Ever since I first got into the Sony Nex system cameras early in their inception with the Nex5, I knew there was something special about these little cameras and their 18mm e mount. Packing the power of an apsc dslr sized sensor into a tiny package that can easily be thrown in your girlfriends handbag, it was pretty easy for me to fall in love with it. The only thing that held it back was the lack of lenses. We originally started out with the 16mm 2.8 prime and the 18-55mm kit zoom. The zoom is satisfactory but the surprise of the two was the great little 16mm f2.8 prime lens, which is a great little wide angle.
Wanting something more but disappointed with the lens selection available I turned to third party manufactures after Sony made the prophetic decision to make the e mount spec freely available for third party manufacturers to produce for. I had read about the ability to mount old slr lenses on the nex via adapter but this seemed daunting so I went looking for propriety e mount lenses first. The first to pop their head up and try to cater for this new market of e mount shooters was a company called SLR Magic. I purchased their 35mm f1.7 manual focus lens which I reviewed here, and their 28mm f2.8 manual focus lens which I reviewed here.
These two lenses introduced me to manual lens photography on the Sony Nex system and I was hooked in minutes. I continued to shoot them exclusively for about 4 months until I decided I wanted more. Like all good GAS starts. I looked on eBay and quickly found a Minolta 50mm f2 I was interested in (I always had an affinity with Minolta since I was a boy) after winning that auction I then ordered a cheap adapter and waited. This was all the start of my obsession with mounting vintage glass on the amazing sensors of the sony Nex’s. I still shot my Nex5 but have since also purchased the fantastic Sony Nex5n who’s 16mp sensor was a great improvement on the previous 14mp version.
As much as I have loved my Nex’s there are two things I have always craved, a viewfinder, so as to feel even more connected with the shot, even though I do now love shooting them waist level like a medium format camera…and a fullframe sensor so i can enjoy my lenses in all their glory at their actual focal lengths instead the 1.5x crop that happens with an apsc sensor. I kind of new the day was coming where Sony would release just this for a long time now, so I invested in the system even more, with more lenses and more adapters etc. and started saving my pennies for what I knew eventually must come.
Then earlier this year the rumors started to surface that there was in fact a sony e mount fullframe mirrorless camera being tested around the traps…and then the rumors started come more frequently and we knew it was finally coming.
Little did we know that Sony in fact had two new fullframe e mount cameras for us, the cheaper A7 with 24mp sensor, slightly less robust build and phase detect af, and the flagship more expensive A7r with a 36mp sensor minus AA filter with entire magnesium alloy body, but only had contrast detect af. I of course straight away wanted the 36mp version with out AA filter as it would give me access to the absolute best (or worst) my lenses could offer, that and I had always tried to purchase the robust version of the nex in the past thus why I started with the Nex5. So it felt only right to go with the A7r for me.
So I placed my pre order and waited and saved the last bit I needed and enjoyed my nex’s in the mean time. Then just last friday rumors started to surface that they had started shipping. So I rang the Sony store in Perth where I had placed my pre-order and was informed they were unpacking them as we spoke and would put mine aside for me to pick up. I was beside the moon and of course rushed in to grab my prize.
Getting home I was keen to un box my baby, but at the same time I wanted to take my time and savor the occasion. haha. The first thing I pulled out which impressed me was that Sony is giving away a free mount adaptor (which reminds me I need to apply for mine) to help deal with the lack of native lenses at this time.
After getting past the manuals and such I finally came to my beauty and I was instantly impressed by the styling, which reminds me of the old x700′s, the size which is not much bigger than my nex5n and the weights, which too was not much more than my nex5n.
The text around the mount just makes me smile every time I read it.
It took me a few minutes to adjust to the new controls and figure out how to set it up to my shooting style but was ready to go in no time. I am still being blown away by how much this feels like shooting one of my film slrs, it really is enjoyable to shoot. Oh, and I was quite surprised by how quiet the shutter was, many initial reports had stated it was really loud, but it is no much louder than on the Sony Nex’s.
Of course I had to get in some test shots around the house before the light faded too much. All images taken from camera jpeg as i have no way of editing the raw files at this stage unfortunately.
(click on images to view larger)
I was short for options as the light was fading fast, so just shot what I could on my street with what lenses were laying around my desk for now, I will delve into testing everything properly in the future.
shot with Nikkor S 35mm f2.8 manual focus lens, iso100, s/sp 1/800, wide open
So that was about it for my testing on the first day before the light faded too much. However the next day I needed to get out of the house (I have been busy finishing mixes for my bands latest release) so decided to go for a walk at a nearby nature reserve and try my hand with the A7r and a wide angle. I had recently gotten this Spiratone 17mm f3.2 manual focus lens back from being serviced by Max, so thought I would test this guy out. I was not expecting much as it is not a name brand lens, however what did surprise me was how it’s imperfections actually add a nice uniqueness to the shots. It’s not particularly sharp, it is low on micro contrast and it vignettes on the fullframe sensor, but there is some thing beautiful and characterful about the way it renders. Of course I cannot fully judge any lenses on sharpness until I can edit the raw.
This one is my favorite of the batch from this walk, this huge lone tree just standing there in the middle of this field of dried grass. I started walking through the tall grass to get closer for my shot when I realized I was only wearing thongs not enclosed shoes and this was rather snake friendly grass, so I quickly took my shot and got out of there. haha. I will return again in the future with the proper footwear and frame my shot as I see in my minds eye.
Shot with my Spiratone 17mm f3.2 manual focus lens, iso 50, s/sp 1/800, @ f8
As we climbed the hill to return to the car to leave, a jogger ran past us which caused me to turn and realize the view I had missed, so I framed and quickly snapped trying to make sure I got the jogger in frame.
Shot with my Spiratone 17mm f3.2 manual focus lens, iso 50, s/sp 1/1250, @ f5.6
Like I said that combo is far from perfect and I believe resolving well below the sensors capabilities, but it still produces pleasing shots. Food for thought that maybe not everything is sharpness.
Later that night was my sisters 16th birthday party. She was having a black light party and had asked me to take some shots for her. This was a perfect excuse to test the A7r in lowlight shooting with manual glass and an off camera flash. I used a Yongnuo 560II with remote trigger off camera. I had to zone focus in the really dark situations which I am used to from my nex’s, all in all I am impressed by how the combo performed.
What a great weekend that was. I can’t believe how quick it went. haha. I thoroughly enjoyed shooting my new Sony A7r, in fact when I showed it to my partner within 2 minutes of her having a go she said I had to buy another one for her. haha. Only gives me hope for the future.
I truly enjoy this camera already, it has more than performed fully straight out of the box. I look forward to more thorough lens testing in the future, make sure you keep checking back, I also look forward to be able to edit the raw in the future too.
Unfortunately it is Monday and I am back at work, so until next time, happy snapping.