A7 Opinions Please

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Cameras' started by demiro, Jan 29, 2015.

  1. demiro

    demiro TalkEmount Regular

    Mar 2, 2012
    I don't worry too much about any reviews in particular, but DPR had this to say about the A7 in their conclusion:

    Good for
    Those seeking a full-frame sensor in a small body, determined third-party and historic lens owners, video enthusiasts, and social media mavens

    Not so good for
    JPEG shooters, Auto ISO users, and photographers who want to quickly capture a moment

    I'm wondering how true to life A7 users find those points. I am constantly tempted to add a full frame camera, and with the A7 prices lately that temptation is strong. But, and it's a big one, I fall pretty squarely into the "not so good for" category. So, if that is more or less accurate I need to stay away from the A7.

    Please let me know how your hands-on experiences compare. Thanks!
  2. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    I just picked up an A7 and I agree with those general sentiments.
    The thing I don't get is why you need a full frame sensor for the "not so good for category".

    I got an a7 because I know most of my shots are pretty deliberate. I primarily shoot landscapes and Cityscapes. I kept my a6000 for more casual and af stuff critical stuff.

    Why do you want full frame?
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  3. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    Well, DPR's review of the A7 had so many mind-boggling flaws in it that it's almost become legendary for how to mis-review a camera.

    Having said that, I almost never shoot jpegs, and I don't know of any digital camera other than my iPhone that will "quickly capture a moment." They all have to be powered up, framed, and focused. But I use AUTO ISO more often than not with my A7. For whatever all that's worth.

    I've had the A7 for more than a year now, after moving to it from the NEX-6, and I haven't had a single moment of regret. Of course, I'm not you. So I have no way of knowing how you will react to it. But my hands-on experience with it is this: It's the best camera I've ever used, by far.
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  4. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur Subscribing Member

    Nov 13, 2012
    Ad Dieleman
    Same here, coming from a NEX-6, Panasonic GH2 and G1, Nikon D300s, D200, F3 and older cameras like the Minolta SR-T303b which probably comes second for the joy it was to work with.
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  5. robbie36

    robbie36 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Nov 21, 2014
    I havent read the DPR review of the A7 in detail but the summary is pretty fair.

    1) There is no minimum shutter speed setting in 'auto-iso' which is pretty inexcusable in a modern camera. Practically every other brand has this. You can use 'auto-iso' in manual which partially makes up for this.

    2) Of course mirroless cameras in general havent quite matched DSLRs for autofocus yet and while the A7 autofocus is acceptable it isnt as good as Panasonic, Olympus or the A6000

    I do shoot 'raw+jpeg' but mostly use raw and dont get the general beef about Sony A7 jpegs being not so good. However their jpegs do tend to blow a lot of highlights but I could rectify that with DRO.

    To be honest my major caution about picking up a second hand A7 is this. The price of an A7 is very attractive and I found the upgrade from a smaller sensor camera (M43) gave me much better IQ than I expected before hand. However, buying an A7 body is only the starting cost (a gateway drug) into the system and lenses (only native FE lenses) are pretty expensive.
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  6. Yohan

    Yohan TalkEmount Veteran

    May 21, 2012
    Vancouver, BC
    I would agree about Auto ISO. Shooting in manual in auto ISO is an okay work around. But I do wish there was the option of setting minimum shutter speed for Auto ISO like most cameras in this range.

    Otherwise, I'd agree David and Ad that it's the best camera I've owned.
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  7. demiro

    demiro TalkEmount Regular

    Mar 2, 2012
    Well, I don't need full frame. What I can say is that I've used a wide variety of APS-C cameras (DSLRs, Fuji and NEX mirrorless) and m4/3s. And I've used the venerable Canon 5D. I don't find enough separation between m4/3s and APS-C to care, but when I look at old shots in my files that darn 5D stands out for me. And many of those shots were casual JPEGs. I don't doubt the A7 stacks up favorably to the 5D, but we're now in a different era so it is tough to compare.

    Thanks for all the responses. The A7 is probably not right for me, but it still is tempting.
  8. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Aug 22, 2012
    I disagree entirely with DPR's review of the A7, especially its criticism of the JPEG engine, which I covered extensively at DPR (the site is giving me problems at the moment, but just search under A7 user reviews). The basic solution is turn NR to low or off and literally everything they said goes away. Actually, it might already been gone because since that time, there have been 2 firmware updates that tweaked JPEGs supposedly at default settings (since my JPEGs are all at NR low I didn't really notice).

