Sony Alpha 7R Review
If you've used the movie modes on Sony's recent NEX cameras, then you'll feel right at home using the Alpha 7R. The camera retains the same 1080/24p and 60p resolutions, but with the added benefits of a significantly larger sensor. The a7R also has the ability to output uncompressed video over HDMI (for use with an external recorder, for high-end work), something not available on NEX models.
Something that has been changing from model-to-model in Sony's mirrorless lineup is the position of the dedicated 'red' recording button. On earlier models, the button was too close to the thumb rest, which caused some users to accidentally press it (Sony later added the ability to disable it). On later models, the button ventured further away from the thumb rest to the point where, on the a7R, it's essentially now on the side of the camera. Paradoxically, the placement of this button on the a7R makes it harder to record a movie when you want to.
|Sony has moved the 'red button' so far from the back of the camera that it's now a bit challenging to record a movie. You can have this button active in all shooting modes, or just when the mode dial is set to the video position.|
The a7R offers plenty of manual controls to please video enthusiasts. When the movie button is activated in all modes, one can simply enter the shooting mode of their choice and adjust the desired exposure setting. Aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation, and ISO are all up for grabs. If you've locked out the movie button, you can do all the same stuff by setting the mode dial to the video position. This will also give a 16:9 preview that matches what you'll record.
When manually focusing, you can use focus peaking to pull focus from one subject to another while recording (something that's still fairly rare on consumer-level cameras). We found that focus peaking worked as advertised in those situations.
Another feature is 'zebra', which shows a pattern in overexposed areas of the scene (similar to how some cameras have clipped areas 'blink' in playback mode). You can choose the exposure level at which the pattern shows, with a range of 70 - 100 and above. When dialing down the exposure on the a7R, the zebra pattern kept up with the changes.
The camera offers both mic and headphone ports, and has an on-screen audio level. The mic level can be adjusted, and users can select whether audio output is direct to the headphones or delayed to sync with the recorded footage. There's also a wind filter for improved audio quality when recording outdoors.
In addition to manual controls, you can also throw the camera into either of the Auto modes and take advantage of the same Creative Styles or Picture Effects that are available for still shooting. Speaking of stills, you cannot take a photo while simultaneously recording a video, as you can with some of the a7R's competitors.
Below are the various video size and quality settings available on the a7R. Do note that the default setting is 1080/60i, rather than 60p or 24p.
1920 x 1080 60i/50i Avg. 24 Mbps (high quality)
1920 x 1080 60i/50i Avg. 17 Mbps (standard quality)
1920 x 1080 60p Avg. 28 Mbps (highest quality)
1920 x 1080 24p/25p Avg. 24Mbps (high quality)
1920 x 1080 24p/25p Avg. 17Mbps (standard quality)
1440 x 1080, 1080p (30/25fps), Avg. 12Mbps
640 x 480 (30/25fps), Av. 3Mbps
|Audio||• Dolby Digital (AC-3) / MPEG-4 AAC-LC
• Stereo audio capture via built-in or optional external mic.
|Format||AVCHD / MPEG4|
|Recordable time||Approx 29 minutes for AVCHD, 20 minutes for MPEG4 (1440 x 1080)|
Overall, video quality is very good, as is the quality of the audio recorded. The only issues we ran into in our testing was some moiré (see sample 2 below) and focus hunting in low light (see sample 3). As you'd expect with a CMOS-based camera, rolling shutter is something you will run into if you're quickly panning the camera.
As has been demonstrated of the Nikon D800, the a7R produces its video by sub-sampling from the sensor - only using a subset of the available pixels. The way this is done (known as line-skipping), means the camera is measuring more horizontal detail than vertical detail, and is the source of some of the moiré we've seen. This is unlikely to be of concern to most people recording footage in the camera (the resolution is very high), but it may push high-end users to consider towards a dedicated video camera, instead, since this effect will still be present if you use an external recorder.
Autofocus is pretty effective, to our fairly undemanding eyes, with the camera doing a decent job of sticking to its subject, rather than racing off to focus to infinity. Any focus flutter caused by the camera checking it's still in focus is pretty subtle, meaning the camera's footage is pretty usable, so long as your expectations of video aren't as high as for stills. Focus peaking makes it easier to manually focus your footage, if you are taking the quality seriously.
Below are a few sample videos to give you a taste of what the a7R can do. Feel free to download the original MTS files to avoid whatever compression YouTube is applying.
Our first sample is a simple one, showing waves quietly rolling onto the beach. The quality is impressive, as is the audio, aside from a little wind noise. One thing you will notice is that the video goes out of focus for a few seconds, before returning to where it began.
|1920x1080 60p 28Mbps, MTS, 17 sec, 24.8 MB Click here to download original file|
This brief second sample - taken at the Seattle Seahawks victory parade - shows the smooth video you'd expect at 60p, as well as some great detail. Unlike the previous video, there were no focus issues in this example.
|1920x1080 60p 28Mbps, MTS, 8 sec, 55.2 MB Click here to download original file|
|New Forest pony by Dutch Newchurch|
from Equines in 2018
|Leader of the pack by Wu Jiaqiu|
from My Best Photo of the Week
|Czech Crown by Tobik|
from Coins - Macro only
In Part 1 of his series on photographing Greenland in winter, landscape photographer Erez Marom shares the freezing details of his arrival on the town of Uummannaq where the temperature was -25°C. Still, he went out shooting.
