Sony A7 II – the Review That Wasn’t to Be for a Camera That Shouldn’t Be, Yet

a7II

This non-review comes in three parts. First, my impressions. Second, thoughts about where the A7II fits in. Third, musings about Sony’s plans and full-frame cameras in general. You can stop at any point and ignore the rest. Or you can stop now, if you like to read only positive stuff.

Impressions

This was meant to be a long review of the new Sony A7 II, but it was not to be. Just when the rental camera arrived, I fell sick and when I started feeling better, the camera needed to be packed up and shipped back.

Normally, considering how little use the camera saw, I wouldn’t write anything. But I felt something was missing in the first impressions and review posts I encountered on the web: the sense of whether this camera is not only better than the regular A7 but also better than its peers. That’s in the end what matters, right?

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Updated: Zeiss Introduces Loxia Lenses for Sony Full Frame

Updated with Zeiss’ answer as to why the first lenses are a 35mm and a 50mm.

loxia

Carl Zeiss today announced two lenses in its new Loxia line of full-frame, manual lenses for the Sony E-mount, most notably the Sony A7, A7r and A7s: the Loxia 2/35 and the Loxia 2/50, a 35mm/f2 Biogon and a 50mm/f2 Planar.

The lenses closely match the two existing FE primes for the Sony A7-series, the 35mm/f2.8 and the 55mm/f1.8, which also carry the Zeiss logo but which offer autofocus but lack the aperture ring, the metal body and the weather sealing that the Loxia line offers. The Loxia lenses also have an aperture de-click feature for video production.

Still, it’s somewhat of a mystery why Zeiss chose to introduce two lenses with identical reach as the two Sony Zeiss lenses, both of which are highly regarded in their own right. Surely, Zeiss would have immediate success if they instead offered prime wide angle lenses for the A7 series.

Update: I couldn’t leave the mystery alone, so I asked Richard Schleuning, Senior Director, Americas for Zeiss’ Camera Lens Division for a clarification. This is what he replied:

“The goal with the new Loxia family was to develop a new lens line that can be used for both still photography and for video. We will not compete with the existing Sony/Zeiss branded AF lenses for the FE mount, since they are already well received for still photography. However, there are limitations to using an AF lens when focus pulling and in this regard, the Loxia lenses will provide better control. We’ve incorporated a manual iris on the lens (which is unique to E mount lenses) and the user has the option of ‘de-clicking’ the f/stop detents to allow for continuous aperture control.”

“We started with the 2/35 and 2/50 first, since these are the most popular focal lengths for video. The 35mm focal length is also the most popular among rangefinder shooters – especially street shooters, who we will target with this new lens line as well. Zone focusing will be a snap when using the focus and DOF scales on the lens – also unique to E mount lenses.”

“Of course, there are customers who will adapt their M mount lenses to use with the A7 series, but these do not offer any direct communication with the camera and have to be used 100% manually. The price of the Loxia lenses (which includes a lens shade) is less than the cost of a M mount lens + adapter + shade. So there is both convenience and a cost savings to the customer.”

“We’ll add to the family in the future with wide-angles and short telephotos. The challenge with these mirrorless cameras is designing an ultra wide angle lens that does not exhibit vignetting, lens shading and the ‘smearing’ effect common when using adapted wide-angle M mount lenses.”

In summary, Zeiss is clearly aiming these lenses at video shooters and the Leica M plus adapter crowd. Mystery solved.

The new lenses will be featured at the upcoming Photokina trade show in Cologne, Germany.

That bird above this post is a Loxia, by the way. Zeiss has made it a habit to name its lens lines after bird species.

These are the lenses:

loxia_35_50

B&H has the lenses available for pre-order (afilliate links):

Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon T* Lens for Sony E Mount  $1,299

Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar T* Lens for Sony E Mount  $949

De-Click Key for Loxia Lenses (5-Piece Set)  $28

Sony A7R Review – Working Out a Love-Hate Relationship

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After using the Sony A7R for a month, I’m still undecided about its overall merits. As a matter of fact, I’m going back and forth on this camera. I have written and rewritten this article several times, but I still haven’t reached a clear conclusion. As I move toward a new phase of using the A7R, it’s time to sum up my impressions so far and make this into a rolling review.

Regular readers know by now that I don’t mince words and that I’m not a fanboy for any brand. I’m just a fanboy for great cameras to shoot with. Image quality probably should come first, but in reality I can live with good but not great image quality while I have a hard time with good but not great camera usability. That’s where my troubles with the Sony A7R come in.

Read on for my take so far.

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That ‘New’ Leica Consumer Camera & Other PPE Tidbits

So, yes, Leica did announce a new camera at the PhotoPlus Expo today, as I wrote they would. But it turns out that the word ‘new’ in their communications to me was a bit of a misnomer.20131024-_DSF1623

What they did introduce today was an additional Leica D-Lux 6 in glossy black with a silver lens. And that’s it. Just a cosmetic makeover. Same camera otherwise.

Sony A7/A7r

I briefly handled the new Sony’s. Unlike so many others, I do think they look beautiful. They felt good in my medium-sized hands. They focused fast, but I couldn’t compare it with any other camera. They don’t feel as sturdy as the RX-1, even though they apparently are. A Sony rep said the RX-1 feels sturdier because the lens is an integral part of that camera, whereas on the A7/A7r the lenses are interchangeable.

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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.

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