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Sony Alpha a7 Mirrorless Digital Camera

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
3 4297 Sep 10, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
100% of reviewers $1,349.50
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
8.67
10.00
9.7
Screen_Shot_2013-11-13_at_3_25_04_PM_copy


Specifications:
24.3MP Full Frame Exmor CMOS Sensor
ISO 100-25600 (with 50 ISO extension)
1200-zone evaluative metering
Speed Priority Continuous shooting: 5fps
1/8000 to 30s shutter
Full 1080/60p Video with Remote Capture
2.4M-Dot OLED Electronic Viewfinder
25 points contrast AF
Fast Hybrid AF (Phase-detection AF/Contrast-detection AF)
Eye AF (Eye Detection)
Detail reproduction technology
Diffraction-reducing technology
117 points phase-detection AF
3.0" Tiltable TFT LCD with 1,229K-Dots
TRILUMINOSô Color technology
BIONZ X image processing engine
Electronic Front Curtain Shutter
Flash Sync Speed: 1/250
Direct Compatibility with E-mount Lenses
Weather sealed
Built-In Wi-Fi and NFC
Dimensions (WxHxD): 5.0 x 3.7 x 1.9"
Weight (main unit only): 416g


 


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40Driggs
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Registered: Sep 16, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 537
Review Date: Sep 10, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,699.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: excellent detail and dynamic range, light weight, nice ergonomics (for a small body), ability to adapt legacy lenses, EVF benefits
Cons:
poor battery life, dim viewfinder in bright light

I'll start with a little background. I used to own a Canon 7D and a couple of 40D's and have shot a lot of nice DSLR lenses in the past (17-55, 70-200 mark II, 100-400, sigma 50 etc.) I can honestly say that the images that I'm getting with the a7 and cheap legacy glass are better than what I got in the past with a few caveats.

I had to sell all my Canon gear after a move, so when I decided to get back into photography I wasn't tied to a system anymore. When I looked at all the options out there I felt like it would be worth it to look into the a7 since I could get great IQ from legacy lenses without spending a great deal of money.

I have found that in general this has proven to be the case. the a7 has much better dynamic range and image quality than the APS-C Canon cameras I had used in the past. Detail is there, even cropped into the image. I have been pleased with the IQ even though I am not using any high end lenses with the system currently.

That being said, the camera isn't perfect for everybody. It is much slower in operation than the 7D I had and would not make a good wildlife or sports camera due to these limitations and slower frame rate etc. I am wanting to get back into wildlife photography and will most likely pick up a DSLR (or SLT) camera to be used for that task. For anything slow paced though, I really like the a7. It makes me slow down and think when shooting and manual focusing is actually enjoyable with the helpful features of an electronic viewfinder. Being able to see the actual changes in the viewfinder is the best part to me and is very useful.

I have heard a lot of objections to the ergonomics, but I haven't had any issues. I tend to be a minimalist and shoot all manual, so I don't make changes too often anyway. The menu system is slightly inferior to Canon (in my opinion) but easy enough that I picked it up quickly. I was able to customize most of the controls to what I liked as well. I do wish that I didn't have to tap twice to zoom in for precise focusing, but I reprogrammed the button to the AF-on button, so it's not that bad. Overall I would rate the handling as an 8/10 and the 7D would be a 9/10 for me.

I sometimes get annoyed at the dim viewfinder in daylight and that is where I have missed the OVF. I believe that the benefits of EVF outweigh the shortcomings though for things like street shooting, portraits and landscapes. I enjoy using these cameras for all those things and having the small "take anywhere" size is a bonus.

The native lens system is definitely limited at this time and can be a turnoff for some people. I have found this to be a positive because I can find great legacy lenses at reasonable prices.

Prospective buyers should consider whether or not they are willing to give up the speed of operation of a traditional DSLR. If you want great IQ in a small form factor and don't mind adapting lenses, then the a7 series is a great option. It might be a good idea to rent a body and try it out before going all in.


Sep 10, 2014
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Dpedraza
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Buy and Sell: On



Registered: Jan 8, 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 773
Review Date: Sep 4, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: IQ; DR; size;
Cons:
battery life

I picked up a used A7 from the forums. I bought it because it was a small and very portable full frame package. I used the Voigtlander 15mm 98% of the time on the camera. I knew the limitations of the camera with the lens I had selected. The image quality was excellent I didn't use the af since on the one I owned but when I rented the a7 with kit lens the AF was snappy and hit focus on what I was aiming for majority of the time. There are obvious limitations to buying this camera one being battery drain. I picked up a few extra batteries but I do that with EVERY camera I buy. Sony really made a game changer with the A7 series cameras that they released. Shooting with the A7 is very fun if you understand the certain limitations of the camera.

