Wandered into town to see if I could have a play with Sony's new camera, the A7. As luck would have it the Sony rep was in-store demonstrating the new gear to the shop as it's not officially released until next week. So I was lucky indeed to have the chance to handle and shoot with a pre-production A7.
So what was it like? Well, this camera promises to be a good replacement for my M9 body as I can use (via an adapter) my old Leica glass. First impressions were good. Sitting naturally and comfortably in my hand it felt noticeably lighter than the M9 yet still solid and well made to give me a sense of real confidence. And this was the (mostly) plastic cheaper A7 model, not the fully magnesium built A7R.
I rather liked how the controls like the brilliant auto-focus check button sat nicely under the thumb and which was a natural joy to use. The Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) itself was bright and clear and allowed for nifty quick-focus checks via a magnified quick-view of the exact focus area selected when using manual focus. Something that's important for me using manual lens! The availability of a histogram and other data right in the viewfinder was also pretty nifty for a dinosaur like me more used to the rather limited data in optical viewfinders.
Firing the shutter was smooth and direct with a pleasant unobtrusive sound upon release. Noisier than the M9 true, but not by much. I understand the A7R version is even noisier, but that model wasn't available to compare. The lens supplied was a bulky zoom which to my eyes looked ugly on such a svelte body. But that would change with the tiny Summicron 35mm attached, as then the overall package would be entirely small enough to be exceptionally discreet out and about as well as easily disappearing inside my coat pocket when not. Mmm, nice.
Technically, the A7R pushes out 36megapixel with no optical low-pas filter, while the A7 provides 24megapixel with a low-pass filter. Personnaly, I don't need 36 million pixels and would have been happy with 18. But the A7R would make the best of the glass, so I guess this would be (for me) the one to go for. I would have also liked two memory cards instead of one, but size here is an issue. I'm impressed enough to plan to test using the Leica glass attached and see how it feels.