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Meet Sony's New Mirrorless Full Frame A7 & A7R Interchangeable Lens Cameras

10.16.13 @ 7:02PM Tags : , , , , , , ,

sony a7r mirrorless full frame still photography video camera 1080p hd high definition recordingStill photography may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Sony, but that hasn’t stopped the manufacturer from developing an array of DSLR and mirrorless camera systems. A very recent announcement from Sony makes it all the more clear that the company isn’t messing around. Sony would like to introduce you to two new full frame mirrorless photography cameras (with 1080p video, of course:) the 24 megapixel A7, and its big sister, the 36 megapixel A7R. These cameras natively accept NEX E-mount glass, as well as Sony alpha mount glass with some adapting. They also shoot up to 1080p60 on-board video in either AVCHD or MP4, or feed you clean uncompressed video out via HDMI. Read on for more details.

The main differentiation between the $2300 A7R and $1700 A7 is the aforementioned 36 vs. 24MP CMOS sensors, respectively, though both sensors are full frame size. Additionally, the A7R excludes the optical low-pass filter deployed in the A7. With its 36 un-antialiased megapixels, the A7R will probably be less apt for video shooting than the A7. Along with the newly announced fixed-lens RX10, the A7 & A7R feature the new, scary-sounding BIONX X image processor. Here are some beauty shots of the A7R (which looks very much like the A7 as well):

sony a7r mirrorless full frame still photography video camera 1080p hd high definition recording

sony a7r mirrorless full frame still photography video camera 1080p hd high definition recording2The beauty shots are a little deceptive in that these cameras are actually overall slimmer and smaller than they may initially appear. Other nifty options include Wi-Fi connectivity for hands-free offloading, USB connectivity for remote operation, and BIONX-powered auto-focus which reportedly “uses both phase and contrast detection for quicker” AF.

Apparently, the A7/R’s new ‘FE’ mount natively accepts NEX E-mount lenses and automatically crops non-FF E-mount glass by the proper factor. Conversely, the new lenses announced alongside these cameras may be mounted on other NEX or E-mount bodies. Alpha mount glass may be affixed using something like the $350 Sony LAEA4, or the cheaper LAEA3.

To give you an idea of how small these guys are, check out this video by The Camera Store via SonyAlphaRumors:

As Chris points out in the video above, the convergence of size, lens interchangeability, full frame, mirrorless and video qualities make these cameras pretty significant developments. And, according to DPReview, “Sony is also unifying the Alpha and NEX brands, so all future interchangeable lens cameras will now fall under the Alpha umbrella.”

Jordan Drake, who shot the above video on the A7, had the following (and much more) to say about video shooting specifically:

I loved shooting video with the A7. All the controls were well placed, the viewfinder is such a pleasure to use, and seeing zebras, audio levels and peaking put me right at home…. [W]e had terrible light with a huge amount of contrast. It was a good test for the A7 as most cameras would struggle to handle some scenes. Looking at the video in post though, I was less delighted by the image. It is quite soft, and there was noticeable moire in several shots. I shot with the flattest profile, Neutral, with sharpening, contrast and saturation all turned down, yet the moire issues still surfaced. I’m hoping this was due to early firmware, I’ll test the video quality again when the production cameras arrive. As is though, while the Sony A7 image is nice, I’ll stick to the Panasonic GH3 when I need a small camera.

This may be why you don’t often hear about Sony’s photography cameras being used in place of other DSLRs for video shooting. That said, the A7 & A7R provide the aforementioned audio meters and zebras, as well as optional XLR input via another adapter.

According to DPReview, Sony plans to have 15 FE lenses available by 2015. SonyAlphaRumors has a pretty extensive running list going of body and kit items related to these announcements, so check the links below if you want to scope these newcomers, or their accompanying accessories.



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Description image 26 COMMENTS

  • I was hoping for good video out of this cam, specially out of the hdmi port.

  • And this is why full-frame isn’t the end-all, be-all.

    Chris’ cameraman was using an A7 to shoot this segment. I’m not impressed. The image feels soft, the dynamic range looks like a t2i — with highlight clipping continously. Zebras and peaking are cool, but dollar for dollar, this doesn’t look like a camera truly designed for great looking video.

    Granted, it’s cool to have a monster sensor in a small package, but I suspect these are mostly still’s cameras. If you need FF at this price range, I think the Canon 6d is a better option.

    • or… (if you can afford the post-processing overhead) do what I did: get a used 5D Mk2 and shoot raw video with Magic Lantern ;-)

  • I think cameras these days have reached a point where for photography purposes, are very very good and you don’t need to spend a lot to get professional results. People that take a lot of photos will certainly be very happy with this, as well as cameras below this price-point. That being said, I think these companies should really focus on improving the video quality of these cameras to cater to the indie filmmaking community, which for me have yet to reach a point of satisfaction that photographers have with the cameras now. I may be wrong, but based on the price of this camera, Sony’s target market will be likely to be thinking of Canon or Blackmagic for video, which sony needs to change. Sony has a name with video as well, and at least a prores function and more dynamic range would have been very welcomed features. Raw would’ve definitely stolen some of 5DIII’s market but I doubt that’ll happen any time soon.

  • The only reason why Canon’s DSLRs have had so much success is that they gave us a competent implementation of video, and access to the right lenses, on a large sensor for cheap while Nikon couldn’t.

    However, the one thing that they’ve really been missing: the EVF, might be the thing to push these new Sony cameras into that position soon. No more buying some huge Zactuo thing to stick to your LCD, your EVF will be able to perform the same actions easily. The ability to see how you’re focussing manually and zoom in without spending 300 bucks will be great, the fact that it has a headphone jack and expandability to add XLR is great. Sony’s being super aggressive to gain marketshare the price for what you’ll be getting with this camera makes quite a proposal, and it’ll force other companies to react, but unfortunately that will take a while.

