Sony Did It: A7, A7R Cameras Boast Tons of Pixels in Tiny Package

First things first: I’m p***ed at Sony and despite that, I just paid them $3000. I’m angry because despite four emails to four different PR flacks in their offices, they didn’t even add me to their media distribution list, something that would have taken them all of five minutes. I’ve been better treated by the White House in the past. More about that later. Let’s just say, I’m excited about their new cameras but not about the company.

Sorry, but I didn’t stay up late to see the actual announcement on a live video stream. We basically already knew what was coming and while I get excited about new gear, I reserve late-night television for stirring movies or world-shaking news events. Some take the launch of these Sony cameras as the latter, but I think it falls a bit short of that. Just a bit.

Anyway, so Sony today announced the cameras they had leaked and the specifications are as intriguing as they promised to be.

I love bullet points:

A7

  • 24 megapixels full-frame sensor
  • mirrorless, small, lightweight
  • interchangeable lenses
  • Sony E-mount, but only new FE-series lenses will work properly without adapter
  • contrast & phase detect AF
  • 117 focus points
  • tilting 3″ LCD
  • 2.3 mln xxx EVF
  • 5 fps
  • weather-resistant
  • body only: $1700; with 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens: $2000
  • available in December

A7R

Sony A7rAll of the above, except for:

  • 36 megapixels full-frame sensor
  • no anti-aliasing filter
  • contrast detect AF only
  • 25 focus points
  • 4 fps
  • body only: $2300

Lenses

  • Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2.8; available December; $800
  • Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 55mm f/1.8; available January; $1000
  • Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* 24-70 f/4; available January; $1200
  • Sony 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens with A7
  • Lens mount adapters; available in December for $200 and $350

Also announced: a new A-mount lens: 70-200mm f/2.8; available in January at a whopping $3000

And, oh, another camera, the Sony RX10, a 24-200mm equivalent zoom with f/2.8 constant aperture and the same 20 mp sensor as in the Sony RX100 II. Price is $1,300.

Any Good?

I just paid Sony $3000, because I pre-ordered the A7R and the 35mm lens to try out. I might add another $2000 to their income if I decide to also try out the A7.

On paper, these cameras, are awesome. They promise superb image quality in a small package. On paper, they could best many cameras out there. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 might be forgotten quickly, just as that camera quickly outranked the Panasonic GX7, except for video. Almost all those bulky DSLRs with their big lenses are overkill if Sony has done this right.

And that’s of course the question.

Sony builds sensors. It makes sensors for Nikon and Pentax. We can be pretty sure that these new sensors will be awesome and deliver top quality.

What we don’t know is if they got the cameras around those sensors right.

A7back

I’m not convinced, actually. I think the cameras look much more beautiful than the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 or any DSLR. But that Olympus and the top-notch DSLRs look that way because form followed function. They’re built to work fast without having to wade through menus or wonder where that particular button/dial combo is that quickly changes a key setting.

It looks as if these Sony cameras have form first and function second. I haven’t held or used them. Yet, I do wonder where the ISO button is and how easy it will be to knock the EV compensation dial out of its setting or unintentionally change the camera mode.

Another thing to consider with Sony is that at heart it’s an electronics giant. To its credit, it’s highly innovative compared with Canon and Nikon. But that also means product lines come and go. In this case, Sony is adding a new lens mount and new series of lenses and the old lenses don’t work normally without an adapter.

On the flipside, with Canon, Nikon and Pentax you can invest in a system with some confidence that they will build on it and not abandon it or devalue it anytime soon by rolling out a new toy that demands all new gear.

Just compare:

Cybershot_r1 Canon_EOS_5D

These cameras were rolled out around the same time. The Sony is largely forgotten, despite it being hailed as a great innovative camera at the time. The Canon was the beginning of a great line of cameras. That old clunker is now a ‘classic’ and still much sought after.

Likewise, the more recent Sony RX-1 was welcomed as groundbreaking, which it was. It delivers great quality in a small package. But it cost just a bit less than the Nikon D800e or the Canon 5D III (more with the optional viewfinders), while its current resale value is around $2000 whereas the Canon and Nikon fetch upwards of $2500. The cost of ownership of a Sony seems pretty steep compared to the competition.

Still, I might be impressed after I shoot with the A7R. I was planning to narrow down my gear to two Olympus OM-D EM-1s, the Fuji x100s and one DSLR. Now I don’t know anymore. I held off ordering the second EM-1 after I learned about these Sonys. I will decide after I use the Sony A7R and see what other lenses they are planning at which price points.

Rant Continued (Optional)

Before I leave, another word or two about Sony PR. This is a company with an army of PR people. They list their names, emails and specialties. If one is out, they tell you in an automated return email and promise that the person they’re referring you to will get you in touch with someone who can help you.

PR people are ambassadors of their organization. They help the company by helping those who further disseminate company news.

I’ve been a journalist for many years and I do know how the game is played. As a journalism student, I once spent an hour or so sitting next to a spokesman for the New York mass transit system waiting for him to spare one minute to give me a little tidbit while he was continuously calling reporters for the large New York dailies to keep them filled in on a running story.

But I’ve also called or visited the White House on different occasions as the US correspondent for Dutch media outlets and I have gotten my questions answered and been dealt with courteously, despite the fact that Dutch newspapers really don’t matter much to an American administration.

I understand this blog is new and doesn’t get much traffic yet compared to older blogs, so naturally it’s not at the top of their priorities. I get that. I would do the same. But I do get thousands of views and I will get more in the future. To not even add me to the media distribution list or even acknowledge my request is just bad public relations. You slight someone once and they will remember it forever.

I’m a pro, so my reporting will be fair and honest and I will write about Sony gear as I do about all gear, with a sense of balance and without becoming a venomous critic or loving fanboy of anything. It’s just gear after all.

End of rant.

Now I’m eagerly awaiting my new Sony…

 

I need to make some money too, so please use these affiliate links if you’re pre-ordering. It doesn’t cost you a dime extra:

Sony A7 body only: B&H, Amazon
Sony A7 with FE 28-70 f/3.5-5.6 kit lens: B&HAmazon
Sony A7R body only: B&HAmazon

Sony Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 lens: B&HAmazon
Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/4 lens: B&HAmazon
Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 25-70mm f/4 lens: B&HAmazon

Sony RX10: B&HAmazon

Comments

  1. I like your style. Keep-on trucking !

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