My Mirrorless Choice(s) - Fuji X-E2 and/or Fuji X-M1 and/or Sony A7 and/or Panasonic GX7 - Part 2 - The Sony A7 + Minolta 70-210mm zoom







 All images Sony A7 
Minolta 70-210mm f/3.5-4.5 
LA-EA4 adapter

Well one decision was easy to make. I will be keeping the Sony A7. In fact I've just ordered another battery grip for it. And that decision was easy to make. Both the Sony A7 and A7r are almost unique amongst all the digital cameras I've owned in that the more I use them the more I like them. I also don't seem to want to use anything else. It's not really hard to see why. There are all those pixels, the cameras output suits my core work, the jpgs. (despite what dpreview say) are the best I've seen and for the most part the handling, layout and menu options work well for me. The modular system allows me to customise the cameras how I want from a very small light snapshot camera to a full-blown tooled-up in your face pro outfit. 






Above shows my latest (£69) Minolta lens. A 70-210mm f/3.5-4.5 zoom. I've been after one of these for a while and this is a case of third time lucky. The first one from a second-hand dealer had a zoom ring that stuck at 150mm, the second from ebay was a con, in that it was advertised as the above but turned out to be an f/4-5.6 lens instead, but the third, also from ebay turns out to be the right lens and a decent copy. I wanted this lens because it's fast for what it is while still being relatively light, though as you can see it's a definite contender for those 'Oooh that's a big one!' comments. 

Performance wise it's very Minolta. Sharp, but lousy bokeh, not wonderful wide open but useable and stopped down very good indeed. With Sony's track record with zooms I imagine it will be just as good (and probably better) than the overpriced bulky FE telephoto zoom that Sony have announced for the A7 and A7r. Hopefully at some point there will be more lenses of the quality of the 55mm f/1.8. Incidentally, yet another reviewer is criticising the performance of the 24-70mm f/4. 'The corners are rather lousy and stay lousy from f/4 to f/11.' Ho-Hum. Good job I have my Minolta 24-105mm which I bought for a fraction of the cost of this FE offering, has a wider focal range and while not exactly the best lens I've ever bought has very little distortion (unlike the 'Zeiss' apparently) and has reasonable, if not Sigma 35mm like, corner and edge performance. I've come up with an ACR preset that works for it anyway, so it's a very useful lens.

The 70-210mm isn't something I'll use that much, but it's very handy for travel trips. And at the price I got it for it's a steal. It completes what is now a pretty comprehensive set of lenses for the Sony's, all made possible by the excellent LA-EA4 adapter, which I really like and I may well get a second one. I now have the following AF lenses for the A7 / A7r.

Sigma 20mm f/1.8*
Minolta 24-105mm*
Sony FE 28-70mm
Sigma 35mm f/1.4*
Minolta 35-70mm*
Minolta 50mm f/1.7*
Sony 85mm f/2.8*
Minolta 70-210mm*
*a-mount

The whole lot plus the adapter cost me under £2000 so I'm well pleased with that. There are some fast lenses in there and some really useful zooms. In addition to those I have my Nikon mount primes I can use with my Metabones (again excellent) adapter.

Voigtlander 20mm f/3.5
Nikon 28mm f/1.8
Nikon 50mm f/1.4
Nikon 85mm f/1.8
Nikon Series E 100mm f/2.8 

All of this makes the A7 even more attractive. It's obviously a big outfit in terms of what else is available in mirrorless, but it's still all much more manageable than a 'conventonal' DSLR outfit while performing in much the same way. And of course the whole point of all of this is that it produces these wonderful looking picture files. I often describe them as 'no compromise' files and they are just that. Right at the top of the digital photography quality tree. And no I don't get the DOF I get with m4/3 and I definitely can't put any of this stuff in my pocket, but I'm producing the best quality images ever (in technical terms) with this kit and since in recent weeks I've seen an increase in high-resolution picture sales, this Sony outfit is going to serve me well for the foreseeable future. Nothing is really that 'future-proof' in terms of digital photographic gear, but this lot should serve me well for the next year at least. 

So it does seem that this mirrorless / 'faux' DSLR option that the Sony FE cameras give me is where I'm headed and I have to say I do like the whole feel of it. I like small and light as much as the next photographer with a back problem, but I also like heft and gravitas as well. If I didn't have said back problem I'd still be using full-blown DSLR's as I can't deny the appeal of those 'stand back and prepare to be photographed' look of those 'big boy' cameras. And try as I might to bond with cameras like the Fuji X-M1, I just can't do it. What that says about me I'll leave up to you to consider.

Finally on a somewhat tangential note I watched Blow Up, the 1960's movie about a photographer again last night. Even though David Hemmings plays one of the most narcissistic unpleasant little s***s ever to appear on a cinema screen he is still pretty much my role model for being a photographer (Plus of course the wonderful Nick Nolte in Under Fire) And while I'm nothing like either, my fantasy version of myself as a photographer is a combination of these two, which again probably also says a lot!! I mention this because the Sony's give me a sense of this history, which may seem strange. Both Hemmings and Nolte do walk around with these lovely old Nikon film cameras and the Sony's do give me that feel. I know they aren't particularly retro but I think that they are very much of their time and I must admit I'm actually getting quite fond of that sleek black plastic look that they have. I wasn't sure about how they looked with the battery grip initially but I'm really beginning to warm to them. Plus the more I use them the more I realise that I really like how they handle. 






So it's a big tick in the Sony A7 column. One down, three to go!

For my series on Mirrorless Choices - Click this link

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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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