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Transposure

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Question about potential Sony A7R purchase...
« on: July 11, 2014, 11:25:20 am »

Hi Guys,
I usually hang out in the medium format forum, but today, I have a question about the Sony A7R and I thought I would stop by here to ask it!
So, super quick history...
I shoot professionally and primarily use a Canon 1Dx and a Phase One 645DF+ with a Credo 60 back.  I have a plethora of Canon lenses and a few Phase lenses as well.

My carry-around camera is currently a Sony NEX-7.  With it, I have the Sony 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 and the Sony 18mm-200mm f3.5-f6.3 lenses.  I pretty much keep the 18-200 on it all the time and I keep this camera with me at all times in my bag.  I also have the Metabones adapter to use my Canon lenses on the NEX-7, however, I rarely use it.

I am seriously looking at the A7R as a replacement to the NEX-7 and have convinced myself it is a camera I would like to own, however, I am a little unclear on the lens choices.  So, here are a few questions...
  • As I understand it, the appropriate lenses for the A7R are the "FE" lenses, correct?
  • I assume I cannot use my 18-200mm on it without it vignetting, correct?
  • If I wanted a reasonable medium tele-zoom, what are your recommendations?
  • Are there any lenses (of any focal length) that are very highly recommended for the A7R that retain full AF functionality?
  • In most of my work and play I like to shoot at f2.0 and f2.8, are there lenses that are suitable for the A7R that fall in this category?
  • If anyone has any other recommendations as to lens choices for use with the A7R, keeping in mind that the lens should be manageable to fit in a day bag, I am all ears!

Thanks in advance for any help and recommendations,
Ken

www.transposure.com
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 11:30:15 am by KPV »
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Jim Kasson

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Re: Question about potential Sony A7R purchase...
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2014, 12:25:18 pm »



  • As I understand it, the appropriate lenses for the A7R are the "FE" lenses, correct?
  • I assume I cannot use my 18-200mm on it without it vignetting, correct?
  • If I wanted a reasonable medium tele-zoom, what are your recommendations?
  • Are there any lenses (of any focal length) that are very highly recommended for the A7R that retain full AF functionality?
  • In most of my work and play I like to shoot at f2.0 and f2.8, are there lenses that are suitable for the A7R that fall in this category?
  • If anyone has any other recommendations as to lens choices for use with the A7R, keeping in mind that the lens should be manageable to fit in a day bag, I am all ears!


You're right. The FE lenses are full-frame lenses. The others will vignette to varying degrees. You can set the camera to crop to APS-C with those lenses.

The Zony 55 (official name: Carl Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 Sonnar FE) is one fantastic lens, and a huge bargain.

This compares it to the 50mm 'lux on the M240. Guess which wins? http://blog.kasson.com/?p=5019

I like the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4.0 G OSS. It's a good performer when compared to the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8, but it's a zoom and it has a hard time keeping up with the a7R sensor, especially at the longer focal lengths.

Those are the only two FE lenses I own. I do use the Otus and the Coastal Optical 60mm f/4 on the a7R quite a bit.

http://blog.kasson.com/?p=5296

Jim

Jim

Transposure

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Re: Question about potential Sony A7R purchase...
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2014, 09:40:27 pm »

Jim,
Thanks for your reply.  I appreciate the detail!
I looked at the 55mm f1.8 and it looks good.  I love primes for my work, but for my everyday carry camera, I would like a medium tele-zoom, in addition to a solid performer like the 55mm f1.8.  
Even if the lens is larger, like the size of a Canon 24-70mm size, is there anything available that is a fast, medium, zoom that retains AF?  Can the full-size Sony DSLR lenses be used?
Recommendations?