    The Auto ISO in A mode that doesn't allow one to set a minimum shutter speed is a problem, but M mode with Auto-ISO (or you could call it "A+S" mode) is so amazing and you can pick it up in minutes. I am not kidding that it is that easy, while giving you a new level of control over your photography. So this should not be a dealbreaker.

    AF-S is very quick in good light. You won't miss a shot because of that. But in low light it does slow down still, though I've found it less hunty than my NEX-5N (and a lot quicker in all lighting conditions).
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  9. NullMind

    NullMind TalkEmount Regular

    Jan 17, 2015
    Coming from a Canon 6D (and 5D MKII before that) I too echo the "best camera I ever had" line

    I have the A7R, mostly use the Shutter priority mode plus auto ISO, most of my lenses are manual, so Aperture is set on lens, effectively is like using M + Auto iso :)

    Ignore those negative reviews and go for it, it's an amazing camera
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  10. Lisandra

    Lisandra TalkEmount Veteran

    Jan 28, 2015
    You know what?? just get it. I forced myself to shoot jpegs this year, mainly because the wifi only works with jpegs, plus that makes it a good "take to the family and friends gathering and instantly share" camera. For what its worth, sony will implement the shutter speed=focal lenght rule right up until your max ISO before its starts dipping the SS. The jpeg engine is not amazing, by any means, to the point that the (now) old olympus em5 gives me a far pleasing result at higher ISOs (in most cases). Editing what you want out of it helps, for me its portrait, contrast +2, sat +1, noise reduction low on good light and normal if its very dark, DRO 2. And also sony INSISTS on underexposure, my exposure comp wheel in almost never below +0.7. Dont get me wrong results are clean and detailed, up to around 5000, but my problem is that posterization shows very easily once you go past ISO 400 if theres a big difference in tones or brightness , worse when you cross ISO 1600. See below, ISO 500

    BTW i shot this for another forum as an example of how easy it was to get the dreaded (to me) posterization effect. Its not just a star trail thing (GIVE US TRUE 14 BITS SONY!!!!!!! DAMN YOU!!!!!!)

    Still, thats to my paranoid eye, and I edit them on ps express or ps touch (express is better) on my phone, which only makes the problem worse. jpegs on aaaaaaany other circumstance are crisp and clean are pleasing and the DRO settings are applied to the live view image so you really do get what you see. The DRO really does dig deep into the shadows btw. This is ISO 1000 straight from the camera with the mitakon batlens


    Its clean, detailed (where its focused, missed it by a bit on the doggie) and with great colors and tonal range. blacks are not inky black but thats more because of the DRO 2 setting and the f0.95 aperture lack of contrast. Focusing is nowhere near as fast as the modern panasonics, but then again what is? In ACTUAL practice, focusing is very snappy in decent or even half decent light, slowing down only when you get to poooor levels. As with other mirrorless, the bigger the aperture on the lens, the snappier focus seems to be in low light. Get it. get it with the 55 1.8 if you can. You just wont be sorry
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  11. Bill

    Bill TalkEmount Veteran

    Oct 22, 2012
    Brisbane, Australia
    It would be helpful to know what it is that tempts you to move to full frame. If the question, is will it meet my expectations, then the question is, what are your expectations? (The A7 and now the A7II definitely meet mine.)
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  12. demiro

    demiro TalkEmount Regular

    Mar 2, 2012
    Certainly a logical question Bill. The answer is that I have several hard drives filled with photos from a variety of APS-C and m4/3s cameras, DSLRs and mirrorless. And some from the Canon 5D. When browsing through old files the 5D stuff just jumps out and grabs me a little. I wish I could give your a more technical answer, or one with even a tiny bit of empirical thought, but I can't.

    I've often considered buying another one, but it has significant shortcomings vs even semi-state of the art cameras, so I have held off. I've considered getting in to full frame with a more modern camera, but I don't really want to spend the cash on that. So in my head I think the A7 will give me that "full frame goodness" at a reasonable price, and put me somewhere ahead of the good old 5D
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  13. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    If you are considering full frame because the images on your 5D stood out, there may be other factors to consider.

    The reason I say this is because from a pure technical standpoint even an APSC Sony mirror-less performs better than a 5D in IQ and Dynamic range. In the case of the A6000 and NEX 7, it's not even close. The A7 is miles and miles ahead of a 5D. So I'm not sure you necessarily need a FF to match the sensor on a 5D; any Sony mirror-less will do.

    That's said, there could be other reasons for the pop:

    -The lens has far more impact on "pop" than the sensor. What lens were you using in those pictures that caught your eye?

    - FF shallow DOF. It is easier to achieve at on FF, was that the reason for the pop.

    - Canon colors - Canon sensors may be dated, but their color rendition is considered best in the business.

