to not instantly understand that of course a Leica Summilux 35mm ASPH will turn any camera into a superstar, please understand that there are other experts out there who disagree with you. Forget about my review, look for reviews by people you admire and see what they have to say about putting Leica lenses on the A7r. Some are enthusiastic, like Steve Huff, others are quite dour, like Chambers and Rockwell.

      Why do you think I should expect a result that is contrary to what half of the experts online are saying? I wanted to see for myself, and now I know that whatever other people are saying, I can get great quality in a small package without spending €6,399 on a Leica M240. Maybe the Leica body would give me even better IQ, I believe it probably does, but that is irrelevant for people who prefer to invest money in lenses rather than camera bodies that will be outdated every two years or so. The A7r is in the same price category as the D800 but it has some important differences. The AA filter is not one of them.

      In an apples to apples sensor comparison, the D800E should be compared to the A7r, but this isn’t an apples to apples comparison. The goal wasn’t to check the AA filter, but overall IQ in a smaller kit. On that level, the D800 and D800E are exactly the same. As for the argument that the D800E images would be better due to increased sharpness and would therefore compete better with the A7r images, that misses the point by ignoring other qualities where they are comparable (namely, every factor other than sharpness).

      I understand the purist’s urge to keep things within well-established norms, but that only makes sense if the context is appropriate. Someone committed to a Leica kit is not going to compromise by getting an A7r, but what about enthusiasts who have been eyeing Leica glass but were unwilling to fork over the money for the M240? I came close to doing it, but with the A7r sitting there, why not get the camera and a lens for the cost of the M240 alone? The M240 has a tiny sensor in comparison to the A7r and the D800/D800E, a poor viewfinder relative to the Sony, and is in general behind other major brands technically. Why buy that when the market will force Leica to improve on it anyway? Besides, it is the lens that matters most, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to be buying and replacing camera bodies for amateurs, though pros can probably justify it.

      AP

      • I don’t think you are understanding the majority of the criticisms. The biggest problem is that you didn’t record aperture and other values and attempted to discuss technical concerns like corner sharpness without controlling for basic variables (like aperture). The results: unusable information, a lot of D800 samples that are inexplicably bad and appear to have nothing in common with the reality of the camera’s capabilities.

        This is coming from someone who sold my own D800 and switched to an A7.

        You are, of course, free to do whatever tests you like. I’m just surprised this made it through the editing filter to be honest. You’ve picked a great camera; enjoy it!

        • “I’m just surprised this made it through the editing filter to be honest.”

          I doubt there is an editing filter. Steve invites photographers to post articles to his blog for no payment other than the exposure. If he receives something he wants to post, he does so. His audience then reads the articles for free. If you don’t like some of the articles, too bad. Where does it say you or anyone else is entitled to tests conducted to your liking? If Andrew’s results bother you that much then run your own tests “the right way” and submit them to Steve for publication. Just don’t be too surprised if the only thanks you get when Steve posts it is criticism, complaints, and abuse.

          • I’m not bothered at all. Just trying to help explain — seems like author (based on his numerous replies) doesn’t get the gist what people are saying.

            Like I said, feel free to run and publish whatever tests you like!

            Cheers

          • It’s true my comments were pretty rude, going back and reading them. Next time I will try to give constructive criticism without the unnecessary harshness. Apologies to the author. Merry Xmas!

  77. Sony A7r should be compared with Nikon D800E, not D800, for both A7r and D800E have no low-pass filter (AA) :P

  78. The photos seem to be taken in different apertures, you can’t do this kind of comparison with different depth of field

  79. Having read your “review”, Andrew, and all the subsequent comments, 78 at this time of writing, it is easy to see why it has engendered such diverse comment.

    For me, personally, it hasn’t helped me . And I can’t fathom your raison d’etre. From your title, “Nikon D800 versus Sony A7R” I think one can reasonably assume that what will follow will be objective comments about how the two cameras perform, and which the reader may assume would be in a controlled and repeatable environment. That is, an even and identical playing field for each. This is what comparative tests are, or should be, all about. This is not what we get. So those expecting your assessment of the pros and cons of each camera shooting the same subject are going to be disappointed. And they have commented accordingly.

