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PhotoPlus Expo – Sony a7

05th November 2013

Full Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera

At this year’s PhotoPlus Expo, I made it a point to visit Sony’s booth to have a quick hands on their newly announced Alpha 7 camera. But first, here’s a little background that may help to explain why I take such an interest in the a7.

In 2010, Sony introduced the Alpha A55 with its unique translucent mirror. The non-movable mirror enables Sony to pack many innovative features into a space-saving SLT body that are missing from conventional DLSR cameras – accurate and continuous autofocus, real time electronic viewfinder, sweep panorama, multi-frame noise reduction, more. Since then I’ve been a user of two models – the A55 and a more advanced A65. Both produce excellent images. And since they are considerably smaller and lighter than the competitor’s equivalent models, they are less burdensome in the field.

These two SLTs cultivated my fondness for lightweight equipment. So I was very intrigued when I learned about Sony’s NEX series of compact camera. With an APS-C sensor, a NEX camera body is half the size of a DLSR yet accommodates interchangeable lenses owing to its mirrorless design. I soon acquired a lower-end NEX 5 to see if it met my requirements. I found it has image quality but I was not comfortable using the LCD finder with longer lenses. I then purchased the NEX 7 that sports an electronic viewfinder. Since then this has been my camera of choice owing to its excellent image quality, innovative feature set, compact lens size in an extremely lightweight package.

Several weeks preceding the PhotoPlus Expo, Sony announced the Alpha 7. It’s a direct descendent of the NEX series. Yes, it has a full frame sensor but its mirrorless design has been proven by several generations of the APS-C size NEX cameras.

You can see the thinness of the camera body with 35mm lens attached.

Specs: 24MP sensor, hybrid phase detection/contrast-detection autofocus, bright 2.4MP electronic viewfinder, articulated LCD, full HD video, Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, E-mount and full E-mount lens compatibility.



the a7 with Carl Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens attached

dedicated mode and exposure compensation dials


I asked Meagan, the Sony rep, if the very compact E-mount lenses are compatible with the a7. She told me that they can be used but the view is shrunk to cover only the central 16MP of the sensor.

For the a7’s larger sensor you’ll have to use one of the new Full E-mount lenses: FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6; Sonnar 35mm f/2.8; Sonnar 55mm f/1.8 and Vario-Tessar 24-70mm F4. Also coming is a Sony 70-200mm G f/4 lens for early 2014.

Meagan says that delivery of the a7 begins December 1. Price is $1699 for body only and $1999 with the 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.


 

 

I am impressed with the small size of the a7. With the 28-70mm lens attached, the package is amazingly small and lightweight. While I wasn’t able to examine my test shots in detail, I’m confident that the full-frame sensor will delivery excellent images. In fact, I understand that Sony supplies this same sensor for use in Nikon’s D600 full frame DSLR.

So I remain in a quandary. Should I move from my very comfortable NEX 7 to this new full-frame a7?

 

 

Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 

 


 

 

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