For a while now, Sony’s biggest attention-grabbers in the camera industry were the mirrorless full-frame siblings, A7, A7r and the most recent, low-light and video focused A7s. Even so, to think that they’ve forgotten their DSLR system (although current Alpha cameras, such as the A99, technically are not really DSLR cameras) would be incorrect. Japanese electronics giant has enough resources and will to grow its customer base to provide deserved attention to all markets, which means those who still prefer the ergonomics of a full-sized camera can count on Sony not to leave them stranded. Today, Sony has announced what is to be the replacement of the venerable Sony A77, an SLT (Single Lens Translucent) camera we praised so highly in our review. So, what does this new camera, dubbed SLT-A77 II, improve over its predecessor?
Looks like Sony is doing all it can to push the growth of its full-frame compact camera system. On the 6th of April, 2014, the Japanese electronics giant has announced a new addition to its A7 camera line-up – the new A7s has joined the previously launched A7 and A7r. The difference between the original models was very straightforward – A7 was the cheaper one and had lower-resolution sensor (a still-plentiful 24 megapixels), whilst the A7r was the more expensive sibling (but not expensive per se when it comes to digital full-frame cameras) and featured a 36 megapixel sensor similar to that found in the Nikon D800. Both cameras, while very similar from the outside, are clearly distinctive enough on the inside. So what exactly makes the A7s stand out? Well, if the “r” in A7r’s name stood for “resolution”, the “s” in the latest camera’s title stands for “sensitivity”. The biggest party piece A7s has is its sensor and 4k video capability.
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.
In this follow-up article to the mirrorless camera comparison, I will be comparing high-end options available on the market today from different manufacturers. While the mirrorless market has not shown healthy growth in the US and Europe lately, it is just a matter of time before the new technology makes its way into our daily lives and starts replacing lower-end/small sensor DSLRs. High cost is still an issue for now, but considering that mirrorless cameras use far less components than DSLRs, we will soon start seeing them at very attractive prices. In fact, many mirrorless camera models already have seen significant price decreases (remember the ridiculous Nikon 1 V1 $299 price drop?) and we will be seeing a lot more of that in the next few years. In this particular article, I would like to start off by comparing the top of the line mirrorless cameras on the market, specifically designed for professionals and photo enthusiasts that look for the best image quality, features, autofocus performance and a solid lens selection. Please note that the below comparisons are only for mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. Also, please keep in mind that some of the benchmarks presented in this article are very subjective, based on our prior experience using the cameras and their published specifications.
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.
More rebates are available from other manufacturers in addition to those already covered. First of all, some Nikon DSLR bodies and mirrorless cameras are offered with instant savings. Nikon 1 J1 with a 10-30mm zoom lens costs just $200! Canon also dropped the price of some of its cameras for the holidays. Then there is Sony E mount lens rebates with instant savings that range from $25 to $200, while Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 receives a discount with the price knocked down to $109 (from $141).
A number of our readers have been asking our team about our recommendations on different mirrorless cameras. With so many different options on the market today, choosing a mirrorless camera can get very confusing. In the new series of articles, we will compare all the options on the market today starting from entry-level, mid-level to high-end. In this particular article, I would like to start off by comparing mirrorless camera systems that are available today from different manufacturers. This below charts will be updated periodically with new / updated information. Please note that the below comparisons are only for mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. Discontinued systems such as Pentax K-01 and Ricoh GXR are not included. The list is sorted alphabetically and had to be split into two parts to fit. Also, please keep in mind that some of the benchmarks presented in this article are very subjective, based on our prior experience using the cameras.
Last week was a very busy week for us at Photography Life, since we participated in the PDN Photo Plus Expo in New York and took part in a number of activities related to the event. This was the first time that I took part in a photography event of this magnitude and it was quite an overwhelming experience. My good friend and our team member Tom Redd was able to join me and we both flew from Denver to New York to take part in a four day conference. In this article, I will go over some of the highlights of the event and talk about the upcoming products and some hands-on information, accompanied by photos. I was planning to cover the event at the conference on a daily basis, but I was not able to do it due to my hectic schedule. In summary, it was a great event that will hopefully benefit our site greatly going forward (more on that later).
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.