Sony Alpha A7 (ILCE-7) and Sony Alpha A7r (ILCE-7r) Part 9 – FinalShowdown

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27 Responses

  1. Crix says:

    Ufff! That was quite a deflating conclusion! I am not quite sure whether I agree with all your points. The D800 shows that the lens is weak on both left and right side. In the extreme edges left and right bottowm, I can’t really see a difference in the foliage rendering. Considering that the A7 has significantly lower resolution, I have the impression that the dropoff is similarily. What would be VERY interesting, to see this shot with the Nex 7 and SEL1018.
    This would put thinks into perspective and would help many with the question whether to stick with the APSC bodies or not. Do you think such a shot, even on another day with different weather is possible?
    Thanks for all your work and the informative review, by the way!! Regards, cxspark

    • Hi mate,
      I don’t think that I will make any more tests with A7/r. I made tons of tests and could publish only small part of it, and in my eyes, corner performance is significantly weaker on A7r than Nikkor D800E. At any aperture and with any lens that I can mount on both cameras. Look carefully in original images on the red house in the right image frame e.g. There is review where you can see comparisons between A7 and NEX7, so maybe that can help. Including NEX 7 with SEL1018 vs A7r and Nikon D800E is good idea, but more fair would be to compare it with A7 and Nikkor 14-24/2,8 e.g.
      Maybe someone will find time to do it properly.
      I am not insisting on my conclusion at all. As noticed above, It is related to my intended use and for that, both cameras are dissapointing. Let me repeat my main problem. – after 3 months of intensive use, I lost confidance that I will get clean, sharp images as with other cameras that I am using, including NEX7. Sometimes they are breathtaking but other times they are ruined with slight blur, strange color casting, corner smearing or/and sensor flaring. When I can’t rely 100% on my equipment (learning how to obey its limitations) it loose its relevance. I am sure that we would be able to see amazing captures with both cameras, but I am not capable to deal with their issues.

    • Anonymous says:

      That is why I bought Fuji XT1. 🙂 APC sensor, kicks ass.

  2. jtra says:

    Regading the wide angle corner issue: Have you considered that the lens adapter could be tilted a bit? So image center would be in focus, but sides would not be. Did you captured the same image with various focus distances to disprove that posibility?

    • jtra says:

      Accidently while reading on unrelated topics on DPreview forums I have seen this post:
      where a guy claims that 14-24 worked badly with two cheaper adapters, but it works perfect (better than D800E) with pricier Novoflex adapter. While other non-wide lenses worked ok with all adapters. Which further supports my tilt theory.

    • I tried most of UWA lenses to see if there is significant de-centering issue, but that wasn’t a problem in my tests. The problem would probably manifest in a lab conditions and there is always slight de-centering but not only with the adapters involved. To test for the field relevance of de-centering, I usually shot normally, at 90 degrees and with camera upside down. If the pattern of smeared area moves with the camera rotation I report it. This however wasn’t the case in my UWA tests.
      BTW, I am using Novoflex – Nikon G to E-mount adapter.

      Thanks for suggestions,

    • jtra says:

      Another suggestion of what may be different when Nikkor 14-24/2.8 is mounted on A7(r) aside of tilt/alignment could be in a glass stack on sensor. See:

    • Interesting. I would wait however to see more definite conclusions from Roger. I am not sure at which focus distance they tested on the bench and that can affect results as much as additional glass in the optical path or aperture opening. In other words – every lens design is optimized at only one focus distance. Changing that distance will change MTF results (quite significantly), with similar effect as adding additional glass in the light path, because the refraction indexes would change. On top of that, additional glass might change magnification and I am sure it does to certain extent. That can also affect resulting MTF. Roger used “some optical glass” that he found around. We can’t be sure what optical formula is used for sensor stack.
      I am still convinced that most important for resulting MTF on different cameras would be applied micro-lens layer, but the linked article shows once again, how hard is to establish empiric standard for lens testing….

  3. Steve Watts says:

    Just a question regards Nex 7 – you mention original firmware – what differences does this make?
    Thanks Steve

    • I wrote a lot about it in some older posts, related to RAW cooking by Sony. In short, with the later firmware 1.01 and following, Sony added more extensive software corrections hard coded in RAW files. It resulted in sometimes odd color casting across the frame, but the main problem I had was related to Metabones smart adapter version 1. Using that adapter for Canon EF lenses with fw 1.01 and later, resulted in significant greenish cast (counter mask for magenta casting with most WA lenses) in most shots.
      Finally, I found RAW lossy compression that Sony uses slightly less blotchy with original firmware.
      For most users though, new firmwares brought valuable improvements (bracketing, better low light focusing) that overweighted those few shortcommings.

  4. Gert says:

    Thanls for your posts. Quite informative. Having a look at the A6000 over here. I have not yet seen purple corners with the Sigma 19mm.

    • Sigma 19 wasn’t bad on the NEX 7 either, but overall, A6000 has a sensor that delivers much better performance at the edges and corners than NEX 7 in all respect. Adding very good high ISO performance, we can assume that 2-3 years in sensor development pays well off.
      Thank you for looking,

  5. Karl Beath says:

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Karl Beath says:

    Hi Victor

    A good review of the cameras. Like you, I want to use one of these for my hiking/landscape photography to lower the weight and the from factor of my canon 5dii.

