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Sony's compact full-frame duo (pictures)

The A7 and the A7R may have different performance and image quality, but on the outside they're identical.

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Lori Grunin

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1 of 14 Sony Electronics

NEX-designed bodies

Despite the ILCE model nomenclature, the A7 and A7R's bodies bear more similarity to the NEX-7, which they replace, than the cheap ILCE-A3000.
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Controls

The cameras seemingly offer all the controls an experienced photographer would want, including three adjustment dials, a dedicated exposure-compensation dial, and nine programmable buttons that can be associated with one of 46 operations. The user interface is also improved over the NEX experience, with a combination of Sony's Quick Navi control panel operation and more a streamlined version of the NEX menus. The EVF is quite nice.
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New FE mount

Although Sony introduced the full-frame E-mount VG-900 camcorder a year ago, we're finally seeing the debut of the Full E-mount (FE) lenses, which are actually designed for the full-frame cameras. The mount still accommodates standard E-mount lenses, though your choices are to crop to 10mp (A7) and 15mp (A7R) or retain the vignetting. This is the new 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 FE kit lens.
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New adapters

In conjunction with the cameras, Sony is replacing its current LA-EA A-to-E-mount adapters; the new offerings have larger openings to accommodate the full-frame sensors.
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5 of 14 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Size vs. features

The cameras are much bulkier than standard compact digital cameras, or indeed Sony's interchangeable lens NEX cameras. They're the smallest interchangeable lens cameras with a full-frame sensor, though.
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6 of 14 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Adapter

You'll need this adapter to use Sony's standard lenses. It's not tiny by any means, but it won't take up a lot of room in your camera bag.
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Lenses

Three new lenses will be available for the camera that are specifically designed for use with full-frame sensors.
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Full-frame sensor

That's a full-frame sensor stuffed inside. It's much bigger than the sensors you'd typically find inside compact digital cameras, allowing for greater dynamic range and lower image noise.
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9 of 14 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

OLED viewfinder

There's a 3-inch OLED viewfinder on the back of both models.
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10 of 14 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Controls

Both models offer full manual control over all settings as well as automatic and scene modes if you don't want to play around with the dials.
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11 of 14 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Layout

The layout is identical to the previous full-frame compact, the RX1, which I found to be simple to operate.
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Inputs

There are inputs for mics and headphones -- handy for capturing professional audio.
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13 of 14 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Size

It's larger than Sony's NEX range of interchangeable lens cameras, but it's much smaller than full-frame digital SLRs.
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35mm sensor

Here's the 35mm sensor. It's not really much use by itself.

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