I went down to the PhotoPlus Expo in New York City and got some Hands-On experience with the full frame Sony A7 and A7r! I pre registered for the event and drove down with my Dad. He used to work in the city for 20+ years, and was a killer asset for the drive. We had to make random tuns and the roads always split which confuses me half the time. I always get lost in those conditions and my poor track record proves it. We went over the same bridge twice last time I went down to NYC with Michele, and I really did not want to get lost again. Needless to say it was smooth sailing over the GW bridge which quickly turned into stressful 2 mile an hour madness. The city driving is totally different than what I’m used to. You have to be super aggressive to go get over a lane otherwise it will not happen! It’s crazy at first, but when everybody is driving that like it’s adaptable.
In any event, we parked at the Javitz center parking garage at about 10:15am and made our way over to the actual Photo Expo Show. We got our badges and headed into madness! It was a lot more crowded then I anticipated and I had to wait in line in order to touch any of the full frame Sony cameras. It was packed with people, and most I saw were amazed with the new Sony Full frame A7 and A7r cameras. I certainly was 😉
Hands-On with the Sony A7 and A7r
First impression was the grip is not deep enough and the shutter button is a little high on the camera compared to my Nex-6. It felt a little awkward at first. I did adjust to both differences, but would prefer a deeper grip so more of my fingers could go in, and the shutter release button could then be moved down. It’s just a little bit more than the tips of my fingers and is angled outwards, which makes it harder to hold confidently with one hand. You have to squeeze harder and rely on the old thumb for support. The deeper grip would also leave plenty of room for the additional dial like the Ultimate full frame mirrorless camera prototype I sort of designed using google sketch-up so long ago here >>
Note the grip depth and slight outward angle via the top view of the A7.
I really think Sony did this so the camera would not compete so hard against the New A-Mount Pro cameras that will have DSLR grips, larger battery’s, and much faster frames per second capabilities. It does not make practice sense 100%, but the cost, weight, and size were all kept down. The low cost is what makes it easy to swallow these relative minor issues I have with the ergonomics and smaller battery.
When you hold the A7 or A7r with the Sony VGC1EM vertical battery grip the hand holding confidence comes right back. It has a deep groove down where my pinky finger fit into and gave me huge amounts of leverage. I was able to hold the camera way easier in both vertical and horizontal positions. The battery grip drastically increases the form factor of this otherwise ultra compact full frame camera system and only doubles the battery life. It’s still incredible lightweight and well built.
The grip weighs 250 grams empty + the 416 gram A7 (body only) + 2 X NP-FW50 batteries @ 57 grams each, you have ~780 grams or 27.5 oz, or 1.7 lbs. The batter grip +1 battery adds ~307 to the system. That is a light weight full frame camera system with pretty good battery life as well. I’m thinking it’s all or nothing with this system. The battery grip is a must have in my mind at this point in time. Even though it’s not hard carrying an extra battery in my pocket for the increased battery life and smaller form factor, I still think it makes sense for the ergonomics advantage.
Sony A7 Sample Photos
I got to hold the Sony A7 with the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens first, and took a quick snapshot of a very nice gentleman across the way. The cameras were all set up different from people messing with the settings, so it took me a minute to figure out why it was taking multiple frames? Turns out the Auto ISO was set to include muti-frame noise reduction. I immediately switched it off that, because I was hand holding and wanted a simple sample photo. This was shot in jpeg mode, auto wb, and a 1/60sec, ISO 200. The shutter is also noticeable loud but I honestly can’t remember if the A7r was louder than the A7 specifically. Sorry about that. The lens and camera focused extremely fast on the face area, but do to the relatively slow shutter speed the moving camera has a little motion blur to it. The focus point is tack sharp though.
