Thought that a full-frame interchangeable lens camera (ILC) was just the stuff of dreams? Sony proves that it can be real with the A7.
Costing less than an equivalent SLR and sporting just as many features, the Sony A7 comes in two variants: the 24-megapixel A7 and the 36-megapixel A7R. The A7R removes the anti-aliasing filter (sometimes called optical low-pass filter) for sharper images.
All of the images here are presented straight out of the A7, with the exception of cropping or resizing for web. Stay tuned for full-resolution samples and more images in our review.
Just because you're buying a "serious" full-frame camera doesn't mean you have to miss out on some of the fun features from other models. Sony continues the colour filter options, as found on its earlier NEX range, and ports them over to the A7, although they are much more hidden within the menu system. Options include monochrome (as pictured above), pop colour and selective colour, plus many more.
Five new full-frame lenses were announced alongside the A7. We had the opportunity to try out the 35mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss, which of course, we decided to shoot with wide open at first. Combined with the benefits of a full-frame sensor, the lens delivers some beautiful and smooth looking bokeh that really helps bring subjects to the fore. A slight touch of overexposure was used here, too, in order to accentuate the scene.
The A7 uses a hybrid AF system in order to acquire focus, combining phase and contrast detection. There are also a number of different focus modes available, such as wide, centre or zone that can be used depending on the shooting situation. In this example, the centre AF area picked up on the dog quickly. While it doesn't feel quite as swift as an SLR, it's still impressive.
The A7 is a lot of fun to shoot with not only because it has creative filters, but because it feels so sturdy in the hand. The handy exposure compensation dial on the top panel also makes it easier to adjust on the fly — though it is easier than usual to find your thumb resting on this to change shutter or aperture because of its positioning near the other control dial.
The A7 might not be fast enough to capture full-on sports or action subjects, but it's still nimble enough to snap moving subjects on the go. Here's a 100 per cent crop (inset) to show how the A7 deals with noise at slightly higher ISO levels.
In general, the metering is accurate on the A7 and exposures come up looking nice and even when shooting in automatic modes. Here, we wanted to push the sensor a little more and get some indication of dynamic range by deliberately underexposing to create areas of stark high and low contrast.