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Sony Alpha a7 & a7R

Estimated Street Price: $1,699 (a7); $2,299 (a7R)


Sony’s new Alpha a7 and a7R mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras are tiny, yet house full-frame Sony Exmor CMOS image sensors: a 24.3-megapixel one in the a7 and a 36.4-megapixel unit (with no low-pass filter) in the a7R. Besides the diminutive size, there’s also a cost savings: The a7 gives you essentially the sensor of the Sony RX1, plus interchangeable-lens capability, for around $1,100 less, while the a7R costs some $700 less than the only other 36-megapixel full-frame camera with no low-pass filter—Nikon’s D800E—with a similar sensor.

The a7 and a7R are pretty much identical, except for the sensor. Besides the differences in pixel count and low-pass filter, the a7’s sensor provides Sony’s Fast Hybrid AF, which combines on-sensor phase- and contrast-detection AF for improved performance on action subjects—the camera can shoot at 5 fps with nonstop AF tracking in Speed Priority Continuous mode. The a7R’s sensor doesn’t provide phase-detection, but its Fast Intelligent contrast-based AF is about 40% faster than that in the NEX-7 camera (the a7R can do 4 fps in Speed Priority Continuous mode, which is quick considering the massive image file size).

Sony introduced five FE-mount lenses with the new cameras, but they can also use regular E-mount (NEX) lenses, and via adapter, A-mount SLR lenses (with phase-detection AF, via the LA-EA3 and new LA-EA4 adapter). E-mount and DT A-mount lenses were designed for smaller APS-C sensors and will vignette if used in full-frame mode on the a7 or a7R. But the cameras will automatically switch to APS-C crop when such a lens is attached (or you can do it manually with any lens). In crop mode, there’s a 1.5X crop factor, and image sizes drop to 10 and 15 megapixels, respectively.

Features shared by the two new cameras include Auto HDR, Sony’s Sweep Panorama, 13 Picture Effects, 1200-zone metering, ISO settings from 100-25600 (plus 50), manual focus peaking, a three-inch tilting LCD monitor, 1080p video at 60 and 24 fps, and built-in Wi-Fi with NFC for easy connection. An optional battery grip doubles shooting capacity.

Dimensions are 5.0×3.7×1.9 inches and 16.7 ounces (a7) and 16.4 ounces (a7R).

STANDOUT FEATURE: The smallest and lightest full-frame interchangable-lens camera with or without a low-pass filter.

1.The built-in OLED Tru-finder EVF provides handy eye-level viewing..

2.Sony has managed to fit a big full-frame sensor—two different ones, in fact—into a tiny interchangeable-lens body.

3.The a7 and a7R have a more conventional control configuration than the NEX cameras and a more intuitive user interface.

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