Saturday, April 11, 2015

Sony Alpha A7 Full Frame DSLR


I bought the Sony Alpha 7 (A7)  Full Frame DSLR because it was going to be the absolutely smallest in volume and weight full frame DSLR I could buy, at any price, and in fact it turned out, at a low bonkers price.

This camera is really tiny. And you know that Marcus and Agata are weight sensitive.

But besides lightweight it turned out to be so much more, but first

Photograph Volumes

Of course all Marcus and Agata's photographs are available in digital format.  And of course we have even analysed our photographic volumes (in MB of Photographs stored vs Year)

You can see that 60 plus years nothing much has happened until the advent of digital photography in the last 10 years. As an education to younger people.

In the old days 

- you had to buy photographic film in (say) reels of 24 or 36 exposures
- you had to send them off for processing
- processing could take weeks
- it was really expensive
- digital photography had not been invented
- phones did not have a camera
- many people took less than 50 photographs per year

Our mantra is that all photos should be recorded at the highest resolution possible for the day, because in the future this resolution will look amateurish and storage prices too will fall.

Why Full Frame

Full frame simply means that the light sensor onto which the image falls is larger and this combined with a large pixel count makes for a higher quality photograph.

Quote: The Best Camera IS

The camera you have with you
I won't comment on cameras past, just to say in 2015 your Smartphone should be the camera that you always have with you as your constant companion.

So if you don't own a Smartphone

Or if the camera on your Smartphone is just mediocre

then I fear the rest of this article will really be lost on you! ....

Simply stated: our Alpha 7 rationale is that by being so small and compact you are more likely to have this proper camera with you,  most of the time instead of perhaps just your Smartphone.

Which Sony Alpha 7 to select?

Why not the A7R or A7 II or A7 S

The camera I have is officially called Sonly Alpha 7, and it is technically called ILCE-7.  I'll refer to it henceforth as the A7.

The A7R has a 36 instead of 24 Megapixel sensor, however it does not have an electronic first curtain shutter (so A7R sounds old skool clunky) nor phase detection autofocus of the regular (and our) A7.  Also the A7R is a lot more expensive.

A7 II was announced end of 2014.  It has inbody Image Stabilisation, so any lens even old Leica lens (+ converter)  can now benefit. However the A7 II is larger and 140 grams heavier!  Also, better dials and body coating.

A7 S is a special version for movies, that is not our focus.

Fixed Focal Lens

To work correctly you would initially choose a Sony e-Mount, Full Frame lens.  Here is the link  

For the absolutely smallest volume and weight we selected the 120 gram  Sony  SEL35F28Z Zeiss F2.8 lens

Notes about the A7

+ Weather sealed against rain and water

+ Mirrorless obviously
+ Phase Detection Autofocus 
+ Dedicated SD card slot
+ Tilt flip screen
-  Not touchscreen
+ WiFi
= Mediocre Transfer Software
++ Bonkers light and small  (576 grams total)
+ Cost with the Fixed Focal Lens is about 1600CHF aka about 1080 GBP

- No built in flash, but takes excellent clear images up to 6400 ISO so this is not an inconvenience at all.

Sony A7 vs A7R

All the Modes

Well obviously the camera has all the standard priority modes e.g. Program, Aperture, Shutter Speed, Scene Selection, Auto.

I'd just like to point out 2 special modes that I use frequently:

ISO Auto (Multi Frame NR) and Auto

So in the special Multi Frame NR mode which can be selected in Program, Aperture, Shutter

The product automatically shoots multiple images continuously, combines them, reduces the noise, and records them as one image. With multi frame noise reduction, you can select larger ISO numbers than the maximum ISO sensitivity. The image recorded is one combined image

Superior Auto
The product automatically recognises and evaluates the shooting conditions, and the appropriate settings are set automatically. The product may shoot multiple images and create a composite image, etc., using more shooting settings than in Intelligent Auto mode to record higher quality images.

Transferring those Photos

The A7 has inbuilt WiFi which I'll discuss in a moment, but overall it's not quite as polished as EyeFi.

I touched on EyeFi this January.  Basically it's an ordinary looking SD card that inside the totally standard sized body contains a WiFi transmitter an
d receiver.  Astonishing right!  So with an EyeFi card regardless of whether your camera contains it's own WiFi you can use the EyeFi card and a companion server program on your PC to wirelessly transfer photos.

But the A7 has it's own WiFi

- You configure the camera to talk to a particular PC, in this case my laptop

- My laptop has to be set to the same network as the camera
- WiFi AC band is not supported
- PC installation installed a constantly running server program onto the PC.

The transfer to the PC takes ages, but always seems to work!  Each 24 MegaPixel photo is normally around 10MB.

Show us some Photographs

Agata and Marcus upload our public Photographs to Google. Here they all are then:

Geneva Motorshow 2015 with A7
Google+ Photos

Picassa Albums

All in All then?

I am feel pretty pleased with our Sony Alpha 7.   The main take out it that it just always seems to take great photographs even in low light.

With the optional fixed focal length lens it weighs less than 600 grams all in,  and in this guise smaller than most regular APS-C sensor sized DSLRs.


Sony Alpha A7 official
ILCE-7 support
Sony A7 Manual
Dpreview  Sony Alpha 7
Sony Alpha A7-II info

Sony Alpha A7-II review