The Sony A7 and A7r Camera Review by Steve Huff
Yes, Sony did it!
Well here we are near the end of 2013 and finally…in my hand is the Sony A7 and A7r cameras (and they have been for a few weeks), the two little powerhouses that are poised and planned to take over the mirrorless camera world with their small tough design and their full frame class leading sensors. No one else had the balls to make such a camera yet Sony plowed right in, listened to the enthusiasts and DID IT. NOPE! Not Nikon, Not Leica, Not Olympus, Not Samsung, Not Pentax and certainly NOT Canon who have been doing nothing exciting or innovated at all lately in my opinion (I am speaking about Canon in that last statement).
BUT after extensive real world use with these cameras I am left scratching my bald head…”WHY did Sony make two cameras”? I think they would have been better off with ONE A7 model which IMO would have been the A7 minus the AA filter. Done deal. By releasing TWO it has made everyone confused. I have now spoken to several who have canceled their pre orders only to order the other version and then cancel again because of the conflicting reports online of each model. Poeple are flooding me with questions on a daily basis “which one should I buy”???
Well, to all of you who are confused, let me ease your mind…the A7 is just as good of a camera for 99.2% of users as the A7R is. You will lose nothing and may even gain some by shooting with the A7 over the A7r. But I will get more into this later on..for now, let me get back to my talk about Sony being revolutionary in the camera world..because they are really the only ones who are at the moment with Olympus right behind them.
The A7r with the Leica 75 Summilux Lens – Stunning Combo. Used the Simple Studio 1344 LED Light kit here. A light kit that is easy to use and packs a HUGE punch. Superbly made as well.
Nope, no one else has managed to come in and create something like the A7 series of camera. No one has attempted to put a full frame sensor into a small mirrorless body besides Leica, and they have been doing it since the M9 days (but expect to pay dearly for those red dots). There is a huge enthusiast, amateur and even pro audience for a camera like the A7 and A7r because the price point of the Leica M 240 is out of reach of so many photographers. Many of us wanted a small full frame solution that would not bankrupt us and now it is here in both the A7 and A7r.
After shooting with these new Sony cameras for a while I can safely say that my favorite is…BOTH! I just wanted to let that out up front. I feel the sensor is a little better in the A7r, the detail is better and the camera overall “seems” better when I am out shooting but of course much of that is mental due to the powerhouse sensor. But at the end of the day, more keepers came from the A7 for me, and it has a quieter shutter. So to me, that sums it up in my mind. Both are fantastic, both can do amazing things and both have the same flaws. Either can take a great image.
The A7 is fantastic but if you want that extra ounce (and I do mean OUNCE) of performance, the A7r is the bell of the ball though for anything besides uber large printing no one will see a difference. Now if you are the type of shooter who sets up his sturdy tripod and does landscape, then the A7r will do the trick for you but shooting handheld in all kinds of light, the A7 gets the nod for me.
Why these cameras are game changers
The new A7 and A7r have created a whole new genre. Now we have the best full frame sensors available in a smaller package and to be honest quite affordable for what they bring to the table. No, $1700 and $2300 is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination but it is for what you are getting here. So first of all, the price is right. Many of us thought this camera was going to come in at $4500 and no one knew there would actually be TWO of them with one UNDER $1700 and one just under $2300. So in that respect they are game changers already.
I think the costs are lower due to the fact that these cameras are made in Thailand instead of Japan. But no biggie as the cameras seem very solid in the build and reliability department. If Sony made these in Japan I bet the cost for the A7r would have been over $3k, so I welcome the lower price as long as the long term reliability holds up.
Another way that the Sony will separate itself from the competition is by being able to mount and shoot SOME/MOST Leica M mount lenses with fantastic results and in the full frame native format. No other full frame camera can do this (besides the Leica M itself). We have been able to use these lenses on APS-C sensor cameras but that was not the best way as we were really not using these lenses to their full capacity when using them with a cropped sensor.
Most Leica M mount lenses are full frame lenses and they are gorgeous in size, build and feel. The good news is that 85-90% of them work amazingly well on the A7 and A7r. I found some of the best performing lenses on the A7 and A7r came from Zeiss with the Zeiss ZM line. Lenses like the 50 Zm f/2 Planar and the 50 Sonnar 1.5 are wonderful. They also come in at a much lower cost than the Leica counterparts. Also, one of the most magical lenses I have tried on these cameras has been the 75 Summilux. Gorgeous.
So we now have something that is important and very welcome..a choice!
GRRRRRR – A7r – ISO 800 35 2.8
So those with Leica M lenses, you now have a full frame alternative to the Leica M.
The Leica M is of course the preffered camera to shoot these lenses with but as I said, not all of us have $7000 to spend on a camera body. Some of us have Leica M’s but want a backup and do not want to spend $7k TWICE 🙂 The Sony A7 and A7r, IMO, are perfect for shooting Leica M mount glass from 28mm and up. I have tested and shot with the Voigtlander 35 1.2, the Zeiss 35 Biogon and 50 Planar ZM and they were amazing on the A7 and A7r. Especially the A7r. The color, the pop, the depth and the detail was all there and dare I say, even more so than with the Leica M in many cases.
In case you missed my earlier reports from a few weeks ago, below are links to each and every one and they have TONS of samples with M glass..
Day 1 – Nashville with the new Sony Cameras – Honky Tonks!
Day 2 – Nashville with the A7! – Zeiss OTUS!
With those reports plus this longer term use review most of you should get an idea as to how the Sony A7 and A7r perform. So yes, these new Sony cameras have paved the way and are leading the mirrorless pack just for these reasons alone. But NO, they are NOT perfect and I do have some negatives I can speak about later. It is just that the IQ will NOT be one of them!
The Zeiss Otus is AMAZING in it’s IQ with the Sony A7 series..these three will show you that 🙂 You can buy this lens HERE. I USED THE Canon Mount with an Adapter.
Full Frame Compact Mirrorless Digital Camera
The Sony Alpha a7 incorporates a full frame 35.8 x 23.9 sensor into the compact, lightweight form of an E-mount mirrorless camera providing the imaging prowess of full frame and the convenience and versatility of mirrorless.
A7: 24.3MP Exmor CMOS Sensor
With 24.3 effective megapixels, the Exmor CMOS sensor captures high-resolution, low-noise images with rich tonal gradation and low-light sensitivity. The normal ISO range on the Alpha a7 is 100-25600.
A7R: 36.4MP Exmor CMOS Sensor with No Optical Low Pass Filter
The 36.4MP resolution and outstanding performance of the Alpha a7R are optimized by removing the optical low-pass filter. In combination with the new BIONZ X image processing engine this design increases resolution and enhances the reproduction of the finest details. In addition, the sensor includes a new gapless lens design that fills the space between neighboring pixels to significantly increase light collecting efficiency and realize high corner-to-corner image quality. Differing from the Sony Alpha a7, the Alpha a7R with its omitted low-pass filter, gapless lens design sensor and contrast-detection AF provides the utmost in high-resolution, finely detailed capture. With 36.4 effective megapixels, the Exmor CMOS sensor captures high-resolution, low-noise images with rich tonal gradation and low-light sensitivity. The normal ISO range on the Alpha a7R is 100-25600.
A7R: Gapless, On-chip Sensor Lenses
Sony optimized the design and positioning of the sensor’s on-chip lens (OCL) covering every pixel to significantly enhance light-gathering efficiency. A gapless on-chip lens design eliminates the gaps between the micro-lenses to collect more light. Moreover, each on-chip lens is optimally positioned depending on its location to accommodate the sharper angle of light entering the periphery, which is caused by larger sensor dimensions being teamed with the E-mount’s short flange-back distance.
BIONZ X Image Processor
The new BIONZ X image processing engine reproduces textures and details in real time via extra high-speed processing capabilities. Together with front-end LSI (large scale integration) that accelerates the earliest processing stages, it enables more natural details, more realistic images, richer tonal gradations, and lower noise whether you shoot still images or movies.
A7: Fast Hybrid Autofocus
Enhanced Fast Hybrid auto focus combines speedy phase-detection AF with accurate contrast-detection AF, which has been accelerated through a new Spatial Object Detection algorithm. Phase-detection AF with 117 densely placed phase-detection AF points swiftly moves the lens to bring the subject nearly into focus, then contrast-detection AF with wide AF coverage fine-tunes precise focusing. A7r does not have the hybrid AF.
A7: Up to 5 fps Continuous Shooting
New faster, more accurate AF tracking, made possible by Fast Hybrid AF allows you to capture action shots and that ‘perfect’ moment with 5 fps continuous shooting in Speed Priority Continuous Shooting Mode. Differing from the Alpha a7R, the Alpha a7 provides a Hybrid Focus system that enables faster focusing and frame rates for photographers who favor performance speed.
Compatibility with Sony’s E-mount Lenses and New Full-Frame Lenses
Maintaining its lightweight form, the Alpha a7 is fully compatible with Sony’s present APS-C E-mount lens system and the new line of E-mount compact full-frame lenses from Carl Zeiss and Sony’s premier G-series.
3.0″ Tilt LCD Monitor
The tiltable 3.0″ Xtra Fine LCD Display offers a 1,229K-dot resolution and makes it easy to photograph from low or high angles, swinging up 84° and down 45°. WhiteMagic technology dramatically increases visibility in bright daylight. The large display delivers brilliant-quality still images and movies while enabling easy focusing operation.
2.4M-dot OLED Electronic Viewfinder
With its 3-lens optical system the viewfinder faithfully displays what will appear in your recording, including the effects of your camera settings. You’ll enjoy rich tonal gradations and improved contrast. High-end features like 100% frame coverage and a wide viewing angle enable comfortable and stable eye-level composition.
Full HD Movie at 24p/60i/60p with Uncompressed HDMI Output
The Alpha a7 supports in-camera AVCHD codec frames rates in super-smooth 60p, standard 60i or cinematic 24p. MP4 codec is also available for smaller files for easier upload to the web. Also, it is possible to capture Full 1080 HD uncompressed clean-screen video files to external recording devices via an HDMI connection in 60p and 60i frame-rates.
Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC
Connectivity with smartphones for One-touch sharing/One-touch remote has been simplified with Wi-Fi/NFC control. In addition to Wi-Fi support for connecting to smartphones, the Alpha a7 also supports NFC (Near Field Communication) providing convenient transfer of images to Android smartphones and tablets. Users need only touch devices to connect; no complex set-up is required. Moreover, when using Smart Remote Control – a feature that allows shutter release to be controlled by a smartphone – connection to the smartphone can be established by simply touching compatible devices.
Direct Access Interface
Quick Navi Pro displays all major shooting options on the LCD screen so you can rapidly confirm settings and make adjustments without searching through dedicated menus. When shooting opportunities arise, you’ll be able to respond swiftly with just the right settings.
New Eye AF control
Even when capturing a subject partially turned away from the camera with a shallow depth of field, the face will be sharply focused thanks to extremely accurate eye detection that can prioritize a single pupil. A green frame appears over the prioritized eye when focus has been achieved for easy confirmation. Eye AF can be used when the function is assigned to a customizable button, allowing users to instantly activate it depending on the scene.
14-bit RAW Output
14-bit RAW image data of extremely high quality is outputted by the Alpha a7. This data preserves the rich detail generated by the image sensor during the 14-bit A/D conversion process. When developed with Sony’s Image Data Converter RAW development software, these images deliver particularly high quality photographic expression and rich gradation.
Wired Remote Control with Video Capture Control
Remote Camera Control allows you to control your Alpha a7 from your computer using a USB cable. It has been updated to include video capture control.
The Alpha a7 features the advanced Multi-Interface Shoe that dramatically expands compatibility with Sony digital imaging accessories such as flash units, microphones, lights, and monitors thus increasing the potential of your photo and movie shooting.
OK, so what about this funky looking body that some are calling ugly and some are calling beautiful?
I feel that the Sony A7 and A7r bodies have a 70’s retro vintage vibe mixed with a bit of modern style. In one way, the square body and EVF hump remind me of the old film bodies yet the glossy black and SONY logo do not. For me, I liked it from about 36 seconds after I saw it, especially with the funky thin grip attached. It made me feel like I was holding an old school yet modern camera and when holding it, it gives you that feeling of confidence.
The build is solid on the A7 and A7r. Both have magnesium alloy build with the A7r having a little more metal in the front and within the top dials. Speaking of dials, Sony did it right with these cameras. There are manual dials for anything you need to control and once set up to your liking you will never need to delve into the menu system. Need to change aperture? No problem, turn the thumb dial. Need to change ISO? No problem. Shutter speed? No problem. EV comp? No problem, use the dedicated dial.
After using these for a few weeks it is obvious that Sony did their homework. To some, it may seem like there are too many dials but there is not. To those who appreciate manual control and being able to instinctivly change a setting, the Sony’s are a treat. Makes me wish my Leica M had an Exposure Compensation dial as I use it often and on the Leica M it is a pain to change. So as you can see, the top of the A7 and A7r have two dials, one for shutter speed, one for aperture. They also have a mode dial and an EV dial. On the back there is a dial that can be programmed to control whatever you want and the C1 button up top can also be set up to do whatever you command it to do (ISO, focus mag, etc)
So with some long term use I grew to really enjoy the feel, design and control scheme of the A7 and A7r. The build of the cameras is solid and feels good in my had. They do not feel as solid nor as good in my hand as my Leica but remember, these bodies are thousands less than the Leica yet offer the same or better IQ.
Sony A7 and 50 Noctilux F/1
That LOUD Shutter!
The #1 thing that made waves throughout the online photo community about these new A7’s is the LOUD shutter. Yes, it is louder than about any other digital camera I have used. Is it a big deal? No, not really. I can see where it may be a big deal to those who need to shoot in quite locations but if that is the case, only digital cameras with silent leaf shutters would work anyway. No big DSLR has a quiet shutter so the A7 is about the same as all other major cameras. It has a real shutter.
The A7 is not as loud as the A7r because when you shoot it you will hear ONE shutter click. The A7r has TWO shutter clicks. This is just how it is and I was told it is all due to sensor design and the sensor in the A7r needs that 2nd click. With the A7 you can set the shutter to either way by choosing “first curtain” in the menu to on or off. The A7r does not have this menu item.
Below is a video I did showing the shutter sounds of the Sony and the Leica M side by side:
So if you need to know ANYTHING at all about these two models it is that the shutter is on the loud side so do NOT expect silence when shooting 🙂
The Native Sony and Zeiss Lenses and my thoughts
The Sony A7 cameras have a total of THREE Native lenses at or near launch. The Zeiss 35 2.8, the Zeiss 55 1.8 (coming a few weeks after launch), and the 28-70 Kit Zoom. The 35 2.8 and 55 1.8 are SUPERB lenses and for me the 35 takes the cake for the best launch lens. It is small, fast to AF and has a gorgeous Leica like quality about it. Even being an f/2.8 lens it is fantastic and gives off a shallow DOF that I would not expect from an f/2.8 lens.
The kit zoom is average. It is somewhat larger than the other two, and a slow aperture zoom that I just could not get into..at all. I am expecting the upcoming Zeiss 24-70 to rock it out of the park but this kit version is just average when it comes to kit zooms. Still one thing I will never understand. Why does a company release an amazing camera with a sensor that can resolve the most detail EVER in 35mm but they release it with a slow below average kit zoom lens? Makes no sense other than it makes the kit cheap and more affordable which is good for sales but bad for image when people are like “Hey, my images do not look like those I saw on the internet”..
The Zeiss 35 2.8 is a GREAT lens for the system.
The 35 at 2.8 and ISO 500
The 35 2.8 at 2.8
IMO, the 35 2.8 is a must buy lens for anyone with an A7 or A7r. It seems like it was made for the camera and was my fave during the review period.
The Zeiss 55 1.8 is also fantastic and not as large as many have made it out to be. Sure it is larger than a Leica 50 Summicron, and much lighter, but it is still fantastic. The AF speed is good but not amazingly good. I have had this lens miss the AF point when shooting in low light as well as up close. Still, it is amazingly brutally sharp even wide open.
I still find the AF of the A7 and A7r to be quicker and more accurate than the last Fuji bodies I have tried.
The A7 and 55 1.8
DETAIL EXTREME: In the Studio with Nikki Leigh and the Zeiss 55 1.8
So how much detail can we expect from the A7 or A7r? My quick answer? Either one will offer PLENTY of detail and resolution. Here is proof.
I shot model Nikki Leigh using the A7 and A7r using some FANTASTIC new LED lights..in fact, they are the best and coolest LED lights I have ever seen or touched. You can check them out here but they are small, compact, built like a tank and pack 1344 LED’s into each unit. They are dimmable and VERY easy to set up.
The results were great and the Sony/Zeiss 55 1.8 showed its stuff, even wide open and close to it. The two photos below were converted from RAW with some sharpening applied but these are the full size files. Click on them for the full size.
Note both are from the A7 as the same shots I did with the A7r were actually softer for some reason. So to those who were afraid of lack of detail in the A7, no worries 🙂
The A7 and 55
The A7 and 55
and here is a video of me using these lights
I am not usually a light guy but these little powerhouses come packed in their own pelican style case and are ultra portable. I have never seen this kind of power from an LED. If you are into lighting and do not want to mess with strobes, these can be a great alternative. Very very cool and super high quality. The Simple Studio 1344’s are very simple but very serious lights. Again, they can be seen HERE or HERE.
DETAIL EXTREME: Sony A7R and Zeiss OTUS 55 1.4
The most mystical, magical and sharpest lens I have used on these cameras (as well as having the best color) is the Zeiss Otus lens in Canon EF mount. An adapter is required but MAN this lens is AMAZING. Probably the best lens I have used in the 50mm range, ever. BUT the main drawback is that it is HUGE and pricey at $4000. Click the image below and you will see the full size from RAW file. Focus was on the eyelashes.
The EVF and Manual Focus of the A7 and A7r
The EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) in the Sony A7 and A7r is the same EVF that Sony sells for $450 (for the RX1, RX100II, etc) so yea, it is good, and BUILT IN. While not as large or clear as the Olympus EVF-4 that resides in their flagship E-M1, the Sony has the 2nd best EVF I have ever used. These days I much prefer a good EVF over an optical VF (though I love the rangefinder and VF in the Leica M equally).
So for those afraid of jumping to an EVF..don’t be. This is 2013, almost 2014 and EVF quality has come a long long way in the past 10 years. It can be a beautiful thing when looking through the EVF as what you see is what you get. No need to worry about VF coverage or any of that. It is easy to frame and you know what you are getting when you press that shutter button.
I have no complaints on the EVF in the Sony A7 and A7r. BOTH have the same EVF.
The Speed and overall usability of the cameras
The A7 and A7r both feel good in the hand but both have loud shutters. Some love the sound as it takes us back to the old mechanical days of a real shutter firing. Some shutters are quieter than others and the Sony A7 and A7r are on the louder end of the spectrum and I think that due to this it gives us the impression that the camera is slower or clunky. These cameras do indeed feel slower than an Olympus E-M1 or RX1 in use and I kind of compare them to shooting medium format. Slow paced and steady. Aim, compose, fire. These are not the cameras for sports shooters or machine gun blazing shutter crazies as they are not. Still, I managed to catch this little horse pulling this guy in a buggy and they were CRUISING! But oh..I shot it with a manual focus Zeiss Otus 🙂
Still, the A7 and A7r are faster to AF than the NEX-7 and most Fuji X bodies. So it is not slow, it is just not blazing fast. Also, do not expect too many frames per second with that A7r (up to 4).
The Menus & WiFi
The Sony A7 and A7r menus are a BIG step up from those found on the NEX series. In fact, the A7 series now has the Alpha menu so those who are familiar with the RX1, A99 or any A camera of recent times will be right at home with the menu on the A7 series of cameras. I find the menu clean and quick and easy to navigate. You can see more in the video below:
Below is my video I shot when I was able to use these cameras at a Sony Media Event in Nashville, TN – I go over the cameras and give my early thoughts on them.
WiFi is also included and it works like a charm. It is super easy to set up and start sending images to your tablet, phone or device. I was taking shots out on the road, instantly sending them to my iPhone and then instantly posting to Facebook. Amazing how far technology has come in the past few years. Amazing.
The battery life
The Battery life of the Sony cameras is not the best. I do NOT shoot at a high frame rate and I calculate my shooting. If I see a shot, I frame it and take it. I am not into chomping too much either. Usually with the A7 and A7r I found myself at 40% left at the end of a day with 150-200 shots taken. Others who shoot with the A7 find themselves running out of battery mid day so I would suggest buying 1-2 extra batteries with this camera. The good news is that it uses the same battery as the NEX series so if you are upgrading from a NEX system camera you already have a spare or two. They will deplete faster than a NEX-6 or 7 will.
The High ISO Performance of the A7 and A7r
High ISO performance is as good as can be expected. I ALWAYS test these without ANY noise reduction, so NR is OFF 100%. I also test indoor under low light, not with studio light as that makes zero sense..at all. No one shoots high ISO in the studio or in good light so the best way to test the ISO performance is under low light, indoor, when most of us will want to use it. It boggles my mind that so many sites still test high ISO with studio lighting. Below is a test scene in my office with 100% crops of each ISO from 640-25,600. The A7 and A7r are so close in high ISO it really is a draw when it comes down to looking at the images, weather resized or prints.
Take a look below but you MUST click on the crops to see them as 100% crops.
TWO SHOTS at ISO 6400 with the A7r – 1st one with the Sony Zeiss 35 2.8 and the 2nd with the Voigtlander 21 1.8 M mount lens.
