Sony brings big performance in small bodies with the new a7 and a7R

Sony has announced the a7 and a7R, two cameras that deliver full-frame performance in compact-sized bodies.

The a7 sports a 35mm Full-Frame Exmor CMOS sensor with 24.3 effective megapixels, which has been fitted into a body that measures 126.9×94.4×48.2mm and weighs a slender 416 grams.

The sensor works together with the new BIONZ X processor that Sony says has ‘dramatically increased’ processing speed, as well as improved image quality and low light performance. The a7 has an expandable ISO range of ISO 100-25600.

Images can be composed either through the high-contrast ZGA OLED Tru-Finder, which features over 2 million dots of resolution and 100% field of view coverage, or on the 3-inch tiltable LCD screen.

The Autofocus on the a7 combines the best of phase and contrast detection. Named ‘Fast Hybrid’, the AF system uses a new detection algorithm with 117 phase-detection AF points and 25 contrast-detection AF points.

The a7 also boasts accurate eye detection that can prioritise a single pupil of the eye even when a subject is partially turned away from the camera.

The combination of the full-frame sensor and new BIONZ X processor also allows the a7 to shoot AVCHD Progressive Full HD (1920×1080 – 60p/25p) video, with audio level control for adjustments during recording.

The camera allows for display of high-resolution images on 4K televisions, supporting Sony’s Triluminos technology that delivers richer colours and more detail than Full HD.

Wi-Fi or NFC can be used to connect the a7 with Android-compatible smartphones and tablets. The a7 comes with a Smart Remote Control app pre-installed, which allows a smartphone to control the camera and automatically receive images.

Also announced alongside the a7 is the new a7R, the world’s smallest and lightest interchangeable lens camera.

Similar in spec to the a7, the a7R’s key feature is the newly designed 36.4 megapixel Full-Frame Exmor CMOS sensor.

The sensor is that increases the level of detail it is able to gather by sacrificing the low-pass filter. This allows the a7R to fully realise the resolution potential of its sensor, although it does mean images run a higher risk of moiré

The sensor features a new ‘gapless’ on-chip lens design that eliminates gaps in adjacent pixels. This allows the camera to achieve an extremely high pixel count without decreasing the pixel size, resulting in efficient light collection and strong AF performance.

New Fast Intelligent AF on the a7R is designed to allow the user to tailor it precisely to his or her specific needs, with nine customisable buttons and 46 assignable functions.

Unlike the Fast Hybrid of the a7, the AF system on the a7R uses only Contrast Detection AF.

A new range of E-mount lenses specially designed for the a7 and a7R has also been announced; see here for details.

Sony has confirmed this morning that this will mark the end of the ‘NEX’ branding – it’s going to be phased out in favour of Alpha.

The Sony a7 and a7R are both available for preorder from and will be on sale from the beginning of December. The a7 comes at a retail price of £1300, and the a7R at £1700.