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Sony Alpha A7 review

An affordable full-frame CSC

Our Verdict

For the price and size, you can't really beat the A7. This is a camera for early adopters, but it's a fantastic step forward and we're already looking forward to the next generation.

For

  • Full frame sensor
  • Light body
  • Small body
  • Tilting screen

Against

  • Limited lens collection
  • No touchscreen
  • Limited raw functionality
Ratings in depth
Design  4
Features 4
Performance 5
Usability 4
Value 5

The compact system camera market is still relatively new to the camera world, but it's still able to produce new cameras that shake up the system just a little bit.

Sony is no stranger to innovation, with its seemingly relentless desire to be seen at the forefront of consumer technology. So it doesn't come as too much of a surprise that it's first to the market with a compact system camera featuring a full-frame sensor.

The A7 comes in two varieties, one with a 24.3 million pixel sensor and one (the A7R) with a higher resolution, 36.4 million pixel sensor and no anti-aliasing filter.

As you might expect, the A7 is slightly cheaper than its AA filter-less sibling. However, when you compare both to other full-frame cameras on the market, they suddenly appear to be pretty good value for money.

side-on view
The a7 offers good grip in the hands

Along with the exciting new sensor, the A7 is equipped with a new processing engine. The Bionz X processor claims to be up to three times faster than the equivalent in its predecessors. There's also a new AF algorithm that boasts very quick autofocusing speeds. The A7 features a hybrid autofocusing system, which boasts 117 phase-detection points and 25 contrast-detection points.

The A7's autofocusing system is sensitive down to 0EV, which doesn't compare particularly favourably with competitors like the Nikon D610, which is capable of -1EV, or the Canon EOS 6D, which is sensitive down to -3EV. So it should be pretty interesting to see how the camera copes when shooting in low light conditions.

The a7 rear
A sizeable LCD screen takes up the rear

Although the A7 uses the existing E-mount, current E-mount lenses have not been designed for full-frame, so if you choose to use those the camera will automatically crop to APS-C mode (although you can switch that off). To get the most from the camera, a range of five new lenses have also been announced to include zoom lenses and prime optics, some in conjunction with premium lens manufacturer, Zeiss.

The A7 will be available to buy as a kit with a 28-70mm FE (that's a full-frame E mount) f/3.5-5.6 lens. There's also a 35mm f/2.8 available to buy as of now, while the 55mm f/1.8 should be available soon. Also in the offing for the very near future is a 24-70mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss zoom lens and 28mm f/2.8 Zeiss optic.

Sony a7 from the rear
Small, light, and mirrorless

Sony says that it will continue to develop extra FE lenses, meaning that there should be 15 available by the end of 2015. A converter is also available for mounting any existing A-mount full-frame optics that you may have – remember that Konica Minolta lenses are also compatible.

It's also possible to purchase third-party adaptors for lenses from entirely different systems, such as Canon and Nikon – a bonus for any current full-framers contemplating making a switch but not relishing the idea of a full system swap.

side-on view
Sweaty palms? The a7 is moisture-resistant

Other interesting features of the camera include dust and moisture resistance. While not fully waterproof, moisture resistance should see it cope with the odd rain shower without too much trouble. It's also equipped with Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, which means that you can share images with your smartphone or tablet instantly, or use another device to remotely control the camera.

The Sony A7 and A7R are more or less unique in the market, being so small and light, and of course mirrorless. However, if we're talking about "entry level" full-frame cameras, the A7 does compete with the Nikon D610 and the Canon EOS 6D. It's cheaper, and of course smaller, than both of those options, making this appealing for those looking for their first foray into full-frame shooting.

lens view
Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity come as standard

In terms of compact system cameras, the A7 isn't exactly cheap. But this isn't like other compact system cameras. Compared to other full-frame interchangeable lens cameras, it's a bit of a bargain.

Tech Specs

Product TypeMirrorless Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
TouchscreenNo
Effective Camera Resolution24.3 Megapixel
GPSNo
USBYes
PictBridgeNo
Product Familyalpha
Image StabilizationNo
Digital Zoom4x
Brand NameSony
DurabilityDust Resistant, Moisture Resistant
FeaturesContinuous Shooting Mode, Live View, Face Detection, Orientation Sensor, External Flash Shoe, Near Field Communication (NFC), Noise Reduction
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsAVCHD, MPEG-4 AVC, H.264, MP4
Viewfinder TypeElectronic
Weight (Approximate)416 g
Maximum Image Resolution6000 x 4000
Maximum Frame Rate60 fps
Number of Batteries Supported1
Battery Built-inNo
Battery RechargeableYes
Battery IncludedYes
Display Screen TypeLCD
Image Sensor TypeExmor APS HD CMOS sensor
Total Camera Resolution24.7 Megapixel
HDMIYes
Camera AssemblyBody Only
HD Movie ModeYes
Battery Model SupportedNP-FW50
Memory Card SupportedMemory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, Memory Stick XC-HG Duo, Memory Stick Duo, Secure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card
Height94.4 mm
Width126.9 mm
Depth48.2 mm
Autofocus Points117
Image FormatsJPEG, RAW
Audio FormatsAC3, AAC-LC
Flash ModesAuto Flash, Flash OFF, Flash ON, Slow Sync, Rear Flash Sync, Pre-flash, Wireless Flash, Red-eye Reduction, Flash Exposure Compensation
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product Model7
Product Nameα7 Full-Frame ILC Body Only (No Lens Included)
Product Linealpha
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberILCE7B.CE
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sony.co.uk
Marketing InformationStep up to full-frame power

Switch lenses. Shoot almighty professional quality with 24.3MP. React with speed and accuracy thanks to Fast Hybrid Autofocus and a high resolution OLED viewfinder. Realise your creative vision anywhere with the world's smallest 35mm full-frame interchangeable-lens camera.

Battery Life270 Shot
Package Contents
  • α7 Full-Frame ILC Body Only (No Lens Included)
  • Battery
Display Resolution921600 Pixel
Limited Warranty1 Year
Built-in DevicesSpeaker, Microphone