You can see an ISO comparison that I did HERE between the A7, A7r and Leica M. I am hoping to also ass some side by side M comparisons to this review in the next week or two but for now, here is one that I did last week.
Using Leica M Mount Lenses
Shooting with Leica lenses is a treat for me because this is one part of the camera I was really excited about. When you shoot Leica lenses for many years it is tough to go back to cheap plastic primes and zooms and when I realized that these two cameras were coming I knew it would be huge for those who shoot Leica M glass.
I tested this camera with loads of M mount lenses including those from Leica, Zeiss, and Voigtlander. All worked great besides the ultra wide M mount glass (Though the Leica W.A.T.E. 16-18-21 works very well without any real issues). The Zeiss 35 Biogon f/2 performed wonderfully for me as did the 50 f.2 Planar. The Voigtlander 35 1.2 Ii was amazing (the image above was taken with this lens) and the Leica 50 Noctilux f/1 and 75 Summilux also knocked it out of the park with results bettering what came out of the Leica M for me. Crisper, more detail from the A7 and A7r.
So for me, the A7 and A7r represent a tremendous value because I can take it out and shoot with the fabulous auto focus 35 2.8 Zeiss or use a Leica M mount lens and fire away.
Shot with the A7 and Zeiss 35 Biogon at f/2 inside a music studio
Below – the A7R and Leica 50 Noctilux F/1 – Amazing combo. One can find a used Leica Noctilux F1 for around $5k these days..add that to the $1700 A7 and you have a drop dead gorgeous combo for less than the cost of a Leica M alone. This lens works just as magical as it does on any Leica M camera. I manually focused this shot at f/1 and did not use peaking or magnification. Focused on my eye and due to the large EVF, it was easy to do.
The Zeiss 50 ZM PLanar f/2 is a tremendous bargain in the M mount world. Competes with the $2200 Summicron at less than half the cost but provides the same sharpness but with punchier color and more 3D pop.
For mounting the M lenses I mainly used the best in th ebusiness M mount to Sony E mount adapter, the Novoflex. It is expensive for an adapter but when you are using lenses that are worth multiple thousands of dollars, spending $250 on the best adapter should not be an issue. But if you do not want to spend $250 on an adapter or are all tapped out from the camera and a lens, then you can also buy a $15 adapter from Amazon, as they work also. They are not made as well, have looser tolerances and can come loose after a few weeks but $15 vs $250..you cold buy 10 of them and still save $100.
Below is a link to the adapters:
The Novoflex M mount to E mount top use Leica M mount lenses on the A7 or A7r – B&H Photo
The generic adapter for $15 – Buy at Amazon
I bought my adapters before the big A7 and A7r storm and as of this writing they seem to be out of stock everywhere but should be back in stock soon.
So the bottom line is that the Sony A7 and A7r will both work with most Leica M mount glass but some wide angles or ultra wide angles will give you bad color shifts on BOTH cameras so just beware of some lenses 28mm and under as some will work, some will not. I have no way to test them all so search around the internet for more info on this subject.
Manually Focusing with the A7 or A7r
As for manually focusing these lenses, I had NO PROBLEM. I did NOT use focus peaking as I found that when shooting super fast aperture lenses at f/1 or f/1.2 it hampered the focusing. I also really did not use the focus magnification as it took too long to activate with two button presses. When I looked through that big fat EVF and just used my eyes to see when the image was in focus, it just worked. So concentrate and use your eyes. Your mileage may vary depending on your eyesight and comfort level. If it is tough for you to manually focus just by using the EVF, feel free to use the peaking feature or the magnification. Both tools are there for this purpose.
An OOC JPEG from the A7r and Voigtlander 21 1.8
The Sony A7 and A7r both offer full HD video and Sony usually does video very well. I have not yet had the time to test video but will be doing so soon and then will add my thoughts and video sample HERE. So check back soon!
The Pros and Cons of the A7 cameras
- Full frame in a smaller sized and well made body
- Monster resolution for both cameras!
- Super rich files!
- No AA filter in the A7r should give you a little more detail to work with.
- Solid buid, small body – yum.
- Built in EVF is fantastic..big, clear and easy to frame
- Easy to navigate menu system
- Dials, dials and more dials. Easy to manually control!
- Focus Peaking is helpful but not necessary.
- Works great with classic manual focus lenses, a joy to use.
- Easy to adapt many lens mounts! Canon, Nikon, Leica..
- Price Point is perfect!
- Nothing else like it anywhere near this price – PERIOD
- Cameras feel slow/clunky in use.
- Shutter sound is loud, especially with A7r
- Kit Zoom is lacking in quality.
- Some wide angle Leica M mount lenses have issues when adapted (but this should not be a con)
- Lack of lenses at launch (only the 35 and kit zoom on launch day)
- Very High ISO is a little better on last years RX1 and RX1r it seems.
- May cause you to spend more money on M mount lenses 🙂
- The A7r can indeed be a little challenging to handhold in lower light without blur.
My Final word on the Sony A7 and A7r
I really enjoyed the A7 and A7r cameras. At launch I was insanely excited about them because there is simply nothing else like them at this price point, and even my beloved Leica M..well, the A7 and A7r surpass it in overall IQ. While they do not offer the same build, feel or joy of use as my Leica M, they can compete and surpass in overall IQ, and do. At a fraction of the cost as well.
Still, I love and adore my Leica for many reasons, not just the great IQ. To those who own one and shoot with one you will know exactly what I mean. It is the quintessential photographers camera.
As for the Sony, you will get a ton for your money with these guys but not everyone will fall in love with them. While there is nothing to complain about in the image quality department, the camera does have some quirks. It has a loud shutter sound, so forget about being sneaky..at all. They feel a little but slow and clunky in use and it may just seem that way due to that noisy shutter – a mental thing. Which one to choose? I feel that Sony should have released ONE camera as even for me reviewing them and trying to connect with one of them..it was tough. BOTH are fantastic and there really is not enough separating the two to warrant two separate models. That is just my opinion but a super A7 with a mix of both cameras would have been great at $1995.
The build is good but not Leica M or Nikon D800 or Olympus E-M1 good. They are sort of an in-between. They feel more hefty than the NEX-6 and NEX-7 but not up there with the top of the heap. Some things could have been made to be more sturdy..the battery door for one. With a premium camera and one that is making a statement I feel Sony should have REALLY made a statement like they used to do back in the day with certain products outside of the camera line (anyone know of the SCD-1)?. But it is what it is and the cameras are excellent but not perfect (No camera is though). Note that I am NOT saying the build is cheap or low quality as it is NOT, it just could be a little better.
One thing is for certain…the A7 and A7r do fantastic with old school manual focusing lenses. I had no issues focusing, even when testing out a Leica 50 Noctilux f/1 and I do not even use magnification or peaking..just the big EVF and my eyeballs. There is no question that these offer huge bang for the buck and some of the best IQ you can get in 35mm but is that enough to overlook the fact that there is really only 2 quality lenses available at or near launch? (the 35 and 55).
The EVF is fantastic, 2nd only to the one in the Olympus E-M1. The files are rich, detailed and full of information. Creamy, dreamy and shallow if you so desire. The lenses have great quality and bokeh and would really be all I needed with the camera.
Like I said, I really enjoyed these cameras and I took many fantastic images without any issues or problems but for the 1st 2 weeks I was not bonding with them, and I could not put my finger on it as to why that is. Then it hit me.
I like the build, the feel, the design and the features but I think the response is just not there when compared to my Olympus E-M1, which is lightning fast in response. I have been shooting that E-M1 like mad and when I switched it up to the A7 and A7r it seemed like I was working in slow motion..and I am not talking about AF, just overall response time of the camera.
So after I realized this I started to take out the A7 and I thought of it as a medium format rig. It is right at home when shooting it slow and steady and by doing so it can reward you with some astonishing files and images. In fact, I started to like it more and more and more because in this regard, it started to remind me of my Leica. Slow..steady..and take that one shot you know will be a keeper. Now it is faster than a medium format camera but when you go out with that mindset you can bring home some amazing imagery.
That is when it started to attach itself to me and I really saw the beauty and the value in the A7 cameras.
At the end of the day, if you want a fantastic full frame camera that is at the top of the heap in the IQ department, one that is smaller than all of the bulky SLRs and one that is much less expensive than the Leica M, take a long hard look at the Sony A7 or A7r. If you want to shoot Leica M glass or even Nikon or Canon glass..you can. If you have a stash of Sony Alpha DSLR glass, you can also shoot with that (with adapters of course). So the name of the game with the Sony’s are VALUE. You get a lot of BANG for your BUCK, especially with the A7.
These are an EASY recommendation and if you are out there trying to decide which model to go for, I can not see anyone being unhappy with the A7 over the A7r. At under $1700 for the A7, it is a steal for what you are getting. The 1st lens I would get is the Sony/Zeiss 35 2.8. It has a gorgeous rendering that reminds me of the highest quality Zeiss lenses of the past.
I love what Sony is doing and I can only imagine that in a year or two these cameras will get even better, faster and slicker. I am happy to support a company that just “gets it” when it comes to what we want in a camera. Go Sony GO!
**Later tonight or tomorrow I will post a first look review from Ashwin Rao who shot the A7r with a slew of Leica M mount lenses. So if you want tons of results and thoughts on that subject, be sure to come back here later or tomorrow for more! Thanks for reading!
The 7R at ISO 1250 with the 35 2.8
WHERE TO BUY THE A7, A7R and Accessories such as Lens Adapters, Lenses, etc.
The A7 and A7r where to buy page is HERE but you can also use the links below:
Buy the Sony A7 Body – B&H Photo or Amazon
Buy the Sony A7r body B&H Photo or Amazon
Buy the Sony A7 Kit Zoom Bundle – B&H Photo or Amazon
Buy the Sony/Zeiss 35 2.8 – B&H Photo or Amazon
Buy the Sony/Zeiss 55 1.8 – B&H Photo or Amazon
Buy the Sony/Zeiss 24-70 Zoom – B&H Photo or Amazon
Buy Leica M mount lenses from Ken Hansen (E-Mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org), PopFlash or The Pro Shop
Buy Voigtlander M Mount Lenses from CameraQuest.com
Buy The Novoflex Leica M to Sony E mount HERE
Buy the Generic M to Sony E mount HERE
Buy the two LED light set I used HERE
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Just entered the world of fullframe. bought a NIB Sony A7 and the 28/f2. better late than never, they say. hopefully “they” are correct.
I recently bought the A7. But, all I have had is pain. Possibly terrific quality, But, how do you get photos off it onto a PC. The software on the device insists you define a folder, and tether, I do as instructed, it then tells me again to that the folder is not defined.
I then take the memory card out of the A7 and insert it directly into my PC. It promptly says the files are corrupt. I look and can see some of the files are now named strangely. Ignore those and it immediately corrupts the rest.
The camera is unreliable. I wen the hole hog and bought adapters, voigtlander lenses etc. and now am let down by irritating software issues.
I even bought new cards, retried, same problems.. no support, bad software.. terrible camera,
The A7r is my choice of camera when I need the highest resolution possible, know I will have some time to set up the shot – maybe with a tripod, and the shutter noise won’t be intrusive. If I can tick all those boxes then the A7r delivers reliably. Always transfer files to my PC by using the SD card and to my iPhone by WiFi which works a treat. The A7s is a low light specialist and is unbeatable where a tripod won’t work after sunset.
The only problem I’ve had is that they are VERY picky when it comes to wideangle lenses. I bought two Voigtlander ultrawideangle lenses and they are like taking a photo through a porthole. Even Minolta lenses, which all worked flawlessly with the Sony A99 don’t all work with the full frame E mount, even using the Sony adaptor.
I don’t mind experimenting with the Sonys but for a camera I can pick up and go, and always have a great lens for the job that will always give great results, it’s my OMD.
Hi Steve, great review and thanks for all the information. I would like to ask you an opinion.
I had for years a Contax G2 with Zeiss lenses, fantastic quality and excellent alternative to the Leica high prices, although I always dreamed to have a Leica.
After that in the digital world I changed to a Lumix L1 with a very good zoom (panasonic Leica), but unfortunately I had problems with it. Now I would like to buy something with a high quality.
My style is more to street photography and I would not buy a DSLR due the dimensions. I like the rangefinder style Fuji cameras, but unfortunately they don’t have a full frame model.
I was thinking to finally buy a Leica, but for my pocket the M-E, not the typ-240. Few things are getting me crazy about the choice… Also the M-E will cost a lot (for me at least, I’m not a professional photographer). Well, I thought in the alpha’s as alternative, because they could be used with Leica lenses and also with my Contax G lenses (as I’ve read in some blogs). I have some questions, if you can give some suggestion:
– For sure I will use a 28mm lens, using a Sumicron in the Alpha’s, I will have vignetting or other problems?
– What’s the gap between shooting with Sony Alpha and Leica using Leica lenses? It worth to buy a Leica lens to use only in a not Leica body? Could be better buy Zeiss lenses (FE) to use with the Alpha’s?
– Do you have some idea of quality using Contax G lenses (I have a Biogon 28mm, a Plannar 45mm and a Sonar 90mm)?
– With this things in mind, i.e., using prime lenses, what model could be better? Alpha 7 or 7R? Or there are no differences?
Thank you very much!!
If you buy the A7s you will not have issues with wide angle lenses. The A7s is my #1 fave of the series by far. If using 28mm Leica lenses you will have issues on the A7 or A7r. I use only M mount glass on my A7s..love it. Again, A7s all the way. See my recent posts and A7s review. Also a new post is coming later today showing landscape with the A7s.
Do you have suggestions about converter for M mount and Contax G2 lenses?
I noticed that the A7s costs about 2100 euros at Amazon, here in Italy I found a promotion for the Leica M-E for about 3500 euros. The difference is acceptable 🙂 if I consider to spend money with the converters (of course I will have already the other lenses zeiss and not have to buy others).
Do you think if I would like to buy a Leica would be better the typ 240 instead the M-E? Comparing the M-E with the A7s I will have more value to the money?
Well, the M-E is a different camera all together than the A7s and M 240. It is limited and shines in certain situations (good light, nice lenses) – in low light the M-E suffers and is really usable to about 640 ISO. The A7s is usable to 80,000 ISO (I normally cap it at 32,000). The M 240 is usable to ISO 3200 and gives a similar look to the A7 files or most full frame DSLR’s. All three are different but my choice, today…would be the M 240 or the A7s due to the limits of the M-E/M9. If you will only shoot in daylight then the M-E is fantastic.
Thank you very much Steve
Yes, it’s a very hard decision, most of time I shoot in daylight, but you know, as this will be my only camera (at least in this moment) I was thinking about to have something that could be more flexible. For this reason I thought in the A7’s because could be a compromise, using Leica or Zeiss lenses, that have a different look, of course probably for most people this differences are not noticeable, but I studied many photographers and there photos, specially Magnum, and there was a big difference in the images from Leica lenses (at least in the non digital world). I loved use my G2, but now is very difficult to come back …
Thanks again to share your experience.
Hi Steve, just another question, about the sensor resolution of the 7S, I don’t know, I’m a little worried about the 12 Megapixel sensor… What do you think about it? Other than to be better to shoot with Leica lenses, more silent shutter and very good with high ISO, what could be other advantages of the 7S ?
The A7s has the fastest AF of the A7 series (and can focus in the dark without use of the AF assist), it has the best AWB, best color, best pop IMO. It can shoot in ANY situation..ANY. It works best with wide angle M mount glass and has the silent shutter. I thought the A7r was too much resolution. The A7 was nice but the A7s, for me, is the best of the bunch by far. Not even close for me and my use. I use Sony AF lenses, M lenses, and can shoot in total darkness or the brightest of light – I can also print 20X40’s that look phenomenal. No worries at all.
Thank you very much, Steve!
Hi Steve, Sony is driving me crazy with A7’s. Now is they have launched the A7 II…
– The stabilization seems to be a great thing, but I was thinking about it, if I would like to intentionally move the camera to create a blur effect, do you know if it’s possible to turn it off?
– Do you know if they did something about the loudder shutter?
– I’m still afraid that my G 28 could not work well in the A7’s. I couldn’t find samples. In this case I’m also in doubt if it worth to buy a Leica 28 Elmarit. I just saw a site with some sample pictures made with the A 7S: http://blog.kasson.com/?p=6329 I don’t know if you checked this blog.
– Maybe the solution is to buy a A7 II or A7S with Zeiss lenses, Like the FE or Loxia 35 and the ZM 28 Biogon (maybe it has better performance than the Elmarit in a alpha camera)
What do you think?
I’ve been saving for the A7S, but I just got a screaming deal on Amazon yesterday for a brand new A7R. I got the A7R, the Sony battery grip, an SD card, and a camera bag for $1399. LOL! I’m thinking maybe it was a price mistake, but I just couldn’t pass it up. That’s a $1000 discount off the regular price. I’m sure I’ll still get the A7S though. I think the A7S and A7R together would make for a great team.
Steve, thank you for such a detailed review. It has been a great help and I will be sure to puchase my A7 at B&H through you. I like the service they give anyway and hopefully you can gain something too.
One question, since there are not many lens for the full frame sensor at this time what is the benefit of buying the A7 now if one is not getting the full benefit of the larger sensor?
Really thanks for your great review! I finally got mine. Love it. I am enjoying using it a lot. I am also have an M9P. You can’t beat the user experience on M9 but sony is more flexible to use other great lens. I am still finding a wide angle for my A7. Any suggestions? Thanks.
Hi Steve, thanks for the excellent review, I currently shooting with the A7 and I have enjoyed using this camera. Previously I owned the Canon 5D Mk II and my personal experience is the image quality of A7 is better than the 5D Mk II. Just want to seek your opinion about the image quality of Zeiss 35 Biogon f/2 and the Sony Zeiss 35 2.8. I don’t mind about the manual focus but I would be much obliged if you could share your view for these 2 lenses.
MJ Low, do you considered Voigtalnder Nokton 35/1.2 II?
Steve, I wonder if you (or any reader) have experienced the rainbow halo phenomenon when using the Zeiss FE 35mm f/2.8 on the a7r. I got some really ugly rainbow halos with that combo. Mostly when the background is a solid colour or a smooth gradient like a wall or sky. I’m unable to reduce or remove the effect in post processing. The Zeiss FE 55mm f/1.8 doesn’t seem to exhibit this strange behaviour on the a7r.
Have not really shot that combo much at all, maybe for 2-3 test shots.
Lol man, you made it even worse. At first.
But then I decided to take a time, and think about what you said and what i really want and need.I think that this is important how the camera look and feel while you use it, but i feel that i more excited by results. So seems like i feel that i more about “better performer” than just a “good looking guy” though.
I want to make the SUMMILUX 50mm f/1.4 asph to be core of my setup, planed to hunt it up for 3500 or so (seems like there is couple “unused” variants on ebay and keh)
So If we simply calculate, if i take a T it would be 1850 + 600 visoflex + 400 adapter = 2850 for a body, then add Summilux + 3500 , and lets take native zoom 18-56 it will add 1750 more. So here we go , 8100 bucks for a T with two good lenses.
If i take an A7 for 1500, then add Summi + 3500 , plus native Sonnar 35mm f/2.8 + 800 (that you recommend btw) and lets take some Zeiss Telephoto 85mm f/1.4 ZE Planar for 1300 = 7100 for a A7 and three grreat lenses and i still have couple bucks to go. Later i can add some 70-200 f1.4 and this cover up all my needs.
That my thoughts)
Summarit 90/2.5 works ok on A7?
Sure, with the M adapter.
About M adapter, Voigtlander VM-E Close Focus allows me to focus closer with summarit 90/2.5? There is a chart only with voigtlander and zeiss lens…
Steve, I want summarit 90/2.5 after reading your review with some gorgeous photos (in particular, one with a sparrow is in my mind).
I often use zuiko 45/1.8 on E-M5. I hope I am not out of topic if I ask you if summarit 90/2.5 on A7 could give me a significantly shallow DOF to 45/1.8 on E-M5.
It could be me first leica lens…I love its rendering, typically leica, the colours, sharpness, bokeh but I can not afford a leica fast aperture…
Hey there Steve!
Thanks for your reviews. It helps much.
Will use your links to buying stuff for sure.
I want to ask you some (maybe rhetorical) question)
I want to switch my photo system on something new. And I’m faced with a difficult choice. There is 2 options for me, naturally the current subject Sony a7, vs Leica T. I will explain) I’m using my camera mostly in travels, and photography is just my hobby. That’s why i’m looking for compact, but the size and weight is not the main point. You could check this articles to understand what i’m talking about http://all-bertovich-p.livejournal.com/76520.html and http://all-bertovich-p.livejournal.com/87812.html .And i’m also shooting a middle format film camera. And i very missed this deep feeling in my 35mm, so that’s how I came to Leica, and their wonderful manual glass. And thats the point. I want to use some Leica optics and i’m ready to spend 6 to 7k on the body and couple lenses and i very adore Leica T, mainly because its beautifull) Im not printing my photos, and use it mostly for web. So here is my question, is there any reason to buy Leica T instead of Sony in this conditions?!
Well you mainly said it all. When you enjoy Leica and want a Leica choosing something else will always make you wonder about the one yuo really wanted. The T and EVF which is mandatory when using manual lenses will set you back $2300 or so. If you want to use Leica M lenses, you will have $4k left to do so. This means you will need to either buy used or buy something like a Leica 50 Summicron and a 35 Summarit or 28 Elmarit, etc.
Then there is the adapter.
If it comes down to the A7 and the two great lenses for it or the T and the only two lenses for it (zoom and 23 f/2) it’s a tough one. The A7 is larger, louder, but will give you a richer IQ and better low light due to the FF sensor. The T is smaller,sleeker, better made and more beautiful to look at but will need the EVF and it is a crop sensor.
