Sony Alpha 7R Review
Wi-Fi and Remote Capture
If you've used the NEX-5R/5T or NEX-6, then you'll be quite familiar with the a7R's Wi-Fi implementation. The camera can be controlled via your smartphone, which can also be used to share your photos. Sony also offers downloadable 'apps' (some free, some not) which add additional features to the camera. Thanks to NFC (near-field communication), you can interact with the a7R simply by 'tapping' your smartphone against it - if you have a compatible smart device.
An additional feature that enthusiasts will appreciate is remote control from your Mac or PC.
|Connecting to open access points is easy. Protected networks will require entering passwords via the tiny on-screen keyboard.|
Before you can use any of those things, you must connect to a Wi-Fi network. That's easy enough, as the a7R will display a list of access points for you to choose from. If you have to enter a password, you'll do so using the on-screen keyboard and rear dial (which is a pretty clunky combination). If you're lucky enough to have a wireless router with a WPS button, you can just press that and select the appropriate option on the camera, and you're online.
You can also use your smartphone as the 'bridge' to the Internet. You can do this by 'tapping' the phone against the NFC symbol on the camera, or by joining the a7R's network by selecting its SSID.
Once you're connected to a network, you'll be presented with a screen that should resemble what's shown above. When this review was written, there were just a few apps available. Smart Remote Control is built into the camera, while Direct Upload (along with the services it connects to) requires a download. Also visible above are links to the PlayMemories Camera App Store and an organizing tool.
In the wireless settings (NFC option) you can choose which application is loaded when you 'tap' your phone against the camera.
|The PlayMemories App Store can be browsed directly on the camera over Wi-Fi (shown at left) or from your desktop computer.
Many will find a Mac or PC to be easier to use, as navigating the store on the small display is difficult (and let's not even start on the keyboard).
At the time of writing, there are fourteen PlayMemories Camera Apps available for download, eight of which are compatible with the a7R. While some apps are free (such as Smart Remote Control and Direct Upload), others (such as Time Lapse) may set you back up to $10. On a camera in this price range, we feel that these functions should not be optional extras.
As its name implies, this app allows you to operate the Alpha 7R via your smartphone or tablet. Naturally, you'll first need to install PlayMemories Mobile onto your iOS or Android device. Once installed you'll have limited control over the a7R, though it gets the job done. We also updated the Smart Remote Control app on the camera itself, which added additional functionality over what was built into our camera.
|While PlayMemories Mobile can be used with your smartphone held vertically, you'll get a much better view of the scene in the horizontal orientation (at least if you're shooting with the camera in landscape format). Touching the shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, or ISO info at the bottom of the screen will allow for quick adjustment|
If you were hoping to adjust every camera setting via the PlayMemories Mobile app, you're out of luck. You can adjust exposure, ISO, white balance, and things like the self-timer and size of the image transferred, but that's about it. You can adjust additional settings by using the camera itself. In the version of the app that we tested, movies could not be recorded, though Sony hinted that this feature may be added later.
|The Direct Upload app (for the camera) lets you upload photos to Facebook, Flickr, or Sony's own sharing service.|
Something else you can do with PlayMemories Mobile is send photos on to Flickr, Facebook, or PlayMemories Online (Sony's own service). To use this, you first must download the Direct Upload app onto your camera. If you want to upload to Flickr, it requires loading an additional app onto the camera.
Strangely enough, one thing you cannot do via the camera is e-mail your photos. You can get around this by sending photos from the a7R to your mobile device (again, using the PMM app), at which point they can be forwarded on to friends and family. If you have an NFC-enabled smartphone, selected photos can be transferred by tapping the two devices together.
|RemoteCameraControl lets you adjust a lot of camera settings, but is missing one very helpful feature.|
RemoteCameraControl allows you to set the drive mode, white balance (with fine-tuning), and even HDR. Behind that stopwatch-looking button is a robust time-lapse feature.
