Excerpt: 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.
Summary: When it comes to getting high image quality from a small, full-frame camera, the Sony a7R has it wrapped up. It's worth the higher price and pairs well with Sony's impressive FE lenses.
Pros: Small, light, full-frame camera, Excellent image quality when shooting Raw, Solid build quality, FE lenses are of superb quality, equal to the sensor's high resolution, Compatible with a huge range of legacy 35mm camera lenses with no field-of-view crop, Large, high-resolution electronic viewfinder, Tilting LCD offers good detail and outdoor visibility, Useful tools, such as focus peaking and zebra pattern (work well with native lenses), Very good video quality, Stron...
Cons: Autofocus can be slow in low light, Auto ISO tends to keep shutter speed at 1/FL sec, often resulting in soft images, High-res sensor requires dedicated approach to shooting, JPEG quality not as good as we'd like to see (less relevant for this camera's market though), Limited selection of FE lenses, Tools for shooting with third party lenses need improvement, Long viewfinder blackout time, Longer-than-average startup times, Camera 'locks up' while buffer is clearing a...
Summary: The Sony A7R is the very definition of "big things come in small packages" with a mammoth 36 megapixel full frame sensor being packed into a very compact mirrorless body. It has excellent image quality, with the ability to capture incredibly detailed images, but does require post processing if you shoot RAW. The slow 4fps burst mode is a disappointment though.
Pros: Large megapixel count, Rugged weather sealed body, Very compact for a full frame, Second cheapest full frame camera
Cons: Slow burst rate of just 4fps, Uses only contrast AF, making it slower than the competition
Conclusion: The Sony Alpha 7R is a full-frame mirrorless camera with an amazing 36-megapixel image sensor. It's not quite as fast to shoot as its twin sibling, the Alpha 7, but its image quality earns it our Editors' Choice award.
Pros: Full-frame image sensor omits OLPF. 4fps burst shooting. Amazing high ISO performance for a high-resolution camera. Sharp, tilting rear LCD. Focus peaking. Excellent OLED EVF. Great control layout. Compact, dust and moisture-resistant body. Vertical shooting grip available. Compatible with third-party lenses via adapters. Wi-Fi.
Cons: Expensive. Loud shutter. Focus and burst shooting are slower than Alpha 7. Some color-shift issues with third-party wide-angle rangefinder lenses. No PC sync socket. No built-in flash. External battery charger not included. Native lens library is in its infancy.
Conclusion: Five years ago, the mirrorless camera as we know it made its debut as Olympus and Panasonic launched their brand-new Micro Four Thirds standard, promising smaller, lighter, and quieter gear. Sony was quick to see the merits of mirrorless, and its Alpha NEX-branded mirrorless cameras have since become some of the most popular -- and powerful -- in the segment. For the last half decade, though, something has been missing from the mirrorless world: a full-frame sensor.
Pros: Smallest full-frame, fully-featured interchangeable-lens camera by a country mile, Can fit in a coat pocket with lens, Superbly detailed out-of-camera images, rivaling medium-format cameras for resolution, Some of the best JPEG processing we've seen yet at low to moderate ISOs, Excellent sharpness with few sharpening artifacts, Extremely high resolution, Excellent dynamic range, Very good high ISO performance, Decent performance, bearing in mind its extremely high res...
Cons: Smallest full-frame, fully-featured interchangeable-lens camera by a country mile, Can fit in a coat pocket with lens, Superbly detailed out-of-camera images, rivaling medium-format cameras for resolution, Some of the best JPEG processing we've seen yet at low to moderate ISOs, Excellent sharpness with few sharpening artifacts, Extremely high resolution, Excellent dynamic range, Very good high ISO performance, Decent performance, bearing in mind its extremely high res...
Summary: At the end of my review of the Sony RX1, I said all that we need now was a full-frame mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses and the DSLR could be left behind. The a7 and a7R are those cameras, and for most people and most uses, they easily replace a DSLR.
Pros: Great image quality, Compact size, Solid build, Lots of controls and buttons, Great image quality, Compact size, Solid build, Lots of controls and buttons
Conclusion: If you can afford – or find – either of these cameras, buy one. Year 2013 isn’t over yet but the Sony Alpha A7 and A7R are prime candidates for DT’s Cameras of The Year award. In fact, barring the release of a spectacular model from the majors in December, we’ll give our vote right now to the A7, clearly one of the most enjoyable cameras we’ve used in quite some time. As we’ve written before, full-frame cameras are overkill for casual shooters.
Pros: Full-frame sensor in compact body, Superb stills and videos, Excellent OLED EVF, Good quality even at high ISOs
Cons: No built-in flash, Slow burst mode, Battery could be stronger, Makes louder noises than A7