Quick thoughts on the Sony A7 and A7R


Image from B&H.

The internet is going to be full of anticipation, excitement, speculation and various forms of virtual hand-wringing over Sony’s latest announcement: full frame mirrorless. I’m sure some bloggers have already had a chance to use one, but given the local market entity’s attitude, don’t expect to see a review from me anytime soon (if at all). As interesting as it is, I simply won’t be able to get a camera. What I can do is put together a few initial thoughts. I don’t normally join the equipment frenzy, but I think this is significant enough that it warrants some serious consideration.

  • There are two versions: one with 24MP and PDAF on-chip (the A7) and one with 36MP, no AA filter and no PDAF (the A7R). It is supposedly not the exact same sensor as the D800E; this one apparently has offset microlenses to deal with the very short back flange distance.
  • Bodies are weather sealed; presumably lenses, too. To what degree remains to be seen – for instance, there’s a big difference between the D7100 and the D4, but Nikon claims both are ‘weather sealed’…
  • Yes, it’s slightly lighter than an E-M1, and about the same size – which significantly erodes the reason for going M4/3. However, the ergonomics look like a disaster – far too many sharp edges, not enough physical controls, and reading things like ‘same menu as the RX1′, I’m starting to cringe.
  • It is not clear to me how one is going to consistently make the most of the 36MP model; from experience with the D800E, some weight or IS system is actually required to have sufficient stability to consistently extract all of the resolution of the sensor. Bottom line: most users may not see as much of a difference as they think between the A7 and A7R.
  • Yet another new lens system: presumably Sony will make some G to A7 adaptors, but we’re back to buying new lenses again. There are 28-70/3.5-5.6, 24-70/4, 35/2.8, 55/1.8 and 70-200/4 lenses announced. Surely Sony can’t be meaning to support G, NEX and A7 lens lines in any meaningful way? That would seem like too much cost and business risk, to me.
  • Smaller than a FF DSLR, but it can’t be too small – even if the body is compact, it still has to be big enough to be ergonomically comfortable with the larger lenses required to cover the larger sensor. So the whole thing is…I suppose somewhere around NEX-sized in the end, at a minimum. Which means there’s still a meaningful size advantage to M4/3: find a weather sealed, 24-80/2.8 equivalent zoom that focuses to 20cm at all distances (forget DOF, we’re looking at FOV and light gathering capability) with stabilizer for the A7R, and I guarantee the lens alone will be heavier than the E-M1 and 12-40
  • Built-in EVF: good, and necessary for both focusing and stability (bracing the camera to your face).
  • Price: at $1699, the A7 is competitive, I think. The A7R is quite a bit more expensive at $2299; neither is cheap per se, especially given the lack of lens choices. I think for most people, the smarter buy would be the A7, with PDAF on-sensor and less demanding pixel pitch.
  • Lens prices: $3000 for the 70-200/4? What are they thinking? That’s Leica territory.
  • Don’t think you can get away with adaptors: the planarity of such adaptors is going to be absolutely critical, especially with such short flange distances and resolution numbers. You’ll actually be able to see the effects of a cheap, out-of-plane adaptor – it looks a little like a tilt. (I know this because I tried Hasselblad lenses on my D800E; none of the three adaptors I obtained had sufficiently tight tolerances to avoid this problem.)
  • Very subjective: Is it just me, or does it look a lot like an E-M5, but more square?

There are conflicting messages here. Sony obviously said: ‘let’s put all of the tech we can into the smallest possible package, to chase the highest possible image quality’ – which is fine as a goal in itself. However, the A7/A7R undermines the A99 – the smaller camera getting the better sensor (despite the 36MP unit being available for some time now) suggests that Sony may well be abandoning any serious further DSLR development. And where does this leave the recently-launched RX1R? Why would you buy a fixed lens option – granted, with a slightly faster lens – when you could have interchangeable instead? Then, we have the whole lens-vs-sensor problem: great sensor, limited and mostly unstabilized lenses. (Hint: look at Fuji’s initial lens choices for the X system; those said ‘we’re serious’. Sony is saying ‘we’re actually consumer; have two 2X-70 zooms and a couple of unexciting primes.’ It seems odd to be so ballsy on the camera side, but completely lack any stones with lenses). Then we have portability vs. usability: it’s small, but you’ll still need a tripod to extract ‘full value’ from the sensor, which means that we’re back to the overall system being big again. The lenses really need to be stabilized: all of them. Granted, this is also true with a D800E, but by the time you’ve added a decent tripod, the weight savings on the camera side pale somewhat.

Personally, even though it’s extremely unlikely I’ll ever buy one – I have pretty much all I need already – I really hope it succeeds: firstly, it really throws down the gauntlet to the other camera makers, hopefully forcing them to actually innovate (I’m looking at you, Nikon and Canon) to stay competitive. And if they innovate, Sony will be forced to actually look at UI for a change, and make something that works like a camera, not an electronic gadget. Secondly, it means that Sony/ Zeiss might actually develop some better lenses for it – yes, 35 and 55mm primes are nice, but some of us need a bit more than that in order to seriously consider the (re)investment required to justify this as a whole system.

Big, innovative changes like this are going to be necessary for survival; the further we move past the point of sufficiency, the less motivation buyers are going to have to open their wallets for incremental upgrades. It’s going to take a step change to motivate spending; step changes like this one. MT

Note: The RX10 was also announced at the same time; it has a 28-200/2.8 constant aperture zoom, the sensor from the RX100M2 and both EVF and top LCD status panel. Unfortunately, there is no free lunch: it’s enormous. But it does look like an interesting possible all-in-one, if the lens is up to snuff…

Update: I’ve been receiving a lot of heated comments and hate mail by people defending the cameras and accusing me of being negative and dismissive. Read the article again: I’ve said twice that the technology is impressive and I hope the camera succeeds. I’ve also said that it’s the local agent’s attitude I’m not enthusiastic about, and that precludes me ever trying or buying one. Furthermore, there are a lot of assumptions being made by most of the readers that are incorrect, or at best, flawed. Slapping an adapted lens on something does not guarantee great results; it’s highly variable. You will not know until you try that specific lens and that specific adaptor, Leica or not.

Finally, the photographer always makes far more difference to the final image than the gear. And a skilled one will be able to do more with the same equipment than an unskilled one, but better gear will not close the gap. What bothers me is the sheer number of people who think a new piece of gear is the messiah and will make amazing images just because of a spec sheet. Reality: buying new equipment will NOT change the way you shoot, especially if you care more about gear than photography. This site is about photography. I assess equipment only as a tool to achieve an end goal, nothing more.

Both A7 and A7R cameras and a variety of lenses are available to preorder here from B&H. The RX10 is here.

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Enter the 2013 Maybank Photo Awards here – there’s US$35,000 worth of prizes up for grabs, it’s open to all ASEAN residents, and I’m the head judge! Entries close 31 October 2013.

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Comments

  1. Ming, I applaud you on your stance. I myself am tired of the relentless gear frenzy. I have a D800e and a M240 and feel so thankful to be able to finally afford such great equipment ( after years of saving/building up/selling buying etc ). This kind of image size is something that some years ago people wouldn’t even dream to possess and now are dismissing offhand. Furthermore, the quest for more pixels is at odds with most people just using these cameras to post on the web and peep at pixels. I like your review style. Instead of shooting brick walls and warning of doom, equipment obsolesence and field curvature you show real examples of great photos. I bought the 35FLE based on your images and am well aware of its foibles but you showed its brilliance. Anyways, keep up the good work. It’s good to see a professional focused on photography and not just the latest trick that comes in every few months.

    BTW, what is your feel of the M240 now after some time. I am loving it and feel that 24 MP is all I need. I have my D800e for when I want AF and longer reach and more MP. I an fond of my D800e but the M speaks to me. I wouldn’t mind having an A7R as a backup, but not if lenses don’t work well for it.

    cheers – keep up the good work.

    • Thanks. I never bought a 240; by the time Leica decided to allocate me stock it was surplus to requirements. It seems that the ‘web reviewers’ get priority; after all, sufficiency doesn’t sell, does it? ;)

  2. harold1968 says:

    So Ming the only “serious” photographer who hated the RX1R.
    The menus make you cringe ? I doubt you have ever used it. Just to fill you in the RX1R is tiny, has a silent shutter, has amazing build and medium format quality. Oh well its a Sony eh!
    So apparently Sony stuffed in the tech and made an electronic device not a camera. but you have never used or seen the A7.
    However you like the EM-X which has no technology right ?
    bye bye Ming

    • Joel Venable says:

      Judging from your comments I doubt you read the entire post, let alone many of the comments…
      “I doubt you have ever used it.” He freely admits such in the very beginning of the article.
      His thoughts center around the fact that Sony is now creating a 4th system while none of them have a well developed array of lenses…

      • I used one last week while I was in Japan, and my thoughts haven’t changed at all. It needs IBIS and some small AF pancake primes to make sense; not 24-xx consumer zooms…

  3. Dirk De Paepe says:

    Hello Ming. In your Nikon Df article you write that basically one only needs four knobs: aperture, focus, shutterspeed and ISO. I agree completely. Maybe an added compensation knob is OK. That makes five then. So I also agree with you that the Df has far too many knobs. That’s exactly why I love the A7(r): not too many unnecessary knobs. So I don’t agree with you, when you say that the A7(r) has not enough knobs. I see the A7 as a modern interpretation of a classic camera, which whom it’s possible to practice (what I regard as) pure photography: controlling four parameters. This is personal of course, but it contributes substantially to my joy of shooting.

    Concerning the A7(r) being too small, I disagree again. Also concerning the 36MP being too much, I’d like to nuance. For me (looking for 1 body to do it all with), the A7r seems to be offering it all. Indeed, in 90% of the cases, I don’t need all it’s pixels. But then I don’t HAVE TO use them – I can easily reduce the Image Size in Photoshop to the needed size. No problem here. And indeed, when I use heavier lenses (the Otus really appeals to me!) I’ll need more grip and will mount the extra grip and use a tripod a lot of the time. Does this make the compact size useless? When I use it with an Otus or other heavy glass, it does indeed. But on many other occasions, I’ll use this camera for “stealth” shooting, without the grip, and with a very compact lens like the Planar ZM 2/50 mounted on it. For that kind of shooting, the 36MP are indeed too much, but they don’t bother me, since I can reduce the file easily. I do this kind of shooting a lot and it is the reason why I have renounced heavy DSLRs a long time ago. So this camera won’t give me problems, but really only gives me possibilities. I won’t use all of it all the time nor at the same time, but still I will use all of it on a regular basis. I think I can do this with no other camera. And I’m very excited about it.

    Oh yeah, concerning the use of lenses with adapters, IMO it’s essential not to economize in this department. My experience with the German Novoflex adapters on my NEX-7 (the 24MP APS-C density equals a 54MP FF sensor) is one of being flawless. Maybe I will be surprised with the sensibility of the A7r system, we’ll see. But I’m willing to take my chances. It’s exactly thanks to the use of adapters that one can use the A7(r) as an open system. I think (at least I hope – the near future will tell), out of my experience with the NEX-7 (I use adapters all the time) that it’s exactly thanks to this concept (thin mirrorless FF body) and the possible use of all kinds of adapters, that the A7(r) has a really unique and revolutianary position in the market: “the first FF open camera system”. I strongly applaud them for this!

    Last but not least, I totally agree with you that it’s the photographer that determines the picture and I have repeatedly considered that I’m going to invest quite some money to for sure end up with the same kind of pictures as before. But having lots of FF lenses, old and new, that I use on the NEX-7 now, I feel frustrated on a regular basis not (or should I say “no longer”) being able to use them in the way that they are ment to be used, like I did in the film days. So at least I hope to get rid of this frustration with the A7r. At the same time, the concept of the A7r thrilles me that much – since about 5 years (the first NEX-5) I’m thinking of Sony, having to come up with about exactly this camera concept! – that I simply HAVE TO buy this one. I regard this as my ultimate camera. At this moment, I can’t see anything I want that it doesn’t have. It has a lot more than what I ever wanted and for sure than what I’ll ever need. I’m not swearing that this will be my last camera, but I think, if my financial resources would dry out, it very well could be. I’d stay happy!

    Sorry that I differ in opinion, dear Ming. Still I always find it really extremely interesting to read your opinions. It gets me to thorougly think about things, to verify my own thoughts. It’s good to differ in opinion. I’m not you. I shoot other things, in a different way, for different purposes. I think different persons and different uses necessitate different products. That’s a good thing.

    • Dirk De Paepe’s comments about Ming’s thoughts on the E7/E7r remind me of a committee-crafted piece from deep in the bowels of Sony’s marketing department. Do you suppose….?

      • Dirk De Paepe says:

        :-)
        Well, I can tell you it’s not. I’m just a Belgian publisher who only rather tries to look at things from the bright side. IMO a product doesn’t have to deliver it all at the same time. Sometimes I’d prefer a big(ger) camera (put on the grip and a DSLR lens), sometimes I want a stealth camera (compact lens). Sometimes it’s good to have a lot of MP (for instance for cropping matters), most of the times I don’t need them (resize the file). I think the A7r can deliver in all those circumstances. At present, I see no other camera doing that. If I’m wrong, just name it, please. I’d love to broaden my options.
        The MPs, it’s like a fast car. Normally we only drive at 120-130km/h but still being able to do more than 200 feels good, gives you extra accelleration power (cropping power), and from time to time (on the German Autobahn) we really drive at 200km/h. One thing about Sony, I can tell you, without getting any advantage for it: I love their boldness to revolutionize and (like Ming) I hope they’ll succeed in convincing a serious part of the market with those camera’s.
        Oh, and just so you know it, I have more than 20 lenses and have ordered just the A7r body – no new lenses. All my lenses will work, just using the same adapters as with the NEX-7. And if I’ll buy the Otus, it will be because it being an exceptional lens, which thrills me, not because I absolutely need it.

  4. I just about laughed coffee through my nose with respect to the stones and lenses comment!!

  5. Very good and objective article! I agree, how can you keep a 36 megapixel camera stable enough with the weight of this new camera? To get the bets results with my Nikon D800 I need weight and the best shooting technique to get advantage of the 36 mp. To get really sharp results with this camera you will need a stable tripod (so where is the lightweight advantage?).

  6. Hi, I forgot to add on my last post. So while all the system eventually weighs me down, I can still grab a 24 and a 50mm lens and go traveling leaving all the rest behind. My experience with the G1 and GH cameras tells me that manual focus is quick and accurate. I expect that it will also have a APS mode (to accommodate the NEX series) and so in that mode a 200f4 adds but a few hundred grams to the kit. Still light on the shoulder :-) So for those of us who don’t need or desire 24-105 f2.8zooms with IS its a camera that provides options.

  7. Thanks for your thoughts. A nice bundle of salient points. Not needing to impress anyone with gear I am only interested in how it looks to me. I have been wanting a full frame light camera for some time, but have remained with APS or micro 4/3. I will be interested to see this camera performance with some legacy lenses such as the FD 20mm. Your points on adapter accuracy are well taken, but there is a polish fellow who makes fine machined FD adapters. I appreciate that camera weight quickly becomes inconsequential, when tripods and other bits are added up. I did a conference back in 2009 with my new G1 and when I picked up my bag wondered who had put the bricks of lead in there for a gag.

    I have learned from experience that 4/3 may be smaller and allow faster lenses yet maintain usable DoF but the loss in higher ISO performance is significant.

    If I get one I’ll post back a link with my blog view of it :-)

  8. Ming: I wonder what you think about the RX1r or even the Rx1 then, since the argument goes that it has a perfectly fine tuned lens specifically designed it for permanently attached to it. Does it make it preferable than the 7s? ( Since this negates the point about Sony’s commit to lens development and even more importantly the issue of using lens adaptors? )

    • To be honest: I have not had the chance to use either seriously; I’ve also had no desire to given that they use my least favourite 35mm focal length.

      In theory, they should offer much better performance since the lens is tailored to the sensor and fixed…

      Case in point: look at the lens-sensor pairings of the Ricoh GR, Coolpix A and Sigma DP Merrills – I can’t think of another body-lens combination in that sensor size that outperforms them. I’d even go so far as to say the GR is even perhaps one of the finest 28mm FOV devices I’ve ever used.

  9. I came to this site to read the Fuji XE-2 review, and then checked this article out. My full frame system is Canon, but I have grown to appreciate the base ISO image quality, convenience, and small size / “stealth” of the Sony RX100, my “pea shooter” . So I have been eagerly awaiting an RX-1 with interchangeable lenses to test. It looks like the A7/A7r is Sony’s answer. I have been ready to jump on this, but I am now much more reserved in my expectations. If I could, the perfect camera would be a weather sealed XE-2 with a Sony sensor, and weather sealed Fuji and Zeiss lenses. I share the frustration of those of you who have commented on the lack of faster f2.x zooms and faster lenses overall on the Sony E Mount systems. It would have been nice if the Zeiss 24 – 70 f4 were faster signaling a new direction in what we could expect in the FE mount. I understand the catch 22 of faster lenses = larger lenses and how that defeats the purpose of a smaller camera body. I personally would still prefer a reduced range zoom if that would allow for a fast zoom in a small size. An example would be a 22/24 – 55/60 f2.x. As far as the camera body is concerned plastic is a turn off in the Canon full frame line to me, and I wish it were not taking the place of a portion of the metal that is present in the A7r frame and exterior front panels but missing in the A7 frame. I was hoping Sony was going to deliver a slightly larger RX-1 with EVF in a rangefinder format like the XE-2. Still that is less of an issue, as I am sure I can get used to and like working with either design. With Sony its still the same thing, where are the fast lenses in the key ranges. With Fuji it is eliminate any doubt as to the quality of third party RAW support of the X Trans systems and or offer a Bayer alternative. I would rather see continued progress in the development of the X Trans sensors, but there needs to be unequivocal agreement that RAW processing for this design offers the same quality and control available for Bayer sensor cameras.

  10. The simple basic principle is that interchangeable lens cameras need interchangeable lenses. Canon and Nikon developed their lens lines for decades and their users were sometimes very arrogant about the great choice of lenses. Especially when Sony took over Minolta and started building pretty good and innovative and competitively priced DSLRs. Everybody complained that their lens line is small. Sony had a lineup of ex Minolta lenses ready and got Zeiss to build a few more. After some three years they got a pretty good lineup of glass fit for both pros and tyros. Then they got into NEX, Nikon got into 1 and Canon into M, and after several years none of them have an even remotely decent lineup of lenses yet. The bodies are small and pretty good (well, not the Canon), in Sony’s case even excellent. But where are the lenses? Fuji has shown some genuine enthusiasm both in the body front as everybody else, but also in lenses. And then of course there is m4/3 where the lens (and body) choices are without equal. Making it the only true mirrorless system. Well, maybe apart from Leica M now that it can make use of R lenses as well. I doubt the situation is all that different in three years time.

    • Pretty much: we have lenses via adaptors (read: compromised) and that’s really about it.

      • Yup. And where does this obsession to shallow depth of field come from? Anybody who has ever used a view camera appreciates that all the complicated movements we created just to increase the apparent depth of field. The big sensor (4×5 or 8×10) needs long lenses and even when stopped down to f/22 the depth of field is minimal, especially in close up product photography for example. One pro travel photographer went all the way to Laos to take portraits of local people and used his fancy pants 1.1/50 Canon lens (or was it 1.2/85) that cost about as much as his trip. Great lens, I am sure. But used wide open it completely removed any semblance of background content. The pictures could just as well been taken in a studio in New York or London against plain paper background. Another gear head drooled over the new GRDV with its APS sensor and suggested to use it at f/8 to reduce any worries about focusing on the street. F/8 and be there and all that. Well, the previous GRDIV with its smaller sensor can get same depth of field at f/2.8. That is ISO400 instead of 3200, and it has image stabilization for another two stop gain if subject is not moving. So there goes most of the big sensor advantage.

