Sony Alpha A7 (ILCE-7) and Sony Alpha A7r (ILCE-7r) vs rest of theworld. Part 1.

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20 Responses

  1. philberphoto says:

    Wow, Viktor, among all the nonsense published on this new pair of cameras, your review stands out as very professional and full of information, rather than opinion. Congratulations!

  2. Thanks Viktor for your writeup. I am also seeing the issues you report with my FE35 on the A7R, including slightly soft left side. I think the lens has been optimised for near subjects with nice bokeh rather than landscapes. Comparing the FE35 with my C/Y 35-70/3.4 at 35, what I notice is that the C/Y gets really sharp at f/8 across the frame, leaving the FE35 behind. I’m not sure at the moment whether I will keep the FE35, I suspect the Zeiss manual FE mount lenses that should be around this time next year will suite me better.

    Can I ask you how the CV 33/1.2 behaves at f/8 compared to the FE35? Does it carry on improving, and what are the edges like? I’m wondering getting one instead if it can double up usage with soft wide open and sharp at f/8, like I see with the CV50/1.5.

    • Thanks Jonathan. I just get back from a whole day of shooting with FE35/2.8 and CV35/1.2II. I will need few days to process and doublecheck all findings, but it shouldn’t take too long. So far it seems that CV35/1.2II doesn’t show pronounced color shift, but vignetting is very heavy and it doesn’t fully dissapear at any aperture. However, I need to doublecheck this on my power computer at the office.

    • I decided in the end to return my FE35 – whilst it does some things nicely, I realised in the end that the thing that bugged me the most was its ergonomics. I found that for landscape shots, the autofocus would often choose the wrong target (eg when lots of branches around). That led me to needing to manually focus it and I just found it not as nice as a fully manual lens like my CV50/1.5. Plus I realised that with the CV50 I was setting approx focus and aperture as I took the camera out of my bag – the FE35 I had to do everything when it was up at my eye. If the FE35 had been a little cheaper I may have kept it.

      My CV35/1.2 vII should arrive tomorrow 😉

  3. Crix says:

    excellent and informative review!
    I only wanted to add that OMD-E5 shouldn’t be compared on ISO basis, because as DXOMARK documents, except for ISO100, the E5 cheats a full stop and more with its ISO setting:
    So ISO3200 is only ISO1489. Whereas the Nex 6 & 7 which only cheat half a stop, are at ISO2330-2617!
    This makes comparisons not useful unless both camera are forced to fixed shutter speed & aperture and then left with Auto-Iso to compensate. Or the viewer compares accordingly…
    Best regards,

    • Thanks a lot.
      Regarding Olys ISO issue – you might fall into ISO trap whatever method you choose. I know about this DxO findings, but they are measuring sensor on a very specific way, that has few drawbacks too…
      For this review, I decided to reduce the amount of light by stops, instead of prolonging shutter speed. Main reason was to exclude possibility of shutter shock vibrations, that could slightly blur the image and thus compromise results (could appear as with less noise). Of course, because I did tests in my home studio, where I have white walls and furniture, by reducing main light, I did influence light reflections all around and thus my results couldn’t be scientifically 100% correct. But as I like to state, my results might indicate trends – approximate results to show tendencies. In that respect, I did find Olympus files to be slightly underexposed (main exposure was measured with external light-meter using readings for incident and reflected light). However, from this real life test, I haven’t noticed more than half a stop for Oly. But even that doesn’t must to mean much, because Olympus might apply additional correction in RAW files, such as boosting ISO and applying more NR. What matters is that images from all cameras are noise wise at least – very good IMHO, especially for real life use.

  4. Crix says:

    By the way, since you own both the A7(r) and the speedbooster, I would love to hear from you whether the combination of a Nex with SB can be seen as good alternative to a A7? Or whether the image degradation is visible? Thanks a lot!

  5. I was hoping you’ll get your hands on those, and here it is! 🙂 I find your opinions and tests on lenses to be 100% accurate with my own findings, so I’m waiting impatiently on follow-up review parts. So far, do you think the improved resolution on A7r is worth going for, over A7? Just sold my D700, and can’t decide which to get (currently have samyang 35, 85 and cv35, but eventually hope to replace them with that new 24-70 and 55, perhaps keep the sammy85)

    • High Daniel and thank you for your kind words. I will post soon some comparable images so that you can judge yourself. I would say, that more resolution is usually good thing, but it certainly has some negatives too. One of the main is RAW file size. Sony probably apply some lossy compression, so that A7r files are smaller than my Nikon D800E lossless compressed RAWs, but they are still huge, and once you unwrap them, unless you have super fast computer, you might find waiting time annoying. I am not speaking about editing itself, but even viewing, selection, transfer and storage, all that takes longer than most were used to. There is also slower flash x-sync time on A7r and of course higher price. At the end, it always depend on the intended use, but I think that unless you want to crop more or print very large, A7r is not such a clear choice.

  6. Martin says:

    Great reading – nice review 🙂
    I’m thinking A7R – most of my lenses are SLR style and not M-mount (I just have the Nokton 35/1.4). It’s a good lens, and I agree with a previous comment about it probably not being optimised for landscapes. I’m considering getting an A7R and keeping the RX1 alongside.

