Sony really caught our attention back in 2012 when they announced the launch of the RX1; the world’s first full-frame, fixed lens compact camera. Since then they’ve really been pushing the envelope with their innovative products and we were not surprised to see that they were the first to bring a full-frame option to the compact system market at the end of 2013.
Having researched the camera pretty extensively at the time, we were generally pretty impressed by the body and image quality but felt that ultimately, the limited FE lens options meant it fell short of being a must-have buy on our gear wishlist.
This year’s Photokina was the first time we’d had the chance to go hands on with the A7 range. Pretty tellingly, despite the fact that the camera has been out for a while now, there was still a pretty sizable queue of people waiting to try out both the A7S and it’s two stable-mates, the A7 and A7R (admittedly the A7S was obviously the star of the show, having been released more recently). Having patiently waited our turn it was finally time to get some hands on first impressions.
There is no denying that the image quality of this camera is really pretty impressive. Based on our admittedly limited time with the camera, it seemed to perform pretty well in the low-light of the exhibition hall with very little noise appearing in the few test images we shot.
We were also impressed by the more subtle details and options available in-camera. It features a lot of in-built effects and filters which could be quite a cool option if you were looking to upload your images straight from camera without post-processing. We were unable to test the WiFi options or the pretty cool feature to send your images straight to a smartphone or television, but they were relatively easy to find and our research since has shown that the connectivity seems to be good.
Our biggest bugbear with pretty much all Sony cameras is their seeming insistence to want to package everything as a gadget. All the settings and important control features seem to be buried deep inside digital menus; there is no immediacy in understanding the controls. It took us a good two minutes to figure out how to switch the camera off burst mode and return it to somewhat standard settings. We want a camera that fits naturally into the hands with controls that require minimal thinking. The camera should almost become insignificant compared to your subject matter and it just doesn’t seem as though Sony have really got to that point yet; we hope they do because it’s clear you can make some stunning images with this camera.
Patches & Flash