  11. What are they thinking? That’s Leica territory.

    They whished……Leica engineers are not capable of making a decent mid priced zoom.

    I would forget this camera alltogether and go for a decent Nikon D800e for under a 1000 dollars second hand. If you go for 36 Mpixel (nonsence anyway if you are a run of the mill photographer (as Terry Richardson demonstrates on a regular basis))but hey people these days like nonsence by the cartload) you might just ass weell go for a DSLR with about 150 optinal peices of glass to attach without any adapter or other crap. A state of the art 70-200 for a Nikon can be picked up for about 1500 dollars second hand (and sometimes even cheaper). Total cost, less then a new Sony (and you don’t sponsor the economy because if you buy via Ebay or craigslist from privat you don’t add to the wealth of big industry).

    Greets, Ed.

    P.S. I would be happy as a clam with a D800e and a 24-70 or even an EM-5 with a 12-40…..the rest is nothing but crap on the side.

  12. Sony wiped out the Nex. Why would they build up another system camera? Why?
    What does this camera, without mirror offer that’s so new?
    A Nikon/Canon offer so many more models, way less expensive.
    Sure you “may” be able to use your Leica lenses.
    The answer is months away.
    Since 2000, i have been told on numerous sites how much better the digital cameras are “now”.
    The year i traded a Pentax 6×7 and lenses for a new in box Leica M6TTL.
    I do use digital. Look at Ming Thein’s usage of Provia film.
    Great color, dynamic range and stunning images!
    I shoot everyday. I use SLR or RF. Whatever.
    OH! Ming’s photographs of watches are simply the best i have ever seen.
    I am a retired Master Watchmaker.
    This craze for the newest thing is so sad..the images get worse, not better.

    • The biggest problem is that all the manufacturers are trying to build a fundamentally unsustainable business long term: giving somebody more when they can’t even handle what they’ve got as it is makes no sense – why would I pay for something I don’t need? They should be instead concentrating on the experience and expanding the envelope. I believe education is the way to go long term. All that potential and crap results just end in frustration…not wanting an upgrade.

  13. The flood of new gear seems to be accelerating again. Before I could decide if I was going to buy a GR, the E-P5 came along. By the time I actually saw an E-P5 in the flesh (about 3 weeks ago – my corner of the world is an absolute backwater, camera-gear-wise), the E-M1 hype machine had rolled into town, until that got t-boned at a stop light by the Sony EF Juggernaut. Then Fuji fired off a warning shot, Panasonic went crazy small, Nikon saw fit to spread some intriguing rumours, oh, and the Pentax K-3 looks nice (out of breath gasp). The sheer velocity of gear releases is actually heavily attenuating GAS for me, because the enjoyment of anticipation and making a once a year – maybe – purchase has been worn right down by this insane outpouring of new gear. Seems there’s some serious clutching at straws going on out there in camera manufacture land.

    And the net result is that to recover from the onslaught, I get back to working on my photos, and realise that, hey, my poor old Olympus E-5 and E-P3 are actually pretty much on the peak of the sufficiency curve for me. At this point, what would really tempt me is a lightweight system with Olympus-standard weatherproofing, but with a sensor offering significantly smoother transitions and especially a gentler rolloff in the highlights. Do I need more resolution? Nope. Broadcast quality video? No. In fact I don’t need video at all, although so long as it doesn’t compromise still image quality or push prices up, I have no objection to just ignoring it. And I don’t need to shoot handheld in a dark coal cellar.

    And since none of this looks likely to come to pass, I blew my savings on a couple of Ming Thein videos instead :-)

    • :)

      And I can confidently say that out of all the things you could possibly have bought, only those will actually improve your images. Thanks for the support! :)

  14. Ming you might be interested in this:

    Ron Schefflers conclusion:

    The conclusion is quite negative for the A7.

    I’ll spill the beans now – none of the rangefinder lenses performed as well on the a7 as they do on the M9, specifically referring to image smearing into the edges/corners. Some are not so bad and are good enough when stopped down sufficiently, but some are outright horrible (ZM21, 28 Cron), to the point where one would think the lens was defective. Naturally there were some variable that couldn’t be tested, such as whether the Novoflex NEX-Leica M adapter I used was perfect.

    and

    My take on the results: I’m hoping these lenses will fare better on the a7R. Results on the a7 are for the most part disappointing. All I can surmise at the moment is that the toppings on the a7′s sensor work against achieving optimal (or in some cases, good enough) results with the rangefinder lenses I had available for this test.

    http://www.ronscheffler.com/techtalk/?p=224

    and some of the comments:

    http://www.sonyalpharumors.com/you-have-to-see-this-ron-scheffler-supertest-with-leica-zeiss-and-voigtlander-lenses/#comments

    So the A7r could be better but that does not have the electronic first shutter option which means you could have other issues instead.

    • One thought though is, do the microlenses on the A7r sensor make up for the issues it has and therefore only get it back to the standard of the A7 sensor. ie the cornering issues are infact worse on the A7r without the correction the microlenses make?

    • Hmm…this conflicts with other early reports. I’m not surprised, but I’m also not sure who to believe, frankly. Will need to see it for myself, though I have to admit the samples Sony posted don’t look good in the corners at all – and that was with dedicated lenses.

  15. Well, so it looks like the “Sony Brigades” (in, and out of the corporate offices,) didn’t appreciate your failure to do the happy dance with the E7/E7r. I believe you were quite objective and thoughtful in your comments, including the human element in the picture.

    While it must be depressing to some degree to see people upset at what you (or anyone else in the same boat) have to say–or not say–about their new toys, in the end it is your integrity as a reviewer that will pay off. You have the good will of many because you are perceived to be an honest and reliable guide. That reputation is easily lost–as has been lost by many–by simply playing the PR game of corporate interests. People will read between the lines and take note; photographers are not fools.

    The E7/E7r cameras are a worthy addition to the field (as you have indicated,) and Sony is to be congratulated for its creativity and techno-daring. Nevertheless, the significant weaknesses (no IS anywhere–lens, or body??); the lens vacuum; the doubtful Sony long-term commitment to the line; the cost; etc. will in my opinion make the “E” cameras contenders, but not winners in the final race.

    Those doing the happy dance over the “E” cameras seem to be relying almost exclusively on 2 numbers: 24 and 36 (megapixels.) Well, cameras like the E-M5 and E-M1–among others–have already shown that they can compete extremely well with the 24 mp bunch. As far as the 36 mp output of the E7r, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if in testing it showed superior results; but it would have to have an overwhelming advantage in IQ to counterbalance the weaknesses of the line and the many other factors that go into making an excellent photograph–factors that place the “E” line behind other competitors.

    Marketing, rather than intrinsic quality, often makes the difference in sales success; here in the USA, Sony has much better marketing than Olympus, for instance. The 24/36 message is being swallowed whole. I expect they will sell many cameras. That doesn’t mean that they have a better overall product; if it did, the best camera would have to be that new camera phone that has a zillion megapixels (sorry–I forget the specifics.) And the Nikon D-4, with its modest megapixel count, would be at the bottom of the pile. What’s wrong with that picture?

    Keep calling it as you see it. Best wishes.

    • Plenty. And it all boils down to customer education – which in the long term the camera companies will have to invest in d they’re going to sell anything. We will reach a point – and soon – when consumers realize how much of a colossal pain 36mp raw files are…

    • While I think Sony did all of us a favor in shaking up the photography world with the A7 & A7r, I think the real key to their success or failure is going to be in the replacements for the NEX 5, 6, & 7 bodies. Sony was having success with these camera and gaining a bit of traction in the market with the new lens introductions from Zeiss, and Sigma. If Sony does not follow up the NEX line in a few months with newer “N” bodies, for lack of a better name, to show they are serious about supporting their original mirror-less efforts, who is going to take them serious about developing another new line? Particularly the third party lens manufacturers. If Sony lets the NEX or “N” bodies whither on the vine, they won’t get any assistance in expanding the lens options for the new full frame camera from other manufacturers. And more lens options is what Sony needs more than anything.

      PaulB

      • To confuse consumers even further, they’ve officially killed off NEX – now rebranded all to Alpha. I bet there’ll be a flood of people asking about what’s compatible with what…

        • You are probably correct. Though, I want to remember that one of the rumor sites mentioned that only the high end cameras would have the Alpha name.

          Of course, I haven’t been able to follow this all that closely. So, I am probably out of date. Plus, anything that might make sense in keeping the customer informed is destined not to happen.

          PaulB

  16. John McMillin says:

    As an older American pro photographer, of course I’m deeply conservative about my gear. My ideas will mean nothing to most of you kids who need to feel you’re on the rising tide of glorious innovation, but here goes. I don’t see anything here that makes my current FF Sony DSLR any less appealing. My a850 has 24 mpx, as many as I need, and it’s backed with a bundle of fine legacy lenses, all stabilized by the camera body. The a850/900 were known for their excellent controls and clear, easy menus and handling.

    The a7 may the best EVF available by the current state of the art, but my camera’s OVF– which I strongly prefer –is the best that has ever been put in a comparable DSLR, and perhaps the best that will ever be. However, some of you demand live view – I get that. If you’re blessed with pinpoint close-up vision, a 3″ screen might be your ticket. But I’d want a display at least the size of a tablet, plus a black headcloth to shade it properly. Then you’d have the modern view camera. If William Henry Jackson were working the Western landscape today, he’d probably use a Sony QX, tethered to an iPod! Not exactly the stealth mode for street photography, though.

    The big argument for the a7 is its smaller size. It weighs about half as much as my a850, one pound less. But a heavier lens could easily make up that difference, and Zeiss doesn’t make any other kind. When I want a smaller camera than my a850 and 24-85 lens, I want one as handy and semi-pocketable camera as my x10 or LX7.

    On the other hand, the a7 is a new, novel and like nothing else out there. Certainly something for the camera enthusiasts to get excited about. You’ve gotta admire Sony for its originality, just as you have to question their long-term commitment to any of their myriad product lines.

    • I’m not sure about feeling ‘the rising tide of glorious innovation’, but this is perhaps the most sensible comment I’ve read yet.

      As for viewfinders: nothing portable beats a Hasselblad V series with the HC4 prism…

      • bluetwango says:

        I was adapting a half-satirical tone of Socialist Realism, Red Chinese-style. Thanks for your response– I truly expected only flames.

        • Hard to tell online. I take all comments seriously, and at face value, unless I know the poster personally. Flames are fore the immature and forums; this isn’t a coffeeshop, it’s more like my living room.

  17. Dear Ming Thein, this is my first comment here and I just wanted to give you a ‘heads up’ on your hands on and how you see things. The updated comment below you Sony A7/r is what made me write this comment, as i can 100% back your words up. Everywhere on the internet is that ‘gear hype’. And if you talk rationally about taking better pictures and to train your eye and that cameramakers and lenses are only tools, you are one lonely soul out there.

    As a pro-photographer myself, I am working with the best Nikon lenses and Equipment for my work and with a small GX1 for travel (which I also get laughed at, that is until people see the picture I show them). I appreciate your point of view very much and keep it up.

    • Thank you! I find the photographers agree with me; the gearheads do not. Until then…I think I’m going to save my keyboard and stop trying to convince them otherwise :)

  18. Now if we could get this camera with a full frame Foveon sensor they’d kill off the rest of the market. I’ve looked at the three full size samples on the Sony Japan website and I have to say I am not as impressed as I thought I’d be for a 36 megapixel camera. But then I have higher than usual expectations since I own a Phase One IQ140 digital back and Schneider Digitar lenses on a Cambo WRS.

    The appeal of this camera for me is that it’s a super small hi rez camera. I could take it places that would be extremely difficult to transport my Cambo set up to.

    • There’s still a gap in sensor capability – at base ISO anyway – between the MFDBs and the D800E-class. I’ve been shooting my CFV-39 more and more simply because I can see the difference

      And let’s not even talk lenses. Whilst I’m sure some of the Zeiss designs are up to the task, a Sony G zoom…no.

  19. Timur Born says:

    Asking Roger Cicala over at Lensrental about whether he tested original manufacturer adapters yet he answered:

    “I didn’t test original equipment adapters. But since we already know that camera to lens mount is a source of variation for every manufacturer, I’d be surprised if they can make an adapter without it. Better than third party? Perhaps somewhat.

    Remember, though, the point of this article is mostly for people doing tests/reviews on adapters. The numbers, if they run numbers, will probably be affected. Will it actually affect pictures? Probably not, especially if you’re not shooting at f/1.4 like these tests were done at.”

    And talking about your A7(r) article:

    “I saw Ming’s article and I agree with him. I’ve already heard dozens of people who can’t wait to adapt their Leica glass to A7Rs. Will it be better than Sony’s first lenses? Almost certainly. Will they be as good as they are on a native mount Leica camera? Almost certainly not.

    I’m glad I agree with Ming (because I wouldn’t dare argue with him) – adapters are useful tools, but there’s a bit of trade off.”

    • Haha – didn’t realize Roger was a reader. It’s quite flattering!

      Does it make a difference – at 1.4, yes. I can see it on my 50 ‘lux ASPH and OM-D. I would imagine it’d be even worse on the A7R. But, again, it might just be my adaptors.

      Even if the manufacturer original is better than third party, and as good as their own mounts, it’s still going to double the amount of potential variance…

  20. Wonderful post and review. I am a Canon DSLR user, with quite an investment in my gear…and I have been waiting for the moment when, as you say, the gauntlet is thrown. This ‘trend’ may well become the norm quickly…the size and quality (read value) of mirrorless cameras will eventually outway the negatives (I cannot say this has not already happened as I have yet to shoot with an A7). However, if I was old or had trouble carrying all my gear ~ the size and compact nature of these mirrorless would have me picking one of them instead of making an investment into a larger DSLR.

  21. 1. What a great dialog. I love it.
    2. Ming, as you know, I really admire the great work you do.
    3. This is truly the most negative review that I have ever read from Ming. It isn’t the positive things you have wriiten, but rather it is the underlying dislike for something Sony that just oozes from so many of the sentances in the first half. No kidding man!
    4. This is a four thousand dollar camera. Huh? Yes, a 7r plus two or three lens plus all of the stuff Sony gets us to buy.:-)
    5. Most impotantly…who s this camera for? At $4k, not students, not housewives, not small families, not even big families, not professionals, and clearly not Ming. But Sony is not a fool, so who are their targets??? Me.
    6. Who has $4 bills, those guys and gals buying up Nikon D800E’s and Mark III’s. Somebody with cash to throw away and I guarantee you someone who has a D700 or some such cousin at home that is never with him, but someone who dislikes the blurryness of a sensor smaller than one inch.
    7. And someone who wants to shoot 1080p video, no not a pro, but a knowledgable amateur…with cash to burn.
    8. Time will tell, but I say this camera will be a big hit!
    9. Does the average Joe need the closeup accuracy that Ming is so great at? No way.
    10. And I saved this for last. I love Sony color. There, I said it. Outed. But it is the truth. I think Ming is missing the boat for what the average skilled amateur likes…not what Ming demands for himself. For you see, we will never ever be as good as Ming. Nor will we spend time adjusting the Photoshop settings as Ming does. We just want lots of clarity (yes, I know about the weight needed for stability) do not want any colorization time in front of a PC and we live the Sony color. Some call it Disneyesque, and I am sure Ming hates its too too reds, etc. Or that Sony blue that does not exist in nature but we love it in our pics…or rather my pics.
    SUMMARY
    So, Ming, I think you could do a superb review if you ask how good is it for OC Mike and his “types?” I seriously think this will cause a 10% reduction to Canon and Nikon DSLR sales. I think Nikon may never ever recover from this change is percent of market share. And I think Ming will continue to write great articles :-):-):-)

    • But that’s the problem: it isn’t for me. And because it isn’t, I won’t bother to waste my time on trying to convince somebody else it’s for them, either. Contrary to what people think, I don’t get paid to promote one brand or another. I work with brands who a) make products I use personally; b) aren’t full of difficult individuals. Unfortunately, Sony is both.

      This was not a positive article, but it wasn’t an entirely negative one, either. I generally don’t waste time writing negative stuff, either. People don’t like to read it, and frankly, I don’t like to deal with the hate mail that comes out afterwards.

      We have choice because different people want different things, and that’s a good thing, because it keeps all of the other manufacturers on their toes. I’ve always said this: use what works for you. That’s the best camera/system/tool, not what I, or any other reviewer might think. We all have different requirements.

      • But Ming, we truly enjoy reading your insightful writings.
        And we WANT to continue reading articles of products that Sony or Canon or Nikon would give you to review. This is about making money from the quantity of your readers.
        The web needs people like you to review stuff for people like us…too!
        For example, The Camera Store got a chance to go up in the mountains to shoot the A7r with an A7 used to videotape it. They’re sometimes brutal. He said the sound of the shutter was atrocious but he said what’s good too. The camera isn’t that bad that nobody should buy it.
        I am just saying to think about the business your blog can get you…look at how http://www.photographylife.com has blossomed. This could be you with a big staff. Don’t shoot me Ming.
        You ‘re the best!!!

        • If anything, reviews are a waste of my time: they take a lot of time to do properly – four to five days that means I can’t do other paying work – and that doesn’t include the time wasted reading and replying hate mail and irrational fanboys.

          I’m not sure what business you’re seeing here. Referral sales are dying; there are too many people out there doing it now. I know what kind of numbers that particular site makes – they wanted to buy me out – and they’re not at all attractive compared to commercial photography. Frankly, the only people making money from the reviews are the camera companies. It appears that we don’t even get referral commissions from pre orders, and even when we do get them, the commissions are frankly negligible – in the hundreds of dollars, if I’m lucky. You cannot make a living off it, even if you live in a third world country!

          I don’t want a big staff. That’s an increase in fixed costs, risk, and frankly, the quality of people here is dire. I’ve been looking for an assistant for months – at 4x market rate – and I haven’t had a single one who would actually allow me to generate their value (or worse, destroy value because I’d have to redo their work).

          I have come to one conclusion though: yes, reviews attract traffic, but frequently the wrong kind of traffic. My usual readers – the ones who contribute positively to discussions – usually stay very quiet. Instead, the trolls come out from under the bridge; or perhaps they’re pigeons; they make a mess, add nothing, and leave. The people who treat equipment like a religion are not the kind who care about educating themselves on how to use it.

          • Very well stated (I should have expected anything less, ha, ha) . I am so tired of never having my big Nikon with me and am even more tired when I carry more than one lens. I think that there are a substantial number of photographers like me with disposable income to begin the Pavlov’s dog salivation process with the thought of FF at an order of magnitude less weight. It’s not shirt picket size and weight but the temptation is more than a passing thought. Your sigh at yet another lens system from the makers of a solid history of mediocre lens is funny and I laughed but another expensive len system is not exactly heartwarming. :-) And here’s a question for you. I could never get your color style in my pics if my life depended on it. Kind of more contrasty. Canon seems bland, albeit more true to nature. Nikon is color neutral to my eyes. And Sony pumps up the Disneyesque reds and blues that all of my non technical friends relish when I help them to buy a Sony point and shoot. Why do us amateurs like Sony color?

            • Who knows. I’m going for precision/ accuracy of color, then control to control perceptual/ psychological impact; it’s easier to do with some cameras than others. The newer Sonys have been pretty good at this (RX100, for instance); the first-generation NEX cameras were a bit of a disaster. There was always this odd cyanotic cast I could never remove without affecting blues and greens.

