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Review of Sony Alha 7R ll

Discussion in 'AP Magazine Feedback & Suggestions' started by Learning, Aug 29, 2015.

  1. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    The review was quite right in praising this camera; it is undoubtedly very capable. The big question is 'Can it replace a DSLR?'
    All the illustrations were of static subjects. You say that the AF is fast. I know that. If we look at Sony's video we see the AF tracking a go cart, but they would show a successful tracking wouldn't they? And although it tracked the go cart, how well did it actually focus.
    Most people with an interest in migration from DSLR, even those biased against Sony, will by now know that the camera is a very capable beast. We can read reviews in several places. What I expect from AP is not a regurgitation of the manufacturers press release, not generalisations, and certainly not numbers (thank goodness you didn't give us those; we get them from DxO), but how well the relevant features work in practice. A replacement for the DSLR will have an AF system at least as good as that of a DSLR of similar ambitions.
    I am disappointed that you did not illustrate and comment upon this camera as a camera for photographing action. This would include the competence of the hybrid AF in various modes.
    A key feature of the camera is the 5 axis stabilisation. The ability to deal with translational vibrations as well as rotational vibrations would only be severely tested by hand held macro photography. Where was it?
    Please don't tell me that there wasn't enough space. A link to the manufactures web site would occupy one line and remove the need for much of the printed review. The space saved could then be used to address the debateable issues.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2015
  2. Malcolm_Stewart

    Malcolm_Stewart Well-Known Member


    Thanks to the effects of the August Bank Holiday, and other local matters, I had to make a special journey to find my copy of this week's AP, and on the surface it was a bonanza issue for gear freaks. So well done, AP.

    However, the point you raise about checking out the capabilities of the AF system is very apt. I use Canon's 1D Mk IV for shooting birds, along with an EF 500 F4L IS, and the combo works well, but is a beast to carry, and I'm getting older, so I'm interested in how well a lower weight non-phase AF system would work when really pushed.

    I remember suggesting to AP some years ago that the awards organisation should set up a lab for testing high end AF systems.

    It's many years since Rob Galbraith did us a service by testing the AF of Canon's then flagship sports body.
  3. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    Frankly, I am not really interested in kit reviews that rely upon high-end laboratory tests to discover or quantify differences in cameras, lenses, etc.

    I am really only interested in differences that can be detected in normal use.

    So give me more megapixels, longer dynamic range, better noise control at high ISO, etc. - things that I can see the results of in my photographs.
  4. Ffolrord

    Ffolrord Well-Known Member

    You want more megapixels and more noise control? I would recommend less megapixels for more noise control. Hence the likes of the A7s, which a friend uses for low light.

    The two things that I think are worth tackling explicitly are battery life and af tracking performance. However, conversely you could argue that a review of a dslr should cover those areas where a dslr might be at a disadvantage, such as use of the ability to see a low light scene. I think when you get into this higher end territory then a photographer will know their needs and research these areas themselves without having to rely on a review which will nonetheless priovide a useful overview. Personally whilst I find reviews interesting and occasionally might point out something I haven't thought of I certainly wouldn't rely on them. This is partly because cameras have become so good that excellence is largely a given. I find lens reviews much more useful.
  5. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    A reviewer has the camera for a few days. It would be unreasonable for a shop to lend a camera to an individual for a few days. I suppose one could hire one, but even then I would want to see a comprehensive review before accepting that cost. One cannot assess the quality of continuous AF in a few minutes within the shop. Excellence of AF on a mirrorless camera is not yet a given.
  6. Ffolrord

    Ffolrord Well-Known Member

    Another good reason to buy from a proper camera shop. I have no doubt that the one I use would have no hesitation in letting me borrow a display model to go outside and let me test it properly.

    Would you really want to rely on someone else's opinion anyway if af tracking was crucial to your choice of purchase?

    I am always cautious of reviews anyway, too many vested interests. I am not levying that at ap, but just in general.
  7. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    I take your point but can you really expect a dealer to let you take a camera for a few days. You can't evaluate the active AF capabilities in a few minutes in the street. Reviews are essential for making a shortlist. AP has a long and highly respected tradition for making good reviews that highlight the usability of equipment. Recently we have seen reviews that are full of manufactures bullshit and the sort of generalities that are only fit for lesser publications like 'What Digital Camera' and the like.'
    It seems that some reviewers are just too comfortable in their own old ways. If they now work for AP then they need to adopt AP's standards. And its the editor's job to make sure that they do so.
    I may well get shot down for that comment. So beit, who cares. I do hope that the message gets through.
  8. Ffolrord

    Ffolrord Well-Known Member

    There's a happy medium between a few minutes and a few days. Yes. I would count on my dealer to give me a reasonable compromise between those two extremes.

    You do realise that What Digital Camera and Amateur Photographer are effectively sister publications? You might be surprised to find the likes of the NME under the same corporate umbrella. Nothing these days is quite as independent as it seems. I do find AP to be objective. But there is little room these days for a truly independent view so suspicion is naturally part of the territory. Can a corporate acquisition ever be given complete and absolute freedom to puruse the ideals on which it was founded? Maybe but ...........
  9. mark_jacobs

    mark_jacobs Retired

    Some examples of 'reviews that are full of manufactures bullshit' may assist in any reply.

