First trip out with the A7

Discussion in 'Sony' started by biglouis, Jan 11, 2014.

  1. biglouis

    biglouis Veteran

    Aug 4, 2013
    OK, I finally got of the fence after dithering about a replacement system for my now all-sold film system. In the end I decided on the Sony A7 (not the A7r for reasons I can go into but you probably don't care) and the 55/1.8. I also bought a CV 21/1.8 and Novoflex adapter. After one morning using the system I've ordered a FE 35/2.8 and I am going to say goodbye to my RX1 - not because the RX1 is inferior but just because I cannot see me lugging the A7 and the RX1 together. I'd rather the RX1 went to a good home where someone will use it.

    "Barges, Bike, Busker"

    This is my stock picture for testing a new camera. Can the sensor deal with the dark areas under the bridge and the enormous ev range between them and the distant barges, and anything in between. In this case the in-between is the biker and the busker. Obviously, I needed to bring back the highlights and boost the shadows but having worked with the RX1 for nearly a year I know what this superb sensor is capable of. This is the result. The lens is the 55/1.8 at f9 iso640 1/200


    I think it has done a remarkably good job.

    However what impressed me more was when I was on the pavement above the bridge in this picture. I was photographing away from the railway line when I heard behind me the hiss of a train. I turned and in a split second (literally) I framed and shot as best I could.


    Now, I thought the conventional wisdom on these cameras was that AF was a bit slow but I was surprised when I reviewed the shot on the camera and now that I have developed it how accurate and sharp the result. Of course, I did have the lens open at f1.8 and the shutter fired at 1/5000 but then I am even more amazed that metering and shutter were spot on and within literally microseconds. Here is some detail to prove my point.


    Left hand edge of the frame


    Below is the first shot I took with the camera.

    This is the 55 at f1.8 from a distance of about 3 metres from the tree. No processing apart from resizing. I am not even too sure I need to process it - I suppose I could add maybe a little contrast but overall the result is very pleasing. This is another reason why I don't think I would be using my RX1 much more.


    Finally, this is an example of using the manual focus Voigtlander CV 21/1.8 on the A7. I am not sure yet about the perfomance of this lens. I need to spend more time with it. I love the build, I love the feel in use. I love the focussing which is easier than I recollect using my M6, M7 and M8 rangefinders but somehow the rendering is a bit unsatisfying - although the rendering is reminiscent of my Hasselblad SWC and film (although that might be wishful thinking on my part). This is a wide open test at f1.8 focussed on the notice. What I think I detect with this lens is that a lot of the processing inside a Sony lens and in concert with the Sony camera is missing.


    I'm not complaining or judging. I am very lucky to be able to afford a camera like and have a wife who puts up with an expensive pastime.

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  2. christilou

    christilou Legend

    Jul 13, 2010
    Sunny Frimley
    I have the 7R, 55 + 35mm but still can't bring myself to say goodbye to the RX1. I still think it'll be useful with that slightly faster lens and silent shutter. For me it's the M that I'm still on the fence about.
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  3. digi2ap

    digi2ap Regular

    Jun 5, 2011
    Stratford, London
    Hi Louis. How does the image quality stack up against your DP2M?
  4. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    May 13, 2013
    It looks like a capable camera indeed.
  5. biglouis

    biglouis Veteran

    Aug 4, 2013
    Anthony, it is difficult to compare. The Sony is capable of so much more than the Sigma, especially at higher-iso, in fact you never have to worry about iso settings with the Sony. And of course you have the benefit of lens interchangeability.

    Also, the sensor characteristics are different. The Sony produces lovely balanced colours across the frame and in all conditions. As you know the Sigma actually loses saturation in lower light and in harsh light (like at the moment in mid winter) can be overly-contrasty. The photo of the tree above would have had very deep shadows and a brittle look taken with the DP2M, I think. Although the photo of the girl looking out over London might have been as good with the DP3M.

    I would say at a pixel level the Sigma has the edge but then it has the edge on pretty much all cameras out there (and from what I have seen even the D800). I would heartily recommend a DP2M or DP3M to anyone because for the cost involved the value in terms of IQ is unmatchable. But it should be used for specific applications and not as a general camera. I've always picked up my RX1 or more recently my Ricoh GR if I am going for a wander but rarely my DP2M or DP3M. If I am off the specifically photograph something then I'll consider the DP2M and DP3M as a capture tool amongst all available.

    But the Sigma cannot form a component of a more flexible system and the output from the Sony sensor is felt to be about the best available at present in conventional bayer sensors.

    Bottom line and sorry for the length of my response but it is horses for courses!