  22. If anyone wants to download some Raw A7r files and a free converter you can from below. Anyone who has ordered the kit lens on a A7 may want to cancel the lens. To say it is poor on the edges is putting it mildly. The lens is not worth anything like the asking price:

    http://www.sonyalpharumors.com/exclusive-first-sony-a7r-raw-files-for-download/

  23. Ming, Any thoughts on why the lenses are not as compact as say the m mount lenses?

    • Yes. AF motors, short back flange distance requiring extra elements to impart telecentricity to the exit pupil, and the fact that some are zooms…also, they probably focus closer. M mount lenses are limited to 0.7 or 1m, and are not telecentric. Most are symmetric designs, in fact. Great for film, not so great for digital.

  24. Ming, Your writing is always rich, thoughtful and intelligent – a gourmet meal – while some other well known sites (which will remain nameless…) are the worst kind of junk food. IMHO you are particularly good at getting the gear/talent balance right – both are needed but at the end of the day, talent is what matters. Please don’t compromise your style one bit! Your A7 comments were bang on the money. This is a POTENTIALLY very interesting development but doesn’t come even close to deserving the title of a new ‘system’ given the lack of lenses so far. All the internet blather about using adapters to mount other brand lenses can’t disguise the fact that anybody rushing to pre-order a body now will have to wait an awfully long time to be able to buy even a basic set of FE lenses (which is what they’ll need to get the best out of the A7).

    Also, I wonder if those shouting that the A7, and any other future full frame ILCs, will kill the DSLR are missing the point. If the DSLR dies it will be because smaller and lighter alternatives are replacing it, but the laws of physics say that FF lenses will always have to be relatively large. By holding up Full Frame as the Holy Grail, Sony are actually still being slaves to the DSLR (and film) legacy whereas the M43 manufacturers are the ones embracing the new paradigm. It’s entirely possible that we will look back in a few years and see mirrorless full frame as an interim technology, something that was needed to finally drag people away from their DSLRs, while high quality smaller sensor formats, allowing the use of smaller lenses, was where the future really lay.

    • Sigh…I try.

      I think the days of the DSLR are numbered for the vast majority of users, but the lack of special purpose lenses means that for professional work, we don’t really have many choices.

      • this is just coming off as being hypercritical, I know for a fact that great work has been done for major magazines on the NEX series cameras, I’ve seen Jimmy Chinn using the OMD countless times( though of course for him, DSLRs are the main tool). I really like your blog, at least the photography part.But, your tone can come off as a bit arrogant. I am lucky enough to live in a place that alot of very well regarded nature/outdoor sports/wildlife photographers call home.The ones i have meet have been very helpful, and many are just as gear geeky about cameras as the rest of us are about skis…Ive never had anyone tell me i shouldn’t bother and im just going to “goof around” and take “medicore” pictures, or ” we’ll have even bigger files of cats and brick walls.” tell you what why don’t you go back to shooting pictures of parked cars on the street below your apartment, or maybe your tape deck.Let me know which camera pulls more detail from the neighbors window shades buddy.

      • I would second that. I think during the next few weeks the penny will drop for a lot of people that the lenses are just not there for these Sony’s. It is the Nex launch all over again. Too few lenses and quite often the wrong ones. The system is screaming for a AF portrait lens. It should have been there from day one. Some people will cry ‘give them time’ but where has that got Nex owners… nowhere, still no portrait lens. Same problem with the A series, missing lenses. The whole idea with buying Olympus shares was said to get access to Olympus designing more lenses for Sony. Not one single lenses yet. As for A7’s check out the lens map until the end of 2015. Very sketchy. Hardly anything concrete model wise for next year. Plus lens launches are already being delayed just like it happened with Nex and A series. I just find it amazing that Sony are making the same mistakes again. What it shows is Sony is an electronics company and not a camera company. They just don’t seem to have the experience still to think what lenses a photographer will need and to get them out. They are still far to interested in producing camera bodies each year with small changes but not adding many lenses. But then the profit is in the cameras and not so much the lenses.

        • Actually, I think the profit is in the lenses – at least for DSLRs. Certainly at the retailer level, the margins on bodies are near-zero; they make all their money from glass and accessories. Can’t imagine why it’d be different for the manufacturers.

          • But lenses cost a lot to design and tool up for. Don’t think Sony make their own glass either so that adds to it.

            Oh another difference between the A7 and A7r… the A7 has a electronic front curtain which is great but the A7r does not even though it is the higher resolution camera. A7 flash sync 1/250. A7r flash sync 1/125. Would have been really useful on the A7r as well. It just feels Sony have got so carried away at hitting price points they have missed off features which would benefit photographers that should have been on both models. Another example of thinking like an electronics company.

            Ming did you pick up on the fact the E-M1 has a shutter lag reduction setting buried in the menus? It also reduces the shutter noise and risk of shutter shock. If you did do you have any idea of what it is doing inside the camera when it is switched on?

            • I was just playing with that earlier. It appears to make the release point of the shutter button ‘higher’ – feels like it requires less travel to activate. It’s too sensitive for me; I’m used to a slightly deeper bite point.

              • So I wonder what it is doing to do that?…

                Have to say after testing it out yesterday you really cannot fault the handling. Have to go back tomorrow though as ran out of time with trying to find the focus peaking/magnifier buttons for legacy lenses once the feature was switched on. Could we find it!! Now read the large instruction book so ready for round three. I am a bit hit and miss with the I.S at the moment with a 14-54mm mk1. I think it must be me but not sure. Will try with it on and off and see what the difference is. It was set to I.S. 1 but should I have used auto? Love the flick switch on the back that changes the use of the dials. Find that so useful as I change ISO sometimes a lot inside on certain work and makes W.B so much quicker. Little bit smaller and lighter than an OM-3 but forgot that after a while. I hated EVFs when they came out but now the benefits are just to large to ignore and make DSLRs feel a bit dated.

                • It works much better with native lenses like the new 12-40. And the new EVFs are much better than even the E-M5 generation; in terms of size/ magnification, the E-M1’s finder is slightly larger than my D800E!

                  • Sorry did you mean the I.S works better with the 12-40 than say a 14-54? I am correct in thinking it does detect what I.S to use with the focal length on the zoom with older 43 lenses aren’t I? It is the wide to mid range where it is not so good at the moment.

    • “Limitations of physics” gets bandied about without care from people who do not understand the physics. FF cameras can be small. Today, Leica proves it, Sony proves it. In the past, we’ve had plenty of small, popular, inexpensive, FF film cameras as well, like the olympus stylus epic. Sensor technology continues to improve, and once it’s as good as film at handling light at narrow angles, we may see more full-frame cameras of that pocketable size.

      Full-frame F-mount/EF-mount DSLRs can also be somewhat smaller; simply take a look at previous film F-mount/EF-mount SLRs. However, the market does not demand those to be smaller.

      When you see “limitations of physics” think of what your eyes+brain can do; think of what a hawk’s eyes+brain can do.

      • Well, no matter how advanced technology gets, a 50/1.4 lens for a 24×36 sensor will still need to have a 50mm real focal length and a 35.7mm effective aperture. That much doesn’t change. Diffraction limits cannot change.

        What *can* change – your example of us vs a hawk, for instance – is the processing on the back end. Lenses in eyes are relatively crude, and the resolution of our retinas is pretty low, but due to some processing magic on the back end, even the current generation of cameras can’t match it…

  25. Trond Pedersen says:

    First thing that I was thinking too ……… they have looked at Olympus OM-DE-M5 when they made this one !

  26. Exciting, but quite premature. I tried out the larger zoom lens that Olympus makes for its full size camera on my OM5 thinking that it would be a reasonable cost for pro quality zoom to use on the OM1 that I ordered (appropriate focusing). When it arrived, I was shocked at the size and weight of the lens. Totally swamped the OM5 and hence the OM1 as well. I sent back immediately and am now quite happy with the Panasonic m4/3 100-300 (200-600 35mm equivalent) zoom lens which hardly weighs anything at all, but undoubtedly would not produce quite as sharp an image. Lens size does matter. I finally sold all my FF Nikon lenses that weren’t being used at all even though I had adapters for the m4/3 camera with in-camera stabilization. So, we’ll now wait and see how the new Sony FF shakes down in practice and in comparison. Like many of us, I’d simply like to slap a high resolution EVF on my Leica M9, but that’s a bit absurd as we well know. Or would that simply be the new Leica M?

    • Joel Venable says:

      I met someone out and about the other day who had a Oly 35-100 f2 mounted to an E-P5. That was comical, though I’m sure the image quality is superb. The lens weighs 1600g on a 545g body. I bought a slightly smaller 50-200 (non-SWD) 2.8-3.5 as an interim solution until the m43 pro tele comes out. Total cost is $420

      As numerous folks (including Ming) have mentioned in the comments, Sony’s lens selection has always been more consumer-zoom oriented, so I’m not getting my hopes very high. The better zoom announced is only an f4…

  27. Ming, I think the point that some of the readers are making derive from the fact that on one hand you compliment the ingenuity but in the same breath, almost condescendingly dismiss it. From the reading I think it needs to be said that a camera like this is a great tool for some and not for others. Personally, I love the idea, I love the concept and can’t wait to put some other glass on it. The imperfection, or perfection, or lack of glass being able to resolve detail in some instances is part of the fun of photography in my opinion. If everything was about planes, linearity, technicality, perfection then we would all be sterile. It appears that you are a very technical, analytical person given your background, education and type of work you do but for many of us, we just care about taking a picture that we feel good about and if there is some vignetting in the corners, or I can’t read small text on a 200 crop isn’t important to the masses.

    I feel at times, your intelligence and writing leads you to come across as ‘hating’ something even, if in fact you truly don’t hate it. In this article that you wrote, you have that tone of hating it, even if in fact you are excited to see it. That excitement seems to be concurrent with it evolving other cameras and not necessarily this one as you are making a technical assessment (i.e. tripods, weight, lens size, adapters, etc) on a product that may not be for the technically driven person. Slap a Leica lens with an adapter on this thing and you may have some truly amazing results and you may not, but only time will tell! I will say this much, it will eventually find its way into my bag and I can’t wait to snap a few portraits with it when that happens.

    Cheers and keep writing….

    • The funny thing is most of my regular readers don’t see the post as hate or out of character. It’s just the equipment fanboys.

      “for many of us, we just care about taking a picture that we feel good about and if there is some vignetting in the corners, or I can’t read small text on a 200 crop isn’t important to the masses.”

      Ah, but why do you need to spend thousands on this camera in order to do that? Wouldn’t more knowledge/ skill make it easier to take a ‘picture you feel good about’, rather than getting home and being disappointed to find things aren’t quite as sharp as you expected?

      ‘Slap a Leica lens with an adapter on this thing and you may have some truly amazing results’

      And that’s the other problem. There are a lot of assumptions being made by most of the readers that are incorrect, or at best, flawed. Having tried this route on other cameras, I can say that you’re not going to get the miracles you expect. IF Sony properly implemented an offset microlens array for the corners, then we might get good results. If not, we’ll get a disaster. I never concluded either way without trying the actual camera.

      The photographer always makes far more difference than the gear. What I AM hating is the sheer number of people who think a new piece of gear is the messiah and will make amazing images just because of a spec sheet. Reality: we’ll have even bigger files of cats and brick walls. Buying new equipment will not change the way you shoot, especially if you care more about gear than photography.

      • I definitely read your articles regularly and there are times when I agree with your opinion and don’t agree.

        To your point: “Ah, but why do you need to spend thousands on this camera in order to do that? Wouldn’t more knowledge/ skill make it easier to take a ‘picture you feel good about’, rather than getting home and being disappointed to find things aren’t quite as sharp as you expected?”

        Sharpness in my opinion doesn’t define a photo and sometimes the most untechnical elements can create a beautiful images. Sure if you’re taking pictures of products, buildings and other commercial type shoots you will gravitate towards something that you insure that you don’t miss a shot when you need it.

        For me personally I love picking up a new tool and learning the limitations or lack of limitations and how to draw out an image from any camera. It’s the reason why guys like Zack Arias praise the X100s but for you, it’s not even on your radar because a fixed 35mm camera that doesn’t focus with the same zip as the OMD e-m1 isn’t useful for you when it comes to compact cameras.

        It’s a matter of professional preference for you versus the hobbyist nature of a skilled amateur who loves the innovation of gear as much as they love changing up their kit when something new comes out. If you’re frugal enough, camera gear comes and goes and stays relatively stable from a price perspective so you never really lose as long as you don’t over pay for retail. Someone like myself will find something used, use it, then discard it and move on to something else. I’ve shot with several cameras over the years and find myself missing my 5D, 5D II, L glass combinations, that is until I realize I can take a small bag with six lenses an XE-1 and X100s and go on vacation but still get awesome images.

        Yes we don’t know the results of adapting Leica and other lenses onto this camera quite yet, but I was just bringing up the fact that your piece comes across as you dismissing the beauty of what THIS camera can be versus your yearning for the change that it can have on the marketplace going forward. You write great stuff and I enjoy reading it, but I think you’re semi-dismissing it a bit too quickly.

        The one thing I will say is that Sony seems to not commit to an idealogy. I owned the NEX 7 for a while and loved the idea but didn’t love the form factor or the output with the lenses I had for it (via adapter). Shot with an A850 a few years back and loved the sensor but didn’t like the ISO performance versus the 5d II. At this point in my life my camera has been one of portability, flexibility and convenience. I don’t want to carry flashes, Pocket Wizards, Tripods, etc.. If the A7 doesn’t have in body stabilization, then I know I will have to take more craft to stabilize the camera myself, etc, etc…

        I will likely sell my XE-1 and native fuji lenses to buy the A7 (when I can find someone who is selling one slightly under retail), it excites me to check out a new toy. If I don’t like it with my Leica 90mm F4, Nokton 50mm 1.5 then I will ditch it and move on to something else without in theory, spending 1000’s of dollars but rather swapping one for one, in a roundabout sort of way…..that’s the fun of it for me along with taking photos, because there is so much gear coming out!

        Keep writing strong opinions Ming and people like me will keep reading whether we agree with your perspective or not. Cheers again!

        • Well written Jesse. Good post.

        • For me personally I love picking up a new tool and learning the limitations or lack of limitations and how to draw out an image from any camera. It’s the reason why guys like Zack Arias praise the X100s but for you, it’s not even on your radar because a fixed 35mm camera that doesn’t focus with the same zip as the OMD e-m1 isn’t useful for you when it comes to compact cameras.

          Actually, it’s the fixed 35mm bit that kills it for me, not slow focus. That FOV doesn’t work for me. Yes, the camera can take a 28mm adaptor, but it becomes huge – hence the GR works better. As for focus – I use manual focus a lot of the time…that’s never going to be faster than even the worst AF!

          “I was just bringing up the fact that your piece comes across as you dismissing the beauty of what THIS camera can be versus your yearning for the change that it can have on the marketplace going forward. You write great stuff and I enjoy reading it, but I think you’re semi-dismissing it a bit too quickly.
          The one thing I will say is that Sony seems to not commit to an idealogy.”

          This is the BIGGEST problem. I’ve openly said this is what the market needs to kick then other players into innovating and moving on; but Sony lacks commitment and sticking power to see its own good ideas through…

          “Keep writing strong opinions Ming and people like me will keep reading whether we agree with your perspective or not. Cheers again!”

          My opinions are from the viewpoint of somebody who has an end goal. If the end goal is just to enjoy the process of playing with cameras…then I agree, your mileage may vary significantly. That said, I’d rather have choice than none!

    • Jesse, good post, but I really feel for Ming on this thread—he’s dammed if he does and dammed if he doesn’t. But let’s have one thing straight and clear and underlined for all to see: there is no way Ming is hating on anything. And if you are reading him like that. Stop, count to ten, look in the mirror and think again. It’s just not there and I think people have over-reacted and rather than just climbdown and say “Sorry Ming, my bad, I over reacted” they’re look for little molehills to turn into massive mountains just so they can save face or have their way, or both.
      Ming gives his opinion: check. He considers facts as we have them at the moment: check. He compares with previous, relevant experience: check. He wonders: check. He waits and sees: check. And just to repeat it, he gives his opinion [tempered, but honest]: check.
      On the other side of the ledger –> he jumps to conclusions: no check. He makes a call: no check. He recommends people to buy or not to buy on his word: no check. He goes past criticism into outright attack: no check. He writes off the system before he’s even used it: ABSOLUTELY NO CHECK!

      So Jesse, I asked above, and it seems like you’re a candidate for answering: why not slap an m-mount lens on a native, not even an adaptor needed, a native m-mount digital camera. The Ricoh, GXR for instance? What will the A7 and A7R offer you that you haven’t got already, or got in an even more suited package already?

      Ming makes the point, and I think it would be fair for you to have a punt at it: if it’s about the images and not tech specs and perfection doesn’t matter, why do you need this camera?

      Either they do matter, and you’ll find all you can do is make the same points MT does. Or they don’t and we’re back to wondering what this camera is for [for you].

      [It's totally OK to just want this camera qua this camera. I'm like that. But it's a different point and not what everyone seems to be saying their reasons are. I could never afford one though! :) ]

      Cheers Jesse

      • I think Ming’s grown enough to speak for himself and without inane musing on things like Cricket.

        • Tom Liles says:

          Yes, he wrote his thoughts at the top of the page. Didn’t he, Leo. Below the line is generally for us. Are you new to the internet?

          I’m inane –> aha, I see you are new to the internet.

          Welcome!

      • Tom, I totally get Ming’s perspective and I get the points you are making which are valid. On the short end for me, the GXR wouldn’t suffice because of its low light capability. When I’m out with friends I like to have one camera that will do it all. For example going to a pub where you have virtually no light, ISO 6400 with the 35 1.4 fuji and xe1 can be the one thing I can take everywhere and get a shit in almost any condition. I’ve been trying to love the x100s but I wish the lens was a bit brighter. The GXR would be a great toy but it would require me to extend pass the value of my constantly rotating kit and therefore be an expense versus an expire mentioned.

        I think what the a7 would offer me is better ISO performance and ff dof when I want to be creative in an omd Form factor. A combination of FF, portability, iq and presumable awesome Iso performance. A GXR would be great for fair light but just doesn’t fit my preference. If the a7 doesn’t suffice maybe I will check out the omd em1 and 17.5mm. 95 because of the awesome body stabilization.

        The other other aspect of this, is that there is a certain level of nerdism that goes along with checking out new gear and truly getting an education in using the gear.

        Happy shooting!