    I tested my 17ts with a metabones on the a7 the other day, but could not work out how to set the aperture on the sony body. Would you be able to tell me how to do this?

    Also, i am considering getting the zeiss ze 21mm which is also a manual focus without the aperture ring which is fine for the 5dii, would this talk to the sony to give the aperture info. I see that you used the ze 21 on the sony body, hence my question.


    • Hi Karl,
      that sounds strange. Check if the lens is well mounted, and maybe clean contacts on metabones, lens and camera. It should work normally like with any other sony E-mount lens. You might try also “advanced” mode. Press the button on the metabones adapter and keep it pressed until you mount lens on it.
      If nothing help, send a message to Metabones, they are usually very keen and rather fast to reply. Let me know if you make it work.

  7. Bliss says:

    This was simply an enjoyable read (: Thank you very much!

    I’m now VERY curious to see a similar comparison (that you did in part 6) of the a7 vs NEX 7, but rather a7 Vs a6000. Either way, due to this long report, I’m glad to have an a6000 on the way in the mail (: Thanks again!

    ps: your avatar is hilarious

  8. Kiril Karaatanassov says:

    The test for flare is inaccurate. A7 has flares with 35/2.8 and 55/1.8 but I am yet to see the issue with 3rd party lenses. Sorry but this review is not very good. You should test cameras with the same lenses.

  9. Thomas says:

    I do not understand the issue with flange distance. The distance between sensor and rear lens element is a result of the lens design only.

    The flange distance only defines where the lens metal ends and the camera body metal starts. It should have no influence on a third party lens.

    • Anthony says:

      Thomas, your argument is correct in theory, but in practice the flange distance also changes the angle of incidence at which the light hits the sensor. Old UWA lenses were made for use on film and a sharper angle wasn’t a problem, because film is a one-dimensionally flat surface. Sensors on the other hand are 3-dimensionally flat…they’re conceptually made of buckets. The surface of the sensor is of course flat, but the actual dectector for each pixel sits in its own bucket just beneath the surface. Light hitting the sensor at 90 degrees will just shoot straight into the bucket without touching the sides, but as rear elements of lenses get closer to the sensor (as happens in UWA lenses), then the angle of incicence at the extremities of the sensor become so acute that the light particles don’t enter cleanly. Some will bounce around before hitting the detector and others will simply bounce off and never reach the detector. This is what causes magenta cast and smearing.

      Back in the early days of the NEX-7, Carl Zeiss published a paper explaining this phenomenon on APS-C. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a link to post here. But if you hunt around, you can find it.

      Thus, what Viktor is saying is this phenomenon, which exists on APS-C, is simply exacerbated on full-frame, because the flange distance is even less optimal at preventing the effect.

      It’s useful to note that Leica was one of the first companies to hit this problem in its M9. Its solution was to hard code its firmware to compensate for the colour shift by adding colours to the image before writing it to the storage card. Having electronic registers between lens and body, meant it could have a separate colour profile for every lens that exhibited this problem. On NEX and Alpha7, there is no electronic connection, therefore no way to compensate for this in camera. All we can do is compensate for it in post.

      Lens manufacturers such as Zeiss and Voigtlander have now adjusted their old lens designs to work more optimally on digital. e.g. the Voigtlander 15mm Heliar III now works pretty well on A7 and A6000, when its predecessor was awful. But note the lens is now much bigger as a result.

      • Anthony says:

        p.s. as to how lens manufacturers are changing their designs, I’m guessing, but I suspect it has something to do with moving the rear lens elements forward so they’re not so close to the sensor. This would explain why Zeiss Loxia and Voigtlander lenses are a bit bigger than previous designs.

        • Thomas says:

          True… the mirrorless designs demand small lenses which can have this problem.
          But a normal SLR lens on an adaptor has the rear elements of course at the same distance from the sensor as always.
          Short flange distance will enable ‘problematic’ designs to be made. But it does not stop anybody from making well-working designs, perhaps with telecentric imaging.
          A long flange distance does limit the design space more. But the lenses look compact on the store shelves.

  10. Anthony says:

    Superb article. Regarding shutter-shake, presumably it will be less pronounced when the A7r camera body is mounted directly onto the tripod?
    and in this scenario will having a really stable tripod nullify the effect completely?
    For example, screwing the A7r onto a brick wall is a workaround that should work…I think Sony should publish this in the troubleshooting section of the manual 😉

    In the images you took, what shutter speeds where you using? Is there a magic shutter speed to focal length ratio beyond which shutter-shake disappears?
    Sorry lots of questions.

    • Hi Anthony,
      a) No. Basically any lens with A7r might show shutter shake involved blurriness at certain condition (shutter speed, DOF, distance from the subject etc. ) Most pronounced problem is when camera is in portrait orientation and lens is mount on the tripod. Super tele lenses are not possible to use on tripod otherwise (too heavy for the mount).
      b) Stable tripod doesn’t play a big role here, but a really weak one will probably involve more shake. Mounting camera on the brick could help (it will depend on the strength and type of the mount itself), but I can’t imagine this in practice 🙂
      c) I believe I wrote shutter speeds used above, but it will always depend on the particular camera/lens combination. In general, most affected speeds are between 1/60s and 1/500s.


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