While reviewing the Sony A7 II, I had a chance to test and play with every Sony FE lens made as of February of 2015. The list includes the following lenses: Sony FE 35mm f/2.8, Sony FE 55mm f/1.8, Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS, Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 OSS, Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS and Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 OSS. Since I also simultaneously had the Sony A7R and A7S bodies (reviews to follow soon), I decided to measure MTF performance of each lens using Imatest and see how they perform individually. While I am planning to review all of these lenses in detail within the next few months, I thought putting together some data for our readers might be helpful, perhaps for those of our readers who either already own the A7 system, or those who are planning to invest in it. The below numbers are based on two different samples of each lens (I always do my best to test at least two due to sample variation) and the numbers I present are for the lens that showed the best results. Unfortunately, due to the shutter shock issue of the Sony A7R camera, I was not able to reliably test the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 OSS lens, particularly at anything longer than 100mm. I will have to retest that lens when Sony adds electronic front curtain shutter feature to the A7R, or releases a newer 36 MP+ body with built-in EFCS (yes, the shutter shock on the A7R is pretty significant). I don’t yet have access to the newly announced Sony FE lenses or the Zeiss Loxia lenses, so I will test those separately as soon as I get my hands on them.
October 16 of 2013 marks an important milestone in the history of photography, because it is the date when Sony announced world’s first full-frame mirrorless cameras, the Sony A7 and A7R. The Sony A7, being the cheaper model aimed for general use, sports a 24 MP sensor and offers hybrid autofocus, while the A7R with its high resolution 36 MP sensor is targeted at more specific types of photography including landscape, architecture, studio and product photography. Since the official release of these cameras, I had a chance to test both in 2014 as soon as they were available. However, I did not write detailed reviews for a number of reasons including native lens shortage and availability, all kinds of initial firmware bugs and lags, shutter vibrations (A7R), slow start up time, compressed RAW, terrible menu system, poor battery life and a number of other annoying issues. On top of that, 2014 was also a year of personal transformation for me, so I was incredibly busy trying to shuffle a lot of things at the same time. To put it short, my lack of time and my negative experience with these cameras contributed to reviews being put off for a later date. When Sony released the A7S a bit later, I did not see drastic changes aside from the camera sensor, so I put off reviewing that camera for a while as well. However, when Sony announced the second iteration of the A7-series, the A7 II, I immediately requested a review unit for evaluation. By then, Sony already had a few more native lenses to choose from and I had high hopes that Sony perhaps addressed many of the concerns from the original A7 in this new camera. In addition, the Sony A7 II came with in-body image stabilization (IBIS), which interested me a lot – with so many different adapters available for other lens mounts, the A7 II looked rather promising as a versatile tool that could stabilize pretty much any lens on the market. And that in itself sounded really good, so off I went with my journey to assess the new Sony A7 II.
Today we have some great deals to share with our readers. The Fuji X-T1, which we highly praised in our X-T1 review, is currently on sale at B&H Photo Video. For $1,299, which is the price of the X-T1 body, you get the camera, along with the VG-XT1 Vertical Battery Grip, a spare NP W-126 battery and a SanDisk 32GB Ultra microSDHC card thrown in for free, a savings of $320.
