Last night Sony introduced the A7r, a full-frame mirrorless camera with a 36.4 megapixel sensor. In this blog post I am going to breakdown my thoughts on the camera as it pertains to landscape photography.
The sensor is 36.4 megapixels, a fraction larger than the D800E. It has no anti-aliasing filter just like the D800E, resulting in sharper images straight out of the camera. The D800E has the best sensor we have ever seen in a full-frame camera and has become the go to body for many landscape photographers. Canon has lost a lot of shooters to Nikon due to the incredible sensor. We know that Sony made Nikon’s sensor and they have had over a year to make improvements. They also claim to have a processing engine that reduces the effect of diffraction when choosing smaller apertures, a common problem in landscape photography. There is no way to know how the sensor compares currently, but my hope is that it is as good if not slightly better than the D800E. Sony has shown prints made with the A7r and the D800E side by side to some people. The A7r of course beats the D800E, but we should probably wait for an objective test!
The camera is weather sealed. This a nice touch and essential for landscape shooters.
One of the biggest omissions from the announcement was any indication of a wired remote shutter. This drove me nuts about the Sony NEX-7 and I couldn’t fathom why Sony would make such a huge mistake yet again. I watched the reveal of the camera live and was able to send a question to Sony of Australia.
“Is there anyway a wired shutter release can be made to use one of the ports? Why make a 36 megapixel camera if it’s not intended for landscape use? No landscape photographer working today uses a camera without a reliable wired shutter release. I really hope there’s a way as I’d love to test this in the field.”
“Hi Justin R – The camera uses the multi-use terminal, there are a lot of options for wired remote control.”
That got me curious! So I began to research multi-use terminal wired remotes for Sony and came across the Sony RM-VPRI
I then crossed reference that with the Sony A7r and found this link:
In the specifications it says this:
Remote Commander : Yes, via optional RM-VPR1
I think that’s the answer! Why on Earth this is not being marketed as an accessory to the camera itself is beyond me. If your entire photographic career is spent working from a tripod (which is the case for 99 percent of landscape photographers) than you can understand the significance of the remote. Now that that’s settled (I hope), let’s move on to size.
It is incredibly small. Half the size of a DSLR. The weight savings is going to be tremendous. From reports of early users they say it is extremely comfortable to hold. I will have to see for myself. I found the NEX-7 to be uncomfortable, so I am hoping for an improvement. If weight was a non issue, there is nothing like the feel of a well-built DSLR in your hand. That’s the compromise though, in order to save weight you have to get used to a different feel to the camera.
On to the lens lineup. There is no current wide-angle lens available. They have one on their roadmap to be released in 2014. My guess would be late 2014. There is a 70-200 f/4 scheduled for Spring. That is a must have lens. And a 24-70 f/4 coming in the winter. Not my favorite focal length, but will fill out that range nicely.
One of the huge advantages to mirrorless bodies, is the ability to use a multitude of different lenses from different manufacturers through the use of adapters.
I can use this:
And all my Canon glass will work. I can throw on my Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II and there you go, I have a wide-angle lens! Will the flaws of the lens be magnified by using a 36 megapixel sensor? Quite possibly, but looking forward to finding out.
You could also go this route with a Leica M adapter:
And use a high quality prime like this:
So there are some workarounds while Sony builds out the new FE (full-frame e-mount) lens lineup. I could carry this camera in my bag with the Canon adapter and use it alongside my Mark III with all the Canon glass. That’s exactly what I’m going to do in the beginning as I test the camera.
The negatives that are highlighted with the camera are not applicable to landscape photography. The autofocus is much better on the A7 (the 24 megapixel version) than the A7r. Doesn’t matter. The camera does not have in camera stabilization. Doesn’t matter. The shutter is loud. Doesn’t matter. Very poor FPS. That does matter a little. When shooting lava, the northern lights, waterfalls, or any moving subject, I like to have a nice burst mode. Not a deal breaker though.
My new eBook, “The Complete Guide to Gear for the Landscape Photographer” comes out next week. Unfortunately, with the camera coming out in December I won’t be able to include it for this edition. For the second edition expect to see plenty of thoughts on the new camera and see if it evolves into a powerful tool for the landscape photographer community!
For links to the most resources on the web for all things Sony A7r, please visit: