Sony Alpha 7R Review

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The Sony Alpha 7R is the most expensive of the two full-frame Alpha 7 mirrorless models announced earlier in the month. Externally the two share the same body and much of the same feature set, but, where the A7 adopts a 24-Mpix sensor with on-chip PD-AF capability, the Alpha 7R has a 36-Mpix CMOS sensor without an optical low pass filter for optimal image sharpness. Read on to see how well the sensor in this new model performs.

The Sony Alpha 7R is the higher-end, higher-pixel count version of two new compact full-frame mirrorless cameras from Sony to feature the firm’s existing E-mount.

The two models share the same body and many features and differ really only by their sensor. The more modestly priced of the two, the Alpha 7 has a 24-Mpix sensor but with the added capability of phase detection AF afforded by an on-chip pixel array.

The A7R on the other hand has a full-frame 36-Mpix sensor without an optical low pass filter for optimal resolution and image sharpness but lacks the faster focusing of its more modestly priced sibling.

Both models accept existing APS-C format E-mount lenses, albeit with the inevitable cropping. However, to take full advantage of the larger sensor, Sony has introduced a range of new full-frame F-E lenses.

Sony DSLR users need not feel left out either, as the camera is compatible with existing A-mount full-frame and DT (APS-C) lenses using an optional adaptor.  Along with a new Bionz X processor, the two metal-bodied cameras feature a 3-inch tilting rear LCD, XGA OLED electronic viewfinder, 1080/60p video, WiFi with NFC and a multi-interface accessory hot-shoe. Availability is expected the beginning of December, and will priced at $2,299 for the A7R, while the A7 will set you back $1,699.

Key specifications:

  •      36-Mpix Full-frame CMOS sensor
  •      No Optical Low-Pass Filter
  •      Gapless On-Chip Lens Design
  •      BIONZ X Image Processor
  •      Compatibility with all E-mount Lenses (and A-mount with adaptor)
  •      3.0-inch Tilting TFT LCD (1,229K-Dots)
  •      2.4M-Dot OLED Electronic Viewfinder
  •      Full 1080/60p Video with Remote Capture
  •      Built-In Wi-Fi and NFC
  •      Multi-Interface Accessory Shoe

With a DxOMark Sensor score of 95 points the image quality of the A7R is notable as one of the best performing sensors ever analyzed in our labs. It’s ranked side-by-side with the 36-Mpix Nikon D800 and is just one point behind the Nikon D800E DSLR.

However, as a mirrorless camera it’s the best performing of its type. The similarity of the scores suggest that the Sony sensor is the same chip that’s found in the D800 models.

Portrait (Color Depth): 25.6 bits

The Sony is in joint fourth place for color depth alongside the Nikon D800E. These are very high scores indeed and are only fractionally behind the Phase One P65 Plus models with their higher 16-bit A/D conversion. However, bear in mind that the P65 Plus models aren’t the latest from the firm.

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