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Modified 20-Nov-13
Created 20-Nov-13
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This is an initial samples gallery of the Sony A7 with the Sony FE 28-70 3.5-5.6 kit lens.

I received the camera yesterday, did some indoor tests in the evening (no images from that shown here, but comments given below) and today had a window for shooting of about half an hour this noon, when nicely the sun broke through today's otherwise cloudy, overcast sky - a nice coincidence with my lunch break that allowed me these few shots.

They are not artistic at all, not enough time nor nice subjects here in walking distance today (too late in the season for great autumn colors), and done for the sole purpose of evaluating the lens (and yes, I can do artistic shots when I have the opportunity, as my other galleries hopefully show ;-)). Focus had been on the image center for correct judging. With all bricks/houses shots I have tried to shoot straight, but it is all hand held, no tripod. Unless otherwise noted in the file names, all images are Raws converted with Lightroom 5.3RC with default settings, no postprocessing, no lens correction, exported as JPEGs at 80% quality, with Lightroom's default "for screen" sharpening. Exceptions: The "Bricks" shots have a Highlights -50 compensation which makes the bricks's sharpness much easier to judge. The "3Houses" shot has Exposure Compensation +0.22, Shadows +73 and BlackLevel -26, as otherwise the shadows would have been too dark for judging. And to give the gallery at least a hint of real photography, the last image shows what much nicer impression can be achieved with just a bit of post processing.

My initial take on the FE 28-70:

The lens is okay, quite sharp in the center, with acceptable edges that become better when stopped down a little bit. Good build quality. It distorts quite heavily (barrel at 28mm, pincushion at 45mm and 70mm), which would be easy to correct - again, not done here for demonstration purposes. JPEGs are well autocorrected by the camera, just in case you are happy with JPEGs. The microcontrast is mediocre, and it shows significant coma (see the “Green” and “Heath” shots). Chromatic aberration is quite low, and what there is can easily be fixed by Lightroom (again, not done here for demonstration purposes). In summary, no bummer, exactly what to expect from such a kit lens. If your main lens is such a zoom, you probably want to replace it by the (hopefully great, but also expensive) upcoming Sony-Zeiss ZE 24-70 f4 (as I will do), but if you only need the zoom for some convenience occasions it looks like a good deal.

A few notes about the camera:

Excellent quality of the Raws, outstanding dynamic range at ISO100 - see the “3Houses” shot where I applied not only a slight Exposure Compensation of +0.22, but especially lifted the Shadows by +73, something that would break my Canon 5D MkIII Raws and introduce significant noise and banding with the Canon. With the A7, it introduces some noise, but that could easily be coped with a bit of Noise Reduction in Lightroom.

High ISO is great, too, comparable to the Canon 5D MkIII, with some post processing one can seriously use ISO6400, of course at the loss of some details.

The shutter is very loud for a mirrorless camera. About comparable to a Canon 5D MkII (which has a large mirror to move), and much louder than a 5D MkIII. Well, nothing is perfect ;-).

Autofocus is okay for non-moving subjects, reasonably fast. Seems faster than a NEX-6 (but I do not have that camera any longer for a direct comparison). No competitor for any decent SLR in speed, but also no any problem in the field (it you subject is not moving). If it locks, it seems to be on the point. However, be aware that the camera will also release the shutter if the AF did not lock, using the AF’s best guess. You will face this sometimes in poor light, and in such a situation it will sometimes hit (sometimes even in very low light), other times grossly fail. You can notice it by the blinking AF indicator in the bottom left corner, and by the AF target rectangle _not_ turning green. Do not even think of using the A7’s AF for fast moving subjects like birds in flight, all you will get with that is a few lucky hits at best, this is not the camera for such (as expected, and as all of its mirrorless siblings at this point of time). On the other hands, as said, if it locks (and that’s the usual case with still subjects in not too poor light), it really nails it – something a Canon 5D MkII has issues with when using the non-central AF points. And the AF seems to work on vertical details only (strange for a contrast detection that could as easily be done on horizontal details, too – listen, Sony!) So, if you have problems focusing on a horizontal detail in low light, turning the camera by 90 degress for focusing might fix it.

The EVF is nice to use. Sharp, bright and very low latency in good light. In bright outside light (this noon) I found it a bit dark in the Auto brightness setting, but could fix that easily with the maximum manual brightness setting. Quite noise free even in very low light. In low or very low light, the refresh rate gets noticeably lower – I would probably prefer a higher refresh rate at the cost of some noise.

Build quality is good. Configurability is great. In opposite to reports that had used preproduction units, the camera turns on in around a second from power-off or power-save sleep, so no issue here. Just, if you turn it off and then immediately on again, it will need a few more seconds, it probably first wants to go to sleep completely before being woken up again.

Battery life ... well, all my playing and testing yesterday evening (mostly) and today was exactly worth one charge. For a full day of shooting, you may want 3 or 4 batteries to avoid running out of charge.

Bottom line: Exactly as I expected it. The camera is a keeper and strongly recommended (as far as possible after a few hours of testing) unless you want to shoot fast moving subjects. A great top-quality walkaround camera with minimum weight and hassle, at half the weight of a Canon 5D with 24-105L, and the same (if not better, if the upcoming 24-70 delivers) quality and much better dynamic range. Loosing the 71-105 range, however.

I hope you enjoyed this brief report. And you may download these samples by clicking on one image in the gallery overview, then putting the mouse over the image and selecting “Download original” or “Download all available originals” from the menu that appears in the top left corner of the image. You may use them for private evaluation purposes.

For questions and comments please use these forum threads:
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Happy shooting,

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Keywords:28-70, A7, FE, Sony