The Sony A7: My Six Month Analysis
By Adam Laws
I originally wrote to you six months ago in regards to my very recent purchase of the Sony A7 and Zeiss 55mm with my original thoughts as an enthusiastic yet amateur photographer with a shiny new plaything. I received some great positive comments from your readership, though I also received equal negative response due to my post processing. Some of which I found quite constructive in fairness.
Since my original correspondence I have started a photography course, gained some experience of studio shooting, purchased the Zeiss 35mm 2.8 and been on various adventures. All whilst Sony has announced the new Sony A7s and issued a firmware update to the A7 series so I thought your readers might be interested on how my experience has been so far. especially with your inpending review of the A7s.
Firstly something I didn’t elaborate on in my original post is how I ended up with camera in the first place. Originally I had been bouncing from higher capability point and shoot cameras. The Ricoh GX100, Panasonic LX3, the LX5 and then on to my first mirrorless system being the Panasonic GX1. A camera I liked but found myself wanting a viewfinder so I purchased the OMD EM-5, followed by the X100S, which I sold for the A7.
The main reason I have bounced around so much as my interest grew in photographer so did my desire for better equipment (The dreaded GAS syndrome). However I found by selling my old camera gear before the launch of the next generation of camera (I kept an eye on rumour sites for the latest info) allowed me to sell a camera with very minimal depreciation. I have yet to lose more than a £150 on camera and as I keep a camera for roughly a year (So far) the cost incurred for experimenting with the latest equipment I feel is quite reasonable. In addition with each new purchase I find my enthusiasm for photography is rekindled. Anyway I digress. What all these cameras have in common is their small, lightweight, and very capable for their form factor.
So back to my experiences with the Sony A7, what have I liked and what’s annoyed the proverbial sh*t out of me.
Wireless remote control functionality with my mobile device. This feature is built-in to the camera and sends a live view image to my phone allowing me to take images at a distance without any additional equipment being required. Focus peaking is amazing and extremely satisfying. I tend to manual focus when time allows. Lightness. This camera fits in my rucksack with ease and I have literally climbed a mountain with this in my bag along with other general provisions, without my back regretting it the following morning.
I appreciate the level of customisation this camera gives me allowing me to change the buttons as I see fit. If you decided to shoot in JPG I find the colour of the image is slightly better than the RAW and in addition the files are quite susceptible to manipulation before things go crazy. Autofocus has always proved very reliable and quick for my purposes. Depth of field is great. I love shooting wide open when the scene allows, and you are capable of getting quite amount of 3d pop. I was also surprised how sharp the Zeiss lens was wide open, though you have to be careful with your focusing. I can’t see myself ever needing any more camera if that makes any sense for the shooting I do.
ISO set to the control wheel as default. I must have accidentally changed my ISO to something ridiculous far too many times before I decided to change the configuration. The wheel has no real resistance so it was very easy to accidentally adjust/move. Though the camera feels good in my hand it doesn’t feel as nice as the OMD with the optional grip, nor is built as solid as the Fuji x100s, which just felt satisfying and weighty (In a good way). Shutter noise. Much has been said about this and as my previous camera with the X100s with the silent leaf shutter I winced with embarrassment the first time I tried to take street shots. Though it’s not generally that loud and no less noisy than my classmates DSLR’s.
You try finding flash equipment especially with TLL capabilities or radio transmitters that state they are compatible with the A7 even with the new ‘standard’ multi interface hot shoe. I’m still trying to find a cheap solution, which is available (And works consistently). File size. I love the megapixels however when shooting RAW has been to the detriment of my hard drive. Additional native FE lenses. I appreciate you can get adaptors for various lenses but I would like the option to buy native lenses with autofocus capabilities that is designed for this system. I found white balance to be a little off when shooting in studio conditions, and in addition snow. Nothing that couldn’t be rectified in post or with some button pushing but it was always a little out in these conditions.
Generally I have been very happy with my purchase. Will the A7 cure my GAS? Maybe in relation to bodies after all does anyone need any more capability within a camera for general shooting? Probably not. However I can see myself getting additional glass (If something becomes available in the FE native line-up). I guess I see what happens. If you readers want to see any more image samples please feel free to see my amateur web-site www.tyrannosaurusphotography.com
And thank you Steve for all your dedication to this site. It truly is a source of inspiration not only in regards to gear but seeing other individuals work.