There’s a lot of buzz about the new full-frame cameras from Sony. Thanks to LensRentals.com I got my hands on the cameras and really put them through some real-world challenges. I focussed on their video capabilities (but be sure to see Mark Morrow’s excellent review for stills).
The Sony Alpha a7R is a high-resolution, full-frame E-mount mirror less camera and big brother to the Sony Alpha a7. Thanks to LensRentals.com for letting me dig in and play with both and a fun collection of lenses.
36.4MP Full Frame Sensor
While the a7 features a 24.3MP sensor, the a7R is based around a high resolution 36.4MP full-frame sensor. When shooting video, the large sensor pulled in plenty of light and allowed for shooting at reasonable aperture settings to maintain focus.
The a7R shoots Full HD 1080 video. You can shoot at 24p/60i/60p frame rates. It supports both AVCHD and MP4 codecs which are broadly compatible. The AVCHD is the better image quality format of the two. The HDMI port also offers uncompressed video output which can be recorded using a compatible disk recorder. It has both in-camera stereo microphone and external stereo mic input for audio capture. The Sony A7s (which wasn’t ready when I had my shoot) offers 4K output to the external recorder.
Easy to Use Menus
I was able to jump right in and easily find things. Both cameras offered an intuitive menu system and precise controls to setup the camera. Tabs were easy to navigate and there are numbered pages (much like a Canon menu system).
Sony has created a new line called FE lenses. These are specifically designed to provide a larger image circle for covering the full-frame sensor. Any existing APS-C E-mount lenses are compatible with the full-frame sensor. The only trade-off is that you will have to shoot in crop-frame mode or accept vignetting caused by the smaller image circle. If you’ve invested in any A lenses from Sony, they do make a useful adapter (seen above).
High Res EVF & LCD
The 2.4M-Dot OLED electronic viewfinder gives a large live preview. The screen is very easy to see in all types of lighting. It also provides 100% frame coverage. I found it easy to tilt and adjust for composition as well. The screen also has useful overlays when shooting in LiveView mode.
The body has a solid feel. It offers a magnesium-alloy body and features dust and moisture sealing. The body is comfortable to hold and can be used in less than ideal conditions (like dust and rain). The buttons are easy to customize and offers both front and rear dials.
The Camera In Action
Rich has published over 100 courses on Lynda.com. Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.