Photo junkies, brace yourselves for some very big news. Sony has finally announced its much-anticipated (and leaked) mirrorless camera, debuting not one, but two feature-packed models. The $1,700 Alpha 7, which is positioned as a step-up cam for APS-C interchangeable-lens camera owners, includes a 24.3-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor. The $2,300 Alpha 7R, for its part, will be of particular interest to professionals -- that flagship model packs a 36.3-megapixel sensor without a low-pass filter. Both cameras ship with a new BIONZ X processor, enabling 14-bit RAW, a 25,600 top ISO, improved area-specific noise reduction, upgraded detail reproduction and diffraction-reduction technology that helps eliminate the blurriness you may experience when shooting at higher apertures.
Despite their gigantic sensors, both the Alpha 7 and 7R (Sony's dropping NEX from the branding here) include a footprint not much larger than other models in the company's mirrorless lineup. Externally, the duo is identical, with resolution representing the chief differentiator here. They use the same E-mount that you'll find on existing cameras and lenses, but you'll need to upgrade your glass to take full advantage of the new sensor. You can also use existing optics, either with significant cropping or some heavy vignetting, but if you're investing in either camera, it's definitely worth boosting your lens collection, too. Join us past the break for a closer look at Sony's exciting new Alphas.
Update: We've got some hands-on pics delivered all the way from Hong Kong. Enjoy!
Sony Alpha 7 and 7R hands-onSee all photos
Sony LA-EA4 hands-onSee all photos
Sony Alpha 7 and 7RSee all photos
Sony appears to have borrowed elements from a variety of models -- Alpha DSLRs, the RX1, NEX-7 -- when designing the 7 and 7R. The build quality is very high, with a magnesium-alloy construction enabling dust and moisture resistance. A built-in extended grip makes the cameras comfortable to hold even with full-size A-mount lenses attached. There's a super-sharp XGA OLED electronic viewfinder with accurate depth-of-field reproduction and a manual-focus zoom function, along with a 3-inch 1.23M-dot LCD that tilts up 84 degrees and down 45 degrees, letting you frame shots and verify exposure from below or above eye level.
If you've used any model in Sony's NEX lineup, you should be able to pick up the 7 or 7R and just start shooting. The interface is similar, but the manufacturer has finally tweaked the menu layout. Instead of jumping back and forth to a main menu screen to switch between categories, options are presented on multiple pages, and you can scroll from page to page without much effort. It's a structure that DSLRs have employed for years, and we're pretty pumped that Sony has finally opted to include it here. There's also built-in WiFi, for remote capture and transfer via Sony's Android and iOS apps, and USB PC control for tethered shooting as well.
On the performance front, the 7 can capture consecutive shots at 5 fps, while the 7R can accomplish the same at 4 fps. The 7 also features superior auto-focus, with 117 phase and 25 contrast-detect points teaming up for Sony's Fast Hybrid AF. The 7R, however, only includes the 25 contrast-detect autofocus points. Performance is still fine, but based on our brief time with both cameras, it was easy to identify the 7 as the champ in this discipline.
Sony's also targeting video shooters with the Alpha 7 and 7R. Both can snap 1080/60p video (along with 24p and 60i) with full manual exposure control, and offer uncompressed HDMI output, for exporting realtime footage to an external recorder. The Multi-Interface Shoe lets you connect a variety of accessories, including microphones, while standard 3.5mm mic and headphone jacks let you boost sound quality without adding an expensive rig. Additionally, you can use the built-in HDMI port, which supports TRILUMINOUS color, to export 4K still images for playback on Sony's 4K TVs.
As Sony's introducing an entirely new camera system, there are a handful of accessories to discuss, too. There's a vertical grip adapter for $350, an LA-EA4 Alpha lens adapter with a built-in AF motor for $350, an LA-EA3 lens adapter without an AF motor for $200, a leather case for $40, a $15 screen protector and an off-camera shoe for 50 bucks. Next up are the lenses. The 7 will be available in a kit with a 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 lens for $2,000. A 24-70mm f/4 will be available for $1,200 in early February, a 35mm f/2.8 will ship in December for $800 and a 55mm f/1.8 will be available later that month for $1,000. There's also a 70-200mm f/4 in the works, with pricing and availability TBA. Sony plans to offer a total of 10 full-frame lenses by the end of 2014, with that figure expected to jump to 15 come 2015. Both cameras will ship in December.
Sony Unveils World's First Full-Frame Mirrorless Cameras
New Sony Alpha 7 Series Are World's Smallest, Lightest Full-Frame Interchangeable Lens Cameras
SAN DIEGO, Oct. 15, 2013 – Sony's new α7 and α7R digital cameras are the world's smallest full-frame interchangeable lens models2. Highly anticipated by professional photographers and imaging enthusiasts alike, the two new cameras offer an unmatched combination of creativity, customizability and portability.
The α7R model features a 36.4 effective megapixel 35mm Exmor® CMOS sensor – the highest resolution sensor in the history of Sony's α line – with no optical low pass filter for added resolving power and increased image detail. The α7 model boasts an impressive 24.3 effective megapixel 35mm Exmor® CMOS sensor and an innovative fast Hybrid AF system.