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  6. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I really enjoyed the photos and your commentary. As someone who owns and love the RX1, I'm real interested in the A7. And, having shot the RX1 and a DP1M back to back a lot last summer, I also agree with your comparison. For resolution, sharpness, and detail (which I guess are all more or less the same thing), the Sigmas are simply amazing - no comparison with anything I've ever shot. But for me, that's as far as it goes. I never really warmed up to the Sigma for anything other than extreme pixel peeping. Both the RX1 and Nikon A produced images that I just flat LIKED a lot more than the DP1M, in terms of colors, more subtle tonality, DR, etc. And the RX1 in particular, has a depth and workability to it's files that I've never found in any other camera - not surprising because it's the only full frame digital camera I've shot with extensively.

    The 55 and 35 aren't enough to draw me to the A7 - I simply wouldn't use the 55 much and there's no reason to get it for the 35 when one already has an RX1. So I'm sitting tight. But if Sony ever comes out with some faster wider primes and maybe a portrait lens or two, I could get REAL interested in this line of bodies. I'm tempted by the Df, but I just don't think I could warm up to carrying that large a camera, even with some of the smaller primes. But the Sony would be a different story if they can come out with something reasonably fast in the 21-24mm range that's not too huge, along with the 35...

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  7. adanac

    adanac Veteran

    Sep 30, 2011
    Vancouver, BC
    My only wish is that the RX1's lens were available, or a close enough facsimile, on the A7/r cameras. The FE35/2.8 is a nice lens but it isn't nearly as nice as the RX1's although I've never owned the RX1 so I can only go by what I've seen from others. That RX1 lens has such a lovely nature about its rendering.

    On the other hand the FE35 does perform very well and is small and very light, making the A7/r cameras pretty portable, which is what I believe Sony was aiming for, especially for a first lens at release time.

    I own both the FE35 and FE55 and since my 55 arrived I've not been using the 35 nearly as much. I don't think this is a reflection on the FE35 so much as a comment on the FE55 - it's such a great lens, so I'm going out of my way to use it. The FE55 reminds me of the things I liked about the Sigma 35/1.4DG on my D800 except the FE55 pleases me even more.

    If they bring out a second FE35 along the same formula as the FE55, I know I'll be buying one.
  8. christilou

    christilou Legend

    Jul 13, 2010
    Sunny Frimley
    This was my feeling also, and why I cannot get rid of the RX1. The 55 is superb and has the wow factor as does the 35mm Zeiss f2 on the RX1.
  9. biglouis

    biglouis Veteran

    Aug 4, 2013
    Ray, thanks for the comments. I too was also thinking about the Df but at present trying to get hold of one is a bit like finding hen's teeth. I made the mistake of handling an A7 and A7r in a shop and within literally seconds it was obvious that the Sony is a game changer while the Nikon is an interesting camera. The Sony brings the best virtues of the RX1 - which is a great camera - with the useful addition of interchangeability.

  10. retow

    retow All-Pro

    Jul 24, 2010
    The A7(r) are nice and very promising for the future. But I expect to see next generations being announced soon (maybe too soon?), as there are a few rough edges with the current interpretation of Sony`s compact FF milcs. The Df is more a "last of line" in my thinking. I`m glad to have both, but will not build up a full lens set for the Df. For those not into wildlife, sports, macro shooting, a GR & A7(r) is probably all one needs.
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  11. mattia

    mattia Regular

    Dec 20, 2013
    Nice stuff!

    While I'm occasionally tempted by the RX1, the reality check kicks in and reminds me I want an EVF, and that I've already got the A7R. I agree with adanac that the 55/1.8 is really something special, but I do think the FE 35/2.8 is perhaps a little underrated. It's not terribly exciting (bit slow for low light), it's not great at close focus, but it is impressively small and really, really excellent even wide open. I did a little torture testing yesterday (hour before sunset walk through the park, lots of backlit trees and branches) and short of some minimal and easily corrected purple fringing in the extreme corners, it's one of the sharpest lenses I've owned. Even shooting straight into the setting sun between the trees, the combination of lens and sensor really impressed, resolving fine tree limb detail adjacent to the only slightly blown highlights of the sun itself, with very smooth transitions. I think the FE 35 will be my go-to lens for most of my stitched pano shots. The quality and size/performance ratio on these is making me ponder whether I should even keep my legacy glass - I need to do some head to head testing with the C/Y zeiss pair I have (35/2.8, 50/1.4), but if Sony/Zeiss release a few more gems like this, I'll probably stick with 100% native glass. The 'wishlist' would be a native 21/2.8, 35/1.4 (more of the character of the RX1, with it's slightly wider than 30mm and slightly smoother OOF rendering) and maybe a 135/2.0 to round things out. I'm sticking with MFT for my telephoto/wildlife/general purpose needs, and will evaluate the lens choices for both systems once I've spent a little more time with the A7R.
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