Just depends on what you want really. The T is quite a bit smaller and much thinner. The lenses are also much smaller. Beautiful camera.
Hi Steve and all …. For BW …. A7 or A7r ??
Both are the same for B&W, all in your conversion. Makes no difference. What beats the B&W of the A7 series is the RX1, some of the best B&W I have seen, period.
Thanks Steve !!!
Holy mackerel, my Leica APO-Macro-Elmarit-R 1:2.8 / 100mm has risen from the grave. I use the Novoflex NEX/LER adapter to attach this big bad lens to my A7r, and by golly the pictures are GORGEOUS.
One thing though, the A7r with this heavy lens is a bit unwieldy, a tripod is a good idea.
I intent to resurrect all my old Leicaflex R lens (28mm, 50mm, 135mm) with this A7r. Thank you Sony, the Leica M240 half baked “R solution” is no where close to the pleasure of using all my old Leica R glass with the A7r.
Well Steve, I finally pulled the trigger and bought the A7r with the FE50mm 1.8 lens. I compared the A7r’s IQ with my M9 with the 50mm Cron, and I have to admit, the A7r with the FE50mm pumps out beautiful images, very much like the Leica, but a lot less expensive. I also got the NEX/LER Novoflex adapter to mount all my old Leica R glass to the A7r, finally a “R Solution” but through a Japanese company, I guess Sony did a big favor to all the old school Leicaflex owners who had no where to go with all their R glass.
The Sony Zeiss lens is 55mm, sorry for the mistake.
Steve, love the website and reviews! Any thoughts on how the Zeiss 55 1.4 Otus pairs with the Sony A7R? Too big a lens with poor balance as the #1 go to lens? Would you you stay with the native Zeiss Sonnar T FE 55mm F 1.8 ZA, that has auto focusing, or do you still prefer the Zeiss 35mm FE 2.8? I mention the 55 1.4 as a possible ‘first lens purchase’ since it got very similar great marks from DxO testing just behind the Otus. Just trying to decide if the Otus is worth the price difference. Love portrait work, travel landscapes and the ability to make large prints for gallery.
With 2 months gone by since your original review, curious if you have any new thoughts.
Alan, I haven’t used the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4, but I do have the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 and I did a lot of research before making a decision. I’m convinced that apart from the slightly wider aperture, the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 delivers at least 98% of the image quality of the Otus 55mm. For me, it’s a no-brainer. It’s easily the best standard lens you can get for your a7r.
Dpreview compared the two lenses and came to this conclusion:”The scale of Sony’s achievement here becomes clear when comparing the FE 55mm F1.8 directly to the Zeiss Otus 55mm F1.4, which lays a strong claim to being the best lens for which we have test data. The Otus still just about comes out on top – it measures as slightly sharper wide open – but it’s unlikely any difference will be particularly visible in real-world photography. The Otus also just about wins out on chromatic aberration and distortion, but overall the Sony can certainly wear its Zeiss badge with pride.”
The difference is easily visible between the Otus and 55 1.8, especially on the A7r. Night and Day in my real world shooting. The Otus was breathtaking with color, contrast, detail and bokeh. The 55 1.8 was softer, slightly different color (not as nice) and the bokeh was different as well. With that said, I’d take the 55 1.8 any day over the outs due to SIZE and PRICE. The 55 1.8 is spectacular for what it is, surpassing the $2500 leica 50 Summicron and 50 Zeiss ZM planar.
around 3- to -5 celcius,
I found something strange about the a7, I been using for a month and is a great camera, but this weekend I went to the mountain (here in Canada) and is around -3 using for a while I discover that I got black dots in my read LCD(at the left side), I thought that I hit my screen somewhere, but I didn’t, all photos taken where OK, the electronic viewfinder was also OK.. later on at home I inspect again the camera and the dots disappear and all is OK, like new.. I wonder how much cold can resist this camera or LCD technology just can’t stand cold temperatures.
Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) can be affected by cold temperatures, and not necessarily as low as those you experienced, which I am assuming is -3F. In the UK we use Centigrade, and -3C is nowhere near as cold as -3F. I have experienced a screen issue on a radio at just -5C, and which wouldn’t display at all, but generally once the screen warms up all should be well.
Great review, I am using Rokinon manual Ef lenses, 35mm and 85mm, using Metabones iii ef adapter on A7
The picture quality and sharpness is not that great, when zooming closer, the pictures looks fuzzy and not as sharp as I hoped for. Am I doing something wrong?
Your Rokinon (Samyang) lenses are reputed to be sharp so unless you have duff versions, I wouldn’t be pointing a finger at them, just yet.
Some pointers come to mind:
1. Are you shooting jpegs? The A7 isn’t at its best with jpegs. Do some tests with RAW, and use the Sony Image Data converter for best results. Third Party RAW converters aren’t fully compatible , I understand, as Sony hasn’t released full details of its RAW file. Although my information may be out of date and may be wrong.
2. I believe your lenses are manual focus. Focusing a 35mm lens with its depth of field at f1.4 requires a high degree of accuracy on your part, and as you say the problem is close up, this could be what lies behind the problems you are experiencing, as you have to be spot on.
Also, many A7 users, and I am one, are experiencing image blur due to camera shake at speeds as high as 1/90 sec and which is due to a combination of the delay in firing the shutter and the camera shake caused by the shutter itself. How good are you are hand-holding using slower speeds? Try similar tests using a tripod.
3. Try using the shutter in normal mode, and then using electronic first curtain setting to see which you prefer and if one makes a difference over the other. In full mode, though, it will be noisier. I prefer it as for me the shutter makes a sound before opening, so I am prepared. With electronic first curtain there is no noise whilst the image is being captured. You only hear the noise as the shutter closes. A small point, but people will react differently to this mode of operation.
4. Also, using the focus magnifier will really see if your manual focusing is spot on. I can say from experience that although focus peaking gives an indication when the lens is focused without using the magnifier, if you then quickly press the magnifier to check you may be surprised at how often the exact point of focus is off. And at close distances this can be crucial.
If none of the above suggestions cure the out of focus images for you, then it may be the lens.
Excellent review Steve. Your stream of conciseness, say it how it is, real world approach is much appreciated. As a person who has been working in the camera business for 15 years it is refreshing to read and see your work. You put DP review to shame.
Seem to be my way back to the good old times and the way to match the beloved Leica M lenses with digital technology without been lightened of 6k Euro (I write from Italy). My only doubt is as follow: I shoot 90% of my pics with a 28 and a 50 mm lens. No problems about the old Summicron 50, but what about the Elmarit-M 28 III series pre-asph? Does it really work on a A7? It would be frustrating been forced to drop home my favourite lens. I can’t find good examples around the Internet and where I leave you can hire a Lamborgini for baragin but forget about hiring a rangefider lens.
Any suggestion? My mane concern is about vignetting.
There may be an issues with edges using the 28 Elmarit. Colored edges. I have not tried a 28 Elmarit yet so if anyone has, chime in if you can! Thanks!
I may get shot down for this, but I have been scrutinising as many A7/R photos as possible posted since the cameras’ release.
Steve, could you please comment on your experience comparing the quality of Sony’s *subtlety* of colour rendition: for Landscape compared with Nikon 700/610/800, or for Skin compared with Fuji X?
To date, my gut response is that those photos I have seen lack some loveable nuance that I expect (landscape) out of Nikon files, and appear rather too stark. Perhaps general concentration to date (if not your own) has been on proving the quality of Lenses, rather than results. Something makes me hold back from purchase…
Yes, I know that we can rebuild every aspect in Lightroom (and, by report, the camera’s jpegs are rather over-processed anyway); yet initial results out of the D700 seem more subtle. Your comments would be valued please.
just poised to buy the A7 – on the day the fuji xt1 comes out, and now back to confusion and indecision……. is/should a full frame win the day? Is the sony still the superior camera? Any views gratefully received
You are looking at two distinct cameras, the A7 is FF, the Fuji APS-C. This difference alone means the two cameras aren’t strictly competing against each other. Users will be expecting different things from them, and image quality alone isn’t necessarily sufficient of itself. For example, I want to use my Leica legacy lenses to their full FoV and which is simply not possible on an APS-C camera, even less so with a 4/3rds sensor. So for me, it doesn’t matter how good an APS-C or 4/3rds camera may be, even if they prove to have better IQ than my A7, which I doubt.
If you can’t think of a reason yourself why you should go down the FF route, then it seems to me like an APS-C camera, or indeed a micro 4/3rds is the way forward for you. FF isn’t everyone’s choice.
The Fuji will be out soon, so why not wait to read a few reviews to see if these help you?
Agree with above reply… however the fuji system has many Fujis full commitment which i dont see from sony, sony’s new lens timetable is very slow and at best quite poor in comparison to the Fuji lineup and 3 new lens out soon… I’ve spent past 8 weeks evaluating the sony A7r and the olympus EM1…and then tried the Fuji Xpro1 and Xe2 it takes a bit of getting used to but the quality is very nice, maybe not as good pure image quality of the A7r but leaps and bounds ahead of the EM1… if you want to belong to the Cult of Fuji X warriors you wont be disappointed but what it isnt is a do everything with piece of kit, none of them are for different reason. Sony have seem to have rushed out the A7’s without lens support and full testing.
I for one have no interest in playing with old manual focus lenses with adaptors, i need a camera that does a job, creates the images i want and is nice to use and in my evaluation the Fuji is the best option with the Xe2 and now even better with the Xt1… this will go alongside my Canon 1dx and they will be best buddies… i hope…
Good, salient, points, although I did get a little nervous when you described the Fuji as a cult. lol. Lomography is a cult, but you wouldn’t want to go down that route, would you?
What both our comments highlight is that it no one should be swayed by a choice based on what others use or think. Your needs are not mine, so we buy the best kit that suits us.
True, Sony doesn’t yet have a strong lens lineup, but the A7 does at least allow for full compatibility with all Nex and Alpha slr lenses, although one does have to accept the compromise if using a bulky Alpha adaptor or reduced resolution and the Nex system must have had something going for it based on the proliferation of TP adaptors for virtually every 35mm camera lens ever made.
I have no idea of knowing, but if this is attractive to Emily, then the A7 makes far more sense than the Fuji, which is going to be very limiting in this respect. I know that there is a Fuji Leica M adaptor but this is it, and you still get the disadvantage of the crop factor.
Using legacy lenses with manual adaptors isn’t for you, but the A7 using manual Leica R lenses makes a huge amount of sense, for me. I love my Leica film cameras, but I don’t see value in M digital bodies, and they are way over budget for me in any case.
thanks for all the comments – think I will have to toss a coin, and now read that fuji sensors/raw files don’t work with lightroom, I am not a techy photographer, never have been – shoot on 5×4, 6×6 and all the way down to my iphone (if i want a really top end digital I hire) but with a gap in the middle for a really great camera that will be adaptable for all occasions, I can easily carry and has great colour, with little to do in post production (very old school as in if you havnt got the shot on the film you havnt got the shot) Dont want micro 4/5 too limiting, do want good low light and easy to manage dials, iso I can control easily and as near full frame as possible. Have a few old nikon and pentax lenses but thats it for 35mm
so yes a leica would be lovely but way above my means…..
problem in London is there are very few places where you can actually pick up and try out and fiddle with cameras
it must have been so much easier in edward weston’s day
great blog though and glad I found you all
Hi Steve, I have RX1R and to have something in addition for a longer reach (e.g. 90mm) I was planning to get A7 and a long lens. Which one would you recommend for the best bokeh and 3D pop?
Leica 90mm cron or Zeiss makro-planar 100mm or anything else?
I have decided for the a7 now. The E-M1 is an awsome camera in terms on usability and sturdiness but it still can´t top that FF Image Quality.
I also decided to try out some of these old MF lenses like the Canon FD 50mm f1.4 before buying any Sony´s primes. Manuell focusing shouldnt be too much of a burden with zebra and magnification. Considering the extra night capability as well as the cheap price and great IQ these lenses serve its for sure worth a try! Actually at the moment I do not see any reason why I should pay 5X more for a slower Sony Prime only for the auto-focus (even tho the 35mm is quiet tempting by its compactness). But this might change after actually shooting with some old primes ;-).
I will order the camera by tomorrow and I am already looking forward for the camera as well as those awsome 70´s lenses.
Thanks for your great help! Have a realxing Sunday
If that is all your budget can aford, then the canon 50 1.4 is a great lens for the sony. I just sold mine. But it’s small and relatively compact. My personal thoughts on buying a small compact like the sony is that the weight is really in the lenses. Add 3 or 4 to a bag and you still have bulk and weight. So for the most part and for me it did not make sense to buy the sony to put big heavy canon glass on it. The canon 50 might be the exception due to its small size. But for all else, it makes little sense.
The Sony Zeiss 35 is so compact and light and it makes a great package. I highly recommend it. The 55 1.8 is also nice but you should be just fine with the canon 50.
I can’t wait for the new 24-70. It’s only F4 but anything faster would most likely be larger and heavier. I walked around with canon 24-105 F4 for a long time as my main lens so also not too fast. I also had the 24-70 F2.8 but found it too big and heavy most of the time. The 24-70 was smaller, lighter and gave me extra zoom. So it’s always a tradeoff.
I’m pretty sure the sony 24-70 will be even smaller and lighter yet and for me, that’s what it’s all about.
Wish you luck and let me know your thoughts when u get it.
oops just saw that i didnt “reply” but put a new post instead
Thank you very much for your reply!
As I am still a Student I will have to choose one of both Systems and this choice can be really tough ;-).
For my taste, we do have way too many good cameras on the market at the moment and each with ist own unique feature making it so hard to decide for one.
But back to the point, I totally agree with you that the ergonomics of the a7 in comination with the 35mm is awsome.
Right now i mainly work and edit my pictures at the PC and dont print any Poster-size files. And of course in concernce of the Body there is nothing better as the E-M1. Even with my shacky I am able to archieve files clean as a whistle and the weather/freeze prove Body makes me worry about nothing at all.
But the IQ as well as the compactness (with 35mm) of the A7 and the depth of fiel just doesn´t let my mind go. I do not want to buy many lenses, mainly 1 Zoom and 1 every-day lens so the results oft he camera with zoom should be still satisfying what might speak for the A7.
The only concernes I actually got about the A7 was the capability of night shots with their slow lenses as well as the shutter Sound.
I do know that the shutter sounds (especially the A7) is not as loud as illustrated on the web, but certainly much loader than the shutter of the E-M1.
As it would be my every-day-camera, I would like to be able to take pictures at (or example) Restaurants. Do you have any experience with that? I am not a wedding shooter and I do not need a loudless shutter, but the camera should be just integrating well into every-day Situation.
Also concerning your last statement, I am useually not shooting fast moving subjects (no sports or something like this) more every-day photography resulting in aviable-light, street shooting as well as portrait and product shooting.
If you would have to decide for one, which one would you choose (of course the will be your personal opinion which Iam aware of)
Thank you once again for your answer. I am eager to hear your opinion on the shutter sound.
With best regards from Germany
That is a difficult question to answer.
I think both are great and depending on the day, I could go either way.
The sony actually performs a lot better than I expected.
After looking at my files from my last trip, the sony files are really nice.
U can definitely see the difference.
I am yet to process any from either unit, but looking at the unprocessed raws, u can see the sony is nicer. You can see nicer images at similar and higher ISO than on the Olympus.
I may change my mind on this, but right now, if I had to choose, I’d go for the sony.
This became apparent after looking at the initial raws yesterday.
I knew that the sony images were better and I had a lot of decent shots that were in focus and sharp.
More than I expected I would get and compared to what I would get from the Olympus.
And since u are not worried about speed and performance for your shoot and crave IQ, then the Olympus becomes less important. So I think u almost answered this for yourself.
Another theory I have regarding micro 4/3rds is the life expectancy.
Since they are now capable of putting a full sized sensor into a camera as small as micro 4/3rds, how much life does micro 4/3rds have? A few years still. But as more and more manufacturers introduce full sized sensors into small mirror less cameras, then the whole smaller lighter micro 4/3rds benefit is gone. Micro 4/3rds now becomes the big clumsy camera with the small sensor.
As many I can not decide between the OM-D E-M1 and the A7.
I do want this lovly A7 IQ, but I am not sure whether the A7 can satisfy me using it at night on the streets.
At the Moment i got the E-M1 for some testing (thanks to my camers shop) and i do absolutely understand why People do love it.
It just works and even at night i can make handhold pictures with a shutter speef of 1/2s at ISO1600.
I used the new Olympus zoom (12-40mm f2.8) and it deliveres a great Quality.
I just would wish to be able to achive a Little bit less depth of field and a bit more IQ with the zoom lens(even tho the results are great and exactly what to expect of a M43 Zoom lens).
I promise myself to achive these requirements with the upcoming 24-70mm f4 Zeiss lens for traveling and the 35mm f2.8 as every-day-lens.
I do love available light photography. And this is exactly where I am not sure of the Sony can fullfill my desires. Of course it has a FF sensor which means I can set the ISO up too 6400 and still get clean prints, but the IBIS of Olympus is very imperessing + the lenses letting more light in (zooms: f2.8 vs f4.0 primes: 25mm f1.4 vs 35mm f2.8 ).
So my Questions to you A7/A7R owners is, are you able to shoot with the A7 at night (on the streets) without using a Tripot? What are the minimal shutter Speeds you are able to archive using for example the existing kit zoom (IS) or the 35mm.
My preferences are street and available light photography as well as Portrait.
Thanking you guys already in advance and wishing you a great Weekend!
I own both and can say that both are great to own. I like the ergonomics of them both.
Maybe even the Sony A7 with the 35mm a bit more.
If you can, buy both. Its a great combination.
The Olympus is a true performer. Fast, light, with selection of great lenses.
The max i push the Olympus to is 1600. After that, it gets messy.
With the Sony, you can push it further to about 6400.
So although you dont have IBIS on the Sony, you do have the ability to push the ISO higher achieving faster and more stable shutter speeds. And you can crop the image a lot more as well.
But the new 24-70 F4 expected later this month does have stabilization so that should also help.
But F4 is not that fast either. With Olympus, you have the option of faster glass.
So it is very much a trade off.
Almost 50/50 IMO.
I can say that i missed a lot less shots with the Olympus.
I did venture out in the evening with the Sony and got some nice shots, but with faster moving subjects, i missed a lot as well. If i was stationary and shooting non moving subjects, i would have done a lot better. Or even if i was more stationary. But we were moving and so too where the subjects.
So i would think about what you are going to shoot.
Landscapes and city scape, i would not worry so much about the IBIS and might go for the Sony as i can push iso higher and still have a better photo. If your shooting moving subjects, than IBIS is still not going to help you too much because no matter how steady you are at 1/2 s, your subjects are still moving and you are going to see blur.
Think about what you like to shoot and ultimately what you are going to do with the images.
If they are going to live on a computer and be seen only on a computer screen, then the Olympus maybe all you will ever need.
I can wait to see your review of upcoming Zeiss 24-70mm f4……
Wow Steve, The Sony/Zeiss 55 1.8 is super sharp on the A7, you can even count the blackheads and moustache hairs on the blond model’s face. Maybe use the kit lens next time eh? Regards, Brian. [Happy with my Nex7 but… but…]
Nice review. The 160 flash sync speed is a downer but I guess expected since it’s not a leaf shutter. I’ll stick with my fuji x100s (I know Steve..nothing good comes from fuji 🙂 ) For full frame I’ll carry my d600 in the interim. Interim to what you ask. A full frame that can do the kind of things the fuji x100 can do with a flash in sunlight. But damn those images are nice is a relatively small package.
Just got the A7 and Sony 35mm FE lens. Am looking to acquire another lens. If it’s not Sony it will have to be manual focus. I’d like to get some recommended lenses. Steve, I recall you did a list for the EM-1. Any intentions to a list for A7/r? Anyone please feel free to respond I would really appreciate it. Leica glass might be beyond my $$$ unless there are some bargains. Thanks in advance and Happy New Year!!!
I have the 7R but unlike the rest of the commentators I’ve put a Leica 21-35mm R lens on it.
So far the pictures have been astonishing in detail and depth of color. The kit is a bit heavy, but since I’m
told by the people at Quark Expeditions to take two cameras on the trip to Antarctica in a few weeks I have to take zoom lenses.Luckily my old R works very well on the 7R. If I tell you the lens I’m putting on the Nex 7 you might gag, or think its a gag. But one needs one long light zoom for the project. Too old the be schlepping the 5D3 or my T2i around in ice and snow. I just hope that these cameras can handle the weather.
Anyone had the chance to try the new Voigtlander Leica M Lens CLOSE UP to Sony NEX Camera Adapter?
I need some help with the Sony A7.
How do I set the settings so that when I pressed the AF/MF button it Auto-Focus & lock the focus so that I can recompose and press the shutter to lock the exposure?
Thanks. Happy Holidays!
go into menu over to the 2nd of the top men icons, the cog wheel, then go down to the part 6 of this menu set, you then have custom key settings, ive found it best to assign the ael button to AF ON so manual focus override is set to the mf/af , (when switch is UP) or better still assign the center button to AF ON as well as its bigger and better, you have to go to submenu 2 when in custom key settings for this…hope this helps, ive also found it good to assign the left button to focus settings for quick change of focus point.
Thanks a lot 🙂
There are WAY too many settings on a A7… >_<
The higher resolution of the camera is apparent in the image of the men wearing blue jeans – the thread count is seen to be 1 -2 threads/foot higher due to the sensor delagamoter aided by a past participle bel-hepulator incremented due to a 34 whopperdash designed zizzmahammer. My Argus c3 is better.
