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CNET First Look
The new Sony Alpha ILCE-7R makes the gradeIf you don't mind carrying a spare battery, the A7R offers terrific photo quality and a great shooting experience in a compact model.
Hi. I'm Lori Grunin and this is the Sony Alpha ILCE7R, more informally referred to as the a7R. There's tons to like about this camera. It's got a 36 megapixel full-frame anti-aliasing filter-free sensor which delivers sharp images that have a nicely broad dynamic range. Jpegs are quite usable up through ISO 1600 and if you shoot raw, you can push it as high as ISO 6400. Really, some of the best image quality I've seen in this class. [unk] video looks pretty good without the artifacts I've come to expect from sensors like this. It's also very well-designed with a sturdy magnesium-alloy body, a relatively large, bright, constrasty EVF, and a bright tilting LCD. The controls are reasonably customizable with all the frequently needed settings at or near the surface. I do wish some of the buttons were more pronounced, and I dislike the feel and location of the movie record button. But they're 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 the battery compartment, USB charging, and an exposure compensation dial, plus a grip sufficiently large for shooting with heavy aim out lenses, and other amenities. I've got few complaints about the feature set too. While I wish it had a built-in flash, that's frequently excluded from full frame models. In addition to the electronic viewfinder and tilting LCD, it supports Wi-Fi with NFC along with apps from Sony's proprietary app store. The remote shooting app is still pretty basic though. So, what's not to like? The performance, because it uses Sony's rather sad contrast auto-focus system, it's kind of sluggish and frequently has trouble obtaining a focus lock. Like most of Sony's ILCs, it takes a relatively long time to power-up. And because of the high-resolution images, there's some lag before you can make changes after shooting. And the battery life is pretty poor for a camera in this price class. I really like the camera despite its poor performance, but it does make for some profanity filled intervals. If you want terrific photo quality and a great shooting experience in a compact model, and you're willing to carry a spare battery and you don't mind the occasional sluggishness, the a7R makes the grade. I'm Lori Grunin from CNET and this is the Sony Alpha ILCE7R.