UPDATED – Sony’s A7/A7R have landed!

UPDATED – Sony’s A7/A7R have landed!

After a host of leaks and much discussion, we finally have the official products.  May I introduce to you the Alpha A7 and A7R. (For our Editor’s first impressions on the A7, check out his story over at htxt.africa)



Now for those not to a fay with Sony’s branding structures, previously the “Alpha” branding was kept solely for use with the company’s SLR and SLT ranges.  The “NEX” brand was birthed in conjunction with Sony’s initial mirrorless offerings, the NEX-3 and NEX-5.  However as with all things in this world, a unification has taken place, and in future all  SLT and mirrorless cameras will bear the ‘Alpha’ branding.

Sony has finally answered the call for a full-frame (FF) mirrorless camera, which is awesome!  However the cameras have left a few people scratching their heads with regards to there product differentiation.  Allow me to explain.

The core difference between these two machines is that the A7  houses a lower 24MP FF sensor (which many believe is shared by the A99), but has the speed benefits of a Hybrid AF system (25pts contrast-detection and 117pt phase-detection).  On the other hand you have the A7R which sports the beefier 36MP FF sensor (believed to be the same from the D800E), but has only the 25pt contrast-detect system.

Another point to consider is which one provides “the best” image, and this requires a more subjective view.  The 36MP sensor has NO low-pass filter and a higher pixel count, therefore giving more detail.  On the flip-side though, the 24MP sensor HAS a low-pass filter, but is still the big makhulu baas of high-ISO images.

Image processing has been upgraded with Sony’s new BIONZ X processor, and this promises to provide more detailed and true to life images.  Add to that a new “Diffraction Reduction System’ to subtly offer additional compensation for the lens’s inability to completely control the laws physics, and you have a pretty good image processing engine.

A complete new range of camera, requires a complete new range of lenses.  The fairly obviously named ‘FE-lens’ range currently sports 5 lens options. A 24-70mm F4 Carl Zeiss OSS (Feb 2014), 70-200 F4 Sony G OSS (TBD), 35mm F2.8 Carl Zeiss (Dec 2013), 55mm F1.8 Carl Zeiss (Jan 2014), and finally the 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS.  The 28-70mm will only come packaged with the A7.  Those eagle-eyed readers would have noticed that the zoom lenses come standard with optical stabilization, while the primes do not.  Although we are not spoilt for choice at the moment, Sony has promised a complete range of 15 lens by 2015.  Bear in mind however that you can still use the E-mount lenses, although you will have to choose between either a cropped or a heavily circular image reminiscent a 007 flick.  Additionally you could use one of Sony’s proprietary A-mount lens adapters or a host of conversion adapters for use with competitor lenses, both the current and the fossilized.  So this additional expansion does still offer a lot of options.

A7 rear

Sony’s new take on the standard ISO flash shoe, dual mode dials, weather sealed magnesium-alloy body, 3inch 1.23mil dot tilting LCD, 1080/60p video recording with uncompressed HDMI output (insert applause from the filming community), WiFi with NFC, optional battery grip, and the killer EVF out of the A99, and you have a well balanced machine.  The question now is “which one”.  Local pricing for the A7 is estimated to be R19 999 body alone and with the new 28-70mm you are looking at R23 999. The A7R is expected to be R26 999.

Unless you plan on only doing overnight charges via USB, you may want to add an external battery charger to your shopping list as this is not a standard accessory, which seems like pretty poor form if you ask me.

So which is the one to have?  Well that purely depends on which school of thought you belong to.  In my opinion though, the A7 is the one to go for.  It has speed, great ISO response and more than enough detail for any mortal.  What more could you want?