A little more than a year after Sony introduced the RX1, the first full-frame, fixed lens camera, the company has raised the bar yet again with its new A7/A7R cameras—the world’s first full-frame mirrorless cameras.
The main difference between the two models is the sensor. The A7 is built around a 24 megapixel sensor with on-chip contrast and phase detection AF for hybrid autofocus. The A7R features a 36 megapixel sensor, uses only contrast detection AF (although Sony claims that its Fast Intelligent AF system is 40% faster than that of the NEX-7) and, in order to extract the most resolution, does not have an optical low pass filter (OLPF).
Physically, the two are almost identical. Magnesium alloy bodies are dust and moisture resistant and feature a new anti-dust mechanism. As you can see from the product shots, the A7/A7R design has more in common with the RX1 than the NEX models. Both measure 5 × 3 3/4 × 1 15/16 inches, with the A7 weighing 16.7 ounces while the A7R weighs a little less at 16.4 ounces (with battery and media card installed). I spent a little time with the cameras and found them to be well-built, comfortable to hold and easy to operate.
Both are equipped with a gorgeous 2.4 million dot OLED EVF, which is a slightly improved (5 levels of brightness vs. 3) version of the already excellent EVF used on the Sony A99, as well as a tiltable 3-inch high resolution LCD. Custom options abound with 9 custom buttons and 45 assignable functions and setting adjustments are a breeze with 4 dials (3 controls dials and a dedicated EV compensation dial).
Sony emphasized the importance of its new BIONZ X processor with Detail Reproduction Technology, designed for more sophisticated sharpening and better details. With its Defraction Reduction technology, the camera recognizes the lens and aperture and applies the appropriate processing for that lens/aperture combination. The BIONZ X processor also provides improved area-specific noise reduction. Lock-on AF for tracking and an improved Eye AF ensures more accurate AF.
Built-in WiFi and NFC compatibility are available for the cameras as well. On the video side, both cameras can capture 1080p at 60p and 24p with manual exposure control. Accessory headphones and microphones can be used on both cameras, which also offer XLR support with an optional adapter. Uncompressed HDMI output is also possible. For more details about the A7/A7R, and additional features, please visit: www.sonystyle.com and www.blog.sony.com.
Availability and Pricing
Both cameras will be available early December for: $2300 (A7R/body only); $2000 (A7 with FE 28-70mm, f/3.5-5.6 kit lens); $1700 (body only)
Sony is developing a series of full-frame (FE) lenses for the new cameras but only the kit lens for the A7 (not available separately) and a 35mm Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* f/2.8 prime lens will be available when the cameras are released in December. In January, 2014, Sony will add a Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 prime and a Zeiss 24-70mm, f/4 zoom. Also expected sometime in 2014 is a G 70-200mm, f/4 lens but pricing and availability are not yet available. By 2015, Sony expects to offer 15 full-frame lenses.
But the new cameras feature an E-mount and, as such, will fit E-mount lenses. However, since those lenses are designed for APS-C sensors, you have the choice of either seeing a vignette in the EVF or shooting in a crop mode. A-mount lenses will be compatible via adapters, including the new LA-EA4, which is equipped with Sony’s Translucent Mirror Technology for autofocus. The LA-EA3 mount adapter does not support autofocus but also allows for full-frame shooting with A-mount lenses.
A number of other accessories are also being introduced including a vertical grip and off-camera shoe for flash.
Lens and Accessory Pricing
24-70mm, f/4: $1200 (January)
35mm, f/2.8: $800 (December)
55mm, f/1.8: $1000 (January)
LA-EA4 adapter with TMT: $350 (December)
LA-EA3 adapter: $200 (December)
Vertical grip: $300 (December)
Off-camera flash shoe: $50 (January)
At the same time that it announced the full-frame A7/A7R, Sony also introduced the RX10 to its RX-line of cameras. Using the same 20 megapixel, 1-inch, BSI (back side illuminated) sensor as the RX100 II, the new RX10 outdoes its sibling in the zoom department with its 24-200mm (35mm-equivalent), f/2.8 constant aperture Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T* zoom lens.
Like the new full-frame cameras, the RX10 utilizes Sony’s new BIONZ X processor for faster processing speed, improved area specific noise reduction, better detail reproduction and more. Lock-on AF for tracking, Eye AF (which helps keep focus on a subject’s eyes) and 10 frames per second continuous shooting with continuous autofocus are only a few of this camera’s attributes. And, its magnesium alloy body is dust and moisture resistant.
The camera also features a high resolution OLED Tru-Finder EVF, a 3-inch tiltable LCD with lots of custom buttons and options. The RX10 offers full HD video capture, built-in WiFi and NFC compatibility with the option to shoot remotely with a mobile device.
While not as groundbreaking as the A7/A7R, the RX10 looks like a solid addition to Sony’s RX-series cameras with its far reaching zoom and under-the-hood advanced technology.