First Impressions: Sony A7r

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A7r first impressions (5 of 8)ISO 8001-60 sec at f - 4.0

At Photo Plus Expo 2013, we had some time to sit down and shoot a bit more with the Sony A7r. We were briefed on the camera a while before it was announced, but we didn’t have the chance to take real world photos of and with the camera.

As what is arguably the hottest and most revolutionary product announced this year in the photo industry, The A7r is the world’s first mirrorless full frame camera that won’t cost you an arm, a leg, and your kidney. At its heart is a 36.3MP full frame sensor with gapless lenses on the sensor area, contrast detection autofocus, and an OLED EVF.

And during our brief time playing with the camera again, it was a thing of wonderment.

Editor’s Note: Also check out our coverage discerning the difference between the A7 and A7r.

Tech Specs

World’s lightest interchangeable lens full-frame camera

Full Frame 36.3 MP resolution with 14-bit RAW recording with gapless on-chip lenses

Fast Intelligent AF optimized for full-frame sensor

Fully compatible w/ Sony’s E-mount new full-frame lenses

Direct access interface for fast, natural shooting control

High contrast 2.4-million dot OLED EVF for eye-level framing (same as the A99 with different lens arrangement)

Simple connectivity to smartphones via Wi-Fi® or NFC

PC control w/ remote video capture control

New high-speed BIONZ® X image processor

Full HD movie at 24p/60i/60p w/uncompressed HDMI output

Eye-AF: meaning that the camera will focus on eyes when needed

Weather-Sealing

Ergonomics

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Sony’s A7r tries to mimic the look and feel of an old school SLR camera as much as it possibly can, while also trying to focus on the many cores of the company’s design philosophy. With that said, the front is nearly devoid of controls with the exception of a lens release and the grip which has an exposure dial and the shutter release.

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The top of Sony’s A7r contains things like a mode dial, exposure compensation, custom function button, and a shutter release on top of the exposure dial. Then there is the hot shoe–which is still Sony’s new version and not the older Minolta shoe.

For the life of us, we can’t understand why Sony decided to put a mode dial with automatic modes on this camera.

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The back of Sony’s A7r has all the controls that a user will need and want. Besides the tilting LCD screen, it features a mishmash of focusing control, menu, custom functions, display control, white balancing, playback, and a heck of a lot more. The camera doesn’t have a touchscreen, and so you won’t be getting through the controls and menus quicker than you would if the camera had one.

Then there is that big and beautiful EVF–which none of us can get enough of.

Build Quality

Nearly every member of the Phoblographer’s staff has been able to try out and test the Sony A7r. We all love it and believe that the build quality is simply marvelous. Additionally, the cameras feature weather sealing, freezeproofing, and more.

Plus, we found the buttons and functionality to be quite intuitive.

Autofocus

When we first played with the units, we found the focusing to be a tad slow. However, we’re actually quite impressed with the focusing speed now. At the show, the camera was able to lock onto targets quickly and without any fuss. While the company pimps the capabilities of the A7 more in terms of autofocusing, the A7r seems like no slouch.

Ease of Use

Sony has a new menu system which makes things somewhat easier. But we believe that anyone that gets the camera will need to spend more time setting the custom function buttons to exactly the way that they want them in addition to making the settings overall exactly what they want them to be. You’ll have to do this more so with the Sony A7r than you do with other cameras and camera systems.

Image Quality

We were able to stick an SD card into the camera to get a couple of images. These are JPEGs out of camera and resized for the web; but the unit isn’t a final production unit.

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A7r first impressions (8 of 8)ISO 5001-60 sec at f - 2.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A7r first impressions (7 of 8)ISO 1601-60 sec at f - 2.8

First Impressions

When we first handled the camera and heard about the technology inside of it, we were impressed. And we’re positive that when we get the chance to spend more time with it, we’ll appreciate it even more. However, we’re already sold on this; and Sony may probably be getting a couple of our credit card numbers soon.

However, we recommend that you stay tuned for our full review.

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.