Also, another question just popped into my head.  The NEX-7 has this cool little pop-up flash that is mounted on a spring.  I will routinely pull it backwards with my finger to point the flash up towards the ceiling to create a softer bounce effect.  With ETTL, the exposure adjusts automatically and the photos (particularly of people) are much more pleasing.  The A7R doesn't have a built-in flash.  So, is my only option to use a large hotshoe flash?  Is there something smaller that will afford angling to bounce?
Thanks!
Ken
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 09:45:28 pm by KPV »
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peterottaway

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Re: Question about potential Sony A7R purchase...
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2014, 10:01:30 pm »

The A7r can be used in APS-C mode  ( 15 MP ) with any E or DT styled A mount lens ( with an LA-EA 2 or 4 adapter ).

Any Minolta, Sony  35mm A mount lens can be used in AF mode with the LA-EA 4 adapter. To date I have checked out a number of lenses from the Minolta 85 / 1.4 and 100 SF through to the 35 - 200, 28 - 135 and 80 - 200 / 2.8 and they are all functional. You can't always be sure about third party lenses unless you give them a try out. Although personally I have preferred to use the FE 24-70 and 70-200 zooms, I'm now waiting to see what wide angle primes are going to be offered.

I do have MF adapters for the Contax / Yashica , Nikon and Minolta MD lens mounts.No lens tried hasn't worked although some are easier to use than others - if they were easy to use originally they are still easy to use with a decent adapter.
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Transposure

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Re: Question about potential Sony A7R purchase...
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2014, 10:24:54 pm »

Peter,
I was just looking up the FE 24-70mm.  This could give me the versatility that I am looking for.  The image circle will cover the sensor on the A7R?
Thanks!

Jim Kasson

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Re: Question about potential Sony A7R purchase...
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2014, 10:35:56 pm »

I looked at the 55mm f1.8 and it looks good.  I love primes for my work, but for my everyday carry camera, I would like a medium tele-zoom, in addition to a solid performer like the 55mm f1.8.  

If you're happy with the resolution of a zoom, and you want longish focal lengths, you might be happier with the a7 than the a7R.

Electronic first curtain shutter -- much reduced vibration.
Phase-detection AF -- faster and better for follow focus.
24 MP vs 36, AA filter vs none, but the AA filter is pretty light, and operates only in one direction
More money to spend on lenses

Just a thought...

Jim
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 10:37:51 pm by Jim Kasson »
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photodan

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Re: Question about potential Sony A7R purchase...
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2014, 03:53:31 pm »

I sold my A7r because of the excessive shutter vibration at a certain range of shutter speeds for lenses longer than about 50mm (about 1/4 to 125 sec, even on a tripod, although it depended somewhat on the focal length of the lens). By excessive I mean more than I am used with with a DSLR (even without locking the mirror up).  And, the autofocus is a bit on the slow side.

I also didn't like the fact that it's not a true 14 bit camera and most of all that for some inane reason it compresses the raw files in a lossy manner. However, these facts didn't affect most of my photos in a practical way most of the time (they can have very subtle artifacts, unless a lot of processing of the file is done and then they become more obvious).

I am hoping that Sony will come out with an updated version that mitigates at least the shutter vibration problem and I would gladly buy that version.

All that being said, I found that it gave excellent image quality with the Sony/Zeiss 35mm FE lens and at that focal length I didn't find any issues with the shutter vibration.  The 55mm FE lens is spectacular.  Minor effect of shutter vibration at the speed range indicated.  

I tried a  70-400mm Sony alpha zoom lens with the Sony adapter and found that in order to get sharp shots (on a Gitzo 3-series carbon fiber tripod with Arca Swiss ballhead) that I had to use very short shutter speeds (much shorter than with a DSLR), which meant upping the ISO considerably. Not for me.

Many people, such as Michael, have said they don't see excessive shutter vibration, in general. Maybe they have some magic technique, shoot mostly with shorter lenses,  or just avoid the problematic shutter speeds.  Jim Kasson has done excellent and extensive studies on these matters (see his blog), as well as Lloyd Chambers (diglloyd blog and subscription site).