    • Hi Martin, I suppose you are not in hurry (having RX1), so I would advice to wait a little while the hype settle down. I have some problems in my initial tests, and I need to repeat them, because on several occasions I am getting sharper images for A7 than A7r with FE 38/2.8. I suspect shutter vibration problem, but it could easily be some of my testing mistakes. Anyway, if not in a hurry, it is better to wait a while and follow web.
      best regards,

  7. Anonymous says:

    Very nice post. In my opinion, however, these camera comparisons are not fully comparable. I hope I didn’t misread your pics (is the first
    at ISO 3200 or 6400, since the text talks about ISO 6400, the pic has ISO 3200). Nevertheless I agree with the basic fact that a bigger sensor gives you better possibilities regarding DOF, ISO and resolution, for example.
    But it’s important to use equivalence principles to compare things, otherwise, you’re comparing apples to oranges. Equivalence means having the same FOV, DOF, exposure, meaning one needs to compare
    a m43 25/1.4 ISO 200 with a FF 50/2.8 at ISO 800 (see or It then comes down to sensor specifics, whether
    one is better than the other. However, a FF gives you the opportunity to go to lower ISO or lower f-stops,
    a big advantage over m43 (albeit at the expense of changing the DOF, becoming too small, eventually, or by changing the exposure) and provides a larger number of line widths/picture height, naturally. I have an OMD and a D600
    and usually go with the m43 due to the lower weight, since for DINA4 prints the difference in image quality is really negligible up to ISO 3200.
    The only thing I admire most at FF is the shallow DOF for flower shots. This however works fine now with
    the Voigtländer 0.95 lenses I obtained recently. So is there a need for a Sony?.
    I think so, because the Sony could be the single camera, making maintaining
    two systems obsolete. The only thing which maybe isn’t possible is to develop fast zoom lenses including image stabilization. Image stabilization is something I really miss in the A7.

  8. It very much depends how you look at it… I am not comparing sensors in terms of their light gathering capability and SNR. There are much better equipped labs for doing so, and no matter how their methods might be reliable or relevant better to say, they can provide you with a data that are important to you.
    What I did, is to put camera in a real life simulation.
    I just asked myself – if I will have a scene that is lit with certain intensity (and quality), and I will have a choice of cameras – which one will give me better results…
    1. FOV
    My test chart is my model – I want it to fill the frame (I want to use maximum resolution of my system to show my subject). This makes FOV comparable, because, that is what I will do in a real life – with m4/3 I will pull back to get my chart in composition, with FF I will move forward.

    If I would use different lenses (and apertures) to equalize for DOF, I will put another extreme variable to quotation – lens optical performance. This has nothing to do with my task – I want to see which camera will do better job, not which system will. (That is of course another possible approach, but with even more variables leading to less comparable results). Using this method in a real life, will of course result in different DOF. But stopping lens down (in FF) to equalize DOF will again result in a different optical performance. At f/5.6 lens should be at it’s peak performance and thus noise can be more visible, and I don’t want it to be. The solution is to shot the flat target at the same f-stop. Flat target comfortable fits within DOF and critical plane of focus is at the same position. Noise is more comparable this way.

    Changing aperture will significantly influence results because of the above mentioned lens performance at different apertures. Keeping the aperture and changing only shutter speed, might involve different effect of shutter shock vibrations. Keeping both – shutter speed and aperture and using ND filters will be another possibility, but filters might involve another variables and I didn’t want that.
    Getting back to our real life analogy – My test chart is my model, there is only that much light, and I want that aperture. I can’t go bellow minimum shutter speed, so that one is fixed too. To change the ISO, I need to change the amount of light and that’s what I did.

    So if you look on my test in terms of absolute figures such as SNR, it is not a valid test. If you look at it from the user point view – this is my lighting situation and I want to see which camera (not system – camera + lens) will give me best results, than my method is very solid. Not perfect thus, because of the light reflections that are changing not only quantity but also quality of light.

    For me in reality, in a low light situations, the most important will be to get the best ratio between minimum shutter speed and ISO (noise). I would probably keep my lens wide open or close to that, and I will try to push my shutter speed as high as possible, before noise starts to be too destructive. In that regard, FF has a huge advantage over m4/3. But if you put IS in calculation for the static subjects, things might get more equal. It all depends on what you are planning to shot.
    I almost never use IS, because it can and does affect ultimate resolution of your sensor. While it will give you better results in most circumstances than hand holding, I simply carry tripod and use it instead of IS, because I don’t care about size. Again, it is all about priorities.
    I am afraid and that is pity for sure, that days of m4/3 are getting to the end. I was very unhappy when Canon killed APS-H format and will feel the same for APS-C one day. But m4/3 is probably first to go… However, I still hope it won’t happen over night.

  9. Ali says:

    Really appreciated this post Viktor! I’m glad to see how the new A7+SEL35f28 lens stacks up against the nex7+SEL2418. After reading the section on uncropped vs cropped SEL1018, I was hoping to see a similar section for the SEL2418z.Would you share your comments (and if at all possible, pictures) on how the 2418z renders when mounted to the A7/A7r in uncropped mode?

  10. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you 🙂

  1. May 2, 2015

    […] were quite critical in our initial 9 part review of Sony A7 and A7r –…, mainly because of slower auto-focus incapable of fast-moving subject tracking, compressed RAW […]

  2. June 14, 2015

    […] If you are interested, you can check projection of SEL 1018 on Sony A7 in our old review –… (Scroll down to the middle of the […]

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