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Sony A7 vs A7R which fits my needs?

The new Sony A7 and A7R is not yet released and I have pre-ordered one. Some photographers have pre-production camera’s to test so there is plenty of new info everyday, have a look at Brain Smith’s field test of the A7R. Also for an ongoing source of info sonyalpharumors is the place to go.

Here is the manual for the A7/R:
f you receive your Sony A7/R before Lightroom/ACR has the RAW converter available then use the Image Data Converter from Sony, Windows  MAC.

But what about the soon to be released Nikon DF? The Nikon DF is a retro-styled camera but the part that killed my interest is the DSLR build. It’s basically a DSLR with the addition of manual controls. It would be great if Nikon came out with a mirrorless with a full frame sensor and a set of high quality fast primes in the range of 14mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm.

It was a decision that I went back and forth on but in the end I chose to purchase the A7R rather than the A7 or the Nikon DF. What were some of the pros and cons that weighed in on my decision?

Pros for A7R
1) A7R has no optical low-pass anti-aliasing filter. The result is more pixel sharpness. This is a big plus for me and the biggest “PRO” feature.
2) A7R has offset micro lenses at the edge of the sensor to grab light coming into the sensor at a low angle. This is also a very big plus for me but honestly the jury is still out on how good this is.
3) A7R is 36 MP while the A7 has 24 MP. This means increased processing times for the A7R. I don’t need 36MP files but I will upgrade to a Solid State Drive – possibly an external drive with CS6 using it as the scratch disk. Current E-mount lenses for APS-C give 16MP on the A7r and 10MP on the A7.
4) On A7R micro-lenses have gapless design. A7′s sensor doesn’t. It’s too early to say how good this is.
5) Front panel on A7R is magnesium alloy. It’s plastic on A7. A very slight plus for me. This however is a good feature if you plan to mount heavy lenses.
6) Top two dials (exposure compensation and mode dial) on A7R are made from solid aluminium billets. On A7 the dials have rubberized exterior. I don’t really care about this.

Pros for A7
1) Costs $600 less. Some of us refuse to pay more than X dollars for a camera. I can understand setting budgets and living by them. For me I refuse to pay more than 2K for a lens.
2) A7 has an AA filter which avoids major moiree issues and is preferable if you shoot videos. I don’t shoot videos often so this is a non-issue for me.
3) A7 has electronic first curtain shutter EFCS — A7R does not. With EFCS ON then the steps are: Shutter begins OPEN, then closes to end the exposure then reopens. With EFCS OFF (same as A7R) Shutter begins OPEN, then closes, then opens to expose, then closes, then opens again. Remember the shutter stays open for the EVF and LCD to work so it has to end OPEN. EFCS is a big plus for me – less wear and tear on the shutter and less vibration. But you git what you git…..
4) Flash sync on A7 is 1/250. It’s 1/160 on A7R. Faster is better but 1/250 is still not fast enough on a bright sunny day.
5) A7 has Phase Detection Auto Focus PDAF. A7R only has Contrast Detection. PDAF is the superior feature for tracking moving subjects. I wanted this feature on the A7R really badly but as Steve Huff’s mom says, “you git what you git and you don’t throw a fit.” Anyway I’ll use my D3 for important action photography.
6) Continuous shooting: A7 – 5 fps. A7R – 4 fps. Not a deal breaker either way for me.
7) A7 has a quieter shutter than the A7R. In my opinion both are noisy if you are trying to be stealth. Steve Huff has a video here that includes a side by side shutter release.

Features for Nikon DF
1) $2746.95 BODY ONLY,   $2996.95 KIT with 50mm F/1.8G
2) Standard F-mount
3) Pentaprism DSLR
4) 16.2MP full frame sensor (same as D4) Excellent
5) 39 point auto focus system (same as D610) Disappointment 
6) 3D color matrix metering II
7) Native ISO range: 100-12,800 (incl. ISO 50 and ISO 102,400)
8) 5.5fps for up to 100 shots
9) 3.2″ LCD screen
10) Expeed 3 processor
11) Battery:EN-EL14
12) Dimensions: 143.5 x 110 x 66.5mm (Sony 127 x 94 x 48)
13) Weight: 765g (Sony A7R = 465g)
14) No video
15) Ships with a new special edition Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens to match the look/design of the body
16) Meters even with non-AI lenses down to full aperture.
17) 2016-pixel RGB evaluative metering image sensor. This is quite a jump down from the D800 @ 91K.

Nikon is promoting this camera as a retro-style camera. Anyone under the age of 45 won’t be sold on the design of this camera alone, they will be attracted as always to new innovations. To capture a wider market share Nikon should have added a couple of new features that show Nikon is a company that innovates and leads.

How about 2 SD card slots, 51-point AF with some of the focus points close to the frame edge, Wifi, GPS, built in radio transmitter (pocket wizard), Auto ON/OFF of VR detects handheld vs. tripod, capitalize on the robust sensor with interval timer for astrophotography, add a timer to revert back to another shooting menu, add 1:1 crop option and it would be interesting to have focus bracketing. The Nikon DF is an expensive novelty camera that will be purchased by Nikon owners that are plus 50, that equates to a much smaller pool of potential buyers.

  • Mike - January 23, 2014 - 3:22 pm

    Well, I hear what you say about the new Nikon Df, but I’ve just shot a series on it with Zeiss lenses and that D4 sensor is very creamy. The files are gorgeous – beautiful mid-tones reminiscent of Medium format. Odd camera – sure; but delightful images – you don’t know what you are missing – and I also own the A7. 🙂

    Mike, I have to agree, the D4 sensor is amazing. If it only had the auto focus system of the D4 I’d own one right now. I have the A7r and it is not an action camera. My next camera will be to replace my D3 so it needs to be very strong with autofocus. ~FerrellReplyCancel

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