Sony Announces Next Stage of Mirrorless Race: A7 and A7R Cameras

Sony A7

So it is finally here: The “full-frame” (a rubbish moniker really, what about medium format sensors? Can something be fuller than full?) a.k.a 35mm-sized sensor equipped A7 and A7R cameras. The former is a 24 megapixel camera with phase detect autofocus sensors, while the latter is a 36 megapixel camera without an antialiasing filter but needing to make do with plain ol’ contrast detect autofocus. Like any modern mirrorless camera, they are full-time live view cameras, and have pretty decent viewing options: A VGA LCD with the “triluminous” thing (whatever that means) and the XGA EVF that first appeared on the NEX 7.

Other nice features include WiFi with NFC, a 1/8000 top shutter speed, which I have recently discovered as being very useful in bright daylight, a continuous drive with a top speed of 5 FPS for the A7, and 4 for the A7R. Both of the latter numbers are likely achieved without AF tracking enabled. Both cameras also can record 1080p video at 60p, a nice touch, and there is an option for XLR connectors via an adapter. The NP-FW50 battery, at 1500mAh, might prove to be a bit small to power a camera like this. CIPA rating is just 340 photos. There is also a vertical grip, but wow, it really makes the camera look very odd, kind of like the early Kodak DSLRs and their oversized electronics and battery pack.

While everyone seems to be going bonkers over the concept of having a 35mm-sized sensor in a camera, no one seems to be care that the price is not going to be cheap. US$1700 for the A7, and US$2300 for the A7R. That is almost DSLR pricing for cheaper to make cameras that have less capability. Sony better ramp up the lens selection quick to offset one of the disadvantages of this expensive system.

CK: The price is actually not THAT bad – at least for the A7 it is somewhat similar to the Nikon D600 pricing when it was announced. But like YS said, ultimately it’s a lesser camera than a full DSLR, and I am not talking about the image quality. However great that the high-res EVFs as seen on the NEX6/7, it is still no match for a real optical finder in terms of response time and low-light performance. The advantage of course, is the relative size compared to a full-frame DSLR, so for those looking for a small(ish) full-frame camera, this could be it. Do note that mounting a full-frame lens on this is probably going to negate the size advantage though, and it reminded me of the early days of the NEX cameras having a big lens and a small body.

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