Now in your “review” try pronouncing the word “size” instead of the idiot phrase “form factor” “size” has been around a long time or if you like sounding like a nerd how about the “gravitationally induced facorization” instead of “weight”
Steve; manual focus and the Focus Magnifier; is it a way to use this with one button only (not needing to push two)?
Hi Tor, yes I use the C1 button for this, if you push it once it shows the area to be magnified, second and third push adds magnification
Steve – my heart says 50mm summilux asph with the A7r but my head says FE 55mm 1.8. I am about to press the button on one of these. My question, if you would be kind enough to answer, is will I see more ‘Leica’ like images with the lux or is the difference between them too small to notice? I love the 50 lux on the M9 so that is my benchmark. Cheers, Tony
Great review as always! Have you tried the alpha 7r with wider lenses, like the Summalux 21mm or the Zeiss 15mm?
I would much rather have a rotary phone (D800E) and look for a public phone (Leica) booth than ever use a Samsung G4 (a7r). it’a that heft in build that makes me think I”m getting a deal.
Thanks as always Steve, for the review.
I’ve taken the plunge and got the a7r, and waiting for a Voigtlander M-mount Adapter which will be available in the next 2 weeks or so. In the meantime, I’m trying to decide on which lens to get.
Between the RX1 Zeiss Sonnar T* 35 f2 (which I already have), Voigtlander 35 f1.2, and Zeiss 35 Biogon f2, which one would you choose? Am in a dilemma as to whether to sell my RX1 right now.
Same dilemma for me…
Thanks for your very practical review. It was very helpful in confirming my theoretical “guess” about the ultimate quality difference between the two models. I bought the A7 from a link on your site, and it is very nearly “my perfect” camera for my style of photography. I was not willing to wait for the next model with the 5 axis stabilization. 🙂
Your experience with focus peaking helped me to get through that learning curve very quickly, and I confirm that I also do better without peaking. In fact, if you have your diopter set perfectly for your eye, and your eye is sharp enough, you can see a “shimmer” on many subjects when they are in focus. The quick magnification function assists in the learning curve, helping to verify if your focus technique is working as you want it to. Nicely done.
I’ve been waiting for a camera like the A7 for years. Slowly accumulating some of the more affordable Leica R lenses (no Summilux for me). Even the under-appreciated 135 Elmarit R provides happiness, thanks to the great sensor and processing.
I am, these days, a manual focus only guy. No more run-and-gun event work. For that kind of thing, other cameras will do better. For me, this is just about perfect.
Thanks again Steve,
Has anybody tested the autofocus speed of the a7s with Canon EF lenses?
yes i did yesterday, currently working with pair of 1dx and assorted lenses, wanted something lighter so spent the last few days testing out the A7r, my findings many may find disappointing but sorry its true, Af speed of the A7r is very average to say the least and not anywhere near the same league as high end Canon cameras or to the rather snappy Olympus EM1.
further to this the ergonomics of the A7’s must have been thought out by tech geek boffins who didnt give a thought to what a pro photographer wants or needs, for instance the control dials front and back are set back to much from the natural position or most other cameras and they are to flat and angular to be used with any sort of speed, the shutter button is in a bizarre location and has very little in the way of feel to it, then there is the exp comp dial which has a rubber grip section in the way so if your ET and can angle your fingers over this you will 1st feel being held back by rubber while turning this dial. many more things could be mentioned but is it a pro tool, i would say NO but it does have pro image quality almost an opposite of the EM1, amazing body when fitted with the grip but not professional image quality so maybe these two should get together to breed the perfect mirrorless camera.
Yes. I’m not a Canon user, although I acquired an old Eos 650 film body for peanuts, £6 or say $10, and two entry level lenses, the f1.8/50mm Mk II and a Mk III EF 28-80 USM. My “everyday” 35mm camera is a Leica R7, no autofocus, so when I’m feeling very lazy, or in inclement weather, the 650 comes in handy and it focuses very rapidly.
Originally intended for use with my 5N, I bought a Viltrox Canon EF/EF-S to Nex adaptor which promised AF and IS compatibility. Having no IS lens I can’t verify this, but with the two lenses I have only the zoom worked with AF, the 50 has to be manually focused, although electrical connections for the aperture work so it is usable in Auto and PASM modes. The zoom is fully compatible with my Nex5N, and whilst AF works, it is very slow, but surprisingly accurate.
But using the Viltrox on the A7, the AF zoom now does not work, but both lenses retain auto aperture functionality, so in effect this combination now behaves as an auto exposure, manual focus camera, and this has to be preferred in to manual everything, imho, as I can concentrate on composition and focusing and let the camera take care of exposure and which I can override should I wish.
Although cheap and plastic, the 50mm has a reputation for being sharp and I am pleasantly surprised at its performance on the A7 even wide open, and when stopped down it provides pretty even coverage across the frame. The 28-80 is cheap, plastic and a zoom, a combination not leading me to expect quality results, but again I was surprised at its covering power on the A7, even at the w/a setting, and image quality I’d rate as acceptable, nowhere near the 50, but clearly won’t be up to the standard of most coming to Steve’s site. The big problem with this adapter and particular zoom combination is vignetting in the corners and because how sharply this is defined, I suspect it is the rear baffle on the adapter which is a tad too narrow. Bear in mind, though, that this adapter is sold with a Nex APS-C body in mind, not FF.
What my little experiment has shown, though, is that these cheap Canon lenses put up a respectable performance with the A7, with the little 50 surprisingly putting up a really good effort, that I am inclined to check out Canon’s higher quality slr optics using this adapter to see how compatible they will be.
Update: The Viltrox does auto focus with the 28-80 zoom on the A7. I don’t recall doing it, but I’d disabled the setting for AF with shutter release. I found out when I put the AF Sigma back on and it wouldn’t auto focus.
However, despite the hybrid sensor of the A7, focusing is just as slow as with the Nex 5N. But at least this lens combo does work.
Nice photos Steve! And great review. I really want one of those cameras. And those lights seem great, too! Not cheap ones, though. 🙁
Just out of curiosity: You say that they both (a7&a7r) feel less quick than the Rx1….I was hoping to get the a7 to complement my M240 just for the extra “speed” it gives over the RX1 (response, AF etc)…I mostly shoot 35mm but the af/speed is very important to me as is general responsiveness…more than size and and the xtra f stop the RX has…if anyone has both can someone elaborate on their findings….much appreciated..thx
Alexandros…I just returned my RX1R so I could get the A7, Now I ordered an A7R cause I still feel I can do better. However much as I loved the RX1R there is NO, NO question the A7 is MUCH quicker to auto focus than the rx1 was. I am using the FE 35mm Zeiss lens on the A7. Not even a contest. Also in dim light where the RX1 would just hunt and hunt, my A7 locks on and pretty quick. That said I used to always prefer to use manual assist with the RX1 cause it would frequently focus PAST my subject. A7 you can do manual assist too, but it’s a bit more clumsy and or if you go to what Sony calls DMF mode and have peaking enabled…you will ALWAYS see the peaking on he A7 even before you press the shutter. RX1 and RX1R you’d only see the peaking once you touch and turn the focus ring. On A7 you can accomplish this too, but you need press an extra button to JUST magnify and have peaking same time I did side by sides RX1R to A7 and, YES A7 is MUCH faster to focus there is NO question about it. NOT EM1 quick but very quick. Now I await the A7R so I can have slower auto focus again..Brilliant! 🙁
It’s been an interesting month for me…over great anticipation I ordered the a7when it came out but in the end opted to cancel my order and go with the RX1…still not sure of course if this is the best option for me but I thought I would start there and if not return it and try the a7…I only shoot 35mm and I am so tempted with the quite shutter of the rx1….I already have the M 240 and having read and listened to the a7 shutter I feel that it may remove any advantage it has for me as I still think the M is much quicker and quieter machine…In any case if the rx1 cant focus to my liking it’s going back….both have functions I like so it has been very difficult to make the decision…
I never had any issues focussing with RX1R by the way.
My not so serious and at times exaggerating (non-) buying guide:
(0) Keep your current gear. For peace of mind re-read last year’s raving reviews of NEX with Sigma DN glass and be happy. There will be more raving reviews on newer gear next month.
(1) Buy the A7 body and use the lenses from your junk cabinet. The AF isn’t great anyway. Many dirt-cheap 28/35/135mm f2.8 or 50mm f1.8 lenses from abandoned SLR systems perform very good, but not quite at the level of current Zeiss or Leica glass. Wider or faster is no more dirt-cheap, but just cheap. Or not perform very good. On some occasions you will revert to your old gear to enjoy AF or to carry less. Which is like N° 0 above.
(2) Spend the modest surcharge for the FE 28-70 kit zoom. You gain convenience from AF, but likely no image quality dramatically above current APS-C with a kit lens. And the bulk of the lens spoils the idea of having a compact, unsuspicious body.
(3) Spend significantly more on the FE 35/2.8. But a RX1, perhaps even a NEX 7 with 24/1.8 delivers the same, or better, in a smaller package, cheaper if you refrain from the EVF for the RX1. To justify the A7 you either should not use a 35mm lens, get one or more additional lens. Go back to N° 1 above, proceed to N° 4, N° 5 or N° 6 below.
(4) Spend significantly more on the FE 55/1.8, Cartier-Bresson’s one and only choice of focal length. End of story.
(5) Get the complementary 70-200/4, promised for anytime in 2014 or later. In the 1980 and 90s that would have been the most popular second lens, with a very useful focal range, fast enough with digital high ISO and OSS. But AF and OSS put on some more weight and bulk. See N° 2 above, last sentence.
(6) Get the complementary Sony A 85/1.4, 135/1.8 or discontinued Minolta A 85/2.8, 135/2.8, 70-210/4. AF requires the bulkier and costlier LA-EA4 rather than the LA-EA3 adapter. In some countries you may not find any used Minolta glass. See N° 2 above, last sentence. You wonder whether keeping (or going for) the Canikon DSLR wouldn’t have been the smarter choice in the first place, with an abundant selection of proprietary glass for less money.
(7) In few cases your junk comprises Leica glass, perhaps even aspheric or apochromatic. Selling the junk will generate enough cash to buy any comparable line-up of contemporary lenses or bodies of almost any brand or system. But the Leica junk will keep its value, likely will be adaptable to future mirror-less cameras from other manufacturers, and eventually from 2023 to a totally affordable digital “Voigtländer” full-frame rangefinder camera, and this only 3 years after Sony will have completed its roadmap of FE lenses.
I have only tried the xe2 at photo fair. It was noticeably faster to focus than xe1.
But your not going to get any better resolution the xe1. A7 which I have, you will. And even more so on a7r. But u really need to get the new 24-70 F4 lens over the kit. And some primes.
But then you’re talking about a 3,000+ usd investment against a 2,000, right? (to begin with…) Ouch, there goes my retirement plan… lol…
I’m not sure this is correct. My Fuji XE-2 has on chip PDAF and no AA filter, same for the X100s. I don’t think AA filters have anything to do with PDAF.
Don, I am coming from a 7D and X100 and love the IQ of the latter. Considering an upgrade (not gigantic), and my need for some zoom, do you think the XE-2 with the 18-55 is worth it?
I was really hoping to love the XE2, but have not been particularly impressed by the sample pics I’ve seen on the net. They look kind of dark. How are you finding your experience with it? Any chance of you posting some pics with the kit lens?
My other option would be the A7 with kit lens, but there are so many bad reviews about this lens that I am in doubt. I do not want to invest thousands of dollars only in a new lens, (besides the body).
I can’t really understand the talk about the somewhat “lesser” finish of the A7R in comparison to e.g. the Olympus bodies. I am generally very picky about finish and workmanship but I find the A7R really very good in this regard and generally really on the same level with the Olympus. Just the grip of the Olympus is different, but that’s more a design than a finish quality question IMO. Here I personally like the E-M1 grip design better, but in comparison to the E-M5, the A7R grip also is a clear step forward.
I already have an A7R and I just got the Zeiss 35/2.8 yesterday. The one thing that I am already missing most compared to my old E-M5 is the in-body stabilisation. Probably all the folks in more sunny areas won’t notice that much, but over here (in Germany) during winter time you could even make good use of the stabiliser at 12:00 noon. At least if you really want to make use of the resolution of the A7R which is probably only of any importance if you want to print your files 60x90cm or larger.
One thing I’d have loved to read more about in this review is more information on the Zeiss 35/2.8. Steve you only say it’s your preferred lens but then you don’t say anything more about it? 🙂
in would have to agree with build is as good as the olympus, but the olympus has many more plus points in its feature set, like mentioned the in body stabiliser would be good with all those pixels to keep steady, i have had an em1 on trial for a week and it has gone back as the image quality isnt upto what was promised, low iso is ok, above 800 and things get a bit messy above 1600 and start to loose to much, in countries with plenty of sunshine im sure will be great but like Thomas the UK has an equal amount of gloomy weather which causes problems with iso. The em1 will be missed for its design and feature set but the quality of its output that being the image isn’t anything to write home about, my wife’s Canon 70d produces much better files even though many so called reviewers put the EM1 above the 70d.
great review as usual. I am looking forward to go with the a7 but i want to use Leica R-Lenses. Do you know somebody who did a test of such a combination. I think there are millions of M-Lenses out there but also thousands of R-Lenses which may fit on the small a7 body because it’s only a little smaller then an R6 for example.
I’m in the same boat. I’ve had my A7 for a little over a week and intend using my R lenses. I have a 24/35/50/60macro and the 135. None of these is of the very latest Leica designs so it will be interesting to see the results. The weather in the UK at present is really horrible, so no useful outdoor tests as yet. Being of a retro design I am hoping not to have any issues with the 24.
I see no difference on your high iso noise test sample of A7r(minus AA filter) and A7. Is that true?
Steve, just to confirm that you chose the A7 in the end instead of the A7R? was that due to the higher percentage of keepers in your tests?
Steve, any chance of you telling us poor mortals (thinking of doing a little upgrade from the Fuji X100/Canon 7D IQ) to the A7 WITH KIT LENS?
Is it really THAT BAD?? Or would I see already some real improvement in the IQ?
If not, I am also considering the Fuji XE2 (to start) with the 18-55mm kit lens.
Thanks a lot!
I have the fuji xe1 and had the 7D. Sold the 7D and much prefer the sony over the fuji due to faster better focus not to mention full frame higher resolution. It’s not as fast as 7D, but adaquate for my needs. Depends what u like to shoot.
Thanks for your info, Brad. So I imagine you do have the A7(R)? Or which Sony are you talking about?
I mainly shoot nature and architecture. I prefer the iq of the fuji, but miss the zoom which the x100 does not have.
At the moment I am very much in doubt between the A7 with kit lens or the Xe2 also with kit lens.
Don, I am coming from a 7D and X100 and love the IQ of the latter. Considering an upgrade (not gigantic), and my need for some zoom, do you think the XE-2 with the 18-55 is worth it?
I was really hoping to love the XE2, but have not been particularly impressed by the sample pics I’ve seen on the net. They look kind of dark. How are you finding your experience with it? Any chance of you posting some pics with the kit lens?
Hi Steve, been out shooting today with the A7. I tried 4 lenses, Voigt 21 f4, Leica 35 Cron ASAP, Zeiss 50 f2 Planar and Voigt 75mm f1.8 The only lens to give problems was the 21mm but then I expected that. The Zeiss is awesome, thanks Steve.
I’ll be trying my Canon FDn lenses soon. 28 2.8, 50 1.4, 135 3.5 and 200 2.8. I’ll report plus I can send a few pics at wide open and say f8.
Basically I’m very very happy with the A7. Thanks Steve for emptying my bank account.
Awesome! Glad to hear it, enjoy!
I presume when you wrote “I am hoping to also ass some side by side M comparisons to this review in the next week or two but for now, here is one that I did last week,” you meant “add”
Hi Steve, did you find the continuous AF better on the A7 vs A7r due to the Pdaf or similar?
Steve, I read elsewhere that processing the files in the sony software and converting to TIFF improves the high ISO image quality. Yo have to remove all of the processing the cameras do even to RAW files. It was also note the LR does a poor job with rendering these files because sony doesn’t share proprietary info. Have you found this to be true?
thanks for this review Steve…it is saving me a lot of money and time…I need a camera that is responsive and quick…for now I’ll stick with the Olympus E-M1…I’ll wait on the a7 til they get the bugs worked out…your images are fantastic and this system is very promising
In 2012, I used to be a proud owner of a NEX7. IQ was really good, I liked it and the Viewfinder was very helpful for me.
after 6 month, the camera started its depreciation already.
The rubber or plastic coatings started to get loose, ok you can glue them from time to time.
The NEX7 LCD screen started to be damaged. Especially the outherside of the screen started to be damaged (not caused by any external heavy influence).
Now I have a Leica M240. Much better quality.
So my 2 ct: once a sony, never a sony again!
I have those problems exactly on my NEX7, loose rubber skin, damaged LCD (not caused by any external heavy influence). LCD replaced not covered by warranty even within 1 year of purchased as Sony claimed this was not their problem. Also overheating problem and Sony claimed this was normal
Same problem here with my Nex 7. My whole rubber grip actually came off and i’ve been using it without the rubber for the past 4 or 5 months. The overheating is also a problem, particularly bothersome for me since I do short films with it for a living! I still love the overall system and hope Sony has learned and improved things on the A7/A7r which I plan to purchase this month to replace my nex 7.
The loose grip on the NEX-7 is a known issue, and sony will replace it for free. I sent mine in and got it back the same week.
Thanks for a great review. Of the new 55mm and the MF Zeiss Planar 50mm f2, whic do you prefer and why? I’m intyerested to know if the 55mm has the classic Zeiss pop and colour.
nice review. i have some question here , is it ok to use for event or wedding actual day shooting ? im looking for fullframe body. and the A7 is 1 of the option in my list….
as I go to work by train I often (daily) read your website with my smartphone. So the first thing, that got my attention, even by viewing the photos on a small screen, have been the colors. For me they are outstanding somehow like the ones I’ve seen from the M9.
My question: Do the A7 and A7r have the same color rendering or is the 7r somehow more vivid?
Thanks for you answer and greetings form Germany!
I’ve read some rumors that turning off the WIFI and not chimping can triple battery life. any truth to this? 300 is just not enough shots but 900 makes it a deal for me.
Sold out faster than i could blink my eyes. First stock of a7r ‘s in my country were sold off for $ 2800 (body only). D800e goes nowadays in Amazon for $3000. Let’s see what time brings.
I wonder how long it will take to get into the shops here in Dubai, and what the ridiculously over-inflated price will be? The dealer here is certainly not up to supporting the A7/A7r properly; they are just box-shifters and I have given up with them – it’s cheaper to buy from B&H, even with shipping and import duty on top and I can buy more than just the camera with a kit lens.
Interestingly it’s $230 cheaper for me to buy the A7r in the UK and reclaim the VAT at the airport than buy from B&H and ship it to Dubai, so guess what my Christmas pressie to myself will be…?
Yeah, i sure hope my Christmas present A7r will arrive for the time, but probably might have to wait a little longer. BTW have to love the smaller local dealers, d800 (body only) goes in here for $ 4500, and it’s not even the e model 🙂
Well my A7r just arrived and it won’t work!!! It let me set the date, time etc. now none of buttons work. have 3 charged batteries. LCD turns it self on for couple of seconds then off, then on, then off. nothing works. managed to get i one shot while LCD was on. Help…any ideas. Menu button dead…pushing buttons has no effect. Never seen anything like this.
sounds like a duff one, will it not work with different battery or direct from usb, sorry to hear your having problems !
Think this is a really bad one…where’s Sony’s quality control!!! already sent back to B&H and they have put me on their backorder list. Of course none of these are in stock…sigh…
Interesting. Your RX1r(no AA filter) has the same resolution as A7. Any good reason not to have A7r?
So Steve, will you keep one for yourself and will you keep the M240? You mentioned once that you may not stick with Leica since the new crops of cameras do so well. D!RK
The model is disarmingly beautiful – what a face!
…and the close-ups are most impressive. The A7(r) is intended for studio work!
Steve,many thanks a great effort. Please put a link in to Amazon.co.uk you deserve reward for such great insight and detail.My impression is that these cameras are better suited where you have adequate time to frame shots in reasonable light. Would either fit the bill for those occasions where you have two kids flying around not willing to stand still for too long.
I have links to Amazon UK, and have for a year 🙂 Thanks!
Easy, back to the beginning:
Street photography: A7
Studio, Landscape, architecture: A7r
Not much to review then with only two FE lenses actually for sale…
Thank you for the review Steve. May I ask what were the factors that made you decide on the A7 over the A7R? Thanks again
The review was realistic and useful except for the emphasis on Leica lenses. What do they have to do with evaluating the a7 and it’s lenses?
That was for the HUGE Leica readership of this site..many who have been asking me for weeks for this info, thousands of them. What does it matter if it is in the review when it is one of the things that is selling the camera?
That’s correct I agree we are keen on getting some credible feedback as to how this new camera will work with our lenses.
Thanks for a review. I am actually trying to figure out which 21mm to get for an A7. Essentially i got a zeiss 21 2.8 ZF, which is massive (720g), but very good. I’ve had my eye on on Voigt 21 1.8 (412g). Would you be able to estimate the quality between the two stopped down – essentially what i need from it is to perform well at f8-f11 for landscapes.. and ‘would be nice’ at wide-open apertures.
Thanks a lot.
Is this post still coming soon?