        • Understood Jesse. I think I’m almost exactly the same as you are when it comes to cameras. I nodded at every line. I buy and try as many as I can—I’m under no professional obligation to do anything. I just have fun and spend money I worked for! :)

          As I’ve shot more cameras and practiced and gleaned a little more experience, I’ve come around to what Andre spoke about, and the positive view enclosed, on the small sensor cameras. The first thing to do is stop thinking of them as “small sensor cameras” and just treat them as cameras. What Ming has been saying all along, and all the time and before now. Ultimately, all I want is pictures. One great benefit they offer us is the chance for much lower ISOs wrt to what we’d be shooting at on full-frame for a similar depth in rendering. I’m sure another of our posters mentioned it earlier so let me crib him: whereas with FF I might be at ISO 3200 with f/8 on a 150mm portrait indoors, scrabbling for all the DOF I can get before camera shake and noise wrecks the picture, I could comfortably get the same with an m4/3, say, using a 75mm at f/4 and ISO 400 or something [depending on how confident I could be with shutter speeds]. This way of looking at the smaller sensors really shows how bona-fide useful they are. There is a concrete gain there. This is before seeing how sharp they are into the corners because the lenses and mounts are designed for purpose. But that DOF and ISO gain for that situation used to pitched a trade off for noise and camera shake and yada yada—look at the test results now, this rug has been well and truly yanked from under the naysayers feet. I can’t see that colors, or noise, etc., are any inferior at any reasonable print size or other reasonable output medium—most definitely computer monitors!
          If we really really want bokeh for a given magnification, sure the bigger sensors do it for us [and why stop at FF]; but honestly I’m not sold on this argument. I’ll leave the physics of optics and all the vorsprung durch technik out, and just stick to simple anecdote… I have an old 4/3 body with “d original” the original Leica D Summilux 25mm. That can render respectably sharply, definitely useably sharply, across the frame wide open. Shots at 25 1.4 show prettay prettay satisfying bokeh. Not just to me, but on anyone’s standard. It’d be good to do a Pepsi on challenge on this, somewhere somehow. I doubt, without knowing which shot came from which format, many people could tell—real world photos, this is. As it happens I’m not a bokeh guy, but am savvy to the fact that many photographers are and it’s not invalid that they are. For a section of them, though, I do wonder if it’s not more the thought that full-frame is better than the reality that sways them. It’s fair enough. I’m not much better. But as I say, the stuff about the physics side and diffraction limited apertures [but diffraction is really about pixel pitch and aperture] is there… But if the talk was about bokeh in the first place why is diffraction [a sharpness concern] even mentioned! It’s just shifting the goal posts. We all know why people do that mid conversation.
          The fact is, when sharpness is the topic, the designed for purpose “digital mount” [instead of "small sensor"] lenses kill into the corners and only get better toward the centre. But bokeh, diffraction and DOF control? Is it as big a deal for people like you and me? As I said diffraction only gets leveled at the smaller sensors by mistake—they have smaller pixel pitches to feed our resolution lust, a smaller pitch with a certain aperture will show diffraction earlier on in the pupil constriction series than a bigger pitch would; not really the sensor size’s fault so much as the resolution’s. The D800 has the same problem with twice the diagonal sensor size. I can only see bokeh/diffraction/DOF control truly being a thing for people like Ming, and people like Ming won’t even get into the conversation in the first place: they just evaluate their needs against what a certain piece of equipment can do, can’t do, and choose. Next job. So I’d like to think that the “anything smaller can’t do bokeh!” argument is more hot-air than in-practice substance to mortals like us; the “DOF control!” arguments are a little greyer than people perhaps expect, but OK fair enough, though I do remain skeptical that “DOF control” isn’t just the bokeh argument in a different guise. The other side of DOF control though: when we want depth, when we need it, like the portrait example, well the smaller sensors have won hands down. Given us a tangible gain. For a similar rendering I’ll take ISO 400 and a faster shutter over 3200 and a slower one anyday!
          As Andre points out, the silicon just keeps on improving. Digital mount camera color palettes and tonality and noise and all that stuff is only going is one direction: better. And fast. The lenses are already great. All that’s stopping most of us jumping on this is our own permission to be satisfied by “smaller.” Price often gets mentioned… that one confuses me too. It reminds me of great big whacking chocolate cakes in the supermarket sold for a couple of pounds, and tiny little fiddly chocolate creations sold in exclusive chocolatier boutiques for tens of quid a pop. OK, DSLRs are more refined that an Aldi chocolate cake… but you know what I mean, it’s not unusual for smaller things to be worth more and have higher quality—so why are we stuck up on an E-M1 costing more or almost as much as a FF body [that's not even weather sealed or a flagship, and probably is just a derivative also-ran made to mop up unsure consumers and spare parts]? Because we just go on sensor size => bigger sensor camera = worth more.

          All this said, I am totally amped about these two cameras. A step removed from everyone else perhaps—they are just interesting tech and an exciting new category to me, not the saviors of my photographic needs and sell-the-children-I-must-have-one level product.

          And I’m a big fat DSLR owner, and lover! I have a D3 and that is the camera for me :)
          Happy shooting indeed: I’m off to use the last 20 mins of my lunch break to do just that!

  28. I don’t think we’ve had this much fun since the Leica Vario X announcement. The announcement, not the review; remember that one guys? It was literally a throw away oh, yeah, this is coming up, might be interesting MT post and the comments went off! We got to 300+ in a very short space of time, if I recall correctly. We’re at 200 here and now in one day!
    Noticing how much speculation and desire for details there is here about compatibility with m-mount lenses, it really brings home to me, just as it did before, a sense of the Leica magic and our preoccupation with them. I don’t mean that disingenuously; you couldn’t say there isn’t something to it [the effect on us; not the lenses' rendering] with this level enthusiasm on show. I’m not sure there’s much like it in the marketplace or out of it. And I’ve met Harley Davidson die hards and died in the wool football fans and hardcore religious dogmatics—the power Leica has over the soul of photography seems similar, like that Napoleon had over France, Hitler over Germany or Churchill over Britain. The way the Catalans put it about their team, Barcelona: Mes Que Un Club… Leica could be Mes Que Un Camera; or whatever the appropriate German would be.

    Really is astounding—Viktor’s exchange with MT on lenses was great. I read it three times, and did a ton of extra-curricular reading on the back of that. But why all the clamor for m-mount lenses on digital in the first place? There is the M8 through M240, the GXR and A12 (or was that the Hassle back?), the Epson R-D1, all natively support m-mount on digital… and all the Voigtlanders and Konica Hexars and Leica M3s thru MP, etc., for film…

    What is the outcome we expect — we’re looking for — when this glass goes on this body? And why not what’s already available (and native)?
    We either don’t expect, in which case, OK (but suspicious)…
    Or we’re expecting something that hasn’t happened or been possible before—what is that, I wonder?

    In my case, I’m more interested to see what a designed for purpose lens would do on this body and in the hands of someone like MT. Would we see optics begin to act like ideal physical models predict they should (sharpest aperture is wide open, etc)? If so, this really would be a quantum leap for photography.

    I wouldn’t write off a priori what wonderful tech. SLRs might come up with to compete.
    [If they choose to compete]
    I’m just as exited about the prospect of Canon and Nikon doing ideological battle with Sony over this, as I am to see them copycat and try and best Sony at its own game (though Sony can’t stake out this as it’s own game until they’ve taken that ground in the consumer’s mind).

    We’ve all said it, me included on another thread, but exciting times!
    Ooh for a lottery win sometime soon :)
    [If I played. I might consider it now :o ]

    • So Tom, I’m going to play the contrarian here. Someone in this article’s comment section asked why Ming was raining on Sony’s parade when Sony had essentially revolutionized the photography market once again!! OMG!1! OK, he wasn’t quite that effusive, but that was the gist of it. My view is that Sony hasn’t done anything especially interesting for the photography industry as a whole with the A7s. Yes, the technology in the A7 is very interesting, but its effects on the industry will be minor at best.

      Why is that? The physics still dictate that to use all of that resolution, you need big lenses and a good support system. They’ve taken the part that is still on the fast part of its growth curve —the silicon sensor, display, and computing electronics — and used that to make a tiny body. But that’s the easy part since it’s still on an exponential growth curve (ie. Moore’s Law), whereas classical optics is pretty much settled and not going to change. So 5 years from now, you will still need big lenses and a $1000 carbon fiber tripod for your faFFing sensor.

      Compare that to something like micro 4/3 or some of the smaller sensors like the RX100’s. Those guys are trying to make the stuff that is already settled (optics) as small and convenient as possible by relying on the fact that the silicon stuff is going to improve dramatically for the forseeable future. Sure a smaller sensor today (or at the dawn of u43) is noisier, has less low-light capability, etc. but, as we saw with the E-M5, the silicon guys will more than catch-up over time. 5 years from now, I get to keep my tiny lenses, but maybe I get to buy an E-M10 with more sensitivity and lower noise that lets me get more keeper photos in wider circumstances. Or maybe I’m wiling to give up a bit of size and get a 10x constant-aperture 2.8 zoom. Oh wait, I can get that in a month from Sony! Either way, there is way more flexibility in design.

      In both cases, your photography is limited by the physical parameters of your system (leaving aside skill and talent for the moment). But FF has already hit its nadir. You can make the bodies perhaps smaller, but that is a becoming an ever smaller percentage of the total system mass and technical parameters. Small sensors still have lots of room at the bottom to go.

      If someone really wanted to shoot for the moon and offer a real alternative to CaNikon, they’d do an MF system that could practically replace current FF options, or do computational optics and really shrink the optical requirements. Probably both. Go big or go home.

      • I want to point out that I said twice that the effort and innovation was to be applauded – but everybody seems to have missed that, in the first and last paragraphs!!

        The ONE big thing they did was reduce the body size. But unless there are lenses to suit – they have to be small primes because zooms are still limited in size by the image circle coverage – then you’re shrinking something that doesn’t have much benefit in being shrunk. Human hands are still physically the same size. A medium-sized body is required to balance FF lenses and host enough external, mechanical photographic controls.

        Frankly: for any of these options, the sack of meat behind the viewfinder is still going to be the limiting factor. But, I suppose I must be missing something enormous, because everybody thinks that these cameras will instantly make better images. Then again, I don’t ‘photograph’ cats or brick walls.

        • Don’t forget that you don’t photograph souls either. They are apparently scared away from the picture when it’s too clean. So I guess that means a FF sensor with its high resolution and clean noise floor can’t capture souls in the first place. Maybe Sony will add a “Soul” scene mode in a future firmware update.
          ;)

      • I might add simply: FF is wonderful but it requires lenses that are physically bigger than they need to be. Carrying one such lens is bad enough. An entire kit literally needs wheels.

        Since switching to m43, I routinely carry *everything* in a simple shoulder bag.

        Moral: The lenses I have with me are many times better than the ones at home in a closet.

      • Tom Liles says:

        Good Morning Andre, Ming, all
        [This, by the way, is my impression of cricket commentators on the radio in Britain, Andre. I always like to do it; such a pleasant way to step in. Imagine me in a cravat and a navy blue blazer with brass buttons on it as I say the words. Ah the cricket and its commentators! It's such a pleasure to listen to---if you're ever in the UK in the summer and there's a test match on, Andre, get a radio on. It's like going back in time to halcyon days that never existed]

        So good morning Andre, Ming, all :)

        Now then. Come on, let’s see what we can get out of this.
        The physics of Optics may be sorted — not really until Feynman and QED, and I’d argue it’s still just a model even then and penultimate at very very best; but certainly, yeah, these concepts go as far back as Newton: so that’s quite a while for us to have gotten a grip on it — the physics of optics are sorted, but! the mechanics of production aren’t.
        Easy proof—my 50mm Auto Index Nikkor f/2 from 1977 isn’t as sharp as the 50mm AF-s 1.8G from 2009 or whenever—-and the 50 1.8G is regarded as soft and cheapo by today’s high standards. But same laws of optics in both.
        I doubt machining can progress as quickly as silicon wafers and signal processing and A/D conversion routines… but I’m assuming that it will actually progress as our excellent modern lenses still don’t perform as models say they should and could.
        This said, I can’t do anything but agree with your point that silicon is going to get way better; and I’d iterate that lenses are perhaps so far ahead and high up the shoulder of the performance curves, to get noticeable gains takes massive amounts if money, and those costs are passed on to the customer. And those gains are only noticeable to a select group of experts. On both points, I present the Zeiss Otus as exhibit A.
        But it can also function as evidence for the defense. The Otus didn’t exist just one year ago—that should give pause when implying that lenses aren’t going to get better. I’m not so confident that the faFFing lenses in five years will be no better than what I have now. The case of the 50 Ai and 50 AF-s, the Otus… Things are on the up in optics too.

        Though that’s unfair—you only said they’d still be big and we’d need tripods (but the tripod is more directly related to the pixel density / pixel per angle view metric, and the same for either and any format, without appeal to sensor stabilization tech—and we note how and why the smaller formats were the first to that). In that sense, this point is checkmate: on the current mount designs and with the laws of physics, the physical size of the lenses, for a given price:performance ratio, couldn’t be other than it is and will not can not change in time—a 50 1.4 is always going to a have a lower limit for physical size, same as 24 2.8, a 75 1.8, etc., etc. Of course.

        Physics works against the silicon too Andre. The physics of light measurement doesn’t change either—and no amount of NR wizardry will change the physical fact of shot noise (Poisson) etc. We can try and stack the odds in our favor, literally as with light the physical model is stochastic in nature, and bump the signal:noise ratio—to do that, guess what, we need bigger sensels, i.e., bigger sensors.
        Ideally speaking, numbers could match size: a small sensor but with gazillions of sensels (resolution) should match, if down-ressed well, a large sensor with many less… But MT’s little garage experiment with that on the sensor size article a while ago was informative—bigger was better.
        Rather than all the headache that introduces, I’d go for starting with less ress and bigger sensels. Maybe that’s an engineer’s point of view—we prefer birds in the hand, don’t we.

        It might only be that bigger is better just now. But for now I have to agree again: if ultimate IQ is the goal—go big or go home.
        [which includes the lenses too!]

        I’m not sure I was saying smaller lenses and sensors give better IQ though. Have I just been Jedi mind tricked?

        We’ll call that 1.5 nil to you I think Andre.

        Here’s where I can get my teeth in: this faFFing Sony mirrorless is big news.
        Point one: it is big news. May I present this thread, the preorders, the general sound and fury. I’ve looked at and revisited the “Look Up” article about ten times more than this thread (I’m checking the blue in the skies) but my behavior is probably not typical. This Sony is red hot massive news. That’s all that’s needed to conclude it is big, not even that it will be.

        Point two, and maybe a bit more what you were looking for… We’ve never seen a full-frame mirrorless camera before. And because we haven’t, who knows where this will go. That’s big. It might go nowhere or be no more interesting than faFFing DSLRs turned out to be (though, were they that uninteresting and game changing when they came out?). And how run of the mill are they now? So I know what you mean, in a way. Depends what we’re looking for—certainly time honored touch points like “oh, the DOF control, oh yes” don’t count as novel here… It is about the sensor-lens interaction. That’s new for FF (scratch the RX1 and M9/240). I mentioned it the last time we had the mirrorless debate — at that time I was on about fixed lens mirrorless — but this format really does change the price:performance expectation. Recall Ming’s comments on the capability of the Coolpix A… on the outside just a compact point and shoot. They even left its name as “Coolpix” instead of some manly military sounding designation like “5D mark2″ or “D3S” etc. But that unassuming little package punches with a heft the other two’s equal if not their better, even if we stuck premo glass, the best that money could buy, on those big bad bodies. Coolpix even threatens, so MT found out for us, the hallowed ground of Leica M9 plus legendary WA glass: and *that* is truly eye-watering money. Same for the GR, the Sigmas… these little things cost orders of magnitude less. Give the same or better optical performance. So we are seeing radical performance:price improvements. Now we have the chance for that interchangeable lenses. Who knows where it will go, but the road up to here suggests it should be good.
        The m4/3 format shows us a great example.
        I have one of the original 4/3 bodies (and still use it, and still rate it), it got panned has eventually been disowned even by the people who made it—but it was a link in the chain, one of the first links, that got us to a camera — and lenses — like the E-M1 and those pro Zuikos, Leica DGs… At the time, I bet you there was a lot of “4/3, oh ‘meh'” going on—I don’t know I’ve only been into cameras for a short while; but look where we are now. Because the fundamentals — a system designed around the digital sensor rather than in spite of it — the fundamentals were good, are good, so the quality shines through. I can’t even say “in the end” because there is a ton of exciting ground to go in m4/3 yet. I’m so enthused by it I am giving very very serious consideration to a jump next year, maybe the year after (I have to wait for my prices).
        I see the story for this faFFing camera and the category it kick starts being more like that story, than what we’ve cone to think of as the tired DSLR one [I would like to say, I'm not tired or unenthusiastic by SLRs or DSLRs at all though! Love them, think they too have a way to go!]

        So there you go. This is news, I think Andre.

        Back to the cricket :)

        • It’s unquestionably the start of something, and that’s to be applauded. But the beginning means immaturity – from both product, and clearly, a lot of fanboys too. If you are willing to accept an immature product now – then Sony has little incentive to actually develop it properly because the fanboys will buy a half-baked effort anyway! That said, it’s equally valid that a lack of commercial results will also spell death – look at the Coolpix A. A shame, because it still holds my benchmark for color on APS-C sensors.

          I’m stepping out of the game and going back to making images. There’s no point arguing with the emotional, the irrational and the pixel peepers.

          • I’m just waiting to pounce on the Coolpix A, they have slid a bit recently and I’m sure like snow off a roof, it will only take a little more erosion for the whole thing to go “schlump!” The A itself is still the same great camera though. If it’d just had a CMD flash mode!

            I can’t have two premium compacts at that length though, so it’d mean getting shut of the Sigma DP1M. Genuinely never thought I’d be saying that. But I couldn’t live with myself, even if my wife would be none the wiser, I’d know I didn’t need one of them. But releasing the DP1M back into the used ocean presents difficulty too as the buy and p/x prices have fallen right through there already, and I doubt I could get a Japanese camera store to pay much more than 300 to 400 US for one. For regular people that’s still a lot of money, but to camera people, we all know, 300 dollars: that’s not a lot [let's just forgo the buying older or retro stuff angle]. You couldn’t have 300 to 400 in your wallet and go buy something snazzy and new. You’d need as much again to threaten doing something like that.

            Yes, MT, I’d recommend just leaving well alone on this one. It’s a shame to say it, but perhaps in future you could do it like the newspapers do and pick and choose which articles are open for comments or not. Or leave them all open for comments and resort to a God’s eye view and just observe. It’s your house and you do as you like MT… while comments are here I intend to exercise the system—memories of spazzing out the wordpress template on more times than one will always remain fond and warm things for me :)

            Not to mention some of amazing asides we’ve managed to do down here: everything from critiques on power to weight ratios of BMW M-series to the prayer habits of the Amish and which flavor of Calpis is the best.

            The fanboy feeding frenzies are a small price to pay ;)

            • Set the flash to manual, and use your SB900s in SU4 mode. Job done. Go have fun with 1/2000s daylight sync.

              There’s always ebay for everything else…

              Calpis Soda, no question. Better if it comes in the ‘Big’ size can. It was a running joke in my last Tokyo workshop; my students saw me drinking it and would keep buying it for me everytime they found a (relatively rare, for Japan) vending machine. It got to the point where I couldn’t physically fit in any more liquids…

          • Hi Ming

            “But the beginning means immaturity – from both product, and clearly, a lot of fanboys too.”

            Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. I think I mentioned in Amsterdam how much I enjoy your reviews and I think this is for two reasons. Firstly you say what you think and provide comments on how the gear works for you and your workflow/style; whether I agree with that or not is irrelevant as it’s always informative. Secondly it always leads to these most entertaining comments sections where one can have a good laugh at some of the posts made by people who just don’t get it.

            On a gear related note I exchanged the X2 for a GR and am enjoying it immensely, you were spot on about the 28mm suiting me better than the 35mm so many thanks.

            If the a7r works with the M lenses (and like you I will wait to see how that works out for others) then it might make a nice RGB companion for the Monochrom.

            Anyway please don’t stop doing the reviews however fed up you get with the hate, I for one love every minute of them.

            • I could just close comments :)

              Glad you’re enjoying the GR. That thing is even better with the latest 2.0 firmware – it fixes basically everything I had issues with in the review. And it’s also a good example of a mature camera…fifth digital iteration and something like the 10th in the family!

              • Noooooh, that would be no fun. I know it must be hard not to take some of the comments personally but just take a step back, read them dispassionately and you might just smile too.

                The new GR firmware was a bonus as I hadn’t had a chance to figure out what I wanted changed when it was released but yes, definitely an improvement. Mature camera for a mature owner, works for me. Mind you by the same token the a7r should be perfect for you :)

                • In theory, yes. In practice – it’s the lack of lenses and Sony’s lack of commitment to any building any system properly that’s going to hold me back. I’m not regretting my E-M1 order at all.

              • btw did you get the screen fixed?

          • bluetwango says:

            All EVF cameras are immature products, in my view. That’s why manufacturers love them over OVFs, which are about as good as they can every get, for a given size. But the next round of cameras will have slightly better EVFs than the one you already own. Buy now, buy later, over and over. You might enjoy that serial-purchasing slow route towards perfection, but I can’t afford it and don’t want to try.

