The new Sony A7 and A7R cameras had people fumbling over each other to get to the cameras at PhotoPlus 2013. As a refresher, the Sony A7 and A7R are Sony’s first full frame mirrorless cameras featuring 24.3MP and 36.4MP sensors, respectively. The Sony A7 is priced at an impressive $1698, while the A7R remains respectable at $2298.
The cameras are nearly identical when looking at them next to each other. When you pick them up, however, it’s obvious that the A7R is heavier than the A7. Both cameras have a sturdy build and feel like robust cameras.
The Sony A7 is built as an all around shooter with a built-in optical low pass filter to reduce moire. This enables the A7 to perform better as a video camera and capture images that contain repeating patters without as much concern for moire. The A7R has no optical low pass filter and is going to provide the maximum image detail; however, you may have to deal with some moire from time to time depending on your subject.
The 2.4M-dot OLED EVF is simply awesome on the A7 and A7R. It’s the best one I’ve ever used and is one of the main reasons that I want to buy one of these cameras right now. Some cameras you pick up have a nice viewfinder and you think “I could live with that.” The A7 and A7R have a “holy crap, is this for real?” kind of viewfinder. I love it.
While I’ve used cameras with EVFs, as a Canon DSLR user, I’ve never owned one. The instant gratification of image review on the brilliant OLED viewfinder takes chimping to a whole other level. I can’t yet judge where this is a good or a bad thing.
Autofocus if fast and accurate; however, in my brief and informal tests with face detection AF turned on, I found it to be a little hit or miss. Single-point AF was just as fast as you would expect in a DSLR. I was surprised that the A7R focused as fast as it did. I expect a noticeable falloff in AF speed since it does not have the phase detection built into the pixels like the A7; however, I couldn’t tell much of a difference using the cameras back-to-back.
I tried both cameras out with the Sony 55mm f/1.8 lens and it seems like a great mate for these cameras. It’s a fast, yet compact prime that works well with the smaller bodies of the A7 and A7R.
In short, I think Sony has a pair of winners on its hands with the A7 and A7R. Personally, I’m leaning toward the A7 based on the price and the inclusion of the optical low pass filter. The tradeoff image detail is not worth the risk of moire to me.
You can find the Sony A7 and A7R here at B&H Photo.