“…Later tonight or tomorrow I will post a first look review from Ashwin Rao who shot the A7r with a slew f Leica M mount lenses…”
+1. Very interested. I am getting my A7r in 2 days but I only have 2 M mount lenses. I will try to post some samples if anyone is interested.
Wow…excellent write up! I just came across your website recently, and it’s fantastic! Keep up the good work Steve!
Thanks steve, I’m getting this end of this year. your review was really helpful to choose. since I’m used to a99, little lag of booting time or shutter black-out(?) doesn’t matter for me. always wanted something small with FF sensor. (Leica is too expensive for me.. If I won lottery, I’d buy them ;p)
Any chance of telling me what the file size in Mb of the raw files out of the 7R
Some of my pics are 37,2 megs with the A7r
Hello Steve, thanks for the useful review.
Couple of questions: Have you found that the A7 focus is really faster than a7r? Looks like the preview initial review indicates the opposite, and that is also what I experienced when testing the cameras in the SOny/Paris shop.
Also, would there be a good m macro lens 70-90mm that wold also be a good portrait lens that you could recommend? Looks like the only Leica native is the 90mm Elmar but opens only to 4. Something like a full frame touit macro?
Thanks for any suggestion
I find them about the same. The phase detect really kicks in for continuous AF and NOT for low light. Low light AF will be the same between the two cameras.
I tried the7r with the 28 Elmarit. Lots of magenta in the corners. I dont have these with the 35 Summaron nor the 50 cron. Have i done something wrong? Anybody with good résultes usine the 28 M?
@Jacques Turgeon (Thread #112):
I am using a Elmarit M 28mm f/2,8 (ELCAN = Ernst Leitz Canada production, late 1980ies) with the A7. No colour casting of note, however, the typical degradation of the border areas is as visible as on film for f/2,8..f/4.
Jacques you have done nothing wrong, I am using a Summilux 21mm and have similar issues. This kind of lens cast is a common problem when using wide angles lenses with high resolution sensors, especially those without anti-aliasing filters, hence there is less of a problem with the lower resolution alpha 7. When using this lens on a Leica the cameras firmware applies the appropriate lens profile to the image, which corrects any vignetting and color casts. Because the 7r has no such lens profiles built in, you need to makes one for your lens and apply it as part of your processing work flow. Check out Adobe for how to create lens profiles for use in Lightroom and Photoshop.
I *need* a quiet shutter for professional music work. I *need* IBIS or VR for lenses longer than 100mm. I treasure my Nikon 70-200 VR2 for its 4-stop VR, and do not wish to sacrifice that merely to save weight, much as I’d rather switch to Sony for Landscape work.
In summary, a quiet, 24MPX FF IBIS mirrorless without AA filter would be ideal, I agree entirely. Will there be a fresh Sony compromise next year?
We do all still need, please Steve, a professional, unbiased summary regarding lenses wider than 28 mm: Biogon, Leitz, Voigtländer, etc, regarding purple fringing especially. In the meanwhile I have bought a superb 21mm Distagon (for Nikon ZF.2), despite its weight, hoping to avoid this problem if and when I switch. Does anyone know whether this will work as hoped? What other lenses will succeed without our resorting to CornerFix?
BTW, I love your self portrait (more than the model’s skin): “Bokeh lies in the eye of the beholder (the camera)”!
Hi Steve, again. I mentioned earlier that you convinced me to get an A7 (got to blame someone) and now I’ve ordered a Zeiss 50mm planar. Whatever you’ve got I need the antidote for.
I also found that Lightroom have ver 5.3 rc available that supports A7 / A7r raw convertions. It can be found here:- http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/lightroom5-3/
All the best and keep up the good work. My gear arrives Tuesday.
Yep, I have been using ACR and processing the RAW files without issue so Lightroom and ACR can open and process the files now. Thanks!
Hi Steve, can you please let us know if A7 is compatible with the Nikon SB800 flash? Thanks.
Do not think I am the man to tell you as I never ever ever use flash, and do not have a Nikon SB800.
A7 can trigger the SB800 but only Manual flash mode… No TTL… Back to learn photography basic.. :p
Hi Steve, sorry not a Leica/manual lens question(!) …….. so FE 35mm or X100S in your opinion? Cheers.
Steve can i ask what will be your preferred system now that you have told how much you like the A7r, will the EM1 still hold top spot just above the Leica, or like e are you thinking of both. im considering getting rid of my pair or Canon 1dx and getting a pair of gripped EM1 for the few weddings i take on and the gripped A7r with A mount lens adaptor for the studio fashion and dance work, best of both camps, would rather keep it all to one brand but dont feel the A7′s will be as good a wedding camera system as the olympus and desperate to get the weight off my back. im no FANBOY of any brand, it has to do a job and its as simple as that..
I know when these where first announced, you mentioned that you would be buying an A7r for yourself. After all of the time you’ve spent with both models, which model are you or will you be keeping for yourself?
A7R’s loud tinny shutter sound is really annoying me. I was taking pics of a 1 year old girl today, it scared her! It’s doing injustice to this camera. Is there a way of reducing this I wonder. I don’t need 1/8000 speed as much as it has ISO 50 setting, but I do need a somewhat unobtrusive shutter always.
adding the grip to the bottom im told is helping absorb some of the noise and vibration, a bigger surface area and all that.
Hi Steve, do you find focus shift issue with A7/R and C Sonnar 50mm? I read somewhere that focus peaking at wide open with this lens is very difficult. Could you give more examples? Thanks.
No focus shift with the A7 because it is a live view camera, so you do not get focus shift. Focus shift with this lens only happens when using a rangefinder camera. I do not use peaking as stated in the review nor do I use magnification. Just look through the EVF (which is large enough to focus with) and focus. Works fine but may take some practice.
You *kind of do* get focus shift with the C-Sonnar but as Steve says, it doesn’t make a difference since you are ‘seeing’ what the lens sees. You can test this but focusing on a point at f/8 then without moving the camera, adjust the aperture to f/1.5 – the focus will shift, but you see if shifting due to liveview EVF/LCD.
Steve posted my week one with the A7R and Zeiss 50mm C-Sonnar review on this site and all the photos are taken with that combination if you want examples – f/1.5 – f/8/16 shots.
Steve, can you pose some test photos showing the corner sharpness of the 35 & 50 RF lenses at max aperture? I think many people like me are very keen to know the results. Companies like Leica and Zeiss have put in great effort to perfect the lenses performance at the corner and edge. It is just not logical to compromise their performance in any way.
Hi Steve you mentioned in your review that during the photo shoot with model Nikki Leigh, that the A7R images were “softer” compared to the A7 would this be due to shutter vibration?
No. If that is the case, bigger sensor, more sensible to movement. Get a D800, you’ll find out. You’re trading about a stop in sharpness, as in, get a stop faster shutterspeed to get the same sharpness (in the slower shutterspeeds). I know, I found out for myself.
I can’t agree with this. Downscale the 36mp a7r file to 24mp file and I’d imagine the A7 does not hold the advantage in sharpness anymore. It’s only if you plan on not downscaling and going above and beyond what is capable of the 24mp sensor.
I see absolutely no point to the 36MP version. Any one wishing to make 36MP sized shots will be looking at a MF Back for their camera or at least a pro spec Canon or Nikon and not a Sony cam.
It’s like clay, the bigger the sensor and the more the megapixels, the more forgiving the output and the more you have to play with. There are other points as well but it really depends on your needs.
That 36MP on the D800 certainly is not all that forgiving.
I meant in post. Of course to get quality results takes extra skill/effort. No different than a full frame sensor versus an iphone sensor. The FF camera is not as easy to focus or control, but if you know what you’re doing, you’ll get some good stuff to work with.
For a 35mm lens the recommended slowest shutter speed is 1/30 in general, then I must be shooting at least 1/60 to overcome the motion blur for the A7r?
That’s my experience with the D800, so in effect you lose a stop.
Steve, thanks for sharing your review and opinion. I am a use od om-5, now i am considering the a7, i love the look of the pictures when combiened with certain m mount lenses.
So many conflicting conclusions by all reviewers. Some give edge to 7R for AF , some to A7…q slow operation (on-off or general using the camera)… I sold my Fuji x-e1 because of slow usage and slow AF (and almost not able to focus in very low light)… don’t want to make the same $$ mistake
Thanks for the review, exactly what I was looking for, using my old lenses on a FF camera, but mine are more m42 and exakta lenses, variety of zeiss (flektogons, sonnars), meyers (primotars) and russian(helios, jupiters) that not crazy expensive but very good on my humble canon t3i. I hope they are going to have good result on the sony a7. I may do a review on those lenses when I get my camera soon. cheers.
hey ron, so what is your agenda? coming here to scare everybody away to buy a new sony ff camera? guess how many people will believe your stunt of knowing anyone with any kind of important information, go an spend the next 10 years woth what you got, or maybe get a nikon df camera, me going to enjoy those 36mp.
Hilarious how people claim to foresee the future and wish death upon the DSLR. For me, the camera system is what matters to me, its consistency and options. Evfs are fine but I’ll prefer ofvs. DSLR body and lens size feel better to me. I don’t see any reason why different systems cannot coexist. Thinking that one system has to eradicate the other is very primitive thinking.
Is that Ben Folds?
Ha, should have seen the image name before asking.
Yes it is..
It’s exciting to see how good the IQ of the A7 can be. All the reviews have been slobbering over the A7R, and I’ve been worried that the A7 would lack that pixel level sharpness that the 7R has. Apparently there was nothing to worry about.
Sony only made these cameras to improve their image. However, these two new FF cameras will not last if the new Playstation 4 doesn’t take off. I am not writing this to disappoint people who bought or ordered the A7/A7R, it’s simply a fact. Someone from Sony’s management in Germany told me. Steve wrote: “Sony did it!”, which is very naive in this context. Manufacturers have different reasons for developing new products. In Sony’s case, they already had the sensor, and the design wasn’t that big a thing. Lenses? We all know how limited they are. And there’s good reason (read: the Playstation 4 priority) for this. Sony can only survive if the PS4 is a success. Considering this, I’m not sure if it’s wise buying an an A7 or A7R. Investing in a Df seems more logical. Especially, since Nikon is specialised in one thing: photography and has a complete range of lenses. Better still: Wait two years and see what happens. That’s what I will do. I will just continue using my Ricoh GR.
The PS4 is in a totally different division that the camera part of Sony. What the PS4 does or did or costs has NOTHING to do with their camera division. AT ALL. Each division is 100% separate so your info is 100% wrong. Sorry.
Really? I will gladly give you Mr. U’s (confidential) email address, so you can ask him yourself. He is Marketing Director of Sony Germany. Sony has 20 divisions and they are connected. If the PS4 fails, it will definitely affect other divisions. I should know since I work as marketing consultant for another/competing electronics company.
A marketing director of Sony Germany? What division of Sony? Doesn’t matter what a marketing director says in Germany..it is not true. Basically what you are saying is that if the PS45 fails, Sony will collapse as everything is riding on that..it is just not true – like I said, each division is run separately with different budgets, goals and projections. Just as slow camera sales will not affect the PS4, teh PS4 will not affect the cameras, same goes for TV’s, sound systems or whatever else Sony sells.
Read the business pages of your newspaper (if you’ve got one). PS4 is very important for Sony as a whole, and its success or failure will affect Sony as a whole. PS4 failure will possibly not result in Sony going under, but it will cause a very critical look at the various business units, with uncertain outcome for all of them.
Actually that is not what I read at all. Sony is using video games, digital imaging and mobile devices to build themselves back up. If one fails it does not mean they are in trouble. They are not where they used to be 10 years ago but that does not mean if the PS4 flops the A7 is obsolete along with all other cameras. Just not true. Feel free to share some links to these “business pages’ you speak of. Every newspaper is online these days…
Read carefully what I said Steve. Failure of PS4 (which undisputedly is of vital importance to Sony) will lead to a very critical reassessment of all Sony’s business units (which of course has already been done), and might lead to the selling off (or shutting down, but that’s less likely) of lesser successful ones. Care to argue that?
Sony biggest income are from Cell Phones and Loans. PS4 and cameras are a couple of drops in a bucket.
Contrary to what people outside of Asia think, Sony isn’t an electronics company. There largest income (by far iirc) is Insurance – yes, they sell insurance and that part of the business has been doing very well for a while.
How do I know? I’m an APAC regional risk guy for a reinsurance company working B2B with insurance companies and evaluating their risk. Sony isn’t one.
They are not a risk because the Japanese govn’t said they will always bail out Sony like the US did for GM. Etc.
Marketing Consultant? isnt there non-disclosure or some kind of professional ethics to share or not to share confidential info on forum like this?
“ron” is in spanish the word for “rum” 😉
Steve has it absolutely right here – PS4 sales or lack thereof do not imperil the future of the consumer / pro imaging division.
Sony is a conglomerate. Sure, PS4 sales have a material impact on the company as a whole, but so do other things Sony does. They are the global leader in imaging sensor sales bar none. They are one of the largest and best producers of lithium ion technology (yes, NP-FW50 packs are made, start to finish, in Japan!), they have a large share of the mirrorless camera market segment (~30% in Japan alone), etc.
The financial success and viability of complex conglomerates can’t be measured by one product segment alone, and it is clear from information disclosed to investors that Sony’s imaging division (pro and consumer) is not at threat. Anyone suggesting otherwise hasn’t done their home work.
Sony folks in other divisions should be rightly proud of what the consumer camera team has done – there’s a healthy trend line already in place – NEX, the camera that no one else would make, apparently doomed because there were no lenses but survived and thrived and look… lenses! Then higher end NEXen and then RX100, RX1, A7 / A7r… a constant theme of pushing bigger sensors into smaller cameras, delivering high IQ along the way.
With the A7 / A7r cameras we see Zeiss jumping on board immediately to produce their own line of manual focus high build quality high FE class IQ lenses for E mount. And will be there too.
Zeiss thanks to its royalty deals with Sony will have a very good idea of how these cameras are selling. Their early commitment to FE class optics says only good things for the future.
Ron, investing in a Nikon Df at this point is like investing in a rear-projection television. It is ridiculously outdated technology. Plus, Nikon’s stock prices are plummeting. Nikon glass is a terrible investment considering that the flange distance is not suited to tomorrow’s technology. M-mount glass is far more future-proof than F-mount glass.
Sony has a winner here. This new full frame NEX line is the future of photography. Fuji, Canon, Nikon will all follow suit in the next 5 years. No matter how poorly the PS4 does (which it won’t), Sony will make huge profits on the camera division.
For me (I cannot afford Leica), the A7 is the first time that a digital camera feels as good as an SLR from the old days. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 took the first step, and the A7 leaps into the future.
Awe man looks like I’m going to be getting that 55 1.8 after all… those are some gorgeous model shots! Holy hell the crispiness!
More ground breaking results with this camera are:
For creative TS lens users, no more out of focus shots because you can nail in in the EVF often without using magnification. Its so much easier than holding the camera out in front of you also.
A FF camera with tilt screen to get right close to the ground when you cant lie down, just flip the screen and get an awesome perspective . Canon/Nikon could do this but choose to not give us the feature.
There are some niggles I have however:
Issues with my A7 functions.
1) you cannot switch the rear screen off unless you go through the menu and do so in favour of the EVF. I’d like a toggle on the DISPLAY button for this.
2) If you have 2 sec preview switched on then it also reviews it in the EVF!! Should be an option to have preview on rear screen only.
3) The EVF magnified view for manual focus is fantastic. The slightest touch of the shutter button removes the magnified view. Again there should be an option to leave magnified view between shots until the button is toggled.
There is an option to “switch off” the monitor screen to be tagged to one of the 3 Custom buttons. It’s not comlpetely off but it just turns black. I suppose some battery saving may be there.
Steve, nice review, but you seem to go about it as if everyone has a closet full of exotic, expensive Leica lenses and loves manual focus. Is there any reason to buy this camera if we are in the supposed minority who’s closet is empty but who’s love for a light weight FF AF camera isn’t?
No, I talked penny about the TWO lenses available, with many samples. Since a very huge percentage of my readers shoot Leica, most of them are interested to hear about this possibility. There was nothing more to say about any of it than I did. I have literally no canon users who read my site so I do not talk about Canon options, as I do not use Canon 😉 I do use Leica, and most of my readers expect this. So I covered the native lenses and Leica glass.
Steve, I shoot Canon for years. Read your website for a few years now too 😉
Love your reviews. Actually wanted to ask how does af of canon 50 1.2 perform on a7, but it looks like you haven’t tried 🙂
I have an A7R and have mainly been using it with manual focus lenses from Voigtlander. These are not expensive but give very good results. However my favourite lens on it so far is a Jupiter-9 made in 1975 with a M42 screw mount. The sharpness is very impressive and the quality of the bokeh is amazing. So, no you don’t need a cupboard full of old glass, buy some cheap stuff on Ebay and have fun. This camare is really fun to use!
Valid question Brian. I still have several after reading the review.
I’m still confused if this camera would be an improvement [over the E-M1] when used with third party lenses other than Zeiss/Leica. I was thinking about the Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 II VC for example.
Which camera functions are supported when using an adapter? A and M and manual focus always only?
Will third party VR or IS lenses function?
Somewhat tardy reply, but the fitting of TP lenses can generally only be used in Aperture priority or manual mode, although obviously in-camera image settings are still fully usable. Obviously, lenses intended originally for the Nex bodies, such as the lovely, and very inexpensive, Sigma f2.8/30mm, will still work. In other respects, other than from Sony, there is very limited availability of adapters that will couple electronically with the body, and the vast majority are simple manual mounts that simply permit a TP lens to be mounted.
Out of curiosity, I did buy a Viltrox Canon EF/EF-S to Nex adaptor and which was advertised as being compatible for both A/F and IS. My EF f1.8 Mk II lens is not fully compatible as it will not autofocus, but the aperture does work properly, so the lens can be used in all PASM modes. The USM 28-80 is compatible for A/F but is very slow, so it will require a very leisurely approach to picture taking.
I suspect this adapter was really intended for the APS-C sensor as there is just a hint of vignetting when used on the A7, and this is caused by the rear baffle of the mount, not the covering circle of the lens, and which is a tad shorter in diameter so it blocks the rays exiting the lens.
What you don’t see mentioned when using manual TP adapters is that the lens aperture must be capable of being adjusted manually when off its natural body. Many A/F lenses can’t, and even some film legacy lenses can’t. But this will go unnoticed to those photographers who only shoot with their lenses wide open.
I hope I’ve been of some assistance.
Can I mount a LEICA 50mm f/2.8 ELMAR-M on the A7 with a novaflex adapter and have enough room to collapse it without hitting the sensor? This would be my perfect travel camera setup.
I want to leave a comment about the battery life. yesterday I used the A7 for a real life test with the 35 mm FE lense and the nokton during a concert. I was testing a lot of things, MF and AF and so on. so I took a loot of pictures. and, I’m not kidding, I shot 1303 pictures with just one battery and I still have 27% power left in the battery. for me that is great and more than I have. if you would like to see the pictures from the concert, hair metal, please feel free to go here: http://www.eike-loge.com/category/blog/
That’s awesome to hear! I’m curious – did you put the camera in airplane mode? I bet that would save a lot of power.
yes, I have the camera in flight mode
Bravo, classic music mixed with 1303 shutter thunders from the A7 😉
the shutter sound is not bad at all, have you every used a hasselblad? that mirror sound is loud, not the one from the a7 🙂
I’m pretty late with this comment. But since I got my A7r just yesterday, you’ll understand that I was “otherwise engaged” the last couple of hours. 🙂
First of all, this is a great review, Steve! I absolutely agree with about everything.
First of all, coming from a NEX-7, I was immediately blown away by the IQ when I looked at my first shots. Stunning! Secondly, it took me more than twenty shots before I realised that there’s quite some fuzz about the shutter sound. “Oh yes”, I thought, “I can indeed clearly hear the shutter. But I like it.”
Sizewise, I even expected it a tad bigger. So that’s good. Besides that it feels fantastic in my hands – better than the M9 that I recently owned for a short while. That’s the only point where I differ in opinion with you. But this is of course a personal matter.
And concerning the looks, where it took you 36 seconds to like it, it took me 36 minutes – initially having expected something in NEX style. But since then I didn’t stop loving it more and more. BTW, I think it offers a very personal and modern interpretation of the 70’s style – it’s not just a retro design, it’s more an evolution.
Anyway, this is absolutely 100% the camera for me. With some flaws, indeed. Nothing serious. But it has everything I always wanted, and more. Much more. This mind blowing IQ for one.
Oh, and where you write that it’s a fine option as a backup body for M owners, I have another idea. Maybe I can ad an A7 as a backup for my A7r, or as an alternative for different work. After all, I really counted on $4500 for this one. The battery door made a bit less high class (amongst some other less important details) is very wellcome, as far as I’m concerned, allowing me to buy both the A7r and A7 for (just a bit more than) the price of the one I was expecting…
I’m pretty much in awe of this camera already. I have the A7 and only one lens but have an adaptor for my EF and FD and F mount lenses on its way. In the mean time i get to play with the canon 50 mm f/0.95 🙂
Thanks for the great review Steve, this puts my mind at rest that both are pretty much equal.
You mention the 35mm lens is great – I have an A7 and X100S; would you sell the X100S to fund buying the 35mm?
Awesome. Now can you start posting about something other then these two cameras? Your site USED to be a daily read for me. Until these cams were announced. Then there have been an obnoxious amount of posts about them. For those readers who have zero interest in anything sony, you sure did a great job of ostracizing your reader base.
