My first 6 months with the Sony A7 by Alfredo Guadarrama

My first 6 months with the Sony A7

by Alfredo Guadarrama

Well, the first 6 months with my A7 went pretty fast and I thought it was a good moment to gather some thoughts on this system. I’m a former Nikon user that had a D600 and a D7000 before with a plenty number of lenses. I had the opportunity to have a variety on focal lengths that gave me a lot of versatility to take decent pictures in most of the common scenarios.

After having several problems with my D600 and D7000 due to oil spots issues in the mechanism that drives the mirror, I decided to sell all my Nikon equipment and look for an alternative system. This was a very disappointing quality issue. I spent a considerable amount of time removing oil spots in photoshop and lightroom. I thought this situation was unacceptable due to the high prices in this gear.

After doing extensive research on systems I didn’t have a lot of alternatives. I wanted a lighter body but also high performance with good quality lenses. The Canon system offered excellent quality with the 5DMIII and the 6D coupled with high-end lenses. The problem is that these bodies are as heavy as the D600. Most of the time I do travel photography, carrying a heavy body all day long is not very nice.

Then, I went to the Fuji X-system. The glass versatility and quality are great, but the bodies are not full frame. Despite this situation, I think that Fuji is doing a great job in terms of quality image. I think that the jpegs from the current line of cameras/lenses are superb. Finally, I decided to go with the Sony A7. I chose this body because it is full-frame. When compared to the A7R (A7S didn’t exist at that moment), I chose the A7 because it had a better autofocus system, lower megapixels (less hard drive space with very good image quality), and was significantly cheaper. The only downside was the lenses. The variety of lenses was and it is still very small with high prices. As we are seeing now with the appearance of new lenses (e.g. Loxia), my hopes of a larger variety of lenses is becoming a reality. I know that you can use third party lenses with adapters, but I’m not the best fan. I think lenses are made specifically to work well in a system, and second, I love having autofocus (I know that peaking mode works wonders in the A7).

So, the lenses I bought were the 35F2.8 and the 24-70F4 from Zeiss. Shot with the A7 and the Nikon 35mm f1.8G (Fotodiox Adapter)

IMG_0476 1500

And here is the Sony A7 + 35F2.8 with a leather half case. Shot with the iPhone 5c

IMG_0475 1500

Since I received my A7 I have had the chance to shoot 6000+ photos with the camera and I must say that it has pros and cons. To make it simple for readers I put them as a bullet list:


  • Lightweight when compared to a DSLR.
  • Small size that doesn’t take half of the space in your backpack.
  • Viewfinder screen, you see what you’ll get.
  • Superb image quality, especially with the 35 mm (Zeiss).
  • Intuitive and well positioned controls and dials, you have dedicated knobs for aperture, speed, ISO.
  • Internal Wi-Fi, the app works much better than the one for Nikon and the camera has built-in wi-fi. For the Nikon you need to buy a 50USD adapter.
  • Tilting screen is very useful when shooting over a crowd or close to the floor.


  • Battery life is ridiculous, cannot last one full day of shooting. I had to buy a lot of additional batteries (40 USD each).
  • Usually one stop slower than DSLRs in the same situation. I think this is related to the fact it is a mirrorless system.
  • Small variety of lenses, current line is very expensive.
  • Some distortion with the 24-70F4 at 24mm, the lens works pretty well as a general purpose lens (could be better for the price).
  • Extremely noisy. This camera has been hard to use while shooting inside a church or temple where you need to be quiet.
  • Not weather/dust resistant (would have been nice for travel photography)

I had the opportunity to use the camera in the Boston, Miami, NYC, London, Dubai and several countries Asia. I was surprised with the camera. It performed very well, it was very easy to use and despite being one of the first times using it, I didn’t have any trouble finding specific settings. The lcd screen is big enough to review sharpness and focus in the pictures. The wifi worked wonders when I wanted to share a picture with my family or in Instagram.

Here are some of the shots I have taken so far since I got the camera, most of them are edited in Lightroom with VSCO film presets:

Charing Cross in London, UK

Leicester Square Station

Ultra Music Festival in Miami, USA

20140330 - Miami - ILCE-7 FE 35mm F2.8 ZA - 00099

Boston, USA

20140419 - HelenBoston - ILCE-7 FE 35mm F2.8 ZA - 00124

Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE

20140512 - Dubai - ILCE-7 FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS - 00281

Sumo tournament in Tokyo, Japan

Sumo Fight

Low light performance is astonishing for a camera of this size (no tripod was used in this shot).

