Sony A7 Field Tests

Sony A7 Field Test Part I

Initial thoughts, performance and quirks

by David Schloss |

The Sony A7 and its sibling the A7R (which we've also reviewed) together mark a pivotal moment in the photographic world. Though at first glance it looks for all the world like a particularly nice fixed-lens camera, the A7 is in fact a full-frame, interchangeable-lens mirrorless cam. Its semi-pro grade body fires a shot across the bow of Nikon and Canon, both of which have taken a more cautious approach to mirrorless than some of their customers would have liked.

A more versatile option. At first glance the Sony A7 might not seem like a game changer, but it most certainly is. The camera pairs a 24-megapixel, full-frame image sensor and phase detection technology to create a camera that, in my opinion, is more versatile and groundbreaking than the higher-res (but slower-focusing) Sony A7R.

In my Sony A7R review, I noted that camera to be perfect for portraits and relatively-slow-moving subjects. It's great for wedding photographers, event photographers and enthusiasts photographing the occasional little league game. With its phase-detection autofocus capability and emphasis on greater performance, the A7 tries to capture a wider market.

Read more about my first impressions and hands-on experience with the Sony A7.

Read Field Test Part I

Sony A7 Field Test Part II

New glass, great pics, features and closing thoughts

by David Schloss | 03/07/2014

Great new lenses. I tested the A7 with the new FE-mount Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 ZA lens, which costs $800. I quickly fell in love with this optic: It only projects a little less than three inches from the front of the camera, and it's one of the sharpest pieces of glass I've used. That's to be expected from Zeiss, a company with which Sony has a long partnership.

Even though I found it hard to tear myself away from the Zeiss glass, I also used the Sony-branded kit lens that's available with the A7. The kit lens is a 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 optic, and it feels much more durable and substantial than most other kit lenses I've tried. Depending on the focal length, you lose 2/3 to 2 stops over the f/2.8 Zeiss lens, but the zoom is still a great and efficient piece of kit.

Plenty of detail. Images from the A7 are wonderful, though slightly less detailed than those from the A7R. That's understandable -- with 24 megapixels instead of 36, there's a lot less data in the A7's images, although it's still providing as much (or more) resolution than you'll get from the majority of cameras on the market. And that's borne out by my experiences.

Mount the 35mm f/2.8 Zeiss lens, and the A7 produces images that are indistinguishable in quality from what I'd manage with my professional cameras. Tonal and dynamic range of the A7's images are great, as are detail and exposure. That's not surprising to me, as my experience has been that Sony's cameras typically provide some of the best-in-class images. Still, it's amazing when this full-frame camera system is smaller than some Micro Four Thirds bodies.

Read on for more about the Sony A7, including my final thoughts.

Read Field Test Part II

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