Dan
« Last Edit: July 13, 2014, 03:57:58 pm by photodan »
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: Question about potential Sony A7R purchase...
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2014, 04:21:48 pm »

Hi,

The shutter vibration reduces image quality from say 36 MP to something like 24 MP, it is still good enough for most purposes and I'm pretty sure it is invisible in A2 size prints. I guess that is the reason some users have missed it. Your mileage may of course vary, depending on lens, mounting point etc. Stopping down to f/11 probably reduces image quality as much as the vibration. High MP shooting is about small margins.

Personally, I feel that the A7 has superior technology. It has first electronic curtain, phase detect AF. To me it seems the A7r was rushed to the market. Both cameras have to little battery capacity in my view. Next generation A7 (or A9)? I may be really interested.

Best regards
Erik


I sold my A7r because of the excessive shutter vibration at a certain range of shutter speeds for lenses longer than about 50mm (about 1/4 to 125 sec, even on a tripod, although it depended somewhat on the focal length of the lens). By excessive I mean more than I am used with with a DSLR (even without locking the mirror up).  And, the autofocus is a bit on the slow side.

I also didn't like the fact that it's not a true 14 bit camera and most of all that for some inane reason it compresses the raw files in a lossy manner. However, these facts didn't affect most of my photos in a practical way most of the time (they can have very subtle artifacts, unless a lot of processing of the file is done and then they become more obvious).

I am hoping that Sony will come out with an updated version that mitigates at least the shutter vibration problem and I would gladly buy that version.

All that being said, I found that it gave excellent image quality with the Sony/Zeiss 35mm FE lens and at that focal length I didn't find any issues with the shutter vibration.  The 55mm FE lens is spectacular.  Minor effect of shutter vibration at the speed range indicated.  

I tried a  70-400mm Sony alpha zoom lens with the Sony adapter and found that in order to get sharp shots (on a Gitzo 3-series carbon fiber tripod with Arca Swiss ballhead) that I had to use very short shutter speeds (much shorter than with a DSLR), which meant upping the ISO considerably. Not for me.

Many people, such as Michael, have said they don't see excessive shutter vibration, in general. Maybe they have some magic technique, shoot mostly with shorter lenses,  or just avoid the problematic shutter speeds.  Jim Kasson has done excellent and extensive studies on these matters (see his blog), as well as Lloyd Chambers (diglloyd blog and subscription site).

Dan
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Transposure

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Re: Question about potential Sony A7R purchase...
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2014, 07:54:56 pm »

Hey Guys,
Thank you for all of the input and suggestions.

Since I wrote this inquiry, I have done a bit of internet research and I have determined three things...
A..I definitely want to upgrade from my NEX-7
B..I am more thoroughly confused as to which way to go, A7 or A7R
C..I am even more confused as to the lens that I want to start with

I also want to redefine my needs..
1.  My goal is to have a camera that will, first and foremost, be my everyday carry camera.  This means I will carry it in my bag and pull it to shoot anything, at anytime.  People, architecture, whatever interests me in my travels, day or night.  Will I have/use a tripod?  If necessary, but mostly I will exercise long term proven camera handling skills for steady shots.  Since I will shoot anything, the focal range needs can vary, from wide for architecture and travel to longer (and shallower DOF) for people.
2.  Secondly, with vertical grip attached (a must for me), it will function as a professional backup to my 1Dx and/or MFD gear on location.  In this respect, I shoot people with strobes 90% of the time.  In the Canon world I use an 85 f1.2 at f2.0 or a 70-200mm f2.8 at f2.8 and generally around 100-135mm.  In the MFD world, I use the 110mm f2.8 exclusively.  I rarely (never) shoot above f2.8.

Since my 1Dx is 18MP and my Credo is 60MP, my inclination is to go with the A7R and fall right in the middle at 36mp.  However, at the same time, since I shoot people, and the absence of an aa filter is sometimes not kind to people (skin blemishes look worse, etc.), the A7 seems to have a lead.

From what I read, the phase detection AF in the A7 is not appreciably better than the contrast detection AF in the A7R.  For better or worse, I am used to the contrast detection in the NEX-7.

