Sony Alpha 7R Review
For the most part, the a7R's feature-set resembles that of cameras like the NEX-6 and NEX-7. While the majority of a7R users won't be using Auto modes, the camera has a fair number of well-implemented point-and-shoot modes, named Intelligent and Superior Auto. There are also customizable 'Creative Styles' as well as 'Picture Effects', which is where you'll find things like toy camera and selective color.
Below we've selected some features that will be of most interest to the enthusiasts who are considering the a7R.
Non-native lens support
Thanks to its short flange-back distance and Sony's release of the E-mount specifications, a plethora of third-party lens adapters is now available. The Alpha 7R offers the highest resolution way of using 35mm film lenses such that they offer their originally intended field of view - the 'acme' of the trend of using old lenses on mirrorless camera. Sony offers a number of tools to support manual focus of these lenses, including magnified view, focus peaking, or the combination of the two.
When shooting older - especially fast primes - 'wide open', accurate focus can be a challenge, even with the availability of magnified focus view and peaking. To have any chance at all you really do need to be in magnified focus mode, but a typical classic prime made for film is likely to be pretty hazy wide open, much more so than a modern native FE lens. As a consequence, depending on the specific lens that you're trying to use on the a7R, you might find that it doesn't always deliver enough contrast for focus peaking to bite onto until the aperture is stopped down a little.
|View our gallery of Sony Alpha 7 / 7R photos taken with third-party lenses|
You'll certainly need to set peaking to 'high' for the best chance of getting it to work. With focus magnification activated and peaking set to 'low' or 'medium', you're unlikely to see any highlighted edges at all. Set to 'high' we've found that the system has a decent chance of highlighting some edges, typically non-organic edges like text, but softer subjects, like the features of someone's face, frequently just don't deliver enough contrast for peaking to work reliably at any of its three settings.
Regardless, the fact remains that turning peaking up to high is your best chance for accurate manual focus with this kind of lens in magnified live view mode, and as such it's the setting we'd recommend. Sadly, 'high' peaking isn't very useful in normal (unmagnified) live view mode, and generally plasters peaking highlights all over the scene across a very wide range of focus. It is entirely possible for focus peaking to outline pretty much everything in the viewfinder at its 'high' setting but for your image to be magnificently out of focus when you look closely.
Ideally, when working with older lenses 'wide open' we'd love the option to separately define a peaking level of 'low' for normal unmagnified live view, and 'high' for the magnified view. Hopefully this can be added via a firmware update.
For more on this topic, read our 'Using third-party lenses on Sony a7 / a7R' article.
Classic Sony Features
Despite being a higher-end camera, the a7R still has many features from the NEX line. These include HDR, Sweep Panorama, and multi-shot layering.
The HDR feature takes three shots in a row, each with a different exposure. The interval between each shot can be ±1EV to ±6EV. As one might expect, you cannot use HDR in Raw or Raw+JPEG mode. Here's an example of the a7R's HDR feature:
|HDR off, ISO 100, 1/100 sec, f/8|
|HDR on, auto setting|
As you can see, the HDR feature, at the 'auto' setting, nicely balanced out the contrast. On some occasions, HDR photos can look slightly 'fake', in which case you might want to adjust the HDR level manually. In our NEX-6 review you can see how each HDR step affects the final image.
Sweep Panorama was the first feature of its kind, and Sony's implementation is one of the best. You can pan the camera in any direction, with your choice of standard or wide angles-of-view. When shooting left or right, the resolution of standard and wide images are 8192 x 1856 and 12,416 x 1856, respectively.
|Sweep Panorama, standard size, ISO 100, 1/100 sec, f/9|
The example above - which we've brightened a bit (as exposure is locked when you start to 'sweep') - shows very good stitching, with just one area of misalignment. The couple toward the right side were walking away from the camera, and didn't get chopped into pieces, which can happen with less robust panorama features.
One thing we noticed about Sweep Panorama on the a7R is that the camera is fairly noisy while you're shooting (as is the shutter in general), and that you have to pan a bit slower than on, say, a 'regular' NEX camera.
Multi-shot NR modes
There are several multi-shot modes on the Alpha 7, in addition to HDR. Two similar features are Handheld Twilight and Anti Motion Blur, which aim to reduce blur by combining a series of four exposures into one. The difference between these two features is that Anti Motion Blur takes subject motion into account, which may result in a higher sensitivity being used, in order to ensure a sharper photo.
|Not bad for a photo taken from a moving ferry. Handheld night scene, ISO 12800, 1/20 sec, F4|
Multi Frame NR, which is for JPEG shooting only, combines multiple images into a single photo with reduced noise.
|Montréal Dépaneur Out of Business DP by MarioSS|
from Your City - Out of Business
|Wish You Were Here by Dutch Newchurch|
from Street musician playing
|Flight of a Puffin by cjf2|
Super macro photographer Can Tuncer captured these incredible close-ups of a single peacock feather using a special setup and three different microscope lenses.