I picked up another Sony A7, but this time it had the FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens mounted. The zoom rubber grip area on this lens is very large and makes zooming very easy. The actual zoom itself is dampened nicely and has a quality feel in that regard. The rubber does take a way from the look of the lenses a little though in my opinion. It looks cheaper when it’s all rubber like that for whatever reason. Not true, but looks like it. The lens also only extends about 1/2 inch when zooming from 28-70mm.
Now the A7 and 28-70mm lens @ 70mm and the 100% Crop of the center area. The ISO was @ 2500 so the noise reduction is pretty heavy. I honesty don’t know exactly how the camera was set otherwise. This guy totally new I was taking his photo and was kind enough to hold perfectly still 😉 I really should have said thanks, but I will now. Thanks!
Sony A7r Sample Photo
This Sony A7r had the LA-EA4 lens adapter mounted to it and the new, crazy expensive Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 SSM G II Lens. Check it out below first before the shabby sample photo I took rushing. It was mounted to a huge gimbal tri-pod head.
Crappy snapshot, because other people were waiting and I had to be fast. I was looking for some text and this big red Lieca sign was like a homing beacon! The camera settings were f/4, ISO 1000 and I zoomed to 200mm for the photo. I don’t know what any of the other settings were, but the focus was really fast and in the center.
100% crop shows just what 36mp resolution gets you, and be sure to click the photo for the larger true 100% crop. I wish there was smaller text, but what are ya going to do.
Sony also had some of their new 4k video cameras on display and they were really nice looking to say the least! The 4k TV’s are also ridiculous sharp and vivid if you have not scene one yet!
Walking around the Show
That is about all I looked at in the Sony area, but we went over to Zeiss area next and they had a prototype 50mm f/2.8 Touit lens! It’s a 1:1 macro, but does not have a final firmware version on it yet and is still considered a prototype. The Zeiss folks were extremely nice and knowledgeable. They also let me try the lens on my Nex-6 !
Zeiss Touit 50mm f/2.8 macro lens Sample Photo – Raw
The lens was pretty long, but it’s a 1:1 macro, so the rear lens element needs to move far away from the sensor to achieve that. The length and size make sense when you factor in the 1:1 macro and fast f/2.8 aperture. It looks more cylindrical then the other touit lenses, but this lens is still a prototype they said. I apologize for not taking a picture of the lens itself, but I was baffled they actually let me try on it on my Nex-6 when I asked. Instead of taking photo of the lens, I popped off my 18-55mm kit lens off and fired a shot of my Dad who was standing to the left 🙂
My Dad – Nex-6 @ f/2.8, 1/80sec, ISO 640, Raw quality strait off the camera and exported out of Lightroom 5 as 1000px, 70% quality jpeg file.
Click the photo for the Larger ~1000px version!
Another sample photo snapshot using my Nex-6 and the E-mount Zeiss Touit 50mm F/2.8 macro Lens of a cut-away. The Touit 12mm lens to be more specific, looking thru the glass counter mind you:
Zeiss also had several cut away lenses on display which I shows off the quality and lens construction really well. Check out this really large wide angle lens.
They also had the 70-200mm cinema grade lens on display:
We had a great time at the show and I must tell you the Sony A7 and A7r full frame cameras are worth consideration. They are not perfect, but the build quality, low weight, and small size make up for the short comings in my opinion. Also the battery grip drastically improves the ergonomics although increasing the form factor significantly. The overall weight is still under two pounds and were talking full frame! I figure I can take the battery grip off for the times that I want the smallest form factor possible, and simple carry an extra battery which I already do. If I’m going to do a lot of hand holding, the battery grip is the way to go for larger hands and myself. Double the battery life is also a nice gain.
FE lenses were all nice that I tried. Build quality was great on the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens, and all the others I tried as I said above in more detail.
In the end, the A7r focused really fast as everybody is saying, but I could not get a sample photo with that particular camera unfortunately It was the one with the battery grip I believe. Also the reps were saying the shutter mechanisms are different on the A7r and A7 which I also heard, but the specs are vague in that regard. I’ll try and track down all those details and update this article as necessary 😉
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