Sony A7 Compact Digital Camera

Full-frame cameras have always been expensive, and therefore making them only available to those photography purists wanting all the details expected for a 35mm-film-equivalent sensor. Moreover, the trend also goes like this: full-frame cameras with interchangeable lenses cannot go on a smaller body, more because there should be much more going to meet the price. All of these are about to get wiped with Sony’s introduction of the new A7.

The Sony A7 is actually a series, but as of now, only two models are around namely the A7 per se and the A7R. We’ll deal with the latter first so that we can build a bigger room for our main attraction. Unlike the A7, the A7R does come only with a CMOS sensor but is packed with rich pixels at a count of 36MP, ready to be used for large-scale productions and poster printing. The omission of the anti-aliasing filter is also absent, followed by the preservation of the contrast-AF system. All of these also come with its equivalent price at around $1,700, and this can be surprising because it tended to be more expensive than its full-frame equivalent.

But for our main option, the Sony A7, the price is actually much friendlier at around $1,700 without the lens (add at least $300 to get the full set with 28-70mm lens). Too cheap and too surprising for a full-frame SLR? No, technically it also isn’t an SLR; it’s a mirrorless camera just packed with a full-sized sensor. Being mirrorless, it’s already a conclusion that you shouldn’t expect any pentaprism technology; no optical viewfinders, and even worse, no built-in flash.

But beware though; the Sony A7 is bouncing heavy despite some exclusions to be a mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera. The A7 is surprisingly lightweight at only 416grams body only. It comes with all other SLR-like controls such as a full-sized mode dial, dual control wheels (front and back respectively), Wi-Fi and NFC capabilities, a powerful EVF, a tilting LCD, and more, a magnesium-alloy weather-sealed body. We’re only scratching the surface yet, but as up to this point, I bet you’re already enjoying this stuff.

The Sony A7, however, doesn’t really sport a flashy and elegant look. It’s black, and you can easily get confused if it’s trying to maintain a NEX look or an Alpha look. It’s commemorative of Olympus’ OMD-EM1 for being classical or vintage in look, but going to the grip side felt more like holding an SLR. The EVF mechanism is also a bit big and chunky on sight, and the rest of the body is skinny and slippery in look. We are not trying to spoil the thing here; again, the A7 is a very powerful machine packed in a very compact but well-protected body.

Almost all of the buttons and the rest in the control layout are but typical, except for some few ‘miscalculations,’ so to say. First, the two control wheels or dials are exceptionally too visible, probably too much in height, but this may be so that it can be accessed quicker. Alongside the mode dial is another dial for the exposure compensation, which can also be confusing and can be easily mistaken as the control wheel especially on the first instances. Though the grip is good and even the thumb rest area, the video record button is awkwardly on the far right edge—an area that no finger can easily get accessed to.

Of course, it’s a matter of practice and mastery, and we are thankful that at least there they are. Moving forward, the tilting LCD may also be an issue, not because it isn’t touch-sensitive, but because it doesn’t really articulate side-by-side and it tilts only to a very limited angle. Then there’s the EVF. The EVF is actually beautiful and very functional, but when shooting indoors, the EVF seemed like it lags from time to time. I also wear eyeglass and sometimes the sensor isn’t properly detecting my eyes whenever I trigger proximity.

Moreover, despite the addition of the company’s latest Bionz X Processor, the Sony A7 can still be disappointing in some areas. One is that the A7 wakes too tardy for a shot (like a little more than one second). Shutter lag and the lag between shots (whether JPEG or RAW) are also noticeable, making it a camera not for action superstars. The burst shooting stops luckily at around 30shots, and that at least is acceptable for the 5fps speed. Lastly, the A7 introduces a hybrid AF system comprised of both contrast and phase detection, but despite the abundance of AF points, AF speed only works well in well-lit situations; a bit of a struggle is very obvious when you’re dancing under the moon.

But the 24.3MP full-frame CMOS sensor with OLPF does not disappoint in image quality as expected. One thing so notable about the image quality is that, there’re a lot of details preserved even on those dark shadows and intense highlights, making RAW files easily mastered during post-processing. The dynamic range is also incredible that you can hardly find it in common DSLRs. Operating with higher sensitivities of up to ISO 3200 is operational even when in 100% crop; at ISO 6400 noise is already there, but the following stops will already consume the details.

Lastly, I am also quite disappointed with this ‘excited’ release of the Sony A7; the availability of lenses are but too limited to start with, making this camera overall not a really impressive upgrade in today’s date. Though Sony promises at least 10 more options of lenses for full-frame cameras at least by the end of this year, opting for lenses dedicated for APS-C sensors can be frustrating because of the cropping factor. All in all, if you can wait for more lenses and for the price to cut off a bit down in some few months more, I’d say you’re making a good investment with Sony.

Sony A7 Compact Digital Camera Price in the Philippines: Approximately Php 76,500.00

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