A7r: first camera I've loved for 30 years

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dbm305
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A7r: first camera I've loved for 30 years
7 months ago

This is not a rave about the A7r; more an exploration of why I like it so much after four months and thousands of frames.

So let's not go over again the negatives: shutter shock (yes it's real, but can be worked around), lack of stabilisation, lack of native lenses, AF speed etc. Despite all of this and more I like it more than anything I've used for a long long time.

Why? Well I'm not sure. I'm writing this to find out. Maybe it'll help you figure out if it's for you. It's not that there aren't plenty of systems out there that are terrific.

The first phase of my photographic history was with Olympus film cameras. I started with an OM40 and as I got more expert, had a pair of OM-4s and an OM1.

I really loved those cameras and their lenses. I could take them out with me hiking or travelling and get results comparable with the big boys of the time - the big Canons and Nikons. There were problems, (the electronics and battery drain in the metering) but they gave me tons of negatives and thousands of happy hours in the laundry/dark room.

Autofocus came, and so did burglars. All my OM stuff was stolen, and I got an insurance payout. Figuring I had to go with the future I got one of the early EOS cameras and a few lenses including the 24mm tilt-shift (I had always loved the OM 35 shift).

I wasn't happy. The camera was fine, the lenses were fine, but they were bigger. Also I had moved overseas and had no darkroom and that spoiled the fun. My photography lost momentum.

Cut to the mid two thousands: I sell up and get a Nikon digital camera with a built in 24-70 equivalent lens (and was new to digital and didn't realise this had a tiny sensor) figuring that with no darkroom my darkroom could be digital!

That soon was upgraded to a Canon 40d, which became a 50d, and then 5DII and 5DIII

These were all great cameras, and photography was back on track. But they were big. I soon realised that many of my favourite images were taken on compact cameras, because these were the ones I was prepared to hike into the wilderness with. The images might be great, but the IQ wasn't.

So along came M43; I took a succession of M43 cameras with me into the bush, and of course they were much better than the compacts. So much so that the full framers with vast $$ of lenses were left largely unused except occasionally at home.

So at the time of upgrading to the then best M43 (EM5) with a much nicer sensor, I thought it was time to sell off the huge Canon system since I so rarely used it. Got some more M43 glass, and should have been happy.

But I wasn't. Of course the IQ was good, and the cameras nice (though I never got on with the EM5 interface for some reason) but after using the 5dIII I hankered after that level of image quality and control of DOF. I would pore over my latest trip, and see that they weren't up the standard technically of those trips when I had lugged the heavy stuff.

So when the A7r came out I was really interested. I hung off for a bit (telling myself quite correctly that there was enough IQ in M43 for any sensible purpose) and then went in; got the A73, the 35 and 55 and the 24-70. Had some canon glass to make up the gaps, but looking forward to more FE

I haven't looked back. Why? The IQ gap with m43 is not huge; but I'm now getting the same kind of quality with the FE2470 as I had with the Canon 24-105. It's just a small step above what I was getting with the Panny 12-35 but enough that I care (yes even in the corners, disappointing though they might be relative to the potential of 36MP). And with the new primes, or the best Canon glass it was phenomenal.

For hiking I can take just the zoom, and have a system just below what I'm prepared to carry for five night out. When I'm travelling I can take a mixed system: a few lenses that can stay in the hotel safe when I want to go out light with just, say the FE35; or if there's a place I want to go and photograph carefully I can take more.

I'm back home again. The cameras are remarkably similar to my old OMs; somehow the A7 is more their spiritual heirs than the OMD series, or so it feels to me. The OM cameras gave you the same IQ as the big boys, with a few quirks to put up with. That's what the A7s do, and the OMDs maybe don't (not that I'm suggesting there aren't purposes for which M43 is still the best choice - I think there are).

Thanks Sony. Sony? Really? I'm shooting Sony. Yup, and loving it. Maybe I'll even remove the faux leather I've got covering up the Sony logo...

 dbm305's gear list:dbm305's gear list
Sony RX100 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Sony Alpha 7R Canon EF 135mm f/2.0L USM Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L +15 more
Canon EOS 40D Canon EOS 50D Canon EOS 5D Mark II Canon EOS 5D Mark III Sony Alpha 7 Sony Alpha 7R Sony Alpha 7S
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