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Testing

January 25, 2014

Sony Alpha A7r – First Impressions and Sample Photos w/ 100% Crops!

sony-a7-a7r-top

The 36mp full frame Sony Alpha A7r is finally here and I have some sample photos plus first impressions to share with you! I’m using the native E-Mount 55mm f/1.8 Zeiss lens so far and what I can tell you is the lens is very sharp. The detail that the 36mp sensor pumps out is also incredible and better than my Canon 5d Mark II. I could not really say that so easily with the A7 (click here for review) although that was also better than my Canon 5d Mark II, it was not as razor sharp like the A7r is. Keep in mind I used the very affordable 28-70mm kit lens most of the time with the A7 and that softens the smallest details just that little bit. The Anti-Aliasing on the A7 also softens the image a little bit which gives the A7r a pretty significant edge when you combined that with the resolution advantage.

 

Sony Alpha A7r Sample Photos

Here are some quick snapshots that I took so far with 100% Crops for detailed inspection!

Sony A7r Dynamic Range?

I was downstairs trying to figure out something with the lab and Chubs was barking at something. I had the Sony A7r in hand and figured this would be a great real world high dynamic range test shot. I had the camera set to focus on the right side of the frame, because I was using flexible spot in the lab. So the saw is what the camera focused on, not Chubs.

First, here is the raw file as it looks off the camera.

Click Photos for full size image ~ 1200PX

Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/1.8, 1/125sec, ISO 100, Hand-held, Dynamic Range Test

Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/1.8, 1/125sec, ISO 100, Hand-held, Dynamic Range Test

Here is what Lightroom 5 says about the highlight and shadow information. I have the clip warning indicators pressed on the histogram which will highlight the clipping areas in red and blue for the highlights and shadows respectively. It’s helpful when correcting the exposure. Note the histogram and slider settings.

a7r-dynamic-range-test-1

Lightroom 5- a7r-dynamic-range-test-1

Here is the quickly corrected file screen cap from Lightroom 5 and note the sliders for adjusting the highlights and shadows.

a7r-dynamic-range-test-2

Corrected Lightroom 5 – a7r-dynamic-range-test-2

The corrected file full frame.

Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/1.8, 1/125sec, ISO 100, Hand-held, Dynamic Range Test

Corrected – Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/1.8, 1/125sec, ISO 100, Hand-held, Dynamic Range Test

100% Crops – Click Photos!

100% Crop 100% Crop

Some pretty nasty chromatic aberrations are visible when shooting raw quality wide open and in high contrast. Around Chubs is the easiest place to see it, but you can also see it on the 100% Crop of the crayons shot @ 1.8 from the low angle.

 

Sony A7r  Jpeg Hand-Held


Hand holding is not that easy with the default 1/60sec shutter speed the camera provides when using Auto ISO. I normally like using Auto ISO, but I also use OSS lenses most of the time. In the case of the longer focal length 55mm Zeiss prime lens and the large full frame sensor on the A7r, the shutter speed needs to be faster. If the lens had OSS this would not be an issue, and was not really an issue on the A7 for the most part. I recommend either using shutter priority mode to raise the speed to 1/100 – 1/160 of a second. If you are like me and want to maintain the aperture, than manual mode is the way to go.

The Sony A7 and A7r are professional grade cameras, and using manual mode is really easy with the three physical control dials at your finger tips. The exposure triangle consisting of Shutter a7r-histogram-crayonsSpeed (upper thumb dial), Aperture (front pointer finger dial), and ISO (rear thumb control ring). With these controls you can dial in the shutter speed to whatever you need while watching the on camera meter. That tells you if the exposure is + or – ideal per the camera. More on the basics of exposure in this article (click here)

With all that being said, I held really steady and got this snapshot at 1/60sec in jpeg mode. It’s pretty sharp in the center. To the right is the histogram for the image below and is very normal for a Sony camera using Multi Metering Mode. It tends to protect the highlights a bit more than other camera manufactures.

Sony A7r - Jpeg quality @ f/1.8, 1/60sec, ISO 400, Handheld

Sony A7r – Jpeg quality @ f/1.8, 1/60sec, ISO 400, Handheld

Sony A7r - Jpeg quality @ f/1.8, 1/60sec, ISO 400, Handheld

100% Crop – Sony A7r – Jpeg quality @ f/1.8, 1/60sec, ISO 400, Handheld

Here is another photo wide open at f/1.8 hand-held 1/60sec.

Click Photos for full size image ~ 1200PX

Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/1.8, 1/60sec, ISO 400, Hand-held, Jpeg Quality

Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/1.8, 1/60sec, ISO 400, Hand-held, Jpeg Quality

Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/1.8, 1/60sec, ISO 400, Hand-held, Jpeg Quality

100% Crop – Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/1.8, 1/60sec, ISO 400, Hand-held, Jpeg Quality

This next image I raised the shutter speed to 1/250sec to make sure the shot was sharp. I also changed the aperture to f/4 which pushed me all the way to ISO 6400. The image is remarkably clean for ISO 6400 and sharp for that matter. Jpeg quality is excellent on the A7r I must say. The lens is also amazing which is really letting the A7r show off it’s 36mp resolution capabilities.

Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/4, 1/250sec, ISO 6400, Hand-held, Jpeg Quality

Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/4, 1/250sec, ISO 6400, Hand-held, Jpeg Quality

Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/4, 1/250sec, ISO 6400, Hand-held, Jpeg Quality

100% Crop – Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/4, 1/250sec, ISO 6400, Hand-held, Jpeg Quality

 

Sony A7r – Raw Quality Edited

This next photo is of Chubs and I did edit it using Lightroom 5. It started out as a raw file and I used the Nik software color efex pro to add a little pop. I then gave it some vignette and a crop plus some eye enhancement. The focus is not on the eyes, but on his eyebrows. When viewed small the image looks fine, but in the 100% crop you can see how the focus was missed. Most likely my fault for the missed focus, and I still like the shot enough to share. He is my buddy after all 😉

Click Photos for full size image ~ 1200PX

Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/1.8, 1/125sec, IS0 800, Hand held, Raw Quality

Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/1.8, 1/125sec, IS0 800, Hand held, Raw Quality

100% Crop - Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/1.8, 1/125sec, IS0 800, Hand held, Raw Quality

100% Crop – Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/1.8, 1/125sec, IS0 800, Hand held, Raw Quality

 

This next photo of Chubs was taken at 1/60sec raw quality and is slightly soft when viewed at 100% crop. I tried to hold the camera as steady as possible, but 1/60sec is just to slow. Auto ISO is no good for this lens in my opinion if you’re in the habbit of using it like myself 😉 With Optical Steady Shot lenses or IBIS in camera stabilization is present the 1/60sec shutter speed is usually fine.

I know I keep repeating myself, but I think a some people might think this is caused by the so-called shutter vibration issue. Supposedly the shutter causes camera shake. So much so it effects the image quality drastically when using slower shutter speeds. A recent article on SonyAlphaRumors discusses this (Click Here)

Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/1.8, 1/60sec, ISO 500, Hand-held, Jpeg Quality

Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/1.8, 1/60sec, ISO 500, Hand-held, Jpeg Quality

Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/1.8, 1/60sec, ISO 500, Hand-held, Jpeg Quality

100% Crop – Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/1.8, 1/60sec, ISO 500, Hand-held, Jpeg Quality

 

Quick Lab Test

I need to do more testing, but I wanted to share this one quick shot I took in the “lab”

Click Photos for full size image ~ 1200PX

Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/4, 1/160sec, Studio Light

Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/4, 1/160sec, Studio Light

100% Crop - Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/4, 1/160sec, Studio Light

100% Crop – Sony A7r w/ E-Mount Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens @ f/4, 1/160sec, Studio Light


 

Closing Remarks

That is about it for now, but stay tuned for more Sony A7r sample photos using the HVL-20M flash unit, and in the studio with Layla! I also have some work to do in the lab, but so far it looks pretty good and usable for our purposes. Please feel free to ask questions and comment below. I have the camera for about a month, if I decide to not keep it, so requests welcome!

Have a good day and thanks again for your support,

Jay

Sony A7r Full Frame Mirrorless Camera – $2298 US @ BHphoto | Amazon | Adorama
Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Lens $998 US @ BHPhoto | Amazon | Adorama

 




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Thanks,
Jay

 


About the Author

Jay
Hello, I'm the owner and operator of SonyAlphaLab.com. Please check out the About page for a full background on myself and the Lab ;) Google+ | Twitter | RSS-feed | Email Updates!!




12 Comments


  1. LBier

    Jay: I am looking forward to your findings using the 20m flash unit with this camera! I ordered the Sony HVL-F43M TTL for use with my A7r –but will not have that in my hands for another week. Either way, I’ve much to learn about utilizing flash correctly–I am currently leaning toward off-camera flash techniques as I never really achieved on-camera flash keepers with my Nex 6, which is why I chose the 43M for the A7r.


    • LBier

      Forgot to add that I was looking at the SONY FA-CS1M OFF CAMERA SHOE for a7 and a7R for off camera use but not sure if this is compatible with the F43M.


      • Jay

        Thanks for the comments LBier,

        I did a few test shots yesterday with the HVL-F20M flash and it worked pretty good on full auto in bounce mode. I used it upstairs where the ceilings are about 8-9 feet and slightly angled, and downstairs in the studio/ lab where the ceiling is only about 7 feet and a few inches. I will try to get the article on the flash tests done today so you can see what I got and ask more specific questions if needed.

