Handling the Sony Alpha A7 – some thoughts

Street Photography with a Nikon V1 and 10mm f/2.8 lens


Last week I hand another chance to spend sometime handling the new Sony A7 (not the A7R).  The previous time was at a show and the model there was not acting quite as I expected.  This time the A7 performance more as I expected and its handling and size impressed me more.

As more photographers get their hands on this camera we are starting to see what this camera can really do.  The image quality is certainly impressive and while not cutting edge on speed of autofocus its certainly well up there with the A7 being faster then the A7R.

Despite it being a mirror-less camera its a lot noisier then you would expect and many SLR’s are quieter, also when the light levels drop its interesting to hear that some photographers are reporting there is definitely a few 100ms delay between whats appearing on the EVF and the actual scene, meaning that the decisive moment can be missed, though its not an issue in brighter lighting conditions.

Its biggest limitations currently seem to be the system behind it and lens available.  I know of at least one Leica Photographer moving to the Sony Alpha 7R as the camera for his Leica Glass.

A major advantage of the Sony is image quality and cost, if you have Leica glass its a body many thousands of pounds cheaper then the Leica alternative.  Many prefer the EVA over a rangefinder viewfinder and many also prefer now focus peaking to rangerfinder focusing.  Others will still prefer the optical viewfinder and greater then 100% view of the rangerfinder, and no sensors except the Leica’s are truly optimised for Leica Glass.

Still £1700 for the Sony verses £5100 for the Leica M (240) or £3900 for the Leica M-E, even going second hand its £1500 for a M8 and £2500 for a M9.

That kind of savings can buy a number of very nice lens.

For me the jury is out.  I prefer optical finders, I like the greater then 100% view of a rangefinder and I am willing to practice regularly to keep my rangerfinder focusing skills in practice.  Still I look forward to reviewers like Sean Reid to put forward there thoughts to using Leica glass on the new Sony Alpha 7 and 7R.  Michael Reichmann has also posted his thoughts on using the new Sony with Leica glass here at Luminous Landscape.

Oh and do not forget to budget for extra batteries and a battery charge for the Sony.  Sorry but WHAT! The battery charger is an optional extra, come on Sony if I am spending £50 on a point and shoot then yes I may not be surprised that it does not come with a battery charger but a £1700 camera!  Get real Sony.

Still the camera feels well built has most of key functions quick to hand and feels good in the hand which for me is very important.  Most EVF’s I have found lacking, I like the one in the Nikon V1 but hate what on paper is a better EVF on the Sony NEX 7, while the EVF on the Sony NEX 6 is OK.  I found the one on the Sony Alpha A7 to be very good and also liked the easy diopter adjustment as my close up vision is not what it once was!

If your after image quality, want full frame and a small mirror-less design its definitely at the top of tree.  Lets see what kind of system Sony can build around it.

If you are on a budget and want to get into that street photography scene then a second hand Nikon V1 and 10mm f/2.8 lens or the Ricoh GR compact make a good option and are well worth considering at a fraction of the cost of any rangefinder.


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