The Sony A7 and A7R were announced in the month of October 2013 and these 2 mirror less camera models took the photography market by storm and got many people interested in them. It was a new benchmark in the photography industry because they were the first two full frame mirror less cameras in the market. I got my hands on with the Sony A7 for a short few hours before a few months back, with thanks to David of WK Photography, who owned the Sony A7. I was impressed and was looking forward to shoot and review the Sony A7 camera initially. This opportunity took about seven months to come true, I managed to obtain both the Sony A7 and Sony A7R for review!
For the Sony A7, I got the kit lens, FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS and a Minolta 35mm f/2 RS with the LA-EA4 adaptor. As for the Sony A7R, I got the Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS lens and the Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA lens. Both the Sony A7 and A7R gave me very interesting and fun experiences with mirror less cameras and I will share my experiences with both Sony A7 and A7R, the photography artworks produced by both of them and a short summary/table of the differences between the Sony A7 and A7R. The Sony A7 and A7R are very similar cameras, not just in their physical design and sizes, their user interface are almost identical.
The Sony A7 and A7R buttons, dials, controls and user interface can be pretty confusing for the first time Sony user or those who are not too familiar with them. It would be a good idea to customize it to your own liking and preferences, and once you get used to the key controls, dials and user interface, it will be easier for you to make the necessary changes/adjustments when you are out photographing with the Sony A7 or Sony A7R.
Understanding the unique features and sweet spot of each respective camera and their lenses are key and very important points for any photographer to shoot with any camera brand. You have to appreciate the pros and cons of the respective camera and you would be able to decide whether it suits you in your photography needs and requirements. It took me a while during my short review stint to have a better grasp of the Sony A7 and Sony A7R before I was able to go around photographing with it and sharing on which fields of photography would it be more ideal for.
Let me share with all my readers more on the Sony A7 and A7R separately below on my thoughts, views and experiences with them.
The Sony A7, the loan review unit, courtesy of David Tay from WK Photography, is a specially customized Sony A7 to David’s specific needs and requirements on how he wanted to control the various functions and capabilities of his Sony A7. For a photographer like me that was not too familiar with the Sony camera system, a customized photographer’s settings does help me to learn the functions and controls of the Sony A7 faster!
With the hybrid phase and contrast AF, using the Sony A7 is much easier and faster as compared to the Sony A7R. The Sony A7 hybrid AF system does give it more flexibility and choices on the AF types and points. The Sony A7 in my personal humble opinion is a more suitable events camera as compared to the Sony A7R.
For the Sony A7 review stint, I was provided with the following lenses for review –
FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS – The kit lens for the Sony A7 package, it’s a lightweight and has a good focal range for daily use, events and street photography.
Minolta 35mm f/2 RS with LA-EA4 adaptor – The combination of the Minolta 35mm with the LA-EA4 adaptor with the Sony A7 is simply an awesome combination. Photographers will love the 35mm on a full frame camera. The bokeh and sharpness of the Minolta 35mm f/2 coupled with the Sony A7 sensor makes it a combination that you want to have it all the time (sometimes)!
When I first got hold of the Sony A7R, I struggled to take photographs with the Sony A7R and I began to understand why I was pre-empt about the “Sony A7R is difficult to use”. I thought my prior experience with the Sony A7 before taking on the Sony A7R will help me, however, there were a different set of challenges coming before me.
The AF system of the Sony A7R is only Contrast AF and not a hybrid AF like the Sony A7. Moreover, the Sony A7R has fewer AF points in a smaller grid area. One of the key pointers given by David Tay of WK Photography was to set the centre spot AF or flexible spot with centre spot AF with small focus area option. These two useful tips do help me to get my photography adventure with the Sony A7R going.
The Sony A7R does not have the Low Pass Filter and with her high megapixel quality at 36.4 megapixels, the difference in quality of the photographs can be seen. The Sony A7R is able to optimize the high megapixel resolution and details rich imaging quality images.
For the Sony A7R review stint, I was provided with the following lenses for review –
Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA lens – great for street and walkabout lens, 35mm on a full frame is a sweet and beautiful combination, something that photographers will understand and appreciate.
Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS lens – the 24-70mm focal length range is ideal for covering events (especially on a full frame camera) and with a constant aperture of f/4, it can handle low light situation with the ISO capabilities of the Sony A7R sensor. I am impressed with the quality and sharpness of the FE 24-70mm f/4 lens! During my experiences with the Sony A7R and the FE 24-70mm f/4, I found it to be slightly bulky and unbalanced.
Differences between Sony A7 and A7R
To the best of my knowledge and understanding from analyzing camera products and attending Sony events, the Sony A7R was targeted at professionals and the Sony A7 was targeted at serious enthusiasts (semi-professional). In my personal humble opinion, I felt that the Sony A7 and Sony A7R are suitable for both professionals and serious enthusiasts.
This is (in my humble personal opinion) how I view the two different cameras and how they suit which group of photographers
Sony A7R – Landscape, Architecture, Product, Portraits
Sony A7 – Events, Travel, Street, Daily camera to bring out
The main/key differences between the Sony A7 and A7R cam be summarized below
|Sony A7||Sony A7R|
|Auto Focus||Hybrid – Phase & Contrast AF||Contrast AF|
|No. Of AF points||– 117 Phase-Detection Points in a 13 x 9 Grid
– 25 Contrast-Detection Points in a 5 x 5 Grid
Source: Outdoor Photographer Magazine Feb 2014
|– 25 Contrast-Detection Points
Source: Outdoor Photographer Magazine Feb 2014
|Low Pass Filter||No Low Pass Filter|
|Price||RRP SGD$1,999 (Body only)||RRP SGD$2,799 (Body only)|
The Sony A7 and A7R ushered in a new era of mirror less full frame cameras, with the recent announcement of the Sony A7S into the market recently. Mirror less full frame cameras from other competitors should slowly appear in the near future. Other competitor such as the FujiFilm X-T1 does give the Sony A7 and A7R a run for their money.
In my personal humble opinion, I would like to share my thoughts, views and opinions on mirror less cameras and DSLR camera systems
I do not forsee mirror less cameras replacing DSLR, they will and they already have a significant impact on DSLR and digital compact cameras usage. They will slowly enter into the photographer’s setup of cameras and lenses, as a side/additional camera for professional and/or leisure use. I do see more photographers with a full range of DSLRs and lenses setup, owning mirror less cameras and purchasing adaptors to use their lens on the mirror less cameras.
In the near future, we might see a trend of a DSLR camera user with a full range of lenses and accessories setup, owning another mirror less camera setup. With economies of scale, technological advancements and fierce competition between camera brands, prices of DSLRs and mirror less cameras should drop further thus making it easier for photographers (and consumers) to own both camera systems. On the other hand, I had already seen photographer friends moving away from DSLR system to the mirror less interchangeable lens camera system.
The mirror less cameras will most likely affect the entry level consumer DSLR market segment, while the semi-professional and especially the professional DSLR market segment to be less affected. After testing, playing and reviewing both the Sony A7 and A7R, I personally felt that a mirror less camera would form part of a professional or semi-professional/serious enthusiast setup even if they have existing DSLR and lenses setup.
I would also like to thank Sony Singapore and Waggener Edstrom Worldwide for the Sony A7R setup arrangement.