Sony, the only manufacturer to produce full-frame mirrorless cameras with autofocus, is extending its lineup with two all-new models combining a full-frame sensor with a Sony E-mount, allowing them to be much smaller than the A-mount Sony SLT-A99V.
The Alpha A7 and A7R are near-twins with different sensors. Both these are compact mirrorless cameras with a full-frame 3:2 aspect-ratio sensor. They each have a large built-in 2.4 megapixels EVF showing 100% coverage at 0.71X magnification, making it for a comfortable and extremely detailed view. Both cameras offer a weather-sealed body with triple control-dials and a full complement of manual controls.
The Sony Alpha A7R features a 36 megapixels sensor without anti-alias filter. It uses Contrast-Detect at 25 areas to autofocus. The A7R can shoot 36 MP images continuous at 4 FPS.
The Sony Alpha A7 features a 24 megapixels sensor with anti-alias filter. It uses a hybrid autofocus system with 117 Phase-Detect AF points and 25 Contrast-Detect areas. The exterior is nearly identical to its sibling but the A7 can shoot 24 MP images continuous at 5 FPS, just a little faster.
Unlike A-mount cameras but just like other E-mount ones, these new mirrorless cameras rely on image-stabilization from the lens. Still, their large pixels let them output very high-quality images and offer a large ISO sensitivity range from 100 to 25600. This is expandable down to 50 and up to 25600 via Multi-Shot Noise-Reduction.
Sony is putting a lot behind its system. Along with the A7R and A7, they also unveiled no less than 4 full-frame E–mount lenses. These lenses, designated FE, are all weather-sealed which allow these cameras to be used in inclement weather right away:
- Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 ZA
- Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.8 ZA
- Sony Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F/4 ZA OSS
- Sony NEX FE 28-70mm F/3.5-5.6 OSS
To provide further expansion potential, Sony also added two new mount-adapters, the LA-EA3 and LA-EA4. These support A-mount lenses with and without Phase-Detect AF, respectively. The second one uses a translucent mirror which redirects roughly 30% of light, so it may reduce image-quality slightly. Neither of these appear to be weather-sealed though.
There is little doubt these cameras will produce no less than the best image-quality from any mirrorless to date, potentially eclipsing the Fuji X-series. This has an excellent appeal and we expect stock of these two new offerings to run out quickly simply for their combination of image-quality and compact size. Pre-orders are already accepted at the following online stores:
The Sony A7R and A7 are considerably smaller than nearly every full-frame camera. While they gain bulk when adding a lens, this still makes them smaller and lighter than any full-frame DSLR fitted with an equivalent lens. This saving is more significant with small lenses, such as short prime ones. Even with a standard zoom lens, using either of these cameras is likely to feel much lighter. Then, of course, there are the advantages of having such a sharp EVF preview exposure and white-balance while allowing to check precise focus.
A suggested retail price of $1700 USD for the A7 places it among the lowest cost full-frame cameras. While the A7R, at $2300 remains extremely affordable for its resolution with the only other 36 MP digital cameras costing $500 to $700 more.
The new Sony Alpha A7R and A7 show amazing technological achievements and reach a never-seen-before level of miniaturization. How much market traction they will get is unsure but they certainly have customers waiting for them already.