My camera finally arrived last friday. I put an order in a month or two ago, as this camera has gotten me more excited than any in the past few years. I’ve been in the Canon ecosystem for the past 5 years, mostly because of its somewhat-wide adaptability of non-native mount lenses - especially Contax, of which I have several. However, while I was quite pleased with the image quality of the Canon 5D, 5Dii, and 6D that I’ve owned, I was never really that happy about the handling of those cameras. They were all too bulky, too heavy, and I felt that they distanced me from the photos I took.
The Sony A7R is exciting because its tiny and it’s full frame with a 36 megapixel sensor. What’s more is that the lens mount is very close to the sensor, opening up opportunities to use a myriad of lenses, including the Leica M-mount. The Leica M9 was the first non-SLR full frame, but after using one, I’ve realized that Leica has never really been able to catch up on the technology game that Sony, Nikon, and Canon really excel at. I’m finally ready for some of the innovations such as live-view, focus-peaking, and a more sophisticated metering system than the Leica M’s can offer (at 1/3 the price).
After playing around with it for a weekend, I am quite pleased with the handling and feel of the camera. It doesn’t feel as solid or well-crafted as the Leica, but certainly better than the Canons and Nikons that I’ve used. A Voigtlander M-mount to E-mount adapter has allowed me to use it with a Leica 50mm Summicron and 35mm Summicron ASPH. Both feel at home on the camera in terms of size and balance. The front and rear dials are intuitive and ergonomically placed, and the grip is compact but comfortable. I find that the menu and video buttons somewhat awkwardly placed, but otherwise the layout of the back is easy to use. I really like having the convenience of the exposure compensation dial on the top plate, as I find it very useful with adapted lenses. I think the camera would be improved with a touch screen, which would probably be useful for setting a focus point (which could be anywhere on the frame as it uses contrast-focusing technology) or to set live-view magnification to assist with manual focusing. I’ve programmed the C1 customizable button next to the shutter as a focus magnifier so that I can reliably use manual focus lenses. One other thing that would be nice would be a way to turn off the back screen completely when using the camera, such that only the EVF is active.
With 36 megapixels of resolution, I’m excited to see what the M-mount lenses that I have are capable of. The native lens lineup is short at the moment, though I’m looking forward on getting a Zeiss 24-70/4 Vario-Tessar which would be an extremely versatile lens that would be great for traveling. The Voigtlander 28/3.5 has a bit of red fringing, and the Voightlander 15/4.5 has heavy fringing, vignetting, and blurring in the corners. Hopefully the next lens that Sony announces would be a wide angle prime to fill in this gap in its lineup.