            • I don’t plan to. The EVF is ‘good enough’ for now; everything can always be better. The same appears to apply for OVFs – everybody I know who owns current pro-Nikons and previous single digit F cameras agrees that the film F-series had much better finders…you just need to look through an F6 finder. I don’t think it’s all rosy in DSLR-land either; simply because a) most consumers can’t tell the difference, and b) prefer the WSYIWYG of an EVF.

        • Good morning Tom!

          You may be right about the sensors, but I’ve learned not to underestimate the materials science people. For example, we don’t have to stick to the current sensor architecture. I wonder what Sony could do for a Foveon-like sensor if they decided to apply the same kinds of resources to it as they have to Bayer sensors. I wonder if there is a better way to implement a stacked sensor than what Sigma has done. I wonder if a smaller sensor might enable optical designers to do more ambitious or interesting designs because they don’t need to project as large an image circle onto the sensor. And a smaller sensor has dramatic implications for its backend architecture as well: the readout speed, as well as the additional amount of computational logic one can put in the extra silicon area.

          The Nikon V1 offered a tantalizing glimpse of the new photographic possibilities of a smaller sensor. Being able to shoot 30 FPS full-resolution stills for 1 second is a big qualitative change for many people’s photography, with the same kind of real-world significance as Olympus’s IBIS. And there are people who use V1s to make 4K movies right now!

          Anyway, the point is that it’s a holistic thing: one shouldn’t just consider the sensor in isolation. What possibilities do the sensor open or close for the camera system’s designers? I see the A7 as Sony trying to play the CaNikon game but with many severe disadvantages. How many new photographic horizons does a smaller, lighter 5D or D800 open up? Not many, if any.

          • Tom Liles says:

            Great points, Andre. Writing a couple of replies here today, I have silently made the decision to go and p/x the DP1M for a Coolpix A once the A has slid a little more… I have to balance that with where the DP1M buy back prices are going though; on an optimistic view, they might have gone as low as they will [current DP1M price new: 70,000 JPY, current buy back price 30-40,000 JPY. That's low. This is the Japanese second hand market though, only foreigners and students really buy used modern cameras here]

            Ah, if Sony, or anyone with a bit of money, could have a go at layered sensor architecture, that would be so exciting.

            I confess, here to you and the guys, I’ve fallen out of love with Foveons a little bit recently. The DP2M still has that something for me, and I’ll hold onto it; but the DP1M is just sitting there unused most of the time. It’s the “limpid clarity” [(c) Ming Thein] color rendition: tough to deal with [I can't get it where I want it] and it’s not, I’ve found after quite a few photos now, what I want. This also gives a clue why the A is where my gearlust is pointed at at the moment. Color! I want a top top quality camera that I could also put in my pocket when I go out with the kids at the weekend. For me, the more serious photography, what I actually took this up for, is the kids—but I can’t go out with the D3 and them [so that purchase was total unabated selfish ego-munchies!]… I’d like to give the A a whirl. Hopefully I can Jesse it and do an almost one to one swap. I don’t mind adding a little capital in, but I’ve promised myself no more camera purchases until the computing and scanning environments are done. I intend to stick to it. I’ll draw the line at anything more than 70 USD.

            Couldn’t we just parachute you into the Chief of something at the camera companies, Andre? You’re deadly smart, with it, interested, switched on, adult, business savvy and a photographer. I don’t care what your feelings on the topic are, we’re getting you in there :)
            [and could you extent a line of free samples and advanced prototypes to your pal in Tokyo, Tom Liles, when you're there. Perfecto!]

            • If it’s not doing what you want, sell it. Easy.

              If you really want color, put some Provia into your MF rig.

              • Tom Liles says:

                Done and done! :)

                My mini photowalk has brought me to Shinjuku, and I’m stood outside Yodobashi Kamera now, and will have my daily muck about with an E-M1 (trying to learn its menus 5minutes a time, over time). But on my walk I had a think about it and think I’d better have a comment moratorium for a month or so.
                I obviously rub David the wrong way, Leo couldn’t hold it back any longer, and perhaps they’re right. I’m not lachrymose or anything; though Leo demanding that the gallery be allowed to do a 50-to-1 mauling and it’s not allowed for unlike minded people to speak up or get involved, well that is a little sad.

                I might be a douche sometimes, but I didn’t think I was that far gone.

                A month of solace with my cameras is what’s called for I think. All my friends here know me outside of the site so that’s OK.

                Sony does it again eh! :D

                • The E-M1s still aren’t available here yet, but I’ve managed to beg a loaner from Olympus for this weekend’s workshops…

                  Seriously though, try the Provia 100F. Watch your exposure carefully. Once you get those slides back – assuming exposure was good – and see them on the light table, electronic gadgets aren’t going to cut it anymore.

                  I think the regulars are far more sensible than I: they’re holding back on commenting. Stick to the philosophy and images, I promise we’re going back to regular programming soon. I’ve pretty much had enough of the blind fanaticism too…

            • Interesting choice of the A. I’m curious why the A over the GR? I forget whether I mentioned to you that I had a GR for a week, and really enjoyed it. It’s also very unassuming, and I shocked my mother when I told her how much it cost.

              As for running a company … that might be the worst disaster since the Titanic!

              Ming, don’t let the rabid fanboys get you down. In a perverse way, it’s kind of a sign of the significance of your authority that they do what you do, and that’s just from reading the comments. I can’t even imagine the kind of emails you get. I’ve been deliberately provocative in my A7 comments, and besides you and Tom, there’s not a peep from any of them, so clearly there is some kind of significance to your comments.

              Having said that, I had to chuckle when I saw your X-E2 preview go up last night, thinking to myself, “That guy is a masochist!” And then I saw a couple of the early comments … You may be the only hands-on previewer out there right now, and certainly with the best example photos. I wonder if the fanboys will ever realize what they’re getting for free even as they bash it.

              And I hope you don’t have a Leica article coming up — that’d be like summoning the 4 Horsemen of the Photographic Apocalypse this week, with Leica comprising 2 of the 4.

              • No, that’s it from me on equipment for some time. Unless I decide to talk about using The Beast for street photography.

                The X-E2 article was already written, so I put it up anyway. I think wasting four days wrestling the camera and getting mediocre results was masochistic; I kept wishing I’d brought my OM-D instead. I suppose in a way I’m glad I didn’t, otherwise I wouldn’t have really forced myself to use the X-E2.

    • I feel like I’m being crucified in the comments for pointing out the emperor’s new clothes, despite being overall enthusiastic: it’s a good idea, but it seems a little half-baked. It isn’t mature enough to be a full system contender, and too expensive to be supplementary. This is not to say that it might not get there; Sony just needs to actually bother to develop it fully. That said, I should stop trying to appeal to the gearheads. There is no point, they’re never going to make photographs anyway.

  29. Digitaltech says:

    In my opinion, if the adapter for Leica M lense is good, it will be serious competition for Leica M type 240 , especially with that price point (except for ultra-wide primes)

  30. Just a basic comment: I think that mirrorless FF is the future. I think that all of the camera manufacturers will eventually phase out the twentieth-century technology of the mirror. Sony is just the first to get there.

    MT, you may be right about this not being the right technology at this time. You certainly make cogent points about Sony playing this role. But I suspect that Nikon and Canon are both looking at this very same issue right now, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a mirrorless FF from one of them in the next couple of years.

  31. Australian launch video is interesting from about 13mins onwards. It is not just the PM that are different with the two sensors. A7r will give sharper results on the edges with certain types of lenses. Also check the finish of the base of the camera when the grip goes on. Does not look great to me.

  32. Just read this on a dpr forum. In Australia there was a live launch and this came out. Now I knew the A7 included plastic but not the reason why the A7r instead uses more metal:

    The whole front panel that supports the mount on the A7 is plastic and it is mag alloy on the A7r. This was explained as necessary as it was felt that the A7r would be using big tele lenses more than the A7 and that the mag alloy was more rigid.

  33. I think the whole camera looks great but the lens lineup is a bit meh…..
    First the pricing of the lens is….. f4 lens cost that much it is even more expensive than Canon and Nikon 24-70 f2.8 lens. Besides that the size of the lens itself is not small. If one is aiming for such system, they would definitely want everything to be as compact as possible.

  34. Ming

    With all do respect sir, with regards to the a7r I think you are overplaying the issue of 36mp quite a bit. FOR instance if I take 36mp FF image at 28mm, heaven forbid without a tripod or even IBIS, I am at the exact same time taking a 15mp(or whatever)APS-c image at 42mm(or something like that). Now handshake, so far as i can tell, effects all pixels on a sensors equally so, steady shooting with a 36mp FF at 28mm IS shooting APS-c at 15mp and 42mm ;and in fact, a 16mp m4/3 is threading a smaller needle, so maybe thats why all m4/3 have IBIS.

    Having used a Nikon A (28 not 42 i know), and having managed many clear shoots, I think might be able to figure out a shutter speed that works for me, and take nice pictures. I have less than no interest in comparing studio work from d600s and d800s, to verify my lust for slightly more resolution and DR.

    • The number of pixels per degree FOV is double. I’ve shot the A, and shoot the D800E all the time. Trust me, there’s a difference in the level of stability and shutter speed required for critical sharpness.

      If you’re not going to bother with that and just want more pixels, then you might as well just take a small file and upsize it to however many pixels you like, because there’s no real detail there.

      • Well, maybe Im slow, but upsizeing a small file from a small sensor is NOT remotely the same as a FF sensor with more MP.
        And seeing as how im slow, explain how a 36mp FF sensor at 28mm(a focal length i like) doesn’t in fact have precisely the SAME “pixels per degree FOV” as a 15mp aps-c sensor 42mm. In other words if you mount a 28mm prime on your d800e every time you click the shutter, you in fact take a 36mp 28mm “picture” on a FF size sensor and a 15 or so MP 42mm picture on an aps-c sensor, AT THE SAME TIME.

        Im not getting your double “pixels per degree” measurement here.

        Anyway, I am sure there is a difference. I’m not a pro so a d800e is nothing but a gawdy looking vanity to me, the M1 while, it would be great for low light,doesn’t have the Dynamic Range I want( i have goofed around enough with m4/3 files to find this out, in fact not much more DR than my little rx100!).
        anyway here is some real world work with the a7r, some of it with Leica glass.These are nice files. And, seem to be …i would say VERY sharp. More importantly that feeling of depth in those eyes!

        http://briansmith.com/sony-a7r-field-test/

        • No, you’re not, because you’re not comparing like to like.

          You’re asserting that you can crop an APSC chunk out – fine. I’m saying that if you need 1/50s for pixel-perfect results at 42mm on APS-C, you’re going to need 1/50s also for 28mm on your 36MP FF sensor. Not 1/30s. You need 1.5x the shutter speed for the same acuity for a given FOV and pixel pitch. Anything else is throwing away resolution. If you’re going to shoot in suboptimal conditions and not maximize the potential of the sensor, then you might as well take a smaller file and upsize. There is no more real information from the higher pixel count sensor.

          Buy whatever you want, all results will be equally mediocre regardless of the camera if you just ‘goof around’. The reverse also applies, of course.

        • The 100% with the eye is not that impressive. It is not that sharp, I can see movement. The benefit of the extra mp has been lost as it is handheld.

          • Ha Ha , sorry your not impressed.Brain is an internationally recognized photographer with work in the library of congress, and various other accolades. Him and Michael Reichmann, another very well regarded photographers are excited about this product FOR WHAT IT IS.I value their opinion. particularly in this case cause they have ACTUALLY used the product

            At Ming
            I am already well aware that i need to increase shutter speed beyond the old rule of 1/shutter speed, with certain cameras, Its not rocket science and critical sharpness is not particularly hard to ascertain. If i remember right I was trying not to go below 1/250 with the Nikon A, pushing the ISO up with that camera is no big deal. If i have to use 1/500 on say the Sony(again i dont think it will actually be required) ..for what Im doing that works.

            NOW, IF i were to use zooms, which I almost never do THEN i could see a real problem with this systems. I’ve never liked zoom all that much. I am a sponsored and competitive mountain runner and I prefer zooming with my feet…if i cant get the shot…whatever i guess I’m just “goofing around” taking “mediocre” pictures. Lucky for me there are alot of rich people in my town, who have equally poor taste.

            Ming!! i love this site…but check it out, you guys are ripping on something you haven’t even seen, or used.Leave that to DPR forums!

            • What work he has done has got nothing to do with it. It also makes no difference that they have used the camera or not. Anyone could have taken it. It makes no difference. I am not criticising his work. I am just stating what the file shows on the website.

        • >>…the M1 while, it would be great for low light,doesn’t have the Dynamic Range I want( i have goofed around enough with m4/3 files to find this out, in fact not much more DR than my little rx100!).

          That’s interesting. ACR RAW support for the M1 is a few weeks old. How much DR testing did you do? How do you measure it?

          I have a D800 collecting dust while my OM-D EM-1 is cranking out the best images in my career. The only thing I miss: The ability to crop a 14MP image from a poorly framed 36MP original.

          • Ah, but better framing will fix that :)

            • No kidding. Operator skill matters more than I care to admit :)

              Paradoxically my D800 was better for action photography. I could frame a moving image without much care and crop a good image later. With the OM-D EM-1, framing a moving subject requires greater precision – there aren’t a lot of spare pixels left for cropping. But the deeper TOF at each equivalent focal length does help.

              Having a Sony A7r with 70-200 is appealing for action photography. Beyond that, size and weight become issues once again.

          • Craig is it just me or are you amazed at the amount of highlight and shadow recovery the E-M1 Raw files can take in Lightroom?

            • How are you guys finding the preliminary RAW support with Adobe for the M1? The examples I’ve seen so far seem to have uncalibrated color, so things are too red. I guess it’s the one good thing about waiting for my M1 to come: the lack of RAW support so far.

              • I agree with both of you. With OM-D EM-1 RAW imported in Lightroom 5.2 , I *can* pull noiseless highlights from shadows on par with my D800. No explanation why. I find it surprisingly good (I’m a guy who doesn’t pixel peep so I will likely be *proven* wrong).

                But now that you mention it: red highlights are blown out quite easily. Nothing terrible but there appears to be more dynamic range in green and blue elements.

              • Color is a little off, yes. But dialling back the red saturation about 5 points and increasing lightness slightly on the HSL tab in ACR helps.

  35. Sony won me over from Nikon & Canon with the NEX-7. I’d love for either to earnestly try to win me back, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.
    I couldn’t be much more impressed and satisfied with my experience with the NEX-7, the main drawback having been that crop factor. Now that’s finally gone!
    For my purposes I am optimistic about this new A7 interface & ergonomics. I am pleased to see that they have retained the “tri-nav” controls from the NEX-7, actually likely enhanced it by adding a dedicated exposure compensation dial and moving the others around so they’re not right next to each other. The customizable buttons I like are still there. (That made the NEX-7’s terrible menu layout a relative non-issue – apparently they’ve also fixed that.)
    I hesitate to pre-order only because I know I’m inevitably going to fall for those Zeiss primes as well and money is tight for me over the winter. But barring some major unforeseen upset, this WILL be my next camera.
    Ming, I do hope you get the opportunity to try one of these out eventually.

    • The NEX-7 frankly left me cold. The sensor’s output was frankly a bit ‘loose'; things at pixel level lacked acuity and had very little latitude before breaking apart. As for the A7, I’m certainly open to trying one, but I’m not going to buy one…

    • Joel Venable says:

      The crop factor is only a drawback if the system isn’t designed with it in mind. Canon and Nikon both have FF to protect, so they’ve never built a really robust lens lineup on their DX/EF-S systems (ie. WA primes, pro tele zooms could be smaller/lighter, etc). I can make similar complaints about Sony because they have too many systems to fully develop any one of them.

      M43 has the advantage of having two manufacturers fully invested in it (Pana and Oly) and neither have another higher end system to upsell. Pentax and Fuji are also fully invested in APS-C and have excellent lens options. I find it ironic that the best systems haven’t had the sales volumes required for them to show up at the big box stores. They’ve also been the same companies with financial issues…

      • The reality is that I suspect most consumers are not interested in the system; they want the big brand names and the same camera as XYZ was using. It’s also interesting to note that the NEX sells quite well in Asia and Japan, despite having virtually no system at all!

  36. I’d take the reduced weight and put a tilt shift bellows on that? Use excellent but cheap Mamiya 645 and Hasselblad/Carl Zeiss lenses and still retain infinity with that short flange distance. Looks like a very small and light view camera’s digital back to me. haha. Only problem is the pixel density, although I’d think that F8 on these lenses for landscape/architecture and probably product photography might work – and the lack of any cheap adapters at the moment

  37. Lack of control and buttons………well this is A7….not A9.

  38. the body is ok and the price is competitive. as always with Sony, the only concern:- lens roadmap.

  39. Ok screw it, I’ll cancel my order for the 7r– I was really wanting to use my leica glass. I’ll save for an M.

    • Wait for a proper shooting evaluation from real photographers before deciding. But if you want an M, then I think you’re probably not going to be happy with an EVF camera…

  40. Stephen Scharf says:

    Well, the E-M1s “claim” as the only *professional* level mirrorless system was short-lived (though X-Pro1 is as well; frame rate and weather sealing alone do not define a professional system).

    • Marketing claims are just words. The litmus test is how many pros actually use the system, regardless of spec – my Hasselblad V fails on all of the modern ‘pro’ requirements (weather sealing, fast zooms, high frame rates, etc.) but I don’t think anybody would argue it can’t get the job done. Least of all my clients :)

      • I pretty much ignore what “the pros use”. In the same way that a golf club used by Tiger Woods is not interesting to me. In fact, I tend to avoid pro tools. They will not do the same things in my hand. I am not saying a pro doesn’t know what they are doing – far from it. I am an engineer who has been taking pictures since the 1970’s – I know a bit about the science of digital imaging too. We just have a different set of requirements.

        I do photography for fun. A pro tries to make money. While we both need good images, we go about in different ways. I bought the OM-D EM-1 and am selling $10K worth Nikon equipment because then EM-1 meets a set of requirements I defined at least 2 years ago that I don’t think Canon or Nikon will ever want to meet. If pros use the EM-1 I get some validation for my choice but I frankly don’t think about it much.

        The Sony a7x is interesting but lack of lenses and IS mean it is speculative for now. If you bought the EM-5, you probably understand. [b]Early adopters will typically have to upgrade to get the product they were initially looking for :)[/b]

  41. If Nikon and Canon finally bite, they may make their mirrorless bodies ‘artificially thick’ to preserve the 35mm parallax and keep their older, heavier lenses. As we are seeing, most companies use extension tubes for backward compatibility. But as Ming has pointed out, adaptors are not optimal. Nikon and Canon may ultimately choose to resist small and light in favour of ‘ground hugging bulk’. As such, you may never get the complete mirrorless benefit from them.

    Some more thoughts:

    Sony is first to the FF mirrorless market because their DSLR business is pretty small. Nothing much to cannibalize with cheaper and better FF mirrorlesss bodies. Sony even has the 24 MP and 36 MP FF sensors that they build for Olympus, Pentax and Nikon. It’s a win for them all around.

    Neither Canon or Nikon wants to move. DSLRs are so complex, that no one else can build them at a profit. Both vendors like having this protection against others moving into their market. Better still: Existing customers often have 10 of thousands of dollars invested in lenses. They are locked into their current brands even when their FF DSLRs offer inferior technology (as marked by today’s Sony announcement). Changing brands is simply too expensive.

    Here’s the disruptive force that neither is really considering: A new vendor can start building mirrorless *FF bodies* for Canon and Nikon *lenses* that are technically superior to any DSLR but COST LESS! Just like Sigma and Tamron do for lenses – but this time the product will be measurably better than then OEM DSLRs they supplant.

    This is going to be fun.

