Oh yeah, the new Sony A7 FF camera. I forgot to address one issue yesterday and it’s a major one : (lack of) lenses. At this point you can have this camera with an rather unexciting slow plastic zoom, an excellent, pricey and not so fast wide angle prime (35/2.8) or a sell-a-kidney fantastic but overpriced normal prime (that is biggish, too), for over a grand. Later Sony will release a sell-your-other-kidney (oh shit, you just died) 24-70/4 zoom (I’ll stay alive because I won’t sell any body part for F4…) and a now-part-with-one-of-your-eyeballs 70-200/4 telezoom (when I’ll be happily shooting my gorgeous Sigma 70-200/2.8 HSM lens that I got dirt cheap, eh eh…).
So what’s a photog’ to do ?? Well, my personal plan is this : use my native E mount lens, the cute and proven SEL35/1.8 in crop mode, which gives me 50mm field of view with fastish autofocus when I need it. Use the mighty PEN 38/1.8 when I need wide angle (I don’t, but I like the lens so much I’ll shoot it anyway). Switch to the PEN 70/2 for portrait needs once it’s been delivered and if it’s any good (I have hopes it is). Slap the LA-EA4 and Bazooka Sigma fast tele for sports. And just use either the OM50/1.8 or the PK55/1.8 the rest of the time. Sounds good to me.
You probably have read that the A7 is a power hog. It is. Just BUY two extra batteries (a grand total of three sounds good) and an external charger (since Sony is too cheap to throw one in the box). Amazon has an awesome model with extra car plug included for 10€, I’ve had mine for a couple of months and it’s been working with very little pause, it’s perfect. Another very useful tip that I found in a discussion thread is to keep the camera in Airplane mode. That’s genius since I *never* use either Applications or Wifi, nor do I plan to use them, ever.
My husband saw that picture and said “Yikes, I look weird”. Ah ah. He was just surprised at the new perspective FF gives vs. APS-C that I’ve been using for the past 2 years (after I sold my last D700). Yeah, FF does have a different look, despite every desperate efforts m4/3 shooters make to have you believe otherwise 😉
Do I have a gripe with this camera yet ? Well, as I said it’s not particularly pretty. The same body in NEX form factor with corner EVF would have been a lethal weapon. This one just looks slightly awkward and nerdy, but in a rather efficient way. I’m sure I’ll be used to it in just a few days. The memory banks are a very welcome addition, except Sony help back and didn’t make them register every single setting, and I still have to turn Live View ON and OFF when I go from normal to flash, which is a pain. But my pet peeve so far is white balance. In mixed lighting conditions it’s definitely wonky. Not that the NEX7 was much better, but it is *somewhat* easier to get WB closer to reality with it. Note that this is only in mixed artificial light. In other conditions Auto and various presets do just fine.
There is always a rather uncomfortable stage when you first get a new camera, to have it performing the way you want. I’m still tweaking the A7 like mad to try to have it match the NEX7’s output in color, contrast and tone. What I can already say about it is that the dynamic range is just *amazing*. That of the NEX 7 was already class leading in my view, but the A7 goes even beyond, as it should, being FF. The improvement in high ISO output is not as big, but it is there as well. Just give me a couple of extra days to get familiar with that beast, and I’ll be back in full force with, hopefully, pictures to do it justice this time. So overall do I recommend the Sony A7 ? Well, as long as you don’t expect it to have magical powers and turn you into Richard Avedon overnight, absolutely !