I always get those who bitch and moan when new cameras are out..I had them for the Leica M9, Leica M, Olympus E-M5, E-M1, NEX-7, RX1, etc etc. Nothing new. Nothing changed. When something is new and popular and HOT people want to read about it and I have been doing the same for 5 years. So bitching and moaning won’t change me as I have never and will never change.
Yeah Steve how about a post on the latest Samsong or Canun?
What? You only post things you are passionate about!! Who’s site do you think this is?!!!
Hi Steve. I am really considering changing from my big and heavy D800 kit but one thing makes me skeptical. I do a lot of shooting for nightclubs and that means REALLY low light conditions. Like concerts are well lit compared to what i do. With my dslr i have no chance of locking focus without the focus assist light on my sb-900. I normally shoot 1/4 sec shutter and freeze the subjects with flash. Do you know if the a7r with a sony speedlight will handle this?
Anyone else here have any experience with this?
i don’t think so, the a99 will but problems with flash and delay shutter, take a look at the video.
I don’t think that will affect my shooting at all. The worry i had was with focusing, but i have tested it in a pitch black room now and with the in camera assist light it was no problem at all.
Nice and well done review of the Sony’s!
Imo some remarks:
– the A7 will perform best with the Sony/Zeiss lenses due to firmware connection
– Leica/Zeis M lenses will do fine from 50mm and up
– M lenses under 50 and especially 18-21-24-28 will do not well due to NO 6-bit to firmware connection
other reviews already show terrible results with color shifts
– If you are not infected by the ‘Leica’ virus the Sony and it’s lenses is a bargain
– But the Leica people choose a Range Finder not an EVF
– Fuji has a change to come with a FF X300 or so with their Hybrid VF
But again if you are fresh in this arena…take the A7 and some Sony/Zeiss glas and you will be never disappointed
Assuming I am fresh in this arena and shooting AF, as everyone do, what lens do you recommend, let’s say a 20/24/90/180?
Imo to get the best out of it (of course depending on what you wanna shoot) 2 primes will
do 95% of the shooting.
Like a 28 or 35 and a 90 or 100 mm
Me myself like to go around with 24 and 85 (nikon) and 28, 50 and 90 (leica)
Going under 24 means more extreme wide-angle effects and going over 100mm means more weight
My most used in the xe 1 is really a 14mm. Then the 35 and the elmarit 90. But I really something longer to shoot sport.
JB for sport go over 200-300 any APS-C DSLR will do that job better
Hans the purpose of a new camera is to fill all gaps. So I guess the A7r is not a good recommendation for general use
Well yes as a general use camera (street photography, traveling more or less light etc) the a7 has many attractions…but like any camera…it can’t cover all kind of photography
I you don’t need to shoot birds, airplanes far away, sports, fast moving motorcycles on a circuit etc…The A7 is great, like all the other Mirrorless camera’s
For me, sometimes i wish I had a 300mm but than again I don’t make that shot.
Leica R lens? Any chance with the A7.
Oh yes what about R ?
And Nikon F ?
Got the Novoflex NEX/LER adapter, and the Leica R lens are back in the saddle again with my A7r. Whoopi.
I am wondering why they didn’t make it with a Leica mount and develop a new line of lenses with this mount. I guess it would have been too expensive to retool for this. As Steve mentioned they probably saved costs by making it in Thailand much in the same way the Leica M bodies are made in Vila Nova de Famalicao, Portugal. My only wish with this Sony is that they come out with smaller physical size lenses like the Leica Summarit series.
thank you for your review it was very good.
i can only buy 1 lens and i don’t have any leica lens before, what would you recommend?
the 35 the 55 or any type of manual lens.
i shoot mostly street photography.
Well, not sure what you would prefer…a 35 or 55? It is all personal preference. The Zeiss 35 Zm is great on the camera as is the Zeiss 50 f/2 Planar.
excellent review steve was waiting for this one patiently, still deciding ging a7 or a7r, soon will make that call, do you mind if i as you what were your camera settings while using the led ligths? iso, shutter and priority, those ligths looks interesting also, specially to be use thru difussing layers – on ipad now, dont have access to computer to check myself if the images have their exif, thanks in advance.
I had one for testing and my impression is, this camera is more a slot machine but will never ever be a pro-camera. Its a product for young asian gearheads eagerly figuring out all the options not regretting the waste of time. Its not intuitive nor contributing to photography, no threat to Canikon or Leica at all. Compared against the Oly E-M1 the Sony is a toy. And given that today every camera can take great pics the choice would be the one with the most fluent handling. EVF against OVF is another critical issue. The Oly and the A7 are so nicely small but cause cramps in the fingers while holding. DSLRs still are much more comfortable and fluent to work with but not to carry – a dilemma. So the question is, what do you want? Hightec playstuff, big prints, travelcamera, sports or just some memories for a fotobook? One really must know or must have lots of money to meander everywhere in the cameraworld. After I was hot during the hype this camera is not my case, although no doubts about the great technical innovation by Sony.
Fully agree Dave. That E-M1 is really nice though. If only I could get used to the idea of a small sensor.
The E-M1 sensor is not small, just smaller than the Sony A7. And you need to get past that (“photopsychological”). The E-M1 gets it done, and the IQ is excellent. Each type of sensor has its benefits. Do not underestimate 43 sensors (the latest from Sony/Oly and Panasonic are excellent). And now Oly has begun to unleash Pro-level m43 lenses. And the great Oly 43 lenses can be used with the E-M1.
Don’t get me wrong, there certainly are technical differences between m4/3 and full frame, but it seems irrelevant for fotobooks and computer screens. My comparison between a FF cam and the E-M1 with the 1.8/75 on a 27′ screen showed no difference. I came to the conclusion that it’s more the lens than the sensor that makes the difference. Unfortunately the E-M1 body cost a full 1900$ here.
I can certainly see the difference on my screen, at the wider openings of course. I’m not stepping down from full frame but that, again, is of course a personal and to some extent irrational choice.
Just remember that even a full HD screen is only around 2 meg, so can’t display the full potential of the A7 even, which is capturing at 24meg resolution. So what is happening to the other 22k?
It seems that the full potential of all high res sensors can only be realised in print, and large scale at that.
what really a toy but a great innovation ? lol whatever with the whatever
a playstation is a toy too although a great technical innovation….
I would have to agree as well, especially with there lack of for thought with flash usage and double delay pre flash issues… back to work boffins to fix the things you forgot about
Asian gearheads? was that really necessary?
I’m guessing you’re an old white guy based off your choice of words.
Nope, I am not, but I prefer honesty over neurotic political correctness. I lived in Asia for a while and still have strong relationships. There is an obvious different attitude towards electronics between Asia and the western world and Sony products are clearly biased towards the young Asian customers in their layout. If you see an insulting statement in that then I am sorry. Thankfully there still are differences between cultures.
If the A7 is a toy then what is a Pentax K1000?
There are few cameras more simple than the K1000 yet amazing “pro” pics have been taken with it.
So what about the A7 makes it seem “toy like”?
Why can’t it be used as a serious pro camera?
A great sensor, a great lens and a great photographer seems like a perfect formula for success.
A K1000 is a classic. An A7? Who knows.
First I thank you for your reviews generally and your work doing them. I had an A7r in my hands
for 15 minutes in a shop, I could mount my Voigtländer 40mm 1.4 on it and take some pictures
on my SD card (only inside the shop). The possility to use m-mount on a (none-leica M) full frame
sensor is interesting. Most of the pictures (with third party lenses) in your review and other one,
were taken with wide open aperture.
Here my point, bokeh is a good stuff/option in a pictures composition but not always, so if you
want to have the sharper result for example, for most of the lenses you will set between f4 and f8.
With an EVF it is not easy to sharpen manually at f5.6. Of course you can work with the DOF scale
on your lense but that not ideal, you can switch between the diaphragm to set the focus, magnifize
or use focus peaking, at the end, your sujet/composition is gone.
The other thing is that no third party lenses are optimize for the A7 or A7r, you will have to deal
with color shiffting and other “nice” things.
It’s a difficult choise, if you have some m-lenses maybe it is still a thought to buy a Voigtlaender
R2A or R3A for 750 $, make film and enjoy the “real” Leica lenses feeling, but that “the” question.
Digital photografy is so practical and cheap. I personally got stuck on the Fuji X100 / X100s,
what a well balance camera ! some picture http://my-finepix-x100s.blogspot.com
Wow I love the iQ of these cameras I think it just slays the leica m240 thanks so much steve
I bought mine and was worried and after 2 hours of use I starting wondering if I would use any of my other cameras ever again ! So I finally have it my perfect pair my m9 and the a7r and loving it
I’m not detracting anything from the wonderful image quality is camera can achieve (with the right lenses), nor do I want to rain on anyone’s parade, but having handled the A7 (in a shop I admit) extensively yesterday, I’m amazed I haven’t seen any comments so far, let alone in this review, on the very digital, blocky, experience the EVF gives when peering through it and moving the camera. It’s like it’s building up the image all the time. The E-M1 that I also tried was better in that respect, but still nowhere near what a good optical viewfinder provides (I compared the experience to the FE2 I had with me; the difference was shocking. The Df was better than the EVF’s obviously, but still not nearly as good as the FE2). A major stumbling block for me.
Do I ever disagree with you regarding the Oly E-M1 EVF. It is so good in my E-M1, I no longer care to have an OVF. In fact, I have gotten to the point that even when I have a VF option – such as with my Fuji X100 – I end up shooting 99% of the time with the EVF. You are missing out on some great cameras as you obsess over the EVF vs. the OVF.
So you don’t mind the digital, blocky view and the annoying lagging of the EVF, or did you just choose to ignore that comment?
Despite the EVF goes up to 2.4mp these days, it is not a ‘Real-time’ view like an OVF of SLR or RF. Making it the next time 3.6mp won’t chang that.
However some people can live with that and some not…that’s why we have different camera’s. If everybody wants, needs the same….boring right?
That wasn’t my point Hans. Most preferences are to some extent personal and irrational, and that’s fine with me. My point was that it is strange that the fanboys don’t mention this and neither does Steve in his reviews. It wouldn’t have hurt anyone to say “Yes, it is an EVF which needs time to build up the image, and you certainly notice that when you pan the camera, but it’s a great EVF!”
I can’t believe that I’m the only one noticing that in the A7 and the E-M1.
Well Mike…your point is Valid, however reviews without any interest are an illusion. I won’t say that all reviews are biased but still…independend is rare
2nd is that why it is not mentioned, that in fora like this people react without really ever have touched nor seen an A7.
For me and EVF is not an option at all
So why didn’t Steve mentioned?..well it’s strange because he preached for many years the RangeFinder/Leica OVF.
So it can’t be that he didn’t noticed that..
I think you are just more bothered by it than many of us. As I personally see it the lag is so miniaml as to be irrelevant, plenty upto speed enough for moving objects, like a rugby game, haven’t tried it with jet fighters….
as for blocky, again personal I suspect, it is clearly digital, and the colour not always true, but more than good enough for accurate composition and focus, with a magnify option that you simply dont have with an OVF. Each to their own, we are not all in some dark plot to hide a serious fault here, the EVF just work well for most of us. If anyone is reading your comments and are put off an EVF as a result, I’d urge them to try a good one first as I am fairly sure that your thoughts are not representative of how most people react.
Noone should order a camera purely on rave reviews (which appear to not mention some points). I tried out both the A7 and the E-M1 because I wanted to see for myself. I liked a lot, but was disapppinted by the EVF’s. Allright with you?
but the “rave review” does discuss the EVF, and praises it. I have used both cameras, I own them, and I like the EVFs. My point is not that you have no right not to like them, but that the way you present it, as if it’s terrible. I suggest most people will be fine with the EVFs, they dont take the time you indicate to build an image, and they are not blocky in most peoples opinion, so why would you rail against a review just because it doesnt agree with you?
Very good write-up. Thanks’ Steve.
Hey I got a possible problem with my Sony A7, horizontal green banding under mixed lighting. Anyone had experience with this? Is this normal? I have never noticed it before on my 5N, 5D2 or a3000.
really you’re a prescriptor now !
I was just searching between the A7R and the A7 what fill the best my needs…and finally i opt for the A7…
.I’m really a Leica addict with ten lenses and 4 boxes..The A7 will be the easy portable compact i need in complement of the M 240;
Really a big thank for YOU !
I’m french living in Paris and i use your link to buy it..I’m just waiting.
Dr martin Nimier
Surprised you have not yet shot your new 50mm favourite lens, the Voigtlander VM 50/1.5, on the A7 and A7r? Or have you sold it? Why so? Was the bokeh too bad? Then maybe you can change the your review of the lens!
lens range is a concern with this camera … big sensor + smallest flange distance = big lenses …
Follow the link, that is a concern to me, in the studio for which I want the A7r I think it will be fine as long as no lag in signal to broncolor triggers but for wedding togs this could be a real issue….I may wait for the A99 replacement
Another brilliant review. I must say initially I was getting a little annoyed at all of the A7 / A7r posts and I avoided reading them. Eventually I had to have a look to see what all the fuss was about. I have some Leica and Voigtlander lenses and have been using them on the very good Fuji X-E1, no way could I afford a Leica M. Then you write this real-world review. Damn. The A7 puts forth such a compelling challenge to Leica that I ordered one last night along with adaptors for M lenses and my Canon FD lenses. The Canon lenses will not be an elegant look as the adaptor is huge and the lenses not small but it will be an interesting test none the less to see how they perform. My Leica lenses on the other hand should make the whole package much more discreet (except for the shutter noise).
Great stuff again Steve, you sure know how to empty bank accounts.
Steve is positive about using M mount lenses on the Sony A7/A7R but T. Ashly shows samples that contradicts this statement.
I am glad I said that because now the A7R has come forth, it turns out that half my M lenses are effectively un-usable on the camera, and of the rest, all but one are marginal or compromised. As expected, colour shading issues plague the files but with most lenses corner and edge sharpness is not as bad as some people feared and is, at least on some lenses, not notably worse than with an M240.
The samples of Ron Scheffer do not look promising either. This leaves me puzzled.
Yep, read Tim’s article and indeed Leica lenses don’t work well on Sony. I guess, I’ll go for the new M.
Not true at all. Only some ultra and wides do not work well (many do not on the Leica M either). The Zeiss 35 f/2 is gorgeous on the A7 or A7r. Some 28’s are great, some are not. Any lens 35 and up will work amazing on the A7 including much easier focusing with a 75 Lux or 90 cron or Noctilux. Whoever said they do not work well with MOST Leica lenses did not go out and take real images with MOST Leica lenses. Just as with a Leica body, the Voigtlander 12 and 15 will give color issues. But the Voigtlander 21 1.8 works great without color issues. Depends on what lenses you want to use but to say “leica lenses do not work well on the Sony” is an outright Lie and mistruth.
Is there any reason for such a harsh response? I did mention Leica lenses, not Zeiss or Voigtlander. I’m not even going to comment on the ‘lie’ bit because it’s completely out if place and unnecessary.
I do not see it as harsh, just reality. I am a realist and say what is on my mind no matter what. Just tired of seeing people post silly shots without USING the cameras and then jumping to a conclusion that is not true. Take some real photos and then judge. But yes, many ultra wides WILL NOT do good on the A7 or A7r (just as they do not do well on the Leica M). Some Leica brand M lenses will fail miserably on the A7 and A7r while doing great on the M (due to corrections the Leica makes that the A7 does not). But lenses like the 50 Lux…on this A7 I have here it does beautifully (Novoflex adapter). The Voigtlander 35 1.2 II..gorgeous. I have not tried the 35 cron as I prefer the Zeiss 35 Biogon anyway and that lens also does great for me when shooting a real photo. I have not shot a white wall to see results because in reality, I would never shoot a white wall and make a print to frame of said white wall. From what I have seen, even the 50 F/1 Noctilux performs just as well, if not better, then on the Leica M. On the M it was not focusing correctly with the RF.
I have tested the native 35/2.8 FE on a Sony A7r with excellent results and the Zeiss 35/2 ZM, Leica 50/1.4 LUX ASPH and various other Contax G and CY mount lenses with mixed results. Unfortunately some of my results for corner performance in near and infinity shots matches the experience of others that report smearing issues below F8…The fact that Steve had good results with some of the same lenses (Zeiss 35/2 and 50 lux asph) has me looking for a weak link on my end… I will test jpeg vs raw shooting modes, new adapters and different copies of lens and sony cameras. Anything else I should add?
The shots I took with the 50 1.4, Zeiss 35, Zeiss 50 and even Voigtlander 21 were great. No complaints. BUT I shoot wide open. If you are seeing issues stopped down then I wouldn’t know about that as if I am going to shoot stopped down to get a huge DOF, I would just use my E-M1 which will excel in this area. A full frame camera really does not do better with all types of imaging and I feel the E-M1 with a good lens will do better at f/8 than the Sony would do at f/8 with a Leica lens. To me, the whole reason to shoot a Leica lens on a full frame body is to get the look that the lens was designed for, which is wide open shooting. A 50 Lux is made to shoot at 1.4 and gives its full character at that aperture. When shooting at 1.4 I had no issues, day or night. I posted samples from this lens in a previous post.
But I would never mount a leica lens to shoot at f/8 or stopped down. If I wanted that look Id go to my E-M1 or use a native lens. Leica lenses perform their best wide open, just how they are designed.
Using a modern Leica lens wide open, where it does perform extremely well, is not the same as getting the best potential from it. For someone, such as yourself, whose photographic style is aimed at using them wide open, they are indeed the best available. But you must realise that you will never know just what they are capable of if you only use them wide open. They do not perform at their best wide open. Even the Noctilux which clearly has been optimally designed to be used wide open, can benefit from a smidgen of stopping down.
So, even as with the venerable Noctilux, all Leica lenses benefit from stopping down. But I accept if one’s photography isn’t so much concerned with overall sharpness across the frame and where only the central portion needs to be sharp, say for portraits,this won’t be of concern.
Excellent as they are, checking the MTF curves of even the very latest and best Leica Aspherical lenses clearly shows that they do not perform at their best wide open, but need to be stopped down by at least 2 or even 3 stops on occasion, at which point they are sharper than at their maximum aperture, and such sharpness extends to over most of the frame. This is what landscape and architecture photographers will be very much interested in, not bokeh.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-Leica, having both M and R film cameras that I’ve used for decades and will now be trying out the lenses on my recently acquired A7. But photographers should try their lenses stopped down, where this permits, and see the difference it can make.
Even the M240 isn’t perfect. A lot of the wide angles I use still need Cornerfix for magenta shading on the edges. As long as there isn’t smearing in the corners, everything else is fixable in post, so keep that in mind.
I picked up my A7 last week. I am currently using it with my Nikon lenses because the Sony primes are not available yet in Switzerland. My impressions:
– The EVF is AMAZING. Much better than my VF-4! It makes manual focussing so much fun. No need for focus peaking or magnification.
– The look and feel of the camera is great. It really is the full fame om-d.
– The Nikon 50/1.4 G and 85/1.8 G work really well on the camera. The 35/1.8 G (crop lens) works ok but a little too much vignetting for me.
Looking at upgrading to FF from NEX-5N. I’m considering either A7 or Nikon d610 with the same lenses you mention: 85 1.8, 50, and 35 1.8 (even though DX on FX) or a 24-70 2.8. I’m not currently heavily invested in any system lens-wise, and as A7 has lack of native lens choice, not sure what to do – wait to see which others are released, start with just kit zoom, or go with the more established Nikon line? What made you switch from Nikon?
Am wondering how the Sony/Zeiss A-mount 24mm f2.0 performs on the A7r?? Reading comments about wide angle issues with super-wides, I’m almost (not really) reluctant to attach my 20mm Nikkor. Certainly cheaper than the whole nine-yeards with LAEA-4 and new Zeiss glass. Comments, anyone??
That’s nice to know. Thanks
The image quality, whilst technically appealing and no doubt exactly what many are looking for, seems to have a clinical edge…distinctly lacking in soul or mojo.
i see you are back on the high end hifi trip 🙂 In the same way that hi resolution audio can superficially seem impressive [detail, resolution, hearing things you haven’t heard before] it often misses the mark completely in terms of playing MUSIC, which is what it’s all about.
A7 seems technically amazing, but lacks the humanity or warmth, to my eyes. Perhaps that’s why you struggled to bond with the camera? Out of all the images the 35mm/2.8 seems less afflicted by this. Almost good enough for me to order, but not quite…
Thanks for a great review, Steve. I can always rely on you to give a real-world view of how the camera feels to use and how to get the best from it. My shooting style is slow and careful – the A7r sounds perfect for it. I love what you said about manual focusing – I must give that a try with my current Sonys and see if it works with them.
When testing video, see whether it has overheating problem. My NEX7 shut down after taking a continuous 20+ mins of video. Sony told me that this is normal and issued an official statement saying that this type of camera is not supposed to take long video. After this, when taking video, I used my Lumix GH2 which does not overheat and can take continuous video for over an hour. Has Sony solved this video problem in A7/A7R ?
Yes – they have solved this problem with the A7/r. According to Cinema 5d which tested this, the A7 does not overheat like the nex 7.
They fixed it by making it run out of battery first 😉 Kidding of course. I can’t wait till my A7 comes in.
That’s what airplane mode is for 😉
Finally the much awaited review is here….. Good Job Steve….
I was going all in on this body from Sony, but I have changed my mind because I am not confident enough with it’s compatibility with wide angle lenses. I see you posted one 21mm Voigt shot, but mention that wide angle lenses such as those from Leica or Zeiss do not work particularly well. I have heard similar opinions from others as well. I was really hoping to use 15mm, 18mm, 21mm and the more standard 35 and 50 range lenses.