Sep 4, 2014
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rosscova
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Buy and Sell: On



Registered: Nov 25, 2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 433
Review Date: Mar 25, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: IQ, size and weight, fantastic EVF, superb Zeiss lenses, weather sealed
Cons:
a few omissions in operation options

I've had my a7 for about 2 months now, and took it on a full day wedding shoot over the weekend as a second camera, with the FE 35mm f2.8, plus a Zeiss ZE 50mm 1.4 with the Metabones adapter (5DmkII as main camera). Having used the a7 for some time beforehand, I felt comfortable enough with it to rely on everything but the AF, which I was worried would be too slow at critical moments. I also had concerns about the battery life, since my second battery was still on back-order.

The experience Iíve already had with the camera has been fantastic. Such a portable package with so much to offer. Image quality is simply outstanding, and the viewfinder so closely matches the feel of an optical finder, while adding the advantages that come with an EVF (focus peaking, live visual exposure check, live colour rendering or black and white visualisation, live histogram in view, live highlight clipping, etc.) that I would choose this over an OVF in most situations from here on out. Usability in terms of the user interface is a little lacking, with a clunky menu system (maybe Iím just not used to it yet), and a few options notably omitted, specifically:
- the ability to set a custom button for easy switching between viewfinder and monitor
- a setting to have the viewfinder/monitor act in a DSLR style (shooting through viewfinder, playback and menu on monitor)
-a way to turn the sensor off, for times when shooting with an add-on optical finder, or for taking a series of photos on a tripod, or for any number of other situations where one would not want the sensor powered incessantly


On the AF (with the 35mm FE), I was wrong. Even in a dimly lit chapel, I found my keeper rate was very high, and the camera never struggled to find focus quickly and accurately (in fact I was never bothered by any difference in AF between the a7 and the 5DmkII I was using alongside it). I will say that I don't yet find the face-detect and eye AF (both of which are fantastic) predictable enough to rely on, but I think that will just be a matter of getting better acquainted with those systems. I do feel confident with "center" point focus, and it proved plenty fast, and very accurate. For this, Iím glad I opted for the a7 over the a7R (lacking on-sensor phase detect AF).

On using manual focus lenses, the a7 has been an absolute breath of fresh air. My ZE Planar 50mm is a lens I absolutely love, but do find hard to focus accurately when shooting close to wide open. Iíve often switched to using live-view on my 5DmkII with the Magic Lantern software hack so that I could use focus-peaking, which REALLY helps get the focus right. With the a7 Iím getting focus peaking in the viewfinder, with native software, plus Iíve set a custom button to quickly zoom in right in the viewfinder for critical focus. My beloved ZE 50mm lens has been given a new lease on life!

On battery life, I was unfortunately right to be concerned; the a7 crapped out right at the beginning of the reception, having taken around 250 photos. I was ready for it, so it was no big deal, and had I had a second battery ready, it would have only been a minor inconvenience. Having said that, this (battery life) is a stark contrast from a DSLR. My Canons have always had amazing stamina, and Iíve NEVER had a single concern about battery life, even on a full day shoot with just one battery. Moving to mirrorless, the battery is suddenly powering the sensor and viewfinder constantly, and when that sensor is full-frame, that viewfinder is as brilliant as the one in the a7, and that battery has been designed with capacity taking a back seat to portability, itís no wonder weíre living with shorter battery life. To me, this will turn into a minor gripe once I have backups, and for long days I would consider the vertical grip in which 2 batteries can power the camera for (presumably) much better life.

On build quality, I see nothing wrong with the a7 at all, and I love that it's weather sealed. I feel the body is very well made, with materials, engineering/design, and workmanship/QC all of very good standards. I don't, however, feel as confident having it bumped around and generally "man-handled" as I am with my 5DmkII. This could absolutely be nothing more than a perception of mine, and I don't doubt that the a7 can handle its fair share of abuse, but my feeling is that semi-pro and pro series DSLRs are built a little closer to "tank-like" than these Sonys. That may or may not cause any problems at all, and it may or may not be enough to make a difference to you, but that's how I feel here.

All in all, I agree with those who say that mirrorless cameras will populate the future of photography, and for very good reason. I personally value a full-frame sensor very highly, so the a7 is the obvious choice for me. That this camera happens to have arrived from Sony has meant that it gets one of their fantastic sensors, and is being matched with lenses from my favourite lens-maker, Zeiss. All this, and the camera has come pretty damn close to hitting the nail on the head with everything Iíve been hoping for from a digital camera for a very long time. So close in fact that I have <i>almost</i> no complaints about it at all. The a7 gets a 10/10 from me, without a momentís hesitation.

As a quick note, the two reasons I opted to go with the a7 over the R version were Auto-Focus (better on the a7, with on-sensor phase detect), and electronic first-curtain shutter (for the sake of both sound and vibration, the a7R falters badly here IMHO, with a ďclose>open>expose>close>openĒ shutter sequence, which is both annoying and silly). I would love the sensor on the R, but I am not prepared to make those sacrifices in order to get it, especially not when the a7 sensor is already so damn good! I'm thrilled with the choice I made here.


Mar 25, 2014
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Sony Alpha a7 Mirrorless Digital Camera

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
3 4297 Sep 10, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
100% of reviewers $1,349.50
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
8.67
10.00
9.7
Screen_Shot_2013-11-13_at_3_25_04_PM_copy