I had a little time today after a lunch meeting in the Pearl District and my friend Roger let me know that Pro Photo Supply had a demo Sony A7 and a Nikon DF. We met up and headed over to check them out.
I'm happy with my current kit, but it's pretty clear that the A7 is a pretty important move forward in the evolution of digital cameras. I gotta stay informed.
As you can see, the kit lens is pretty large compared to most E mount lenses. They didn't have the 35mm Zeiss prime in stock yet and it sounds like a lot of people are experiencing that same discrepency.
I was grabbing a cup of coffee at Barista just before Pro Photo and ran into Duncan Davidson who took delivery of his A7 body yesterday, but was still waiting on his lens. He put together a makeshift body cap pin-hole lens while he waited. Really looking forward to his review as it sounds like his lens arrived this afternoon.
So, I put my hand on it and it is nice. Some of the things I'd been wondering about were answered.
First of all, it feels an awful lot like my NEX 7. The body is just a bit heavier, though not more than you'd expect from the extra EVF section on top and the slightly deeper body. The buttons have a familiar positive click. The grip has a rubber coating that feels identical to the one on the NEX 7. The grip shape is a little different and it is slightly shallower. In addition, there's a groove toward the top for a finger, but I found it a little odd as the shutter is located on the top of the body. It didn't feel totally natural. I don't quite know how to explain this except to say that the shutter would work better on the slanted front area where they've placed a control dial.
The control dials are nice, with just the right amount of resistance. The 7 has knobs that are clearly plastic, but they don't feel flimsy. The A7r comes has metal knobs for a little nicer finish.
As usual, when you are trying out a camera in the store, they are frequently low on battery and without an SD card. No difference here. It took me a little fiddling to find my way around the menus to turn up the screen brightness and turn off the Noise reduction bursts. If you are used to the NEX menu, it's a little confusing. NEX uses a set of icons as the home page for the menu whereas the A7 starts with a tabbed menu system. Things are titled differently, but I'm sure it would be pretty easy to learn.
The kit lens. Man it's big. It has a dark gray plasticky finish that really look out of place on the slick glossy black metal finish of the A7. It doesn't look like the early photos I've seen. It has a very short barrel extension when changing focal lengths which is nice. I'm sure it is a decent lens, but I can't imagine not going for much nicer glass on this body.
The EVF is really nice. It seems sharper than I'm used to, though not drastically so. The resolution seems to be the same at 1024 x 768, but the image seems easier to view even if you aren't quite aligned with it. On the 7, the edges can distort or smudge a little if you aren't centered.
I could certainly see this as an upgrade path for myself in the future especially as the lens line matures. I really love my 24mm (35mm equivalent on APS-C Sensor) Zeiss and I'm really looking forward to seeing shots from the 35mm lens. That's really my main focal length and I hope that they develop a super fast stabilized model.
Perhaps what excites me the most about this camera is the potential. Sony is really pushing the envelope in a way that few companies are willing to attempt.