What happens when a manufacturer desperately wants rapid market share gain and mass adoption of its full-frame mirrorless cameras? You get a hard-to-refuse offer that instantly gives you cash for ANY camera in ANY condition. That’s right, Sony is giving away $300 if you trade-in your old camera. And when I say old, it could be a broken/non functional film camera that is not worth a penny, or a dead point and shoot that you have had in your drawer for years and never had a chance to dump it. With the already aggressively priced Sony A7 and A7R cameras, giving access to a full-frame A7 camera body at $1700, this $300 credit makes the A7 the cheapest full-frame camera we have seen to date, at under $1500 price tag. Clearly, Sony is not looking into making money from this rebate program and just wants rapid adoption of its brand new technology. When I originally shared my thoughts about the potential impact of the Sony full-frame mirrorless system on Nikon and Canon sales, a number of our readers criticized me for what I wrote and argued that there was no threat for the big two. Well, judging by what I hear so far in terms of sales and adoption, even among our readers, Sony is doing really well. And seeing how the Nikon D610 got a $100 off just after a month of its launch tells me that Nikon is definitely adjusting its pricing in response and Canon is pretty much doing the same with its 6D line. As Sony continues to expand its market share, I am sure we will be seeing price drops across the industry from all manufacturers. This is definitely good for us photographers, since healthy competition is always a good thing that drives innovation and decreases prices. With mirrorless having less components and bulk than a DSLR, it will be an interesting battle to watch for the next few years.
Sony is joining the rebates party with its own “Buy Together and Save” program at B&H. These lens savings are valid when purchased alongside either one of their popular full-frame mirrorless cameras, the Sony A7 and A7r and in all cases are $200 off the price of each of the four available lenses.
Just as I have suspected, the Sony A7 and A7R cameras are not immune to the Red Dot Flare issue, thanks to the short flange distance. The effect of the red dot flare can be significantly reduced if the rear lens element has non-reflective coating applied to it. In the case of the two below, the Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 ZA handles flare a little better due to its optical design, but the red dots are still all over the place. Both shot at f/16, pointing directly at the sun.
Thanks to all the camera and lens releases earlier this year, I now have too much gear in my hands and too little time to review it all. Instead of making our readers wait for full, in-depth reviews (which take me a while to put together), I will be publishing some bits and pieces from the reviews with my initial impressions. In this case, I would like to show you the ISO noise performance of the new Sony A7 mirrorless camera and the Nikon D600/D610 DLSRs. I have just received the A7 and A7R cameras along with two Sony lenses (the 35mm f/2.8 Zeiss prime and the 28-70mm Sony zoom), so I have not been able to use them extensively to provide a detailed analysis and opinion. From my two days of using the two, I am pretty impressed by what I see so far.
We are very excited to announce yet another great Facebook giveaway and this time we are partnering up with our friends at Fstoppers to do it. The winner will have a chance to choose between three different cameras: Nikon D610, Canon 6D or the new Sony A7 full-frame mirrorless camera! We are approaching the end of the year, so we decided to give this one away on the Christmas Day, similar to what we are doing with our Fuji X-E1 giveaway. So you have exactly one month to participate in this awesome contest! The contest is open for everyone, not just US residents.
Of all third-party lens manufacturers, Korean Samyang was the first to launch a new lens lineup for the recently announced Sony A7 and A7R full-frame cameras. There are five of them – as many as Sony announced themselves, but unlike the Zeiss lenses these were not specifically designed for mirrorless cameras. Rather, they are tweaked Samyang prime lenses designed for the most popular DSLR systems and are also known as Bower, Rokinon, Vivitar and Pro-Optic.
With Sony taking over the major headlines this week, a number of our readers have been asking about the differences between the Sony A7 and A7R – two new full-frame interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras. As I have written in this article, Sony’s full-frame mirrorless cameras are shaking up the camera market and could potentially influence the future development and pricing of full-frame DSLRs in the future. Boasting impressive 24 and 36 megapixel sensors, the Sony A7 and A7R cameras are attracting a lot of potential buyers from different camps. But one question remains: what is the difference between the A7 and the A7R and which one should one pick? Although both cameras look very similar, there is a big difference in price: the A7 is priced at $1700, while the A7R is at $2300. In this article, I will go over the feature differences between the two cameras and provide personal recommendations on what lens(es) to choose. I believe the two cameras are targeted at completely different audiences. Please keep in mind that this Sony A7 vs A7R comparison is purely based on specifications. A detailed comparison with image samples and ISO comparisons will be provided in the upcoming Sony A7 and Sony A7R reviews.