On October 15 2013, Sony announced the Alpha A7 and A7R, the world's smallest interchangeable lens camera. The A7R features a 35mm full-frame Exmor CMOS sensor, 36.4 Megapixels sensor resolution and no optical low-pass filter for optimum sharpness. The new gapless on-chip lenses eliminate gaps between sensor nodes on the sensor's surface for an increased light collection efficiency, high resolution, sensitivity and noise reduction. Together with the new Bionz X processor - that's three times faster than its predecessor - the A7R offers Full HD video (60p/25p), an audio recording level control while shooting and is said to be low-noise. The A7R features Fast Intelligent AF that delivers quick, accurate autofocus that's fully customisable with nine buttons for you to assign 46 different functions. It also features Wi-Fi and NFC for easy pairing with a mobile. The magnesium alloy body weighs in at 407g, which Sony claims is the world's smallest and lightest interchangeable lens camera with a full-frame sensor.
The A7 is pretty much the same camera but with a lower-resolution full-frame 24.3 Megapixels Exmor CMOS sensor. It features Fast Hybrid AF, rather than Fast Intelligent AF, which combines quick phase detection with accurate contract detection autofocus. Both cameras will work with Sony's full-frame interchangeable E-mount lenses, including two new mid-range zooms, two bright Sonnar T* primes, and a premium-quality G lens with telephoto zoom. There's also a new mount adaptor for using full-frame A-mount optics. Both cameras feature 9 different customizable buttons and 46 assignable functions that can be adjusted based on shooting preferences, including fully customizable front and back dials, a rear control wheel and an exposure compensation dial. Both cameras will be available for purchase this December. The A7R camera as a body-only is priced for $2300, while the Sony A7 compact system camera with a 28-70mm F3.5 - F5.6 full-frame lens (model SEL2870) is priced $2000 (or $1700 body only). The new LA-EA3 and LA-EA4 mount adapters is listed for about $200 and $350, respectively. The new VG-C1EM vertical grip and LCS-ELCA premium case is listed for about $300 and $ 140, respectively. Here's the summary of review by Steve's Digicam:
"Our indoor images give us a better look at how the camera handles various lighting conditions and the quality at different ISO settings. As with our outdoor images, the amount of detail the camera captures is amazing. Surpassing the details in the flag that we are used to looking for, we can actually see the scratches and fingerprints on the M&M man himself at the lower ISO levels. We also noticed that there is a shallower depth of field at f/8 than we are used to as well. It's not until ISO 3200 that noise starts to become noticeable, more within the colors that the details. This may start to dull the colors slightly, but you still have nothing to worry about with your images. As with all cameras, the higher ISO settings do get overtaken by noise and still become unacceptable. Sony also offers a couple different noise reduction settings that help to reduce the noise, but the sacrifice if a softer image. Assisting with your portrait and candid photography, Sony's face detection software works very fast to detect and follow all of the faces that appear in the frame. This assures that your faces are always in focus, and if you are shooting in auto or program mode, your exposure will be set correctly as well. Building on their face detection software, Sony has also introduced its Eye-AF system that goes beyond the entire face and will focus on the primary eye of the subject. This is a great feature for shooting close-up portraits, as it assures you that the eye is always the sharpest part of the image. Sony has made it easy to shoot panoramic and HDR images, with automatic settings that do the work for you. Sony's motion panorama shooting mode lets you just press the shutter release and pan the camera in the direction that you have chosen. As you pan, the camera will capture multiple exposures and stitch them together for you. HDR shooting works in a similar way. Once turned on, the camera can be set to bracket the images at the exposure difference that you choose. Then the camera will create your new image for you.
When a still image just isn't enough, the a7R's video capture capabilities are more than enough for the job. The camera records video with higher quality than most of the ILCs and dSLRs on the market. For the pro, this means they get the quality they demand. For the average consumer or photo enthusiast, you will be proud to show off your home movie on any HDTV. Our sample video shows incredibly sharp, smooth playing video, even with the fast action. The audio in our sample sounds good, but still similar to that of any other ILC. This is thanks to the built-in stereo microphone capturing all of the sound around the camera. Sony has included an audio input for use of external microphones, some of which can be attached to the camera's hot shoe. This gives the ability of outstanding video with amazing audio as well. Bottom Line - No matter what level photographer you are, if you are looking for a compact dSLR or ILC that has image quality worthy of a professional photo shoot, then the Sony a7R may just be the camera for you. Its full-frame 36.4-Megapixel image sensor blows away the rest of the ILC cameras on the market, rivaling any dSLR in its price range. It sports good performance, but with the large image sizes, the 4fps burst mode may hold your back just a bit. With a MSRP of US $2,299.99, this camera is an investment and the number of E-mount lenses is much smaller than most dSLR mounts, but it is growing quickly. If the faster AF and or higher burst rates are important to your photography, then you will want to look at the a7 instead, or possibly the soon-to-come a7S."
Alpha A7R Sample Photos on Flickr
Alpha A7R Camera Reviews Roundup
|PhotographyBay - Mar 28 2014|
"The image quality of both cameras is fantastic. As you would expect, the A7R with its 36MP sensor and no optical low pass filter really shines in the image quality department. The short of it is that the image quality of both cameras is exceptional throughout the ISO range. I have no problem capturing shots at ISO 6400 and using them. Sure, you will find so..." More »
|FredMiranda - Mar 28 2014|
"To be fair, my files were normalized in order to compare them on a monitor screen. I didn't want to downsize the Sony A7R 36MP file to 22MP in order to compare the advantage of higher resolution. Doing so, would throw away detail. Instead, I interpolated the 22MP file to 36MP. I wanted an honest comparison since both files would be printed on the same paper..." More »
|CNET US - Mar 20 2014|
"While the higher resolution and better resolvability of the A7R's sensor beat the A7's, the A7 still fares quite well. It produces sharper images than the 6D and D610 at midrange ISO sensitivities, but it also looks like Sony's performing more aggressive processing on them; you can see the artifacts on the out-of-focus edges. In general, the A7 produces exc..." More »
|EOSHD - Feb 16 2014|
"If you love full frame for stills and want the most adaptable lens mount to use all your lovely old lenses on, the A7R is the best you can get. If you just want a lovely cinematic video mode then the A7R is somewhat disappointing. It doesn't replace any of my cameras for video in terms of either features or quality. We're not talking expensive stuff here. T..." More »