|When Sony announced its Alpha α7 cameras in mid-October 2013, we were loaned a pre-production α7 model to produce a detailed First Look at the most affordable member of the series. It’s taken a while to get our hands on an α7R, the highest-resolution model in the series but it’s been supplied with the Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS lens, one of the fast standard zoom lenses bearing the Carl Zeiss logo.
Externally, there’s not much difference between the α7 and α7R bodies and, although we’ve not seen the α7S (which was recently added to the series) yet, published photographs show it to be very similar. The main differences between it and its siblings lie in its extended sensitivity range and support for 4K video recording.
All three cameras have the same LCD monitors and EVFs and use the same 1200-zone evaluative light metering system. Sony’s Multi Interface Shoe is common to all models and they also provide nine customisable buttons that access 45 programmable functions.
They also include built-in Wi-Fi and NFC, enabling instant connection with Android smart devices. Connected devices can support easy uploading to social networks and remote control of the camera from the smart device’s screen. All three cameras have single card slots that accept the various ‘flavours’ of Memory Stick PRO Duo and Secure Digital cards.
Back view of the α7R. (Source: Sony.)
Top view of the α7R. (Source: Sony.)
Like its siblings, the α7R is designed for experienced photographers and its price tag dictates that most potential purchasers will be well-heeled enthusiasts and professional photographers who are attracted by the compact body size, high resolution and large image sensor. Interestingly, the α7R is 23 grams heavier and slightly wider and taller than with the lightest DSLR camera, Canon’s EOS 100D. But, compared with a ‘full frame’ DSLR, it is significantly smaller and lighter.
Lens options are the real issue potential buyers must consider as these cameras are designed for Sony’s E-mount system. When this review was published there were eight prime lenses, 11 zoom lenses and two add-on ‘converter’ lenses listed on Sony’s website. Eight were priced above AU$1000, among them 24mm and 55mm f/1.8 prime lenses, an 18-200mm f.3.5-6.3 convenience zoom lens and a 70-200mm f/4G OSS lens.
Samyang has produced a f/6.3 300mm ED UMC CS Reflex mirror lens that is available with an E-mount and sells for around AU$490. But that appears to be the longest lens available for the system and Sony’s published roadmap doesn’t contain any lenses longer than 200mm. This will limit the range of subjects for the α7 cameras as a group.