Sony a7

24.3MP full-frame CMOS sensor | 2.4M-Dot OLED EVF | 1080/60p video

What we like:

  • Small and well-priced full-frame body
  • Phase-detect AF is effective, albeit only available in central region
  • Tilting LCD

What we don't:

  • High ISO performance lags behind full-frame peers
  • Compressed Raw shows artifacts
  • No programmable Auto ISO
  • Poor battery life

The Sony Alpha 7 is a full-frame E-mount mirrorless camera. It sits in the middle of Sony's first generation Sony a7-series lineup (between the a7R and a7S), offering a resolution of 24MP, rather than the video-focused a7S's 12MP or the high-res a7R's 36MP.

On-chip phase detection, not shared with its first-generation siblings, can work quite well in conjunction with the scene analysis capabilities of the imaging sensor to focus and track subjects, such as faces. The 117 phase detect points are limited to a fairly central region of the frame, though, and focus can slow down, with hunting, as soon as you focus on subjects outside this area. AF speeds are also, generally, not quite as snappy as the better performers in this class.

Image quality from the a7's 24MP sensor is excellent. At this point in its life cycle, its high ISO image quality lags behind the all its siblings (save for the a7 II) and the best the competition has to offer, but its dynamic range in Raw mode is still up there with the very best.

"A recent price-drop makes the a7 a real bargain, while you can still find it in-stock"

The a7's video specifications are a little dated compared to the more recent models: it can shoot 1080/60p video but it's restricted to the relatively low bitrates dictated by the AVCHD standard (maxing-out at 24mbps for 24p shooting). However the camera does include focus peaking and zebra warnings to support manual shooting and you can get better results by connecting the camera to an external recorder.

Other features include a 3" tilting LCD, XGA OLED electronic viewfinder, Multi-interface (hot) shoe and Wi-Fi with NFC. No less than four dedicated hard dials on the body of the a7 cameras ensure you always have access to shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and exposure compensation - something manual shooters will highly appreciate. Significant price drops following the release of the a7 II makes the a7 a real bargain, but it's worth factoring-in the cost of any lenses you might want.

Studio Test Scene | Specifications Compared

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