Another excellent review though Steve and I have been following your site and opinions since your very first site opened up I believe 6 years ago after running a random Leica Google search. After reading your M9 review I bought one 🙂 Keep up the great work bud~
Thanks for the great review! I’m on my way to Japan in a week or so and was planning on picking up a used RX1. They go for about $1460 USD after the 5% discount on sales tax. I can read Japanese so I’m not too worried about the menu. The A7 w/35mm is about $1950.
So, comparing used RX1 vs A7 w/ 35mm f2.8 which is the better value? About $500 less in favor of RX1 but I lose ability to change lenses.
Its a repetition of the NEX experience. Only two lenses and already two bodies to choose from. Likely we will see an A8, an A9x, z or y or an A3 (without EVF) and a multiplicity of huge kit, tele or travel zoom lenses long before compact and fast FE lenses of the Leica M staple kind, i.e. 21/2.8, 35/1.4, 85/2. Phase AF and overall speed is well behind Olympus E-M1. Perhaps Sony should have avoided the hassle with AF and a line of own FE lenses, but offer a dumbed-down A for manual use of third-party lenses.
Awesome review, Steve. Keep up the great work! I look forward to comparing your experience along with my own after I receive my A7r next week.
Great review (as usual). Interchangeable lenses aside I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on how either the A7 or A7r with the 35mm f2.8 Zeiss stacks up against the RX1 or RX1r (w/optional EVF) with its 35mm f2 Zeiss in terms of IQ, relative AF speed, ISO performance, overall fluidity, best use, etc.
i’ll double your question..exactly what i would like to hear too. the biogons (f2 & C 2.8) seem to have 9 blades and produce great stuff. the 35 2.8 FE seems just to melt into the a7 and needs no adapter. the rx1 produces stunning results – so tiny package. tho i have seen bokeh with wood-patterns on some shots of the rx1 which reminds me to the otherwise fantastic 35 1.4 from samyang/rokinon…
hmm what to do ?
Pixel size impacts light gathering not detail capture. A 36mp sensor has the ability to capture/resolve more detail than a 24mp sensor of any size. The 36mp sensor is not more susceptible to camera shake, you just notice it more when viwed at 100%. Down sampled to 24mp the results should be the same. But if you don’t think you’re ever going to extract the detail why pay for it.
Steve. Can I ask what flash system u would recommend with the A7?
I dont think he uses flash.
Great review Steve!
I’m one of the guys you mentioned who switched their pre-order a number of times, between the A7 and A7r.
In the end, I decided to go with the A7 and, as luck would have it, it just arrived this afternoon!
I was out with it for about a half hour (I have a few photos up at my blog site) and had a blast with it!
I took out the Kit 28-70mm (really an OK lens), the Nikkor 50mm f1.4, and the Sony 50mm f2.8 macro.
I’m looking forward to getting out and trying some more lenses next week.
Thanks for the great review and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!
Steve, first off a huge thanks for the time you took to do this review.
This was the most anticipated reviews I think you have ever done.
I learned an important thing in this review:
1. The A7 is super sharp and more than enough camera for anyone’s needs.
2. The new Sony/Zeiss 55mm F1.8 is astonishingly sharp.
Example: In your second pic of Nikki Leigh with the Sony/Zeiss 55mm 1.8, if you zoom to 100% and look at the strands of hair just to the left of the part in her hair you will see zig zag jaggies.
This means that the lens ‘exceeded’ the resolution of the sensor and resolved detail that is smaller than the actual pixels of the sensor! So the hair strands are seen embedded through several adjacent pixels giving the straight lines of the hairs a jagged look.
I am little disappointed in the review however. This is because I am mainly a wide angle shooter and I was eagerly awaiting the report on how wide angle range finder lenses would fair on the A7 vs the A7R.
You hinted at this in your review but no definitive samples or opinion was expressed.
The review mainly focused (pun) on Normal to Normal wide lenses.
I have lenses like those and I am very grateful now to know they will work perfectly on the A7.
But I hope you will do some detailed tests for us in the future on the Voigtlander 15mm Heliar, the lens everyone wants to use on a digital camera and can’t.
Thank you again Steve.
Great review Steve.. Agree with your feelings about the response, it’s the same for me coming from a V1. Feels a bit laid back overall, not as lively. Changing to SP mode it fires away plenty fast enough as if to remind you it can shift when it needs to, though I’ve found in this mode for some reason it hesitates sometimes with a lag after the first shot (MF lens).
One irritation for me is half the time the ISO or frame advance mode changes after walking for while, some button must be getting nudged (camera on a strap over my shoulder).Have tried a few things but still need to work on that.
Still blown away by this camera though! waiting for the Zeiss 35mm so using adapted MF lenses so far. I’m not used to MF but was fine with the zoomed focus assist method with two button presses, though I hope they add an option to change to a single press in a firmware update.
Great stuff Steve. Just curious and probably not a popular question considering the majority of people here love mirror-less (as I do) but will you be in a position and willing to review the Nikon DF? I know it’s a larger camera and doesn’t have the resolution as others but I love what I’ve seen, bringing back the old school dials (which should never have vanished in the first place) and incorporating the D4 sensor, it looks great but I’ve read so much negative on the internet of late about it. Anyway, again, great review with the SONY A7’s. Thanks
Steve. Although all beautiful camera’s that produce impressive image quality and sharpness in a small package, I get the impression the EM1 over the beautiful Sony’s gives you the passion to go get your therapy session and it fully does the trick. If you had the three ready to go on the table with your preferred lens and could only pick one for a street event that you tend to love before an indoor basketball game which one would it be?
If you can’t decide do the experiment yourself and please let us all know.
Steve. Great review. Ive have been eagerly waiting for your review before i bought. But here in Bangkok, Thailand Photo Fair is on and i tested the cameras a few days ago. I got week at the knees and bought before you posted this. I fell in love with the both Sonys and agree with your take on both of these cameras. I opted for the A7 over the A7r due to how it responded. Nothing to do with price. I have owned all of the Fuji X series cameras and still do aside from the first X100. I agree 100% that NONE of them focus as well or as fast as the Sony. Not even the newer X100s. The fuji XE2 i do not own, but tested at Photo Fair here and it still did not feel as quick or responsive. Even if so, it lacks the full frame resolution of the Sony, so the Sony wins. Im converted now and cant see why i would carry my X-Pro 1 or XE-1 before i picked up the Sony or even my Olympus E-M1. Both respond better and if i need or want top resolution, ill reach for the Sony. I think it will do for about 75% of what i want and the Olympus the rest. Need more lenses please Sony. Go to town and give us a great selection of fast primes and zooms. Ill pay for it.
I’ve had the A7r for almost a week but I was still really eager to read your review.
I’m currently in NY, I spent most of this morning in B&H messing around with the staff and various lenses, I resisted buying the 35/2.8 until I’d read your thoughts……I’ll be back there when it opens on Sunday to pick one up.
One of my reasons for getting the camera was having an autofocus option I’m still really keen to follow through on that.
I have to say I absolutely love the JPEG’s, I’m yet to sit down with the RAW’s.
On my travels I have with me the 50/1.5, 35/1.2 and 21/1.8 Voigtlander’s. The 50 & 35 give beautiful results on the A7r, I will still give the 21 some camera time just to see the results.
In terms of focusing, initially I went straight to Focus Peaking, not having used it previously I was frustrated to be missing focus. From there I reverted to magnification but the process is a little clumsy unless you have ample time. I’m now back to trusting my eyes and getting much better results.
I guess my experience so far is comparable to when I got the MM, a bit of a learning curve along with some frustrations which is inevitable.
The camera is growing on me all the time and today it was the only camera I used…….. 🙂
Jason, I would be interested in your thoughts on the voigt 50 1.5, mine seemed to be soft/smeer in the corners, which is fine wide open of course.
I would also rather magnify or not bother, I am unused to peaking and find it hard to get on with, otherwise I like the camera more every time I pick ot up.
Still just as confused over what direction to go from my Leica M-E, either go for 7 / 7R or 240 …I primarily use the 50 lux 1.4 and wanted to upgrade, just not sure if I would lose in terms of rendering and sharpness if I bought a A7(not the R). Any advice most appreciated.
this is almost becoming too much resolution in photos – I’m sure the model doesn’t care for the highly detailed shot of her “stash” and sideburns….unless all American girls are that hairy? ( although I get the feeling that other areas have been shaved )…also the pics seem to have a “clinical/sterile” touch to them – perhaps what people call a “digital” look as compared to film or even other cameras (form experience I would say as compared to Olympus which although is not 100% “natural is often times even better than…)
Interesting. Never seen all the pros shooting with phase one digital backs and other medium format cameras? They’ve been getting this detail for years and years! But then of course they photoshop the bejeezus out of it before it lands on the cover of Vogue. 😛
Ha, ha! Yes that girl needs to wax her stash it seems. But that 55mm F1.8 is amazing.
Does she? She stills seems beautiful to me.
Steve, once again you come through with an insightful real world review of a hotly anticipated camera. And, once again, you inspired me to spend my hard earned money on a new body. This time, it’s the a7r. I simultaneously love you and hate you for this, if that’s possible.
Well Steve are you getting rid of your M or MM anytime soon? In other words are the results that significant that you would entertain this idea!
As usual an excellent review done methodically thank you Steve for your tireless work.
Fantastic review, thank you.
I have just received the A7 and am really happy with it so far. I’ve been shooting it with my ZM 25mm, ZM 35mm 2.8 and ZM 50mm 1.5 and am generally very pleased with the results from all the lenses. I was though thinking of picking up the RX1 as a compliment to it for auto focus family stuff but after reading your praise for the FE 35mm I am reconsidering. I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on the differences between these two options.
Also are you shooting raw now on the A7s? I am and am finding Lightroom to be dealing with the raw file skin tone poorly. JPEG seems much better.
I have not found a way to do this it one click. You can program one button to enter the mode and another to start magnifying, or just click one button several times to “scroll” through the different magnifying levels. Not a very happy surprise as I only have MF lenses. Steve might have some magic eyeballs, I think magnifying is needed for most people to nail focus with these high res cameras.
you are doing manual focus, what’s the rush? …no insult intended at all, but seriously, I’d rather it just went to magnify too but then , just tried it, the double pump takes maybe 1/4 second longer then you are ready.
Let’s be clear, All the criticsms of this camera are valid to some extent, so people need to decide what they want it for, or if they want ot at all.
Personal opinion (based solely on what I want it for). I replaced the sports DSLR with the EM1, 75 1.8, and the 50-200 when it turns up (warning: amateur, my kids sport and requests from whatever club they are playing for). I already liked the EM5/1 and love it for a walkaround mostly AF camera, and then I find with the 42.5 Voigtlander or 60 Macro it does close up stuff too. So, those uses catered for, I traded my Canon full frame and lenses for the Sony, voigt 35 1.2, Zeiss 35 2, and Zeiss 50 2, and I thought the Sony Fe 35 2.8 but my dealer didnt write that bit down, so don’t ask me about autofocus….yet. It cost me nothing, even with trade in prices (I had paid for the EM1 Already)
what I wanted?
I do…use centre point focus and recompose, generally sit in aperture priority anyway.
I dont ever…use video, touchscreen AF point selection
I would love, IBIS and a better battery, though carrying 2 batteries is no big deal.
and so, for me there is no shortage of lenses, Zeiss and Voigtlander already made them and Novoflex joined them to the A7r.
The low light, difficult to get sharp pictures issue, seems so far somewhat true. I go to shutter priority, the aperture is already fixed, and let auto ISO give me it’s best up to 3200, the results are good I think. for a 50mm I need at least 1/60, other’s hands may be better, the Oly IBIS has spoilt me there 1/16 would be fine.
I like taking my time, when the kids let me. I actually, honestly, like the positive shutter noise, and the ergonomics work pretty well once you get used to them (yes the EM1 is better). And so, if you want a camera with beautiful IQ it’s there. I am happy with the ergonomics, like any camera one has to get used to it.
So if the compromises I am happy with bother others, then they should try the camera themsleves (it does seem that many of the “critics” have not done so). if you want a beautiful IQ and nice to use camera within those boundaries then I doubt you’ll be in any way disappointed, I am loving it.
By the way Steve what if you could only have one camera for the next 5 years. What would it be?
Great images and review.
Loving the IQ out of the A7r. Stunning.
Boy you look like the cat with the cream. Guess all those gorgeous models hardly spoiled your day either.
Now lets check that lottery ticket!
Hey Steve, thanks for the awesome review!! One issue I still have before I order through your site.. A few (including dpreview) are saying that the A7 doesn’t focus as fast or as accurately as the A7r in low light. Speed is not an issue for me, but accuracy is. Do you have the same experience of the A7 being unable to focus accurately like the A7r in low light?
This would be weird because I thought that the A7 uses Phase Detection AF and the A7R uses Contrast Detection AF? If so, the A7 should focus faster in low light.
Yes, but here is what i read in the dpreview preview:
“After shooting several hundred images on our trip with Sony in Tennessee, I found far fewer sharp-focus images from my α7 shooting than from the α7R. Other editors had the same trouble, at least one declaring she had no sharp shots from the α7, while the α7R was fine…”
Later on, the author writes,
“After shooting with the α7 and α7R for some time, I preferred the α7R for its faster, more reliable autofocus and better images overall. Naturally, I wanted to prefer the α7, with its lower-res 24MP sensor and lower price. The main reason I preferred the α7R: I liked the images better, and I liked the experience better. The α7’s JPEG noise suppression looks quite overprocessed, giving even out-of-focus areas a brush-stroke appearance, and its phase-detect autofocus isn’t as fast, nor as accurate (we’ll be testing further to confirm and characterize this).
These comments are pretty serious and I can’t make a purchasing decision until it’s clear that the A7 can focus as accurately in low light as the A7r. It’s not even about autofocus speed for me, I can deal with slower speed. I just can’t deal with the camera indicating that my shot is in focus when it is not. If I have to pay $600 to get more accurate AF, so be it.
Agreed, those comments are quite serious, and turned me right off of the A7, which is the one I was planning on getting. I’m not interested in the A7r, have no need or want for 36mp files.
David Kilpatrick wrote an interesting reason why the A7r does indeed focus more accurately than the A7.
“AA filters reduce fine detail contrast and tend to smooth the luminance peaks and troughs used by contrast detect focusing to decide when the image is most sharp. Removing the AA filter has a small but significant effect on the speed and accuracy of contrast detection focusing, along with an improvement in many irregular textures like distant woodlands, lawn grass and human skin. So if you incorporate image processing able to remove some of the resulting moiré, it makes sense. This is the route being taken by most other makers now to get the best possible live view auto follow-focusing.”
As a Leica M240 and M9 user, I was looking to buy one of the Sony’s as a back up for travel and to exclusively use my growing collection of Leica lenses.
However, I still have concerns about about the overall sharpness from 35 on up to 135.
Will get a chance to check it all out for myself this coming Monday.
Thanks for the great insight Steve!
Thanks for the great review. I have a UI question. If you put a manual lens on the Sony, then the lens barrel controls the focus and aperture. On the Sony body you have two wheels (one near the thumb and the other near the index finger). I assume one of those wheels controls the shutter speed. Is it possible to set the other wheel to control the ISO?
As others have noted, a wonderful review! But what really strikes me is your brilliant suggestion that Sony should have released only 1 version…an A7 with 24 mp sensor but without the AA sensor.
Again, that is simply brilliant. Sony should hire you for their marketing department.
I’ve followed Sony throughout the years and admired many of their products, and owned a few too. One thing I’ve noticed is that Sony tends to overcomplicate everything. They just can’t leave well enough alone. They love to put out too many models of everything and confuse the heck out of consumers. I saw them do that with the Walkman, their home CD players, the Discman, their Handycams, etc.
Sony (and most companies) could learn from Apple: keep it simple. Keep your products simple, and even keep your product lineup simple. With most Apple products you have 3 choices: good, better, and best.
I get that Sony wanted to cover their bases and offer different models for different needs, but certainly at least at first Sony should have simply offered up one model that consumers could focus on.
As an aside, I got to try out an A7 today in a Sony store, and boy, is it nice. It really amazes you when you hold one for the first time, and consider the IQ in such a small package. I’m in love 🙂
Steve GREAT Reviews What about your beloved RX1 and RX1R? Neal
RIGHT..What about it Steve..you raved crazy about the RX1 and RX1R..do you still have a place for the RX1R PLUS having an A7 or A7R a camera.or…does your RX1R go on sale? I don’t recall you saying the RX1s felt slow and clunky, well not clunky!You say you have convinced yourself HERE that since the A7’s didn’t bond with you you CHANGED your thinking, that these A7s are OK now as to speed, as you changed your thinking or approach like you are shooting a medium format rig. But isn’t that kind of lying to yourself or kidding yourself? These are NOT medium format cams..and if they don’t bond with you, after the NEW CAR smell wears off, Yes even you have had these cameras a couple weeks already, maybe slow and clunky is going to make you reach for the RX1s THOUGH these aren’t speed demons either..but not clunky…What say you? 🙂 Or right back to your EM1 that you said was THE BEST ILC camera ever made “period”
The E-M1 is the most versatile mirror less ever made, that is what I said. Also, it is the overall best one made when taking into consideration EVERYTHING – build, speed, lens selection, price, quality, etc. I take these cameras as a whole..look at the big picture. The A7 and A7r are in no way the best Mirroless cams made because ether lack lenses, speed and when taken as a whole, do not compete with others. If just talking IQ, then they are probably the best there is. But as a whole, that goes to the E-M1. The RX1 and RX1r are astounding and offer silent shooting, close focus and one hell of a lens. But you are limited to that one lens. So all up to the person buying the camera and what the needs are. ALL deliver the goods but IQ wise, the A7 and A7r and RX1 cameras are at the top of the heap.
Steve, That is THE best camera(s) review I ever read PERIOD! You touched on everything, backwards, forwards, and sideways.. TRULY fantastic! That said, and I must agree, MAYBE too bad Sony didn’t make just ONE sort of super A7 perhaps with the 24 megapixels with NO AA filter and maybe used no plastic..
You semi answered this before in a post but not exactly. For the many that still own an RX1R being it IS 24 megapixels, has no aa filter, is smaller, has a brighter Zeiss lens PERHAPS better mated to the sensor. For the many who buy an ILC camera but then end up with one lens pretty much living on it(Very common)..in this case the 35mm..is the A7 any better or lacking compared to an RX1R? if one plans to just stick with 35mm? There is no doubt if one wants to use Leica, Canon..whatever glass, the A7 is the camera to go for, but for the many who end up with one favorite prime on their camera can the RX1R equal or better the A7 with the 35 FE Sony/Zeiss lens as to IQ and maybe just feel a little less sluggish?in your opinion?
Stick with the RX1R if all you need a 35mm.
…and I’m hoping that the Sony won’t give up on the RX1 cameras. I just like the look and build quality better on the RX1 cameras over the A7 cameras. Just add a built-in EVF to the RX2. No AA filter. Use Phase Detection AF. A silent leaf shutter. Done. For now, I am sticking with my Fuji X100S. Who knows, maybe the next camera revolution will be organic sensors and I won’t have to dump Fuji.
I love my RX 1. For me the 35MM lens is perfect for the street. In addition the shutter is completely quiet.
Thanks Raymond and Jim. I may just try the A7 just to see if somehow it produces better or at least equal overall IQ than the RX1 but I doubt it. Well maybe equal. However there is a cost factor involved here too, in that IF the A7 can equal the RX1 or RX1R on IQ 35mm RX1 to 35 mm FE Zeiss here, If you don’t need the brighter 2.0 aperture of the RX1’S lens, you save nearly $700 if you bought the external evf for the RX1s.
That’s almost enough money to buy another prime with, so not sure it’s a clear win for the RX1s but maybe..I hope to find out first hand. Thanks for your comments here. Of course as stated here the RX1 is a little smaller, and more quiet..better build? Tough decision.
If all u need is one focal length, the X200 will apparently be full frame.
Hey Steve ! Just want to know about Out of Focus shots by sony A7 in compare to a7r that some other website like dpreview posted in their preview. Did you experience anything similar ?
I just bookmarked your Amazon link. The next time i buy something, i will use it. Promise.
The best review of not just this camera but all I have read. The extra time Steve took to write it was worth the wait to understand all styles of shooting performance with this camera. The imagery is beautiful as always. I always say if there is very little difference in IQ, performance and build use the price as the differentiator.
Models will need to get an extra makeup assistant in future due to the details of their skin showen by the IQ of those cameras.
Hi Steve, you stated “The Sony A7 and A7r, IMO, are perfect for shooting Leica M mount glass from 28mm and up.” Which 28 M Leica did you use? My friend has the A7r and the Leica 28 2.0 ASPH and it’s terrible on the camera. Another few cons I found was the speed at which the camera switches between rear LCD and EVF (there is a slight delay once camera is to you eye); as well as the play in the electronic shutter release. I use the M8 and the XE1 and also had a sony 5n. I also prefer the shutter release on the RX 1.
Thanks for the tremendous effort to get this review out for all of us who have been waiting for a thorough, thoughtful, balanced review from a trusted expert. In a world where no camera is yet perfect, identifying the subtle distinctions between the qualities that distinguish a Leica experience from a Sony or Olympus mirrorless experience is invaluable to the many enthusiasts like myself trying to hit that sweet spot. The Sony A7’s get us significantly closer to the promised land and your words and pictures help us judge how much closer we now are. Though I’m still torn on whether to cancel my M240 order, your review has made me more sanguine that I’ll soon have an A7r to evaluate while I decide whether I still need that Leica M. Thanks for the mature perspectives you provide and the many practical observations that mean so much to your faithful audience.