    - It has nothing to do with IQ, lenses or any other technical feature; you just had a connection to the camera that enabled you to take better photos. Some people just do there best work with a certain instrument.

    I would love for you to get an a7 and join our merry bunch, but it's a decent investment even at these great prices. You should do it for the right reasons to avoid disappointment.

    good luck whatever you decide.
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  14. robbie36

    robbie36 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Nov 21, 2014
    Why not shoot both 'raw + jpeg'? In terms of using the jpeg for wifi this gives you a distinct advantage. You can set your 'image size' to 6mp or 12mp which is a good size for sharing. It also massively speeds up wifi and results in a more robust connection.
  15. Bill

    Bill TalkEmount Veteran

    Oct 22, 2012
    Brisbane, Australia
    The A7 certainly has the full-frame goodness. It's at least the equal of Canikon and Leica in IQ. Just as long as you understand it's not a sports camera.

    I do suggest, however, that you think about the A7II -- it's a marvel.
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  16. greywater

    greywater TalkEmount Regular

    Sep 28, 2014
    I've been a photographer for forty years. I love my A7. Using legacy lenses is a lot of fun. Image quality is excellent.
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  17. Lisandra

    Lisandra TalkEmount Veteran

    Jan 28, 2015
    I started doing it like that, but found it pointless. once ive "shared" it I find little motivation to get home and edit the file. So I jump from jpeg to raw.
  18. demiro

    demiro TalkEmount Regular

    Mar 2, 2012
    Thank you all for the responses, though I think I am still firmly on the fence. I'm going to wait a couple of weeks and see where my head is at. I'm checking out of this thread for now. Thanks again for the insights.
  19. tomO2013

    tomO2013 TalkEmount Veteran

    Dec 11, 2014
    Their review is interesting - some of it I agree with, other stuff not so much so.

    The problem with most reviews/reviewers is that cameras are reviewed with the initial shipping firmware which often times is a 'get it out the door we can fix bugs later' job for the company. So the camera that is referred to in the review can often be a very different camera from what you pick up in the shop 1 year later with software updates. Look at the Fuji X Pro 1 as an example. I've noticed similar improvements on the EM1.

    My opinion on A7ii and A7s
    Regarding the A7 (instead of an A7r , A7s or A7ii) I'd probably try and swing the extra cash and jump to the A7ii.
    My thoughts below are just my 0.02 and subjective opinion after using the A7ii and A7s for a few months. Both are fantastic cameras and really most of the stuff I mention is nit picking so read it in that context.
    Most importantly, the EM1, A7ii and A7s are the cameras that I have enjoyed owning most. I'd consider the A7ii to be the best of the bunch and IMHO is probably the best all round camera money can buy in 2015. It's had significant enhancements made to it over the A7 - build, focus speed, colour rendition, AWB, etc.. best real world 24mp IQ on account of number of lenses that can be adapted, IBIS and beautiful colour rendering (subjective).

    On the colour rendition and Jpegs front, it's not really possible to make a catch all general 'A7x' range comment here because Sony have evolved the colour profiles, AWB and jpeg processing engine between the original A7/R, A7s and now A7ii. When hearing from different users here keep in mind that everybody has their own subjective colour preferences. Currently my favourite manufacturer colour profiles are from Olympus, Sony(A7ii, A7s), Canon, Fuji, Nikon in that order. I was not a fan of the original A99, A7/r colour profiles and AWB. The A7s was like night and day different and the A7ii thankfully uses a similar colour profile. I have observed slight differences in AWB between A7s and A7ii in the same light and huge difference between both and original A7/r in AWB and colour. The A7s being the coolest, and A7ii next coolest etc...

    I'd agree with Rob, not having a minimum shutter speed is ridiculous. Thankfully as another poster mentioned, you can also use the manual setting with auto-iso to achieve a similar result! This is actually a really nice way to shoot when shooting sports and I prefer it to my Oly implementation. For portraits I prefer aperture priority and a min shutter speed setting. It's something Sony could easily fix if they ever released an update.

    Focus speed - in good light, with single AF I'd put the A7ii ever so slightly behind the EM1 with a fast lens. The EM1 is my benchmark for fast AF. It's the best I've ever experienced. The A7ii is not far off, its extremely quick. In lower light, the A7s is the fastest focusing I've ever experienced. The original A7 is rated 30% slower than the mark ii variant. I think it's worth the extra cost for this alone. In terms of C-AF speed, the new lock on continuous AF (4d focus) on the A7s and A7ii are fantastic. I shot a ski run last week with the 70-200 F4 and got lots of keepers. Really impressed with it. Probably the best continuous tracking next to the A6000 in a mirrorless. It will likely get better too as the new ZA35mm 1.4 uses a new focus mechanism optimized for focus speed and movement tracking in mirrorless. This shows the future direction of FE mount lens AF design and Sony's focus on continuous improvements to focus speed.

