Thom Hogan: Sony A7r versus D800E

Started Mar 15, 2014 | Discussions thread
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Thom Hogan: Sony A7r versus D800E
Mar 15, 2014

Thom Hogan: Sony A7r versus D800E

Lot's of excitement when the A7r was announced. Thom did a detailed analysis of IQ and performance. The DxO score of A7r and D800 are similar. But, not everything is equal in real life.

“... I mention this up front because a lot of folk are seeing the A7 twins as DSLR replacements. I suppose I should write a separate article on this subject, but let me just try to correct an impression many seem to have: while mirrorless cameras come far closer to DSLR levels in many aspects today than they did a year or two ago, they’re not fully there yet. Every mirrorless user I know of that came from a DSLR can (and does) tell me about things that they are giving up. In particular, this delay in the A7/A7r on power up is very un-DSLR like. And the typical user response will be to not let the camera power down. That will chew through batteries, which also isn’t very DSLR like...

On subjects not moving—or at least not moving fast—I found the A7 to be perfectly acceptable in speed, and the A7r to be a bit more variable, sometimes a bit faster sometimes a bit slower, but still acceptable. While not as fast as the latest m4/3 cameras or the Fujifilm X-T1, the A7 twins are still respectable, and we would have craved this level of focus performance two years ago from mirrorless...

The difference isn’t actually easy to describe because it involves what’s going on behind the covers. But let me lay out the basics: the D800E will shoot 14-bit raw files with no underlying artifacts and fully recoverable data. The A7r will shoot 11-bit raw files with potential posterization issues in the data. The same is true of the A7 versus a D610, too.

This factor alone means that the A7r is not equivalent to a D800E. Those of us who want high performance cameras actually want real performance, not a simulation with rounding and scaled results. (I should point out that this compression scheme is used in most Sony cameras now, including the RX1, which is where I first noticed it.)...

Shutter slap: There’s been some controversy over whether or not there is vibration-impacted results on the A7r that’s not found on the A7. I’d say yes, there is, from about 1/15 to 1/200. The vibration, when induced to its fullest, is enough to make the 36mp A7r results look slightly worse than the 24mp A7, everything else controlled for...

As an aside, I have to say this: when Nikon hits a home run, it’s clearly out of the park. The D800E, after two years on the market, still clearly produces the highest quality images I’ve seen out of camera other than Medium Format ones, and it does so clearly. It’s the best all-around camera I know of at the moment, which is why you see me using it so much. When the A7r announcement left the bat, it looked like it could fly out of the park, too. But Sony didn’t get the bat fully on the necessary component—image quality—and the ball fell clearly inside the park. I think the fans need to sit down and wait for the next swing.”

There you have it.

Fujifilm X-T1 Nikon D610 Nikon D800 Nikon D800E Sony Alpha 7 Sony Alpha 7R Sony RX1
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