I like that the A7 is supposed to flash sync up to 1/250, whereas the A7R is only up to 1/160 if I read correctly. (Not that important.)
I like that the A7 has a slightly faster burst rate. (Not that important.)
I like that the A7 has a higher ISO range (Seems pretty advantageous since as a carry it has greater versatility)
I like that the A7R has more resolution.  I have printed many 30"x40" prints and some 40"x60" prints with files from my old 1Ds Mark III. (important)
I like that the A7R has a full magnesium body instead of a mix of magnesium and plastic. (I like great build quality)

As for lenses, the 50mm, that Jim K. mentioned, seems like a good all-around carry/travel lens, however, a longer f2.8 or faster lens will be needed for people.  Something between 85mm and 135mm.  What lenses are recommended in this category?

As my indecision continues....LOL

Is this therapy or a photography forum?  LOL

« Last Edit: July 13, 2014, 08:01:56 pm by KPV »
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photodan

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Re: Question about potential Sony A7R purchase...
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2014, 08:29:36 pm »

You might consider renting the a7 and a7r, and a couple of FE lenses that interest you most. Shoot the subjects that you are thinking of using the camera for, and see which, if either, camera set up works for you.
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Jim Kasson

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Re: Question about potential Sony A7R purchase...
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2014, 08:33:17 pm »

As for lenses, the 50mm, that Jim K. mentioned, seems like a good all-around carry/travel lens, however, a longer f2.8 or faster lens will be needed for people.  Something between 85mm and 135mm.  What lenses are recommended in this category?

If you're talking AF native lenses that aren't zooms, you're going to have to wait for Sony to fill out the FE line.

http://photorumors.com/2014/05/19/updated-sony-fe-lens-roadmap-released/

If you're looking for real fast native primes, you may be barking up the wrong tree. I think that Sony has decided that a bunch of long and longer f/2.8 or wider primes wouldn't be consistent with the small and light camera body. That's why they opted for a 70-210 f/4 instead of f/2.8. Especially given the cameras' excellent low light performance, I think they made the right choice.

OTOH, If you're willing to slap a MF lens on there, there are plenty of options between 85mm and 135mm. The Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar works great on the a7R, and on the a7, too. Here's another a7/ APO Sonnar link. The Zeiss 100mm f/2 Makro-Sonnar is a great lens. There should be an Otus 85mm f/1.4 in our future. In a pinch, you can use most any Canon or Nikon lens, but, since the new ones were designed for AF, you'll struggle with the short throws and the lousy helicoid feel.

Jim

Transposure

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Re: Question about potential Sony A7R purchase...
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2014, 08:51:35 pm »

Jim,
Thank you once again for your charitable donations!  LOL
Much appreciated.

Well, I have a Metabones Smart Adapter III for my NEX-7.  I see that they are now up to Version IV, but I believe the III will work on the A7 and not cause vignetting.  So, I can always use my 85 f1.2, 70-200 f2.8 or even 200mm f2.  Agreed that the lens size vs. body size is a bit out of proportion, but therein lies the attraction of these two cameras.  They can sit in your bag and be a quick and easy point and shoot or high quality 35mm digital capture device depending on your circumstances, yet, at the same time, due to the excellence of the sensors within, function in a professional capacity.

The AF and IS works on my Canon lenses when mated to the NEX-7.  Pretty remarkable actually.  The AF is a bit slower than when mounted on a canon body, but considering the versatility, that is not a huge hit.  That could be my answer.  In which case the 50mm stays on the A7/A7R most of the time.

I wrote Metabones just now to confirm that the III is compatible with the A7.  Their website says it is.
So, this realization has potentially solved the lens concern, albeit with a bit of heft and adaptation...LOL
Interestingly, I read an article on the internet about the A7 and A7R and one comment was very poignant....
"If Canon and Nikon aren't careful, they will be relegated to be niche manufacturers of sports lenses and bodies only."

Not to get off topic, but this is part of the reason I am going this route, as a slow and methodical adoption of the mirror less technology while still using the big boys for the bulk of my work.  I think the writing is on the wall and Sony has read it and interpreted it well.

peterottaway

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Re: Question about potential Sony A7R purchase...
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2014, 10:08:16 pm »

This may sound like silly advice from someone who is a compulsive early adopter, but I would recommend with Photokina now being so close to wait and see.

