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Sony Alpha A7 review

An affordable full-frame CSC

Sony has done it again – introducing a camera that's ahead of the curve. What everybody will probably start to ask now is... is this the end of the traditional DSLR?

Although it's true to say that the Alpha 7 is far from perfect, what it represents is a genuine step forward in camera technology that could represent a big shift in the way we view interchangeable lens cameras.

full view
The future of DSLR?

Image quality is fantastic, as we had hoped for and expected, although the 28-70mm kit lens leaves a lot to be desired. We'd recommend sticking with prime lenses, but if you feel that you would miss the flexibility that a zoom would provide, the included lens is capable of producing some nice pictures too.

For now the lens range is a little limited to consider this a fully grown system, and we'll be keen to test out the upcoming 24-70mm f/2.8 Zeiss lens. It won't be cheap, but it should be strokes ahead of the budget 28-70mm Sony lens. That said, for anyone thinking of switching from other cameras or brands, this is a good alternative to consider. Not only is there a dedicated A-mount lens adapter available from Sony for other A-mount optics, third-party manufacturers such as Metabones offer converters for Canon and Nikon. It makes the A7 even more appealing, since you don't have to ditch your existing lenses if you have quite a few.

The addition of Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity brings this camera right up to date and it's great to be able to quickly ping across a shot to your smartphone for instant uploading to a social networking site.

head on shot
The a7 features a Zeiss lens

However, this does lead us to the one glaring omission that seems to inexplicably blight a lot of Sony cameras - the lack of a touchscreen. It's true that it's not absolutely crucial to have one for operability, but when you consider that setting the autofocus point is a little more laborious than it really should be, a touchscreen would solve that problem instantly. It would also be useful when reviewing images in playback too. That aside, it's a good performer, and it's nice to see a tilting device on a full-frame model – note that Sony is the only brand to offer it.

There's also a huge problem with battery life. Because this camera has the full-frame sensor, wonderful screen and EVF to constantly power, the battery life is poor to say the least, especially when you compare it to other full-frame cameras, specifically DSLRs. It's pretty much a given that you will need at least one spare battery to consider this useable for a day's worth of shooting.

We liked

The absolute best thing about the A7 is what it offers for the price. It's fantastic to have a full-frame sensor in something so small and affordable. When the system grows a little more, this will be a more serious contender for mainstream photographers, and it's nice to see something shaking up the market a bit.

We disliked

The battery is the biggest letdown of this camera. Like other Sony cameras before it, most notably the RX1 (and RX1R), it's just not good enough for something aimed at enthusiast photographers. It's lucky the batteries are small, so carrying around extras shouldn't take up too much pocket room.

Final Verdict

The Sony A7 is a fantastic camera, there's no doubt about that. For the price and size, you can't really beat it. But it does feel a little unfinished at the moment. Together with its A7R sibling, the A7 feels like a camera for early adopters – it's a fantastic leap forward and we're really looking forward to the next generation, where hopefully, some of the criticisms will be addressed. By that time, the system should have also grown into a more serious contender too. Hats off to Sony for the innovation.

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