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Christmas Gift Guide

Controls

Layout

OLED viewfinder

Professional model

Full-frame sensor

Lenses

Alpha lenses

Adapter

Battery grip

Camera cross section

35mm sensor

28-70mm lens

35mm prime

Size vs. features

Inputs

Packing light for a holiday but still want professional image quality from your camera? Feast your eyes on the Sony A7 and A7R, two compact digital cameras that boast full-frame image sensors and interchangeable lenses.

The A7 has a 24-megapixel resolution and will start at $1,700 for the body only. The A7R has a higher 34-megapixel sensor, no anti-aliasing filter, and starts at $2,300.

Caption by / Photo by Andrew Hoyle/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Andrew Hoyle/CNET
The layout is identical to the previous full-frame compact, the RX1, which I found to be simple to operate.
Caption by / Photo by Andrew Hoyle/CNET
There's a 3-inch OLED viewfinder on the back of both models.
Caption by / Photo by Andrew Hoyle/CNET
The A7R is apparently the more professional version of the two models, with a higher resolution, no anti-aliasing filter, and a higher price tag.
Caption by / Photo by Andrew Hoyle/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Andrew Hoyle/CNET
Three new lenses will be available for the camera that are specifically designed for use with full-frame sensors.
Caption by / Photo by Andrew Hoyle/CNET
You can use any of Sony's Alpha range of lenses, though, once you pop on an adapter.
Caption by / Photo by Andrew Hoyle/CNET
Here's the adapter. It's not tiny by any means, but it won't take up a lot of room in your camera bag.
Caption by / Photo by Andrew Hoyle/CNET
You can get a battery grip for the camera, too. It extends battery life and allows for a more secure grip. There are buttons on the side to help with shooting in portrait orientation. It'll set you back $299.
Caption by / Photo by Andrew Hoyle/CNET
It might look pretty, but if your camera does this, gather up all the pieces and send them back.
Caption by / Photo by Andrew Hoyle/CNET
Here's the 35mm sensor. It's not really much use by itself.
Caption by / Photo by Andrew Hoyle/CNET
This 28-70mm lens is available only as part of a kit with the camera.
Caption by / Photo by Andrew Hoyle/CNET
This 35mm prime has high-quality Carl Zeiss optics and an f2.8 aperture. Prices for additional lenses weren't known at the time of writing.
Caption by / Photo by Andrew Hoyle/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Andrew Hoyle/CNET
There are inputs for mics and headphones -- handy for capturing professional audio.
Caption by / Photo by Andrew Hoyle/CNET
Updated:
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