A full-frame CSC with a 36.3-million-pixel sensor – the Sony Alpha 7R promises much but does it deliver? Read the Sony Alpha 7R review to find out...
Sony Alpha 7R review – Our verdict
Taking a high-resolution sensor and putting it in a small and lightweight camera body is certainly a recipe for success, and there are no CSCs that can currently match the resolution of the Alpha 7R. The nearest is Sony’s own NEX-7 and even that is a long way short. In terms of noise control, raw images only show a hint of luminance noise, and images taken at between ISO 50 and 1600 are perfectly usable. Even at higher ISO sensitivities, images can be downsampled to 16 million pixels to reduce noise, so that it is on a par with, if not far better than, its competitors.
The only question is with the lens line-up. We will have to wait and see how good the new lenses will be, but in the meantime third-party DSLR optics work perfectly well. I’m sure that many DSLR users will find the Alpha 7R a very intriguing prospect, not to mention users of Leica rangefinder film cameras, who have a reasonably affordable camera on which to use their lenses. The price is a key factor: the Alpha 7R is within reach of many, and is even more affordable than the Nikon D800, which is itself reasonable.
Overall, the Alpha 7R promises to be yet another hit for Sony. It is certainly one of the best cameras I have tested this year. It may even be the best.
Sony Alpha 7R – Key features
Wi-Fi remote control
Remote control of the camera is possible via one of the Sony Play Memories camera apps, which is tucked away in the Application menu. However, it is possible to add a shortcut to the application menu via a custom button.
The Alpha 7R has no built-in flash, but has a multi-interface hotshoe that is compatible with the latest range of Sony flashguns.
Raw video footage can be output via the HDMI cable, so the uncompressed video can be saved to an external hard-disk recorder.
The Alpha 7R uses a standard NP-FW50 battery that has previously been used in all NEX cameras.
In playback mode, this button pulls up the menu to allow an image to be sent via Wi-Fi from the camera to a tablet or smartphone.
Sony rates the battery at around 340 shots with the LCD screen, but only 270 shots when using the viewfinder. I found that in practice the battery life was a little less, but I was reviewing the images and transferring via Wi-Fi. While I managed almost a full day’s shooting with the Alpha 7R, I would suggest that if you take a lot of images or like to reviewing images on the go, a second battery would be a good investment.
The Zebra setting can also be adjusted so that it displays detail over a certain amount. For example, set to 100 or higher, any blown-out detail is shown; set it to 80, and anything over 80% brightness will show the zebra pattern.
Cable remote control
The Sony RM-VPR1 remote-release control can be plugged into the multi-port/Micro USB terminal on the side of the camera.