The world’s first single lens full size mirrorless cameras, the Alpha 7 and the Alpha 7R have now arrived. The top quality full size format world has been led by flagship SLR cameras, and speaking of SONY’s A mount cameras, only the Alpha 99 has the full size sensor. The Alpha 7 / Alpha 7R are the result of their earnest pursuit to create small and lightweight body that generates high quality full size images.

As long as a camera inherits a SLR mount, flange focal distance becomes bigger and it prevents compactization. Then, one could dream of switching to the E mount to be able to load the full size sensor. That really makes sense, although it may be a little bold idea. But, not for SONY and they put it into practice! The E mount used to be just for APS-C, but with the release of this body, they will release lenses for full size sensors. Will consumers get this body even though there’re not many lenses available yet (as of Nov. 2013)? I dare say. They will want it for sure. While keeping the high picture quality, the small body is easy to handle. The only difference between the Alpha 7 and the Alpha 7R is the sensor. So, I’d like you to check our review of the Alpha 7R as well to make a comparison.

( Photography : A.Inden / Text : 48 )

Perfect size. Be absorbed in shooting.

You won’t believe that this small body carries the size of a sensor for the Alpha 99. It’s a little larger than the NEX cameras, but once you hold it and look into the EVF, you’ll realize it’s perfectly sized. You know a camera needs to be "big enough" to shoot more seriously, and the Alpha 7 does just that. If it’s smaller than this, then it loses the good balance between lenses. And, it can’t be smaller than this if it’s designed to use with the EVF. Thanks to the shooting style using the EVF, you can hold the camera tight by keeping the upper arms to the body. This will also help you integrate yourself into the subject and improve picture quality. The combination between the camera and the concurrently released 35mm F2.8 lens is excitingly compact. You can take full size pictures with this compact set and I’m sure you know how sweet it is.

The improved high contrast EVF facilitates shooting against intense backlight. SONY has established reputation in their EVF and by the appearance of this superior quality EVF for the Alpha 7, I think it’s safe to say full size mirrorless cameras have now become a reality. It’s only after the EVF becoming excellent when a camera doesn’t need the optical viewfinder, let alone the mirror. SONY says it delivers 3 times the contrast of the Alpha 99. Visibility of viewfinder smoothifies shooting and our photographer loved it.

When this model was press-released, our crew used to say “isn’t it better to have a detachable EVF to be compact?”, or “why didn’t they put it in the corner of the body so the nose doesn’t hit the body?” But, we realized that we feel more reassuring because of the fixed viewfinder. Now, we never need to worry about hitting or losing it. It’s also important to position the viewfinder on the central axis of the lens. When I take a shot like this, I want to fine-adjust how I show the light, I realized my body reaction is directly linked to the output.

Whether you hang it on the shoulder or put it into the bag, the top advantage of a small body is the portability. The Alpha 7 is one of the smallest and lightest 35mm full size interchangeable lens cameras (the Alpha 7R, weighing 9 grams less than the Alpha 7, is the world’s lightest). This package of uncompromised picture quality and portability enables everyday shooting.

What about the picture quality? The Alpha 7’s sensor has a high resolving power of 24.3 megapixels. I viewed this shot at 100% size and I could read the logo of the outdoor unit for the air conditioner and recognize the sizes and shapes of rivets for the steel frames. Also, I was amazed that there’s a tonality and colors in the deep shadow. The rear LCD is also sharp, so every time I check the results, I come to want to shoot more. Isn’t it important thing for a camera?

Red used to be a difficult color for digital cameras, but this one looks very dense. The shinned part, paint, and material look so real. When even an ordinary shot looks this sexy, it’s hard not to shoot more!

It may be touch to ask for reproducing graduation at high ISO. There’re some noises at ISO 3200-6400, so you may want to choose the situation and subject when using the higher sensitivity range. Still, we can only merit from the capability to shoot even after sunset.

ISO1600 is safe to use. For the subject like this, I could use higher sensitivity. If the lens is bright as F2.8, you should be able to shoot at night using ISO1600.

I was astonished by the rich tonality and impressive power of expression. In terms of picture quality, we can call it "the flagship model." This camera should appeal to A mount users because they can use their A lenses via mount adapter. In terms of operation, it can’t substitute SLR cameras because of the reliance on the function key (this has pros and cons). So, it may depend on how users customize it and I look forward to seeing how it matures. Anyway, I have no complaints on the picture quality, so I think it’s best to keep shooting and enjoy what it offers to us.

Don’t split hairs. Just enjoy the full size depiction.

Because of the Alpha 7R, the Alpha 7 may look like the subordinate model. However, I felt this camera realizes a perfect balance between casualness and high picture quality. The difference between the two models is the sensor, but the 24.3 megapixel full size resolution is just necessary and sufficient, and it even rivals the main-force bodies from all brands. While the Alpha 7R requires special attention to get the most from the high potential, the friendly Alpha 7 has a flexibility to adjust to rougher shooting. Thanks to the casualness, I could chase the light feeling relaxed. The JPEG output is just outstanding and I almost didn’t need to post-adjust. You can take these pictures with this set. They have the zoom kit, but I recommend you to start with the 35mm F2.8 because the combination best realizes the perfect balance I mentioned.

The Alpha 7 or the Alpha 7R? Think over and over after checking our review of the Alpha 7R. You can have so much fun with just the 35mm F2.8, but you can also get a mount adapter and use the myriads of lenses. I secretly included one picture that was shot with a lens other than the 35mm F2.8. the E mount with a short flange focal distance is a mount adapter paradise that only insiders know. This world must be exciting for the NEX users who are already having fun with old lenses because this body’s sensor now captures to the corners. The Alpha 7 may be the unique camera to play with the largest numbers of lenses in the world.

Let’s just welcome the birth of this new body that redefines the digital single lens camera. This is the Alpha 7!