Sony Alpha 7R (A7R) Review
Review Date : Wed, 15 Jan 2014
Author : Mike Topham
Sony Alpha 7R (A7R) Review - The Sony Alpha 7R joins the Alpha 7 as the first CSC to feature a full frame sensor, differing from its sister camera through a higher resolution. Does it impress as much as its partner? Read the full WDC review to find out
|Pros:||Fantastic image quality; High-end resolution; Solid video specification; Robust build|
|Cons:||AF performance not as strong as Alpha 7; Currently a limited native lens line-up|
In recent years Sony has gained a reputation for developing high-end cameras with specifications to match, as well as something of a penchant for innovation.
A prime example of this is the recent Sony RX1 - a camera notable insofar as it is the first compact to feature a full frame sensor
At the time of the RX1's launch it was mooted that Sony were now working on a CSC which also incorporated a full frame sensor. As it turned out, when this came to pass Sony ended up releasing a pair of new models in the shape of the recently reviewed Sony Alpha 7 and the Sony Alpha 7R.
The pair of models are very similar, albeit with a few vital differences. While they both feature full frame sensors, the Sony Alpha 7R boasts a higher 36.4MP resolution in comparison to the 24.3MP sensor found in the A7.
There are other differences, including a slightly different focusing system, and the Alpha 7R will set you back an extra few hundred pounds.
So, is the increased resolution worth the extra cash alone, or are there other factors to sweeten the mix?
Sony Alpha 7R (A7R) Review – Features
The Sony Alpha 7R's main selling point is its sensor. Much the same as the Sony Alpha 7 with which it was released at the same time, the Alpha 7R features a full frame CMOS sensor similar to what you would find on a pro-level DSLR.
The main difference between the sensor found in the Alpha 7 and that in the Alpha 7R is with regards to its resolution. While the Alpha 7 boasts a resolution of 24.3MP, the Alpha 7R sees a big jump right up to 36.4MP, almost half again in terms of a megapixel count.
The sensor also does away with its anti-aliasing filter, with a view towards making the very most out of its resolution.
Much like in the case of the Alpha 7, the Alpha 7R sports Sony's new BIONZ X, a processor which Sony claims will deliver processing speeds of up to three times that of the previous generation chip.
It's safe to say that the processor will be put under some extra strain in the Alpha 7R than the Alpha 7, owing to the larger file size that the higher resolution sensor will produce. One particular sign of this extra strain is a dip in the top-end continuous shooting speed, which is down to 2.5fps.
Outside of the change in the resolution of the camera's sensor the other major difference between the Alpha 7 and the Alpha 7R concerns the camera's focus system, although this is also in some part attributable to the change in sensor.
The system found in the Alpha 7R relies solely upon a contrast-detect AF system, unlike that in the Alpha 7 which also benefitted from on-sensor phase detection auto focus technology.
With regards to the rest of the camera's feature set, there's a host of similar functionality to the Sony Alpha 7. The rear LCD screen is a 3in unit with a resolution of 921k-dots, and it's accompanied by a 2.4m-dot electronic viewfinder that's one of the highest specified on the market.
The Alpha 7R also supports video capture at full 1080p resolution, and at a frame rate of either 60 or 24p. As well as HD video capture, the Alpha 7R includes support for an external microphone, as well as a socket for headphones for audio monitoring.
As you'd expect from a newly released Sony camera, the Alpha 7R arrives fully equipped with both Wi-fi and NFC technology. Thanks to the Sony Play Memories app - which is available for both Android and iOS devices - photographers can transfer their images wirelessly from the camera to their smartphone or tablet.