Sony A7 Day 5 : pros and cons so far

TestPEN70-025th day with the Sony A7, my observations so far :

PROS :

*FF sensor in small size body, only marginally larger than N7
*Huge and gorgeous EVF and LCD screen, both of which are very useful for composing, assessing exposure (with a little training) and reviewing pictures.
*Lots of physical controls and a useful configurable shortcut menu, give lots of easy access to frequently used functions, very user customizable.
*Focus Peaking significantly improved in use vs. NEX7 thanks to LCD/EVF and possible direct access to color and level if configured by user.
*Amazing DR, colors, low noise, and 3dimensional look from FF sensor
*More AF options with selectable focus box size, all conviently tucked under one same “focus settings” control.
*Separate and nice feeling SD compartiment door.
*”airplane mode” useful to spare battery life
*Much improved menu organisation over NEX models, no more greyed out option without explanation of conflicting modes.
*Very comfortable handgrip and overall camera sits well in the hand.
*Two configurable memory custom setting banks, a step in the right direction, but badly implemented.
*Price for what you get, top quality FF sensor in compact, easily transportable body, that can adapt nearly any lens ever made.

CONS :

*Weird sounding shutter with looong associated blackout times in some lighting conditions, may be a deal breaker for mild action shots 😦
*Slightly larger than N7 body and design is not *remotely* as good, central EVF “hump” is huge, ugly, and adds to the camera footprint a LOT.
*Top plate is not flush and sleek like N7, but looks bumpy and cluttered. All dials are firm enough not to be turned accidentally, but therefore a smidge too tight for utlimate comfort and tactile enjoyment in use.
*Zoom in Playback now accessed via small and not so accessible C2 button, way less intuitive and convenient than the large backwheel center button used on N7, and rotating dial to zoom out is too firm to comfortably and switfly do so.
*Top mode dial is in my view totally unecessary. The center back button press for calling Mode setting made perfect sense and wasn’t any hassle on the NEX7.
*Menu button the camera left side prevents fluid one hand operation when menus are needed (wich they still are, when Sony does not let us access such crucial functions as Formatting or turning Liveview display On/Off via shortcuts).
*Badly implemented memory banks that are not truly useful as such, but hopefully could be improved via future firware update.
*Overall feel not as solid as NEX7, controls a bit stiffer, LCD hinge now plastic doesn’t feel as fluid. Does improve with time and repeated operation it seems.
*Demanding sensor for lenses, you may have to cull a few from your heard though they work fine on APS-C.

So, that’s what comes to my mind right off the bat. I want to comment a bit further on the size/design, because it’s a complex issue. The size is nearly perfect. Actually the same size with a brick form factor, à la NEX7, would be optimum, but the SLR like EVF housing, along with the raised buttons next to it, make the camera unnecessarily bigger, and far from pretty, too. I understand there might not have been a way that Sony could fit both the huge sensor and the equally big FF in such a small body, but they still had no obligation to give us that thick mode dial, and do away with the twin wheels of the N7. On a flat tip plate, they could have used those on the back, added a front wheel for exposure compensation, and voilà, it would have been a much sleeker and more elegant design than what we got :-/

Which brings me to my wishlist for the NEX7 successor, the next APS-C flagship, which I’m ready to bet a little money on the fact it may be called the Alpha6 (A6, in short). Give us an improved APS-C chip, keep it at 24mp, bump the body size to use the A7’s larger screen and EVF if you have to, but for Pete’s sake keep the darn NEX7 form factor and control layout !! Throw a touch panel for fast AF point selection, announce that officially with pictures, specs, and pre-order links before Jan 31st and I might very well trade my A7 in for it one 😉

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About marla2008

Shutterbug. Shallow DOF nut. Mother of Child. Student of the Horse.
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2 Responses to Sony A7 Day 5 : pros and cons so far

  1. The weird blackout time seems the biggest con on your list. Otherwise, it may very well be the camera of the year. I actually find the shape factor to be quite attractive. Sure it looks really similar to the oly OM-D, and maybe it is intentional….same shape, with a sensor twice as big, I can’t find a reason to buy a m4/3…..(ok, except maybe for the lenses).

    Did you mean” Sony could fit both the huge sensor and the equally big EVF”?

    I am curious to see if the Sony RX1’s price is going to go down significantly as consequence (since I am an only one fixed focal lens kind of guy)…..

  2. marla2008 says:

    Laurent I just found the cure for the blackout !! Just turn image review off for action shots, and you’re back in the game !! Regarding sensor size, FF is exactly 3.8 larger than m4/3, so closer to four times bigger, than 2 !

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