Yes if you like, try a rental as it is unlikely that an improved A7 family will be that different in size,weight and general layout. If anything it should be somewhat improved especially after all the " Ohs " and " Ahs " the Fuji X-T1 appearance gathered from all us traditionalists.

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Hans van Driest

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Re: Question about potential Sony A7R purchase...
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2014, 02:44:28 am »

why not just stay with you nex-7? There seems to be no combination like the one you have with the 18-200, for an a7(r) solution. And do not kid yourself that in practice it is going to make a lot of difference. You will gain only slightly over a stop of 18% noise and dynamic range (at higher iso) and when you want more image quality, why not put a few good primes on your nex-7? This camera is highly underrated and gives an amazing image quality, at least up until 20x30 prints.
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Transposure

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Re: Question about potential Sony A7R purchase...
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2014, 04:04:50 am »

Hans,
Whereas the NEX7 and the 18-200mm is a solid kit, I am still limited to f3.5 maximum aperture, and it is still a cropped sensor (which I never owned prior to the NEX7).  I am very used to the full frame sensors dating back to 1999 with my first 1Ds Mark I.  But, I also am not a fan of the odd menu system and it is small in my hands.  One of the aspects of the A7/A7R series is the availability of the battery grip.  I have used pro body cams for 14 years and anything smaller (for work purposes) feels small in my hands.  The ability to add and remove the battery grip on an A7/A7R is an important aspect to me.  But, I also like the idea of having 36mp for my paid architectural photography.  On that note, read the following...

I was recently barking up the tree of a tech cam for use with my Credo 60 back to shoot architecture professionally.  I currently use TSE lenses on the 1Dx.  I wanted to try to incorporate the extra resolution of the Credo but the entry cost was steep.  I looked into the Alpa FPS as well which allowed the partnering of the Credo 60 with my Canon TSE's.  Well, now, with the Metabones adapter that I currently own, and the TSE's that I currently own, and an A7R, I can capture architectural interiors at twice the resolution as I did previously with the 1Dx.  And that matters as my architectural photography has been placed on billboards in my area.

So, as of an hour ago, I bought an A7R, with a grip and a separate battery charger.  The architectural photography advantage sold me on the R over the regular A7.

So, now onto the general purpose/travel lens choice......Hmm..
« Last Edit: July 14, 2014, 04:16:32 am by KPV »
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Telecaster

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Re: Question about potential Sony A7R purchase...
« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2014, 03:39:34 pm »

I use my A7r with a variety of lenses, mostly of the adapted manual focus variety. The native 35 & 55mm lenses are both very good to excellent, though, so they get used too. The FE 24–70/4 is okay, particularly when shooting in 16:9 aspect ratio (which I enjoy doing with this camera). I will say the Olympus 12–40/2.8 for Micro Four-Thirds, with a very similar coverage range, thoroughly wipes the floor with the 24–70mm. Sony/Zeiss coulda/shoulda done better than "okay" with this lens.

Re. vibration...I've found that attaching my old Contax TLA-360 flash unit to the A7r when using it on a tripod with a long lens minimizes "shutter shock" in the ~1/15–1/125th sec. range. To the point where I consider it a non-issue. (It's always been a non-issue when handholding.) A bit of a kludge unless you regularly use flash (I don't) but it works.

-Dave-
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Transposure

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Re: Question about potential Sony A7R purchase...
« Reply #16 on: July 14, 2014, 07:25:50 pm »

So, guys, on to lenses....

I have the professional use lenses figured out.  I am planning to simply use my collection of Canon lenses with the Metabones Smart Adapter.

I still want to get a walk-about lens.  I have to admit, I really loved the versatility of the 18-200mm on the NEX-7.  Well made and I liked the shots I got from it.  Alas, there isn't anything like that for the A7R.

