A few weeks ago I unexpectedly got my hands on a used Sony Alpha 7 model and before I knew it, I made the switch to a full frame camera.
Here are a few notes of the pros and cons I put into consideration for giving up my Panasonic Lumix.
First of all – the A7 has no touch display. In the time of smartphones and tablets and touch screens almost everywhere this camera asks you to navigate with buttons. It took me quite some time to get used to that.
Also the A7s display isn’t fully rotatable, in fact it only rotates horizontally, 90 degrees up and 45 degrees down, which is nice when you hold the camera lower or higher in front of you. Vertical angles are not possible, and therefore: no selfies while looking at the display (not that I do that a lot).
The case of the A7 is designed nicely and only slightly heavier than the case of my Lumix, but not as heavy as I expected. However I was really impressed by the weight of the lenses! The kit lens is a 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 which I only used for a couple of days before I got the Sony FE 85mm f1.8 instead as well as a Voigtländer Superwide lens.
The menus of confusion
By far the worst part of the A7 is the menu design. I refer to them as the “Menus of Confusion and Bewilderment™” as they contain 9 (yes, that’s a nine!) pages of cluttered and unorganised functions. Those nine pages offer no clear structure and can give you a really hard time if you are looking for something specific. Or is this just me and my german demand for well organised stuff?
Then there is the battery pack. Even in flight mode the running time of the A7 battery is not great, it lasts for maybe 150-200 shots – it depends of course on how much time you spend searching those menus for specific functions. I am totally spoiled by the capacity of the Panasonic Lumix battery, which lasts easily three times as long.
You had me at “Hello”
That being said: enough with the complaints, because the full frame sensor of the A7 is really worth all the troubles. It collects all those tiny details and every bit of colour a scene has to offer even when shooting into direct sunlight or with difficult settings like blurry misty morning clouds. The dynamic range is extraordinary, especially in comparison to my previous mft sensor. Also there is no noise lurking in the shadows in low light situations with higher ISO.
This is what got me from the first set of shots. My decision, despite having a few issues with the camera itself, was really easy in the end. And – who knows – maybe a future model of the Sony Alpha 7 might even provide a touch display or neat menus.