SmugMug has acquired struggling photography site Flickr for an undisclosed sum, with CEO Don MacAskill promising to give the neglected photo sharing service 'the resources that it deserves'.
The APO-Makro-Plasmat 105mm F2.7 is Meyer Optik's latest Kickstarter lens revival, and it promises "natural sharpness, unbelievable color reproduction, and a glowing bokeh united at every step of the aperture" ... whatever that means.
The update also comes with "post-scan cloud processing," which allows you to render 3D models with 4K resolution textures for better detail and realism.
Chinese accessories brand Meike has announced it will introduce an 85mm F1.8 lens for Canon and Nikon full frame DSLRs that will feature autofocus. This will be the company’s first AF lens.
The World Photo Organization has finally revealed the overall winners for the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards, including the coveted Photographer of the Year, Open Photographer of the Year, Youth Photographer of the Year, and Student Photographer of the Year winners.
Venus Optics has unveiled four new lenses that will ship later this year: a wide-angle zoom for Sony FE, a circular fisheye for Micro Four Thirds, a wide-angle lens for the medium format Fujifilm GFX, and a 2x Ultra Macro for multiple full-frame mounts.
The One Backpack is a 5-in-1 modular backpack that can be used as a camera bag, work & gym pack, suit carry backpack, travel pack or tech-backpack.
This highly-specialized lens is perfect for sports, action and wildlife photography. Check out these first sample images for a taste of what it's capable of.
For KFC Hong Kong’s latest ad campaign, New York City-based advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather used Photoshop to magically morph pieces of flaky fried chicken into fire and smoke in various scenes.
The Android and iOS app from Surpuba AR lets you place animated 3D models in real-world environment using augmented reality technology. You can alter poses and location, insert lighting equipment, and more... right from your phone or tablet.
Under the agreement, the two companies will work together to develop Oppo's smartphone camera roadmap, covering optical zoom, depth mapping and other innovative imaging features that dual cameras allow.
Canon is jumping into the portable printing game with the new IVY Mini Photo Printer: a rechargeable battery-powered printer for creating 2x3 prints and stickers of your smartphone snaps on-the-go.
The program first launched last year, but only as a temporary promotion limited to previous-generation GoPro cameras exchanged for discounts on current-generation models. This time around, GoPro is accepting nearly any digital camera in any condition.
One of the most usable 360° cameras on the market is getting even better. With its latest update, Rylo adds a 180° mode, bluetooth remote capture, and a cinematic motion blur effect for your timelapse shots.
Phase One has released the first major update to its Capture One Pro 11 photo editing program. The update adds support for 8 new cameras and 16 new lenses, and includes several new features and functional improvements that speed up workflow.
We recently got our hands on Samsung's latest and greatest smartphone, the dual camera, variable aperture Galaxy S9+, and took it to mostly sunny Southern California for a long weekend.
It's spring, and that means wedding season is upon us! If you're one of the many photographers planning wedding shoots this year, this is a great time to think about including aerial photography in your plans.
The first firmware update for the Sony a7 III addresses an issue in video mode wherein "blinking pixels" would show up along the base of footage recorded with certain settings.
Researchers with Switzerland's EPFL have developed a soft exoskeleton that enables its wearer to control a drone using their upper body. The human-robot interface is said to offer "natural and intuitive control of drones."
Photokina has released an official list of confirmed exhibitors for the 2018 expo, quieting rumors that major brands like Canon and Profoto might follow in Elinchrom's lead and skip this year's show.
For owners of Sony's a7R III, a9 and the new a7 III, there's now an easy fix for the rare but dreaded 'striping' in backlit shots with lots of flare. Click through to learn more.
The team behind the ubiquitous JPEG format has unveiled an all new image format designed to quickly and efficiently stream content across wired and wireless networks alike. Surprisingly, it actually uses less compression than traditional JPEG.
Canon USA has released a promotional video showcasing its latest CMOS sensor technology. Albeit over daraticized, it’s an interesting overlook at the work it’s continually putting into its camera systems.
The large-format digital LargeSense LS911 is the "world's first 8x10 digital single shot camera for sale." The camera features a 12-megapixel 9x11-inch monochrome CMOS sensor, which translates into massive 75 micron pixels.
Pricing and availability have been announced for Tokina's high-end Fírin 20mm F2 FE AF autofocus lens for Sony E-Mount. If you're curious about this lens, you'll be able to pick up your own starting in June for $950 USD.
It's the copyright lawsuit that refuses to die. In September 2017, PETA finally settled its monkey selfie lawsuit with photographer David Slater, but the request to dismiss the case has since been rejected by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
As part of his ongoing ‘Good Light’ YouTube series, London-based photographer Sean Tucker has created a simple tutorial on how to find good natural light for portraits.
The 2018 Pulitzer Prizes were announced yesterday, with the photography awards going to photojournalist Ryan Kelly for image of a car plowing into protesters in Virginia, and the entire Reuters photo staff for a series on Rohinga refugees fleeing persecution.
When it was announced in 2016, the Rokinon AF 14mm F2.8 FE was among the first full-frame autofocus lenses for Sony's a7-series mirrorless cameras. We wanted to see how this affordable wideangle prime performs on Sony's latest a7R III.