    You do admit that it was your intention to find out if you could get from the A7R results that would be at least equal to the Nikon, or better. Your approach, though, is far removed from what I would suggest most people would be expecting. Unless you do a totally objective test your results are going to be meaningless and flies in the face of your title for this posting.

    If the Nikon produces a result that pleases you with certain settings at the taking stage, do you honestly believe that with the A7R producing a more pleasing (or worse) result for you but with completely different settings, and in some cases with a little post editing, is a valid comparison of either camera?

    As a paper, it has been an interesting read of the jottings and meanderings of a photographer. But that’s about it.

    • For what it’s worth, I do not belong to any secret society of professional photographers. I am simply a humble enthusiast who enjoys taking pictures. Why self-styled experts here feel the need to point this out to me in so many posts I really do not understand, since I never claim otherwise. It seems to me that the idea of getting an A7r instead of an M240 is a legitimate question. If you don’t like the way I answered it, then feel free to take that position. What is the good of reiterating it ad nauseum in the comments section here?

      I did a comparison between these cameras and lenses using all the same settings and of the same subjects, inspired by comments on this page. What did the results tell me? Nothing of any serious value. Why is that? Because what mattered to me was how many “keepers” I got out of each camera, no matter how they were achieved. That may not sound legitimate to you, but as far as I am concerned, the most important thing any camera/lens combination has to offer is the images it produces. How they were made matters much less than that they got made and how well they compare with each other.

      The differences between these cameras are too great to do a serious side by side shooting test of the type you describe because of the complexity of how different functions of each camera are inter-related. What works to the advantage of one camera may be a disadvantage to the other. For instance, the D800 can shoot many more frames per second than the A7r. This means that the D800 is better in that spectrum of functionality. On the other hand, the superior EVF of the A7r improves the quality of focus, making it better than the D800 in that spectrum of function. However, looking at those things separately in a side-by-side test does not answer the question “which one results in more keepers?” In my test, that was the A7r, even with moving subjects, because I found it easier to focus, thus partly compensating for the frame rate difference.

      So, this is a review but it doesn’t match your expectations. Maybe there are other reviews that do meet your expectations and you can enjoy those. If it makes you feel better to denigrate this amateur effort, please feel free to do so, but I’d like to think you have better things to do with your time.

      AP

      • Well put, sir! Though I own neither camera (but wouldn’t mind either!;-), I read your review with its intended purpose in mind, and appreciate your obvious time and effort in constructing it. IMHO, I think that the “anonymity” of the Internet has more to do with many of those negative comments than your actual review, though admittedly, I agreed with the value of more exif data (aperture, ISO and the like). In any case, I am researching the A7r further, as the D800 is quite out of my league, primarily in terms of cost and performance requirements (I shoot primarily landscape and product, so don’t need “speed”). May you, Steve H., and all other photographers here, have a joyous and creative 2014!

  80. Great review.I use the D800E and love it to bits.Even if the Sony is “better” they are still some of the best bits of year you can get so why complain.When we are splitting such tiny hairs,things can’t be too bad.

  81. I appreciate the effort of comparing the cameras, but the comparisons are almost useless. The doorways in the cathedral are clearly lit differently, the Sony shot clearly shows a strong light source from left of frame, which is not present in the Nikon shot. Many of the other shot comparisons show vastly different focus, depth of field, and/or lighting. The high iso sony shot 100% crop is out of focus, while the nikon one isn’t. I feel Steve should consider removing this review.

  82. Thank you for the reviews

  83. The DOF in the comparison shots is so different as to make the sharpness comparison meaningless.

  84. i just dont trust this Sony guys, they usually let customers down, my kids spent a lot of savings on their play station 3, and then they can’t use then on the play 4. i believe this is a company statement and we must be careful we are invention serious money here, and i prefer to bet on Nikon.

    Greg

    • I feel the same way about Sony and I used to work for them (Sony Pictures Imageworks). Both VAIO computers I bought had burned out motherboards after about a year’s use. After that I figured “no more Sony equipment, period”, That said, I liked the specs on the A7r, the price was right, so I took a gamble. I like the camera quite a bit. If it continues to function as well until the next model is out (the next big step up) I’ll be happy. No complaints so far.

      AP

  85. Ma LOL! You are a funboy! Please, look here the real world:

    http://photographylife.com/sony-a7r-vs-nikon-d800e-iso-comparison

    Regards

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