A7R observations of late starter

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Tom Caldwell
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A7R observations of late starter
4 weeks ago

Firstly - I like the camera - I bought it with my eyes wide open - this is more an observation of how Sony got the user interface so wrong and perhaps a supplication for them to do better another time.

First impressions are that the user interface was/is just as bad as I previously thought. Add that the front and back wheels require your finger to run along the edge of the wheels as the crevice and cut-away make it impossible to run your finger directly on the serrated flats. They seem to be set up in over-kill as for many things those wheels and the bottom wheel do the same thing. The Crazy "Quick Navi" screen has good intentions but seems neither particularly quick or particularly useful. It idea seems to be to make the evf the principal finder but you have to take your eye off the evf and check the lcd to use it then dit-dit with cursor keys to "quickly" use it.

The wheels are ratchetty and therefore clunky and the C2 button is also buried in a slot which is a pity as it controls magnification in playback (miles away from the playback button as well) and can get used a lot - then you switch to the clunky ratchetty wheel also in the slot to change magnification size .... The Function key is better and more like a quickmenu on demand but some of the functions are not useful for MF only lenses and there seem only "twee" functions left to replace them with - if it can be done. The advent of the Metabones adapter will allow some of these functions otherwise redundant to come alive. Which makes me note that it is mind boggling stupid for the functions that don't work to work enough to open up a message to say that they don't work, over and over again - surely they could simply be greyed out and not acessable? I guess if they message me enough I will finally get the message.

Setting up the camera it was very obvious that the menu button was in the wrong side of the camera being the only key needing dedicated left hand use.

I pinged the great big clunky EV wheel as an ornament, but I did not realise the full enormity - that C1 can be programmed instant access to EV and can be adjusted by your thumb on the fly (much as the NEX does quite brilliantly) and also can be set to forget or remember the last EV used at switch on. This gives the sole use of the EV wheel as a sort of over-ride where C1 access is set to "forget" and the top wheel to "remember" - otherwise the EV wheel is just a sop to "style" for those that are into "retro" cameras with wheels and buttons galore.

Surely if the camera can detect a non-oem MF lens then it could be made to hide the not-necessary AF functions and also hide the flash functions unless enabled specifically or automatically show them when a flash unit was detected?

The overall feel is that this is a sensor manufacturer playing at making cameras. The Sony engineers obviously are not dedicated photographers.

Of course it is pug-ugly, but I can live with that and whilst the custom keys are "all over the place" there seems very good customisation available (outside the pop up menus). I think that I can get all the control I need by using the mechanical buttons and wheels. The lower back wheel has a nice feel and is easily worked by the thumb - it contrasts greatly with other two clunky badly placed wheels and the terminally useless EV wheel.

I have set enough custom settings to the keys and I doubt if I will need to even use the function key much. I will give quick navi a miss.

I have always respected what the A7 series can do but thought the human interface terrible. When they were released in Australia the local dealer I have used said that he was not going to stock them when I went in with my credit card burning a hole in my pocket. Now I know why - they are full of technology but definately the exterior that presents itself to the photographer is really just a lash up - get used to it? Well maybe - I just hope that they don't bring out a delightful to use version soon as I am going to be terribly disappointed. My thoughts were that if the camera ever got cheap enough then I might sample it. Now that I have one I am thinking that I should have waited until it got a bit cheaper still

Tom Caldwell

Sony Alpha 7 Sony Alpha 7R
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