Sony A7 and A7r ISO comparisons - Handling non-issues.

OK, enough railing against the idiocies of the internet. Here's a comparison test and everybody loves a test, right? This is the Sony A7 compared to the A7r at ISO's from 100 up to 25600. As usual I've made the raw and jpg. full resolution files available in a .zip file on Google Drive which you can download HERE. There is also a much smaller cut down version on Google+ HERE

The pictures were taken with my Nikon 50mm f/1.4G lens at what I guess is round about f/8. Though with my Metabones adapter it's difficult to be exact. However as per usual, same tripod mounted setup and keeping all settings as identical as possible.

One thing that I see is just how similar the results are and at the very highest settings the A7r actually seems to produce marginally lower noise results in raw and jpg. files. Just shows how good that A7r sensor is I guess. There is also a slight difference in the default colour balance. As usual neither are 100% right, but both are VERY close to the colour I see with my eyes. Thereby demolishing another of these internet myths. Lies, Damn Lies and Internet blogging!!! 

So, for me two superb cameras with superb results.

I thought I'd dedicate the second half of this post to the handling of the cameras. I have positive feelings about this, but then I do attach the battery grip every time I go out with either the A7 or A7r. It is the case that the A7's are very small. If you haven't had the opportunity to see one and hold one yet, when you do you will probably think that it's much lighter and smaller than you imagined it was going to be, I certainly did. Now this has advantages and disadvantages. They are certainly diminutive cameras and they do have a decent grip, but certainly for me I much prefer how they handle with the grip attached. That gives me a big (ish) camera feel which I like, with small camera bulk. Ideal for me but maybe not for everybody. However if you like m4/3 cameras and / or NEX then you'll have no problems. 

You'll also probably have seen that some like the build, design, layout and finish and some don't. I'm actually undecided about the latter. In terms of design the battery grip for example is slightly unusual but then I'm used to it now and I'm now sure that the layout is actually well suited to me. Refreshingly I haven't been turning things off and on by mistake and I'm able to change what I need to change with little difficulty. And considering that for the most part I'm using adapted manually focused lenses, that's pleasing. 

What I really like is that there is a good balance between the body and the lenses that I use. Even though my Nikon primes are smallish in DSLR terms, they certainly aren't m4/3 size. However because the body isn't too lightweight, they balance very nicely. The 28-70mm zoom is also very light and has internal zooming, so in some ways it has a smaller 'footprint' than some of the m4/3 and other mirrorless zooms. And the outfits I go out with vary from the small to the medium sized, which again provides a range of options that's useful for different situations. Even at the largest configuration I currently use I'm still impressed by how the whole thing feels after an extended walking and shooting session. At no time have I felt uncomfortable and weighted down by what I'm carrying. It is of course far removed from a Panasonic GM1, but then as far as I'm concerned that's a positive. 

So all-in-all I'm happy with the handling. A telling sign was that I was out with a couple of my Fuji X's the other day. Just handling them around the house for testing, I love how they feel in my hand and I was wary about taking them out because I was sure that I would like using them so much I would really want to keep them and not sell them as I should if I was sensible. (If only) However when I was about halfway through my afternoons shooting, a few things started to irritate me. Mostly I will admit the X-Pro 1's tendency to make it's own decisions about what EVF screen to display, but there were other little things that annoyed me. Not least that the Fuji's, like m4/3 cameras, have these flaccid shutter buttons. Now that's something the A7r certainly doesn't have. You know you've pressed the shutter. However despite it's distinctive double clunk, it's not actually quite as loud as I and others make out and it is actually quite a pleasant and authoritative sound. I have actually used it in close proximity to members of the public and while I was expecting some kind of reaction and a 'Ere, whats your game!' type confrontation, that hasn't happened yet. Something to do with the frequency of the sound I suspect. By the way the A7 shutter is less noticeable audibly and no louder than the average DSLR or many other mirrorless cameras.

So during my afternoons Fuji-ing I did actually realise that I was missing the unfussiness of the Sony. And that's exactly how I would describe it. It is pretty simple to use now I've got used to it and it gets easier and more comfortable to handle since I've educated my muscle memory to cope with it. And this of course is exactly the reason why long term extended use is a much better indicator of what a camera is like to work with than just picking one up at a show or in a shop. 

It's interesting that I now go on about how nice the Fuji's are but when I first handled both an X-Pro-1 and an X-E2 at the (sadly no longer happening) Focus on Imaging shows, I didn't like them. Plus the reverse is true. At the same show I first encountered the X-Pro 1, I also picked up an Olympus OM-D E-M5 and loved it. However over time I found that camera to be very uncomfortable for long-term use and I never liked any of the combinations I came up with and without the grip attachments. So for me handling has always been something I come to appreciate or not over time. In actual fact one of the nicest cameras I've ever used was a Sony NEX-7 and one of the slowest and most difficult was my Leica M9. 

So I've come up with this equation -
The easiest cameras to use with the best layouts have a converse ratio of appeal in terms of their aesthetics. So - Ugly works better. Now I'm not saying that the A7 or A7r are ugly. They are for example a lot better than anything Panasonic have come up with for my tastes (And yes I include the GX7 in that) but they are lacking in rangefinder retro chic. Which is probably why I use the grip, because that gives them a scaled down 'big boy' DSLR look, and though I dislike the weight of those monstrous Canon and Nikon outfits, I've really never been immune to the attractions (and macho posing possibilities) of that type of camera. So in many ways the Sony's work well for me. Still it's early days, I could yet learn to love or hate them!!

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