  10. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    I probably should not interfere in Learning's thesis but I would say that "Preview" features possibly feature manufacturer's information to a greater extent than subsequent full reviews.

  11. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    I will reply more completely after I have recovered the issue from a friend to whom I have lent it.

    Meanwhile, I am not considering cancelling my subscription. I was very well aware that What digital Camera is from the same stable; that's why I chose it for comparison.

    Sometimes a reputation for excellence can be a burden. The slightest dip in standard is noticed. As resources are shared I would hope that WDC benefits from AP's expertise. AP has survived, absorbed, or simply outlived upstart competition for a very good reason.
  12. mark_jacobs

    mark_jacobs Retired

    Well if this is (still) reference to the Sony Alpha 7R II review, rather than a number of reviews (as your earlier post seemed to suggest), it can be viewed here:


    'Hands-on' editorial is marked as such and comes under the '7 days' (aka news) banner. This usually means a few hours spent at a pre-launch event often with unfinished software etc. So yes such preview articles will comprise mainly of the manufacturers description/expectation along with the authors first impressions/opinion etc.

  13. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    I have re read the original review as published in the printed magazine. I agree that my use of the term bullshit was more than a bit over the top and would like to withdraw that. I apologise for my use of the word bullshit. I do however feel that the introduction was a bit long and woolly for a review which obviously was under constraints of space. The introduction covered much ground that was available from the manufacturer.
    The illustrations could have been shot on any decent camera from the film area and scanned. Yes even a large format camera using cut film. The review started on page 44 and we only get to performance for the last paragraph of page 47 and the review finishes on page 49. That is not a request for longer reviews; AP is afterall a photographic magazine and not just another gear mag.
    The camera is a flagship model in its sector from a major manufacturer which has a demonstrable expertise in the manufacture of digital sensors and also in video cameras. Following its entry into still cameras with the purchase of Minolta it is also a major player into that area of photography formerly occupied by DSLRS. The camera is clearly a serious competitor to the DSLR and the review should treat it as such.
    The areas where mirrorless cameras are perceived as lacking, compared to the DSLR, are lags in the evf and in continuous AF. My only real gripe with the review was that it did not adequately deal with those issues.
    On a more positive note consider the online review of Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR Field Test. Part of the text of that is very chatty and not directly relevant. In that case the text hardly matters, and I don't care. Just look at the opening photograph; it says it all. The batsman is sharp, the wicket keeper is slightly less sharp, as he should be, the spectators are very blurred with a nice boccah and the ball is in frame and stopped dead although we know it is travelling at well over a hundred miles an hour. There is even a nice composition in spite of the technical difficulties. We see immediately that this lens, with the right camera and above all an extremely competent photographer behind it delivers the goods.
  14. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    If we include normal use to include those situations where we push ourselves and equipment a bit beyond our comfort zone then I agree. AP is traditionally good at reviewing these qualities.
    Noise control and dynamic range - yes. More pixels ???
    True some over indulgence in pixels is useful for avoiding artefacts of de-mosaicing and avoidance of moiré but lets be sensible.
  15. mark_jacobs

    mark_jacobs Retired

    Thank you.

    Which is another matter entirely.

    Over 15+ years ago, on a two page AP review, I read through three paragraphs which ended with '...but that's not the point' !!!!???? Even as the new boy, who only 'colours in', I had to question it.

  16. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    Thank you.
    No questions about the Topham photos at all.
    The catch picture is even more remarkable than the first batsman picture. To actually get the fielder into the centre of the frame, in focus, and the ball just about to be caught within a second or two at most is brilliant.
  17. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Why? The only important question when buying a camera is whether or not it is fit for the purpose it is to be used for. I don't understand why replacing a DSLR should be a goal
  18. El_Sid

    El_Sid Well-Known Member

    At the very least becuase there are those who do wish to replace their DSLR with something less bulky. Beyond that well a sale is a sale is a sale...

    Over the summer went on a number of club evening trips and there were several member using CSC's, including two with A7s, who formerly used DSLRS. Discussions after the events and at the Chichester annual exhibition showed that there are a fair number of serious photographers who are genuinely considering ditching their DSLR for CSC.

    In the long term I suspect that the CSC may well take over from the DSLR - certainly at amateur level. Whether this will be as rapid or as comprehensive as the switch from film to digital I wouldn't like to say but I do think it will happen. The more like a DSLR CSC become interms of focus speed, motion tracking and battery life the more likely it becomes that they will overtake them in sales.
  19. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Oh I see. I bought a CSC because it was light. Not a patch on a DSLR from a user point of view though
  20. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    No. Hopefully you bought a CSC because it was right for the photography that you pursue.
    There is also the case of people who use DSLRs for purposes at which DSLRs excel. Some of us realise that a CSC might replace a DSLR, and be more convenient and less expensive. The mirror box and its mechanism is expensive, bulky and may cause unwanted vibration. Its presence also places restrictions on the design of lenses. A good DSLR viewfinder also requires the use of a heavy solid penta-prism. The new Sony 7R m2 might be a DSLR replacement to the extent that APs cover carried the sub heading "Tested the 42.4MP CSC that aims to make full-frame DSLRs a thing of the past".

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