What's to love about the a7r; what's to hate about it

Started Dec 1, 2013 | Discussions thread
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shigzeo Senior Member • Posts: 1,789
What's to love about the a7r; what's to hate about it

a7r behind the excellent Nikkor 85/1,8K (ai converted)

I'm breathless after spending so much time writing what will probably be ignored by many people as a trolling review, but I spent the time and effort knowing that it will help at least someone. I bought the a7r in October and received it midway through this month.

It hasn't been used on any commercial shoots yet simply because my next commercial shoot begins in two weeks. November/December are blessedly free. I get time to enjoy my geeky stuff.

Anyway, the opinions I express in my full review of the a7r boil down to ergonomics, utility, and adaptability. The reasons the a7r excels are the same reasons the D800 excels: image quality, uncompromising resolution and detail, and amazing ability to push the shadows.

Where the a7r fails is where Sony traditionally fails: in paying attention to details. This 1900$ (here in Japan) body is built far less well than the D600 is and is no comparison to the D800 in any way, shape, or form. Not from a build quality perspective. Its control scheme is equally as poor, though it has the advantage of a physical exposure dial where the D800 relies on yet another unlabelled wheel.

Make no mistake: I prefer shooting the a7r to the D800 for work. And when out and about, I get around its shortcomings: operational speed, poor haptics, low contrast EVF vs. semi-bright OVF (D800). I spent a whole week with it out and about with all of my favourite lenses:

Nikkor 50/2 Ai (six blades)
Nikkor 85/1,8K (Ai Converted - six blades)
Leica Summilux 50/1,4 pre-ASPH
Leica Tele-Elmarit M 90/2,8 (Thin)
Canon 35/2 LTM
Voigtlander Ultra Wide-Heliar 12/5,6 VM

It performed as expected: flawlessly. It is much worse than the D800 is for focusing manual lenses in good light. My 50/2, that usually pops into focus did not pop into focus because the EVF, as big and bright as it is compared to other mirror less cameras, is still a low resolution screen. I can see the lines and that lens wide open is much much sharper and calls on a smaller DOF than those lines are capable of rendering.

Fortunately, image magnification works very well. As does the rear screen. For work, this camera is lovely. But it isn't a fun, easy to use camera. Even the D800 is simpler. And the X-pro 1 is by far simpler. The M9 isn't even in the same galaxy. The Sony will appeal to people who don't mind going through layers of interface: eye-EVF-delay-focus peaking-magnification; unlabelled dials and menus set for customisation. It will not appeal to the person who is used to simple, straightforward operation.

I am that person. But, for my work, it is the best 35mm format camera available now and I dig it for what it does for me. Again, I can comment in my review  not a whit on autofocus speed or accuracy. Only on how the camera handles, how it is made, and how it performs in output.

 shigzeo's gear list:shigzeo's gear list
Leica SL (Typ 601) Fujifilm GFX 50S Leica M10 Leica APO-Summicron-M 90mm f/2 ASPH +6 more
Nikon D600 Nikon D800 Sony Alpha a7R
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