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I started writing this Sony A7R review with the sentence ”I hate the Sony A7R”, such was my vitriol over this infuriating yet impressive piece of tech. And that’s what the A7R is, it’s a technological marvel crammed into a tiny, sharp edged box. If you’re like me, converting from Canon or Nikon, you’ll find the learning curve painful as you discard much of the logic you’ve grown so used to.
That being said, each day my hatred of the Sony A7R diminished as I chipped away at the quirks to uncover the gems this little Pandora’s box has to offer. As expected, the image quality is superb. Having this kind of dynamic range at my fingertips is pure luxury and I’m seeing such a crisp sharpness from my old Canon 24-105mm lens that it’s quickly become my go-to lens of choice.
Sony made a great sensor and some really clever technology, but in terms of ergonomics and overall creative workflow, they could learn a lot from the likes of Canon and Nikon. Compared to the sterile feeling A7R, my trusty old Canon 5D mkII feels like a worn in glove that’s perfectly moulded to my hand with everything in the right place. The A7R is like a soulless Cylon that sports the biggest firepower but is completely devoid of heritage or heart.
The problem is, my 5DmkII perished horribly a couple of months ago so I bought the Sony A7R and even splashed out the $412 Canadian dollars for the crappy Metabones adapter that fidgets around in the Sony E-Mount like a 5 year old after a super sized Slurpee binge.
Although this is not Sonys fault, this entire setup really has its problems and I’ll be honest, if I hadn’t already taken the plunge and fully committed to this purchase, I’d probably have taken it back to the store to exchange it for something else. Oh but wait, there is nothing else that comes close to the Sony A7R in terms of specification versus price.
So I’m stuck with it, and what do people usually do when they have no choice, but to get along? They figure out ways around the problems and make do. That’s when my hatred of the Sony A7R started to turn into begrudging admiration, dare I say….. even… love?
The good news is that the A7R is highly customizable, so if you’re willing to spend days digging through the menus, reading the useless manual and trying a bit of experimentation, you’ll be able to tweak it your tastes – I hope. NEX users will already be familiar with complicated menus and I’ve heard that the A7R is much simpler. I expect NEX users will read my review and groan, possibly even accuse me of being a purist old fart who can’t let go of the old DSLR ways (cue more groans from film shooters).
So, without further waffling, here’s a list of things I love about the A7R and a list of things I hate; so that you know what you’ll be getting yourself into should you decide to buy this powerful little beast of a camera.
The Sony A7R comes with the most useless user manual I’ve ever seen. It has about as much depth as a Miley Cyrus song and leaves you with more questions than answers. On page 82, the manual mentions that there is an in depth ‘Help Guide’ available at a url that is no longer available. After much scouring of the interwebs I found the real link to the Sony A7 / A7R Help Guide which still works at the time of writing. I’m sad to say I’ve read the entire thing and still needed to find answers to my many problems by forum digging.
Of course you do. It doesn’t matter if you only ever print small images, with 36 megapixels your compositional horizons are greatly expanded because you now have the power to crop like a boss. If you don’t own a $6k super telephoto lens, it’s no problem, just take the shot and crop it in post with plenty of resolution left over.
Of course you will. These RAW files are humongulous. If you’re squeamish about losing precious disk space, the Sony A7 is probably the better option with its faster auto focus, smaller files and lower price tag.
If you’re a landscape shooter, I would recommend that you buy this camera. If you’re any other kind of shooter and never have the need to print massive images and don’t do much cropping, buy the A7.
I admit it, I love the A7R. Even though my list of grumbles is way longer than my list of plus points, it all boils down to the fact that the image quality of the A7R is simply awesome. I’ve learned to work around the annoying quirks and when you consider that Sony’s native lenses are very, very small, it all starts to make sense. Sure, it’s great that we can all attach our old lenses via adapters, but if I could afford to replace my giant, heavy Canon glass with miniature sized Zeiss glass that might possibly do a better job – I totally would.
Have you tried out the Sony A7R? What is your experience? Share with us in the comments please.
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