Well it may not be 42. But it's damn close, at least 39 or 40.
I can imagine that there are a lot of suits, or open shirts if they are engineers, sitting around the boardrooms of certain camera manufacturers whose names consist of 5 letters discussing 'How do we respond to that?' The 'that' being the Sony A7r. Sony usually push the envelope somewhat but this time they may just have burst the thing. I'm very wary of saying this is the revolution beginning, this changes expectations, this is the future. But this might just be the case here. If the DSLR is going to disappear, fade away or die, it just got one almighty push in that direction.
First impression, this thing is small, and light. You'd have to work hard to convince some photographers about what's inside it. '36MP sensor? No, get serious. You're having a laugh. And its a 35mm size 'full-frame' sensor, c'mon, you've been smoking those 'herbal' fags again! No way this is FF 36MP. You don't get close to medium format quality in something like that. You don't. You just don't. You really don't............Do you?' Well yes, you do.
There is however one thing I should also mention straight away however. If you are a wedding photographer and you think that this might just be the camera to save your back, then you'll have to come up with another alternative for shooting in a church. This is one of the noisiest camera shutters I've ever used. You might have read about this on the internet, but hearing it in all it's glory live, all the warnings haven't done it justice. This thing is LOUD. You might as well use a bull horn to tell all and sundry that 'I'M TAKING A PHOTOGRAPH', because it wouldn't be much quieter. So all you sneaky street photographers should probably stop reading now, or work out some way to leg it quick after getting a sly grab shot of the local Hells Angels chapter! Wildlife photographers might also like to think about some acoustic damping, particularly if you're planning to shoot something with strong jaws, big teeth and claws, because they WILL know where you are.
So if you want a negative, that's definitely a big one. However on the positive side, there is a serious amount to admire. Just some quick impressions.
Image quality is amazing.
High ISO performance is much better than I was expecting.
Viewfinder is simply breathtaking. OLED of course.
The focus peaking is incredible, no need to magnify the image to use it. (Which is a good job since I can't work out how to do that anyway!!)
It's got a battery meter. Hooray!
Separate card slot. Hooray!
Did I mention it's really small and light.
Another thing I should mention straight off is that if you want to know what the AF is like from me, you might be waiting some time. The Sony AF FF E-Mount lenses aren't available in the UK yet, and I'm not sure I'll be getting any for a while anyway. So if you want some idea of what that's like then you'll have to go somewhere else. If Chris H is reading this, then maybe you could kindly feed us some info on the AF?
So what comfort can those other manufacturer execs. take from this? Well, Sony have made a pretty big mess up on the lens front. No A7r kit, no zoom available for sale without buying an A7 as yet and no a-mount adapter as yet either. But the big word here is YET. Yes I know that Sony are really (really!) slow at rolling out lenses, and if they keep to their usual pattern then in about a years time the A7 body alternatives will outnumber the lenses you can use on them, but at some point not that far in the distance there WILL be a decent A7(r) system. And seriously, the market for a DSLR, or something that looks like it will shrink dramatically. If companies aren't preparing to go mirrorless and / or start significantly downsizing their cameras (and their prices) then I'm afraid Sony will just gobble them up. I've just bought a camera with the sensor from the D800E in a body about the size and weight of a m4/3 camera (and not the DSLR clones like the GH3 either - it's smaller than that - see above) and that is surprising, amazing and as of 6 months ago, completely unexpected. I've already tried my Series E Nikons (28mm and 100mm) and Voigtlander 90mm on it (also see above) and we are talking about a pretty small footprint here. MF sure, but with the new improved focus peaking Sony have come up with, that's really no hardship at all.
Even though I cancelled my initial order, I knew that I'd end up with an A7r eventually and I have, through my complete lack of willpower, ended up with one sooner than I thought I would. But after just a few hours with the camera, that probably isn't such a bad thing. The sooner I've bought it the quicker I can start shooting with it. And I've got a feeling that's going to be a pretty special (if noisy!) experience.
The rules have indeed just been broken.
For my SONY A7r OWNER ASSESSMENT - Click Here
N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) at the bottom of this post.
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