Following is a list of potential FE lenses on the B&H website.  I would like to hear from those that have direct experience with each of them if possible....Pros?  Cons?  Recommendations?

I like the f1.8 of the 55mm, but I like the range of the 24-70mm.

Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Lens ($998)
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1008124-REG/sony_sel55f18z_sonnar_t_fe_55mm.html


Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens ($1198)
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1008126-REG/sony_sel2470z_vario_tessar_t_fe_24_70mm.html


Sony Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA Lens ($798)
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1008123-REG/sony_sel35f28z_sonnar_t_fe_35mm.html


Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens ($498)
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1015472-REG/sony_sel2870_fe_28_70mm_f_3_5_5_6_oss.html

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Re: Question about potential Sony A7R purchase...
« Reply #17 on: July 25, 2014, 03:30:52 pm »


I would strongly, STRONGLY recommend renting one prior to investing in a new system.

I thought I had it all figured out, did all the research just like you are, thought it was the ideal camera for my needs.

Then I tried one.

The AF was horrible.  I mean truly bad, especially in even slightly low light, but I also had problems in bright light/contrasty situations.  You'll see people on forums defend it by saying they only use manual focus and adapted lenses.  If that works for them, great, but my older eyes need rock solid AF.  This definitely does not have that.

The shutter on the A7R is LOUD.  Seriously, the loudest shutter I've heard on a camera.  It's louder than my Hasselblad!  It also sounds all "clangy", like it's going to fly apart soon.  Did I mention it's loud?

It also definitely has shutter bounce and certain speeds, which basically wastes all those nice pixels and your shot will be blurry, even if on a solid tripod.

And that nice Zeiss 24-70?  Not Zeiss quality, in my opinion.  Way too soft in the corners.  Read the SLR Guide review, which is tepid at best.  The 55, on the other hand, is very, very nice.

I rented it with the intent to purchase.  I wanted to like it, I really did.  I LOVE Sony and have an RX1r which I have an emotional attachment to because the files are just incredible from it.  I thought that by buying the A7R I was getting on RX1R with interchangeable lenses, which would be a dream.  It definitely wasn't the case.

Many people like it, but please, I strongly encourage you to try before you buy.

Mark
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Transposure

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Re: Question about potential Sony A7R purchase...
« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2014, 07:50:20 pm »

Mark,
Thanks for your input!
I did buy the A7R and have been using it.  I am very happy with the results, build quality and feature set.  I have not experienced the effects that you mentioned.  I have yet to be hampered by the focusing.  It grabs focus just as fast as my 1Dx in anything but the darkest scenes.  The shutter sound is about the same as my 1Dx or my Phase One 645DF+.  I don't know why that aspect of the Sony is mentioned so often by so many people.  Who cares what it sounds like.  It serves a function and it works.
I have been using two lenses.  An 18-55mm E lens from my NEX7 (temporarily and cropped of course) and the 55mm f1.8.  I am actually happy with the results of both.  Disclaimer...I was a pixel peeper a lifetime ago.  I no longer am.  I am interested in the impact of my images and if the sharpness works on screen and in a print, I am happy.  I chose the "7R" over the regular "7" because I wanted the ability to gain resolution over my 1Dx when I shoot architecture with my Canon TSE's.
As much as I like the 55mm f1.8, I still need a carry-around medium zoom.
Ken 

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Re: Question about potential Sony A7R purchase...
« Reply #19 on: July 26, 2014, 09:40:26 pm »

The shutter sound is about the same as my 1Dx or my Phase One 645DF+.  I don't know why that aspect of the Sony is mentioned so often by so many people.  

The silent mode of eg. the Fuji X100s is really silent making it an excellent fit for weddings and street photography.

Mirrorless cameras already in general allow you to stay more low profile.  Having a loud shutter definitely goes against that.

If it really has a shutter as loud as the Phase One 645DF+ I can easily see that being an issue for a lot of people… Unobtrusiveness is not particularly a word that I would associate with the shutter sound of any medium format camera…
« Last Edit: July 26, 2014, 09:48:47 pm by JV »
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