Each camera is equipped with advanced imaging features including a powerful new BIONZ® X processor; fast AF capabilities; a clear, bright XGA OLED Tru-finder, full HD 60p video recording, Wi-Fi® and NFC connection, dust-and moisture- resistance and more.
"With these new α7 camera systems, Sony has completely redefined the look and feel of a professional-grade digital camera," said Mike Kahn, director of the interchangeable lens camera business at Sony Electronics. "The α7 and α7R cameras are significantly smaller, lighter and more portable than any other full-frame interchange lens camera yet deliver image quality, power and performance that professionals and enthusiasts crave."Both cameras feature full customization and control to meet the needs of the most demanding photographers. There are 9 different customizable buttons and 46 assignable functions that can be adjusted based on shooting preferences, including fully customizable front and back dials, a rear control wheel and an exposure compensation dial. Users can preview all changes to photographic settings in real-time on the high-contrast, 2.4 million dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder or the high-resolution tiltable 3" LCD screen.
The new cameras share a powerful new BIONZ X processor that accurately reproduces details in textures in real-time via extra high-speed processing capabilities, and allows for exceptional low noise performance in all types of lighting conditions.
Additionally, the powerful processor combined with the advanced, high resolution sensors allow both cameras to shoot pro-quality Full HD video (AVCHD progressive, 1920x1080p @ 60p) with richly detailed colors and ultra-low noise.
Clear Image Zoom has been enhanced for video recording as well, allowing for powerful close-up shots without sacrificing pixel count. Other pro-style movie features include an audio recording level control and display plus a "live" HDMI® output for passing through video to an external monitor or recording device.
The new cameras both have on-board Wi-Fi and NFC capabilities for instant image sharing and transfer to compatible smartphones and tablets. The α7R and α7 models can access Sony's platform of PlayMemoriesTM Camera Apps, allowing users to add new effects, filters, utilities and more. This platform includes new 'Multiple Exposure' app, which automatically combines sequential exposures into one creative shot, and 'Smart Remote Control'4, which allows for direct control of exposure and shutter speed from a connected smartphone and is particularly useful for self-portraits or group shots5. Find out more at www.playmemoriescameraapps.com .The new α7 and α7R cameras each have a tough, magnesium alloy build and are dust and moisture resistant for standing up to some of the toughest weather conditions.
Designed for professional photographers and highly advanced enthusiasts, the new α7R model is the world's smallest and lightest full-frame interchangeable lens camera2.
It has an impressive 36.4 effective megapixel full frame sensor and no optical low pass filter, ensuring that the extraordinary resolving power is fully realized and resulting in an unprecedented level of detail and clarity in images.
The camera features a new Fast Intelligent AF technology that delivers blazingly quick, accurate autofocus. Additionally, there are a total of three selectable sizes for the Flexible Spot AF frame, minimizing the risk of accidentally focusing on the wrong target.
Offering an exciting entry into the world of full-frame photography, the α7 camera features an advanced 24.3 effective megapixel full-frame Exmor CMOS sensor paired with the powerful new BIONZ X processor.
The exciting new camera has an innovative Fast Hybrid AF system that combines phase- and contrast-detect AF methods to ensure speedy, accurate autofocus. It can also shoot at up to 5 fps continuously with non-stop AF tracking, allowing it to keep pace with fast- moving athletes, wildlife or energetic children.
New Sony α Lenses and Accessories
There are a total of 5 new full-frame E-mount lenses designed to take full advantage of the powerful imaging capabilities of the α7R and α7 cameras, including mid-range zoom lenses from Sony and Carl Zeiss, two bright Zeiss Sonnar T*TM prime lenses and a premium- quality G LensTM telephoto zoom. Sony's growing E-mount interchangeable lens lineup now consists of 21 different lenses including the new full-frame models.
In addition to the new lenses, there are also two new-generation mount adaptors that give photographers the ability to utilize full-frame Sony A-mount optics on the α7 and α7R cameras. The LA-EA3 adapter simply adds compatibility for existing A-mount lenses the new cameras, while the LA-EA4 model adds the ultra-fast focusing and shooting capabilities of Sony's innovative Translucent Mirror Technology.
There is also a new vertical grip (VG-C1EM) that offers greater comfort during vertical shooting and can accommodate two separate NP-FW50 batteries for extended battery life and shooting time. A new BC-TRW compact external battery charger that quickly charges batteries and is great for travel, and FA-CS1M off camera shoe allows the use of external flashes (HVL-43M, 20M) in off-camera wired applications. Additionally, the new3
LCS-ELCA premium soft leather carry case protects the α7 and α7R cameras from scuffs and marks while being carried.
Pricing and Availability
The Sony α7R and α7 full-frame interchangeable lens cameras will be available for purchase this December.
The α7R camera will be offered as a body-only for about $2300.
The Sony α7 compact system camera will be offered with a 28-70mm F3.5 – F5.6 full- frame lens (model SEL2870) for about $2000. It will also be offered as a body-only for about $1700.
The versatile new LA-EA3 and LA-EA4 mount adapters will be available in December for about $200 and $350, respectively.
The new VG-C1EM vertical grip and LCS-ELCA premium case will also be available in December for about $300 and $ 140, respectively.
The new camera and all compatible accessories will be available at Sony retail stores (www.store.sony.com) and other authorized dealers nationwide.