    -CS

    • “A new vendor can start building mirrorless *FF bodies* for Canon and Nikon *lenses* that are technically superior to any DSLR but COST LESS!”

      One of my previous projects tried to do just that. We ran into two problems: a flaky tech partner, and Sony refusing to sell us sensors…

  42. Ming

    Many thanks for the thoughts you’ve posted and for getting back to so many of the comments. 36 MP sounds great, but I’m not not sure that this generation is ‘there’ yet. I’ve always assumed that the point behind these small systems was that you could carry them everywhere without worrying about weight and size – and that includes a tripod. If the 7R needs support to keep things crisp then maybe this camera seems an image stabiliser short of where it needs to be, though perhaps its high iso performance will let you get away with shake-compensating shutter speeds.

    Given the price of the 35 2.8, these new cameras make the RX1R + EVF look fairly tempting and I’m assuming a price drop. The lens and sensor are made for each other whereas I suspect there will be a few disappointed people when they start connecting their lenses to the 7R via adapters.

    However, it’s all good stuff because the camera market of late has had a real shake up after many years of limited innovation. It’s a good time to be into photography.

    Mer.

  43. I agree with most of your comments, but I’m not sure planarity with adapted lenses is as big an issue as you make it out to be. It can be an issue with current adapters, but it’s only a matter of time before manufacturers add an additional machining step at the very end to effectively eliminate planarity issues. The cost to do so is minor, and it’s definitely something they could advertise (higher precision).

    I say this because in another hobby of mine, I built a jig that machines prebuilt radiation horns down to less than 0.2 micron planar accuracy. If I can do this in my garage, the adapter manufacturers can definitely do it.

    • Planarity is one issue. There’s also axial shift, too. If we get super-precise adaptors: I’m all for it, except for possible size penalties. Until such things are available, then we’re just giving people false hope.

      Maybe there’s a business in this for you :)

    • Chris

      Issues using adapters is probably a bigger consideration than Ming is actually saying. The first thing that needs to be mentioned is with the adapter you are more than likely bringing in a third manufacturer with a third set of manufacturing tolerances; not to mention their ability to actually produce within their own tolerances. So even if an adapter manufacturer is perfect in meeting their tolerances, how those tolerances interact with your lens on your camera body can be quite different from mine.

      I have experience using six different adapters from five manufacturers for NEX and M43 cameras, and only one did not need any adjustment out of the box; for one focal length. In fact, even after adjusting my adapters for proper focus, they are really only “Right” for one focal length. Which means that for best performance, I really need an adapter for each of my lenses and these need to be adjusted for the lens it will mount. My adapters that needed adjustment included one made by Novoflex and one made by Panasonic, both of which are quality manufacturers.

      From my experience, for an adapter to be right out of the box for most camera and lens combinations, the adapter manufacturer will need the cooperation of the camera and lens manufacturers, and they will need to be able to consistently produce to a much higher level of precision than the current products; which will probably double the price of the adapter. So in the end, higher precision or custom fit adapters makes an argument for simply using native lenses.

      PaulB

  44. Dear Ming

    First of all, thanks for you scepticism and putting all that craze about the A7 a bit into perspective. You have commented several times on the problems caused by adapters, as has Roger Cicala on his blog (http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2013/09/there-is-no-free-lunch-episode-763-lens-adapters). The problem with Roger’s test is that it is based on theoretical testing on an optical bench and therefore hard to translate into practice. It left my wondering how bad this problem really is in practice, perhaps by doing side by side comparisons of actual images. Maybe you could do such a comparison one day? (pretty please)

    You also mentioned that image quality of adapted lenses is affected adversely by the interplay of sensor and lens design. To be honest, I did not quite understand this. Could you elaborate on this please?

    • Bad enough that it’s worth buying a few adaptors to test for sample variation.

      Sensor-lens interaction: look at how the wides behave on a) a Leica M, b) a Sony NEX7 (I think L-L did a comparison once) – especially in the corners. Without profiles, the lens has vignetting and color shifts on all bodies; the Leica M corrects those, but requires offset microlenses to prevent corner softness. The NEX7 looks disastrous off-center even though it only uses the center portion of the image. In my own experience, the Zeiss wides are great on Leica M, but not usable at all on the OM-D. Even the 35/1.4 ASPH FLE, arguably the best 35mm lens made – is outstanding at every point in the frame on the M, but not critically sharp in the centre until f4 on the OM-D!

      • TOP had an interesting post today that says there is a problem with adapting older lens designs that even specialized microlenses won’t solve: http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2013/10/two-reasons.html

        The problem is that the index of refraction changes from the air to the glass pack over the sensor, which then causes a blurring due to spreading of light rays over several pixels, and microlenses can just correct for an individual pixel. He conjectures that Leica has a deconvolution step in their processing software to fix this for the M9. Interesting conjecture, and he even presents a way to test for it, too.

        If this is the case, then for a sufficiently high resolution camera, you either have to have software processing or all your lenses have to be telecentric (and therefore huge). The PSF (point-spread function) deconvolution has to be pretty specific for the kind of lens you use too.

        I wonder how big this effect is compared to waving around (ie. handholding) an unstabilized 4-micron pitch sensor. Some people may not see it until they lock down their A7R on a very solid tripod with an adapted lens, and then they’ve still got to contend with the planarity and coincidence problems adapters bring.

        • I definitely see the difference between D800E handheld and D800E tripod, ditto OM-D with stabilizer on and off – so it’s there. If you look at the improvement between the NEX cameras and M lenses and the M native bodies, the edges are worlds apart – so I’d subjectively say that the difference is quite possibly even larger than the stability issue.

        • Even the Hubble telescope was easier than all this!

  45. jswendell says:

    Dear Ming Thein,

    Though I really enjoyed reading Steve Huff’s relatively fanboy take on these cameras, it is great to get your more sober perpective along side it.

    In other words, thank you very much adding your perspective by writing this article. At least some of us found this very valuable.

    -jswendell

  46. On a day when such a major new product has been announced I’m surprised at how stuck in the moment many of these comments are. I mean yesterday the smallest FF camera you could get was nearly a kilo and twice as big as the equivalent M43, today the smallest FF camera is not only a similar size to the comparable M43, its also a similar price!

    Its true that right here right now Sony can’t compete on glass, its a fact, but that’s today not tomorrow. Of course using the a-mount adapter helps, but then you’re stuck with FF sized glass and a fairly chunky adapter to boot. But, look closer, at the pricing and positioning of these cameras and its clear what Sony are trying to do.

    Given the amount of technology and size the price is unbelievably low but that’s because Sony needs a critical mass of customers. With critical mass comes 3rd party lenses and some of these are getting seriously good, such as the Tamron 28-70mm f2.8 and the Sigma 30mm f1.4. To get critical mass you need something big and bold and that’s exactly what Sony have done, the smallest, lightest FF camera ever made. In a world where spec’s are so often king (look at Samsung vs Apple) Sony just jumped to the top of the heap and judging by the amount of time the Sony website was down today, its worked.

    Its a fact that they’re probably not the best cameras for pro’s and will be compromised for the many reasons mentioned here, but for the huge and increasing number of camera enthusiasts looking to upgrade, if you were previously looking at FF and the 6D or D610 its impossible to ignore them. I am one such person, waiting for the announcement before deciding which way to go and it is an incredibly compelling package for anyone not invested in another system. Yes, even considering the lens limitations and especially when considering how poor, lumbering and derivative Canikon’s innovation is of late.

    • We’re taking photographs today, not tomorrow. Lenses tomorrow are too late for events that only happen once…

      • Ming, don’t lose sight of the fact that we all have different needs and desires when it comes to lenses.

        For many photographers the initial two fixed focus lenses, a 35 and a 55, will be enough to make the A7 a very credible option from day one. The world of superwides is primarily of interest to hobbyists and commercial photographers. I can say with a great deal of certainty that the A7 will be of huge interest to high end reportage photographers at places like Magnum and Vu who want a combination of compact size and high image quality for location work.

        The point you make about it being difficult to extract the maximum quality from a camera like the D800 is valid, but outside of the realm of technically driven commercial photography nobody much cares whether you’ve extracted every last detail from any given scene. What matters is small size and the promise of robust and flexible image files – Zeiss lenses of (presumably) very high quality are the icing on the cake.

        A full frame camera that promises to be way more practical than a Leica M9 and is half the weight of a 5DIII is a very significant breakthrough.

        • True; however I’m not even talking superwides. A 24 or 28mm, for instance. A fast portrait lens. These tend to be popular amongst enthusiasts too, because it’s the easiest way of obtaining a different ‘look’ – extreme perspective or super-bokeh.

          Magnum photographers – and most photojournalists – work under conditions where you wouldn’t be able to extract all of the IQ potential out of a high resolution camera; look at how many of the images have camera shake with low pixel counts!

          “The point you make about it being difficult to extract the maximum quality from a camera like the D800 is valid, but outside of the realm of technically driven commercial photography nobody much cares whether you’ve extracted every last detail from any given scene. What matters is small size and the promise of robust and flexible image files – Zeiss lenses of (presumably) very high quality are the icing on the cake.”

          No, you just contradicted yourself here. What’s the point of having high quality lenses if you’re throwing away the resolution through camera shake or focusing issues? You wouldn’t see the difference, other than in your wallet afterwards. And FYI, clearly far more people care about technical image quality than pictures: otherwise internet forums would be full of emotionally charged, strong images instead of pixel-peepers who photograph brick walls.

          • No, I haven’t contradicted myself. The point of having high quality lenses is that you can extract every last bit of available quality when that is your primary desire.

            I accept your point that Sony really should have had a 28 from day one, but I’m sure it will quickly arrive.

            This camera might not be right for you as a formal and traditional commercial photographer, or for people who want to photograph brick walls and boast about resolution on a geeky photo forum, but it’s almost certainly right for others with a more fluid image driven style.

            • By that argument, the potential control should make it ideal for me. Fluidity isn’t using magnification, EVFs and tweaking manual focus lenses on adaptors. You forget I also shoot a lot of reportage; a GR is a much, much more fluid tool for that. Hell, so is a Hasselblad: I don’t have to second guess what the camera is doing.

              • Really? I thought you were a commercial rather than editorial or reportage photographer.

                Glancing back through your blog I see that you take street photographs as well, but I did reference this camera in my first post as being interesting to “high end end reportage photographers”. Whilst you’re obviously very technically adept I wasn’t thinking of somebody like yourself as the obvious target for this camera. I was thinking of the people making up the ranks at places like Magnum and Tendance Floue, along with those who aspire to that level of work.

                Anyway, I’ve no desire to get in to a mud-wrestling match. Different cameras appeal to different people for all kinds of reasons and we’re all free to make our choices.

                • I do both. Travel and street have always been personal domains, but increasingly my corporate clients are asking for documentary reportage too; something between hardcore photojournalism and studio polish. It’s just easier to temporarily park yourself in one category rather than explain that you could (and have) in fact shoot wildlife if you wanted. This photoessay is a good example: http://blog.mingthein.com/2013/08/28/workers-of-heavy-metal-part-one/

                  Magnum actually has a deal with Leica. To what extent it’s enforced on their members I don’t know, but I can certainly ask – I’m working with one of their senior members on a project at the moment, actually.

                  • Nothing is enforced on members of Magnum when it comes to choice of cameras. They’ve had a number of deals with manufacturers over the years – Olympus, Canon, Leica – but people use whatever suits them.

                    The photographs in your link are very good, but, to me, they look like typical commercial corporate report images rather than reportage. As I’ve already said, I’ve no desire to get into a mudwrestling contest and I agree with much of what you say regarding the relative merits of the A7 and the OMD. Many, possibly the majority, of people who buy the A7 would almost certainly get technically better results from the OMD, but for those who can harness the strengths of the Sony it’s a very interesting option.

                    • ‘The photographs in your link are very good, but, to me, they look like typical commercial corporate report images rather than reportage’.
                      Which is precisely what I said the aim of the exercise was: somewhere between the two. Except, none of these were staged, which meant that obtaining that kind of look under reportage conditions was the challenge. This is unlike most ‘typical corporate report’ images, which ARE staged and repeatable.

                      Clearly then, I am not part of the target market for this camera.

                    • Ming, I don’t seem to be able to reply directly to your 2.56pm post, but just as a point of information a great deal of corporate report imagery outside of portraiture is unstaged and therefore unrepeatable. The images in question are therefore highly typical of the genre.

                    • Ok, it seems I could reply directly.

      • I get your point, but that almost sounds anti-progress. Of course its obvious that Sony needs early-adopters to make this work, like anyone trying to break into a new or even existing market place. To write such a fantastic product off so early as many seem determined to do almost seems to be asking that the camera market stand still. Remember when M43 first emerged? then think about what a huge step this is, bold? Yes. Perfect? No. Worth investing in? I for one am tempted if only to add another sales unit so support the development of what could become an amazingly practical, accessible FF system.

        • I don’t see why customers should be guinea pigs. I didn’t buy into M4/3 when it was launched because there were far too many issues – focusing sod, image quality, lenses etc. Why should the customer have to give their hard-earned money, in significant quantities, in return for a product that isn’t right for them?

          • Customers are guinea pigs all the time, be it for a new flavour of soup, or a new type of car, without it or the people prepared to take the chance nothing would ever change. Of course you have the right to decide something is not for you, but to write the system off for everyone else as many seem to be doing, such a momentous step forwards in cameras and on the day it is released, I just find odd. It feels like the regurgitation of what Nikon and Canon would have all photographers believe so they can keep making hay, without having to invest in R&D and take the market forwards.

            Its success will drive forwards the developments of these other manufacturers, will likely result in smaller, more practical and higher performing cameras and give a much needed challenge to the lazy monopolies that currently exist.

            • I made it clear upfront that these were my initial thoughts and overs actions. If you want to buy one, go ahead.

              • I made it clear up front that I was commenting generally on the negativity expressed by others on this comments stream, just you chose to pick me up on it… c’est la vie.

                • Sorry. That wasn’t clear at all. I’m getting the feeling that most commenters here cannot accept an objective assessment – or anything less than fanboy glee and blind wallet opening…

                  • I guess I’m just wondering how an objective assessment can be made at all when the camera has only just been announced and hasn’t even been released in production form yet. All the sample images are from pre-prod models across the many blogs and news sites, I guess its too early in my mind to be objective at all with something that is not yet tangible. Of course, its not too early to criticise what is know, the lack of glass being the main issue, but I’d hardly call that an objective assessment. Lets wait to see how good the sensor is, the IQ, the dynamic range, how well the micro-lenses actually work before a true objective assessment can be made, until then lets praise Sony for atleast having the kahuna’s to make the thing in the first place and in one fail swoop move the market on another notch.

                    • until then lets praise Sony for atleast having the kahuna’s to make the thing in the first place

                      I did that. Twice. In the first and last paragraph.

  47. The RX10 will be the next Leica Digilux 2 if the quality of the lens is good …

  48. More mess in Sony Land, at least the IQ will be excellent. And while you were all sleeping, Ricoh will bring up FF camera with built in zoom (24-50mm) with constant f2.8 and just 0.5″ thicker than current GR…..how that sounds for you?

  49. Random to post here, but wasn’t sure where to ask: I was quite curious to know your thoughts on the new Zeiss Otus lineup. What do pro photographers like yourself feel about that lens? It looks simply amazing (and heavy).

    • I’m excited because we can finally see what that sensor can do! I’m hoping it will perform like the Leica S glass does on its own system – there no weak spots in the shooting envelope at all.

      Based on the samples I’ve seen, and the people at Zeiss I’ve spoken to, I’ve ordered the 1.4/55 Distagon already; I’m told mine should be here towards the end of the month. I don’t think it makes sense unless you shoot under conditions which allow you to fully utilize the potential of the lens – tripods, studio, high shutter etc – and I do, and can see the limitations of existing lenses. Now what would be really interesting is if I can somehow reverse engineer a way of mounting that to my Hasselblad too…

  50. I look at this as a very exciting prospect. My hope, which I doubt will be realized, is that Sony will focus on making bodies and high quality adapters. This body could be a huge asset and enhancement of another system. Imagine if have you have a full kit of NIkon glass, all you would have to buy is a mirrorless body, maybe with the adapter built right in to be seamless and you could use all your Nikon glass and not have to adopt a new system. RIght now, you either have to invest in a new and undeveloped system, or use adapters which work ok, but really slow down performance. Let Nikon and Canon make the big, “professional” cameras and let Sony build the innovative stuff, and let them work together so that everyone wins…

    • “and let them work together so that everyone wins…”

      That never happens in the corporate world. It’s much closer to either a cartel (nope) or mutually assured destruction. Sadly…

  51. I plugged in some numbers and did some quick comparisons, based on weight and system cost, between a Nikon D610, Sony Alpha 7 and EM1 System. I was surprised at the differences.

    * D610 lenses: 24-120 f4 / 35 f1.4 / 50 f1.8 / 70-200 f4 (I tried to choose lenses as close as possible to Sony’s choices)
    * Alpha 7 lenses: 24-70 f4 / 35 f2.8 / 55 f1.8 / 70-200 f4
    * EM1 lenses: 12-40 f2.8 / 17 f1.8 / 25 f1.4 / 35-100 f2.8

    D610 System: $6527 / 3068g
    Alpha 7 System: $6095 / 2145g
    EM1 System: $5024 / 1559g

    – To summarize, there is a $432 and 923g (or 2 lb) difference between full frame systems.
    – There is $1071 and 586g (1.3 lb) difference between the Alpha 7 and the EM1 system.
    – Finally, there is a $1503 and 1509g (3.3 lb) difference between the D610 and EM1 system.

    If don’t need shallow depth of field, large print sizes or (the very best in) low light shooting, I would argue that the EM1 is a no-brainer in regards to being one of the better choices for a travel system. More than good enough for most situations, and I suspect the price will drop, due to pressure from Sony and others…

    The choice between a D610 and an Alpha 7 is much trickier. If you are starting from scratch, Sony is pricing their full frame kit aggressively to gain market share, so it may be a good choice and value (on paper), at this time.

    If you already have Nikon or Sony NEX lenses, then Sony’s strategy does not make much sense at all. There has to be something compelling enough with the Alpha 7 to make users want to buy an entirely new set of lenses. If I already own a Nikon lens or two, I’d much rather buy a Nikon full frame D610, even if it is a little bit heavier than Sony. How many times are people willing to buy the same focal length for different mounts / systems?

    Methinks Sony got a little bit carried away with their RX1 success…
    (I say this even though I hope Sony will succeed. Their sensors are still the best on the market)

    • Nice comparison Eric. Thanks for tracking down all of those numbers.

    • No question that the A7 makes more sense than a FF system in weight; price depends on whether you’re okay with Sony’s lens selection or not: if not, you’ve got no choice anyway! Still a significant difference to the E-M1, however. That ~$1000 buys you a 75/1.8 or a trip somewhere, for instance; the former solves your shallow DOF problem nicely. We’re also forgetting that all of the FF zooms are f4 in light gathering ability, the E-M1’s is a stop faster, too.

      The battle is going to be won or lost in the lenses. A full range of native AF Zeiss glass for the A7/7R is something that won’t be available anywhere else; that might just be enough to tip the scales in favor of the Sony.

    • this was very nice to compile and share. thank you!

  52. I agree with your assessment. Non native lenses and adapters are always a compromise so why compromise your system. And yes the Sonys seem more like electronic gadget than photographic tool. The EM1 wins on portability (when you include lenses), versatility and ergonomics from what I can see. I can envision building a useful system with the EM1 easier than with the A7s.