    Personally, my next camera will still probably be the 7D Mk2 depending on how it looks/is priced. It’s going to take until Q2 2014 though, and in that time if the A7 turns out to be the better option than so be it. The only thing that I’m iffy about is the lens selection/adaption, battery life, and the fact that it’s a mark 1. However, if the A7 is the same price as the 6D, but has an AA filter to give it the video of a 5DMk3, then why not . . .

  • Soft, low Dynamic Range, clipping, compression issues (is it 24mbps?)

    The only hope is to see what you can get from the uncompressed output from HDMI port. But I have low hopes. Zebras, full frame look, peaking and audio levels are very nice though. I need those on the GH3

  • Me thinks that Sony might be more daring with a VG-900 replacement. FS-700 is a huge seller but, from what I heard, VG-900 is not – B&H is giving away a crap load of stuff with it at the MSRP. But it might move off the shelf with a few minor tweaks, a new processor and, let’s say, 2.5K. They won’t want to compete with their own 4K cams at $4,500-$6,500 but the market for a decent 1080P full featured performer is around $2,000 nowadays. 2.5K would slot nicely at a ~ $3,000 range. I figure we’ll know more by January’s CES, as the pro market is moving away from the hybrids … with no small thanks for BMD.

  • Its baffling to me how a company like Sony with products like the amazing F5 continuously fails to deliver a half decent dslr where video is concerned. Take a D800 over this POS any day. Such a shame as a $1700 price tag with all those features would have been killer.

  • Stu Mannion on 10.16.13 @ 10:41PM

    Yeah the dynamic range in video does not look good. And Moire?! Come on Sony.

  • I wonder if it’s better to get the A7r for video or the A7. I’d think the A7r will be sharper but the A7 will have less moire. Agreed?

    • PhinioxGlade on 10.17.13 @ 6:44AM

      The A7 is said to be more geared to video were as the A7R is for professional photography. The A7 has faster af with phase detection pixels on sensor. The 7R has no low pass filter and only contrast af to maximise sharpness. It’s a shame the 24mb avchd when the gh3 and 70d both have Intra Frane compression. Maybe the production camera will have better options, not likely

  • Let’s see what the production cams can do. This is the RX-10 promo clip that was uploaded today by Sony.

  • FWIW, Nikon released D5300 only nine months after introducing an almost identical D5200 (D5300 has dropped the OLPF and upgraded the processor to EXPEED 4). That’s one short product cycle.
    As to Sony A7/R video quality, I’d wait to see how the uncompressed footage looks. It’s a bit disappointing that they did not up the res to 2.5K – at least, in 7R – but, conceivably, that’s what Alpha 99 (a large body full frame) might have.
    PS. The “mirrorless” are trending on Yahoo as we speak.

  • VinceGOrtho on 10.17.13 @ 9:46AM

    My main issue with sony prosumer cams is not dynamic range or softness. It’s the ugly video look of they’re color science.

  • I had high hopes for this. It has many good features, but nothing can make up for so-so image quality (in video mode). But perhaps it’s too early to make a final judgment.

    I can understand that many consumers want avchd for the small file size, but an xvac option would have been sweet.

    I think there is still a gap in the market for a dslr-shaped video camera. It would be great if they took this new Sony, put the fs100 sensor and the XVAC codec in it, and sold it for $1300. All the R&D is done. I would be the first to buy it.

  • Sony France posted a new 7r video. Looks good to me.
    [ ]

  • Re the moire issue: I just read another quasi review which I assume must have read the actual Sony press release. There is no optical low pass filter!

    Re the perceived technical shortcomings some here point to: Could it be that this is a quasi review by people trying to sell cameras? Here we have a couple of guys that are highly enthusiastic about a camera and then shoot the camera in the foot with this footage. And all the while their enthusiasm for it is undiminished!!! Are they even looking at the footage they shot with it?

    This commercial has turned me off to the camera but I also realize that I need to consider who is reviewing. I think I’ll withhold any judgements until I see and hear from other pros using it.

    Now, back to that missing OLP filter. What is that all about? The press release I read states that it was omitted for the sake of better resolution. Yeah, I’d heard all about that little technical trade-off before but I need some help understanding Sony’s technical wisdom on this. Is Sony trying to tell us that moire is preferable to loss of resolution and that they can only do one or the other?

    Can someone offer any technical insight or personal thoughts on this move by Sony?

    • With a lot of pixels – as in 36 million of them – there is a school of thought that believes this to be a sufficiently high number for having very low amount of moire because the pixels are situated close enough to one another. (With moire being an in-between the lines effect) Or, in reference to the OLPF, the high pixel count is good enough that an OLPF wouldn’t reduce moire enough to offset the the resulting loss of sharpness.

    • The Nikon D7100 doesn’t have an OLPF filter, apparently has great sharpness and very minimal moire, so apparently this combination can be made to work.

  • Harry Kemball on 10.17.13 @ 5:42PM

    Nikon & Canon trolls. Never ever say anything good about Sony. What’s the Ad for Sony A99 on this page from Amazon a one thousand dollar price hike…..what the hell…..? Too much BS from Cow town.

  • Daddy liek.

  • My NEX 5n takes better video than this. I got it for $300 off ebay.

  • Sony Alpha Rumors has links to Raw format photos from these two cams, if anyone is interested.

  • A new video (in 720p only) from Sony Korea – [ ]