Sony A7r review

I recently purchased a new Sony A7r, together with a Carl Zeis 24-70 F2.8 lens from Paul North at Camera Solutions.

As usual the service was excellent and Paul moved heaven and earth to make sure I had the new kit in time for the recent Kimberley trip on True North.

My overall impressions of the Sony A7r is very good and pretty much everything I was hoping for.

I was a little surprised as the weight of the Carl Zeis lens, but then I guess for quality glass it is just that…good glass to produce great images! The fact that you need a convertor for the Carl Zies lens to adapt to the Sony is also a bit of a bother.

The functionality of the camera I found very easy to navigate with a lot of the buttons on the top and back of the camera making it easy to adjustor exposure compensation, from AV to M etc. Not dissimilar to how Nikon works actually!

The auto focus on the camera is superb and the rapid fire function is like a machine gun! I also really liked the in the viewer level for both portrait and landscape views.

The 3 main negatives I found with the camera is that the camera does not come with an external battery charger and there is only the ability to charge with a lead that plugs into the camera itself. When on shoots like what I do on True North, I like to leave with one fully charged battery and have the other charging.

Still on the battery front, it does not seem to charge both batteries via the camera with the additional battery pack screwed in, so that was also a problem.

All battery problems will be overcome by buying a separate battery charger, which I will do.

The other issue I found is that even with Camera RAW updated to the latest version, I have to use a RAW convertor program to convert to a DNG file in order to process the RAW files.

This obviously is not a camera issue…but none the less an issue all the same! When on the True North I did not have the band width to upload the latest versions of Photoshop etc, so I was unable to process any images taken with the Sony till after my return.

Anyone from Adobe who might read this…I for one would really appreciate a software update for Camera RAW to simply read a Sony RAW file! I am sure Lightroom users will say the same!

A trap for new players, so take note if you are buying a Sony before you go on safari and make sure you have your RAW processing protocol sorted before you leave!

The files that have come out of the Sony A7r are everything I thought they would be, with great dynamic range, sharp throughout the zoom range of the lens and from edge to edge of the image.

Seeing as I am also a Nikon D800E shooter, I am still in 2 minds as to if I would not be better off with simply getting another D800E body rather than the Sony as the price is similar in any case, the overall size of the kit weight wise is not far off the Nikon by the time you add the Carl Zies lens, the convertor for the lens and of course the body of the Sony A7r.

In summary if you are in the market for a new camera, I rate the images that come out of the Sony up there with the Nikon D800 and far superior to anything I have seen from a Canon.

I may well just buy another D800e as well, then I am covered in every way! 🙂

Gear now ready to go thanks to Camera Solutions

I now have my kit all together and packed in readiness for the up and coming Cendrawasih Bay trip on True North!

Thanks heaps to Peta and Paul from Camera Solutions for arranging the first Olympus housing to come in for me to use in time for this trip and for also arranging all the other gear in time.

In the kit I have the Olympus OM-D camera with the 12-50mm lense with Macro capability. The new Olympus underwater housing, with the port made to suit the 12-50mm lens. I have a Go Pro with a live view back and also a 1200 lumins Light in Motion video light that I also intend to use as a still light. Peta North did the research on the best light to get for my needs and she was right on the money. At 1200 lumins the light is blindingly bright and it also has a really cool function of being able to switch to red so that you don’t scare the fish…very cool!

I have chosen to go for a wrist strap that comes as an option for this light and I might get an extender arm just in case that works out to be better.

Peta also arranged other kit for me so that I can cover all bases on this trip.

I have the Go Pro Hero which I bought to video the skydive I did recently with the Old Dogs. Peta arranged a live view screen for me now so that I can set up some time lapses. I also have a Gorilla tripod that I intend to use as a handle underwater and also for time lapses.

She also arranged for another slick little tripod for the Olympus which flicks out in seconds.

One of the best things about dealing with Camera Solutions is the technical support. Both Peta and Paul North are professional photographers and after using the Camera for a while I found I had a couple of queries which Peta was able to easily sort out over a phone call. This level of support is gold.

We will be on board True North in West Papua from Thursday onwards and I will be posting most days from there on.

I will also be writing some reports on my thoughts on the Olympus OM-D and the new housing.

One thing I have found whilst putting the kit together is that the menu allows for the push of one function button to go from wide angle to macro with a push of one button! Waycool option and something that is a real issue when shooting underwater.

At a recent tutorial by Glen Cowans, one of the bits of advice he said that it was just about a given that with a traditional SLR housing where you have to select between a wide angle port or a macro port is is a given that if you jump in with a wide angle set up, a macro opportunity wil present itself an vise versa!

The OM-D overcomes that problem very easily!