    • Well I am meant to be testing out a E-M1 to purchase tomorrow. Pitching the A7 at the same price makes it confusing. In the UK though the E-M1 will have a free grip and lens adaptor. Currently using a 43 camera. I have of 6 Zuiko manual focus lenses as well. Shoot actors headshots and look at the A7 and think how am I going to do that? What lens? I can use the 100mm f2.8 but will it be any good on there and will I be able to nail the focus on the lashes eyes like I can at the moment using focus peak only as there is no I.S to be able to use a 14x magnified view handheld. I don’t see how it could work and will a portrait lens from Sony ever come out as I don’t there is one for the NEX. Plus I guess it will cost anywhere from £800 to £1000 where as a 45 f1.8 is just over £200. Do have a huge Gitzo to but want to try and get out lugging that around for headshots.

      Other than that it is theatre production work but concerned that shutter could distract actors even in a dress rehearsal. Plus both zooms are not long enough and the 70-200 price is laughable.

      Very confused head at the moment! :-)

    • Without adaptors, you have no wides, no macros, no teles…which leaves you with two moderate-speed ordinary primes, a midrange zoom, and a short tele zoom. At least with M4/3 we have pretty much everything except the fast superteles and tilt shifts…significantly cheaper, too.

  53. The memory card doors are not sealed either. Plus the shutter is loud… real loud…

    I wonder about shutter shock?

    • So much for Sony’s claims of weather sealing, then. Perhaps we ought to put one in the shower for ten minutes and see if it survives :)

      It also doesn’t look that small in the video…

      • Yes the memory card door of all things!! “No we can just skip weather sealing that, no one will notice”

        In the UK the price for the A7 is pitched exactly the same as the E-M1 body £1299 including tax. Odd as America it is $300 higher than the E-M1.

        • Oh, trust me, you’ll notice. They skipped half of the sealing on the Nikon D2 series battery door…and guess where water got into mine, causing a short and critical failure…

          The UK price of the E-M1 is insane. It’s a good 30% higher than here in Malaysia.

      • Size wise:

        E-M1 130 x 94 x 63 mm
        A7 127 x 94 x 48 mm
        E-M5 122 x 89 x 43 mm

    • I like that the shutter reminds me of a high-pitched Hasselblad 500 C/M. It kinds of has the ker-flap quality, but transposed up a couple of octaves.

      • I was thinking medium format camera as well! Yes a blad, you are right. Cannot understand why it is so loud though.

        • To announce to the world that one has a Full Frame sensor with 36 megapixels, of course! ;) I would guess it sounds louder than it is due to the proximity to his microphone. The camera does have a lot of stuff going for it (especially video), and all it needs are some good lenses to focus some light properly onto that fantastic sensor … And a tripod too, which is probably going to cost the good part of $1000 for one that’s stable enough for that sensor.

          I also like when CaNikon put camera model designations on their shoulder straps so I don’t have to look too hard to figure out what someone’s using.

      • Err…really?

        The volume is really at odds with size and stealthiness though. I suppose it’s like how the Leica M8/9 are a lot louder than you expect…

        • The shutter sound is a joke, I’m already not liking the EM1 shutter sound compared to EM5, and now this? Sticking to my silent GR and RX1R for now.

          • The days of the mechanical shutter are numbered anyways. I am already see fewer problems with DR (blown highlights) on devices with no mechanical shutter.

            As processors get faster, they will be able to capture an entire frame in less than 1/8000 sec without the artifacts commonly called rolling shutter in video. When that happens, I hope shutters RIP. I hate them only marginally less than reflex mirrors.

          • I don’t think that’s a good reason NOT to consider something, unless it’s sheer volume. But then again, I use a Hasselblad V, so perhaps my thresholds are a little higher than most…

            • If I had a ‘blad, I’d want it to be as loud as possible to show off :)

              Maybe I just need some time to get used to the high-pitched EM1 shutter noise. It’s either all in my head or the GR and RX1R have permanently spoiled me.

              • You wouldn’t need it to be. I tried shooting street with The Beast yesterday. It’s two feet long, chrome trimmed and weighs north of 3kg. Trust me, you’ll be noticed even if it was totally silent.

                Interestingly I just picked up another loan E-M1 for this weekend’s workshops; it still feels right – even if the shutter isn’t as stealthy as the E-M5’s was. I do appreciate the higher max speed though; two more stops of shooting envelope is very valuable indeed, especially for daylight cinematics.

  54. A lot of people seem to compare these to the E-M1 but the build is more E-M5 as neither Sony has a M.A body just panels and with some of those panels on the A7 and the dials they are plastic. A few link to see the differences:

    http://www.doobybrain.com/2013/09/12/look-magnesium-body-olympus-om-d-e-m1/

  55. “Bottom line: most users may not see as much of a difference as they think between the A7 and A7R.”

    Having watched the side by side quick comparison images between a7r and a7 at “the camera store guys” field test video on

    youtube, I stopped reading this article from there. It’s much of a difference mate. Have you tried to compare them before you

    bottom-lined them?

    • Unlike youtube ‘experts’, I actually make images for a living. I take those things with an enormous sack of salt.

      I’ve shot the D600 and D800E tens of thousands of times under comparably similar conditions – guess what, 24 and 36MP FX sensors – and unless you’re working with high shutter speeds, on a tripod, with lights, or all three – it’s very difficult to extract the full 36MP all of the time. 24MP is at the limit for consistent pixel-level sharpness and hand holding. Even smaller bodies – less mass to damp vibrations – with unstabilized lenses are going to be even more demanding of technique.

  56. This is almost the camera I’ve been waiting for. FF, small, I can use almost any lenses on it, no AA filter. For years I’ve wanted a FF equivalent to an FE2, something like that. This is just about that. I’ve preordered the A7R and I plan to use leica, zeiss, and voigtlanders on it (unless previews say it’s terrible). I wish Sony would ditch the mode dial and go with a traditional ss dial. Fuji (and leica) has the UI and design right…

  57. Too negative a post. This isn’t a DSLR replacement. This is a cheap leica M for enthusiasts. Many people who buy this camera are going to go with adapters for third party lenses. Perhaps many of those lenses will be the older leica and zeiss M mount manual lenses. So this new camera system effectively comes with an enormous set of compact FF lenses. Biogons, planars, summicrons, etc that can all be easily adapted and subsequently focused with focus-peaking. The same way you adapted your leica M lenses to the olympus, except FF. Just like the M240 can’t compete with the D800 in autofocusing, this camera is not designed for the SLR sport-shooting crowd. You’re going to end up with this camera in your travel bag 100%.

    • I’m not excited about it as some online fanboys because I honestly can’t see where it fits in with my kit. I’m fast to adopt something if it works, but I also don’t waste money on things that don’t. Photography as a business will tend to objectify your buying decisions very quickly.

      It’s not an M. I’ve already said this in the post: adaptors bring planarity issues; the higher the resolution, the more precise the adaptors have to be. And after trying dozens at all price points, it’s hit and miss. Ms also have optical finders and the ability to set all photographic controls without powering the camera on; this does not.

      Wide lenses for M mount are terrible even on M4/3; and that doesn’t even use the edges. Unless Sony have done something very special with the microlens array on the sensors, I’m not expecting miracles here. I’ve adapted one lens to the OM-D, sold the rest, and am pretty much retiring that one, too – the native options are optically better, and will AF, too.

      And no, I’m not buying one, or lenses for it, nor will I use DSLR-sized lenses on it because the whole operation is clunky. It will never land up in the travel bag.

      • Just seems like you’re really hating on the A7 here. I’m also not going to buy one – but I think it’s a great idea with excellent execution and there is no other 36MP sans AA that small. This is a 36MP camera that can take leica M lenses. Planarity issues or not, 36MP coupled to a 50mm f/2 APO is going to be killer.

        • No, I said it doesn’t work for me, but I hope it does well for many reasons detailed in the original post. I don’t think it’s an M replacement because the gestalt and user experience is very different. And at the price it isn’t a cheap experiment, either.

          Planarity matters very much, regardless of the lens.

          • Stephen Scharf says:

            Michael Reichmann says that the Leica lenses he’s tried works very well on the A7R. While planarity is important, it’s probably best to defer judgement on using Leica lenses and adapters until there’s some real data to be had.

            • Sony did say the microlens array is different on the A7/7R, so that may well be the case.

              I’m just saying from past experience that RF wides do not do well at all on mirrorless. In fact, Reichmann was the one who proved that in his own 24 Summilux comparison on the NEX7…

    • gotta agree.. can’t help but feel the hate isn’t justified.

      * weather sealing.. well i guess we’ll wait and see. might be good or bad, but you seem to suggest it’s going to be bad without reason
      * ergonomics look fine to me. reasonable array of physical controls.
      * weight vs sharpness? this will depend on your shutter speed. at lower speeds, sure extra weight might help stability.. add the battery grip. you have the choice.
      * not a new lens system, simply full frame e-mount. can use existing e-mount, but sure not optimal. can use a-mount via adaptor. yes planarity should be considered, but I feel your over stating this issue. if sony can’t make an adaptor with mount plates sufficiently parallel, why should you have any faith that any of the internal optics are aligned? same goes for any adaptor manufacturer. you think voigtlander can’t make an adaptor with parallel mating surfaces?
      * price is quiet decent. $1700 for a full frame you can mount almost any lens to? this is bad? $2300 for a 36mp full frame is bad?
      * yes it’s not an m, but who cares? i’ve tried m, and frankly they can keep their rangefinder focusing ‘experience’. what a pain. and you can use leica glass here. we’ll wait and see how the wide angles fare, but certainly the longer lens should work great. again, i’m not hugely concerned about the adaptor planarity problems.

      probably wont buy them myself, but if i was in the market and had the coin, i’d go for the 24mp version.

  58. A few lens numbers got swapped:
    >new lenses again. There are 24-70/3.5-5.6
    The A7 kit lens is 28-70.
    > The RX10 was also announced at the same time; it has a 28-200/2.8
    This is the one that’s 24mm on the wide end.

  59. I don’t know you sound a bit like sour grapes to me. I know you’ve always been high on micro 4/3’s but clearly what Sony has done is good for the industry. I don’t see a conflict whatsoever in the models. Saying that the a99 and A7(r) compete is like saying that the Canon 5d Mark III and the Leica M240 are direct competitors. If an A-Mount user wants a more rugged, better performing, better balanced body for larger zooms and primes the a99 is their only option at the moment.

    The A7(r) have three purposes.
    1. Give users an affordable fullframe mirror-less option
    2. Doesn’t require users to commit to the system to try and use an exceptional product
    3. Stay ahead technology wise against other mirror-less competitors

    The A7(r) are particular appealing to users who already own M mount or similar style lenses but from dead mounts. I see so many potential buyers already invested in other systems getting exciting about buying a body that they can instantly use without actually buying any new lenses.

    Maybe you just do get it…

    • Go back and re-read the last paragraph.

      A99/ A7 vs 5DIII and M240 is not a fair comparison – price differential, for one; feature set, for another. The A99 and A7 are similar in price and features; the 5DIII and M240 aren’t even close.

      1. Guess what: the A99 doesn’t have a mirror, either. You’re still looking at a live view EVF feed, not an optical finder.
      2. Huh? You still have to buy lenses, just like one of their DSLRs.
      3. This I agree with.

      You’re right, I don’t get it. Why would you buy a camera with PDAF on-sensor then use manual lenses on it? Or one that has such a high pixel pitch, only very few lenses will perform adequately to utilize the available resolution? I’m not getting anything from these cameras I don’t already have, and at a lower cost/ fewer compromises. I applaud the technology, but not the commercial or system implementation.

      • Just like the D700 didn’t undermine the D3 very much the A7(r) won’t undermine the a99. The feature sets are not identical you should take a closer look. Also, you can easily mount M mount lenses and similar mounts on the A7(r)… a poor man’s Leica if you will. It’s the modularity of the mount that has made these camera’s so intriguing to potential buyers.

        It will be a challenge to create system lenses that are small and compact enough to satisfy those serious about making it their only system. Sony isn’t there yet and may not ever be able to match MFT’s in small size and portability. But for many of us it only needs to be close to be a better option than what Fuji or MFT’s offers.

      • Iskabibble says:

        I dont understand this at all. There are an enormous number of users who have the Nikon D800 and D800E and use Nikon’s F mount manual focus lenses. They produce excellent images, not lacking in IQ in any conceivable way. Fred Miranda has an over 3,000 page thread on these lenses and Nikon bodies!

        I see no problems using he resolution sensors on manual focus glass. None at all.

        • Are you looking at any of their files at 100%?

          I had a large number of D800E users in my last two workshops. They too thought they were happy with overall image quality and resolution at 100%, until they saw my files and realized something was missing. There is a BIG difference between handholding and locked down on a tripod at X-1/250s and studio lights – I’m saying that the vast majority of people can’t achieve this most of the time, defeating the point of the extra pixels. I’m not saying there is no point at all. Read carefully.

    • Sorry, I have to chip in here:

      Says Marlon) I don’t know you sound a bit like sour grapes to me… clearly what Sony has done is good for the industry.

      Says MT in original post, the thing at the top of the page) Personally, even though it’s extremely unlikely I’ll ever buy one – I have pretty much all I need already – I really hope it succeeds: firstly, it really throws down the gauntlet to the other camera makers… etc., etc

      I’m going on comment holiday for a while, I think.
      [crowd roars!]

      • Sigh, Tom, sometimes I wonder why I write these things at all…equipment posts seem to bring out a different crowd.

        • I was going to reply and comment with some soothing words, then I realized I just said not two ticks ago I wasn’t going to comment, so, and, oh God, I’ve just commented! :o

        • I saw it but I’ve also read many posts where you’ve really been down on the E-Mount. I think you’ve said on more than one occasion that you’ve felt the E-Mount would probably fade away soon. So I guess my comment was more about your history of responses regarding Sony in general.

          • Now you’re putting words in my mouth. I said sony would probably consolidate eventually – supporting three mounts makes no sense from a business perspective.

            I have not been a big fan of the NEX system for many reasons – ergonomics and native lenses being the main two. But I have owned and used several before finding them wanting. Seriously, if you want to read positive but not necessarily objective words, there are plenty of other sites…

  60. Jamie Zartman says:

    For those of us with NEX7 cameras and lenses, is the 10-18 E lens on the A7 now a true 10-18, since there is no crop factor and claimed compatibility?

  61. Virtually every Sony product I have owned bar one has died in my opinion prematurely about eight products in all so there is no way I am going to trust working tools to Sony no matter how many pro’s switch. Their designs and features have since my first 1956 transistor radio always been great, one could say Sony pushes all the right buttons!!! But they die early or are ridiculously expensive to repair.
    Some company will eventually make a compact system camera that will be an M compatible. Only god knows why CV hasn’t done it as Voigtlander or under the Ziess label. The Epson RDs was excellent but never updated, its a real shame and a gaping hole in the market.
    Oh BTW adaptors and lens flanges can have perfect ‘planarity’ but still be out of being perfectly parallel which is the critical factor. As a general rule I have found that machined adaptors that comprise of more that two components will in most cases be out of parallel. In one instance I checked a cheap adaptor for the parallel dimensions with micrometer and found that it was out by .07mm on one side. So I had it re-machined on a surface grinder with a diamond wheel and its perfect. Of all the adaptors I have ever used Novoflex have always been perfect, but sometimes with just a little effort a cheapy can come good…

    • Easy: it’s hideously expensive to do so. I looked into creating the ultimate professional mirrorless camera some time ago, quite seriously, with a bunch of partners and investors. The costs were prohibitive, to say the least.

  62. Dirk De Paepe says:

    I’ve been shooting a NEX-7 for two years now and use only prime lenses: Zeiss ZM, Voigtländer and Leica M-mount, 12 Canon FDs and 3 vintage Jupiters. All are FF lenses. What I like about this A7(r) is that I will be able to use all my lenses – I won’t even have to buy a new adapter. Just the body and that’s it. I ordered my A7r this morning at 09:15h!

  63. The styling of the body is very nice. The lenses look good too, but they seem rather big for their specifications. The same problem as with the NEX series? This makes me wonder why Canon or Nikon can’t come up with better looking DSLR’s.
    From the mid seventies until the mid nineties I used a Canon F1 with several FD-lenses. Loyal as I was to the brand I bought an EOS 100 when they changed their mount, but this camera chewed up one of the first rolls of film on a very decisive moment. However, what really made me switch was the sight of their first EOS-1 flagship, that had the size of a whale. Where did it all go wrong? Looking back probably somewhere between T80 the T90?
    After using solid Nikon models for over twenty years I recently switched to micro43. Since the introduction of Digital Single Lens Reflex, Nikon too has produced over thirty models that seem to have more relationship with the Thunderbird 2 than with the FM2.
    I gave up and got an Olympus E-M5. The style and concept of the GX7 even looks better. The main difference with my D700 are the colours, not the details. You have to print very large sizes before you see the differences between micro43 and full frame. And if large size gallery print is your thing, buy a roll film camera or even a 4×5 inch. Grain looks so much better than pixels.

    • They have to be big because of the image circle required – especially the zooms. Limitations of physics dictate the physical size of the elements for a given focal length.

      As to cosmetics…each to his own. I think the EOS 1-series look a lot better than the Nikons, but that’s just me. They’re not comfortable in my hands, though.

      • I agree on the limitations of the physics. That’s why micro43 is such a clever concept. For me it was already a winner when I saw the first Olympus Pen prototype.

        About the cosmetics… One could have his doubts what to prefer, an evening with Kate Moss or with Halle Berry, but never between Kate Moss and let’s say Barbra Streisand. That does not mean that Barbra has not her own qualities.
        Being a (graphic) designer myself I know that discussions about taste and cosmetics should be avoided. Better talk about more than one solution for a problem. But I could write a book about taste or the lack of it. Don’t worry, this is not the place for it.
        I prefer Kate even though she probably cannot sing.

        • Olympus took several generations to get the camera right; the problem with Sony is one of short attention span: they move on to something else before realizing the full potential of anything!

  64. “Neither is cheap, per se . . .”
    I suppose that depends on what you’re comparing them to. Compare them to other full frame offerings and they sure seem very competitively priced to me. “cheap” is not a word I use with any full frame, but the A7 is cheap compared to the D800 or 5D3, for example. I appreciate your thoughts, but until you use it your thoughts are based on images and spec sheets. Meh.

  65. To me it’s hard to see who should use it. If you want something small and easy to carry MFT is one of the best solutions. Lightweight camera, small lightweight but bright and sharp lenses and a good stabilisation.
    If someone desperately wants fullframe it’s necessary to have bigger and more heavy lenses so why making a smaller body? The most weight and space used in the bags comes from the lenses and not the camera body. If it’s just about the new technology in mirrorless cameras they could also have made a smaller version of the A99 with the A mount instead of starting a third line of lenses. And what about third party manufacturers like Sigma and others? Will they stay with the mass market of NEX or focuse on the new E-Mount FE kenses? It gets really confusing for the customer and it also gets hard to see if it’s a good investment or not because we don’t know what Sonys plans for the feature are. Do they drop the alpha line? The NeX line? Or is this A7 just a test like the RX1 was? They should decide in which direction they want to go like Olympus did with their FT vs MFT system.

    • Precisely: Sony is sending the wrong signals to system buyers; I’d be very worried if I was heavily into Alpha now simply because I have no idea if it’s a dead system…I’d also be hesitant about buying into a new mount given their track record.

    • Why do you assume that Sony is only targeting system buyers with their E-Mount? I think it’s pretty clear that they created this mount to allow for users who would have never considered Sony viable to try the A7(r). These new camera’s are about versatility. I think maybe MFT is in serious trouble.

      • It isn’t, because once you add lenses and adaptors that have FF coverage, the size and weight differential becomes significant again. The more lenses, the smaller the advantage of the A7 over a small FF DSLR.

        • So you are saying that the Sony A7r with Leica 50/2 Summicron or very inexpensive Voit 35/1.4 doesn’t serve a significant weight advantage to any other FF option? You do realize that these new camera’s are smaller and lighter than the OMD-EM1 don’t you?