Kyoto, Japan

Fushimi Inari

Geisha District in Kyoto, Japan

Geisha District

Men playing cards near Guilin, China

20140524 - Guilin_Yangshuo - ILCE-7 FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS - 00056

French Concession in Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China

The skyline in the shot below was taken using a mefoto tripod, Victoria Skyline in Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

Phuket, Thailand

Soho, NYC

20140826 - New York - ILCE-7 FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS - 00087

In case you own a A7/A7R/A7S, I recommend you watching this video from Ralfs Foto-Bude in YouTube: .

It presents an in-depth analysis of the different menus and options inside the camera. I found it pretty useful when learning how to use the A7.

As a conclusion, buying this camera was a very good choice, amazing are results. This camera was a good choice because it adapts to my photographic needs and delivers the quality I’m expecting. It is not a perfect camera, but is the best solution for me in the current market offering. Please share your thoughts and comments. They will be interesting to read.

Thank you Steve, for giving your website readers the opportunity to share their thoughts. Congratulations for your great work.


P.S. If you want to see more of my work using this camera please go to:


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  1. Hi Alfredo – considering buying the A7 but unsure re zoom lens – any thoughts on the kit lens 28-70 v 24-70 F4.

  2. I love the A7! It is the best camera i’ve used yet, and i’m a huge Fuji X fan! I do wish the system lenses were a bit cheaper, but i have the 35 2.8, so that’ll have to do for now =o] I also use the Minolta 58mm f1.4, Nikon Nikkor-H 50mm f/2 rangefinder lens, and a Nikon 85 f/2 AIs. The Rokinon lenses also look to be pretty damn good for the money. Thanks for the write up, i enjoy reading how people are getting on with the A7 system, and look fwd to reading more as time goes.

        • Personally I think this is where the A7 line shines the best. The ability to adapt just about any lens to its wonderfully large sensor is why i bought the camera and absolutely love using it. I have only had one AF lens on the body and that was the 50mm 1.8 FE Zeiss. Great lens but the old vintage glass has so much more character. Definitely try some, you may never go back!

  3. I have used an A7 for about six months as well, with Leitz glass (50mm Summicron, 35mm Summilux as well as f4 90 and 135mm). I am very impressed with the quality of the images but do find the images have a tendency to be a little underexposed at times. All the things you say about the advantages are true: it is small (the same size as my old Canon A-1), the high ISO image quality is pleasing (at worst giving you a decent image to work on in Lightroom) and the ergonomics are fine. Currently I feel no need to buy the autofocus lenses and have even shot sports days and plays with the Leitz glass. I do like the card players shot – lovely atmosphere.

  4. I have used the a7 a little. I could have bought one for a very good price and I was very tempted so I could go full frame. But I was not able to really test it due to lack of lenses and time. So take that into consideration regarding my remarks.
    I concur that the controls are very good and that the full frame image is very nice.
    However I did see some what I think are shadow color noise issues and that bothered me.
    For me in the end it was TOO small. I guess that I am too used to the ergonomics of present day Canon and Nikon DSLR’s to change.

    • Lets hope that sony continues expanding the FE lens category in the future. The camera is becoming pretty popular, they will probably do it. I like the noise in the camera, in my opinion it is very similar to the grain you get when you use film. Thanks for the comment.

  5. Lovely images. “Men Playing Card’ – Wonderful!! I really like your processing. Lovely film quality!!

  6. Hi
    Please dont be upset with me.
    I know it is common to praise the photos but i had a long look at your photos and although people wrote you had great colors in these pictures i find the colors vague or dull. I also think you overexposed most of your photos like ko phi phi where you simply dont see the sky, or the french consession where the houses are clearly over exposed.Same in Geisha district
    I thought the photos where not sharp enough. Men playing was dull and overexposed and yet beautiful.
    People love the Sony A7
    I didnt
    Please dont be mad 🙂

  7. You’ve got great colors in these pictures,. Alfredo! While I’m a color obsessed myself and also use VSCO, I would love to hear what particular film-types you use? And what else you use with your post processing, because it’s tasty. 🙂

    • I really enjoy using VSCO Film 01 package. That is the one used to edit most of these picture. Thanks for the comment!

