Forget the rest - Simply the best. Sony A7r - Carl Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 - Raw samples


Cameras come and cameras go. That marvel we thought state of the art a few years ago becomes subject to derisory offers at car boot sales. Like flocks of birds we flit from newly announced shiny object of desire to the next 'must have' item. Some of us devote far too many column inches to them and they are unjustly praised or unfairly criticised and then the circus breaks camp and it's on to the next. 

Digital photography is tricky in that it's relatively difficult to ensure some kind of future proofing, but if I have got something that I could predict I could still be using in a few years time and not feel image quality or pixel challenged then it's the Sony A7r and 55mm f/1.8.

The best camera / lens combination I've ever owned.

It's not a fashion statement, it's not particularly fun to use and I'm not even sure I like it that much, but the pictures it takes......Wow. It's old hat now, at least 4 months old! I bought mine last November. God it's so last year! But the image files it produces continue to amaze me. They are huge. 36MP resulting in a 103MB file size. Resolution to spare, cropping no problem. Print as big as you like and be amazed again. Apart from a few medium-format cameras and the Nikon D800E this camera / lens combination sees off everything else and leaves them hopelessly trailing in it's wake. It's not especially good at high ISO's, though if you downsize the files you'd be amazed at just how good they are. But at it's base ISO of 100 and the 'sweet' apertures on the lens it is quite simply head and shoulders above virtually everything else. 

The photographic internet is more accurately the camera ownership internet and the newer and more gimmick laden it is the better. So we spend time discussing cameras made from blocks of purest platinum, hand polished by virgins that glisten and tempt us from glass cases. We get all excited about cameras that take pictures and our blood pressure at the same time and instantly send x-rays of our noses to our medical practitioner. We coo about video codecs that give us broadcast quality footage of our youngest strangling the cat, without ever quite understanding what a codec actually is. But somewhere lurking hidden away on our computers (No not that stuff that we'd rather other people didn't see) are the pictures we actually took with our objects of desire.

And the A7r / 55mm combination delivers something special with regard to that. Now some of us might sell our pictures, some might send them to friends and family, some might just play around editing them on a dark cold winters night, but if we took them on this camera with this lens then, unless we are completely inept, we certainly won't be disappointed. In fact we may be so impressed that we actually feel like repeating the exercise. 

And so despite it's boring looks and it's somewhat 'lets get it out in time for Christmas' evolution the A7r is truly a wonderful camera. And despite me having issues with Zeiss and their somewhat erratic autofocus lens quality control, the 55mm is an absolute gem. It does also have the virtue of actually being relatively attractive to look at and nice to use, at least in Sony terms that is.

Finally take one of these out and nobody will give you a second look. And ignore the sneers from the Nikon, Canon and Leica owners who do spot it and the jibes that you're using a playstation that takes pictures or "Is that a Betamax' and the accompanying sniggers. Because you can be secure in the knowledge that the image quality you are getting from your boring little black box will easily surpass the more braggable options that your smug fellow photographers are using. Well most of the time anyway. 

So let's hear it for the camera / lens equivalent of a Ford Mondeo with an engine under the hood that would power an executive jet. No one will guess what you are creating when you use it and it's probably a good idea not to let them know just how good the images are because then everybody would want one. And we can't have that can we?

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4wOWiZPPA13dWpaTl83Sm9fVzg/edit?usp=sharing

To access a .zip file of raw and jpg. images taken with this combination at ISO 100 and f/1.8, f/4, f/8 and f/16, click the image above or 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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