          • I’m saying that you lose AF with those, which defeats the point of the 24MP PDAF sensor, and neither lens delivers wide open on the OM-D (I’ve tried and owned both) – let alone the corners of a 36MP FF sensor – so you’re not getting the advantage you think you are. On top of that, you don’t have stabilization; try getting pixel-perfect results from that small a body and 36MP pixel density: you can’t. Couple that with having to stop down to cover focus errors and/or edge issues, and there might not be as much difference to a stabilized 16MP M4/3 body and native lenses as you think. I owned one of the early NEX bodies – one of the reasons I abandoned it was because stability with something that small required much higher shutter speeds than expected, leaving you with limited shooting envelope.

            I’ve also long said that the equipment makes far less of a difference to final output than the photographer, especially since we’re long past the point of sufficiency. It means we can use what we want and concentrate on the images. Maybe that’s why I’m less excited about this than most.

            • The NEX name is history. Alpha is the new name. A mount is live and active but SLT is dead or near dead for future camera announcements, I suspect we will see A mount cameras with the DSLR body shape however mirror less and hopefully with Oly’s stabilization.

  66. Iskabibble says:

    Canon and Nikon are competitive, because they are absolutely CRUSHING the rest of the industry, combined.

    I hope this Sony is a great success!

    • They’re there because of historical legacy and inertia, but they’re also losing market share. Slowly, but surely. The camera retailers here are suffering – sales are down 40% on last year, more so in the DSLR categories.

      I really, really hope the Sony sells simply because it will show the manufacturers that a) they have to innovate, and b) disruptive products can be commercially successful.

  67. The new 70-200/2.8 II A mount lens is $3000 (outrageous enough). The new FE-mount 70-200/4 is supposedly $1399.

  68. They did right on the body price but the lens costs?? I just saw the 70-200 is $3000! And with that lens… Well a small or large camera becomes a moot point. I’m sure it will take great photos but like you said, all these cameras are in the pretty darn good (sufficient) category and unless we start investing in P1 or Hasselblad MF, what’s the point? Buying a Camaro with every factory option is simply still not a Corvette. But unless we spring for the Rolls Royce- why bicker? Everything is a lesser vehicle. I’m happy I switched to the OM-D because my “lesser car” does alright by me and I enjoy taking pictures more. And I made a nice sum of money in the transition.

    • Holy cow. That’s a lot of money for a 70-200/4 – 1.5x what Nikon and Canon are asking for versions that are a stop faster.

      Ironically, you can actually buy a Hasselblad film system for about the same cost as just the A7R body alone, and if you look hard, a second hand 39MP digital back for about double. Total cost? Same as the A7R plus lenses. Except now you’re into medium format, and have a full suite of glass…

    • You’ve got your 70-200s mixed up: it’s the A-mount f/2.8 II version that’s $3000. I don’t think official pricing has been set for the FE f/4 lens, though Dennis (below) reports hearing $1399.

  69. Just a correction, at least in US pricing, the A7 is $1700 body only, and the A7r is $2300. $2000 is the A7 + kit lens.

  70. I’m not concerned about lens options for now. Sony has its own A mount adapters, and the Alpha line does have some extraordinary glass (135 f2.8 stf). I’ve been using the NEX7 with an LA-EA2, and the A7r/LA-EA4 combo seems like a natural upgrade path. Sony also promised a 15 lens-lineup by 2015. They kept their word with Alpha, so I have some confidence we’ll actually see more than 15 by then.

    I think Sony understands that, by the end of the day, not many professionals will buy the A7 or A7r on day one. Early adapters will be people like me, hard-core adapter enthusiasts or people with an investment in m mount or Alpha SLT. They would be the people who absorb the early R&D costs and make sure Sony breaks even, maybe even sell a few full kits to pros. With the proper adapter (and I am wondering loudly why Sony doesn’t make one itself) the A7r should handily outperform the D800E with lenses from Zeiss (the actual one) or Leica.

    That said, I’ve decided to wait for an later iteration with better continuous shooting capabilities and maybe IBIS. The fact that Sony has more up their sleeves (not calling it the A9 or NEX9) is a reason to give many pause.

    • I think output will likely match the D800E, but not exceed it. There are some outstanding Zeiss lenses for F mount too – more variety than for Alpha/ NEX/ E put together…and we’re also forgetting Nikon’s own special purpose glass, like the 85 PCE or the 200/2.

      • Yes, but as far as I know there are no WAs that match the 15mm Zeiss M mount Distagon in all regards. Also, just looking at the charts, very few lenses can fully satisfy a 36MP FF sensor wide open, up to the extreme corners. I think this is why Zeiss is making the Otus and Nikon is reportedly working on an updated 58mm f1.4.

        Also, I realized that the A7r/50mm APO-summicron combo isn’t that much more expensive than a D800E with the 55mm APO-Distagon…Both can somewhat be seen as Medium Format quality, but the former is lighter than the D800E alone.

        • There are the 2.8/15 and 2.8/21 Distagons; the Otus is to replace the Planars – which I agree do not have enough resolution for 36MP FF (except the Makro-Planars).

          The 36MP FF sensors, with the right lenses, are pretty close to entry level MF on resolution, but not tonality. And there’s still a distinct advantage for the higher pixel counts – I see a very noticeable difference between the D800E and CFV-39; the Hasselblad’s color is far superior, and resolution and pixel acuity are a notch up. Then again, at anything above ISO 200…

          • Ah the old ache for a 645D…

            I have a question though, which one would you recommend between the 21mm Summilux and the 24mm? I am looking as fast options for RF film work (performances), and potentially an M9 some time in the future. I recall you using the 21mm Summilux in the M type 240 review, do you have any experience with the 24mm? I used to own an 28mm Summicron, but the flare problem and terrible IR hotspot nagged me enough to sell it.

            • I used the 21 Lux extensively on the M8, but never on the FF Leicas. To be honest though, I thought the Zeiss 2.8/21 Biogon had a much nicer rendering and comparable resolution – but I needed the extra two stops on the M8.

              Agreed on the 28 Summicron – sharp, but flare-prone and somewhat anemic in rendering. Frankly, I’m preferring either the Ricoh GR naked or with GW3 adaptor as my compact wide angle of choice. Either that or the D800E and Zeiss 21/28 Distagons…

              • Do you still have one? I would much appreciate a review – even if the photos were made by a crop-frame body. Speed is of absolute relevance to me as well, since I don’t have the tools to properly work on high iso color film, even for B&W 800 is the limit of production usability.

                News about both lenses are simply so rare on the internet, especially the 24 lux which seem perpetually overshadowed by the bigger, wider brother.

                • No, I repaired and sold it after the rear elements separated after a year. At that price, that kind of poor build quality is unacceptable. And since I no longer have an M body – it doesn’t make any economic sense – I couldn’t justify keeping any glass that wasn’t being used. The only M glass I have left is a 50/1.4 ASPH, which I use on the OM-D.

                • Consider the 25mm Ziess Biogon I have used several of the Leica’s at 21mm and 28mm Elmar, Elmarit, Summicrons but the way the Biogon renders tone is just lovely and is as far as I am concerned its distortion free!

  71. Let me see if I got this right; I can now throw my 50 Lux on a small 36MP Full Frame camera? Done and done…

    • Yes, but we have no idea how the corners will perform. The corners are already marginal on the OM-D until you stop down, and that’s not even APS-C…

      • I put my own 50mm Summilux ASPH on to a VG900 in Hong Kong and did some rough tests. No problem to be seen with the corners, and that was with a nortoriously strong AA filter and unmodified A99 sensor. But then again a double gaussian 50mm prime is not the suspect for corner issues – it’s easy to imagine that all super-wides will have some kind of color problem with mirrorless FF cameras.

        When people ask me what to with red corners I usually tell them to treat it as a fact of life – Leica was the one to come up with correction profiles that addressed corner color shift on the M8. Build profiles for every lens/body combo, and apply them in PS/LR before post processing.

        • The adaptor plays a huge part in things, of course – anything slightly out of plane or center will result in visible astigmatism.

          Not just superwides: anything below 35mm, in my testing…

          With few exceptions, I use native lenses.

          • Actually sharpness decrease is only apparent when one tries to focus with confirmation points on an OVF instead of using peaking or zooming in. An imprecise adapter may throw the focus scale off (which is common on wide angles) or cause a lens to not reach or overreach infinity. However, even if the imaging plane is slightly off, the lens could still reliably form a sharp image onto that plane at a different focal length then indicated. There may be some sharpness decrease, but I only notice it with very cheap adapters not milled well.

            Again this highlights the need for Sony to make its own m adapter. The Fuji one is excellent and likely the single best lens-to-camera adapter I have ever seen. It might also be a nice way to build some sort of detection mechanism, which could trigger peaking or 5x mode when the lens is rotated.

            • well, not focal length, focus distance. The a mount adapter is with its own phase detection AF and therefore not of concern, but anyone who doesn’t even want to fork out $100 for a halfways decent infinity-reaching adapter is only belittling their own gear.

            • You really have to use live view for critical work with any of the new high density sensors.

              As for the adaptors: not quite correct. Thickness affects infinity focus/ focus distance. However, if the center is off-axis, then you’ll see astig/ coma. The mount surfaces could still be planar. Even worse, if they’re non-parallel and the optical center is off-axis…all bets are off. It doesn’t take much for this to happen – a tenth of a mm or less.

              Agreed though: the camera makers should really do their own high-quality adaptors, similar to Fuji and Panasonic. If you’re going to buy a $7,000 lens to put on the camera, cheaping out on the adaptor seems foolish. It’d be extra revenue for them, too – they make something even if you buy somebody else’s lens…

          • Timur Born says:

            Do you see A to E mount or FT to MFT adapters to be “native” or not then? ;)

            • Those are as close to native as we’re going to get, and presumably made to higher tolerances. I don’t really consider them native as the optical formulae are designed for much longer flange distances, which means a) compromises and b) larger physical size than is actually necessary.

              • Timur Born says:

                I know at least one MFT user over at DPR who uses shimming on all his MFT primes on MFT bodies even. One can hope that the original manufacturer adapters are made to higher tolerances. Roger Cicala over at Lensrental did some adapter tests by the way, and of course there is no free lunch.

      • The Camera Store confirmed that the Leica 28 Elmarit ASPH showed no noticeable vignetting or corner softness on the A7R. This is a brutal lens in terms of vignetting and colour shift. If this works, the 50 LUX ASPH will work even better.

  72. John F. Opie says:

    I’ll say it. That design is hideous. Crucify at your leisure.

    Sony seems to be taking the route if building good and possibly great bodies while producing cheap lenses. That drives the market for adapters for the vast world of legacy lenses for those who know how to use them whilst leaving the great unwashed masses with mediocrity at best. Then again the great unwashed masses don’t know or care the difference.

    Its actually good for those taking their phitigraphy seriously. Average photographer s will only get average results despite owning what they think is the best. The others will have great tools that, used properly, will give us fantastic results. Time for me to start bugging Gigapan to support Sony cameras… :-)

    • But the adaptor route is fraught with its own issues: you’ve now got four precision mating surfaces, and if any one of those is even slightly out of plane – it’s a disaster, and spells game over in the corners. And you can bet that the majority of these aren’t well made or even precise! Plus we have telecentricity issues, the sensitivity of digital to certain lens designs etc…native system lenses are definitely the way to go; I’ve bought enough adaptors of a wide range of quality levels to adapt anything to anything – even those that won’t focus to infinity (Noctilux on D700, anyone?) to know that at best, you might get lucky: good performance is an exception, rather than the rule.

  73. Hope for Canon and Nikon to respond? The rx100 has been out for over 18 months and not a sniff from the bigger players in response so I’m not hopeful here. Actually for a 1st gen product this does look pretty good. This camera does seem similar to the EM-1, but again that is only a good thing. I had feared they would cripple their FF offering like the RX1 and not include an EVF. Also video is probably stronger for the new Sonys versus the EM-1 which is ever becoming more of a must feature.

    Out of the 2 variants I think the A7 is the shrewder buy – better AF and 24MP will be much more forgiving than 36MP and plenty enough resolution for most. I also hope it succeeds – for travel it looks great if the Zeiss zoom lens isn’t too heavy. Weight of the lenses is still a concern for me though.

    Nevertheless exciting times :)

    • They’ll have to, eventually. Second generation EOS-M is coming soon, the Nikon 1 was a mistake, and the Coolpix A shows potential…but not enough consistency of thought, especially in the UI. Oh well.

      I’m not sure whether it says more of the E-M1 that we’re comparing it to FX, or the other way around.

      Agreed: THe A7 is going to be easier to get more out of than the A7R, unless you really know what you’re doing. That said: I’m going to shut up about weight, because I’ve gone off the deep end with the Hasselblad, digital back, prism finder and large lenses…

  74. Two thoughts on this:

    1. The RX10 is the more intriguing camera for me because of its video features and seemingly great customizability. That price is painful though.
    2. I hope this announcement causes enough people to cancel their E-M1 preorders so I can get mine sooner!

    Bonus thought: looking forward to the Hasselblad luxury editions! :D

    • Your second point is exactly what I was thinking this morning! I’ve been compulsively checking Amazon to see if there’s any movement, and it’s wearing me out. :-) Agree on the RX10 pricing, too.

    • I agree. There are of course many cases where full frame is still relevant, but it’s pretty much dead for me. Sure, attractive prices, attractive size on the new Sony A7, but the sizes and prices are at least as bad as usual with the lenses, so it doesn’t really matter anyway. It’s like taking something small and putting beasts of lenses onto it. I can see the point in a studio, but then so can I with a Nikon D800E. For smaller sizes, I prefer cameras with smaller lenses as well.

      The RX10 is intriguing, even at that price, since it’s so free of compromises. There’s EVF, and something as unusual as an environmentally sealed, fixed f/2.8, 8x zoom lens by Zeiss. If this one is sharp already wide open, it’ll be ridiculously good for a compact super zoom camera. That sensor is already known to be OK even at ISO 1600, and f/2.8 will assure you that it’ll rarely even need to go to the high end of ISO.

  75. It won’t replace the E-M1 for field use. The Olympus is simply much more camera. But for studio and other controlled use, it’s seems to be a more practical solution than a D800, flip screen and all. It might also be fun to use it with my nice collection of OM lenses, although I’ll have to reduce resolution to something more in line with what those lenses can handle.

    • But if you’re in the studio and size isn’t an issue…why not just use the D800E?

      • The Sony is cheaper, allows experimenting with different lenses and most important: Has an articulated LCD, very convenient for product photos, and since I’m at it: I do a lot of industrial photography, and the flip screen would be very useful then too. There’s not always space behind the camera for my big head :)

  76. You are raising a lot of the same issues I have.

  77. Will be interesting to see how they perform with Leica lenses via a adaptor, my Summilux 50 in particular copared to the M.

    • All depends on what they did with the microlenses in the corners. If they’re regular/ straight (i.e. lenses are all telecentric, like M4/3) then the RF lenses will be pretty poor.

  78. Basically I’m waiting for this to trickle to Canon as that’s where all my glass is and hopefully they will manufacture a decent mirrorless or D800 alternative in the coming year or two to compete. I can’t afford to get a proper wide angle tilt/shift on any other manufacturer at the moment so that’s why I’m holding off switching on my work kit… Still it’s getting mighty tempting and ever so close to being the time to jump ship if the big C doesn’t come up with anything interesting soon. I know a bunch of my friends will be interested in these offerings from Sony however…

    • There’s a reason why most of us have started to diversify our primary systems – if Nikon did mirrorless right, I don’t think I’d have gotten into Olympus, etc. I can safely say that’s the same thing with pretty much every other serious photographer I encounter; some have switched over entirely.

      • Greetings. Sorry for my bad english, I use translator. About the mirrorless camera. The main idea is not that Nikon can not do the “right” mirrorless camera, but the fact that almost all equipment is created and implemented by Japanese companies! Remember when Pentax was dying picked up his Japanese company. Conclusion – the Japanese company will be releasing a different photo equipment, but this equipment will be Japanese!

  79. The 70-200 f4 is white…

  80. Just watched the Launch video. I agree on the 35mm and 55mm. Hope they stretch out a bit. :-)

  81. How odd, your post came earlier than the B&H and Adorama official announcement emails. I agree with you and I am more excited about the potential changes this system will bring to Nikon & Canon. These giants have been sleeping on legacy for too long, putting on fancy consumer-oriented functions to justify price hikes and generation (or numbers really) changes. It’s time that they go back to complete on the core functions with a camera that are naturally much easier to entertain consumers than DSLRs. Nikon and Canon, entertain photographers please!!

    • Embargo was 2pm – I got one email from B&H then, and another one later.

      Serves the big boys right if they lose market share: laziness and complacency in anything shouldn’t be rewarded.

  82. Reblogueó esto en LeoAr Photography / Lex Ariasy comentado:
    Add your thoughts here… (optional)

    • Steve Jones says:

      Looks delicious but I really can’t eat another camera right now, I still have a full stomach with the EM-1 and I’m expecting it will take some time to digest.
      Not surprising that some think the A7 looks like an OMD, Sony and Olympus are unofficially dating each other here in Japan. If they decide to get married it might not be the worst thing to happen in the history of photographic equipment. That would be a Leica M Hello Kitty limited edition in white, with a pink Summilux and character case. I pray it never happens! Exciting times, yes. And scary times. Ha Ha !

    • Would quality adapters be properly aligned for use with manual Olympus OM lenses, manual Nikon, Contax etc?
      Could you recommend adapters that would be suitable? Or ist not worth the risk of errors in planarity? Thanks.

    • Question: How about using an Olympus MMF3 adapter with the Olympus EM1? Theoretically wouldn’t that combination provide accurate alignment for adapting four thirds lenses to m43? I’m curious on your findings for that combination Ming? Also, Do you think that the Speed Booster would be made within the proper tolerances. I’m asking about m43 after thinking that the EM1 would be a more versatile and proven tool since it is a mature tool.

      • It certainly has better tolerances than third party to third party. I found the results pretty good, but then again I only tested one sample of the adaptor.

        No idea about the speedbooster. Can’t get hold of one to test, as usual.

        • Old technology question: Thanks for your reply. What are your thoughts on adapting an Olympus 100mm f2.8 OM lens or a 28mm OM lens to a Canon 6D with Canon’s manual focus screen? Would this method of focussing/thin adapter be accurate? Thank you.

          • I don’t even know if the lenses would perform up to snuff. Too many variables – the optics, the adaptor…the only thing which will work reasonably well is the focusing screen…

Trackbacks

  1. […] my initial thoughts piece, I said that neither camera would make sense with adapted lenses. I stand by that, for […]

  2. […] new line really means, with three of my favorite photography blogs sharing their observations here, here and here. The new Sony A7 and A7R really does look interesting and if I had a ton of cash to spend […]

  3. […] Since writing, Sony has announced the A7 and A7R full frame mirrorless cameras; I took some heat over the last two days for not being gushingly full […]

  4. […] firmly on the fence. Before ordering, I would suggest that people read Ming Thein's comments. Quick thoughts on the Sony A7 and A7R – Ming Thein | Photographer I know certain other commentators are very controversial and disliked by many, but Ming is a […]

  5. […] Australia: posted some low resolution image samples Photoclubalpha: Thoughts by David Kilpatrick. Ming Thein: His view on the A7 series announcement. Imaging Resource: Hands-on by Dave Etchells (scroll down […]

  6. […] release text in different languages: A7-A73 at Dpreview, ThePhoBlographer, Ming Thein (quick thoughts), Cameras.reviewed, Amateur Photographer, PB (A7r), PB (A7),  Focus Numerique […]

  7. […] release text in different languages: A7-A73 at Dpreview, ThePhoBlographer, Ming Thein (quick thoughts), PB (A7r), PB (A7),  Focus Numerique (French), LeMondeDeLaPhoto (french), […]

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