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CNET First Look
Sony A7: A welcome step-up from smaller sensorsIt's a great alternative to similarly priced entry-level full-frame dSLRs, as long as you don't need speedy continuous shooting.
Hi. I'm Lori Grunin and this is the Sony Alpha ILCE-7, otherwise known as the A7. There's a lot to like about this camera. It's got a 24-megapixel full frame sensor which delivers reasonably sharp images that have a nicely broad dynamic range. JPEGs are pretty clean through ISO 800, and if you shoot raw, you can push that higher, though depending upon the scene, the JPEGs might be okay as high as ISO 12800. The video looks good without any unexpected artifacts and its got nice tonality even in low light. The camera's also quite well-designed. It's got a sturdy magnesium alloy body, a relatively large bright contrasty electronic viewfinder, and a bright tilting LCD. The controls are pretty customizable with all the frequently needed settings at or near the surface. I do wish some of the buttons were more pronounced and dislike the feel and location of the movie record button. But these are more than made up for by controls like the auto manual focus override toggle, placement of the SD card slot on the side rather than in the battery compartment, the support for USB charging, an exposure compensation dial, a grip sufficiently large for shooting with heavy A-mount lenses, and other amenities. I don't really have any complains about the feature set. Well, I wish it had a built-in flash that's frequently excluded from full frame models. In addition to the EVF and the tilting LCD, the A7 supports Wi-Fi with NFC along with apps from Sony's proprietary PlayMemories app store. Well, it offers better performance than its more expensive sibling, the a7R and it's also competitively fast as similar DSLRs, it does have a really slow startup which may frustrate some folks and the burst shooting performance doesn't match competitors. The battery life is also kind of poor for a camera in this price class. If you want full frame photo quality and a great shooting experience in a compact model, it's a good choice. Just carry a spare battery and don't get frustrated by the occasional sluggishness. I'm Lori Grunin from CNET and this is the Sony Alpha ILCE-7.