Maybe the title should have read ... "Most Conflicted Camera Buyer Ever", so, dear friends, bear with me please
Like many of us on Get Dpi ... I'm willing to take a leap with new tech if it can add something ... or in the case of a really small camera like the A7/A7R, subtract something. I already have a proven high res camera with retina slicing acuity in the Leica S2 and CS optics. So, size is the only real benefit of the A7/A7R ... that, plus compatibility with my A mount lenses ... and some Leica M optics to provide an occasional color companion to my Leica M Mono.
My A7R arrived a couple of days ago, and I have a few days to decide if it stays or goes back. Well, reading all the threads and posts on this camera including "Why I'm keeping it" or "Why I'm not" ... some great shots, and some not so great (smeared corners, color shading, etc.), shutter vibrations with certain lenses at certain shutter speeds., unacceptable lag, native lenses or not, etc. etc. etc.
Recently I tested out a Leica M240 ... and for me there was no conflict at all ... I was NOT willing to put up with the IR contamination and other color issues ...not for $7K I wasn't. It was easier to send that back.
This one has me in a tizzy. My "Mighty Mouse" A7R moniker and its' implied "Here I Come To Save The Day!" theme may have been premature ... or was it? Arrrrrggg, (BTW, I'll never test 2 cameras back-to-back ever again!)
So far I've concentrated on use of a few ZA lenses mounted on the A7R via the new Sony LAEA4 with built in TTL Phase Detection AF, aperture drive mechanism, and Translucent mirror ...
Here is what I've discovered to date:
This combination is an even BIGGER battery eater. Since the batteries are new, it should improve a bit after a few depletion/recharging cycles, but it'll remain a power management issue none-the-less. I have 4 batteries, and I'll need them ... good thing they are small!
The LAEA4 adapter doesn't really add all that much weight ... but it doesn't perform on par with the A99 AF either. While it is fast to spring into action, it is slower to lock-on than the A99. This was with the Sony-Minolta 50/1.4 and ZA135/1.8 neither of which has Super Sonic Wave (SSW) AF motors. However, it was much faster than my friend's Canon lenses and Metabones AF adapter. I will try the new ZA50/1.4 which does have SSW AF to see if that improves the AF lock-on speed.
Best out-of-camera color rendition since the A900 ... apparently an attribute it is able to retain even up to ISO 5000 ... which the A900 is incapable of doing, and the A99 starts losing color fidelity past 2000. Not sure if this because it is 36 meg with the new processor, or if the color is the same with the A7. This is a HUGE plus for me.
Shutter vibration is NOT a Long Lens factor with this adapter. I used the ZA 135/1.8, connected the LAEA4 adapter with a standard ARCA QR plate and mounted the rig on my ARCA ball head with ARCA Screw Knob QR attached to a Gitzo G 1348 Carbon Fiber Tri-Pod ... locked it all down. This is my usual kit for location work; (I have a beefy RSS rotator equipped studio stand for in-studio work). Shot a booze bottle with fine print on the rear label using the 10 sec. timer.
My methodology was to keep the ISO the same at 400, and the aperture the same at f/3.2 and use auto WB ... and vary the amount of light on the label from a gridded soft box using the proportional modeling light on a Profoto D4-2400 generator. This was to eliminate all variables other than shutter shock.
Shot at 1/30, 1/8 and 1/5 second shutter ... then got them all into PS as 20", 360PPI, 16 bit Tiffs in Profoto RGB ... and layered one over the other so I could turn on-and-off each layer zoomed to 100% on the critical focus point. Zero difference. Nada. None at all. Whew, that was a critical test for me. This means the A7R with ZAs could back up the S2 in a tri-pod use emergency.
Lag time while shooting critical action? ... Ben has raised this issue, and it is one I am concerned with also. However, until it was raised, I didn't notice it while shooting my best test subject for constant motion ... out little Chihuahua "Dinky" who changes expression every 1/2 nano second, and exhibits more "vibration" than any shutter ... (it is what they do ... shake). I am going to concentrate on this more now that Ben raised the issue.
A lot of my hand held candids with the 50/1.4 or 135/1.8 were not Pixel Peeping sharp at 100%. Guy has already commented on this is depth and is 100% correct. The Leica S2 is the same. My speculative take on this is that the A7R could be considered two cameras in one. Right lenses, right adapter, right technique and it is a little MF digital back ... hand held, cheater shutter speeds, and it will spectacularly show up less than stellar technique.
However the files are so huge that when printed at most normal use sizes it'll look as good as my 24 meg A99 that is more forgiving even if more critically sharp at its' respective 100%. Down size the A7R to A99 size and the difference may not be all that visually different. I'll have to put that theory to a real world test ...
Will do more today with other lenses and some with the Leica M lenses I intend using this camera with ... then draw my final conclusions ...
To Keep or Not to Keep ... That is The Question! I have until Friday AM ...
Some snaps ...