You propably will want both! The M240 for wide angle lenses and A7R for tele lenses!
Very nice review Steve, and I appreciate you mentioning what is the biggest negative to me – the build.
1/ Great pics. Let’s not forget that while Steve may be an equipment reviewer, he is a photographer first and foremost!
2/ Could you explain why it may be harder to get super sharp images with the A7r vs the A7?
3/ I know Ashwin has hundreds of Leica lenses (!), so hopefully some Leica wides can be tested in the near future. 35 and 28 (I also have an 18 but do not expect that to perform on the Sonys). We know that the Voigt and Zeiss models work ok, but unless I missed it, not the Leica 35s and 28s.
You’re right though, if this is what Sony is producing now, in a few years these FF cameras will be insane.
I have no issue with using these slowly and methodically, as that is how I shoot all my cameras. I’m in no rush!
hats off to sony…. again for another great camera
thanks for the review steve
Hi Steve ,
I agree with you the poor men`s Leica A7 without “R” is also a pretty nice deal!!!
I have noticed one more little issue.
Remoting the Cam by the App: Smart Remote is fine to transport pictures to your smartphone,
but it would be nice if you have afterwards an raw file of the image on the SD-Card, but that didn´t
work also you have set Quality to Raw+Jpeg.
Maybe its an bug.
Still a nice Day!!
Hi Steve. Looking forward to the joint article with Ashwin. IMHO, you have to provide sponsored links to some international camera shops as well. You have a lot fo hit from around the globe, and any of those won’t be able to purchase through B&H or Amazon.com. You can even make a small program to display the right link to the right people. Just saying…
The biggest reason that I’m not going to jump on-board, is that they’ve proven not to be fully committed to any one format. The NEX models have been around nearly as long as m4/3, yet there are still extremely few good native Sony lens choices. Only a few average-performing fast primes, none of which are terribly wide. They’re also too slow to develop new models in that line-up. The NEX-7 was a start in the right direction, but they arguably followed up with the side-step to the NEX-6.
They come out with the RX1, which was novel, if otherwise too slow for anything but landscape shots (with a lens not quite wide enough for that very task).
Now they have these two bodies. Which, by the way, is already the first of the bad moves. They aren’t different enough, and that consternation in choosing can often lead to not choosing, at all. Yes, the sensors are both great. But the performance of both these units are so slow, that it just feels like buying one is automatically signing up for Beta testing.
Finally, the lenses. There’s no way around the physics, and if they’re going to come out with truly fast glass, the size of those lenses will be every bit as large as normal DSLR optics.
Sony Alpha A7r delivers the quality of the Nikon D800e ? No. Nikon D800e is better.
The A7r’s contrast-based AF system is fairly leisurely under good light and quite lethargic in dim conditions. Shoot in very low light or with a small AF area under challenging conditions and it may not even lock-on at all. It’s noticeably inferior to the speed and confidence of the contrast-based AF system on modern Micro Four Thirds cameras, albeit roughly similar to the Live View AF on full-frame DSLRs. But of course the benefit of DSLRs are their much snappier phase detect AF systems available when shooting through their optical viewfinders, which again are much faster than the Single AF acquisition of the A7r.
If you’re coming from a full-frame DSLR you’ll enjoy having the flexibility of a screen which tilts vertically, but if you’re coming from, say, a Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera, then you’ll miss having a touch-screen, and compared to some models, a screen which can also flip all the way out. Being able to tap to reposition a single AF area has become something I do for almost every shot with my camera and I greatly missed it on the A7r and A7. And if you mostly shoot in the portrait orientation or film pieces to camera, the vertically-tilting screen offers no benefit – for that you need a fully articulated screen.
If only Sony had equipped with A7r and A7 with sensor-shift stabilisation, they could have become the ultimate bodies for using lenses across multiple systems.
The Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 exhibits purple chromatic aberration despite the Bionz X Processor, and adapted alpha lenses like the superb Zeiss 135mm f/1.8 ZA are even more prone to chromatic aberration
One of the highlight features of the Bionz X Processor is its ability to handle image quality loss due to diffraction. In the real world, this does not work well,
Don’t Like :
-Limited native lens availability
-More prone to shutter shake/shock because of high-resolution sensor, large shutter, and lightweight body
-There is no in-body stabilization (IBIS)
-LCD screen is not touchscreen
-Small battery with fairly low shot count
-Battery charger is not included and costs extra
-AF is a bit slow in low light environment
-Only 1/160th X-sync for the A7R
-Phase-Detect AF only available on the a7
-Movie codec is limited to AVCHD and fairly low bitrate
-Battery grip’s design and ergonomic not as well-thought out
-The PlayMemory Smartphone App is too simplified and cannot wi-fi tether to computer
Thanks you Amber. I think that the A8 will be “perfect”, the A7 is just a “Beta” FF.
the A8 or A8r? ; )
Unfortunately I have to add something to the cons: The EVF is terrible and I mean really terrible. I can´t understand why there are not more people who complain about. Every fine details gets blurred in the finder. The Sony guy with whom i spoke today had to conform this too. He told me that Sony will do a software update in February. The problem according to the Sony guy is a over sharpened EVF. We were 5 people who compared the EM1 and A7R and there is a huge and not a small difference in quality!
I dont know what you are talking about. I have the A7 in front of me and the EVF is perfectly fine. Most of your post sounds like trolling sadly. If you cant appreciate the power of a full frame sensor with the option of Leica M glass then stick to your micro-whatever system and enjoy it. What frustration makes you come here and vent off about a system you are not interested in?
Johann, I feel exactly the same as Ernst.
I’ve had two cameras with EFV, the Panasonic G3 and the Olympus OMD-EM5. The G3’s I thought was excellent, especially for reviewing photos. They had a real 3D effect. The EM5’s viewfinder was good, but too small. The A7’s, which I’ve bought, is much bigger, but has lots of artifacts. It looks quite pixelated with jagged edges.
Having read excellent reviews about the viewfinder I’m wondering if mine is faulty, or if I have something set wrong which I haven’t found yet.
You accuse Ernst of trolling, but frankly your response is pathetic. Where exactly does he say he isn’t interested in the system? What makes you defend it so aggressively?
Yes, the EVF is great and 100% usable without any issues. I prefer it over an optical any day of the week. A good EVF is VERY welcome IMO.
As i have not used EVF before and i am near sighted, would it be better to use EVF compared to diopter lens with dslr?
Al so in theory can the EVF have negative effect on human eye (may it damage it at that close range)?
Agree 100% Steve. I find myself even using the EVF on my fuji even though I can go optical. I bought the A7 and eel it’s just fine. I have not directly compared it to my omd em1 but did not feel it was not miles apart. It’s just fine.
The EVF in my A7 is excellent and sharp. Two things spring to mind: you do realise that it has dioptre adjustment of +4 to -4. To set it, you simply look through the EVF and adjust the strength so that the image data info is at its sharpest. Then the image will be sharp when in focus.
Unfortunately, it cannot correct for defective vision, so if you have astigmatism, for example, you will always struggle to use it to its full potential.
Very good points Amber & Ernst.
I also see no mention of the missed shots of the A7 vs A7r, something most other reviewers immediately noticed. Everyone else seems to prefer the A7r for it’s more accurate & reliable af from what I’ve read.
Also noticed there’s no examples showing the Sony’s 35 or 55’s bokeh, which seems odd for a Steve Huff review…
Of course there is… did you look at ALL of the images? Plenty of Bokeh in the 35 and 55 shots.
Hey Amber, I guess you owned a A7/A7r for quite some time, to be able to report on all this with authority. But I’m sure you must have sold it. So how long did you really have it? How many shots did you take?
Huh ? The Battery Charger is included ,it’s inside the Camera. USB ,which is quite handy as you can charge it just about anywhere.
Dear Steve, thanks for your excellent and detailled review. One thing though: Many owners of Leica M lenses will be disappointed because — apart from the WATE 16-18-21 — none of the Leica M wide angle lenses can be used on the Sony A7 or A7r. Not even the 35 mm luxes and crons. Anything below 50 mm is a no go. IMO this should be said very clearly.
Lots of good samples on the web showing the 35 lux fle performs superbly on the A7r. Don’t know why you say it is a no go….
you’re right that apparently the 35 lux performs better than the 35 cron but above all if you stop it down to 5.6. Overall, thighslapper’s commentary on L-forum seems to sum up the findings of a fair number of people very well:
“I have WATE, 21/3.4, 24/2.8, 28/2, 35/2, MATE …… and except the WATE & MATE the others are unusable ….. in the sense that performance compared to pairing with a Leica body is so degraded that it is pointless using them.”
I agree totally Peter, we need to know what wide angles will work on these cameras before buying.
If none of them will work then these cameras are just good for street photography and portrait work, something I do not specialize in. Sad…
I just got my A7R yesterday, and have tired it with my Leica 18mm Super Elmar, and I can happily report that I had ZERO problems with it….the files look the same as my Leica M9 with the 18mm…..some good news!!
Scott : if both the camera files are the same will you keep the Sony? Or is G.A.S. at play?
I have a gut feeling that wide angle lenses made for 35mm reflex cameras will fare better than those intended for rangefinder cameras as the reflex lenses have to be retro designs and will therefore have a longer back focal distance. This means light rays will arrive at the edges of the frame less obliquely than those from the shorter back focal distance of the rangefinder lenses.
Blowups of the shots of the model labeled “A7 and 55” are astonishingly sharp. It surely would have been interesting to see a side-by-side comparison of the exact same image made with the E-M1 and Pany 25mm. Same model, same lighting, same everything, but with the E-M1. Obviously, the Sony’s FF sensor would be superior but it would be fun to see by how much.
Regardless of AF or price, and taking into account IQ and character, which do you prefer for the A7? The Voigtländer 35 f1.2 Nokton II, the Zeiss ZM 35 f2 Biogon or the Zeiss FE 35 f2.8 and why? What are their differences? Are these any better than the Zeiss f2 in the RX1?
Thank you, Steve.
Thanks for your review, it was a nice reading 🙂 got my a7r today with the zeiss sonnar and I can’t wait to try it out but I don’t have the adapter yet since it was out of stock at the store! I have a quick question about the adapter, have you tried the Voigtlander, what about the built quality? I also saw they will launch a new adapter with the possibility to modify the minimum focus distance, any thoughts?
Thanks in advance for your answer! 🙂
Geat, honest review Steve -the pros and cons.As I have a rather large collection of AIS Nikkors (and I can’t wait to try-out the 55mm f2.8 Micro Nikkor) be assured, and after an almost painful experience of dropping said lens in a creek while using a cheapo adapter (faceplate mounting screws worked loose) use NOTHING but the best, the rock solid, tight, gorgeous, beautifully engineered NovoFlex.
Maybe,since there is so far no mention of the (beautiful all metal and hard chromed, enameled and recessed f-stop markings) AIS NIKKORS -particularly the 55mm and 105mm micros, I’ll do some tests and submit if they are significant. Their color rendition is colder than the contemporary Zeiss stuff but they are just as sharp and perfect for B & W. BTW, they will go on my soon to arrive A7r. After all, who buys a Ferrari with the small engine?
Hello John, I’m like you in possession of glass nikon ais, what adapter you use the sony? Do you have a reference in F mount nikon?
Thank you to you.
I second the Novoflex. A while back I got a Canon FD 24mm f/1.4 “L” lens to use on my Ricoh GXR m mount unit. I waited nearly a year to find that rare lens in pristine condition. I got the lens and had trouble focusing it. I was about to send it back, when I noticed that the screws on the cheap FD to M adaptor had gotten loose, which caused the focus problems. So I bit the bullet and ordered the Novoflex LEM/CAN adaptor for $260. When I got it I was blown away by the quality. It seems that it is made of a single piece of machined steel (with the exception of one metal pin). The adaptor is perfect and works great with the aforementioned lens. BTW, IF I get the A7 or A7R, it will probably be so that I can use that 24mm lens in its original field of view.
I recommend the Novoflex as well, superb build quality, even supports an additional tripod collar to mount heavy lenses if you choose so. It also have a step less aperture ring which could be used for your Nikon G lenses and if you’re using Ai-S lenses, you can deactivate the Novoflex aperture ring and you the clicked aperture ring that comes with your lens.
I don’t know if it is available in your area (I live in Indonesia), but I bought the Kiwi M to E adapter, and it is of excellent quality and only 40 bucks compared to almost 300 bucks for the Novaflex..
“While they do not offer the same build, feel or joy of use as my Leica M ….
Still, I love and adore my Leica for many reasons … those who own one and shoot with one you will know exactly what I mean. It is the quintessential photographers camera.
Samsung the copycat that they are will bring out a M9 lookalike FF (not rangefinder). Perhaps late 2014, early 2015.
There can be no copycat with the actual rangefinder focusing mechanism. The fuji vf is close, but still no cigar.
Once the issue of viewfinder/lcd blackout when a photo is taklen is solved, the rangefinder photgrpahy experience will not unique.
At one time people would say, ‘there is no substitute for a Leica M if you want to shoot Leica glass at it’s intended focal length, in a compact body’. Now we have the Sony A7R that does just that….you can use Leica glass as it was intended and actually get better image quality…all in a package of similar size.
Now all the Leicaphiles have to grasp to is, ‘yeah, but you’re missing the rangefinder experience….and the ‘feel’ of my Leica”. Seriously Leica, wake up…..these Sonys are a pretty good alternative to the M, especially if all you care about is image quality. As for the ‘rangefinder experience’….yeah I enjoyed it too but you know what’s not cool…having to get your camera calibrated as the rangefinder mech goes out of tolerance.
For the record….I used to own an M8 which I really enjoyed using (warts and all), but Leica is going to have a harder time justifying their prices in the times ahead.
“Leica is going to have a harder time justifying their prices in the times ahead.”
Clint, not until someone comes out with a rangefinder which competes. From a product placement point they are in a special place! Now, if they could just put something closer to this sensor in their next model…..they would be on track!
The M240 plays great with M ultra wides but you need to put up with lousy colour. The M9 gets it right on both fronts, but the sensor is likely to crack sometime in its lifetime.
I shoot the 21 SEM on my M240 and prefer it to any other lens, including 50 Lux, 50 Cron, 35 Cron and 35 Lux.
The color is fantastic!
I adjust the rangefinder mechanism myslef, so no worries here.
The Leica will be Leica, and it’s still No.1 small camera for many. Why do you even bother to mention the Leica here, anyway? This is an article about Sony cameras.
I’m glad Sony came up with something that could be used as an alternative and perhaps lower the Leica body’s price. But let’s face it, as long Leica cannot keep up with the demand they won’t be dropping the price.
Leica manufactures (sells)less than 10,000 Ms a year. You may not see the impact in 2013, but 6 months from now it will become obvious. Unless there is some new product announcement （with attractive features）to keep their loyal customers excited.
Thanks, very well review and excellent photos.
For those considering the WATE or a Voigtlander Ultron 21/1.8 that also works quite well, here you find an extensive comparison:
Thanks for the link and the comparisons. My “to buy” list is growing!
A family member wants a compact didigtal camera before Christmas.
Having always bought Panasonic, and recently looked at Olympus, Nikon
I said “Go Sony. Sony at the cutting edge of digital camera tech”
We have waited a long time for a digital FF in compact body.
Sony had the foresight years ago for FF R&D & heres the fruit.
I personally am really looking forward to the rumored Nex5 style Sony FF in 2014.
BTW whos to say Sony wont release a Medium Format at $3.5K
Excellent and indepth write up. I had just switched to the a7R(which has shipped to me) and now I’m wondering if I should return and go back to the a7?? But who am I kidding, as soon as it shows up I’ll be ripping that packaging open!
I’m also waiting for an adapter to try out some of my older OM lenses which I’m hoping will work well although I’d love to add that Zeiss 50/2.
I am also wondering the same thing. I’ve also read that the A7r would be more susceptible to camera shake and shutter vibrations due to its higher sensitivity. I use manual focus M mount lenses which have no IS. The $600 price difference is quite significant.
I decided on the 7R because of the detail possible in good light, in good settings. The noise in the ISO tests don’t look too bad so I’ll have to just push the iso a bit to get a higher shutter speed to avoid the possible shake.
Plus as I said I’m crazy to think I won’t open it when I get it(which I’m hoping is today).
It depends, have you used 24mp APSC cameras before? Cause the pixel size of the A7r is still larger then a 24mp APSC cameras and closer to a 16mp APSC camera, so if by any chance you’ve used a 16mp APSC camera before, chances are your hit rate (images in focus) would be similar. Honestly, I feel this “issue” is blown out of proportions especially from some reviewers who make statements that you need a tripod to get sharp photos, cause I don’t see them saying that about their 16mp APSC camera reviews
Thanks Adam. I have been using the NEX-7 since it was launched. It has a 24mp APSC sensor. I see what you mean and in practice, I hope you are right.
Speaking of nex-7, I am going to miss the tilt flash that was so handy indoors to bounce off the ceiling.
we waited so long for this review, thanks 🙂
Thank you, Steve, for this in-depth review of Sony A7/A7R. I, honestly, couldn’t wait for your review and went ahead and bought it (along with the RX10). Your initial review of this camera was enough to make my G.A.S. come back. Keep up the great work.
Hi Steve thanks for the great review.
Just a question, when using Leica M lens what shooting mode and camera settings you prefer to use for the A7r?
This worries me – ” I also really did not use the focus magnification as it took too long to activate with two button presses” as I rely on magnification quite a bit. Steve, can you please elaborate? Can one button be programmed to do it or is this not possible at all?
Thanks for the review!
It’s the same button. One button can be programmed to do the Focus Magnification function. Press #1 doesn’t magnify, but puts up a rectangle to show where it will magnify. You can move that around if you want. Press #2 then magnifies that area in the rectangle (and you can still move that area around too). So it is slightly annoying, but minor, since two quick presses of the same button will get you what you want.
mine is programmed to C1, right next to the shutter button. you press it and it shows you the area you are magnifying to, then press again and it magnifies. I just double pump the button as I know what to expect, and it goes instantly to the magnified view, a follow up press magnifies that even further. hope that helps.
Thank you Steve – this looks really good! The Zeiss 35/2.8 really pulls incredible IQ!
Could you by any chance try Leica Summaron 35/2.8 with either of the cameras? It would be very interesting to see how it compares (character wise) the the AF Zeiss lens. I am asking because to me the 35/2.8 character reminds me of the Summaron (which I think is not a bad thing at all).
Thanks for the great review(s), Steve! I have a 7D and a Fuji X100 and want to buy a camera with the x100 IQ and (some) zoom. I was considering the A7 (wow, full frame), but could only afford the kit lens. But after your (and other two) reviews, I think this would be a terrible idea. Should I wait a bit more for maybe the upcoming 24-70 or maybe the Xe2 with the (great, from what I hear) 18-55 kit lens? Thank you!
Thanks Steve. The A7 really got my interest. Mine arrived today along with Voigtlander 35mm 1.2 II and 50mm 1.5 ASPH which I hope got credited to you as I used the B&H search on the side for the 50mm. I’ve totally forgot to use your links in the past but this time I hope i got it right, least we can do in appreciation 🙂
Thanks for the mention of just using our eyes through the EVF, naturally I just used focus peaking when testing it and I likely would not have tried not using it, i’ll see how that goes! Its great to have options!
Thanks Steve, what a great comprehensive review, i will link it to my A7/r page on facebook. As you have readers from arround the world you might want to link from this page to Amazon.de and other foreign camera seller :))
I used the A7 with the summilux 35mm and i fully agree with you regarding the great quality of the A7
Probably one of the most detailed succinct and best reviews I’ve read. Enjoyed the read and the pictures .
So before reading your article I had no question the A7r, now I’m debating switching… rofl
Damn you Steve.
let’s wait for an A7 without an AA filter
If you ditch the AA filter, you have to give up the PDAF too, I’m afraid.
But ditching the AA filter gives you faster and more accurate contrast autofocus. Basically in low light or when you set the aperture to f/8 or smaller, the AA filterless camera will be faster and more accurate in focusing.
Olympus have managed both. Perhaps Sony will be able to share that tech soon.
I dont understand why that would be? I would have assumed that the D800E has PDAF without an AA filter.
D800E is a DSLR it does not have “on-chip” PDAF
it has a mirror instead
Possible quite possible the rumored FF in Nex5 body will be A7 sesnor without AA filter
I switched from a Nikon D800 to the Sony a7r and I haven’t looked back. In combination with the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 FE lens the a7r delivers images with better contrast and more detail then the D800 with any G lens. It’s a truly fantastic combination. Focussing is slightly slower then the Nikon D800 and the shutter sound is a little louder. That’s it. You save space, money and your back.
I bought a L-bracket from Rainbow Imaging via eBay. This nicely machined aluminium (ridiculously cheap) bracket not only provides an excellent horizontal and vertical Arca-Swiss tripod connection, but it also adds a little weight. Makes the camera more stable. It also provides a slightly better grip. My pinky has a place to rest now.
So I guess the OMD EM1 will be your choice for camera of the year ?
we have to wait for his final real world review for the year (hopefully) my beloved pentax K3
Nice overview, thank you !
Always same story, Like Leica lens, Voigtlander lens, Adapters for lens. I am Canon shooter. I do not really care about Leica and its lenses. They may be very good, but I have not them, all of us do not have them. We want Sony to make good lens for their cameras. Btw, I use Sony RX 100, very good camera. As I know Sony has 24-70mm Zeiss lens for these cameras. I looked these images here , seems that Sony color and tones are still not very good yet.