The main issue with this application is that there's no live preview - unlike with Canon and Nikon's software - so you need to have the camera close by if you want to see what you're about to photograph.
A close look at the EOS 6D II's Raw files suggest its dynamic range has taken a significant step backwards compared with the company's recent DSLRs. We look at how much difference this might make for your photos.
With a full-production review unit in our hands, we've got over 100 production samples from the new Canon EOS 6D Mark II to share.
Need a break from your day? Kick back and watch the making of a somewhat unconventional mojito filmed on Canon's new EOS 6D Mark II.
The Bonfoton Camera Obscura Room Lens can turn any room into a camera obscura, projecting the view from your window onto the walls of your room.
Adobe just released version 2015.12 of Lightroom CC, adding support for several new cameras and lenses, and baking in several important bug fixes while they were at it.
In this interview, Chiara Marinai, photo editor for VanityFair.com, explains exactly what she looks for in new photographers and photo submissions. Take notes.
Massive corporation P&G is being sued by a Cincinnati photographer for serious copyright violations. If the courts rules against P&G, the company could pay as much as $75 million in damages.
Snapchat's camera-equipped 'Spectacles' aren't so difficult to get anymore. You can now pick up a pair through Amazon for $130.
A group of thieves has made away with tens of thousands in camera gear through a carefully orchestrated scam through Venmo and Facebook Marketplace.
A portrait lens from 1910 might be coming back to life if two photographers from Germany succeed in a new Kickstarter project—the latest development in the craze to remake vintage optics.
The updated version of Google Glass is called the Enterprise Edition and, as the name suggests, it's not meant for personal use.
Charles Ommanney was once a photographer for presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, now he's working for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Image compression software JPEGmini Pro was just updated to handle files up to 128MB. They're calling it "The 1 Feature Hasselblad Owners
Apple was just granted a patent for a camera system that prods, coaxes and manipulates users into taking better group and solo selfies.
The Canon EOS 6D Mark II is a better camera than its predecessor, but how much better? Should you buy one?
The winners of the 2017 Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards have been announced. Here are the six photographers who took home the top prize in their respective categories.
A NASA study has confirmed what your ears have been telling you: people HATE drone noise. In fact, it was ranked more annoying than that of "any ground vehicle."
This floating bird video isn't edited in post-production. It's the result of the birds wing flap matching the camera's 20fps frame rate.
Adobe released a major update to Lightroom Mobile for both iOS and Android users today.
Could the future of photo and video storage be... alive? Scientists at Harvard have managed to encode a GIF of a galloping horse into a live sample of E. coli.
Recently appointed Photokina manager Christoph Menke has provided some background on the decision to try out an annual schedule and other changes in a Q&A session.
Japan's space agency has released an adorable floating drone ball on the International Space Station, and for the first time ever we get to see what's it's been recording.
Outraged about the latest photo theft scandal? Great. PhotoShelter founder Allen Murabayashi suggests you put that frustration to good use and register your damn copyright.
The Canon Selphy CP1300 is an update to the Selphy CP1200 and comes with a larger 3.2" tiltable LCD display, an improved user interface, and some neat new features.
MyGearVault, the all-in-one app for tracking, organizing, and protecting your photography gear created by Jared Polin, is now available on Android.
Japanese paper artist Kamihasami has recreated the Olympus OM-D E-M5, a few lenses, and several accessories using nothing but paper and paste.
Could Sigma's new 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens become the new standard for shooting the night sky? Our resident astrophotographer, José Francisco Salgado, took it on assignment and tells us what he discovered.
The Sigma 14mm F1.8 is a fast, wide lens that holds particular appeal for astrophotographers. We sent it to Badlands National Park in South Dakota to get some dark sky photos.
In this video, photographer Manny Ortiz shares his top five reasons for choosing a Dell XPS 15 over a MacBook Pro for his photo and video editing needs.
The new PocketWizard MultiMAX ll offers a total of 52 channels including 20 dedicated to ControlTL devices, as well as improved features for time-lapse and sequential triggering.