    Moving focus points around - this is a pain compared with other cameras I've used like the EM1, or XT1 where you just press an arrow key to move the focus square somewhere else on the frame. Focus coverage is fantastic on A7 bodies. The problem is that you first have to press the AF button, press up and then you can move the focus point around. It's quirky. But I would like to have the option to just move the point directly in a single button push. I know it's small. But it's the one thing that irritates me most.

    Lisandro's point on compressed raw and the need for uncompressed raw is a good one but for 99% of shooting I've never experienced it. The example provided in this thread however doesn't look to be posterization and is more likely internal flaring.... (at least with web compressed 8bit jpeg example on a laptop). I can't see banding of green rings, but rather a graduated green flare :) I've seen the same flaring effect on Canon, D610 and EM1 when using older adapted lenses. Either way it would annoy me all the same. Was this taken with an older lens and on which body?
    Posterization is possibly susceptible (in rare cases) when the photographer heavily underexposes with a high contrasting subject against a large dark sky etc... Most of the time though, you can easily work around by ETTR. **If** it does occur however, it's very difficult to clean up in post so you have lost the image. It wouldn't stop me buying the camera and in the majority of situations/shooting scenarios the IQ is nigh on identical to what you will get from any other top of the line 24mp FF camera - D610 , D750 etc... I think the interwibbly has somewhat exaggerated this problem to the point that people are paranoid looking for it, often in jpeg examples. I'm not saying it's acceptable to not provide uncompressed raw in a 2000 dollar camera. Just that the posterization effect and how often it will likely occur has been massively exaggerated akin to the ruckus made over the Nikon flaring/oil slicks, canon flaring/banding issues, Olympus shutter shock etc....

    Final part of my opinion I'll treat a little separately as mounting the LAEA4 adapter provides it's own quirks and turns your FE mount into an A-mount.

    A7/r/s/ii with LAEA4 adapter:
    Things I liked :
    - Very Fast focus
    - Able to use some fantastic Minolta and Sony A-Mount glass.
    - Great continuous focus while subject can be kept on focus points.
    - A7ii performs like an A-Mount native camera with this adapter - IBIS provides stabilization for non-stabilized A-mount lenses.

    Things I didn't like
    - The focus assist light does not work on A7 model bodies. Really irritating given the price of the adapter. That being said, focus speed is very snappy in most light.
    - Focus points are limited to a small area in the centre :/
    - With the LAEA4 the camera tends to underexpose slightly. It nails exposure frighteningly well without the LAEA4 adapter and when using native FE lenses if that is anything to go by. I've tested this with a handheld light meter and comparing with the inbuilt metering. Just remember to bump compensation dial when using the LAEA4. I have not noticed he same when using the Voigtlander VM-E close focus with M mount. So possibly Sony are not compensating for the SLT design ? Not a deal breaker though :)
    - A7,A7r,A7s do not have image stabilization, so telephoto lenses such as 70-400 Sony G2 are not stabilized.

    Sony Support
    Sony does not have the level of dealer backup/support as Nikon or Canon currently if you intend to do this paid for a living. This has become a bigger problem since they have closed down many of their brick and mortar stores.
    On the plus side in Asia and I believe stateside now they have introduced their 'pro' service with supposedly similar levels of backup to Canon/Nikon.

    RAW support
    I'm not so happy with what ACR does with Sony files. Ive gotten much better results with Capture one or DXO.

    I hope my subjective opinion helps. Best of luck with your decision. It's really hard to buy a bad camera these days. Most everything available would sound like science fiction in terms of capability, versatility and IQ to a photographer 10 years ago ;)
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  20. pworden

    pworden TalkEmount Veteran

    Aug 26, 2013
    Bryant, AR
    Really interesting thread. I'm considering selling most of my APS-C stuff to buy an A7ii. Reasons are iq, shallower DOF, less noise and stabilization. I'm just a hobbyist, but having worked in graphic arts for 20+ years, I look at images closely. I have enough lenses, etc. to just about fund an A7ii and would keep my A6000, SEL18105G, SEL30 (macro), Rokinon 8mm fisheye, SEL55210, and some legacy lenses. The A6000 would be my vacation/action camera, and the keeper lenses for that system are IMO not candidates for replacement on FF. (The 30 macro is just a really cool lens :) ) But, that said, I have to wonder if a lens turbo's shallower DOF might hold me on APC-S for awhile longer.