        What I have noticed over the years with flash is it’s not always 100% accurate. I’m talking about the accessory on camera flash units that use TTL and ADI like the Sony F43M and F20M and Canon 580ex II which I have a lot of experience with. When learning with the canon flash unit years ago I realized the ISO has a lot ot do with the flash power. you need to float the ISO depending on the conditions and or distance to your subject. You also need to float the flash exposure comp in the same way. In addition to those variables, the camera metering system is also a factor. Depending on if your using the flash for fill or main lighting inside, depends on the power.

        I remember getting terrible results when I first started, then my friend gave me a good rule of thumb for what I was doing at the time which was wedding photography. He told f/5.6 ISO 400, 1/60sec in manual mode and let the flash do it’s thing. Well that worked wonders for a more consistent flash, but all the other variables were still in play. Distance, ect.. As I got better at judging the scene I would dial in the ISO based on the lens aperture and current lighting conditions and effect I’m going for. If I’m using the flash for fill, I turn the power way down (flash exposure comp). When in really dark conditions, like a reception with people dancing, the ISO needs to be much higher. Remember, the aperture and ISO ultimately control the flash power. If it’s really dark and the flash is not powerful enough, raise the ISO , or open up the lens more. If that doesn’t work, and more power flash would be needed, but where talking really large rooms or groups.

        The shutter speed controls the ambient light, so you can have that at 1/60sec and be ok because the flash freezes the action. If you have the shutter much faster than 1/60sec the ambient light will not be captured and it will all render dark leaving only the flash light source. This usually looks harsh, so a balance of ambient and flash is preferred. If your posing people, use a tri-pod and try slowing the shutter down to like 1/20sec. The flash will freeze them, and the slower shutter will bring in the background ambient light real nice. This is great for inside church’s and stuff like that. The faster shutter will just darken the background, but allow for hand holding and capturing action better.

        Gatta go, more later in the flash article 😉

        Jay


  2. LBier

    Thank you for the tips Jay. I’ll start practicing with the flash agin.


  3. LBier

    Just in case someone is thinking about purchasing the new Sony FE 55mm Lens checkout this review posted on sony alpha rumors :
    “Superb! Zeiss 55mm FE is the second best lens ever tested at DxOmark. Damn close to the Otus!”


    • Jay

      I’m not surprised to hear that based off the quality I’m seeing on the A7r! It’s crazy sharp and has excellent focus speed. It handles the aberrations really well also, but wide open you do see some in the high contrast areas like most lenses. Well, I’m a little surprised, the Otus is insanely good quality and physically huge in comparison.

      Thanks for the info LBier,

      Jay


  4. David

    Thanks for the helpful comments on the a7r, Jay. I’m still trying to decide between the a7 and a7r to replace my NEX5N. I’ll make my purchase soon, when the Zeiss zoom is available. Since you now have both, maybe you can help. I mostly shoot handheld travel and landscape photos. I lean toward the a7r for its greater resolution but I worry about it as a handheld camera. A7r reviews I’ve read sometimes call it “unforgiving.” I worry the super resolution may show focusing errors and camera shake so well that it backfires for handheld shooting. As you experiment with both I would appreciate your observations.

    Thanks,

    David


    • Jay

      Hi David and thank you for the comments 😉 I don’t actually have both, the Sony A7 went back to BHPhotoVideo. I only have the A7r with the Zeiss 55mm and my Nex-6 with a few e-mount lenses. I also still have my Pro Canon gear that I’m just beginning to sell finally!

      Your concerns are valid and it is true, hand-holding with the full frame light weight camera is a little harder or unforgiving as you put it. All you need to do is make the shutter speed a little bit faster. A very simple solution. Auto ISO puts the camera at 1/60sec with the Zeiss 55mm and that is to slow of a shutter for me to hand-hold consistently. I raised the shutter to 1/100 and have not had a problem since. The full frame needs to be a little faster to compensate for the higher MP and sensor size. Especially if your using a lens with no OSS. You’re planning on getting the Zeiss zoom, as do I btw, so then hand-holding will not be a problem at all, because the OSS is amazing. Apparently much better than the kit lens OSS I heard. So 1/60sec with the A7 or A7r will be a breeze with that lens in my opinion. So much so, I would not even worry about it David. Unless of course you have really shaky hands, but that would be a different issue all together and addressed as such 😉

      Take care and I hope that helps you out,
      Jay


      • David

        Thanks, Jay. That makes me feel better about the a7r, which is my preference. My hands are pretty steady; I have no trouble with handheld shots as low as 1/30 on the NEX 5N, but I don’t expect to get away with that on the a7r.

        I’m still on a steep learning curve with photography. Your website has been very informative. Thank you for doing this.

        David


  5. Guys! Yes the A7R with the Zeiss 24-70 is a great combo! I handheld that during a night shoot for 1/4 seconds and the image was sharp! The lens also works great with the HVL-F20M flash and my A7R body.



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