After successfully crowdfunding the Biotar 75mm F1.5, Oprema Jena is at it again. This time they're bringing back the Biotar 58mm F2: the world's only lens with a 17-blade aperture.
Adobe's move to a subscription model is treating it very well indeed. The company has posted record revenue for the second quarter in a row, hauling in a mind-boggling $1.84 billion.
More details have emerged about the potential sale of Blackstone's 45% stake in iconic camera brand Leica.
Popular mobile editing app Snapseed just got a major update that includes a new interface and 11 new presets for both Android and iOS, as well as adding the Perspective tool to the iOS version.
It might sound like a strange idea, but taking macro photos of boiling water can actually result in some really cool photographs. A good photo experiment for a rainy day.
The database was created to "break with the narrow lens through which history… has been recorded" by equipping those who commission photography with "the resources to discover photographers of color available for assignments.
Lensbaby has released two new optics for their special "optic swap system." The Lensbaby Sweet 80 Optic gives you that trademark sweet spot of focus, while the Creative Bokeh optic gives you 9 different drop in aperture plate options to play with.
TechCrunch has already posted their review of the upcoming iPhone 8 (not yet the iPhone X), and they're calling it "a look into the augmented future of photography."
Affinity Photo is a $50 photo editing software with no subscriptions. That's it – pay for it once and you're done. And we think it's actually pretty darn good.
Instagram is currently testing a major change to the app's profile layout: replacing the 3-photo across grid with a 4-photo grid... and some users are NOT taking the news well.
A report by USSRPhoto is shedding some light on the return of the famed Zenit camera brand. It seems the full-frame mirrorless camera they're working on will be made in part by Leica using components from the Leica SL.
According to a reliable Korean report, Samsung is developing a smartphone sensor that's capable of super slow motion. Translation: Samsung's next batch of Galaxy smartphones may be able to shoot 1,000fps.
This simple photograph of a seahorse and Q-tip has taken the internet by storm. We spoke to photographer Justin Hofman about how it was captured, and what it means to him.
After a massive leak last week, Profoto has officially debuted the Profoto A1: the company's first on-camera flash system that they're calling "the world's smallest studio flash."
"When the first hyperfocal distance charts were designed, someone decided that an acceptably sharp background contained some blur — enough to notice in a medium-sized print [...] After that point, nearly every other hyperfocal chart followed suit."
The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 (also known as the EOS 200D) is the company's impressively compact entry-level DSLR. Packing a 24MP APS-C sensor, DIGIC 7 processor and Dual Pixel AF, it promises a lot of bang for the buck. And while not mind-blowing, it handles most tasks very well.
Correct these four common composition mistakes and your photos will be more balanced, tell a better story, and lead your viewer's eye where you want it to go.
The rugged, compact 360° action camera Kodak unveiled at Photokina in 2016, the Kodak PixPro Orbit 360, is finally available in the United States.
iOS 11 launches tomorrow, and it'll save all of your pictures in a new high efficiency image format called HEIC. Fortunately, there's now a converter that will let you turn those photos back into JPEGs.
Photo protection company ImageRights recently released a new service that lets non-subscribers take advantage of their streamlined copyright registration system that checks for errors and fills out all the required forms for you.
What's the difference between a $200 circular polarizing filter and a $100 circular polarizing filter? Roger Cicala at Lens Rentals put six different filters through a few tests to find out.
A flurry of leaks reveal that GoPro's upcoming Hero6 will shoot 4K at 60fps, 1080p at 240fps, will cost $500, and is scheduled for announcement/release on September 28th.
Before he became the iconic director whose name we've all heard, a teenage Stanley Kubrick struck up a business relationship with New York’s Look magazine. No surprise: he was an incredibly talented photographer.
WD's new G-Technology G-Drive mobile SSD R-Series is a portable solid state option for photographers who want the reliability of an SSD in a rugged water and dust-resistant package.
Fast, stabilized and affordable is an appealing combination when it comes to lenses. With its latest 24-70mm F2.8, Tamron aims to upgrade autofocus speed and stabilization. We've got a full gallery from this updated full-frame zoom.
Photographer Clay Cook tells the story of his most ambitious photographic dream and career goal coming true: photographing A-list actress Jennifer Lawrence.
In an interview with a Chinese website, Nikon Japan's Director of Development dropped a bombshell, saying that a Nikon mirrorless camera "must be full-frame."
Here's a side-by-side spec comparison of two flagship devices with particular attention to the things that really matter – at least to people who prioritize photography features.
A month and a half after revealing the finalists of the 2017 EyeEm Awards, the photo sharing community and licensing marketplace has finally revealed the winners.