Sony A7 Review

 
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Sony A7 Performance


Timing and Performance

Generally good performance overall.

Startup/Play to Record/Buffer Clearing

Power on
to first shot

~2.1 seconds

Time it takes to turn on and capture a shot.

Play to Record,
first shot

~0.7 second

Time until first shot is captured.

Buffer clearing time
37 seconds after 50 Large/Extra Fine JPEGs*
Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card.
14 seconds after 28 RAW files*
21 seconds after 24 RAW+ L/F JPEG files*
*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/sec UHS-I SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Powerup to first shot was sluggish, and the camera penalizes pressing the shutter button before it's ready by needing a second press. Switching from Play to Record mode and taking a shot was pretty fast, though. Buffer clearing times can be slow given the deep buffers and large file sizes.


Shutter Response (Lag Time)
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
0.227 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting. (AF timing performed with the Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens at medium focal length.)

Full Autofocus,
Multi-area AF mode
0.230 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting.

Manual Focus
0.132 second

For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".

Prefocused

0.023 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

Looking at the Sony A7's ability to determine that it's properly focused when shooting the same target multiple times, its autofocus speeds were good for a CSC, and about average compared to most consumer DSLRs. The Sony A7's full-autofocus shutter lag (with the subject at a fixed distance) was 0.227 second in Single-area AF mode. This increased slightly to 0.230 second in Multi-area AF mode. When manually focused, the Sony A7's lag time dropped to 0.132 second, which is also good. The Sony A7's prefocused shutter lag time was only 0.023 second which is faster than most CSCs and much faster than DSLRs, thanks to its electronic first curtain shutter which is enabled by default.

To minimize the effect of different lens' focusing speed, we test AF-active shutter lag with the lens already set to the correct focal distance.


Cycle Time (shot to shot)

Single Shot mode
Large/Extra Fine JPEG

0.67 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots, 9 seconds to clear*.

Single Shot mode
RAW

0.79 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots, 2 seconds to clear*.

Single Shot mode
RAW + L/F JPEG
0.79 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots, 7 seconds to clear*.

Early shutter
penalty?

No

Some cameras don't snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous mode
Large/Extra Fine JPEG

0.35 second (2.87 frames per second);
50+ frames total;
37 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 50 shots, with no signs of slowing.

Speed Priority
Continuous mode

Large/Extra Fine JPEG

0.20 second (5.00 frames per second);
50 frames total;
20 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 50 frames.

Speed Priority
Continuous mode

RAW

0.20 second (5.00 frames per second);
28 frames total;
14 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 28 frames.

Speed Priority
Continuous mode

RAW + L/F JPEG

0.20 second (5.00 frames per second);
24 frames total;
21 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 24 frames.

Flash Recycling

N/A

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/sec UHS-I SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Single-shot cycle time was about 0.7 second when shooting Large/Extra Fine JPEGs. This increased slightly to 0.8 second when shooting RAW or RAW+ Large/Fine JPEG. This is a little sluggish compared to most DSLRs, but pretty good for a CSC.

Standard continuous mode performance was quite slow at about 2.9 frames per second. Speed Priority Continuous mode managed 5 frames per second, though autofocus is fixed at the first frame of a burst in that mode by default. Unlike the A7R, though, when continuous AF is enabled, the A7 will use phase-detect AF for focus tracking during Speed Priority Continuous mode. While not as fast as most DSLRs or CSCs these days, this isn't bad considering the sensor size and resolution.

Buffer depths were very good at 50 frames for Large/Extra Fine JPEGs, 28 for RAW and 24 for RAW+Large/Fine JPEGs in Speed Priority mode. In standard continuous mode, buffer depths are likely better (we only tested Large/Extra Fine JPEGs and didn't run into the buffer limit before stopping our test at 50 frames). Note, though, that our target for this test was designed to be difficult to compress, so maximum JPEG burst lengths should be even longer with typical subjects. Buffer clearing times were slow, but perhaps not unreasonable given the deep buffers and file sizes, ranging from 14 seconds after 28 RAW files to 37 seconds after 50 Large/Extra Fine JPEGs.


Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

23,628 KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

Download speeds were very fast, quick enough that you won't feel the need for a separate card reader, even with large memory cards. (Note that this test was performed with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/sec UHS-I SDHC card: Slower cards would likely show slower transfer times.)


Bottom line, the Sony A7's overall performance is good compared to most Compact System Cameras, and noticeably faster than its higher-resolution sibling, the Sony A7R, with faster autofocus, shutter lag and burst performance. Startup time and buffer clearing after max-length bursts are however sluggish.

Battery Life

Fair battery life for a Compact System Camera.

Operating Mode Battery Life
Still Capture,
(CIPA standard, LCD Monitor)
340 shots
Still Capture,
(CIPA standard, EVF)
270 shots

The Sony A7 uses a custom NP-FW50 rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for power, and comes with both a single battery and AC adapter for in-camera charging via USB. The battery is rated for 340 shots per charge when using the LCD monitor and 270 shots when using the electronic viewfinder, according to the CIPA standard. Battery life is fair compared to typical CSCs though pretty good considering its size and sensor, but poor compared to most DSLRs. We recommend getting a second battery for your A7 if you plan any extended outings or shoot a lot of video. An optional VG-C1EM vertical grip is available which doubles battery life with two batteries.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on a fully-charged rechargeable battery), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

 

Sony A7



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