Very first look on Sony A7 – part II

TestA7-03Where was I ?

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…).

CannelleDec13-01PMISO 4000, low light.

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.

MarlaDec13-03PMYou 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 10โ‚ฌ, 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.

OlivierDec13-01PMThe joy of FF

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

MarlaDec13-01FF gives the eye breathing space by restoring the sense of depth on an image

CannelleDec13-02PMSharpness falls off very quickly from focus plane into buttery limbo

MarlaDec13-06PMDefinitely FFy to me…

MarlaDec13-05PMSo is this

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.

CannelleDec13-03PMThere 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 !

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About marla2008

Shutterbug. Shallow DOF nut. Mother of Child. Student of the Horse.
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13 Responses to Very first look on Sony A7 – part II

  1. I was gonnna say that the pic of O shows the fab DR, Sony really are great at that. Im still thinking it looks fab (and very FF’y) but the lens set up? damn, Sony are RUBBISH at that. Very limited selection, stupidly expensive and failing that you have to jump through hoops just to play. Come on Sony, with a decent line up m43 would be sh!**!ng in their pants!

  2. marla2008 says:

    Yeah, you have to either have very deep pockets and a wealth of patience, OR to just strike the lens thing from start, that’s what I did. No native FE lens, not now, not even planned in any foreseable future for me. Compromise is the word but as long as it works for me, I won’t pass up this marvel camera even if I have to jump through a few hoops. Don’t get me wrong my NEX7 is still nicer to look at, and nicer to hold, but the functionnality and output of the A7 is hard to ignore…

  3. Yummy camera, no doubt about it. Thanks for the review (jeeez, ISO 4000, really?), and keeping me informed on what is going on the photography world!

    • marla2008 says:

      One day Laurent, you’ll switch to mirrorless ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Very likely (unless I go FF). It is only a matter of time and $$. Right now I am completely satisfied with my old rebel, but discovered that it is completely useless (at least with my limited skills) for movies. My old pana fz28 is ten times better for those. Not that I am doing a lot of it, but I find silly to have to use my cellphone for that.

        Right now, my heart is leaning toward the Pana G6 (that’s 50% Kirk Tuck’s fault). Seems to have everything I need for a very reasonable price. And might allow me to use legacy lenses.

        Can’t wait to see your barn pictures !!! Also worried about your NEX7……..

  4. Dear Marla,
    I was looking forward to this moment for a while; I am at least as excited as You, since I was/am about to go for the A7 me, too. But, definitely, first I’d like to wait for the conclusion of your series of testing/experimenting. You are an excellent and experienced photographer, and You are able to handle this camera. On the http://www.dpreview.com/forums/1042 forum 99% of the photos taken with the A7/A7R were not convincing at all. Since I saw your photos here, I am sure the A7 is an excellent camera, but I have the feeling that this “beast” is not for an average shooter. I guess, a regular enthusiast photographer could get much better results with a smaller sensor camera; APS-C, micro 4/3 or Nikon 1/Sony RX10 cameras that inherently has deeper DoF at wider apertures. I think the incredible shallow DoF of the A7 is going to be a hell big challenge for most photographers. If the aperture on an A7 is stopped-down to get deeper DoF, then this may causes sluggish AF and increased ISO (noise) problems. I am eagerly looking forward to reading the next episodes of your adventure with the A7.
    All the Best and Thank You for Sharing Your Thought, Miki

    • marla2008 says:

      Miklos thank you for your kind words. The A7 is a handful, as I am discovering now. I’m guessing there will be a lot of returns, it’s not an easy camera to master ! If you’re liking this so far hang in there, strap your belt on and enjoy the ride, as I’m about to get in depth in the third part. Stay tuned !

  5. King T says:

    Just guessing here, but is that shot of your hubby a controlled experiment to show the jaw-line as per PH headshot tutorial? Just checking because that jaw line is for sure VERYYYY prominent ;-)!
    Same could be said for the pic where Marla has her hand on the drawing and is looking to camera left. I really like that pose.

    • marla2008 says:

      King, you’re killer, lol. Neither picture were purposefully posed this way, but I had the exact same thought seing Olivier’s jawline, indeed !! Well, he’s a handsome guy with a well cut face, what can I do ? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Tassos says:

    Marla, I am wondering if you could help. When i press the shutter of my A7 I hear a succession of clicks (around four, I think) then I get a message on the screen saying “processing…” and then I get the photo I have been shooting. It sounds like a live view picture taking. This is not normal. Why do I not get the single click and that’s all? Do I set some setting at the wrong position? Thank you for helping.

    • marla2008 says:

      I think you unvolontarily set the ISO to Multi Frame NR Auto !!
      The camera takes 4 successive pictures are various exposure values and them stacks them to reduce noise. Check your ISO setting and tell me if this helps !

  7. Steven says:

    I have had the A7 for just a month now and have photographed a wedding with it, and love it; well almost. The White balance is really bad. Does anyone have a work around for this. Inside is where I find the main problem. Outside as the review points out, it is ok. Any suggestions are welcome

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