  8. Dear Alfredo, I concur. I particularly enjoyed viewing your photo “Men Playing Cards” image. …simply wonderful atmospherics, light and composition. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I guess it all depends on what one does with the photos but an Olympus EM1 seems a better choice: body stabilization and sealing, many hi quality prime and zoom lens cheaper and smaller since stabilization is in body, image quality good enough for pro-wedding photographers, cost and weight.

    Or maybe it’s just to big a jump for.many at this time. But Steve ‘ s a Leica guy and he rated EM1 2013 CAMERA OF THE YEAR!

    • I think the EM1 is a wonderful and capable camera but I prefer a bigger sensor. The EM1 has a wider variety of lenses and I think the EM1 is a very good value for the money. Thanks!

  10. Some very nice shots here Al. Can you please add which lenses you were working with in each? In particular, the Japan shots, and the Dubai tower?

    • Thanks!

      Here are the lenses:
      – Charing Cross (FE 35mm2.8)
      – Ultra Music Festival (FE 35mm2.8)
      – Boston (FE 24-70mm4)
      – Burj Khalifa (FE 24-70mm4)
      – Sumo tournament (FE 24-70mm4)
      – Kyoto (FE 24-70mm4)
      – Geisha District (FE 35mm2.8)
      – Men playing cards (FE 24-70mm4)
      – French Concession (FE 35mm2.8)
      – Victoria Skyline (FE 24-70mm4)
      – Ko Phi Phi (FE 24-70mm4)
      – Soho (FE 24-70mm4)

  11. Nice (tourist) shots. Didn’t quite follow the reasoning (I was led to believe in the narrative it was not a good choice, until the conclusion came up), but whatever floats your boat I guess is good enough.

    Also, for these shots 24, 50 and 85 (all 1.8’s) primes with a dslr body would have sufficed and not have been intolerably heavier or bulkier.

    • Sorry for the bad narrative/english. You are right, with primes it would not be intolerably heavier/bulkier. Still I think that having a full frame this small is great, specially when you walk a whole day with the camera. Thanks for your comment.

  12. Hey Alfredo,

    Great composition work. You have a great eye! I am curious if you shoot in Raw or JPG (I have the A7r and shoot in RAW mostly) and do you do any post processing? I find myself changing highlights and shadows to try to draw more contrast without losing detail and almost always add a bit of saturation,but am not sure if that is different for the A7 or maybe I just need to brush up on my composing. I enjoyed the set, thank for sharing!

  13. your pictures are great, but you words does not makes sense
    just a few comments from me

    “Battery life is ridiculous, cannot last one full day of shooting. I had to buy a lot of additional batteries (40 USD each).”

    My battery stays 500 shots. If you shoot more per day yes you need a second battery. If you don’t need sony on it, you will get 4 for your 40 $

    “Usually one stop slower than DSLRs in the same situation. I think this is related to the fact it is a mirrorless system.”

    That does make sense at all

    “Extremely noisy. This camera has been hard to use while shooting inside a church or temple where you need to be quiet.”

    I absolute don’t know what you mean, this camera is very good at high ISO. If you better, take the A7S
    This shot is at ISO 6400:

    “Not weather/dust resistant (would have been nice for travel photography)”

    I’m travel a lot, not problems with the A7

  14. Nice Pictures. Nikon would have changed your D600 to a D610 for free as far as I know. Also the D7000 did not have the oil issue. Regarding ISO performance I guess the A7 is almost as good as the Nikon D700, so it can’t be too bad 🙂

  15. “Usually one stop slower than DSLRs in the same situation. I think this is related to the fact it is a mirrorless system”

    This doesn’t make the slightest sense. It has no mirror/translucent mirror, why would it be a stop slower?

    • The A7 is particular is NOT weather resistant. I have taken one apart (to modify it for my use and yes, it is working quite well). The front shell especially is a paper thin plastic. Treat it very gently.

      Compared to even low level Nikon cams which do mot claim any sealing, the A7’s construction is, in general, very poor. They have no chassis and only a few plates put together. What you are paying for is the sensor and the EVF (live view) in a compact package. That is it.

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